by Common Dreams Staff
September 27, 2012
Documents show U.S. policy
puts media outlet in same legal category
as violent terrorist groups
Military documents (pdf) obtained through a
Freedom of Information Act request and posted online by Wikileaks
show that the U.S. government has designated the whistleblower website and its
founder Julian Assange as "enemies of the state" - the same legal
category as Al Qaeda and other foreign military adversaries.
Wikileaks founder Julian
speaks to UN delegates via
on Wednesday September 26,
As the Sydney Morning Herald
The documents, some originally classified
"Secret/NoForn" - not releasable to non-U.S. nationals - record a probe by
the air force's Office of Special Investigations into a cyber systems
analyst based in Britain who allegedly expressed support for WikiLeaks
and attended pro-Assange demonstrations in London.
The counter-intelligence investigation
focused on whether the analyst, who had a top-secret security clearance
and access to the U.S. military's Secret Internet Protocol Router network,
had disclosed classified or sensitive information to WikiLeaks
supporters, described as an "anti-U.S. and/or anti-military group".
The suspected offence was "communicating
with the enemy, 104-D", an article in the U.S. Uniform Code of Military
Justice that prohibits military personnel from "communicating,
corresponding or holding intercourse with the enemy".
Mr Assange's U.S. attorney, Michael Ratner, told
the Herald that designating WikiLeaks an "enemy" would have serious
implications for the WikiLeaks publisher if his fears of being extradited to
the U.S. were realized.
Mr Ratner stipulated that under U.S. law it would
most likely have been considered criminal for the U.S. Air Force analyst to
communicate classified material to journalists and publishers, but those
journalists and publishers would not have been considered the enemy or
"However, in the FOI documents there is no
allegation of any actual communication for publication that would aid an
enemy of the United States such as al-Qaeda, nor are there allegations that
WikiLeaks published such information," he said.
"Almost the entire set of documents is concerned
with the analyst's communications with people close to and supporters of
Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, with the worry that she would disclose
classified documents to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
"It appears that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks
are the 'enemy'. An enemy is dealt with under the laws of war, which could
include killing, capturing, detaining without trial, etc."
The revelations contained in the documents led
the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald to
"How could leaking to WikiLeaks possibly constitute the crime of
'communicating with the enemy'? Who exactly is the 'enemy'?"
Answering his own question, Greenwald
argues there are two equally disturbing possibilities:
The first possibility is the one suggested
today's Sydney Morning Herald article on these documents (as well as
WikiLeaks itself): that the
U.S. military now formally characterizes WikiLeaks and Assange as an
"enemy", the same designation it gives to groups such as Al Qaeda and
This would not be the first time such sentiments were
expressed by the U.S. military:
recall that one of the earliest leaks from
the then-largely-unknown group was a secret report prepared back in 2008
by the U.S. Army which, as
the New York
Times put it, included WikiLeaks on the Pentagon's "list of the
enemies threatening the security of the United States" and then
plotted how to
But it's the second possibility that seems
to me to be the far more likely one:
namely, that the U.S. government, as
part of Obama's
unprecedented war on whistleblowers, has now fully embraced the
pernicious theory that any leaks of classified information can
constitute the crime of "aiding the enemy" or "communicating with the
enemy" by virtue of the fact that, indirectly, "the enemy" will - like
everyone else in the world - ultimately learn of what is disclosed.
Greenwald concludes by articulating what he sees
as the inherent irony of the ongoing Wikileaks saga and what it says about
the Obama administration's inconsistent stance on freedoms of the press and
The real "enemies" of American "society" are
not those who seek to inform the American people about the
bad acts engaged
in by their government in secret.
Democrats once recognized prior to the age of Obama - in the
age of Daniel Ellsberg - people who do that are
more aptly referred to as "heroes".
The actual "enemies" are those
who abuse secrecy powers to conceal government actions and to threaten
with life imprisonment or even execution those who blow the whistle on