Who is Behind Wikileaks?
By Michel Chossudovsky
URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22389
Global Research, December 13, 2010
Wikleaks is upheld as a breakthrough in the battle against media disinformation and the lies of the US government.
Unquestionably, the released documents constitute an important and valuable data bank. The documents have been used by critical researchers since the outset of the Wikileaks project. Wikileaks earlier revelations have focussed on US war crimes in Afghanistan (July 2010) as well as issues pertaining to civil liberties and the “militarization of the Homeland” (see Tom Burghardt, Militarizing the “Homeland” in Response to the Economic and Political Crisis, Global Research, October 11, 2008)
In October 2010, WikiLeaks was reported to have released some 400,000 classified Iraq war documents, covering events from 2004 to 2009 (Tom Burghardt, The WikiLeaks Release: U.S. Complicity and Cover-Up of Iraq Torture Exposed, Global Research, October 24, 2010). These revelations contained in the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs provide “further evidence of the Pentagon’s role in the systematic torture of Iraqi citizens by the U.S.-installed post-Saddam regime.” (Ibid)
Progressive organizations have praised the Wikileaks endeavor. Our own website Global Research has provided extensive coverage of the Wikileaks project.
The leaks are heralded as an immeasurable victory against corporate media censorship.
But there more than meets the eye.
Even prior to the launching of the project, the mainstream media had contacted Wikileaks.
There are also reports from published email exchanges that Wikileaks had entered into negotiations with several corporate foundations for funding. (Wikileaks Leak email exchanges, January 2007).
At the outset in early 2007, Wikileaks acknowledges that it was “founded by Chinese dissidents, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa”…. [Its advisory board] includes representatives from expat Russian and Tibetan refugee communities, reporters, a former US intelligence analyst and cryptographers.” (Wikileaks Leak email exchanges, January 2007).
Wikileaks formulated its mandate on its website as follows: [Wikileaks will be] “an uncensorable version of Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests areoppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations,” CBC News – Website wants to take whistleblowing online, January 11, 2007, emphasis added).
This mandate was confirmed by Julian Assange in June 2010 interview in the New Yorker:
Assange also intimated that “exposing secrets” “could potentially bring down many administrations that rely on concealing reality—including the US administration.” (Ibid)
From the outset, Wikileaks’ geopolitical focus on “oppressive regimes” in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and Central Asia was “appealing”, i.e. consistent with US foreign policy.
The composition of the Wikileaks team, not to mention the methodology of “exposing secrets” of foreign governments, were in line with the practices of US covert operations geared towards triggering “regime change”.
The Role of the Corporate Media: The Central Role of the New York Times
Wikileaks is not a typical alternative media initiative. The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel are directly involved in the editing and selection of leaked documents. The Economist and Time Magazine have also played an important role.
While the project and its editor Julian Assange reveal a commitment and concern for truth in media, the recent Wikileaks releases of embassy cables have been carefully “redacted” by the mainstream media in liaison with the US government. (See Interview with David E. Sanger, Fresh Air, PBS, December 8, 2010)
This collaboration between Wikileaks and selected mainstream media is not fortuitous; it was part of an agreement between several major US and European newspapers and Wikileaks’ editor Julian Assange.
The important question is who controls and oversees the selection, distribution and editing of released documents to the broader public?
What US foreign policy objectives are being served through this redacting process?
Is Wikileaks part of an awakening of public opinion, of a battle against the lies and fabrications which appear daily in the print media and on network TV?
If so, how can this battle against media disinformation be waged with the participation and collaboration of the corporate architects of media disinformation.
Julian Assange has enlisted the architects of media disinformation to fight media disinformation: An incongruous and self-defeating procedure.
America’s corporate media and more specifically the New York Times are an integral part of the economic establishment, with links to Wall Street, the Washington think tanks, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Moreover, the US corporate media has developed a longstanding relationship to the US intelligence apparatus, going back to “Operation Mocking Bird”, an initiative of the CIA’s Office of Special Projects (OSP), established in the early 1950s.
Even before the Wikileaks project got off the ground, the mainstream media was implicated. A role was defined and agreed upon for the corporate media not only in the release, but also in the selection and editing of the leaks. In a bitter irony, the “professional media” to use Julian Assange’s words in an interview with The Economist, have been partners in the Wikileaks project from the outset.
Moreover, key journalists with links to the US foreign policy-national security intelligence establishment have worked closely with Wikileaks, in the distribution and dissemination of the leaked documents.
In a bitter irony, Wikileaks partner, The New York Times which has consistently promoted media disinformation is now being accused of conspiracy. For what? For revealing the truth? Or for manipulating the truth? In the words of Senator Joseph L. Lieberman:
This “redacting” role of The New York Times is candidly acknowledged by David E Sanger, Chief Washington correspondent of the NYT:
Yet he also says later in the interview:
“Do it independently of the government” while at the same time “asking them [the US government] if they had additional redactions to suggest”?
David E. Sanger cannot be described as a model independent journalist. He is member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Aspen Institute’s Strategy Group which regroups the likes of Madeleine K. Albright, Condoleeza Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, former CIA head John Deutch, Robert.B. Zoellick (president of the World Bank), and Philip Zelikow (formerly executive director of the 9/11 Commission) (among other prominent establishment figures). (See also F. William Engdahl, Wikileaks: A Big Dangerous US Government Con Job, Global Research, December 10, 2010).
Several American journalists, members of the Council on Foreign Relations interviewed Wikileaks, including Time Magazine’s Richard Stengel (November 30, 2010) and The New Yorker’s Raffi Khatchadurian. (WikiLeaks and Julian Paul Assange : The New Yorker, June 11, 2007)
Historically, The New York Times has served the interests of the Rockefeller family in the context of a longstanding relationship. The current New York Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, son of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and grandson of Arthur Hays Sulzberger who served as a Trustee for the Rockefeller Foundation. Ethan Bronner, deputy foreign editor of The New York Times as well as Thomas Friedman among others are members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
In turn, the Rockefellers have an important stake as shareholders of several US corporate media. (Membership Roster – Council on Foreign Relations)
The Embassy and State Department Cables
It should come as no surprise that David E. Sanger and his colleagues at the NYT centered their attention on a highly “selective” dissemination of the Wikileaks cables, focussing on areas which would support US foreign policy interests: Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan’s support of al Qaeda, China’s relations with North Korea, etc. These releases were then used as source material in NYT articles and commentary.
The Embassy and State Department cables released by Wikileaks were redacted and filtered. They were used for propaganda purposes. They do not constitute a complete and continuous set of memoranda.
From a selected list of cables, the leaks are being used to justify a foreign policy agenda. A case in point is Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, which is the object of numerous State Department memos, as well Saudi Arabia’s support of Islamic terrorism.
Iran’s Nuclear Program
The leaked cables are used to feed the disinformation campaign concerning Iran’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. While the leaked cables are heralded as “evidence” that Iran constitutes a threat, the lies and fabrications of the corporate media concerning Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program are not mentioned, nor is there any mention of them in the leaked cables.
The leaks, once they are funnelled into the corporate news chain, edited and redacted by the New York Times, indelibly serve the broader interests of US foreign policy, including US-NATO-Israel war preparations directed against Iran.
With the regard to “leaked intelligence” and the coverage of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, David E. Sanger has played a crucial role. In November 2005, The New York Times published a report co-authored by David E. Sanger and William J. Broad entitled “Relying on Computer, U.S. Seeks to Prove Iran’s Nuclear Aims”.
The article refers to mysterious documents on a stolen Iranian laptop computer which included “a series of drawings of a missile re-entry vehicle” which allegedly could accommodate an Iranian produced nuclear weapon:
These “secret documents” were subsequently submitted by the US State Department to the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA, with a view to demonstrating that Iran was developing a nuclear weapons program. They were also used as a pretext to enforce the economic sanctions regime directed against Iran, adopted by the UN Security Council.
While their authenticity has been questioned, a recent article by investigative reporter Gareth Porter confirms unequivocally that the mysterious laptop documents are fake. (See Gareth Porter, Exclusive Report: Evidence of Iran Nuclear Weapons Program May Be Fraudulent, Global Research, November 18, 2010)
The drawings contained in the documents leaked by William J. Broad and David E. Sanger do not pertain to the Shahab missile but to an obsolete North Korean missile system which was decommissioned by Iran in the mid-1990s. The drawings presented by US State Department officials pertained to the “Wrong Missile Warhead”:
David E, Sanger, who worked diligently with Wikileaks was also instrumental in the New York Times “leak” of what Gareth Porter describes as fake intelligence.(Ibid)
While this issue of fake intelligence received virtually no media coverage, it invalidates outright Washington’s assertions regarding Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons.
In a bitter irony, the selective redacting of the embassy cables by the NYT has usefully served not only to dismiss the issue of fake intelligence but also to reinforce Washington’s claim that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. A case in point is a November 2010 article co-authored by David E. Sanger, which quotes the Wikileaks cables as a source;
These missiles are said to have the “capacity to strike at capitals in Western Europe or easily reach Moscow, and American officials warned that their advanced propulsion could speed Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.” (Ibid, emphasis added).
Wikileaks, Iran and the Arab World
The released wikileaks cables have also being used to create divisions between Iran on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States on the other:
The Western media has jumped on this opportunity and has quoted the State Department memoranda released by Wikleaks with a view to upholding Iran as a threat to global security as well as fostering divisions between Iran and the Arab world.
“The Global War on Terrorism”
The leaks quoted by the Western media reveal the support of the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia to several Islamic terrorist organization, a fact which is known and amply documented.
What the reports fail to mention, however, which is crucial in an understanding of the “Global War on Terrorism”, is that US intelligence historically has channelled its support to terrorist organizations via Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. REF These are covert intelligence operations using Saudi and Pakistani intelligence as intermediaries.
The use of the Wikleaks documents by the media tend to sustain the illusion that the CIA has nothing to do with the terror network and that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are “providing the lion’s share of funding” to Al Qaeda, the Taliban Lashkar-e-Taiba, among others, when in fact this financing is undertaken in liaison with their US intelligence counterparts.
Similarly, with regard to Pakistan:
The corporate media’s use and interpretation of the Wikileaks cables serves to uphold two related myths:
The CIA and the Corporate Media
The CIA’s relationship to the US media is amply documented. The New York Times continues to entertain a close relationship with not only with US intelligence, but also with the Pentagon and more recently with the Department of Homeland Security.
“Operation Mocking Bird” was an initiative of the CIA’s Office of Special Projects (OSP), established in the early 1950s. Its objective was to exert influence on both the US as well as foreign media. From the 1950s, members of the US media were routinely enlisted by the CIA.
The inner workings of the CIA’s relationship to the US media are described in Carl Bernstein’s 1977 article in Rolling Stone entitled The CIA and the Media:
Bernstein suggests, in this regard, that “the CIA’s use of the American news media has been much more extensive than Agency officials have acknowledged publicly or in closed sessions with members of Congress” (Ibid).
In recent years, the CIA’s relationship to the media has become increasingly complex and sophisticated. We are dealing with mammoth propaganda network involving a number of agencies of government.
Media disinformation has become institutionalized. The lies and fabrications have become increasingly blatant when compared to the 1950s. The US media has become the mouthpiece of US foreign policy. Disinformation is routinely “planted” by CIA operatives in the newsroom of major dailies, magazines and TV channels:
Since 2001, the US media has assumed a new role in sustaining the Global War on Terrorism and camouflaging US sponsored war crimes. In the wake of 9/11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld created the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), or “Office of Disinformation” as it was labeled by its critics: “The Department of Defense said they needed to do this, and they were going to actually plant stories that were false in foreign countries — as an effort to influence public opinion across the world. (Interview with Steve Adubato, Fox News, 26 December 2002, see also michel Chossudovsky,War Propaganda, January 3, 2003).
Today’s corporate media is an instrument of war propaganda, which begs the question as to why the NYT would all of a sudden promote transparency and truth in media, by assisting Wikileaks in “spreading the word”; and that people around the World would not pause for one moment and question the basis of this incongruous relationship.
On the surface, nothing proves that Wikileaks was a CIA covert operation. However, given the corporate media’s cohesive and structured relationship to US intelligence, not to mention the links of individual journalists to the military-national security establishment, the issue of a CIA sponsored PsyOp must necessarily be addressed.
Wikileaks Social and Corporate Entourage
Wikileaks and The Economist have also entered into what seems to be a contradictory relationship. Wikileaks founder and editor Julian Assange was granted in 2008 The Economist’s New Media Award.
The Economist has a close relationship to Britain’s financial elites. It is an establishment news outlet, which has consistently supported Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war. It bears the stamp of the Rothschild family. Sir Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild was chairman of The Economist from 1972-1989. His wife Lynn Forester de Rothschild currently sits on The Economist’s board. The Rothschild family also has a sizeable shareholder interest in The Economist.
The broader question is why would Julian Assange receive the support from Britain’s foremost establishment news outfit which has consistently been involved in media disinformation?
Are we not dealing with a case of “manufactured dissent”, whereby the process of supporting and rewarding Wikileaks for its endeavors, becomes a means of controlling and manipulating the Wikileaks project, while at the same time embedding it into the mainstream media.
It is also worth mentioning another important link. Julian Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens of Finers Stephens Innocent (FSI), a major London elite law, happens to be the legal adviser to the Rothschild Waddesdon Trust. While this in itself does prove anything, it should nonetheless be examined in the broader context of Wikileaks’ social and corporate entourage: the NYT, the CFR, The Economist, Time Magazine, Forbes, Finers Stephens Innocent (FSI), etc.
Wikileaks has the essential features of a process of “manufactured dissent”. It seeks to expose government lies. It has released important information on US war crimes. But once the project becomes embedded in the mould of mainstream journalism, it is used as an instrument of media disinformation:
What this examination of the Wikileaks project also suggests is that the mechanics of New World Order propaganda, particularly with regard to its military agenda, has become increasingly sophisticated.
It no longer relies on the outright suppression of the facts regarding US-NATO war crimes. Nor does it require that the reputation of government officials at the highest levels, including the Secretary of State, be protected. New World Order politicians are in a sense “disposable”. They can be replaced. What must be protected and sustained are the interests of the economic elites, which control the political apparatus from behind the scenes.
In the case of Wikileaks, the facts are contained in a databank; many of those facts, particularly those pertaining to foreign governments serve US foreign policy interests. Other facts tend, on the other hand to discredit the US administration.
All these facts are selectively redacted, they are then “analyzed” and interpreted by a media which serves the economic elites.
While the numerous facts contained in the Wikileaks data bank are accessible, the broader public will not normally take the trouble to consult and scan through the Wikileaks databank. The public will read the redacted selections and interpretations presented in major news outlets.
A partial and biased picture is presented. The redacted version is accepted by public opinion because it is based on what is heralded as a reliable source, when in fact what is presented in the pages of major newspapers and on network TV is a carefully crafted and convoluted distortion of the truth.
Limited forms of critical debate and “transparency” are tolerated while also enforcing broad public acceptance of the basic premises of US foreign policy, including its “Global War on Terrorism”. With regard to a large segment of the US antiwar movement, this strategy seems to have succeeded: “We are against war but we support the “war on terrorism”.
What this means is that truth in media can only be reached by dismantling the propaganda apparatus, –i.e. breaking the legitimacy of the corporate media which sustains the broad interests of the economic elites as well America’s global military design.
In turn, we must ensure that the campaign against Wikileaks in the U.S., using the 1917 Espionage Act, will not be utilized as a means to wage a campaign to control the internet.