“World bankers, by pulling a few simple levers that control the flow of money, can make or break entire economies. By controlling press releases of economic strategies that shape national trends, the power elite are able to not only tighten their stranglehold on this nation’s economic structure, but can extend that control world wide. Those possessing such power would logically want to remain in the background, invisible to the average citizen.” (Aldus Huxley)
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 is 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).
The linchpin of WikiLeaks’s financial network is Germany’s Wau Holland Foundation. … “We’re registered as a library in Australia, we’re registered as a foundation in France, we’re registered as a newspaper in Sweden,” Mr. Assange said. WikiLeaks has two tax-exempt charitable organizations in the U.S., known as 501C3s, that “act as a front” for the website, he said. He declined to give their names, saying they could “lose some of their grant money because of political sensitivities.”
Mr. Assange said WikiLeaks gets about half its money from modest donations processed by its website, and the other half from “personal contacts,” including “people with some millions who approach us….” (WikiLeaks Keeps Funding Secret, WSJ.com, August 23, 2010)
At the outset in early 2007, Wikileaks acknowledged that the project had been “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 are oppressive 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 a June 2010 interview in The New Yorker:
“Our primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal illegal or immoral behavior in their own governments and corporations. (quoted in WikiLeaks and Julian Paul Assange : The New Yorker, June 7, 2010, emphasis added)
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 Eurasia and the Middle East was “appealing” to America’s elites, i.e. it seemingly matched stated US foreign policy objectives. Moreover, the composition of the Wikileaks team (which included Chinese dissidents), not to mention the methodology of “exposing secrets” of foreign governments, were in tune with the practices of US covert operations geared towards triggering “regime change” and fostering “color revolutions” in different parts of the World.
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 London Economist has 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?
Wikileaks 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 and 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:
“I certainly believe that WikiLleaks has violated the Espionage Act, but then what about the news organizations — including The Times — that accepted it and distributed it?” Mr. Lieberman said, adding: “To me, The New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship, and whether they have committed a crime, I think that bears a very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department.” (WikiLeaks Prosecution Studied by Justice Department – NYTimes.com, December 7, 2010)
This “redacting” role of The New York Times is candidly acknowledged by David E Sanger, Chief Washington correspondent of the NYT:
“[W]e went through [the cables] so carefully to try to redact material that we thought could be damaging to individuals or undercut ongoing operations. And we even took the very unusual step of showing the 100 cables or so that we were writing from to the U.S. government and asking them if they had additional redactions to suggest.” (See PBS Interview; The Redacting and Selection of Wikileaks documents by the Corporate Media, PBS interview on “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross: December 8, 2010, emphasis added).
Yet Sanger also says later in the interview:
“It is the responsibility of American journalism, back to the founding of this country, to get out and try to grapple with the hardest issues of the day and to do it independently of the government.” (ibid)
“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, the president of the World Bank, Robert. B. Zoellick and Philip Zelikow, former 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). The Global Economic Crisis
Andrew G. Marshall (editors)
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It is worth noting that several American journalists, members of the Council on Foreign Relations have 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 also members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). (Membership Roster – Council on Foreign Relations)In turn, the Rockefellers have an important stake as shareholders of several US corporate media.The Embassy and State Department CablesIt 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.