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WikiLeaks vs the Pentagon

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By Omar Chatriwala

WikiLeaks, a whistle blowing website run by The Sunshine Press, is due to release today what it says is previously unseen footage of a "Pentagon murder-coverup".

Last month the group said it had decrypted the US military video, which shows many civilians and journalists being killed.

The announcement has generated a lot of buzz for the group, and consequently, a lot of concerns for them too. WikiLeaks says it has been spied on aggressively since the announcement, both by US and Icelandic authorities.

Iceland, at least, has denied that claim though.

But it is far from the first time the group has been at the centre of controversy. WikiLeaks regularly publishes anonymously sourced, often classified documents from governments, corporations, and other private or powerful organisations.

Illustrating the consequences of this in a March editorial, Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, wrote:

Over the last few years, WikiLeaks has been the subject of hostile acts by security organisations. In the developing world, these range from the appalling assassination of two related human rights lawyers in Nairobi last March [an armed attack on my compound there in 2007 is still unattributed] to an unsuccessful mass attack by Chinese computers on our servers in Stockholm, after we published photos of murders in Tibet. In the West this has ranged from the overt, the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, threatening to prosecute us unless we removed a report on CIA activity in Kosovo, to the covert, to an ambush by a “James Bond” character in a Luxembourg car park, an event that ended with a mere “we think it would be in your interest to…”. 

Al Jazeera's The Listening Post profiled the site a few weeks ago:

This time around, though, the group says it is being followed, photographed, and one of its members was even detained overnight and questioned. All this despite the fact that their website has barely been functioning since December, due to a lack of funding.

It likely has to do with the things group says it is currently working on:

* A classified film revealing civilian casualties occurring under the command of US General David Petraeus.

* A classified 32 page US intelligence report on how to fatally marginalise WikiLeaks (expose its sources, destroy its reputation, hack the site).

* A classified cable from the US embassy in Reykjavik reporting on contact between the US and the UK over billions of euros in claimed loan guarantees.

* Releases related to the collapse of the Icelandic banks and Icelandic “oligarchs”.

Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald has called the US government's activities a war on WikiLeaks, saying:

That WikiLeaks is being targeted by the US government for surveillance and disruption is beyond doubt.  And it underscores how vital their work is and why it's such a threat.

Three weeks ago, WikiLeaks revealed a 2008 US intelligence report that documented the ways it planned to undermine the website's efforts due to the risks the organisation posed to American foreign policy.

With the unveiling today of what many expect to be footage from a bombing incident in 2009 that killed up to 100 Afghans, I guess we'll see how much damage they can do. 

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UPDATE: The video is not from Afghanistan.

Sunshine Press / WikiLeaks has published a classified video they say was taken from a US Apache helicopter on July 2, 2007, in Baghdad, which shows the killing of civilians and Reuters news staff.

They have also launched a new website - CollateralMuder.com - to go with it.

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