Website that exposed video says Washington Post withheld video of attack for over a year and didn’t release to public
Federal officials have arrested a 22-year-old intelligence analyst whom they accuse of leaking classified materials to the web site Wikileaks.org, which released video showing the US military killing innocent civilians in Iraq.
In the wake of the arrest, Wikileaks issued a statement alleging that the Washington Post had a copy of the video showing the attack but didn’t release it for over a year. A statement on the group’s Twitter feed said, “Statement: Washington Post had Collateral murder video for over a year but DID NOT RELEASE IT [sic] it to the public.”
“Collateral murder” is the title the group gave to a video they released at the National Press Club in April, which shows a US military missile strike on a van in Baghdad that killed a Reuters photographer and his driver, as well as several unarmed civilians.
The Post described the video as “long sought” when it was released earlier this year. But one of its reporters wrote a book that documented the attack, and acknowledged at the time that he had seen a copy of the secret video, and offered a frame-by-frame account.
Wikileaks’ assertion would seek to place the Post in the company of prominent media organizations like The New York Times, which held off publishing a story about the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program for a year at the behest of the Bush Administration.
But their claim presupposes the fact that the Post actually had a copy of the video, rather than simply a reporter who reviewed it. Wikileaks has offered no additional details. It also seems to discount the fact that the Post offered a frame-by-frame account of the attack both in their newspaper and in a book by one of their staff members.
The Post has withheld information on national security grounds before; notably, it declined to name the Eastern European countries where the US had secret CIA prisons.
According to Wired.com, the Feds recently arrested an analyst they believe involved with leaking information surrounding the attack:
SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland, was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 40 miles east of Baghdad, where he was arrested nearly two weeks ago by the ArmyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Criminal Investigation Division. A family member says heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s being held in custody in Kuwait, and has not been formally charged.
Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.
He said he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that Manning described as exposing Ã¢â‚¬Å“almost criminal political back dealings.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,Ã¢â‚¬Â Manning wrote.
In response, Wikileaks issued several statements from its Twitter account.
“We never collect personal information on our sources, so we are are unable as yet to confirm the Manning story,” one read.
“Allegations in Wired that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect,” said another.
A Post reporter suggested in a profile piece just last month a possible reason an organization might withhold the video: fear of being labeled anti-American.
“Edited and unedited versions of the video have been viewed nearly 8 million times, provoking shock but also condemnation,” the reporter wrote.
“Some critics blasted WikiLeaks as an incarnation of “Baghdad Bob,” the nickname of the former Iraqi information minister under Saddam Hussein.
Since the video was released, Assange and other WikiLeaks officials have defended their airing of the its disturbing images as an important counterbalance to those served up by television and Hollywood.
“We’re being desensitized by watching fake violence, but we’re not seeing the real stuff, the real pain and real cruelty,” Schmitt said. “How can you have an opinion about this war if you don’t know what it looks like?”