Reports are circulating that Wikileaks.org is poised to publish a classified U.S. military video of a May 2009 U.S. air strike on the Afghan village of Granai in which as many as 140 civilians, including many women and children, may have perished. In April, the website—an online repository of leaked information—posted a U.S. military video of a 2007 Baghdad firefight in which two Reuters cameramen and as many as 10 others were killed. It has already been watched by several million viewers.
Both videos were evidently leaked by a 22-year-old disaffected Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, who was detained by the military in May after having admitted in a private online conversation to providing them, along with a massive trove of 260,000 diplomatic cables, to Wikileaks. Continue reading
President Obama came into office having pledged to run the most transparent administration in American history. Contending that the Bush administration’s approach had betrayed America’s principles and ultimately harmed America’s safety, he promised to end what he described as a culture of excessive national-security secrecy. But power has its own imperatives. And as the Obama administration has begun to see, the need to operate in secret while defending the nation is often one of them.
The new administration has also learned that keeping secrets is not an easy task, because Washington leaks like a sieve. The Bush administration was bedeviled by leaks to the press, including disclosures of its most sensitive counterterrorism programs — from the National Security Agency’s surveillance of al-Qaeda communications, to the joint CIA-Treasury Department monitoring of terrorist finances. The Obama administration has already encountered the same problem: In the midst of White House deliberations about the way forward in Afghanistan, Pentagon plans were leaked to the Washington Post, putting heavy pressure on the president to decide in favor of the counterinsurgency campaign that eventually became his war strategy. Continue reading