Julian Assange on Why Calls for His Death and the McCarthyesque Crackdown on WikiLeaks Are Good Signs
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Democracy Now! was in London this weekend for an unusual gathering; 1800 people gathered in an old theater in the East End of London, called the Troxy, to watch a conversation between WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and renowned Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. DemocracyNow!'s Amy Goodman moderated the event, which centered on the impact of WikiLeaks on world politics, the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, and Cablegate, the largest release of U.S. State Department cables in history. Julian Assange is currently under house arrest in Norfolk, outside London, pending his trial next week. He is appealing extradition to Sweden for questioning in a sexual misconduct case. Assange has now spent six months under house arrest despite not being charged with a crime in any country. On Friday, WikiLeaks announced it intends to sue Visa and MasterCard for blocking donations to the service -- an action it described as, "an unlawful U.S. influenced financial blockade."
Saturday’s event was sponsored by the Front Line Club, which was founded in part to honor journalists who fall in the front lines of war. Its founder, Vaughn Smith, has given refuge to Julian Assange at his estate in Norfolk. Assange was wearing an ankle monitor under his boot. The event at the Troxy was concluded shortly after 6pm so that Assange could return home by his curfew.
AMY GOODMAN: ... Information is a matter of life and death. We’ve learned that through these remarkable trove of documents that have been released in the last year. The Iraq War Logs, the Afghanistan War Logs, and what’s been called Cablegate, the U.S. state department documents that are continuing to be released.
Why does it matter so much? Well, we’ll talk about that this afternoon, but let’s just take one example, that came out in the Iraq War Logs, February of 2007. The war logs show that two men were standing under an Apache helicopter, the men have their hands up, they clearly are attempting to surrender, the Apache helicopter can see this. So, they are not rogue. The soldiers call back to the base and they say what should we do? These men have their hands up. The lawyer on the base says you cannot surrender to a helicopter and they blow the men, attempting to surrender, away—that was February 2007.
Now, we will fast forward to July 12, 2007, a video that has been released by WikiLeaks. This devastating video of an area of Baghdad called "New Baghdad", where a group of men were showing around two Reuters journalists. Well, one was a videographer, a young up-and-coming videographer named Namir Noor-Eldeen and one was his driver, Saeed Chmagh; he was 40 years old, he was the father of 4 and they were showing them around the area. The same Apache helicopter unit is hovering above. They open fire.
The video is chilling. I am sure many of you have seen it. If you watch or listen to Democracy Now! we played it repeatedly discussing it with various people from Julian Assange to soldiers who were there on the ground, over time we dissected this.
The soldiers opened fire, you have the video of the target and you have the audio of the sounds of the soldiers cursing laughing, but not rogue, always going up the chain of command asking for permission to open fire. In the first explosion Namir Noor-Eldeen and the other men on the ground are killed. Saeed Chmagh, you can see him attempting to crawl away. And then a van pulls up from the neighborhood and they are attempting to pick up the wounded, there are children in the van and the Apache helicopter opens fire again and Saeed Chmagh, others in the van are killed. Two little children are critically injured inside.