|By Coleen Rowley and Robert Parry – consortium news|
Almost four decades after Defense Department insider Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers – thus exposing the lies that led the United States into the Vietnam War – another courageous “national security leaker” has stepped forward and now is facing retaliation similar to what the U.S. government tried to inflict on Ellsberg.
The Pentagon (undoubtedly with the help of the CIA and the National Security Agency) is reportedly conducting a manhunt for Assange, who is known to travel around the globe staying at the homes of friends and doing what he can to evade government notice.
The U.S. military has argued that videos like the Baghdad helicopter attack and photographs of American troops mistreating Iraqi and Afghan detainees must be kept secret to avoid enflaming local populations and putting U.S. soldiers in greater danger. President Barack Obama adopted that argument last year in overturning a court-ordered release of a new batch of photos showing U.S. soldiers committing abuses.
However, there is nothing classically classifiable about the helicopter videos or the other photographic evidence that has leaked out, such as the sordid pictures of naked Iraqi men being humiliated at Abu Ghraib prison. Under U.S. law, the government’s classification powers are not to be used to conceal evidence of crimes.
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