“Real power begins where secrecy begins” – Hannah Arendt, The Origin of Totalitarianism
A new report states that Bradley Manning, who is currently in military custody in the United States awaiting trial for passing information to Wikileaks, “acted as a whistleblower and should be treated as such.”
The report praises Mr Manning, and Wikileaks itself, for uncovering evidence of rendition. The report shows how a ”cult of secrecy” has helped Western governments cover up abuses.
Defending “whistleblowers”, it singled out US soldier Bradley Manning, accused of passing secrets to Wikileaks.
The provisional report written by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty and entitled Abuse of State Secrecy and National Security is due to be submitted to the CoE’s Parliamentary Assembly.
The CoE represents 47 member-states, including both EU countries and Russia and other ex-Soviet states.
Mr Marty’s report focused on European links to the illegal US policy of “rendition” for terrorism suspects.
Mr Marty argued that Western governments were using the notion of state secrecy to shield their intelligence services from accountability for serious violations committed during anti-terrorist operations.
“We consider that this is simply unacceptable…” he wrote.
“A ‘licence to kill’ (or to abduct and torture) only exists in certain films, and in dictatorial regimes. In democratic systems, parliaments, as representatives of the people, have a right and duty to know what the government is doing in the name of the people.”
Mr Marty praised investigative journalists and non-governmental organisations for their work in exposing abuses of authority.
Stressing the “fundamental role” whistleblowers had to play in an open society, he warned against “a real cult of secrecy… as an instrument of power”.
While it was up to the courts to decide if Bradley Manning had committed any crime, he wrote, the CoE was “indebted to him” for the publication of a recording of a helicopter attack in Iraq “in which the crew seems to have intentionally targeted and killed civilians.”
Here is that video footage from a US Apache helicopter in 2007. It shows Reuters journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen, driver Saeed Chmagh, and several others as the Apache shoots and kills them in a public square in Eastern Baghdad. After the initial shooting, an unarmed group of adults and children in a minivan arrives on the scene and attempts to transport the wounded. They are fired upon as well:
Wikileaks originally released this video with transcripts and a package of supporting documents on April 5th 2010 on http://collateralmurder.com
Thanks to Mr Manning’s service, a large number of embassy reports have also been released, which have played a important role in allowing the world’s population to understand the world we live in and significant details of important recent events which had been hidden.