secrecy {fragments}

~ musings on secrecy ~

Wikileaks Press Conference @ C-SPAN

From John Sloboda (Iraq Body to Phil Shiner (Public Interest Lawyers, UK) to Daniel Ellsberg passionately urging Bob Woodward and his staff to release documents on the Afghan war to wikileaks, this press conference is a shock, a revelation, and a call for participatory media to unlock the secrets of abuse, lethal force, cruelty, and “coercive interrogation techniques.”

On first glance, the redacted 391,832 reports that constitute The Iraq War Logs might be thought of as random accounts of war. But it is a mistake to think of these once TOP SECRET/SECRET materials in this way.  In his press conference testimony, John Sloboda observed that “every log tells a story and far too often a previously unknown story of human suffering and death.” In a paper included in an upcoming issue of volume 19, Research in Social Problems and Public Policy on government secrecy that I edited, Professor David N. Gibbs writes of the relevance of Sigmund Freud, linking his theories on censorship, secrecy,  pathology, and psychoanalytics to  government use of secrecy. Gibbs writes that censorship “is clearly intended to protect the state from embarrassment.” In taking this thought further, it is not only information that might bring shame, disgrace, or dishonor that governments shroud from public view and oversight. Gibbs writes that it is also the “most shocking material.”

The seven years of the Iraq War has offered us, according to John Sloboda, an “incomplete patchwork of stories, pictures, and data.”  To wit, IBC has begun the tedious work of integrating data from its storehouse with the wikileaks material.  What Sloboda, et al have discovered – and this is one of the shocks of the Logs  – more than 150,000 individuals were killed since 2003, with 80% being civilians.* The documents also reveal the Iraqi National Guard’s and the Iraqi Police Service level of torture and abuse of Iraqi civilians whilst UK and US forces adopted a “no action” policy. John Sloboda, Phil Shiner, and other press conference participants’ account of the War Logs is a grave reminder of the necessity and power of information, and its link with justice and resolve for victims, families – even nations.


* Update: See Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff’s article included in RSPPP vol. 19 that discusses the inconsistencies in reporting of Iraqi civilian deaths.


Written by S.

October 25, 2010 at 1:26 am

Posted in U.S. government secrecy

Tagged with , ,