Wikileaks founder reflects on Apache helicopter video

The mainstream media ignored some of the other material Wikileaks published, says Julian Assange

Julian Assange. Image: Markchew2010/Wikipedia (Creative Commons)

Julian Assange. Image: Markchew2010/Wikipedia (Creative Commons)

The mainstream media ignored important additional research related to the video of a U.S. Apache helicopter shooting civilians in Iraq that was leaked to the Wikileaks Web site, according to its founder and editor, Julian Assange.

Assange spoke on Friday at the Center for Investigative Journalism at City University in London, marking one of his few public appearances since Wikileaks published the video, in which up to a dozen civilians were killed, including two Reuters news service employees. Assange said he is avoiding travel to the U.S. due to concerns that he could potentially be subject to a subpoena.

Wikileaks released the Apache video on April 5, marking another extraordinary scoop for the four-year-old site, which publishes secret documents and information after being vetted by the site. The video was taken on board the Apache during a July 2007 mission in which the pilots' conversation can be heard.

Last week, Private First Class Bradley E. Manning was charged by the U.S. Army with mishandling and transferring classified information in connection to the video and tens of thousands of classified cables from the State Department.

Assange said Wikileaks also released an analysis of the U.S. rules of engagement, a set of conditions and protocols that soldiers must follow when using force. He contends Wikileak's analysis, which concluded that protocols were not followed, was ignored by the mainstream media.

"That shows you something about media quality," Assange said. "This action broke the rules of engagement."

Assange said about one in six people affiliated with the U.S. military who enter Wikileaks' secure chat room end up passing information to the Web site. He said those who come to the chat room often possess evidence of something that is making them angry.

"At that point, they come to us, and maybe we can help them," Assange said.

But turning those visitors into sources is delicate, and different approaches have to be used. "You really have to establish a connection at that moment," Assange said.

Assange said Wikileaks is currently re-engineering its submissions engine, an important security tool that can help protect sources who are passing sensitive information to the site. The submissions engine has been described as having military-grade encryption.

Assange contested a Wired magazine story from June 30 titled "With World Watching, Wikileaks Falls Into Disrepair." The story said that the submission engine has been degraded for months and that its SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate had expired. Assange contended he told Wired magazine that it was being redesigned but that article said that he declined comment.

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Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
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