Nearly 40 years before the Obama White House denounced the WikiLeaks website for publishing classified documents, another president, Richard Nixon, was even more obsessed with the same phenomenon.
Only Nixon and his top aides went to far greater lengths to deal with the problem: They launched an extraordinary campaign to smear and discredit the journalist who, more than anyone else, was bedeviling them by publishing government secrets: newspaper columnist Jack Anderson.
The White House obsession with Anderson — whose “Washington Merry Go-Round” column was the WikiLeaks of its day — is detailed in a new book being published this month, “Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture,” by journalism professor Mark Feldstein. The book relies in part on newly unearthed tapes from the National Archives that document how Nixon’s aides plotted to destroy Anderson by planting forged evidence with him and spreading false rumors about his sex life and that of one of his associates.
Nixon plot against newspaper columnist detailed
Michael Isikoff, national investigative correspondent, msnbc.com
and now …
In a nondescript suite of government offices not far from the Pentagon, nearly 120 intelligence analysts, FBI agents, and others are at work—24 hours a day, seven days a week—on the frontlines of the government’s secret war against WikiLeaks.
The General Gunning for Wikileaks
Philip Shenon, The Daily Beast
Four months before WikiLeaks rocketed to international notoriety, the Robin Hoods of the Internet quietly published a confidential CIA document labeled “NOFORN” (for “no foreign nationals”)—meaning that it should not be shared even with US allies. That’s because the March “Red Cell Special Memorandum” was a call to arms for a propaganda war to influence public opinion in allied nations. The CIA report describes a crisis in European support for the Afghanistan war, noting that 80 percent of German and French citizens are against increasing their countries’ military involvement. The report suggests that “Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the [International Security Assistance Force] role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory.”
On July 25 WikiLeaks published its massive cache of classified documents on the war in Afghanistan. Four days later, Time magazine posted on its website its August 9 cover story, featuring a horrifying image of a beautiful young Afghan woman named Aisha with a gaping hole where her nose once was, under the headline “What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan”—echoing the strategy laid out in the Red Cell report [see Ann Jones, "Our Afghan Demons," page 4].
These two media events unfolded in starkly different ways. While Time has been praised for telling Aisha’s story, WikiLeaks has been characterized as a criminal syndicate with blood on its hands. Former Bush administration speechwriter Marc Thiessen called for the United States to use whatever means necessary to snatch WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, including rendering him from abroad. Others have called for the United States to shut down WikiLeaks and prosecute its members. Michigan Republican Congressman Mike Rogers has called for the alleged leaker, 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, to be executed if he is convicted.
Wikileaks and War Crimes
Jeremy Scahill, The Nation
The government’s response to exposure, then and now, is a reflection of an immature culture that thinks the means justify the ends, admitting you’re wrong is a sign of weakness, and we should always shoot the messenger.
What a sad statement about our presidents, past and present.
What a sad statement about America.