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02 February, 2018

WaPo indirectly requested permission from US officials to publish files had been already published by WikiLeaks


An email from the Hillary Clinton Email Archive published by WikiLeaks demonstrates the direct connection of the mainstream media with the US state and the fact that they publish stories only after approval, especially in 'sensitive' issues.

The letter from Craig Whitlock, staff writer at Washington Post, to Michael A. Hammer who appears that he served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the time, indirectly requests permission for the publication of cables already leaked by WikiLeaks, concerning secret US drone operations in East Africa.

A particular paragraph proves it is common practice for the mainstream journalists to inform US officials before publishing: “Given that Wikileaks recently posted the remainder of its database of State Department cables to its publicly accessible website, my editors have determined that it's no longer necessary for the Post to provide the State Department with hard copies of the cables we are planning to cite in advance -- as we have done in the past.


Key parts:

I'm working on another national-security story involving some State Department cables, and was hoping you could help, or point me in the right direction.

This story will report that the U.S. military (specifically, the U.S. Africa Command and the Navy) have been deploying MQ-9 Reaper drones on secret counter-terrorism missions over Somalia from a base in the Republic of the Seychelles.

The U.S. Africa Command had announced publicly in September 2009 that it was basing some Reaper drones in the Seychelles as part of an anti-piracy mission. But several confidential State Department cables make clear that the drones were also being used to perform counter-terrorism missions over the Horn of Africa and Somalia, and that U.S. officials asked the president of the Seychelles to keep it secret.

Given that Wikileaks recently posted the remainder of its database of State Department cables to its publicly accessible website, my editors have determined that it's no longer necessary for the Post to provide the State Department with hard copies of the cables we are planning to cite in advance -- as we have done in the past. Naturally, however, The Post would still like to get reaction or comment from the State Department for the story.

The cables state that a primary reason for basing the Reaper drones in the Seychelles was so they could conduct counter-terrorism missions over Somalia and the Horn of Africa. Yet U.S. diplomats asked Seychelles President Jean Michel and other Seychellois officials to keep this aspect of the program "discreet" or a secret. Why did the State Department insist on the need for confidentiality? Was the publicly advertised anti-piracy mission a ruse or a cover story?

Although U.S. officials stated publicly in 2009 that the Reaper drones were unarmed, the cables make clear that the U.S. government was contemplating arming the UAVs. In fact, two cables reveal that U.S. diplomats told President Michel that they would notify him in advance if they decided to go ahead and arm the Reapers with missiles. Did U.S. diplomats or other U.S. officials subsequently notify President Michel that UAVs based in the Seychelles would be armed? If so, when?

We have not fixed a publication date for this article yet, but it is possible that we will publish as soon as Wednesday.

Full letter:

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