by Rev. William Alberts
Dec. 24, 2010 on Counterpunch
WikiLeaks is a modern-day Christmas story about the secrets of those who abuse power and pretend to represent what they are not. According to the Biblical story, King Herod became “frightened” when he heard of the prophesized birth of a Messiah, who would set the Jewish people free from Roman domination. So Herod sent for and met “secretly” with the wise men who were tracking the star leading to the birthplace of the future Jewish liberator. Herod told the wise men to inform him when they found the child, “so that I may also go and pay him homage.” Herod sounded respectful, even reverent of life. But the wise men, being “divinely” warned in a (WikiLeak-like) dream of Herod’s real, imperialistic intent, avoided him by taking a different road and traveling incognito back to their own country. “Infuriated” at being found out and “tricked” by the wise men, Herod paid “homage” to the prophesized birth of the Messiah: he ordered the killing of all the male Jewish children, “two years and under,”` throughout Bethlehem born beneath that star—to dispose of any threat to his power. And, according to the ancient story, there was “lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.” (Matthew 2: 1-18)
Former president George W. Bush and his vice preident, Dick Cheney, are “King Herods” of today. They and their administration paid “homage” to Iraq, calling their criminal invasion and occupation, “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” stating their pre-emptive war against Iraq was about protecting America and its allies from Saddam Hussein’s horrible weapons of mass destruction. They claimed it was also about bringing “freedom” and “democracy” to the Iraqi people—palatable goals for American public consumption. They kept secret all of the critical evidence that revealed Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. But that did not stop them once they got their war of choice going. The goal of “the greatest nation on earth,” they told everyone, included making America and the world safe by getting rid of the Iraqi tyrant. In reality, they brought fear not “freedom” to Iraq—and to America, and death and not “democracy” to both countries. There is “lamentation, weeping and great mourning” in Iraq today. Rachel is weeping for her Iraqi children, and refusing to be comforted because of the deaths and maiming and diminishing of so many of her children’s lives, on the orders of America’s “King Herods.” Rachel is also weeping for her American children needlessly sacrificed on the altars of corporations and politicians who profit and maintain their power through endless war.
The truths being disclosed are very “frightening” to America’s “King Herods.” Thus they are violently opposed to the “good news” being revealed by WikiLeaks for all the people to see. WikiLeaks’ disclosure of nearly 400,000 classified US Iraqi war documents show that US foreign policy is not about paying “homage” to the Iraqi people but about committing homicide against them. Being “tricked” by WikiLeaks and its whistleblowers, like true humanistic patriot Private Bradley Manning, the “King Herods” of American foreign policy, find these truths “frightening” and “infuriating.”
A number of their spokespersons have condemned the leaking of state secrets. The BBC News reported that “both US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the UK’s Ministry of Defence suggest[ed] the disclosures put lives at risk.” And Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said of the release of more documents, “Another irresponsible posting of stolen classified documents by Wikileaks puts lives at risk and gives adversaries valuable information.” (“Wikileaks: Iraq war logs ‘reveal truth about conflict,’” 23 October 2010)
The documents’ release “puts lives at risk?” The “Iraq war logs” document “more than 109,000 violent deaths between 2004 and the end of 2009. . . .includ[ing] 66,081 civilians . . . and 3,771 coalition troops . . . [which] appear to contradict earlier claims that the US did not keep records of civilians killed.” The Iraq Body Count, which collates the death of Iraqi civilians, stated that a sampling of only 860 logs of the nearly 400,000 secret US documents indicates “that around 15,000 previously unknown civilian deaths would be identified.” Furthermore, “The documents also reveal many previously unreported instances in which US forces killed civilians at checkpoints and during operations.” And the documents “describe the apparent torture of Iraqi detainees by the Iraqi authorities, sometimes using electrocution, electric drills and in some cases even executing detainees, says BBC’s Adam Brookes.” The story continues, “The US military knew of the abuses, the documents suggest, but reports were sent up the chain of command marked ‘no further investigation,’ our correspondent adds.” (Ibid)
Admiral Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates reacted similarly when WikiLeaks released 75,000 classified documents about the war in Afghanistan. The New York Times reported Mullen as stating, “Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.” (“Gates Assails WikiLeaks Over Release Of Reports,” By Charlie Savage, July 30, 2010) Defense Secretary Gates joined in by “asserting that the security breach had endangered lives and damaged the ability of others to trust the United States government to protect their secrets.” (Ibid)
WikiLeaks “might already have on their hands the blood of some American soldier or that of an Afghan family?” WikiLeaks founded Julian Assange, as reported, responded by “accus[ing] the Pentagon of trying to distract attention from the thousands of lives being lost in the war.” He said, “One must consider why the Pentagon is focusing on the hypothetical blood that it says might be on our hands—although there is no evidence of that—compared to the 20,000 lives that have been lost in Afghanistan that are documented and exposed by our material. (“Afghan leak: Wikilaks’ Assange denies ‘blood on hands,’” BBC NEWS US & CANADA, 30 July 2010) As also reported, Assange “has said that hundreds of . . . unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings by NATO forces . . . should be investigated by the media for evidence of war crimes.” (“WikiLeaks set to release more Afghan files,” By Raphael G. Satter and Anne Flaherty, Associated Press, The Boston Globe, Aug. 13, 2010)
“WikiLeaks may have blood on its hands?” Julian Assange is quoted as “blast[ing] the Pentagon’s leadership today for not announcing a broad inquiry into the war efforts. Saying he was “’disappointed in what was left out’ of Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ comment . . . ‘about hypothetical blood,’ Assange said . . . ‘the grounds of Iraq and Afghanistan are covered with real blood.’” (“WikiLeaks’ Assange Strikes Back at Pentagon,” by Sharon Weinberger, Contributor, Aol News., July 30, 22010)
How many of those, whose blood has been shed in Iraq and Afghanistan by America’s “King Herods,” are male and female children, “two year and under?” Three years and older? Christmas is about the blood of Rachel and her children in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congressman Ron Paul proclaimed the “good news” of great truths for all the people to hear, in defending WikiLeaks before Congress in a speech called, “WikiLeaks: Don’t Kill the Messenger—Stop Lying to the People!” Congressman Paul dared to ask the real question: “Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths: lying us into war or Wikileaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?” He got at the truth with, “Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on Wikileaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?” He went to the heart of the matter: “Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in a time of declared war, which is treason, and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death and corruption?” And he ended with a deeper Christmas meaning of “Blessed are the peacemakers”: “Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it is wrong?”(RonPaul.com, Dec. 10, 2010)
“Good news” at Christmas, or at any other time, is about WikiLeaks’ and other revelations of truths that expose the secrets of today’s “King Herods.” Truths that inform people, and thus free and empower them to live by the Golden Rule, which is the heartbeat of democracy and of peacemakers.
Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D. is a hospital chaplain and a diplomate in the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. Both a Unitarian Universalist and a United Methodist minister, he has written research reports, essays and articles on racism, war, politics and religion. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.