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"The Most Dangerous Men in America": Daniel Ellsberg, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden

This photo and the film "The Picture of the Napalm Girl" were presented at Cinema for Peace Berlin 2010 by photographer Nick Ut, exposing the true horrors of war in Vietnam.

"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind."
- George Orwell

BERLIN – For a number of times in the past, wars have been justified by propaganda. Such was the case in Vietnam and Iraq, where the public was misled into believing that these wars were both necessary and just. They were said to be unavoidable in order to protect human lives around the world, but in reality, they only caused more massive suffering, that in fact continues to this day.

Whistleblowers have changed the reception of war. After Daniel Ellsberg published the truth about the war in Vietnam, public opinion changed and the war was brought to an end. Julian Assange's WikiLeaks has provided a platform for a number of revelations that have shaken the foundations of what we believe our governments are doing, and how detached that belief is from the reality. Bradley Manning's disclosures through WikiLeaks provided us with a picture of the true face of modern conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. Among these was the remarkable and controversial video that depicted an Apache gunship crew engaging against helpless civilians, Reuters journalists and the man who tried to help those that got shot. 

Most recently, Edward Snowden helped shed light on the most sophisticated global electronic surveillance system ever deployed by the US National Security Agency – basically the prophecy of Big Brother come true.The leaks have showed us a world of governmental secrecy and manipulation that erodes the citizens' constitutional rights. Opponents of these leaks say that diplomacy must be kept confidential, that such revelations are an act of treason and they put people in danger and risk innocent lives. 

President Obama has commented on the most recent leaks by Snowden that, "No, I don't think Mr. Snowden was a patriot. I called for a thorough review of our surveillance operations before Mr. Snowden made these leaks. My preference, and I think the American people's preference, would have been for a lawful, orderly examination of these laws; a thoughtful fact-based debate that would then lead us to a better place." 

Sarah Harrison, a journalist and lawyer that helped Edward Snowden secure asylum in Russia and met Cinema for Peace in Berlin, said in a statement published in November: "In these times of secrecy and abuse of power there is only one solution – transparency. If our governments are so compromised that they will not tell us the truth, then we must step forward to grasp it. Provided with the unequivocal proof of primary source documents people can fight back. If our governments will not give this information to us, then we must take it for ourselves." For the full statement please see below.

Julian Assange similarly pointed out, "We must all look into ourselves and understand whether what we are doing is right and just. Not just according to the view of our superiors, but according to the long view of history, according to human rights and to our feelings of compassion, if we have any."


Cinema for Peace Whistleblower Screening
"
The Most Dangerous Men in America: Daniel Ellsberg, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden"

We would like to invite you to our Monthly Screening on this issue in Berlin on November 28th at 18.30 at the Soho House.
We will be screening the Oscar-nominated  film "Most Dangerous Man in America", which tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg, one of the most famous whistleblowers in US history who leaked the Pentagon Papers and contributed to ending the war in Vietnam.

Please sign up for the screening at guest@cinemaforpeace.com

Statement by Sarah Harrison
Originally posted 6 November 2013, 17:30 UTC on WikiLeaks

As a journalist I have spent the last four months with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and arrived in Germany over the weekend. I worked in Hong Kong as part of the WikiLeaks team that brokered a number of asylum offers for Snowden and negotiated his safe exit from Hong Kong to take up his legal right to seek asylum. I was travelling with him on our way to Latin America when the United States revoked his passport, stranding him in Russia. For the next 39 days I remained with him in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where I assisted in his legal application to 21 countries for asylum, including Germany, successfully securing his asylum in Russia despite substantial pressure by the United States. I then remained with him until our team was confident that he had established himself and was free from the interference of any government.

Whilst Edward Snowden is safe and protected until his asylum visa is due to be renewed in nine months’ time, there is still much work to be done. The battle Snowden joined against state surveillance and for government transparency is one that WikiLeaks – and many others – have been fighting, and will continue to fight.

WikiLeaks’ battles are many: we fight against unaccountable power and government secrecy, publishing analysis and documents for all affected and to forever provide the public with the history that is theirs. For this, we are fighting legal cases in many jurisdictions and face an unprecedented Grand Jury investigation in the United States. WikiLeaks continues to fight for the protection of sources. We have won the battle for Snowden’s immediate future, but the broader war continues.

Already, in the few days I have spent in Germany, it is heartening to see the people joining together and calling for their government to do what must be done – to investigate NSA spying revelations, and to offer Edward Snowden asylum. The United States should no longer be able to continue spying on every person around the globe, or persecuting those that speak the truth.

Snowden is currently safe in Russia, but there are whistleblowers and sources to whom this does not apply. Chelsea Manning has been subject to abusive treatment by the United States government and is currently serving a 35-year sentence for exposing the true nature of war. Jeremy Hammond is facing a decade in a New York jail for allegedly providing journalists with documents that exposed corporate surveillance. I hope I have shown a counter example: with the right assistance whistleblowers can speak the truth and keep their liberty.

Aggressive tactics are being used against journalists, publishers and experts who work so courageously to bring truth to the world. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jacob Appelbaum are all in effective exile. Barrett Brown is indicted for reporting on unethical surveillance practices. My editor Julian Assange has asylum over US threats, but the United Kingdom refuses to allow him to fully exercise this right, violating the law. The UK government also detained David Miranda under the UK Terrorism Act for collaborating with Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald.

The UK Terrorism Act defines terrorism as the action or threat of action “designed to influence” any government “for the purpose of advancing a political or ideological cause”. It prescribes actions that interfere with the functioning of an “electronic system” (i.e. the NSA’s bulk spying program) or which the government alleges create a “risk” to a section of the public. It should be fanciful to suggest that national security journalism which has the purpose of producing honest government or enforcing basic privacy rights should be called “terrorism”, but that is how the UK is choosing to interpret this law. Almost every story published on the GCHQ and NSA bulk spying programs falls under the UK government’s interpretation of the word “terrorism”. In response, our lawyers have advised me that it is not safe to return home. The job of the press is to speak truth to power. And yet for doing our job we are persecuted. I say that these aggressive and illegal tactics to silence us – inventing arbitrary legal interpretations, over-zealous charges and disproportionate sentences – must not be permitted to succeed. I stand in solidarity with all those intimidated and persecuted for bringing the truth to the public.

In these times of secrecy and abuse of power there is only one solution – transparency. If our governments are so compromised that they will not tell us the truth, then we must step forward to grasp it. Provided with the unequivocal proof of primary source documents people can fight back. If our governments will not give this information to us, then we must take it for ourselves.

When whistleblowers come forward we need to fight for them, so others will be encouraged. When they are gagged, we must be their voice. When they are hunted, we must be their shield. When they are locked away, we must free them. Giving us the truth is not a crime. This is our data, our information, our history. We must fight to own it. Courage is contagious.

Sarah Harrison, Wednesday 6 November 2013, Berlin

We invite you to watch also the following trailers on the topic of governmental spying and whistleblowers that expose the truths:
  • THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith is the story of what happens when a former Pentagon insider, armed only with his conscience, steadfast determination, and a file cabinet full of classified documents, decides to challenge an "Imperial" Presidency – answerable to neither Congress, the press, nor the people-in order to help end the Vietnam War.
  • WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS by Alex Gibney is a 2013 American independent documentary film about the organization started by Julian Assange, and people involved in the collection and distribution of secret information and media by whistleblowers.
  • THE WAR YOU DON'T SEE by John Pilger challenges the media for the role they played in the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel/Palestine conflicts.
  • STATEMENT FROM JULIAN ASSANGE on YouTube.
  • STATEMENT FROM EDWARD SNOWDEN on YouTube.
  • DUSTIN HOFFMAN's speech at Cinema for Peace Berlin 2003 on the war in Iraq and on starting wars on false premises.
  • COLLATERAL MURDER is a video clip from onboard a US Apache gunship that shows how US troops engage against Reuters journalists and civilians that are thought to be insurgents in Eastern Baghdad, killing them all with machine gun fire.


"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind."
- George Orwell
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