Saturday 27 April 2013

Fasle Propoganda Used at Guantanamo Bay Prison

WASHINGTON--The US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has been caught conducting covert propaganda attacks on the internet. The attacks, exposed by government transparency group Wikileaks, include deleting detainees' ID numbers from Wikipedia, the systematic posting of unattributed "self praise" comments on news organization web sites in response to negative press, boosting pro-Guantanamo stories on the internet news site Digg and even modifying Fidel Castro's encyclopedia article to describe the Cuban president as "an admitted transexual" [sic].
Among the un- or mis-attributed responses to news stories were statements such as "[Guantanamo is] a very professional place full of true American patriots." and comments playing down the impact of leaked documents which among other matters mandated all Guantanamo detainees to have no contact with the Red Cross for at least the first 2-4 weeks after their arrival: "interesting document but not at all relevant today as much of this has changed over the years."
Shayana Kadidal, Managing Attorney of the Center for Constitutional Rights Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative, said in response to the report:
"The military's efforts to alter the record by vandalizing Wikipedia are of a piece with the amateurism of their other public relations efforts: [such as] their ridiculous claims that released detainees who criticize the United States in the media have 'returned to the battlefield'."
Guantanamo command spokesman Lt. Col. Edward Bush, at first denied the charges (to the New York Daily News), but then dramatically fell over himself in attempting to attack Wikileaks for fingering members of the Guantanamo Public Affairs Office as among the culprits:
“There has been no attempt to alter/change any information that has been posted anywhere,” Lt. Col. Bush said in the statement e-mailed to us. “That would be unethical.” Bush said in a subsequent phone call that there’s no way to know if any of the 3,000 uniformed military at Gitmo was responsible for the documented changes, but he promised his public affairs staff was not behind it. He also blasted [Wikileaks] for identifying one sailor in his office by name, who has since received death threats for simply doing his job - posting positive comments on the Internet about Gitmo.
Wikileaks subsequently asked noted computer security expert Bruce Schneier to independently review the evidence:
"Based on the evidence, it is obvious that these changes came from people stationed at Guantanamo Bay. The only other possibility is that someone hacked into the Guantanamo Bay computers in an effort to frame the U.S. government; certainly possible but much less likely."
Barring obscure loopholes, the admitted acts of the Guantanamo Bay Public Affairs Office are unlawful:
  1. "publishing material which is misleading as to its origin" (covert propaganda)
  2. "publicity of a nature tending to emphasize the importance of the agency or activity in question" (self aggrandizement)
  3. "publicity or propaganda within the United States" (domestic propaganda)
The first two activities are illegal under several appropriations and other acts as detailed in a similar case investigated by the Government Accounting Office in 2005: [ http://gao.gov/decisions/appro/303495.htm ]
The third, depending on how the Public Affairs Office funding was structured during time the activities took place may also be illegal. Since 1951, the following prohibition on the use of appropriated funds for propaganda purposes has been enacted annually: "No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by Congress." [ http://fas.org/sgp/congress/2005/s020205.html ]
Joint Task Force Guantanamo has often claimed to be outside of US legal jurisdiction, for example in regards to the Habeas Corpus rights of detainees. However most of the news organizations and other sites affected are located in the United States as are the majority of their readers.
Wikileaks has referred the matter to the GAO and the Department of Defense Inspector General for further investigation.

U.S. military personnel at Guantánamo Bay called Fidel Castro a transsexual and defended the prison for terrorism suspects in anonymous Web postings, an Internet group that publishes government documents said Wednesday.
The group, Wikileaks, tracked Web activity by service members with Guantánamo e-mail addresses and also found they deleted prisoner identification numbers from three detainee profiles on Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia that allows anyone to change articles.
Julian Assange, who led the research effort, said the postings amount to propaganda and deception.
This is the American government speaking to the American people and to the world through Wikipedia, not identifying itself and often speaking about itself in the third person, Assange said in a telephone interview from Paris.
Army Lt. Col. Ed Bush, a prison camps spokesman, said there is no official attempt to alter information posted elsewhere but said the military seeks to correct what it believes is incorrect or outdated information about the prison.
Bush declined to answer questions about the Castro posting.
Assange said that in January 2006, someone at Guantánamo wrote in a Wikipedia profile of the Cuban president: Fidel Castro is an admitted transexual, the unknown writer said, misspelling the word ``transsexual.
The U.S. has no formal relations with Cuba and has maintained its base in the southeast of the island over the objections of the Castro government.
Comments on news stories were posted by people using apparently fictitious names to news sites -- and were prepared by the Guantánamo public affairs office, according to Wikileaks. A comment on a Wired magazine story about a leaked Guantánamo operations manual that was recently posted on the Wikileaks Web site urged readers to learn about Guantánamo by going to the public affairs Web site, adding that the base is ``a very professional place full of true American patriots.
Assange's group could not specifically identify who from Guantánamo made about 60 edits to Wikipedia entries on topics that included not only the prison but also subjects such as football, cars and television programs.
The detention center at the U.S. Navy base currently has about 305 men on suspicion of links to terrorism, al Qaeda or the Taliban.

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