I had the great pleasure today to present the Sam Adams Award for Integrity to Julian Assange at the big Wikileaks press conference in London.
I fear I did not do this very well. In fact I was merely trying to pass the award to Dan Ellsberg to present at the end of his talk, when he introduced me to make the presentation. I felt pretty shy at holding up a press conference being seen around the world, so I virtually threw the award candlestick at Julian and got off. The consequence of my lack of composure was that few people realised who I was or what had just been given.
Those who watched the full press conference on Sky or BBC red button will have seen me. Nadira said it just looked like some nutter had got up from the audience to give Julian a present. Oh well.
As for the Wikileaks document, the relentless detail of casual and routine torture and murder is chilling. But what I find most shocking is the fact that the military did in fact keep detailed and careful count of many tens of thousands of civilian deaths in Iraq – some 70,000 are detailed. Yet all the time it was claimed, again and again and again from Blair and Bush down, that there were no official figures on civilian deaths and no estimates could be given.
If there had been a tiny bit of honesty in the official version of events, there might be some reason to consider the British and American government’s claims that British and American troops are put at risk because people know the truth.
This does not put soldiers lives at risk. What it puts at risk is the reputation of lying politicians and bureaucrats who send soldiers to their deaths.