Were U.S. Hikers Seized in Iraq?

For a while some cynics have claimed that Wikileaks was being used to disseminate disinformation to a public who are growing increasingly sceptical of the corporate media.

Wikileaks claimed founder, Julian AssangeIt has even been suggested that the CIA or Mossad were behind Wikileaks.

However, the moot point may not be whether Wikileaks is being used to spread disinformation but how such “leaks” are being used.

A recent report is a case in point. Saturday’s New York Times reports that classified U.S. military documents made public by WikiLeaks claim that the American hikers held by Iran were actually on the Iraqi side of the border when they were seized.

What four American Jews were doing hundreds of miles away from Israel and so close to the Iranian border remains open to question. However one of the hikers, Shon Meckfessel, became ill and stayed behind while his friends Shane M. Bauer, Joshua F. Fattel and Sarah E. Shourd continued their trek up a mountainous region bordering Iran.

According to the New York Times, frenetic efforts to locate the hikers once they were missing appeared to support claims that they were “only tourists” and not U.S. spies, as Iran maintains.

What’s interesting about the Wikileaks report however is the fact that the hikers were reportedly warned about straying over the border into Iran. A warning they apparently chose to disregard.

To quote from the end of Wikileaks document, under the heading “S2 assessment”:

“The lack of co-ordination on the part of these hikers, particularly after being forewarned, indicates an intent to agitate and create publicity regarding international policies on Iran.”

So the hikers may well have had more on their itinerary than a leisurely stroll. They may have intended to “agitate” and create adverse “publicity” for Iran and if that was indeed their intention they succeeded admirably.

However, even more significant is the fact that the New York Times completely omits to mention this part of the Wikileaks disclosure.

So although the hikers may have had more on their itinerary than mere sightseeing the New York Times only dwells on claims that the hikers were on the Iraqi side of the border when seized.

In itself this is a highly moot point: the hikers may or may not have been inside Iran but the fact remains that they were warned and chose to ignore those warnings.

Adding to doubts about Wikileaks itself however, its latest disclosure put the number of civilian Iraqis killed from 2004 until the end of 2009 at 66,081 This is far short of other estimates that have put the overall death toll at closer to one million. Making the latest Wikileaks seem less like a revelation in undisclosed news and more like exercise in damage control.

Meanwhile, the latest New York Times describes Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as being “on the run”.

“He moves like a hunted man”, the Times claims: “He pitches his voice barely above a whisper to foil the Western intelligence agencies he fears…He checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends” The Times continues.

All of which sounds very exciting and would not be out of place in spy fiction. Indeed it could have been lifted an early James Bond story and for all we know it may have been dreamt up by the intelligence services in an attempt to restore the corporate media’s fading credibility.

That the corporate media has given the latest Wikileaks disclosure so much coverage – and done so without seriously questioning its content – should in itself give us pause for thought. While details like the estimated Iraqi civilian death toll should make us all the more suspicious.