A child’s curiosity and natural desire to learn are like a tiny flame, easily extinguished unless it’s protected and given fuel. This book will help you as a parent both protect that flame of curiosity and supply it with the fuel necessary to make it burn bright throughout your child’s life. Let’s ignite our children’s natural love of learning!
October 24th, 2010
Wickedness, Abominations, and WikiLeaks
photo credit: R_SH
Over 1,600 years ago, the prophet Mormon painstakingly chiseled away at his plates of ore to tell the tale of his people for future generations. From a young age, he had been set apart to prophesy to his people, the Nephites, and guard the sacred records that recounted their prosperity and their iniquity. At age 15, he was appointed general over all the Nephite armies—a daunting task for anybody, let alone a young teenager, since their persistent enemy, the Lamanites, were waging war against them.
Mormon’s instructions, given by his prophetic predecessor, were to “engrave on the plates of Nephi all the things that ye have observed concerning this people.” From the start, Mormon lamented the wickedness of his fellow Nephites—their rebellion against God, their hard hearts, and their embracing “sorceries, witchcrafts, and magic”. In short, they had rejected God, and been left to themselves. The consequence, writes Mormon, was “blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land”. “It was one complete revolution,” he said.
A short time later, Mormon documented “a full account of all the wickedness and abominations” he had witnessed, one which “ha[d] been before [his] eyes ever since [he was] sufficient to behold the ways of man.” He had plenty of material to report, including the implementation of pre-emptive warfare, people enjoying and thirsting after bloodshed, twice sacrificing women and children to idol gods, entire cities razed to the ground, forced cannibalism, rape, torture, and murder, and the destruction of over two hundred thousand of his men.
In writing about such depravity, Mormon was sensitive to what future readers would think. “I, Mormon, do not desire to harrow up the souls of men in casting before them such an awful scene of blood and carnage as was laid before mine eyes,” he wrote. Still, he recognized the importance of informing others of what had happened, so they could learn from others’ mistakes and prevent a recurrence of such atrocities. He therefore proceeded with his work, “…[k]nowing that these things must surely be made known,” he wrote, “and that all things which are hid must be revealed upon the house-tops.” That was something Christ himself had mentioned during his ministry, saying that “whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”
While the primary purpose of the abridged record was “to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God,” a secondary and important purpose was noted when Nephi wrote that “the nations who shall possess [the records] shall be judged of them according to the words which are written.” Jesus Christ, in his visit to the Nephite people a few centuries earlier, stated that “out of the books which have been written, and which shall be written, shall this people be judged, for by them shall their works be known unto men.” Judgment requires accountability, and to be accountable we must be informed—thus the importance of documenting experiences, prophecies, mistakes, and miracles.
After Mormon’s death, his son continued to document what he observed, writing that one day it would “be brought out of darkness unto light, and that it “shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people.” Referring to the secrecy his father and Jesus had mentioned would one day be widely declared, Moroni prophesied that their record would see the light in a time when “secret combinations and the works of darkness” raged.
Mormon and his son Moroni, analyzing the records of the Jaredite and Nephite people, had intimate and explicit knowledge about why these societies imploded, and what factors played an important part. The information they chose to pass on—the good news of the gospel along with all the war stories, corruption, conspiracies, and wickedness—was not intended merely for casual reading and historical analysis. Moroni knew that what they were documenting had deeper intent:
Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.
Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.
For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.
Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved. (Ether 8:23-26)
Earlier this year, I wrote an article about WikiLeaks—an organization which, though it and its leaders certainly have their faults, is similar in many ways to the work in which Mormon was engaged. This group of hackers and activists has been extremely effective in relaying to the world a small sample of what surely is a staggering amount of corruption and conspiracy—or, as Mormon would say, “wickedness and abominations”.
Just a few days after I wrote that post, WikiLeaks released a segment of classified U.S. military footage showing a series of attacks by an Apache helicopter on unarmed Iraqi citizens, killing 12, including two Reuters employees. This video highlighted in the U.S. military an element which Mormon noticed in his own: a thirst after bloodshed. The soldiers are overheard chuckling about shooting individuals and running one over with a tank; they shoot people who arrive to collect their wounded friends (in direct violation of the Rules of Engagement); they begged and were very eager to shoot a person already wounded and disabled by their helicopter-mounted guns; and they showed absolutely no remorse for having fired upon children riding in the van that was intended to transport the wounded.
In July, WikiLeaks released over 75,000 documents it had been delivered relating to the war in Afghanistan, spanning six years. The reports consist of reports made by soldiers on the battlefield observing and reporting on the circumstances in which they had been engaged. They relate things, some of which were already known from other sources: that the Taliban was growing in strength and being assisted by Pakistan, a country to which the Untied States is supplying billions of dollars; that the Afghanistan government is corrupt; and that the United States has killed Afghanistan civilians, many of which they had not previously reported. On one occasion, a group of soldiers gunned down a bus with their machine gun, wounding or killing 15 of the passengers. On another, marines shot down civilians after witnessing a suicide bombing and allegedly coming under small arms fire. According to The Guardian, the soldiers “open[ed] fire with automatic weapons as they tore down a six-mile stretch of highway, hitting almost anyone in their way — teenage girls in the fields, motorists in their cars, old men as they walked along the road. Nineteen unarmed civilians were killed and 50 wounded.” On yet another occasion, as documented in the logs, U.S. special forces dropped six one-ton bombs on a compound hoping to kill a “high-value individual”. The government reported that 150 Taliban died as a result; locals reported differently, namely, that up to 300 civilians had died.
Last Friday, WikiLeaks released their most recent—and most important—set of documents they had been leaked. These reports, also spanning six years, are a collection of almost 400,000 field reports from the war in Iraq. The files record over 66,000 civilian deaths out of a total recorded death toll of 109,000—over 15,000 more than were previously admitted by the U.S. government. They contain reports of torture by Iraqi police on their fellow countrymen, and the institutionalized indifference of the U.S. government which knew of its occurrence and frequency, yet did nothing; summary executions by Iraqis with the coalition forces noting that “no investigation is necessary”; and, as with Afghanistan, a propensity for being all too trigger happy. In one case, two suspected “insurgents” had tried to surrender to the soldiers in an overhead Apache helicopter, but a lawyer at the military base told the pilots “You cannot surrender to an aircraft.” The soldiers engaged their targets, gunning down the unarmed men hiding in a shack. The reports also mention U.S. troops killing almost 700 civilians for coming too close to checkpoints, including pregnant women and the mentally handicapped. Also highlighted are examples where mercenaries-for-hire killed civilians, such as a Blackwater employee shooting up a vehicle, killing a father and wounding his wife and daughter.
Mormon’s inclusion of “the war chapters” in the Book of Mormon, and the mentions of conspiracy, crime, and violence that permeate the entire scriptural record, surely was included to help us modern readers see the need to "renounce war and proclaim peace"—a fundamental step in coming to Christ, the Prince of Peace. Though we can do nothing for the Nephites whose history we read in the Book of Mormon‘s pages, we can yet learn from their mistakes and make changes in our behavior—and influence that of others—in our own day.
What WikiLeaks has provided us, however, is the opportunity to not merely learn from history, but to help change it. God only knows why he will have all secrets shouted upon the housetops, but he once made clear our duty in relation to uncovering the truth and exposing evil:
Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—
These should then be attended to with great earnestness.
Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things. (Doctrine and Covenants 123:13-15)
The Iraqi documents reveal that an average of 31 civilians died every single day during the six-year period they cover. They and the other documents describe conspiracy to suppress information, ignore torture and murder, and delight in violence. If we are to be judged by God according to our actions and the information we had access to, it is imperative that we have access to correct information. That the U.S. government has repeatedly and brazenly lied to each of us—those in whose name they wage these offensive wars—is not under debate. It is, therefore, a net positive when an organization helps expose this corruption, and demonstrates how bad our “awful situation” really is. In our effort to bring to light “all the hidden things of darkness,” we should applaud others who help us in that endeavor.
If we are to “suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above [us],” we need to know the truth. If the government is unwilling to provide the truth regarding issues about which it has detailed knowledge, or intentionally works to hide it, as is undeniably demonstrated in these military reports, then it must be obtained in other, more unconventional methods, including leaks. Critics nevertheless scoff at these leaks, regurgitating any of several knee-jerk reactions they’ve memorized from their favorite political pundit. One such response argues that these published reports will endanger the lives of our troops, and that they therefore should be kept confidential—and that anybody who publishes them should be either imprisoned, or as some have argued, executed. A person embracing this position would likewise take issue with my comparison to Mormon, probably suggesting that the time-delayed nature of Mormon’s writings means that no harm could be done to the Nephite armies. Perhaps they would suggest, by extension, that these documents could (and perhaps should) be revealed decades later.
But let’s not forget the purpose of Mormon’s writings. As already mentioned, his effort was not one of historical preservation for its own sake. Rather, he sought to change behavior, and bring people to God. He wanted to help people improve their lives, embrace the gospel, and shun wickedness. He knew that every soul is precious to God, and that he is no respecter of persons. As such, the lives of 31 slaughtered Iraqis each day are just as important to be preserved and improved as are the lives of people who might read the military’s reports decades from now. If the goal is to save and benefit lives, and change behavior, then there is literally no better time than the present to expose evil, highlight corruption, and apply needed pressure to produce legitimate change.
In the end, it’s up to each of us to determine how (or if) this information will get used. We can let the Book of Mormon gather dust on our bookshelf, or we can mechanically read a few verses a day, or we can study, internalize, and abide by its teachings. Similarly, we can ignore the reports WikiLeaks has helped bring to light and consider all involved to be traitors, or we can learn from the documented mistakes, root out the evident corruption within the government, hold the relevant people accountable, and immediately work to alter our actions and demand change.
I’m left to wonder: does it really matter that secrets are “revealed upon the house-tops,” if nobody cares nor truly listens?
26 Responses to “Wickedness, Abominations, and WikiLeaks”
December 16, 2014
[…] prophet Mormon knew that things in his day were anything but awesome. He extensively documented a long list of atrocities implemented by prideful people excusing away their wickedness. It was done to show […]
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
This is too long of a comment for Twitter, but every time a politician opens his mouth these days I’m ALWAYS reminded of the verse in 2 Nephi 9:34, “34 Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.”
While nearly every single one of them is a filthy liar, the key word in that verse is “thrust.” If someone is cast into hell it gives the image of him simply being dropped into a pit, whereas thrust means to, “Push forward with full force.”
Thank you for this thoughtful and well-prepared post.
There is a lot of good that can come from facing the covered-up realities of our overseas pre-emptive warfare. The leak of the “Pentagon Papers” and the release of key documents regarding the Watergate cover-ups for instance helped motivate the Church Committee for instance in which a bi-partisan commission of Congressman decided to stop avoiding the tough questions of foreign policy and domestic spying and put a legal end to much of the surreptitious ‘works of darkness’.
In recent years, however, many of those same Vietnam-era and Watergate politicians came back to power and — almost unbelievably — managed to repeal nearly every single one of the safeguards instituted by that important commission.
I was grateful for the Afghanistan wikileaks database, but I haven’t observed it having much of an impact on the national zeitgeist. Similarly, our own intelligence forces have publicly acknowledged working overtime with many, many full-time staffers to do everything they can to prevent these latest leaks from having any impact on policy or public knowledge.
I’m praying that these leaks have the impact that they can and should. Thank you for doing what you’ve been doing.
Thanks for an extremely well written article that outlines the road before us. We have been warned and forewarned about the evil conspiracy and the consequence of ignoring and submitting to it. God help us!
Wikileaks has chosen Der Spiegel newspaper as one of the newspapers to disclose to. I read Der Spiegel every day online. It has been very interesting to be able to read multiple articles, in great depth, about what the leaks reveal. In contrast, our own US media has very little to say.
I am still reading some of the many articles in the foreign media. But some articles point out that, (like the Pentagon says), little new information is in the leaks. For instance, very little is said concerning the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal or the genocide of Fallujah. However, the leaks are very adept at showing the every-day, true-to-life nature of what we are really doing there, in our occupation of Iraq.
Most, if not all Americans have no idea of what is going on there, or why we are even there to begin with. One of the statements in Der Spiegel today describes what most Americans are not even aware of. Speaking about the documents leaked by Wikileaks it says:
“They (the leaked docs) have a cumulative effect of painting a precise picture of an asymmetrical war in which a superpower equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry often stands helpless on the battlefield and doesn’t know what is happening to it.”
The leaks show some of the reasons for the violence in Iraq – – and it is not what most Americans think. Once Saddam Hussein and his government was deposed, it provided the vacuum of power which is being competed for by a few different factions, like Iran, Syria, Shiites, Sunnis, Sadr, and the Iraqi people themselves trying to align themselves with one of these factions simply in order to try to gain for themselves a little safety and security, which, it seems, our troops and hired mercenaries are unable to give them. The leaks show that we are not there for the “noble purposes” we were misled to believe, but there to occupy the area in an attempt to control the resources of that geographical area, which we seemingly cannot do.
If we believe the reporting of foreign media, it suddenly makes sense why we cannot “win this war.” Is it any wonder why the Pentagon doesn’t want these sins broadcast to the rooftops?
Secret combinations? But, that’s just gangs and the mafia, right?
**rolling my eyes**
Never underestimate the capacity for depravity of one who has vowed to accumulate armies and navies on his mission to reign with blood and horror throughout the world.
It’s sad when the “Saints” are among the most stubborn, who refuse to open their eyes to the truth.
Sadly people don’t seem to realize Moroni’s warning that secret combinations will attempt to overthrow the liberty of all nations. Not even gangs of thugs and the mafia have that kind of capability, though they can contribute to it- so long as it matches their own agenda.
However there is hope because not only does Satan not support his own followers (as Mormon mentions in Alma 30), but the beast will eat its own tail because, in their lust for power, the members of these combinations will eventually turn against each other to kill themselves off and Satan will just laugh at them even more because he’s done his work to make them all miserable.
Amen, Connor. May more of us hear this sermon, and feel the call to action. Too many of us have been content for too long to be led by unaccountable people who do not share our values.
Wikileaks is a direct slap in the face to the powerful, a monument to transparency, populism and human rights. Thus it’s no surprise to see the organized and dishonest attacks, attempted arrests under apparently-false charges, etc. brought against the site and its founder(s).
Wikileaks works In the same way that YouTube, Wikipedia and the Internet (really, any technology in which numbers, not individual power, are the real currency of communication) has brought truth, knowledge, information and a voice to those willing to work for them. There’s so much to say about this site and its influence and effects I don’t think it could fit in just one comment.
Hi Connor. Well written. Unfortunately these secret combinations aren’t the miltary. You need to set your sights higher. When you see it, you will awaken to your aweful situation. As Civilians we need to ensure that we preserve freedom here at home. We cannot do that by overlooking our own backyard while pointing our finger overseas. While I abhore what has been reported there, my efforts will be spent to change those who are over the military and thus be more effective. If we spot something and bring it to attention, they will just hide it elsewhere. If we dont change what is happening in our government, those “bloodthirsty” troops may be turned against us.
Roy, I believe that this post will clarify my stance on the issue you’re referring to.
In short, I agree.
A comment from HuffingtonPost, from the user “AirForce Vet”
It has been stated that the lives of Americans in uniform have been put in danger due to the leaks of these papers. Consider the following:
1. These papers didn’t put Americans in harms way. The papers only reveal that which occurred and they occurred due to the acts of men. Should we blame the people who leaked the papers that shined the light on the truth of the matter or do we blame the perpetrators? Those in charge put our troops in harm’s way each and everyday. I haven’t heard anyone deny the legitimacy of the papers. Don’t blame the leak of the papers; blame our government and ourselves for allowing these acts to persist with impunity.
2. Why did these heinous acts occur? Well, would you expect the fox to honestly supervise the fox over the hen house, when the fox supervising is doing the same thing that the fox over the hen house in doing.
3. Every time when enlightening leaks come to public knowledge and scrutiny, somehow these leaks put our troops in harm’s way. I guess to some, when all of the heinous acts and slime is hidden from public view and scrutiny, there’s no need to say our troops are in harm’s way. Our troops are in harm’s way as long as they are in these hell holes. If these heinous acts and crimes weren’t perpetrated then there would be nothing to leak.
Quote by Justice Louise D Brandeis, “Sunlight is the best Disinfectant”
Thought that would be pertinant to the discussion…..
I’m confused; where is the original post from “Air Force vet”?
I am trying to understand what are his words and what are the words of “brennan”; that’s all.
Great article, I hope that this serves as an invaluable reminder to guard against complacency/apathy towards government; turning a blind eye away from authority – not holding government to some sort of accountability. This wikileaks phenomenon should prove to be a healthy thing… I hope.
I dont believe one word of what you wrote in your post. NOT ONE WORD. I will defend you till my death for your right to say what you believe.
Previous commenter, Mark, didn’t believe one word you wrote in your post! wow, I suppose he’s not a Latter-day Saint and simply doesn’t believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
Anyways… this article is great Connor. It really puts this Wikileaks thing into perspective. I can’t understand why so many people think they are traitors?
Can you elaborate Mark? What’s not to believe?
Can we honestly think that the government is not going to hide corruption from us for our benefit….or for theirs?
The point I believe is that the American People have been lied to. I don’t dislike the military. I don’t dislike America. I DO dislike being lied to.
The military is a great avenue to find a career, to show patriotism…and well to do quite a whole heap of things. But the military is nothing more than a pawn in the game of politics.
Freedom does not come at the end of a weapon. It comes from God himself. No man can ever take away what God gives freely to everyone.
I would like to understand what it is you are trying to express. Do you think Connor is wrong with his point of view? Why? What do you see being the point in being in Afgahnistan? Should the military be used as a weapon? Do you feel that the military is being used more as a weapon than our defence team? WIll more killing bring more peace? Are we defending or are we just killing?
Lots of questions. Would you please let me know what you think. I’d really appreaciate it. Cheers.
“But the military is nothing more than a pawn in the game of politics.”
L. Brown, you reminded me of Henry Kissinger’s quote:
“military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.”
The following article is a good one by George Friedman from Stratfor:
Bottom line from the article – these leaks are shocking only to those who wish to be shocked. The bigger mystery is how they were leaked in the first place, which makes you wonder if they were leaked intentionally and not as a result of some righteous standard-bearer of truth uncovering secrets and wickedness, but rather as a disinformation campaign that is being orchestrated by some of the highest levels of power.
Another good line from the article “The WikiLeaks seem to show that like sausage-making, one should never look too closely at how wars are fought.”
“if they were leaked intentionally and not as a result of some righteous standard-bearer of truth uncovering secrets and wickedness, but rather as a disinformation campaign that is being orchestrated by some of the highest levels”
When Wikileaks exposes some inside documents on who made the nano-thermite used in bringing down the three skyscrapers of the WTC, or what hit the Pentagon, or where the plane went that was shot down over Shanksville, you will know if they are legit or not.
I’m not sure I’m following your line of reasoning.
First of all, I strongly disagree with the conclusions of the article you posted. The author suggests that because wars are so “fraught with deceit and dissension” — even amongst allies — that it would be better if we all just stuck our heads in the sand and let others conduct the wars without question.
What?? Who should we trust with unbridled license to lie, deceive, and wage murderous warfare unquestioned? That is about the most insane conclusion I’ve ever seen openly advocated — I’ll concede that it *is* a fairly widely accepted position . . . I’ve just always figured so many people accept the idea because they never think about it in clear terms!
Second of all, the Afghanistani wikileaks are demonstrably not disinformation — at least not in the classic sense. They are mundane and verifiable ‘reports from the field’. Agreed by both supporters and detractors of the war effort. I’ve seen the charge that the leaks are ‘selective reports’ — and I understand that is generally a fabulous way to ‘disinform’ — but if you take the time to peruse the database, what you find is that there are simply so many reports that charges of ‘selectivity’ are pointless. Even if somebody had taken the time to cull most of the successful reports from the unsuccessful operations (and I’ve never seen a credible accusation that that was indeed the case) — even if one were to try to give the war efforts a strong dose of the ‘benefit of the doubt’ — the overall accumulation of so many failed missions for the same reasons over and over and over and over (generally arming and funding duplicitous locals, dehumanizing and misunderstanding the locals, expecting the local populace to embrace martial law, indiscriminate ‘accidental killings’, etc.) that it becomes clear that the picture being painted for the American people is so dishonest and and so out of sync with reality that we should stop allowing these wars to be waged in our names, and with our blood and treasure. Period. If there are any at the highest levels of power who also support such a thing then good. I’m never a believer in the ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ kind of thing. I wouldn’t oppose peace just because somebody I don’t trust might also possibly seem to support it.
Just came across your article and it is a good read. My problem with this whole Wikileaks thing, is that it is only our country all these files are coming from. Had Great Britian and Russia and China had their files leaked, ok its a good thing. Unfortunately, only our country’s files are leaked and therefore my concern are all the undercover men and women that are out there that the aveage Joe like me knows nothing about that will have something happen to them. Their governement for good reason will never acknowledge their existence upon their capture and they are at the mercy of their captives. For that reason and a couple others, this whole thing is doing WAY more harm then good. If this guy has leaked other countries info similar to ours then I will eat my crow and stand corrected. until then I think this guy must be stopped by any means. Preferably Jason Bourne. Ya that sounds harsh, but until i am ocnvinced otherwise that is the action we should be taking.
Take a look at the ‘cablegate’ releases. This isn’t a Valerie Plame covert CIA agent outing kind of thing.
These are simply [sometimes] embarrassing diplomatic releases – what did the Embassies really say to each other, for instance. What did they really agree to cover up or push for. These are the people we’ve been trusting to act in our name and our good faith. These releases are certainly not the kind of thing that puts intelligence agents in danger. In the instances where the report might expose an in-country informer, the information has been carefully redacted [blacked out or removed].
So, look into what it really is [and not what opportunistic pundits are making it out to be] and see if you still feel the same way.
Is Assange a bad guy?
Is he a good guy?
Is he ‘owned’ by CIA/Mossad, etc.–
Is he a renegade for truth?
Do you know? I don’t.
Agreed MormonLib. I think those of us who think this is a good thing could be getting duped on this one. Something just smells too fishy. Whether or not Assange is a bad guy or not isn’t as important as what this whole situation means in the greater scheme of things. It does seem contrived to me though. It could very well be another manufactured problem, reaction, solution. Caution is the word on this one.