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Whistleblowers will spend lives in prison for telling us about our own government


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Two men, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, are likely to spend the rest of their lives in jail because they gave us a glimpse of what our government is doing in our name.

Similar to Daniel Ellsberg in my generation, these men have put their idealism ahead of their personal fate. Certainly “they” tried to “get Ellsberg” but failed. This week, “they” forced down an aircraft that they thought might be carrying Snowden so it had to be rerouted. “They” will stop at nothing to assure that such a release of information never occurs in the future and we are kept in the dark.

The release of the Pentagon Papers did more to end the Vietnam War than everything but the Million Man March.

Again the public has been “brainwashed” to believe that the ”truth” of these matters is not as they clearly are — like the weapons of mass destruction that were not! But no one appears to care, and the killing and the destruction go on.

Why should families here and in Afghanistan suffer so much? Why should our infrastructure suffer because the assets are used elsewhere to try to maintain the “empire” that we have created?

Anyone who knows history knows how this all will end if we do not change our goals and methods of operation — absolutely similar to the Roman Empire and many others.

via Whistleblowers will spend lives in prison for telling us about our own government – Canton, OH – CantonRep.com.

 

Infographic: The sprint to freedom — how prominent US whistle-blowers have fared


Edward Snowden took the world by storm when he released confidential information about the US government’s mass surveillance programs.  Since then he has been called a traitor, a hero and a whistleblower.  He isn’t the first. From Daniel Ellsberg to Bradley Manning, a handful of individuals also share the title of whistle-blower.  The consequences since the release of the confidential information have all differed.

Click on the image below to launch interactive graphic

Additional research by AJ Libunao

via Infographic: The sprint to freedom — how prominent US whistle-blowers have fared | South China Morning Post.

Perspectives on Pfc. Bradley Manning from an anti-war veteran


As an anti-war veteran, my perspective on the Bradley Manning trial is that capitalism/imperialism has once again turned truth into a victim of war.

The Manning court martial trial presents challenges to vets. The government public relations campaign puts out allegations, disinformation and outright lies about what Manning is alleged to have done. Too often veterans are expected to support the official government and Pentagon positions no matter what, but anti-war vets typically don’t fit this traditional mold. We are outspoken, go against the grain and are demonstrative, for which we are criticized and attacked by conservative and pro-war forces.

The protests at Fort Meade, Md. where Pfc. Manning’s trial is taking place include many vets who are members of a number of anti-war veterans organizations as well as some who are unaffiliated.

As a Vietnam-era vet I’ve seen the attacks and lies before. I got out of the navy in 1969, fourteen months before the Pentagon Papers hit the streets. The Pentagon Papers validated what I had known to be true for the second half of my four-year enlistment: the government lied to get us into war and continued to lie to keep us fighting. Many of us veterans consider Bradley Manning to be this generation’s Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers.

Political and military “leaders” have consistently lied to get public support for waging wars in other people’s countries, and the corporate media falls in line until long after the fact, when the truth is eventually exposed. LBJ lied to get us into Vietnam; Reagan lied to invade Grenada and to overthrow the Sandinista government in the “Contra war” in Nicaragua; George W. Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction to wage war in Iraq. The list goes on and on. Service members, vets, the American public and those in far off lands who are subjugated by our political, military and economic “leaders” pay the price in blood and treasure for these lies and wars. Meanwhile, the war profiteers get rich.

Fourteen American resisters from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, some of whom are veterans and others who fled to Canada rather than continue their part in the two wars, sent a representative to the Bradley Manning protest on June 1 with a statement which she read at the rally: It stated in part:

“Many of you might remember what it was like under similar circumstances during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, we are living proof that not much has changed since then. The imperialist war machine is still turning out young killers with factory-like efficiency. Nowadays at the crew-served weapons ranges at Ft. Benning, they teach you to hold the butterfly trigger for three words, four syllables: “die-Hajji-die”. Since the start of these wars, thousands of U.S troops have deployed overseas to kill and die for these scumbags who run the show: the profiteers and the zealots. But, just as in all wars that are unjust and based on false pretenses, there springs forth an organic resistance to the bullshit.

Young people like Camilo Mejia, Mike Prysner, Kelly Doherty, Jeremy Hinzman, and Bradley Manning– you can’t really fit us into one category. We are not all socialists; we are not all pacifists; not all of us began our resistance from a place of ideology. Some of us had to see and do the things we did to figure out that we didn’t want to do them anymore, and some of us figured it out right away. We here in Canada left our contracts early, while those resisters who chose to stay behind became outspoken while respecting their contracts. Resistance has been unique to each individual-as it should be.”

This new generation of young war resisters has said ‘no’ to being a part of the U.S. military machine. They’re risking a lot to speak the truth from their ‘inside’ perspective. Bradley Manning risked everything to speak truth from his perspective. And at the Ft. Meade Main Gate they are represented by fellow young vets and by seasoned vets for whom the “organic resistance” to injustice and war has endured a lifetime.

The trial is expected to continue through the summer. You can be sure that U.S. veterans will continue to be there, supporting the truth-telling patriot and exposing the real criminals-the corporate-military-industrial-financial elites.

Photo: Dozens of veterans and activists demonstrated at President Obama’s campaign office in Oakland, Calif., August 2012, demanding Pfc. Bradley Manning’s freedom. (Bradley Manning Support/CC)

via Perspectives on Pfc. Bradley Manning from an anti-war veteran » peoplesworld.

A Round up of Bradley Manning News


Bradley Manning: Truth on trial?

Aljazeera.com
 available yet. Report. Published on Jun 24, 2013. This week, a special edition of the Listening Post with a special report on Bradley Manning and an exclusive interview with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
See all stories on this topic »

 

Roundup on Week 3 of Bradley Manning’s Trial
Firedoglake
As the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier who disclosed United States government information to WikiLeaks, enters its fourth week, the world’s focus is on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and his travel to Ecuador, where he has requested asylum.
See all stories on this topic »
 
The 10 best whistleblowers in movie history
Perth Now
By disclosing top-secret materials from one of the world’s most secretive agencies, the NSA, Snowden will join the ranks of Mark Felt, Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning as a man who willingly gave up all the comforts and security of his life in an 
See all stories on this topic »
 
Westwood gets political
USA TODAY
Westwood gets political. Known for her activism, Vivienne Westwood‘s latest collection shown in Milan included pictures of Bradley Manning, a US Army officer arrested in Iraq in 2010 on suspicion of passing classified material to WikiLeaks, pinned to 
See all stories on this topic »
 
Comment: Obama’s list of enemies
SBS
Activists display a photo of US President Barack Obama and pictures of former US spy Edward Snowden and whistleblower Bradley Manning during a protest action in Berlin. (AAP). Meet the seven men US President Barack Obama considers enemies of the 
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I’m convinced people do care about NSA overreach
San Diego CityBEAT
On June 6, The Guardian began reporting on the most significant unauthorized government document dump since Bradley Manning smuggled out hundreds of thousands of State Department records while pretending to rock out to Lady Gaga. This time 
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America: Have We Lost Our Way?

OpEdNews
Gitmo, Bradley Manning, violating sovereignty willy nilly, drone strikes even on American citizens… Basic disrespect for the principles we have preached so self-righteously to the world, on a scale that makes even prior hypocrisies (Reagan’s Central 
See all stories on this topic » 

Letter: Real criminals rigged game against Manning

Buffalo News
Pfc. Bradley Manning reported war crimes, which clearly indicated U.S. criminality, according to three articles of the Geneva Conventions. According to Nuremberg principles laid down by the United States, Manning was required to report war crimes. Yet 
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The Eternal Rebel – Ronnie Kasrils
AllAfrica.com
As the state calcifies into corporate totalitarianism, as prominent rebels such as Julian Assange,Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are defamed by a bankrupt media and political class and hunted down as criminals, as change through the established 
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The Pursuit of Edward Snowden: Washington in a Rage, Striving to Run the World
Huffington Post
Too rarely mentioned is the combination of nonviolence and idealism that has been integral to the courageous whistleblowing by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. Right now, one is on a perilous journey across the globe in search of political asylum, 
See all stories on this topic » 
The Trouble with Low Standards
The National Interest Online
The Snowden disclosure of course comes as another famous leaker, Army PFC Bradley Manning, is being tried for espionage at Fort Meade, Maryland. There’s some indication that Snowden sees himself as a fellow traveler of Manning; he has described the 
See all stories on this topic » 
Secrets and fears of a paranoid government
ABC Online
As well as Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, they’ve also charged a former CIA officer for revealing the names of colleagues involved in torture, a State Department advisor for leaking information about North Korea, and a senior executive at the 
See all stories on this topic » 
Snowden’s Asylum Request: ‘Unlikely I Would Receive Fair Trial or Proper 
Firedoglake
My case is also very similar to that of the American soldier Bradley Manning, who made public government information through Wikileaks revealing war crimes, was arrested by the United States government and has been treated inhumanely during his time in 
See all stories on this topic » 
Julian Assange: Edward Snowden Is ‘Safe And Healthy’
Huffington Post
 yet that Snowden’s fate is bound up with the assistance he receives from WikiLeaks, the noted transparency organization that came to its greatest fame three years ago when it released a massive cache of documents from Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.
See all stories on this topic » 
Edward Snowden Realizes He Can’t Live Without WikiLeaks
National Journal
Edward Snowden may not have chosen to go the route of fellow Espionage Act indictee Bradley Manning by releasing sensitive National Security Agency documents through WikiLeaks. Part of that, he said, was because he wanted every single page 
See all stories on this topic » 
Edward Snowden and the High Price of Civil Disobedience
Slate Magazine
To get an idea of what Snowden is staring down, we can just look at the case of WikiLeaks sourceBradley Manning. He was held for two years without trial (and, by some accounts, tortured) for releasing classified document. In March 2012, the Guardian 
See all stories on this topic » 
Whither Snowden? NSA whistleblower skips Moscow-Havana flight
Christian Science Monitor
Though Snowden himself remains invisible, Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño Aroca, read out a statement from him – reported by the Guardian – in which he compares himself with Bradley Manning, the former US army private currently on trial for 
See all stories on this topic » 
Julian Assange: Snowden is ‘Healthy, Safe and in Good Spirits’
TIME
Assange did tie Snowden’s case closely to that of Army private Bradley Manning, now on trial for leaking millions of pages of classified documents to WikiLeaks, in the episode that has made Assange an international celebrity. Assange said that U.S. 
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Snowden joins list of infamous political fugitives
NBCNews.com (blog)
 the founder of WikiLeaks, published reams of U.S. military and diplomatic documents. There have been no formal charges filed against him for the leaks, but Bradley Manning is currently on trial for allegedly giving WikiLeaks sensitive military 
See all stories on this topic »
 
US Cracks Down on Leaks With Insider Threat Program
The Takeaway
Launched not long after Private Bradley Manning shared classified documents with the website WikiLeaks, the program gives government agencies greater authority to investigate and punish potential leaks. To discuss this we’re joined by Kel McClanahan, 
See all stories on this topic »
 
Revenge of Assange as WikiLeaks helps US leaker
AFP
He linked his own fate not only with 30-year-old Snowden but with that of Bradley Manning, 25, the US soldier who is being tried on accusations of leaking the documents to WikiLeaks that were behind its first major information dumps in 2010. WikiLeaks 
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Uncle Sam’s eavesdropping reminiscent of the Nazis


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Public officials who insist that their actions be private and that private citizens’ actions be public sound like Hitler‘s old minister of public enlightenment and propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels’ pronouncement that “you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide” can be applied to the government also.

Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden all took the oath to defend the Constitution when they went into the military. Having taken the same oath myself, I know it has no expiration date.

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The uncomfortable truth is that some of us out here are committed to upholding that oath to protect the Constitution even if it results in death. It is an affront to our integrity to think that we will be silent just so public officials will not be embarrassed when it is revealed that they lied to the public and that they are enemies of the Constitution.

The military and NSA are being criticized for placing such young, idealistic men in positions that enable them to witness the workings of our government. We need more of these young individuals who refuse to speak the corrupted, Orwellian language of the old politicians and who uphold the truth regardless of the punishments for doing so.

Paul Appell

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via Forum: Uncle Sam’s eavesdropping reminiscent of the Nazis – Peoria, IL – pjstar.com.

The Soul-Rape of Bradley Manning


US Army Private Bradley Manning is being persecuted for exposing war crimes committed by the Bush and Obama administrations. Like any criminal, the US government wants its wrongful acts to remain secret; it wishes to make the truth illegal.

On June 3rd, the trial of Manning began. He previously pled guilty to 10 offenses that could collectively bring 20 years in custody, but the military prosecutors were not satisfied. They pursued the capital offense of “aiding the enemy” which can be punished by execution or life imprisonment. This is Obama’s warning to anyone else who is tempted to speak truth to power.

WHAT YOU ARE TOLD IS ON TRIAL

Bradley Manning was arrested in May 2010 for passing restricted material to the WikiLeaks site, which is dedicated to the free flow of information. The material included videos of American airstrikes on Baghdad and Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables that became known as the Iraq and Afghan War logs.

The American government and military were acutely embarrassed. For example, one video consisted of cockpit gunsight footage from a US helicopter that was involved in the series of July 12, 2007 airstrikes on Baghdad in which an estimated 18 people were killed, including two Reuters war correspondents. The military claimed the dead were armed insurgents, and at least two of them had weapons which is common practice in Iraq. The Pentagon buried the footage by refusing a Freedom of Information request from Reuters. When the video was leaked, it showed an indiscriminate slaughter. Its audio captured the unalloyed joy of the Americans as they killed and an absolute lack of remorse when they realized young children were among the dead.

This video was a turning point for Manning who was shocked by the soldier’s remarks. At his pre-trial hearing, he stated of the leaked material, “I felt I had accomplished something that allowed me to have a clear conscience based upon what I had seen and read about and knew were happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan every day.”

The 1971 leak of the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg was a turning point in the Vietnam War because it revealed the depth of lies being told by the American government to the American people.  Manning’s act was a turning point in the Iraq and Afghan wars but it had far wider impact. For one thing, it was instrumental in sparking the Arab Spring; one diplomatic cable discredited the Tunisian government by verifying the raw corruption of the President and his family.

MANNING’S UNFORGIVABLE SIN

Indiscriminate slaughter and the torture of detainees do not disturb the Obama administration; talking about them does. Manning not only talked but he backed everything up with data. For exposing and embarrassing them, government wishes not merely to punish Manning but to crush him utterly so that his example does not inspire others. To do so, it must make transparency into treason.

The accusation of aiding and abetting the enemy is a drastic and dangerous expansion of the Espionage Act.  The exact wording of the charge: “Knowingly giving intelligence to the enemy through indirect means.” Traditionally, direct means have been required; that is, a person directly and intentionally provided intelligence to “the enemy.” The prosecutors now contend  that the transfer can be indirect and unintentional. They argue Manning should have known Al Qaeda could access the information; his intention of revealing a war crime to the world becomes irrelevant. The New York Times observed, “This would turn all government whistle-blowing into treason: a grave threat to both potential sources and American journalism.”

The civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald explained further, “[The new legal theory] would basically mean that any kind of leak now of classified information to newspapers, where your intent is not to aid the Taliban or help them but to expose wrongdoing, is now considered a capital offense and considered aiding and abetting the enemy….And that’s an amazingly broad and expansive definition…”  The expanded theory becomes a de facto gag order, especially in the hands of Obama who has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous Presidents combined.

There is no question that Manning broke the law. The fault lies not in Manning but in the military. No person nor organization has the right to force a man to surrender his conscience and mutely watch the slaughter of children. He has an inalienable right to speak the truth. To claim otherwise is to argue that a soldier is literally property, a slave of the military and no longer a man.

In Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau declared, “Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right….Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.”  Speaking specifically of soldiers who surrender their conscience,  Thoreau continued,  “They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? [B]ehold a marine, such a man as an American government can make…a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity…”

Manning has already spent 1110 days in prison, much of it in solitary confinement and other conditions that human rights organizations call torture. Even for the most military of men, 1110 days and the prospect of 20 years more should be enough punishment for the ‘crime’ of retaining a conscience.

WHAT THE TRIAL MEANS ABOUT AMERICA

Roger Williams, the Puritan founder of Rhode Island, was America’s first revolutionary. He created the American soul by inextricably linking individual liberty with freedom of belief. In the 1640s, Williams argued passionately for “soul liberty” – that is, an individual’s conscience should be free from outside interference and control.  “[T]o force the Consciences of the Unwilling is a Soul-rape,” he declared bluntly. Drawing upon Williams, the contemporary American philosopher Martha Nussbaum further defined “soul-rape” as forcing people “to affirm convictions that they may not hold, or to give assent to orthodoxies they don’t support.”

Williams won the argument, and the First Amendment was the ultimate  result. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” The amendment was first in the Bill of Rights because freedom of conscience and speech is the most fundamental of human rights. Around the world, Americans became renowned as a people who bowed their heads and beliefs to no one; they spoke and believed freely. And, so, the world gravitated toward America because of the hunger within human beings to think and decide for themselves. It is a hunger for human dignity.

The persecution of Manning is an attempt to destroy the core of what it means to be American by destroying freedom of conscience and speech.  The police and surveillance state of America wants to control information down to the level of reaching inside people’s minds to instill a fear of speaking or deciding for themselves.

Obama is raping the soul of America. 

Wendy McElroy is a frequent Dollar Vigilante contributor and renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of twelve books, the latest of which is “The Art of Being Free”. Follow her work at http://www.wendymcelroy.com.

via The Soul-Rape of Bradley Manning.

Edward Snowden – NSA Whistleblower Comes Forward: Daily Whistleblower News – Government Accountability Project


Another groundbreaking story from The Guardian over the weekend revealed the identity of the whistleblower behind the recent NSA surveillance disclosures to be a young, former technical assistant for the CIA and current defense contractor employee who – until very recently – lived a comfortable life with his girlfriend in Hawaii. Years of working on the technical side of surveillance for the world’s most pervasive spy organizations led to increasing disillusionment for 29 year-old Edward Snowden. Witnessing the unethical practices employed by CIA operatives while stationed in Geneva and playing his own role in the NSA’s vast stockpiling of American and foreign citizens’ information, collected through the PRISM program, drove Snowden toward his decision. Already having fled the country to Hong Kong where he is currently pent up in a hotel room, Snowden is fully aware of the Obama administration’s ferocious stance on whistleblowers and is prepared for full pursuit and prosecution.

In this video interview with The Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who has reported the series of disclosures from the NSA/PRISM whistleblower, Snowden describes exactly what compelled him to bring knowledge of the NSA surveillance program into the public realm. He illustrates the extremely invasive authority that the agency can and does use to spy on everyone. A transcript of Greenwald’s interview can be found here. Snowden emphasizes the non-democratic and secret practices of the NSA that go far beyond public consciousness saying, “The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”

Daniel Ellsberg, the father of modern whistleblowing responsible for the Pentagon Papers disclosure, has called Snowden’s leak the most important in American history – even more so than Ellsberg’s own disclosure 40 years ago. Snowden’s actions come at an incredibly precarious time for American privacy and the upholding of the constitution. Ellsberg makes clear that since 9/11, American citizens have experienced a revocation of their rights and a neglect of their societal roles in the democracy, and this move by Snowden serves to bring some of the democratic power back to the public to which it originally belonged.

Key Quote (Washington Post): The Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit that advances “corporate and government accountability by protecting whistleblowers,” has a broader, “composite” definition drawn from “state, federal and international cases”:

An employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.

Jesselyn Radack, director of the national security and human rights program at the Government Accountability Project, says that “source” is the “most neutral term” and doesn’t much like “leaker.” “There’s a derogatory implication to it,” says Radack, who says she’s represented hundreds of whistleblowers.

“I see [Snowden] as a classic whistleblower,” she says. “He is revealing massive abuse and illegality by … the biggest spy agency in the nation and in the world, for that matter.” In some quarters, Radack might encounter some pushback on that last point.

(Reuters): Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department lawyer who represents whistleblowers, said she expected prosecutors would “try to indict him as soon as possible” with “voluminous” Espionage Act charges followed by Interpol warrants for his arrest. But she said Snowden fit the profile and legal definition of a whistleblower and should be entitled to protection under a federal law passed to protect people who reveal waste and abuse.

“He said very clearly in statements that he’s given that he was doing this to serve a public purpose,” Radack said

(The Guardian): But Snowden drew support from civil liberty activists and organisations. Jesselyn Radack, a former justice department attorney who represents whistleblowers, told Reuters: “As a whistleblower myself, this is one of the most significant leakers in my lifetime and in US history.”

Radack said she hoped the case could become “a watershed moment that could change the war on whistleblowers and the broader war on information in our country”.

via Edward Snowden – NSA Whistleblower Comes Forward: Daily Whistleblower News – Government Accountability Project.

The trial and tribulations of Bradley Manning


US soldier Bradley Manning is due to go on trial on Monday (03.06.2013) for leaking thousands of secret documents to Wikileaks, some of which allegedly revealed war crimes. But is he a hero or a traitor to the US army?

“If you’re a 22-year-old kid from Oklahoma, and you find yourself in a dark room in Iraq, watching grainy videos of possible war crimes and actually sharing your concerns with your supervisors, and they’re telling you to look the other way, shut up, your life will become miserable if you keep talking about this stuff, it’s easy to see how somebody could actually look at the big picture and think maybe I could, in some small way, change the world for the better.”

This is how Jeff Paterson, a member of the grass roots group Courage to Resist, described the situation of US soldier Bradley Manning during his eight-month deployment in Iraq in 2009 – 2010. He is due to go on trial next Monday, accused of leaking thousands of secret government documents, diplomatic cables, and military videos to Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.

Whatever the court in Fort Meade, Maryland decides, Manning has already touched the lives of many people, despite the fact that the trial has gotten little coverage from the mainstream US media. But the case has a sizable and passionate following, a coalition of older people who opposed the war in Vietnam and a new generation wedded to Wikileaks.

‘Amounting to torture’

Manning was ‘incredibly smart, understood where he was’ during pre-trial hearings, one witness said

Manning was kept in a military prison in Quantico, Virginia since shortly after his arrest in May 2010, and spent much of that time on Prevention of Injury (POI) status, which entailed checks by guards every five minutes.

He was forced to sleep facing a bright light, was not allowed to lean against the wall during waking hours and had his clothes and glasses taken away for speaking angrily to his guards.

After an international outcry over his treatment, he was transferred to a medium-security prison in Ft. Leavenworth in 2011.

In March 2012, UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Manning after completing a 14-month investigation, and nearly a million people signed a petition demanding Manning be released from the solitary cell.

Emotional pre-trial testimony

Manning has won thousands of supporters, even though the case has been covered little in the US

Michael Ratner, president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin, attended Manning’s pre-trial hearings. The 69-year-old lawyer, who represented Guantanamo prisoners before the US Supreme Court and served as US attorney for Assange, told DW about hearing Manning’s testimony.

“It was for me, watching it, the most devastating day I’ve spent in a courtroom,” he said. “I was in tears from beginning to end, watching this young man, having faced some of the most punitive punishment by our government and yet be able to testify with incredible dignity. He was incredibly smart, understood where he was, what was happening to him.”

Manning has won thousands of supporters, even though the case has been covered little in the US

Daniel Ellsberg, a former US Marine who gained fame when he leaked the Pentagon Papers, an inside history of the Vietnam War, was also a regular observer in the courtroom. He praised Manning for releasing a video that shows US servicemen shooting civilians and journalists from a helicopter.

“Helicopter gunners hunting down and shooting an unarmed man in civilian clothes, clearly wounded, in an area where a squad of American soldiers was about to appear – as the helicopter gunners knew – to take custody of anyone remaining living – that shooting was murder. It was a war crime,” he said.

Manning’s background

But apart from these occasional glimpses in court, Bradley Manning remains a mystery, not least because his lawyer has refused to do interviews.

But critics have been quite vocal, in contrast, casting Manning as mentally unstable and reckless. “He apparently grew up in a dysfunctional home and he was very short – five-foot one or two, 100 pounds, and was bullied and so forth, and I feel sorry for him for all those things,” said Robert Turner, co-founder and director of the National Center for Security Law at the University of Virginia. “But that’s no excuse for giving away hundreds of thousands of secrets. To me that’s the equivalent of walking through a military base and just tossing grenades through windows.”

But there is another source that offers a different view. While stationed in Iraq, Manning chatted online with Adrian Lamo, a celebrated computer hacker who had broken into networks at the New York Times, Yahoo and Microsoft. When he learned the FBI was investigating him, Lamo turned himself in, and some critics suspect he then went to work covertly for the federal government – a claim Lamo has denied, though he was the one who reported Manning to federal officials.

Vietnam whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg attended Manning’s hearings

Manning and Lamo corresponded for some time during Manning eight-month deployment near Baghdad, and their chat-logs provide virtually the only personal testimonies from Manning himself to be made public. In them, he describes himself as a sensitive, intelligent, physically small child who initially suffered under an abusive, alcoholic father, before moving to Wales with his mother.

He says he joined the army in order to earn enough money to go to college, and that his computer skills were initially valued. But he felt alienated when he was stationed in Iraq, and struggled with gender identity issues.

“I’m very isolated – lost all of my emotional support channel – family, boyfriend, trusting colleagues. I’m a mess,” he wrote to Lamo. “I’m in the desert, with a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger happy ignorant rednecks as neighbors, and the only safe place I seem to have is this satellite Internet connection.”

Conscience and confession

He then went on to confide his crisis of conscience and his security breaches to Lamo. “If you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time… say, 8-9 months… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain … Or 260,000 state department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world, explaining how the first world exploits the third, … what would you do?”

 

 The helicopter video of a group of men being fired on in Baghdad sent shockwaves across the world

Paterson, a former marine, can relate to what Manning went through in the military. “I didn’t believe what other Marines believed,” he told DW. “I was the only person in the regiment certified with our battlefield tactical nuclear warheads. If anything went wrong in Iraq, it would be my job to nuke them all.”

Paterson responded by becoming the first US soldier to refuse to fight in the Iraq War, was jailed and eventually discharged. Manning faces a much tougher legal battle. He has told his lawyer that he’d like to get a college degree and go into public service – to make a difference. Regardless of how his trial pans out, he may already have done so.

“It’s important that it gets out,” Manning wrote to Lamo. “I feel for some bizarre reason it might actually change something.”

via The trial and tribulations of Bradley Manning | World | DW.DE | 02.06.2013.

Bradley Manning Trial: An American Hero Gets Court-Martialed On June 3


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On June 3, the highly anticipated court-martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was arrested in July 2010, will take place. A previous PolicyMic article delivered specific details on the over 700,000 government documents and pieces of classified military information Manning allegedly leaked. According to the article, “Manning is charged with leaking hundreds-of-thousands of classified documents to the website WikiLeaks.”

Manning is an American hero who made the decision to leak these classified documents as a service to the general public. He testified, “I believe that if the general public had access to the information, this could spark a domestic debate as to the role of the military and foreign policy in general.” He added, “I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”

In a January 2013 ruling, Military Judge Colonel Denise Lind awarded Manning a 112-day reduction in any eventual sentence due to being subjected to excessively harsh treatment while in military detention. A month later, Judge Lind accepted Bradley Manning’s guilty pleas of 10 lesser charges that he misused classified information, though he denied “aiding the enemy.” A guilty sentence to “aiding the enemy” could languish him military prison for the remainder of his life.

Bradley Manning released the video, “Collateral Murder,” to WikiLeaks and he explained, “The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.” He went on, “They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote ‘dead bastards’ unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers.”

A similar whistleblower was arrested 40 years ago in the Vietnam era, named Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg was a military analyst who worked in the Pentagon under Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. He was an ex-Marine officer who was allowed to walk with combat troops in Vietnam and see the war up close. Ellsberg reported on what he considered a costly and immoral war through publishing a secret study known as “The Pentagon Papers” in The New York Times.

Since Manning’s arrest, Ellsberg has been a vocal protester of President Obama’s use of the Espionage Act against whistleblowers since it had questionable constitutionality unless used in situations of actual espionage. He has also urged anyone who cares about the future of our country to learn about Bradley Manning’s trial because he believes transparency and accountability are at stake.

Bradley Manning has pled guilty to lesser crimes after he endured a considerable amount of personal sacrifice to bring forward classified military documents which highlighted some of the immoral undertakings in Iraq and Afghanistan. The information Manning leaked was valuable for providing Americans with the knowledge needed to further assess their support for seemingly unending military presence in wars with already questionable motives.

As Bradley Manning’s June 3 trial draws near, be grateful for the sacrifices he has made to educate Americans on the military actions abroad and consider the impassioned conclusion Glenn Greenwald wrote in his article earlier this month about the permanency of the war on terror.  “The Obama administration already claims the power to wage endless and boundless war, in virtually total secrecy, and without a single meaningful check or constraint,” Greenwald wrote. “No institution with any power disputes this. To the contrary, the only ones which exert real influence — Congress, the courts, the establishment media, the plutocratic class — clearly favor its continuation and only think about how further to enable it. That will continue unless and until Americans begin to realize just what a mammoth price they’re paying for this ongoing splurge of war spending and endless aggression.”

via Political Prisoner Alert — Bradley Manning Trial: An American Hero Gets Court-Martialed On June 3 | Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle.

The good soldier


The case of a military whistleblower highlights the US’s changing attitude to secrecy.

Bradley Manning deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom.” The opening of Chase Madar’s book leaves us in no doubt as to the author’s view on his subject: whistleblower Bradley Manning, the man said to have supplied half a million classified documents to WikiLeaks.

For Madar, a New York lawyer, the line is more than a rhetorical flourish. The US awarded the Presidential Medal, the country’s highest civilian honour, to most of the principal players behind the Iraq War, including Tony Blair and John Howard. In other words, those who misled the public into a disastrous invasion were decorated – but Manning faces life in jail for revealing the truth about what the conflict entailed.

‘I prefer a painful truth over any blissful fantasy.’ Bradley Manning 

In part, The Passion of Bradley Manning can be read as a biography. Manning, a talented but troubled computer geek, enlisted in the army (perhaps because of an unhappy relationship with his father) and, despite struggling as a recruit, somehow ended up an intelligence analyst in Iraq.

In that capacity, he investigated 15 men detained by the Iraqi federal police for printing ”anti-Iraqi literature”. But the material that brought them into Iraq’s notorious jails proved, on further inspection, to be merely an expose of Iraqi government corruption, entitled Where did the money go?.

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Yet when Manning reported the injustice to his superiors, he was told to ”shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs [police] in finding more detainees”.

Though he was bullied for his slight stature and his homosexuality, Manning’s disenchantment with the war stemmed from politics, not personality or psychology. He had access to evidence of atrocities, such as the footage later released as ”Collateral Murder” – a clip of a helicopter gunship killing civilians. As he asked during an online chat with a hacker named Adrian Lamo: ”[If you] saw incredible things, awful things … things that belonged in the public domain and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington, D.C. … what would you do?”

Lamo supplied his answer by turning Manning in to the authorities.

Alongside its biographical details, The Passion of Bradley Manning tells another story, a history of secrecy’s spread. For the American founders, democracy necessarily meant that the people knew what their government did. The former US president James Madison put it like this: ”A popular government, without popular information, is but a prelude to a tragedy or a farce, or perhaps both.”

Today, however, secrecy seems an end in itself – so much so that documents pertaining to Madison’s own administration (he left office in 1817) still remain under wraps.

The officials responsible for US information security classified almost 77 million documents in 2010 and 92 million in 2011, while President Obama, who campaigned as an ally of whistleblowers, has actually prosecuted more leakers under the Espionage Act of 1917 than all his predecessors combined.

Naturally, with the security state so large, leaks happen all the time – about 3 million Americans have access to classified documents. But the reaction to breaches depends largely on who’s responsible.

For instance, material classified as top secret – a higher rating than anything Manning allegedly released – frequently finds its way into books by insider journalists of the Bob Woodward variety. Stories in The New York Times and elsewhere quote ”unnamed officials” on sensitive military matters. Such leaks are often sanctioned at the highest levels. Obama’s chief of staff William Daley has, for instance, casually discussed how he and his predecessors give secret material to the press when that information makes the administration look good.

”I’m all for leaking when it’s organised,” he said.

Forty years ago, Daniel Ellsberg released details about the US war in Vietnam in the so-called ”Pentagon Papers”, all of it more highly classified than anything WikiLeaks has published. Yet Ellsberg is a free man while Manning is quite likely to stay in prison for the rest of his life. What’s the difference?

Madar suggests Manning’s case reflects a changing political climate. The Pentagon Papers came out at the high-water mark of US liberalism. Today, tolerance for dissent has become much lower.

US officials have acknowledged on several occasions that WikiLeaks has not cost a single American life. Yet, since his arrest, Manning has been held in solitary confinement under extraordinarily degrading conditions (he is kept naked at night and, because he is classified as a danger to himself, he must respond every five minutes to the guard’s inquiry: ”Are you OK?”).

On the one hand, Madar says, this cruelty reflects a degradation of judicial norms during the war on terror, a period in which assassinations, coercive interrogations and the like have been normalised.

More worryingly, it also mirrors deeper problems within the conventional US justice system, where the vast penal apparatus keeps prisoners in appalling conditions for years on end. One human rights lawyer discusses how prisoners in Guantanamo might be well advised to accept 10 years in the communal wing of that facility rather than three years in solitary at an American supermax prison.

For Madar, that’s why Manning is so important. His disclosures matter because Americans remain ignorant about what’s done in their name, whether in the bowels of high-security prisons or in the streets of Baghdad.

”I prefer a painful truth over any blissful fantasy,” Manning said during his web chat with Lamo.

His fate now depends on how many others feel the same way.

Jeff Sparrow is the editor of Overland and author of Money Shot: A Journey into Porn and Censorship.

THE PASSION OF BRADLEY MANNING

Chase Madar

via The good soldier.

via The good soldier.

The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case


Interesting piece on the Bradley Manning case from early March

After 1,000 days in pretrial detention, Private Bradley Manning yesterday offered a modified guilty plea for passing classified materials to WikiLeaks. But his case is far from over—not for Manning, and not for the rest of the country. To understand what is still at stake, consider an exchange that took place in a military courtroom in Maryland in January.

The judge, Col. Denise Lind, asked the prosecutors a brief but revealing question: Would you have pressed the same charges if Manning had given the documents not to WikiLeaks but directly to the New York Times?

The question was crisp and meaningful, not courtroom banter. The answer, in turn, was dead serious. I should know. I was the expert witness whose prospective testimony they were debating. The judge will apparently allow my testimony, so if the prosecution decides to pursue the more serious charges to which Manning did not plead guilty, I will explain at trial why someone in Manning’s shoes in 2010 would have thought of WikiLeaks as a small, hard-hitting, new media journalism outfit—a journalistic “Little Engine that Could” that, for purposes of press freedom, was no different from the New York Times. The prosecutor’s “Yes Ma’am,” essentially conceded that core point of my testimony in order to keep it out of the trial. That’s not a concession any lawyer makes lightly.

THE CHARGE OF “AIDING THE ENEMY” IS VAGUE. BUT IT CARRIES THE DEATH PENALTY—AND COULD APPLY TO CIVILIANS AS WELL AS SOLDIERS.

But that “Yes Ma’am” does something else: It makes the Manning prosecution a clear and present danger to journalism in the national security arena. The guilty plea Manning offered could subject him to twenty years in prison—more than enough to deter future whistleblowers. But the prosecutors seem bent on using this case to push a novel and aggressive interpretation of the law that would arm the government with a much bigger stick to prosecute vaguely-defined national security leaks, a big stick that could threaten not just members of the military, but civilians too.

A country’s constitutional culture is made up of the stories we tell each other about the kind of nation we are. When we tell ourselves how strong our commitment to free speech is, we grit our teeth and tell of Nazis marching through Skokie. And when we think of how much we value our watchdog press, we tell the story of Daniel Ellsberg. Decades later, we sometimes forget that Ellsberg was prosecuted, smeared, and harassed. Instead, we express pride in a man’s willingness to brave the odds, a newspaper’s willingness to take the risk of publishing, and a Supreme Court’s ability to tell an overbearing White House that no, you cannot shut up your opponents.

Whistleblowers play a critical constitutional role in our system of government, particularly in the area of national security. And they do so at great personal cost. The executive branch has enormous powers over national security and the exercise of that power is not fully transparent. Judicial doctrines like the “state secrets” doctrine allow an administration to limit judicial oversight. Congress’ oversight committees have also tended to leave the executive relatively free of constraints. Because the materials they see are classified, there remains little public oversight. Consider the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the interrogation torture practices during the immediate post 9/11 years: Its six thousand pages, according to Senator Dianne Feinstein, are “one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the United States Senate.” But they are unavailable to the public.

Freedom of the press is anchored in our constitution because it reflects our fundamental belief that no institution can be its own watchdog. The government is full of well-intentioned and quite powerful inspectors general and similar internal accountability mechanisms. But like all big organizations, the national security branches of government include some people who aren’t purely selfless public servants. Secrecy is necessary and justified in many cases. But as hard-earned experience has shown us time and again, it can be—and often is—used to cover up failure, avarice, or actions that simply will not survive that best of disinfectants, sunlight.

That’s where whistleblowers come in. They offer a pressure valve, constrained by the personal risk whistleblowers take, and fueled by whatever moral courage they can muster. Manning’s statement in court yesterday showed that, at least in his motives, he was part of that long-respected tradition.  But that’s also where the Manning prosecution comes in, too. The prosecution case seems designed, quite simply, to terrorize future national security whistleblowers. The charges against Manning are different from those that have been brought against other whistleblowers. “Aiding the enemy” is punishable by death. And although the prosecutors in this case are not seeking the death penalty against Manning, the precedent they are seeking to establish does not depend on the penalty. It establishes the act as a capital offense, regardless of whether prosecutors in their discretion decide to seek the death penalty in any particular case.

Hard cases, lawyers have long known, make bad law. The unusual nature of Manning’s case has led some to argue that his leaks are different than those we now celebrate as a bedrock component of accountability journalism: Daniel Ellsberg leaked specific documents that showed massive public deception in the prosecution of the Vietnam War. Deep Throat leaked specific information about presidential corruption during the Watergate investigation. Manning, though, leaked hundreds of thousands of documents, many of which were humdrum affairs; perhaps, some have argued, the sheer scope raises the risks. But in the three years since the leaks began, there has still been no public evidence that they in fact caused significant damage. The prosecutors say they will introduce evidence of harm in secret sessions; one of these bits of evidence is reportedly going to be that they will show that several of the files published were found on Osama Bin Laden’s computer. Does that mean that if the Viet Cong had made copies of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg would have been guilty of “aiding the enemy?”

IF THE VIET CONG PHOTOCOPIED THE PENTAGON PAPERS, COULD DANIEL ELLSBERG HAVE BEEN PROSECUTED FOR AIDING THE ENEMY? 

It is also important to understand that although the number of leaked items was vast, it was not gratuitously so; some of the most important disclosures came precisely from sifting through the large number of items.  Certainly, some of the important revelations from the leaks could have been achieved through a single “smoking gun” document, such as the chilling operational video from a U.S. helicopter attack that killed two Reuters’ cameramen, and shot at a van trying to offer relief to the injured, wounding two children who were in the van. But many of the most important insights only arise from careful analysis of the small pieces of evidence. This type of accountability analysis showed that the military had substantially understated the scale of civilian casualties in Iraq; and that U.S. forces were silently complicit in abuses by allied Iraqi government forces; it uncovered repeated abuses by civilian contractors to the military. The war logs have become the most important spin-free source of historical evidence about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The reputation that WikiLeaks has been given by most media outlets over the past two and a half years, though, obscures much of this—it just feels less like “the press” than the New York Times. This is actually the point on which I am expected to testify at the trial, based on research I did over the months following the first WikiLeaks disclosure in April 2010. When you read the hundreds of news stories and other materials published about WikiLeaks before early 2010, what you see is a young, exciting new media organization. The darker stories about Julian Assange and the dangers that the site poses developed only in the latter half of 2010, as the steady release of leaks about the U.S. triggered ever-more hyperbolic denouncements from the Administration (such as Joe Biden’s calling Assange a “high-tech terrorist”), and as relations between Assange and his traditional media partners soured.

In early 2010, when Manning did his leaking, none of that had happened yet. WikiLeaks was still a new media phenom, an outfit originally known for releasing things like a Somali rebel leader’s decision to assassinate government officials in Somalia, or a major story exposing corruption in the government of Daniel Arap Moi in Kenya. Over the years WikiLeaks also exposed documents that shined a light on U.S. government practices, such as operating procedures in Camp Delta in Guantanamo or a draft of a secretly negotiated, highly controversial trade treaty called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. But that was not the primary focus. To name but a few examples, it published documents that sought to expose a Swiss Bank’s use of Cayman accounts to help rich clients avoid paying taxes, oil related corruption in Peru, banking abuses in Iceland, pharmaceutical company influence peddling at the World Health Organization, and extra-judicial killings in Kenya. For its work, WikiLeaks won Amnesty International’s New Media award in 2009 and the Freedom of Expression Award from the British magazine, Index of Censorship, in 2008.

No one would have thought at the time that WikiLeaks had the gravitas of the Times. But if you roll back to the relevant time frame, it is clear that any reasonable person would have seen WikiLeaks as being in the same universe as we today think of the range of new media organizations in the networked investigative journalism ecosystem, closer probably to ProPublica or the Bureau of Investigative Journalism than to Huffington Post or the Daily Beast. If leaking classified materials to a public media outlet can lead to prosecution for aiding the enemy, then it has to be under a rule that judges can apply evenhandedly to the New York Times or the Guardian no less than to ProPublica, the Daily Beast, or WikiLeaks. No court will welcome a rule where culpability for a capital offense like aiding the enemy depends on the judge’s evaluation of the quality of the editorial practices, good faith, or loyalty of the media organization to which the information was leaked. Nor could a court develop such a rule without severely impinging on the freedom of the press. The implications of Manning’s case go well beyond  Wikileaks, to the very heart of accountability journalism in a networked age.

The prosecution will likely not accept Manning’s guilty plea to lesser offenses as the final word. When the case goes to trial in June, they will try to prove that Manning is guilty of a raft of more serious offenses. Most aggressive and novel among these harsher offenses is the charge that by giving classified materials to WikiLeaks Manning was guilty of “aiding the enemy.” That’s when the judge will have to decide whether handing over classified materials to ProPublica or the New York Times, knowing that Al Qaeda can read these news outlets online, is indeed enough to constitute the capital offense of “aiding the enemy.”

Aiding the enemy is a broad and vague offense. In the past, it was used in hard-core cases where somebody handed over information about troop movements directly to someone the collaborator believed to be “the enemy,” to American POWs collaborating with North Korean captors, or to a German American citizen who was part of a German sabotage team during WWII. But the language of the statute is broad. It prohibits not only actually aiding the enemy, giving intelligence, or protecting the enemy, but also the broader crime of communicating—directly or indirectly—with the enemy without authorization. That’s the prosecution’s theory here: Manning knew that the materials would be made public, and he knew that Al Qaeda or its affiliates could read the publications in which the materials would be published. Therefore, the prosecution argues, by giving the materials to WikiLeaks, Manning was “indirectly” communicating with the enemy. Under this theory, there is no need to show that the defendant wanted or intended to aid the enemy. The prosecution must show only that he communicated the potentially harmful information, knowing that the enemy could read the publications to which he leaked the materials. This would be true whether Al Qaeda searched the WikiLeaks database or the New York Times’. Hence the prosecutor’s “Yes Ma’am.”

This theory is unprecedented in modern American history. The prosecution claims that there is, in fact precedent in Civil War cases, including one from 1863 where a Union officer gave a newspaper in occupied Alexandria rosters of Union units, and was convicted of aiding the enemy and sentenced to three months. But Manning’s defense argues that the Civil War cases involved publishing coded messages in newspapers and personals, not leaking for reporting to the public at large. The other major source that the prosecution uses is a 1920 military law treatise. Even if the prosecutors are correct in their interpretations of these two sources, which is far from obvious, the fact that they need to rely on these old and obscure sources underscores how extreme their position is in the twenty-first century.

In fact, neither side disagrees with this central critique: That for 150 years, well before the rise of the modern First Amendment, the invention of muckraking journalism, or the modern development of the watchdog function of the press in democratic society, no one has been charged with aiding the enemy simply for leaking information to the press for general publication. Perhaps it was possible to bring such a charge before the first amendment developed as it did in the past hundred years, before the Pentagon Papers story had entered our national legend. But before Rosa Parks and Brown vs. Board of Education there was also a time when prosecutors could enforce the segregation laws of Jim Crow. Those times have passed. Read in the context of American constitutional history and the practice of at least a century and a half (if not more) of “aiding the enemy” prosecutions, we should hope and expect that the court will in fact reject the prosecution’s novel and aggressive interpretation of that crime.

But as long as the charge remains live and the case undecided, the risk that a court will accept this expansive and destructive interpretation is very real.

That’s especially true when you consider that “aiding the enemy” could be applied to civilians.  Most provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice apply only to military personnel. But Section 104, the “aiding the enemy” section, applies simply to “any person.” To some extent, this makes sense—a German-American civilian in WWII could be tried by military commission for aiding German saboteurs under this provision. There has been some back and forth in military legal handbooks, cases, and commentary about whether and to what extent Section 104 in fact applies to civilians. Most recently, Justice Stevens’ opinion in the Supreme Court case of Hamdan implies that Section 104 may in fact apply to civilians and be tried by military commissions. But this is not completely settled. Because the authorities are unclear, any competent lawyer today would have to tell a prospective civilian whistleblower that she may well be prosecuted for the capital offense of aiding the enemy just for leaking to the press.

The past few years have seen a lot of attention to the Obama Administration’s war on whistleblowing. In the first move, the Administration revived the World War I Espionage Act, an Act whose infamous origins included a 10-year prison term for a movie director who made a movie that showed British soldiers killing women and children during the Revolutionary War and was therefore thought to undermine our wartime alliance with Britain, and was used to jail Eugene V. Debs and other political activists. Barack Obama’s Department of Justice has brought more Espionage Act prosecutions for leaks to the press than all prior administrations combined since then, using the law as what the New York Times called an “ad hoc Official Secrets Act.”

If Bradley Manning is convicted of aiding the enemy, the introduction of a capital offense into the mix would dramatically elevate the threat to whistleblowers. The consequences for the ability of the press to perform its critical watchdog function in the national security arena will be dire. And then there is the principle of the thing. However technically defensible on the language of the statute, and however well-intentioned the individual prosecutors in this case may be, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror of this case and ask: Are we the America of Japanese Internment and Joseph McCarthy, or are we the America of Ida Tarbell and the Pentagon Papers? What kind of country makes communicating with the press for publication to the American public a death-eligible offense?

What a coup for Al Qaeda, to have maimed our constitutional spirit to the point where we might become that nation.

Yochai Benkler is a professor at Harvard Law School and co-Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.

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via The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case | New Republic.

via The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case | New Republic.

Understanding the Historical Importance of the Bradley Manning Trial


5_OpEd_Manning_Cartoon_web

In a welcome but belated piece by David Carr, the New York Times criticized the tremendous lack of transparency of the court martial proceedings in the case against Bradley Manning.

The secrecy, redactions and delays in release of information mean that the public does not have contemporaneous access to the proceedings, a fundamental component of a public trial. And given that Private Manning is confronting a life sentence, news media coverage and the public interest are one of the core protections provided to him by the First and Sixth Amendments.

images

I’m glad the New York Times has finally realized what journalists and advocates like Michael Ratner, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, and myself have been saying since Manning’s indictment. I’m glad the Times woke up to the fact that if Manning were to be convicted of “aiding the enemy” simply because he provided information to Wikileaks, and, ultimately, the public, it would erode the First Amendment protections for all media outlets as well as whistleblowers like Manning.

The Manning case has always been about the First Amendment. It is high time the country’s “paper of record” wised up.

The Carr piece has a decent message if you can get past the self-righteous indignation and sanctimonious excuses. NYT complains that it is “rugged going” for reporters to make it to Fort Meade, but makes sure to note that complaint is

not an effort to complain about tough working conditions for reporters.

It would be an ironic complaint for the Times considering its reporters only showed up to the Manning proceedings after being twice publicly shamed by the paper’s public editor. If it’s a “rugged haul” for reporters with the resources of the New York Times, imagine the difficulty for the independent and alternative media reporters who have been present at the Manning proceedings day in and day out. Journalists like Alexa O’Brien, Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake, Courthouse News’ Adam Klasfeld, and Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network have covered the court proceedings despite the secrecy and security theater that make the reporting from Ft. Meade “rugged going.”

The NYT also makes the excuse that limited resources prevent the paper from covering the proceedings:

Yet coverage has been limited, partly by the court’s restrictions and partly because an increasingly stretched news media business often does not have the time, or the resources, to cover lengthy trials. After all, Private Manning’s case is still in pretrial phase and the full court-martial will not begin until June 3.

Such an excuse defies credulity, especially considering Ed Pilkington of The Guardian has also showed up, and the Washington Post found the “resources” to send researcher Julie Tate with regularity. With the First Amendment on the line, one would think the New York Times – with the biggest budget of any newspaper on the planet – would find the resources.

While it is true Manning’s trial has yet to begin, pre-trial proceedings have including riveting testimony and constitutionally-significant, precedent-setting hearings about “unlawful pre-trial confinement” (aka torture), the right to a speedy trial, the Espionage Act, and how the government plans to prove “aiding the enemy:” through a really frightening theory that if Osama Bin Laden had the ability to obtain publicly-available documents, then Manning “aided the enemy.” Not to mention Manning himself testifying under oath about his mistreatment – perhaps the only time he will take the stand. You can bet if defendants like O.J. Simpson or Casey Anthony had taken the stand pre-trial, the New York Times would have showed up to listen, despite the time and resources constraints and any “rugged going” required.

Carr’s piece seems to finally send the right message that the Manning trial is of critical importance to the free press. The message is great, but the proof will be in the pudding: in whether the NYT decides to finally send its reporters to give the the First Amendment the press coverage it deserves when the court proceedings resume.

via New York Times Understand Historical Import of Manning Trial – FINALLY – Government Accountability Project.

via New York Times Understand Historical Import of Manning Trial – FINALLY – Government Accountability Project.

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