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Attorneys in Bradley Manning Trial Fight Over Tweet Authenticity


Bradley-Manning

The military trial in the case of Wikileaker Bradley Manning continued earlier this week.  An interesting legal point in the case has arisen, as Manning’s defense lawyers pushed back against tweets that the prosecution wanted introduced as evidence.

Allow me first to provide a little bit of background on why the tweets in question are even being discussed in the case.

One of the key issues in the case has been the relationship between Army Private First Class Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, and its founder Julian Assange.  Prosecutors have alleged that Manning was influenced by Wikileaks to leak some of the confidential documents.  (Manning has already admitted to leaking the documents, but has denied more serious accusations, including that he knowingly aided the enemy).

Previously released chat logs between Manning and ex-hacker Adrian Lamo, who earlier testified in the case, have established that Manning had been in contact with Wikileaks, but there remains contention between prosecution and defense about to what extent and when that contact occurred.  They also continue to argue over whether or not Manning’s actions were influenced by Wikileaks, or if there was any collusion between the two.  This has been a crucial point as well for federal prosecutors seeking to build a case against Julian Assange.

On Tuesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys argued over a couple of tweets in particular.  One of those tweets, alleged to have been posted from the Wikileaks Twitter account on 7/8/2010, asks for the public to assist in providing .mil email addresses to Wikileaks.  Another on 1/8/2010 posted by Wikileaks referenced having an encrypted video of a U.S. air attack (referring to what we now know was the “Collateral Damage” video, one of the items in the files leaked by Manning and later edited and published by Wikileaks).  Prosecutors argue that this further emphasizes evidence of a leak, and that it should be admissible as part of its broader argument on the point.

Special Agent Mark Mander of the Army Criminal Investigative Command testified about how he went about determining the tweets were from Wikileaks’ account.  In the past, he first went to the Wikileaks Twitter account directly and saw the tweet personally; then he more recently collected it from a Google cache version and the content in both was the same.  Mander testified that Google cache is something that he has used regularly in his capacity as a CID agent investigating computer intrusions and computer crimes.  He also explained a variety of other steps he took, in addition to obtaining cached versions of the tweets, to cross-check the authenticity of the tweets as being that of Wikileaks.

But Manning’s defense attorneys challenged the authenticity of such tweets.

From Reuters:

“Anyone can create a Web page…that looks like WikiLeaks or that looks like Twitter,” argued defense attorney Captain Joshua Tooman when the government sought to admit a May 7, 2010 tweet from WikiLeaks seeking military Internet addresses, and the Web page of the Internet archive site archive.org that showed a 2009 WikiLeaks “Most Wanted” list of items it was seeking from the public.

Tooman said a government investigator had accessed the tweets indirectly, through Google, rather than directly through Twitter or WikiLeaks. He said the evidence failed to meet the test of authenticity since there was no way of knowing what the website looked like when the tweet or page was published.

The argument from the defense about the tweets’ authenticity raises an interesting legal point that could potentially influence similar arguments in civilian cases.

While it’s accurate that anyone can create a web page that mimics a legitimate site – in fact we’ve seen this in other circumstances that have been the subject of recent news reports, such as when Wikileaks Punked the NY Times – there surely needs to be some acceptable standard for authenticating tweets and other content that has since been archived and may no longer be available online.  Most would assume that the standard tools regularly used to find archived content, like Google cache and the Internet Archive (formerly the WayBackMachine), would be acceptable in these instances, coupled of course with additional cross-checking.  But the Manning defense team argues that it’s not.

If the judge determines that Google cache and other such tools are not an acceptable way to authenticate archived tweets, it poses an interesting question about how this might influence similar arguments going forward (not necessarily as precedent, but just as a general point).

You can read the entire day’s testimony in this particular argument in the unofficial court transcript for 6/18 provided by Freedom of the Press Foundation.

It will be interesting to see what the decision is on this matter.  Proceedings resume in the Manning trial on June 26th.

via Attorneys in Bradley Manning Trial Fight Over Tweet Authenticity.

Bradley Manning News Round up


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Bradley Manning’s Trial, Day 8 (Live Updates)
Firedoglake
12:08PM EST Government defends admissibility of evidence that it thinks shows that Manningconspired with WikiLeaks. For an in-depth look at this point during today’s proceedings, read here. 11:08AM EST Prosecution argues that if WikiLeaks has a plan 
See all stories on this topic »
Russell Brand Says Bradley Manning Is A Hero
The Inquisitr
“I happen to believe that Bradley Manning has the right to a fair trial; it seems clear to me that some of the charges against him are mendacious and duplicitous from the outset … The things I’d say I’m highly qualified to talk about are drugs and 
See all stories on this topic »I am Bradley Manning (full HD)
YouTube
Peter Sarsgaard Angela Davis Moby Molly Crabapple Tim DeChristopher. LT Dan Choi Bishop George Packard Russell Brand Allan Nairn Chris Hedges Wallace Shawn Adhaf Soueif Josh Stieber Michael Ratner Copyright: Bradley Manning Support Network 
See all stories on this topic »From Afghanistan, Thank You Bradley Manning!
Antiwar.com (blog)
The 75,000 Afghan War Logs, which Bradley Manning gave Wikileaks to ‘help document the true cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan’, can help all of us evaluate whether the Afghan war is cost-effective. Bradley Manning had also handed Wikileaks a video 
See all stories on this topic »Speed of Bradley Manning Trial Masks Prosecutors’ Struggles
FRONTLINE
Bradley Manning’s court-martial was already in weekend recess as of midday Tuesday, marking the third consecutive week the court has finished far ahead of schedule. Since the court-martial began, the court’s week has never gone later than Wednesday 
See all stories on this topic »Whistleblowing 2.0 — from the Pentagon Papers to Bradley Manning to PRISM
Waging Nonviolence
With computer technician Edward Snowden’s bombshell revelations about the extent of state snooping — coupled with the ongoing court martial of Private Bradley Manning — 2013 is the year of the whistleblower. These ongoing cases also highlight the 
See all stories on this topic »“A Different Kind of Patriotism”: Russell Brand on Bradley Manning
Gawker
Today marks the eighth day of Bradley Manning’s court-martial for leaking more than 700,000 United States government documents to Wikileaks. Although the 25-year-old former Army intelligence analyst has confessed to disclosing classified information, 
See all stories on this topic »Manning WikiLeaks case in recess until June 25
Timesonline.com
Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court-martial over giving massive amounts of classified material to WikiLeaks has gone into recess until next week. The prosecution and defense will spend the next week negotiating written statements from some 17 witnesses, in 
See all stories on this topic »Manning WikiLeaks case in recess
Herald Sun
US soldier Bradley Manning’s trial for giving massive amounts of classified material to WikiLeaks has gone into recess until next week. The prosecution and defence will spend the next week negotiating written statements from 17 witnesses, in lieu of 
See all stories on this topic »Manning WikiLeaks case in recess until June 25 while attorneys negotiate 
The Province
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, left, is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Monday, June 17, 2013, after the start of the third week of his court martial. Manning is charged with indirectly aiding the enemy by sending troves of classified 
See all stories on this topic »Public access fight over Manning docs in Md. court
Businessweek
BALTIMORE (AP) — A government lawyer said Monday the U.S. Army has released the vast majority of court records in Pfc. Bradley Manning’s case and told a civilian judge the dispute over the records had become moot. A lawyer for a constitutional rights 
See all stories on this topic »Manning’s Team Questions Secrecy of Leaked Data
Courthouse News Service
MEADE, Md. (CN) – The “secret” profiles of Guantanamo detainees disclosed by Pfc. Bradley Manning contained information that may have been publicly available for years, government witnesses testified by stipulation. The nearly 800 documents published 
See all stories on this topic »Court hears public access fight over Manning records
The Star Democrat
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning steps out of a security vehicle as he is escorted into a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Monday, June 17, 2013, for the start of the third week of his court martial. Manning is charged with indirectly aiding the enemy by 
See all stories on this topic »Government Defends Admissibility of Evidence That It Thinks Shows Manning 
Firedoglake
Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is on trial at Fort Meade for releasing United States government information to WikiLeaks, does not face any conspiracy charges. However, this morning there were arguments on a motion that related to defense objections over 
See all stories on this topic »siliconANGLE » Manning, Snowden Cases Highlight the Importance of Basic 
SiliconANGLE (blog)
Army Pfc Bradley Manning is facing a military judge in a court-martial procedure that will endure over many weeks. Be aware that rights and procedures in a court-martial are quite different than that of a civilian trial. The issue at hand is the public 
See all stories on this topic »Disputed Tweets May not Fly in Manning Trial
Courthouse News Service
MEADE, Md. (CN) – Prosecutors fought Tuesday to use Twitter postings they hope will depict Pfc.Bradley Manning as a WikiLeaks foot soldier, rather than its journalistic source. Months before his trial, the 25-year-old soldier acknowledged he uploaded 
See all stories on this topic »Manning trial focuses on whether tweets meet evidence standards
NBCNews.com (blog)
Lawyers for Private First Class Bradley Manning, 25, who is accused of providing more than 700,000 files to the anti-secrecy website in the biggest breach of classified U.S. data in the nation’s history, argued on Tuesday that Twitter postings offered 
See all stories on this topic »Guardian Weekly Letters, 21 June 2013
The Guardian
Fitting that Bradley Manning’s photo should be juxtaposed in World Roundup (7 June) with the famous shot of the Tiananmen Square tank stand-off, on the occasion of the release of the last “counter-revolutionary”, Jiang Yaqun. Our 19th-century idea “My 
See all stories on this topic »Medina Roshan, REUTERS
London Free Press
U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (C) is escorted in handcuffs as he leaves the courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland, in this June 6, 2012 file photo. (REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana/Files). Tweet · Bookmark and Share. Change text size for the story.
See all stories on this topic »Obama’s One-Way Mirror
The Indypendent
There is something very wrong with this picture: Today I am in a federal court arguing that the press and public have a right to have access to daily transcripts and court documents in the trial of whistleblower Bradley Manning; meanwhile, Verizon is 
See all stories on this topic »China: Snowden Case Like Shawshank Redemption
PJ Media
China: Snowden Case Like Shawshank Redemption. Xinhua also compared the NSA leaker to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. by. Bridget Johnson. Bio. June 18, 2013 – 11:00 am. Page 1 of 2 Next -> View as Single 
See all stories on this topic »Sphere of Influence says Insider Threats are Detectable
The Herald | HeraldOnline.com
Sphere of Influence, a technology company specializing in advanced “Big Data” analytics and behavioral analysis, is informing organizations that losses from insider threats, such as those caused by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, can be reduced or 
See all stories on this topic »Ai Weiwei on his incarceration: “They never looked away from me, 24 hours a day”
Salon
The three men she singled out from the stage – Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden – all pasty-looking, unlikely Robin Hoods of classified information, are acquiring the cachet of rock stars. So too is Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei 
See all stories on this topic »Issue 25: Fashion Issue
Baltimore City Paper
In Mobtown Beat, Van Smith looks into a lawsuit to make the evidence in whistleblower Bradley Manning’s court-martial case open to the public and Edward Ericson Jr. details the tax incentives the city gives to millionaire developers. In City Folk, Bret 
See all stories on this topic »Julian Assange Timeline Of Events Leading To Ecuadorian Embassy Refuge Bid
Huffington Post UK
In 2009, Bradley Manning, a United States Army Intelligence Private, allegedly contacted Mr Assange and is later accused of leaking classified information. In 2010 Manning is charged with leaking secret diplomatic cables and is held in prison in the US.
See all stories on this topic »Public enemy
The News International
A good example is the recurrence of phrases like ‘endangered our national security’ and ‘aided the enemy,’ in reference to leaks by people like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. These intend to evoke certain associations in the minds of listeners 
See all stories on this topic »Without Waiting for Proof, Edward Snowden Foes Begin Spreading Smears
Daily Beast
Let me suggest an alternative explanation: Bradley Manning. The trial of the man who handed over classified information to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is a cautionary tale for all wannabe whistleblowers. While being held for nearly three years 
See all stories on this topic »9/11 Case Motions Hearing: June 18 Session
Lawfare (blog)
Dew glistens on the lawn just outside Fort Meade’s Burba Cottage—-our usual haunt, Smallwood Hall, being unavailable on account of the ongoing Bradley Manning trial. Lawfare is in the house for a second day of CCTV-broadcasted motions hearings in 
See all stories on this topic »
SF Examiner President Talks Free Michelle Shocked Concert
SFist
While Vogt seems to be claiming that he is giving the squawky singer an opportunity to be held accountable for her actions earlier this year, any attempt to paint this as a noble effort to support journalism, or Gay Pride, or Bradley Manning or even ad 
See all stories on this topic »
One room, 10188 tweets and £9000 on takeouts: Julian Assange’s year in the 
Evening Standard
In one of the chatroom conversations of May 2010 that now form the basis of his court-martial, US Army private and WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning referred to Julian Assange as “a crazy, white-haired Aussie who can’t seem to stay in one country very 
See all stories on this topic »
Julian Assange Has Been Inside for a Year
Motherboard (blog)
It’s a sort of absurdist parallel narrative to the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning. The two figures are inextricably linked, and together, their saga reads like Miltonic poetry. Or a blockbuster film. Indeed, in Alex Gibney’s recent documentary We Steal 
See all stories on this topic »
Open and Shut Case
Baltimore City Paper
On May 22, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a suit asking for a court order to end pervasive secrecy surrounding the court-martial proceedings against another leaker, U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who in 2010 
See all stories on this topic »

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Wed June 19th will mark a year since WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London seeking sanctuary


Wed June 19th will mark a year since WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London seeking sanctuary. The Ecuadorian government was immediately threatened in private correspondence from British Foreign Minister Hague with the loss of diplomatic status and a consequent raid. The Ecuadorian government made the private threat public, held their ground and conducted an inquiry into the Assange case. This was the same government that had previously responded to a U.S. request for a U.S. military base in Ecuador with, “if you let us have an Ecuadoran base in Florida?”

Photos & Short vids (thanx to Bradleylibero)
http://tinyurl.com/mrclbpa

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Wed June 19th will mark a year since WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London seeking sanctuary. The Ecuadorian government was immediately threatened in private correspondence from British Foreign Minister Hague with the loss of diplomatic status and a consequent raid. The Ecuadorian government made the private threat public, held their ground and conducted an inquiry into the Assange case. This was the same government that had previously responded to a U.S. request for a U.S. military base in Ecuador with, “if you let us have an Ecuadoran base in Florida?”

During this period of inquiry, the London Met were deployed in large numbers around the embassy with 30 police stationed there 24/7. Anti-War, human rights, Latino, Veterans for Peace, Catholic Worker, Occupy & other activists maintained a solidarity vigil at the embassy. Following the completion of the Ecuadorian inquiry and the formal granting of asylum for Julian Assange in August 2012, the Met bobbies left to be replaced by 10 members of the Diplomatic Protection section of the Met and a police conference van permanently parked. This 24/7 police presence has been maintained for the past year at a cost of 4 million quid. On a significantly smaller budget, a daily vigil of solidarity activists has been sustained (presently 4-6pm).

Sunday June 16th. 2013 was chosen as a time to mobilise as Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino was to visit Julian Assange before his meeting with British Foreign Minister William Hague the following day.

The first sight that greeted activists on exiting the Knighstbridge tube station http://tinyurl.com/lydl5ap was Sue & Roland’s motor home transformed into the “Free Tea, Free Assange” takeaway. The caboose was parked next to an exclusive Gran Cafe facing Harrods, serving folks throughout the afternoon. We started setting up banners and were soon joined by the Ecuadorian community. Support grew to about 130+ by about 4pm. Word came through that the foreign minister had been delayed with an ETA of 6.30pm. We were blessed with fine weather and settled in for the duration. Fortunately, John McClean had brought his guitar! Songs alternated between an Aussie Kiwi combo http://tinyurl.com/ktm9j7m and the Ecuadorian community http://tinyurl.com/mztg4v8 .

In breaks between songs, media interviews were conducted and the Ecuadorian folks led us in chanting. At 6.30 the Ecuadorian foreign minister arrived waving to the crowd and entered the embassy. Singing resumed and after a while curtains were drawn back and Ricardo Patino and Julian Assange appeared at the window of the embassy. Between us and them were the London Metropolitan Police, mainstream media and a sealed U.S. Grand Jury indictment for the WikiLeaks founder.

In other places, Jeremy Hammond & Bradley Manning are already in chains, Edward Snowden is hotly pursued by the same powers. The courage of these people, the WikiLeaks crew and the Ecuadorian people inspires us all. Hopefully such courageous and solidarity is contagious. The world literally depends on its transmission. If that sunny afternoon on a sidewalk in Knightsbride/ London with the the Ecuadorian community and friends is anything to go by, it’s worth the effort.

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Bradley Manning: Truth on trial?
Aljazeera.com
We examine the implications of Manning’s trial and speak exclusively to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Listening Post Last Modified: 15 Jun 2013 12:07. Email Article. Print Article. Share article. Send Feedback. This week, a special edition of the 
See all stories on this topic »
The Bradley Manning Matter
Fog City Journal
Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army soldier, admitted sending 700,000 government documents to Wikileaks in 2010. It was the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history. Manning is now charged under Articles 92 and 134 of the Uniform Code of 
See all stories on this topic »
WikiLeaks releases transcript of critical US film
Livemint
WikiLeaks said it had not participated in the making of We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, a film by Alex Gibney that focuses on the website’s controversial founder Julian Assange and its chief informant Bradley Manning. Photo: AFP. Also Read.
See all stories on this topic »
Weekly Wrap-Up on Week 2 of Bradley Manning’s Trial
Firedoglake
With the identity of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower behind disclosures on National Security Agency top secret surveillance programs, forming a backdrop that dominated the news, Pfc. Bradley Manning’s trial entered its second week. Another 
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Interview with Chase Madar on Bradley Manning and US transparency
Washington Times
WASHINGTON, June 15, 2015 – Journalist Chase Madar of The Nation, is a civil rights attorney in New York and the author of The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story behind the Wikileaks Whistleblower (Verso). As an expert on the courtmartial of Bradley 
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The Whistleblower’s Guide to the Orwellian Galaxy: How to Leak to the Press
Wired
Daniel Ellsberg, Mark Felt, Jeffrey Wigand, Sherron Watkins, Bradley Manning, and now… Edward Snowden. (He’s just the latest informant caught in the web of government administrations that view George Orwell’s 1984 as an operations manual.) But while 
See all stories on this topic »
For Snowden, a Life of Ambition, Despite the Drifting
Bayoubuzz
After handing over the documents, he told The Guardian of his admiration for both Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is now on trial for providing 700,000 confidential documents to WikiLeaks, and Daniel Ellsberg, who disclosed the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
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Military Judge Runs A Shell Game
OpEdNews
Public access to the Bradley Manning court-martial doesn’t exist in any meaningful sense, despite the demands of the U.S. Constitution or the Manual for Courts Martial United States (MCM) published by the U.S. Dept. of Defense, which is the prosecutor.
See all stories on this topic »
Julian Assange: a year in the embassy
Hindustan Times
“What we don’t want to see is him ending up the same way as Bradley Manning — detained without trial, abused in prison and now facing life imprisonment.” Manning, a 25-year-old US soldier, is being court-martialled for passing the war logs and cables 
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Assange: America is at the precipice of turnkey totalitarianism
The Hindu
Bradley Manning’s trial began on Monday last week, three years after he was arrested. The United States Department of Justice has admitted that its even larger investigation into WikiLeaks and myself continues. Despite this, or perhaps even because of 
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Deep throats united


It was not Journalists’ Day in the rest of the world this week but the rest of the world is following a trial that might set the 21st century tone to the ever-thorny relationship between governments, sources and journalists. Its outcome, by transition, will define the type and quality of information the public gets.

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Bradley Manning, the young US army private who starred the largest leak of information in the history of the largest superpower ever, will be battling for his life over the next few weeks, but other potential sources and its press contacts should be aware their fate will also be at stake when the martial court delivers a ruling on the 22 charges presented against him.

The main difference between Manning and Mark Felt, the now legendary Deep Throat source that helped two Washington Post reporters produce arguably the greatest work of journalistic investigation in history, is that Manning was caught. Felt managed to remain anonymous for decades, only to own up to his deeds near the end of his life in a 2005 Vanity Fair interview. Besides their short-term political intentions, sources also have egos.

The other stark difference is that reporters Woodward and Bernstein were the representatives of an established news outlet that used traditional editing/political techniques to present the information to the public. Manning instead chose to pass the three quarters of a million classified State Department documents and a few compromising videos to Julian Assange, a man who calls himself a journalist but many refer to as a hacker.

The typical good guy/bad guy narrative surrounding both the stories of Manning and Assange misses the complexity of the historical role they are playing. The question whether Manning is a lunatic weirdo seeking to overthrow the government or a hero fighting windmills of secrecy is irrelevant in the light of the dilemma about how any entity — gubernatorial or private — handles important information affecting citizens and whether and how this information would be made available to the public.

Thomas Friedman would be happy to see how flat the world is becoming, at least when it comes to governments’ handling of citizens data and privacy. But the coin did not fall on the Don’t Be Evil side of things as Friedman’s now classic 2005 book indicated.

All the fret about countries like China keeping a tight grip on their netizens loses some credibility at the sight of the (leaked) news this week that the US National Security Agency is running a well-established programme called PRISM that allowed officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats. How? By having direct (yes, direct) access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US Internet giants.

The story broke through the Washington Post and the Guardian, who had access to secret NSA documents. Assange was quick to bolster his defence of Manning saying the leaker of this big story could — if caught — face the same prosecution fate. The US Department of Justice Department investigations on AP and Fox News reporters revealed recently justifies Assange’s concern.

The odd Manning-Assange relationship now under the magnifying glass of a US military court generated an unprecedented access to information for the people of almost every nation of the world covered by a batch of cables that otherwise had a strong focus on the US post 9/11 Middle Eastern wars. The short-lived marriage of convenience between Assange and some of the most traditional and prestigious newspapers in the Western world produced, for a moment, good information for the public at a time abundance goes against quality. It was a positive vision of a public information future that stubbornly seems geared toward dystopia instead.

***

The relationship between a journalist and the sources is one of the defining aspects in the way the information fed on the public gets shaped. Another is that of the journalists with their jobs. No wonder the first thing the US government did in its crusade to kill the messenger Assange after having caught the leaker Manning was to severe all sources of online financing to WikiLeaks via US-based global companies like Visa, Paypal and MasterCard.

Journalists need resources and a back-up structure to do their jobs independently and service the interests of the public against those of the governments or big corporations. The press labour market globally is not going through rosy days. In the US, newspapers have eliminated about 30 per cent of their full-time professional employees since 2000, according to a report this year by the Pew Research Centre on the state of the news media (Full report here http://stateofthemedia.org/ ).

Many journalists in Argentina went on strike yesterday, which was Journalists’ Day here in memory of the foundation of the first newspaper in 1810. The journalists are engaged in difficult wage talks with newspaper owners. Beyond the talks, a critical mass of journalists seem to have come to the conclusion that the media war between the government and the mainstream press outlets had placed them in the uncomfortable position of being the pawn in somebody else’s game.

via Deep throats united – BuenosAiresHerald.com.

The Manning trial shapes how the world sees America


t’s unclear how many Americans are paying attention to the trial of Private First Class Bradley Manning, which got underway this week after three years of preparation. But it is far more than just a domestic legal matter: it is a global event that continues to shape international perceptions of the United States, its policies and values.

The compromise of hundreds of thousands of internal U.S. documents through WikiLeaks was unprecedented in its size and scope. In ways large and small, it touched virtually every country in the world. Since the United States remains the world’s predominant power (notwithstanding a domestic political debate to the contrary), there is something in this now omniscient archive for everyone: lots to admire about America if so inclined or grist to criticize, which more people around the world have been inclined to do in recent years.

Bradley Manning says he distributed the vast array of documents, including diplomatic cables and raw military intelligence reports, to start a debate. In this, he succeeded. Because these detailed accounts of American policies, actions and analysis are online, it is the gift that will keep on giving indefinitely.

Given its unique nature, the Manning case is viewed through several different lenses.

It is seen as a test of the U.S. commitment to freedom of the press. Julian Assange is not a journalist, but he formed a successful partnership with many leading global media outlets–The Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais, Der Spiegel, The New York Times, Al Jazeera and Asahi Shimbun–to report on the material. That makes it difficult to separate Assange’s actions from those of real journalists.

The United States has investigated Assange as a potential co-conspirator and that makes some leap to the conclusion that journalists could be investigated that way too. The unfortunate convergence of the Manning case with other aggressive leak investigations adds force to this argument.

If the United States is perceived as at war with the Fourth Estate, whether true  or not, it becomes more challenging for Washington to credibly point fingers at media censorship in Beijing, Moscow and the Middle East. By no coincidence, Russian, Chinese and Arabic broadcast networks were avid reporters on the Manning case this week with hourly updates and lengthy panel discussions on its implications.

Perhaps the most troublesome of Manning’s leaked material was the so-called Collateral Murder video that depicts a trigger-happy Apache gunship crew attacking civilians (including children) and journalists they mistook as insurgents. The U.S. military viewed the video as the fog of war, but much of the world saw it as evidence of America’s flawed strategy in Iraq. As a result, many see Manning as a whistleblower, not an enemy of the state.

Global perceptions of military justice are already challenged by the existence of the military prison at Guantanamo and military commissions that have yet to meet international standards of justice. Many question whether Manning will receive a fair trial. The answer is yes, but the international skepticism has meaning.

Despite coming into office in 2009 committed to resetting global perceptions of the United States and its foreign policy, the Obama administration has taken an arm’s length approach to the Manning prosecution. The president declined to question the pre-trial treatment of Manning in the brig at Quantico even though a United Nations report termed it “degrading.” Even the trial judge in the Manning case concluded it was excessive.

The Army did make important adjustments in Manning’s pre-trial confinement, but in the courtroom, it is now vigorously pursuing the charge that Manning “aided the enemy” through WikiLeaks. A conviction could result in a life-sentence.

In doing so, the military passed up a potential plea-bargain, a step done routinely in the civilian justice system. In February, Manning pled guilty to a number of charges that carry a 20-year jail sentence. This was more than enough to send a stern message to those in government charged with protecting the national interest and safeguarding classified information: fail in your duty and there will be stiff consequences.

While Manning clearly harmed U.S. national interests and placed lives in jeopardy, it’s hard to argue that he “aided the enemy” any more than the Apache crew or those responsible for Abu Ghraib.

Instead of a plea-bargain that would take Manning off the global stage, his trial will continue for weeks, and with it an unwelcome summer rerun of difficult decisions, questionable policies and flawed perceptions that can only further erode global perceptions of the United States.

None of this is necessarily true or fair, but in our globalized and interconnected world, perception easily passes for reality and can have lingering and important long-term consequences.

via The Manning trial shapes how the world sees America — MSNBC.

Assange on PRISM: US justice system in ‘calamitous’ collapse


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has slammed a recently exposed NSA mass-surveillance scheme as a “calamitous collapse in the rule of law.” Google, Facebook and other tech giants apparently involved have denied giving the NSA access to their servers.

Assange accused the US government of trying to “launder” its activities concerning the large-scale spying program PRISM. The system was made public after a leaked classified National Security Agency (NSA) document was revealed earlier this week.

“The US administration has the phone records of everyone in the United States and is receiving them daily from carriers to the National Security Agency under secret agreements. That’s what’s come out,” he said.

President Barack Obama earlier defended PRISM, saying it was a key part of the country’s counterterrorism efforts and that privacy was a necessary sacrifice for the sake of security. He also lashed out at the media, and those who leaked information on the massive spying program.

If every step that we are taking to try to prevent a terrorist act is on the front page of the newspapers or any television, then presumably the people that are trying to do us harm are going to be able to get around our preventative measures,” Obama said.

Critics of the Obama Administration have accused it of an unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers – more government officials are being prosecuted for leaks under Obama than all previous administrations combined. News of PRISM comes just after reports that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of AP reporters’ telephone records and tapped Fox News reporter James Rosen’s private email.

“Over the last 10 years, the US justice system has suffered from a collapse, a calamitous collapse, in the rule of law,” Assange said.

The US tech giants apparently involved in PRISM have rushed to deny they participated in the program; their logos were visible on each the 41 PowerPoint slides of the leaked NSA document.

via Assange on PRISM: US justice system in ‘calamitous’ collapse — RT News.

WE the PEOPLE are Bradley Manning


WE the PEOPLE are Bradley Manning

After three years of incarceration by the United States Government, Bradley Manning is being tried for 22 crimes against our country and “Aiding the Enemy” this week.  In 2010, the young soldier was arrested for leaking documents to the now infamous organization WikiLeaks whose founder, Julian Assange currently resides in political refuge himself via the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.  This landmark case puts whistle-blowing and freedom of information on trial.  Freedom of Speech is one of the pillars of American life, written and set forth by the Founding Fathers.  Organizations like WikiLeaks exist to expose the public eye and provide the transparency and freedom of information which are supposed to be available to facilitate an open Government.  Today, more whistleblowers and informants have come forward to expose the truth of such things as the wars in the Middle East than ever before in history.  Likewise, more American citizens have been put on trial and prosecuted for such actions than ever before.

via DREGstudios! The Artwork of Brandt Hardin: WE the PEOPLE are Bradley Manning.

Day one of Manning trial focuses on intent of WikiLeaks source


The military trial of admitted WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning began Monday morning in Fort Meade, Maryland, more than three years after he was arrested in Iraq.

Manning, a 25-year-old soldier who reached the rank of private first class in the United States Army, has been in pretrial custody since May 2010. He could spend the rest of his life in prison if a military judge convicts him at the end of the trial for providing support to al-Qaeda.

In a small courtroom outside of Baltimore early Monday, Army prosecutors painted a picture of Pfc. Manning that portrayed him as a traitor that released files to WikiLeaks with intent to cause harm to the US. Manning’s defense counsel David Coombs insisted otherwise, however, and rejected the government’s argument that the soldier made contact with the anti-secrecy website in order to bring harm to the country he had taken an oath to protect.

Manning previously pleaded guilty to a number of lesser charges lobbed by the US government, but his counsel’s biggest challenge will occur during the court-martial, when they are faced with defending the private against counts of aiding the enemy and espionage.

Day one of the court-martial got underway around 10am Monday with Army prosecutors presenting a slideshow that paved the way for how they intend to prove that Pfc. Manning went to WikiLeaks will ill intentions. By presenting an outline of the evidence they plan to present as the trial continues trough the summer, prosecutors said they will show that Manning knowingly aided the enemy.

“This is not a case about an accidental spill of classified information” or “a case about a few documents left in a barracks,” prosecutors said.

“This, your honor, this is a case about a soldier who systemically harvested hundreds of thousands of documents from classified databases, and literally dumped that information onto the Internet in the hands of the enemy,” putting the lives of his fellow soldiers at risk.

“This is a case about what happens when arrogance meets access to sensitive information.”

Prosecutors also argued that Manning conspired with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, citing chat logs alleged to have occurred between the two in which Manning discussed classified intelligence that was publically requested and discussed by the WikiLeaks Twitter feed.

“We would like a list of as many .mil email addresses as possible. Please contact editor@wikileaks.org,” one tweet read in part. Manning is accused of supplying WikiLeaks with a list containing the personal information of 74,000 troops shortly thereafter, and the Army may be able to prove that the soldier took a cue from Assange, likely setting the stage for an eventual case against Assange that could finally pressure his extradition to the US.

But earlier this year, Manning testified during pretrial hearings that he was never sure who he communicated with during his few chats with a WikiLeaks staffer the government alleges to be Assange. Manning admitted to sending hundreds of thousands of files to WikiLeaks during a February 2013 statement, and on Monday his attorney said he had a very good reason for that.

Speaking of one file Manning admitted to leaking — a video of a US Apache chopper opening fire and killing civilians — Coombs said Manning sent it to WikiLeaks in hopes of bringing change to a war in Iraq being fought in a way very much unlike it was being reported.

“When he decided to release this information, he believed that this information showed how we value human life,” Coombs said. “He was troubled. And he believed that the American public saw it they too would be troubled. And maybe things would be changed,” he said.

Manning also has been attributed with leaking an entire trove of sensitive files to the website, including State Department diplomatic cables, Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment files and other materials. Before he concluded his brief opening statement, Coombs offered insight as to why his client did as charged.

“He released these documents because he was hoping to make the world a better place,” Coombs said. “He was 22 years old. He was young. He was a little naïve in thinking the information he selected could actually make a difference, but it was good intentions.”

“He had absolutely no actual knowledge that the enemy would get access to it,” Coombs said.

The prosecution called a handful of witnesses on Monday, including the Army officials who began the investigation into Pfc. Manning in May 2010 and his roommate in Iraq. The trial will enter day two on Tuesday and is expected to run through the summer.

via Day one of Manning trial focuses on intent of WikiLeaks source — RT USA.

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.

If Truth is Treason: Bradley Manning


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Bradley Manning by Julian Assange

If truth is treason, then those that claim the treason are criminals. I understand that Bradley Manning betrayed the trust that he was given by his country. I have been thinking about this for a long time. Let me tell you a story;

When I was in the Army in 1969, I was against the Vietnam War. I was a thorn in the side of my commander, a captain of a battery of Nike-Hercules unit. We were about 200 soldiers isolated some 50 miles from our headquarters on a mountaintop in rural Korea.

I wrote a letter to a mother from my hometown that had lost a son in Vietnam. The letter was given to the newspapers. I received mail back from that mother and from others that supported my stance against the war. I talked to other people in my unit and gradually became a focal point for dissent against the war in my unit. Needless to say, I was singled out for harassment.

I was busted from E-4 to E-3 a month after going to a promotion board for E-5. The charge was that I had left my duty station on top of the mountain to attend a party in the Administration Area at the bottom of the mountain (I was guilty). I accepted the demotion.

The next Friday at Reveille (the lowering of the colors), I was told to attend the formation. I was on duty at the top of the mountain cleaning space-heaters and was covered in soot. I protested, but was sent down to formation, looking like a chimney sweep.

At the formation, the First Sergeant bellowed, “Persons to be promoted, front and center!” The section chief of the other crew pushed me and said “Get up there Gatto!” I went up front hesitantly. I was wondering if the Captain was going to publically bust me in front of the unit.

To my surprise, he walked up to me as I was standing at attention, covered in soot, and pinned Sergeant Stripes on my collar. I was, needless to say, astonished. When this was done, he whispered in my ear, “I’ll get those Stripes back, Gatto,” Then I realized that I really WAS getting promoted.

After the Colors were lowered and the formation was over, I was told to go to the Orderly Room. I went over and was told to report to the Commander. I walked into the Commanders office and saw the Battalion Commander sitting at the Captains desk. I reported, saluting and standing at attention, black faced in soot. He told me to take a seat.

The Colonel explained that I was promoted to Sergeant the day before I was busted to E-3. Since a Captain can’t bust a Sergeant, the Article 15 was thrown out. The Army is a stickler for regulations.

He then went on to tell me that he knew about my activities against the Vietnam War. He then told me that there was a difference between living in a democratic society and being in the Army. In the Army he told me, I no longer had constitutional rights. I was under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He said there was a difference between a democratic government and a democratic army. He told me about the Soviet army in the 1930’s that tried to establish a democratic army.

They elected their leaders on a regular basis. The experiment was a disaster. He told me that the Soviet Army was so disorganized that Finland kicked their ass. He also told me that he didn’t really support the war in Vietnam either, but that as an officer in the Army he was expected to be apolitical. He said that the people of the United States should dictate what the Army does and that right now they are saying we should fight in Vietnam. When the will of the people changes, we will stop the war. Still he said, we took an oath and that means as long as we wear the uniform, we do as we are told. He also told me that I shouldn’t stop thinking; I should just stop talking in uniform.

I told him that I understood. It made sense. I knew about how the Japanese Army dictated policy to the government that led to war with the United States. I thought long and hard about the military and its role. From that point on, I decided that I would only do my protesting when off-duty and out of uniform, and that’s what I did. (Except when I went to the Stop the War Rally in Washington DC in my fatigues and John Kerry and his boys picked up my firebird and got me out minutes before the Federal Marshalls on horseback arrived, but that’s another story).

Which leads me to Bradley Manning., he was a PFC in the Army with a security clearance. He too had taken an oath. This is the Oath that we took:

“I, XXXXXXXXXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

So in reality, Bradley Manning violated his oath. Remember, this is coming from someone that also violated his oath, and not only that, I fully support what Bradley manning did. I expect that PFC Manning knew exactly what he was doing, and exactly what the consequences would be. This does not mean that I believe he should be exonerated.  In fact, I believe he should be charged for leaking classified information because that is exactly what he did. The facts are the facts.

I don’t think that the information that was leaked was harmful to our national security. In fact, I think that the information that Manning leaked actually enhanced our national security. The truth is something that needs to be told. Manning, I believe, is ready to accept whatever punishment is doled out, but I believe that the punishment should be measured. The truth is that Manning put his personal security at risk to tell the public what the truth really was. This is an exceptional person. I don’t believe he is a traitor, rather I think of him as a patriot.

via OpEdNews – Article: If Truth is Treason: Bradley Manning.

Setting an example: Why we must defend Manning and Assange


WikiLeaks released an enormous treasure-trove of classified US government documents in 2010. It included US military logs from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 250,000 diplomatic cables, and Collateral Murder, a video depicting the killing of 12 civilians by a US helicopter gunship in Iraq.

The source of the leaks, US Private Bradley Manning, acted on his conscience. He believed that people have a right to see the information he had been privy to as an army intelligence analyst. He was prepared to risk his life and liberty to reveal that information.

Through his exposure to thousands of classified documents, Manning became aware of the disparity between his government’s rhetoric and its actions. In Iraq, he witnessed his superiors turning a blind eye to torture, and was appalled by the “seemingly delightful bloodlust” of the US aerial weapons team in the Collateral Murder video.

Manning said he hoped the leaked documents would “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general”. His courage will likely cost him a lifetime in prison, while his government is seeking to subject WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to a similar fate.

When an empire is built on lies, truth is the enemy. Western governments do not want to be held accountable for their secret corruption and war crimes. Transparency poses a great danger to them.

Ruling elites depend on a democratic facade to conceal the inequalities and injustices inherent in our stratified societies. Information published by WikiLeaks can help us understand how the power exercised by our governments, in our name, ends up serving the interests of a powerful few.

With that understanding, people can demand the political and economic change that is needed to form more just and democratic societies. Transparency promotes criminal justice when it reveals individual wrongdoing, but it also promotes social justice: the sort of justice that comes from a shift in the balance of power from the 1% to a better-informed 99%.

The powerful cannot tolerate this threat to power and privilege. The US government is determined to make an example of Manning and Assange. They must be vilified, marginalised and punished severely, so those inclined to follow their path can see what will become of them if they do.

Manning has been held in pre-trial detention for three years, with nine months of that time spent in solitary confinement in a windowless cell where he was often forced to be naked.

Last year, the UN special rapporteur on torture ruled that Manning’s conditions constituted “at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”, and were a “violation of [Manning’s] right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence”.

For enduring this unlawful pre-trial punishment, Manning was granted a meagre 112 day reduction off his eventual sentence.

Manning’s trial by a military court begins on June 3. He has been prevented from defending himself on the grounds that he was acting for the public good, since a pre-trial judge ruled that he cannot submit evidence as to his motives for leaking information. He will likely be convicted of most of the 22 charges against him.

Assange and WikiLeaks have been the subject of a US criminal investigation since 2010. The investigation has been described in cables from the Australian embassy in Washington as “unprecedented in both its scale and nature”.

As of June last year, the FBI file on WikiLeaks was reported to comprise 42,135 pages, excluding grand jury testimony.

In September last year, a Pentagon spokesperson said that the very existence of WikiLeaks is regarded as an ongoing crime. This suggests the US government is not about to let up its pursuit of Assange any time soon. It is possible that a secret sealed grand jury indictment of Assange on charges of espionage or conspiracy already exists.

The US government and its allies seek to reassert their authority through the persecution of Manning and Assange, but their actions only serve to further undermine their legitimacy.

Reassuring notions of “human rights” and “civil liberties” appear to underpin our democracies, until we see how quickly they can be dispensed with to punish those who challenge the authority of the state.

US writer and activist Chris Hedges said in an interview with Democracy Now! that the attacks on Manning and Assange were part of a troubling pattern of increasing repression.

The Barack Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. It introduced the 2011 National Defence Authorisation Act, which allows for the indefinite military detention of anyone the government claims is offering “substantial support” to terrorists or “associated forces”.

The administration has refused to rule out the possibility that journalists could be subject to this provision.

It was revealed in May that the Obama administration had secretly appropriated the work, home and mobile phone records of 100 reporters and editors at the Associated Press (AP). The government has refused to explain why it carried out the raid, but it is believed to have been part of an investigation into the identity of the source of an AP story about a CIA operation in Yemen.

Hedges said these measures are “symptomatic of a reconfiguration of our society into a totalitarian security and surveillance state, one where anyone who challenges the official narrative, who digs out cases of torture, war crimes — which is, of course, what Manning and Assange presented to the American public — is going to be ruthlessly silenced”.

Australians should be no less concerned about these developments than citizens of the United States. Where the US government goes, the Australian government tends to follow, and the US is increasingly applying its laws extra-territorially.

The Australian government’s treatment of Assange demonstrates how quickly it will sacrifice the welfare of an Australian citizen, and violate its international obligations to protect journalists, in deference to a powerful ally.

Australia generally offers poor legal protections to journalists, who are increasingly finding themselves in court for refusing to reveal their sources.

In an extraordinary attack on personal privacy, the Australian government wants to force internet service providers to retain our personal data for two years, making it available to the police and the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Laws proposed last year would also give ASIO the power to demand online passwords to access users’ personal data, and the power to remotely control computers and modify the content.

If we do not fight these measures, and if we fail to stand up for Manning and Assange, we will simply be inviting more of the same. We need to set an example to those in power: we will not stand by while they strip us of our rights and freedoms, and punish anyone who dares to challenge their authority.

Crucially, though, if we hope to build enduring just and democratic societies, we need to set an example to ourselves.

In a recent interview with US philosopher and activist Cornel West, Assange revealed that he understands very well that the limits we place on ourselves are as powerful as any external constraints.

Assange told West that in his early 20s, he was asked by the Australian police to inform on friends within the Australian activist community. Assange said that he refused, not because he was worried about what others would think of him, but because he did not want to “set a precedent to himself of succumbing”.

Assange said, “there is no other way to live, but to live your own life, and to try and manifest your principles in the world”.

We might think of ourselves as freedom, justice, and peace-loving people, but it’s our actions that shape our character. To act in accordance with our deepest values in the face of great personal cost, is empowering. As Assange put it, “to be courageous emancipates our own character”.

Each time we “succumb” to injustice and oppression, we are training ourselves to succumb when we find ourselves in similar circumstances. Our capacity for courage is diminished.

If we fail to stand up for what we believe in as individuals, we cannot expect others to, and we cannot expect to live in a society which reflects our values.

Assange told West: “We must all fight to set precedents to ourselves about how our character will act in certain circumstances …

“Perhaps, for every person, their primary task is to strengthen and emancipate their own character, because how can they emancipate other people?”

If we do not act to defend Assange and Manning, we will be succumbing to a system which locks up those who expose war crimes, and lets war criminals walk free.

If we do not attempt to fulfill the potential for change which Manning and WikiLeaks have offered us, we will be succumbing to a world of inequality, injustice and permanent war.

[Linda Pearson is an activist with Sydney Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition. Email sawcparade@gmail.com for details of the SSAWC’s June 1 action for Bradley Manning.]

via Setting an example: Why we must defend Manning and Assange | Green Left Weekly.

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