Tag Archives: Bradley Manning

Colbert on Manning Conviction

This is a few days old but should still be watched as he makes some good points (E)

 

The Truth About Bradley Manning

The following was recorded prior to the judge’s decision in Manning’s case but since most people do not understand the implications of the case and the law involved that influenced Manning in the first place it is an important video. (E) 

Stefan Molyneux breaks down the truth about the Bradley Manning trial and situation.

Get more from Stefan Molyneux and Freedomain Radio including books, podcasts  and other info at :http://www.freedomainradio.com


Blood on Whose Hands?

Chase Madar

English: Slogan for the support of the persecu...

Lawyer, writer

Bradley Manning, Washington, and the Blood of Civilians

Who in their right mind wants to talk about, think about, or read a short essay about… civilian war casualties?  What a bummer, this topic, especially since our Afghan, Iraq, and other ongoing wars were advertised as uplifting acts of philanthropy: wars to spread security, freedom, democracy, human rights, gender equality, the rule of law, etc.

A couple hundred thousand dead civilians have a way of making such noble ideals seem like dollar-store tinsel.  And so, throughout our decade-long foreign policy debacle in the Greater Middle East, we in the U.S. have generally agreed that no one shall commit the gaucherie of dwelling on (and “dwelling on” = fleetingly mentioned) civilian casualties. Washington elites may squabble over some things, but as for foreigners killed by our numerous wars, our Beltway crew adheres to a sullen code of omertà.

Club rules do, however, permit one loophole: Washington officials may bemoan the nightmare of civilian casualties — but only if they can be pinned on a 24-year-old Army private first class named Bradley Manning.

Pfc. Manning, you will remember, is the young soldier who is soon to be court-martialed for passing some 750,000 military and diplomatic documents, a large chunk of them classified, to the website WikiLeaks.  Among those leaks, there was indeed some serious stuff about how Americans dealt with civilians in invaded countries.  For instance, the documents revealed that the U.S. military, then the occupying force in Iraq, did little or nothing to prevent Iraqi authorities from torturing prisoners in a variety of gruesome ways, sometimes to death.

Then there was that gun-sight video — unclassified but buried in classified material — of an American Apache helicopter opening fire on a crowd on a Baghdad street, gunning down a dozen men, including two Reuters employees, and injuring more, including children.  There were also those field reports about how jumpy American soldiers repeatedly shot down civilians at roadside checkpoints; about night raids gone wrong both in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a count of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, a tally whose existence the U.S. military had previously denied possessing.

Together, these leaks and many others offered a composite portrait of military and political debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan whose grinding theme has been civilian casualties, a fact not much noted here in the U.S.  A tiny number of low-ranking American soldiers have been held to account for rare instances of premeditated murder of civilians, but most of the troops who kill civilians in the midst of the chaos of war are not tried, much less convicted.  We don’t talk about these cases a lot either.  On the other hand, officials of all types make free with lusty condemnations of Bradley Manning, whose leaks are luridly credited with potential (though not actual) deaths.

Putting Lives in Danger

“[WikiLeaks] might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the release of the Afghan War Logs in July 2010.  This was, of course, the same Admiral Mullen who had endorsed a major escalation of the war in Afghanistan, which would lead to a tremendous “surge” in casualties among civilians and soldiers alike.  Here are counts — undoubtedly undercounts, in fact — of real Afghan corpses that, at least in part, resulted from the policy he supported: 2,412 in 2009, 2,777 in 2010, 1,462 in the first half 2011, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan.  As far as anyone knows, here are the corpses that resulted from the release of those WikiLeaks documents: 0.  (And don’t forget, the stalemate war with the Taliban has not budged in the period since that surge.)  Who, then, has blood on his hands, Pfc. Manning — or Admiral Mullen?

Of course the admiral is hardly alone.  In fact, whole tabernacle choirs have joined in the condemnation of Manning and WikiLeaks for “causing” carnage, thanks to their disclosures.

Robert Gates, who served as secretary of defense under George W. Bush and then Barack Obama, also spoke sternly of Manning’s leaks, accusing him of “moral culpability.”  He added, “And that’s where I think the verdict is ‘guilty’ on WikiLeaks. They have put this out without any regard whatsoever for the consequences.”

This was, of course, the same Robert Gates who pushed for escalation in Afghanistan in 2009 and, in March 2011, flew to the Kingdom of Bahrain to offer his own personal “reassurance of support” to a ruling monarchy already busy shooting and torturing nonviolent civilian protesters.  So again, when it comes to blood and indifference to consequences, Bradley Manning — or Robert Gates?

Nor have such attitudes been confined to the military. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Manning’s (alleged) leak of 250,000 diplomatic cables of being “an attack on the international community” that “puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.”

As a senator, of course, she supported the invasion of Iraq in flagrant contravention of the U.N. Charter.  She was subsequently a leading hawkwhen it came to escalating and expanding the Afghan War, and is now responsible for disbursing an annual $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt’s ruling junta whose forces have repeatedly opened fire on nonviolent civilian protesters.  So who’s been attacking the international community and putting lives in danger, Bradley Manning — or Hillary Clinton?

Harold Koh, former Yale Law School dean, liberal lion, and currently the State Department’s top legal adviser, has announced that the same leaked diplomatic cables “could place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals — from journalists to human rights activists and bloggers to soldiers to individuals providing information to further peace and security.”

This is the same Harold Koh who, in March 2010, provided a tortured legal rationale for the Obama administration’s drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, despite the inevitable and well-documented civilian casualties they cause.  So who is risking the lives of countless innocent individuals, Bradley Manning — or Harold Koh?

Much of the media have clambered aboard the bandwagon, blaming WikiLeaks and Manning for damage done by wars they once energetically cheered on.

In early 2011, to pick just one example from the ranks of journalism, New Yorker writer George Packerprofessed his horror that WikiLeaks had released a memo marked “secret/noforn” listing spots throughout the world of vital strategic or economic interest to the United States.  Asked by radio host Brian Lehrer whether this disclosure had crossed a new line by making a gratuitous gift to terrorists, Packer replied with an appalled yes.

Now, among the “secrets” contained in this document are the facts that the Strait of Gibraltar is a vital shipping lane and that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in minerals. Have we Americans become so infantilized that factoids of basic geography must be considered state secrets?  (Maybe best not to answer that question.)  The “threat” of this document’s release has since been roundly debunkedby various military intellectuals.

Nevertheless, Packer’s response was instructive.  Here was a typical liberal hawk, who had can-canned to the post-9/11 drumbeat of war as a therapeutic wake-up call from “the bland comforts of peace,” now affronted by WikiLeaks’ supposed recklessness.  Civilian casualties do not seem to have been on Packer’s mind when he supported the invasion of Iraq, nor has he written much about them since.

In an enthusiastic 2006 New Yorker essay on counterinsurgency warfare, for example, the very words “civilian casualties” never come up, despite their centrality to COIN theory, practice, and history.  It is a fact that, as Operation Enduring Freedom shifted to counterinsurgency tactics in 2009, civilian casualties in Afghanistan skyrocketed.  So, for that matter, have American military casualties.  (More than half of U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan occurred in the past three years.)

Liberal hawks like Packer may consider WikiLeaks out of bounds, but really, who in these last years has been the most reckless, Bradley Manning — or George Packer and some of his pro-war colleagues at theNew Yorker like Jeffrey Goldberg (who has since left for the Atlantic Monthly, where he’s been busilyclearing a path for war with Iran) and editor David Remnick?

Centrist and liberal nonprofit think tanks have been no less selectively blind when it comes to civilian carnage. Liza Goitein, a lawyer at the liberal-minded Brennan Center at NYU Law School, has also taken out after Bradley Manning.  In the midst of an otherwise deft diagnosis of Washington’s compulsive urge to over-classify everything — the federal government classifies an amazing 77 million documents a year — she pauses just long enough to accuse Manning of “criminal recklessness” for putting civilians named in the Afghan War logs in peril — “a disclosure,” as she puts it, “that surely endangers their safety.”

It’s worth noting that, until the moment Goitein made this charge, not a single report or press release issued by the Brennan Center has ever so much as uttered a mention of civilian casualties caused by the U.S. military.  The absence of civilian casualties is almost palpable in the work of the Brennan Center’s program in  “Liberty and National Security.”  For example, this program’s 2011 report “Rethinking Radicalization,” which explored effective, lawful ways to prevent American Muslims from turning terrorist, makes not a single reference to the tens of thousands of well-documented civilian casualties caused by American military force in the Muslim world, which according to many scholars is the prime mover of terrorist blowback.  The report on how to combat the threat of Muslim terrorists, written by Pakistan-born Faiza Patel, does not, in fact, even contain the words “Iraq,” “Afghanistan,” “drone strike,” “Pakistan” or “civilian casualties.”

This is almost incredible, because terrorists themselves have freely confessed that what motivated their acts of wanton violence has been the damage done by foreign military occupation back home or simply in the Muslim world.  Asked by a federal judge why he tried to blow up Times Square with a car bomb in May 2010, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad answered that he was motivated by the civilian carnage the U.S. had caused in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  How could any report about “rethinking radicalization” fail to mention this?  Although the Brennan Center does much valuable work, Goitein’s selective finger-pointing on civilian casualties is emblematic of a blindness to war’s consequences widespread among American institutions.

American Military Whistleblowers

Knowledge may indeed have its risks, but how many civilian deaths can actually be traced to the WikiLeaks revelations?  How many military deaths?  To the best of anyone’s knowledge, not a single one.  After much huffing and puffing, the Pentagon has quietly denied — and then denied again — that there is any evidence at all of the Taliban targeting the Afghan civilians named in the leaked war logs.

In the end, the “grave risks” involved in the publication of the War Logs and of those State Department documents have been wildly exaggerated.  Embarrassment, yes.  A look inside two grim wars and the workings of imperial diplomacy, yes.  Blood, no.

On the other hand, the grave risks that were hidden in those leaked documents, as well as in all the other government distortions, cover-ups, and lies of the past decade, have been graphically illustrated in aortal red.  The civilian carnage caused by our rush to war in Iraq and by our deeply entrenched stalemate of a war in Afghanistan (and the Pakistani tribal borderlands) is not speculative or theoretical but all-too real.

And yet no one anywhere has been held to much account: not in the political class, not in the military, not in the think tanks, not among the scholars, nor the media.  Only one individual, it seems, will pay, even if he actually spilled none of the blood.  Our foreign policy elites seem to think Bradley Manning is well-cast for the role of fall guy and scapegoat.  This is an injustice.

Someday, it will be clearer to Americans that Pfc. Manning has joined the ranks of great American military whistleblowers like Dan Ellsberg (who was first in his class at Marine officer training school); Vietnam War infantryman Ron Ridenhour, who blew the whistle on the My Lai massacre; and the sailors and marines who, in 1777, reported the torture of British captives by their politically connected commanding officer.  These servicemen, too, were vilified in their times. Today, we honor them, as someday Pfc. Manning will be honored.

Chase Madar is the author of The Passion of Bradley Manning, to be published by OR Books in February.  He is an attorney in New York, a TomDispatch regular, and a frequent contributor to theLondon Review of BooksLe Monde DiplomatiqueAmerican Conservative Magazine, andCounterPunch.  (To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Madar discusses the coming trial of Bradley Manning, click here, or download it to your iPod here.) He tweets @ChMadar.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here.

Almost Gone by Graham Nash and James Raymond

`


Factsheet: Top 10 Truths Government Officials Hoped You’d Never Know

2.5 million people had access to the classified information released by Wikileaks. That’s not a very good secret, but Bradley Manning now faces life in prison or the death penalty for releasing it. Here are some of the possible reasons they didn’t want the rest of us in the know.

Download (PDF, 669kb)

_________________________________________________________________________

1. Innocence is no excuse

The government knew that most Guantanamo prisoners were either innocent or just low-level operativesThe U.S. also pressured Spanish courts to drop investigations of torture at Gitmo. Shoddy CIA evidence collection at Guantanamo has cost millions and bred anti-American sentiment abroad. The Guantanamo Files describe how detainees were captured based on highly subjective evidence. How quickly they were released was heavily dependent on their country of origin (1). According to a U.S. diplomatic cable written on April 17, 2009, the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners requested that the National Court indict six former U.S. officials for creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture against five Spanish prisoners. However, “Senator Mel Martinez… met Acting FM [Foreign Minister] Angel Lossada… on April 15. Martinez… underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the U.S. and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship” (2).

2. “We don’t do Body Counts.” At least not publicly

Gen. Tommy Franks famously told reporters in 2002, “We don’t do body counts.” Yet the Iraq War Logs and Afghan War Diary reveal that the military does track casualties. In most cases the military did not conduct a thorough investigation into Afghani civilian deaths. Instead, they offered victims’ families up to US$2400. The Iraq War Logs, which span the period from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2009, show 109,000 total deaths. Of those, a staggering 66,081 – two-thirds – were civilians –15,000 of whom were not acknowledged or reported anywhere previously (3). In a leaked cable from the U.S. delegation to NATO, it is stated that, “Norway’s ambassador emphasized the need to avoid a public debate about the reporting of the number of [Afghani] civilians killed,” and the cable went on to state that “U.N. employees themselves in Kabul doubt the method [of tracking casualties] that is used” (4).

3. Common enemies make great friends of despots

The U.S. government had documented Tunisian government human rights violations against its own people, but continued providing aid to Tunisia on the basis of being an ally in the war against “terrorism.” About Tunisia, the U.S. Ambassador wrote, “Tunisia is a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems.” Nevertheless, he recommended the U.S. continued funding Tunisia’s military (5).

4. Torture is better when others do it for you

The U.S. Military violated the U.N. Convention Against Torture by turning prisoners over to the new Iraqi Security Forces, an organization which, according to the State Department’s own reports, has frequently perpetrated prisoner torture. The Convention, which was ratified by the U.S. in 1994, forbids signatories from transferring a detainee to other countries “where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” The Iraq War Logs describe thousands of reports of prisoner torture filed against the Iraqi Security Forces, hundreds of which include medical evidence. Methods of torture described include prisoners whipped with heavy cables across the feet, hung from ceiling hooks, having holes bored into their legs with electric drills, urinated upon, and sexually assaulted. A military order issued in 2004 directed U.S. troops not to investigate these allegations (6).

5. Botched Covert-Ops are never our fault

The U.S. State Department endorsed an occasion when the Yemeni government lied to its people about U.S. participation in air strikes in December 2009 that resulted in civilian casualties. “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told General David Petraeus in January, 2010. Saleh also said, “mistakes had been made” in the earlier strikes, lamented the use of U.S. cruise missiles that were “not very accurate,” and welcomed the use of precision-guided bombs instead. Yemen’s prime minister also joked about how his president had “lied” to the parliament about the strikes (7).

6. US Tax dollars spent on child trafficking?!

U.S. taxpayer dollars helped support child trafficking when government contractor DynCorp threw a party for Afghan security recruits featuring boys purchased from pimps for entertainment. “Bacha bazi,” or “boy play,” is a practice in which young boys are dressed up in women’s clothing, forced to dance for powerful men, and then sold for sex to the highest bidder. DynCorp was linked to child sex trafficking charges before this incident occurred (8).

7. Freedom of Information. An Act, or just a suggestion?

The U.S. Military attempted to thwart the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by neglecting to release the video (now titled as Collateral Murder) depicting the killing of two Reuters reporters and ten other people. On July 12, 2007, U.S. soldiers manning an Apache helicopter shot and killed 12 individuals in Baghdad, Iraq. Two were Reuters reporters and two were civilians who stopped their van to help the wounded. Reuters news staff were shown the video two weeks after the incident, and then told that if they wanted to receive a copy of the video and other materials, they would have to make a FOIA request. Although Reuters filed the request shortly thereafter, it remained unfulfilled (9).

8. Climate “Diplomacy” is a scam

The U.S. Government offered handouts to third-world countries in order to buy signatories for the adopted version of the Copenhagen Climate Accords, which holds the U.S. to lower standards than every other industrialized nation, including India, China and South Africa. U.S. diplomatic cables show the U.S. offered aid unrelated to climate issues to individual countries, persuading developing countries to break with regional bargaining groups and agree to the Accord (10).

9. Human rights abuses as usual

Leaked U.S. cables contain information about human rights abuses around the world, including many cases in which corrupt governments were trying to hide the truth from their own people. In specific cases, American- and British-based international corporations were implicated. These violations are well-documented and include countries the U.S. has publicly supported, including Tunisia, Columbia, Eritrea, India, Pakistan, Si Lanka, Botswana, Egypt, and Papua New Guinea.

10. Protecting torturers is required

U.S. officials put strong, continued pressure on Germany not to pursue charges against CIA officers involved in the extraordinary rendition of a German citizen.In January 2007, a German court issued arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents related to their rendition of a German citizen of Lebanese descent to Afghanistan, where he was tortured. The case against the agents was later dropped. Diplomatic cables written in the interim period shed some light on the reasons why. According to one German Justice Ministry (BMJ) official addressing concerns from the U.S. Ambassador, international arrest warrants could only be issued once the ministry had evaluated their legal soundness and “foreign policy implications” on a case-by-case basis. Another BMJ official assured the embassy that the cases would not be “handled as routine” and that any investigation would require a green light from Berlin (11).

——————————————————————————————————-

Sources:

(1) Scott Shane and Benjamin Weiser, “The Guatanamo Files: Judging Detainees’ Risk, Often With Flawed Evidence,” New York Times, April 24, 2011,http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/world/guantanamo-files-flawed-evidence-for-assessing-risk.html

(2) “US embassy cables: Don’t pursue Guantánamo criminal case, says Spanish attorney general,”guardian.co.uk, December 1, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/202776.

(3) “Iraq War Logs Reveal 15,000 Previously Unlisted Civilian Deaths,” guardian.co.uk, October 22, 2010,http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/22/true-civilian-body-count-iraq

(4) Aled-Dilwyn Fisher, “Norway joined NATO in suppressing reports of civilian Afghan deaths,”uruknet.info, February 21, 2011, http://www.uruknet.info/?new=75223.

(5) “US embassy cables: Tunisia – a US foreign policy conundrum,” guardian.co.uk, December 7, 2010,http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/217138.

(6) Alex Spillius, “Wikileaks: Iraq War Logs show US ignored torture allegations,” Telegraph, October 22, 2010.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/8082223/Wikileaks-Iraq-War-Logs-show-US-ignored-torture-allegations.html.

(7) “Cable reveals US behind airstrike that killed 21 children in Yemen,” The Raw Story, December 2, 2010,http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/02/cable-reveals-airstrike-killed-21-children-yemen.

(8) “Foreign contractors hired Afghan ‘dancing boys’, WikiLeaks cable reveals,” guardian.co.uk, December 2, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/02/foreign-contractors-hired-dancing-boys.

(9) Steven Clarke and Joseph Bamat, “Leaked video shows US military killing of civilians, Reuters staff,” France 24, July 27, 2010, http://www.france24.com/en/20100406-leaked-video-shows-us-military-killing-civilians-reuters-staff.

(10) “WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord,” guardian.co.uk, December 3, 2010,http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-us-manipulated-climate-accord

(11) Matthias Gebauer and John Goetz, “The CIA’s El-Masri Abduction: Cables Show Germany Caved to Pressure from Washington,” Der Spiegel, December 9, 2010,http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,733860,00.html


The Shame of Being an American

 

by Paul Craig Roberts

Recently by Paul Craig Roberts: Has There Been an Egyptian Revolution?

Source: http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts293.html

The United States government has overestimated the amount of shame that it and American citizens can live down. On February 15 “the indispensable people” had to suffer the hypocrisy of the U.S. Secretary of State delivering a speech about America’s commitment to Internet freedom while the U.S.Department of Justice (sic) brought unconstitutional action against Twitter to reveal any connection between WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning, the American hero who, in keeping with the U.S. Military Code, exposed U.S. government war crimes and who is being held in punishing conditions not permitted by the U.S. Constitution. The corrupt U.S. government is trying to create a “conspiracy” case against Julian Assange in order to punish him for revealing U.S. government documents that prove beyond every doubt the mendacity of the U.S. government.

This is pretty bad, but it pales in comparison to the implications revealed on February 15 in the British newspaper, The Guardian.

The Guardian obtained an interview with “Curveball,” the source for Colin Powell’s speech of total lies to the United Nations about Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. Colin Powell’s speech created the stage for the illegal American invasion of Iraq.The Guardian describes “Curveball” as “the man who pulled off one of the greatest confidence tricks in the history of modern intelligence.” As The Guardian puts it, “Curveball” “manufactured a tale of dread.”

U.S. “intelligence” never interviewed “Curveball.” The Americans started a war based on second-hand information given to them by incompetent German intelligence, which fell for “Curveball’s” lies that today German intelligence disbelieves.

As the world now knows, Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The Bush/Cheney Regime, of course, knew this, but “Curveball’s” lies were useful to their undeclared agenda. In his interview with The Guardian, “Curveball,” Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, admitted that he made the whole story up. He wanted to do in Saddam Hussein and told whatever fantasy lie he could make up that would serve his purpose.

If the Bush/Cheney Regime had really believed that Saddam Hussein had world-threatening weapons of mass destruction, it would have been a criminal act to concentrate America’s invading force in a small area of Kuwait where a few WMD could have wiped out the entire U.S. invasion force, thus ending the war before it began.

Some Americans are so thoughtless that they would say that Saddam Hussein would never have used the weapons, because we would have done this and that to Iraq, even nuking Baghdad. But why would Saddam Hussein care if he and his regime were already marked for death? Why would a doomed man desist from inflicting an extraordinary defeat on the American Superpower, thus encouraging Arabs everywhere? Moreover, if Saddam Hussein was unwilling to use his WMD against an invading force, when would he ever use them? It was completely obvious to the U.S. government that no such weapons existed. The weapons inspectors made that completely clear to the Bush/Cheney Regime. There were no Iraqi WMD, and everyone in the U.S. government was apprised of that fact.

Why was there no wonder or comment in the “free” media that the White House accused Iraq of possession of terrible weapons of mass destruction, but nevertheless concentrated its invasion force in such a small area that such weapons could easily have wiped out the invading force?

Does democracy really exist in a land where the media is incompetent and the government is unaccountable and lies through its teeth every time if opens its mouth?

“Curveball” represents a new level of immorality. Rafid al-Janabi shares responsibility for one million dead Iraqis, 4 million displaced Iraqis, a destroyed country, 4,754 dead American troops, 40,000 wounded and maimed American troops, $3 trillion of wasted US resources, every dollar of which is a debt burden to the American population and a threat to the dollar as reserve currency, ten years of propaganda and lies about terrorism and al Qaeda connections, an American “war on terror” that is destroying countless lives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and which has targeted Iran, and which has destroyed the Bill of Rights, the US Constitution, and the civil liberties that they guarantee. And the piece of lying excrement, Rafid al-Janabi, is proud that he brought Saddam Hussein’s downfall at such enormous expense.

Now that Rafid al-Janabi is revealed in the Guardian interview, how safe is he? There are millions of Iraqis capable of exterminating him for their suffering, and tens of thousands of Americans whose lives have been ruined by Rafid al-Janabi’s lies.

Why does the U.S. government pursue Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for telling the truth when “Curveball,” whose lies wiped out huge numbers of people along with America’s reputation, thinks he can start a political party in Iraq? If the piece of excrement, Rafid al-Janabi, is not killed the minute he appears in Iraq, it will be a miracle.

So we are left to contemplate that a totally incompetent American government has bought enormous instability to its puppet states in the Middle East, because it desperately wanted to believe faulty “intelligence” from Germany that an immoralist provided evidence that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

And America is a superpower, an indispensable nation.

What a total joke!

February 17, 2010

Paul Craig Roberts [send him mail], a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, has been released by Random House.

Copyright © 2010 Paul Craig Roberts

The Best of Paul Craig Roberts

`



Hillary: Hypocrisy on Free Speech? Tell Her Lead by Taking Action NOW

February 17 2011

On Tuesday, February 15th Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech on the importance of Freedom of Speech in the Internet age. She focused her attention on foreign countries and chided them for curtailing the speech of their citizens.  

During that speech Ray McGovern, a veteran who also served for 27 years as a CIA analyst, exercised his freedom of speech by standing and silently turning his back on Secretary Clinton. He was protesting the ongoing wars, the treatment of Bradley Manning and the militarism of U.S. foreign policy. He did not shout at the Secretary of State or interrupt her speech. He merely stood in silence.

`

`

McGovern’s action was a powerful one and it threatened the Secretary of State. Two police officers roughed him up, pulled him from the audience and arrested him. As you can see from the pictures, the 71 year old McGovern, was battered and bruised, indeed his attorney reports he was left in jail bleeding. 

McGovern is not just a former CIA analyst. He did the daily intelligence briefing for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He also briefed the National Security Advisor, Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Cabinet on security matters. He has come to see that the current U.S. wars are about controlling natural resources, especially oil, positioning U.S. military bases in key areas and protecting the unusual alliance between the U.S. and Israel. So, when he stood silently his speech was being heard.

And, when Secretary of Clinton kept speaking about the importance of freedom of speech, as if nothing was occurring before her eyes, Ray McGovern’s voice became even louder. The hypocrisy of the United States became thunderous. Free speech was being snuffed out right before her eyes but she kept talking about freedom of speech, doing nothing to protect it while criticizing other countries, U.S. client states like Egypt and those enemies like Iran, for their failure to allow their people to speak freely.

On the same day that McGovern was roughed up and left bleeding by the police, independent journalist Brandon Jourdan returned from Haiti after being on assignment documenting the rebuilding of schools. When he returned to the United States, he was immediately detained, questioned about his travels and had all of his documents, computer, phone and camera flash drives searched and copied. This is the seventh time Jourdan says he has been subjected to lengthy searches in five years, and has been told by officials that he is “on a list.” Freedom of speech? Freedom of the press? Did Secretary of State Clinton say anything? No. She remained silent.

And, on that same day, as he has for the last 8 months, Pfc Bradley Manning sits in solitary confinement, pre-trial torture, for the alleged crime of sharing with the media evidence of war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as crimes committed by agents of U.S. foreign policy. Included in the documents he is accused of leaking are diplomatic cables that show Secretary of State Clinton issuing a memorandum directing U.S. diplomats to spy, including illegally spying on UN diplomats. During his long pre-trial punishment has Secretary of State Clinton said anything about Pfc Manning’s illegal punishment before trial? No, she has remained silent.

Finally, a last example of many all of which I will not describe here, while Secretary of State Clinton was speaking, agents of the U.S. Department of Justice were trying to find a way to prosecute Julian Assange, the editor in chief of WikiLeaks. They claim this super-journalist, whose publication has released more classified documents than the Washington Post has in decades, is not a journalist. Some of the most recent publications of WikiLeaks helped to spark the revolution in Tunisia. And, during the revolt in Egypt, WikiLeaks documents showing that Mubarak’s newly appointed Vice President, Omar Suleiman was the choice of Israel to be Mubarak’s successor. This U.S. trained military and intelligence officer tortured people at the request of the United States. While Secretary of State Clinton has remained silent about the trumped up investigation of Assange, she did not remain silent about Suleiman. She made it clear, he was America’s choice as Mubarak’s successor.

Please write Secretary of State Clinton and urge her to put actions to her words. Urge her to stand up for freedom of speech in the United States. First, she should apologize for the treatment of Ray McGovern and seek to have the charges against him dropped. But, more importantly, she should ask that Bradley Manning be released for prison and the charges against him be dropped. His patriotic act of exposing war crimes and other criminal activity deserves plaudits from free speech loving Americans. Similarly, she should tell Attorney General Holder that the abusive investigation of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks should be halted. Secretary Clinton is at the center of numerous challenges to free speech in the United States. She could become a leader in reviving this first and foremost freedom in America, or she could remain silent. Click here to urge her to put actions to her words.

Finally, Ray McGovern wrote me a day after his brutal ordeal saying: “The painful bruises are those for our country and its erstwhile ideals physically I hurt, but no broken bones, dislocated shoulders, or anything else that will not heal please pass word around.” If you share Ray’s concern for the direction of the United States, write Hillary Clinton and support efforts to change the direction of the country.

Sincerely,

Kevin Zeese
Executive Director
Voter For Peace

VotersForPeace is a nonpartisan organization that does not support or oppose candidates for office.

VotersForPeace
2842 N. Calvert St.
Baltimore, MD 21218

443-708-8360

Copyright 2006 – 2008 VotersForPeace.US. All rights reserved.


 


Why Bradley Manning Is a Patriot, Not a Criminal


by Tom Engelhardt and Chase Madar

Recently by Tom Engelhardt: Pox Americana

Source: http://www.lewrockwell.com/engelhardt/engelhardt419.html

The Obama administration came into office proclaiming “sunshine” policies.  When some of the U.S. government‘s dirty laundry was laid out in the bright light of day by WikiLeaks, however, its officials responded in a knee-jerk, punitive manner in the case of Bradley Manning, now in extreme isolation in a Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia.  The urge of the Obama administration and the U.S. military to break his will, to crush him, is unsettling, to say the least.  Whatever happens to Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, Washington is clearlyintent on destroying this young Army private and then putting him away until hell freezes over.

It should not be this way.

Today, thanks to lawyer and essayist Chase Madar, TomDispatch is making a long-planned gesture towards Manning, whose acts, aimed at revealing the worst this country had to offer in recent years, will someday make him a genuine American hero – but that’s undoubtedly little consolation to him now.  When it comes to America’s recent wars, its torture regimes, black sites, and extraordinary renditions, as well as the death and destruction visited on distant lands, blood is on many official American hands, but not on Manning’s.  Those officials should be held accountable, not him.

With that in mind, TomDispatch offers its version of the defense of Bradley Manning.  (To catch Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast video interview in which Chase Madar explores Manning’s case and his defense, click here, or download it to your iPod here.) Tom

An Opening Statement for the Defense of Private Manning

By Chase Madar

Bradley Manning, a 23-year-old from Crescent, Oklahoma, enlisted in the U.S. military in 2007 to give something back to his country and, he hoped, the world.

For the past seven months, Army Private First Class Manning has been held in solitary confinement in the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia. Twenty-five thousand other Americans are also in prolonged solitary confinement, but the conditions of Manning’s pre-trial detention have been sufficiently brutal for the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture to announce an investigation.

Pfc. Manning is alleged to have obtained documents, both classified and unclassified, from the Department of Defense and the State Department via the Internet and provided them to WikiLeaks.  (That “alleged” is important because the federal informant who fingered Manning, Adrian Lamo, is a felon convicted of computer-hacking crimes. He was also involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution in the month before he levelled his accusation.  All of this makes him a less than reliable witness.)  At any rate, the records allegedly downloaded by Manning revealed clear instances of war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Iraq andAfghanistan, widespread torture committed by the Iraqi authorities with the full knowledge of the U.S. military, previously unknown estimates of the number of Iraqi civilians killed at U.S. military checkpoints, and the massive Iraqi civilian death tollcaused by the American invasion.

For bringing to light this critical but long-suppressed information, Pfc. Manning has been treated not as a whistleblower, but as a criminal and a spy.  He is charged with violating not only Army regulations but also the Espionage Act of 1917, making him the fifth American to be charged under the act for leaking classified documents to the media.  A court-martial will likely be convened in the spring or summer.

Politicians have called for Manning’s head, sometimes literally.  And yet a strong legal defense for Pfc. Manning is not difficult to envision.  Despite many remaining questions of fact, a legal defense can already be sketched out.  What follows is an “opening statement” for the defense.  It does not attempt to argue individual points of law in any exhaustive way.  Rather, like any opening statement, it is an overview of the vital legal (and political) issues at stake, intended for an audience of ordinary citizens, not Judge Advocate General lawyers.

After all, it is the court of public opinion that ultimately decides what a government can and cannot get away with, legally or otherwise.

Opening Statement for the Defense of Bradley Manning, Soldier and Patriot

U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning has done his duty.  He has witnessed serious violations of the American military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice, violations of the rules in U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, and violations of international law.  He has brought these wrongdoings to light out of a profound sense of duty to his country, as a citizen and a soldier, and his patriotism has cost him dearly.

In 2005, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters: “It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member [in Iraq], if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to try to stop it.”  This, in other words, was the obligation of every U.S. service member in Operation Iraqi Freedom; this remains the obligation of every U.S. service member in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.  It is a duty that Pfc. Manning has fulfilled.

Who is Pfc. Bradley Manning?  He is a 23-year-old Private First Class in the U.S. Army.  He was raised in Crescent, Oklahoma (population 1,281, according to the last census count).  He enlisted in 2007. “He was basically really into America,” says a hometown friend.  “He was proud of our successes as a country.  He valued our freedom, but probably our economic freedom the most.  I think he saw the U.S. as a force for good in the world.”

When Bradley Manning deployed to Iraq in October 2009, he thought that he’d be helping the Iraqi people build a free society after the long nightmare of Saddam Hussein. What he witnessed firsthand was quite another matter.

He soon found himself helping the Iraqi authorities detain civilians for distributing “anti-Iraqi literature” – which turned out to be an investigative report into financial corruption in their own government entitled “Where does the money go?”  The penalty for this “crime” in Iraq was not a slap on the wrist. Imprisonment and torture, as well as systematic abuse of prisoners, are widespread in the new Iraq. From the military’s own Sigacts (Significant Actions) reports, we have a multitude of credible accounts of Iraqi police and soldiers shooting prisoners, beating them to death, pulling out fingernails or teeth, cutting off fingers, burning with acid, torturing with electric shocks or the use of suffocation, and various kinds of sexual abuse including sodomization with gun barrels and forcing prisoners to perform sexual acts on guards and each other.

Manning had more than adequate reason to be concerned about handing over Iraqi citizens for likely torture simply for producing pamphlets about corruption in a government notorious for its corruptness.

Like any good soldier, Manning immediately took these concerns up the chain of command.  And how did his superiors respond?  His commanding officer told him to “shut up” and get back to rounding up more prisoners for the Iraqi Federal Police to treat however they cared to.

Now, you have already heard what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had to say about an American soldier’s duties when confronted with the torture and abuse of prisoners. Ever since our country signed and ratified the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture, it has been the law of our land that handing over prisoners to a body that will torture them is a war crime.  Nevertheless, between early 2009 and August of last year, our military handed over thousands of prisoners to the Iraqi authorities, knowing full well what would happen to many of them.

The next time Pfc. Manning encountered evidence of war crimes, he took a different course of action.

On the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) shared by the Departments of Defense and State Manning soon found irrefutable evidence of possible war crimes, including a now-infamous “Collateral Murder” video in which a U.S. Apache helicopter mowed down some 18 civilians, including two Reuters journalists, on a street in Baghdad on July 12, 2007.  The world has now seen and been shocked by this video which Reuters is alleged to have had in its possession but had not yet made public.  Manning is alleged to have leaked it to the whistleblower site WikiLeaks in April 2010.

Manning also found a video and an official report on American air strikes on the village of Granai in Afghanistan’s Farah Province (also known as “the Granai massacre”). According to the Afghan government, 140 civilians, including women and a large number of children, died in those strikes.  He is alleged to have released that video as part of a tranche of some 92,000 military documents relating to our escalating war in Afghanistan – already the longest war our nation has ever fought – and Pakistan, where the war is steadily spreading.  Manning is also alleged to have released to WikiLeaks some 392,000 documentsregarding the Iraq War, many of which relate to the torture of prisoners, as well as some 251,000 State Department cables.

Now, in your judgment of Bradley Manning, please know that the stakes are indeed high, but not in the feverish way our political and media elites have been telling you from nearly every newspaper, channel, and website in the land.  We will want you, a true jury of Manning’s military peers, to ask a few questions about what’s really been going on in this trial – and in this country. After all, when we reward lawyers in the Justice Department who created memos that made torture legal with federal judgeships andregular newspaper columns, while locking lock up a whistle-blowing private, you have to ask: What country are we now living in?

This trial couldn’t be more important or your judgment more crucial.  The honor of our country is very much at stake in how you decide.  When we let the aerial slaughter of civilian noncombatants pass without comment or review, when a reported 92 children die from an American air strike on an Afghan village and 18 civilians are shot dead on a Baghdad street without the slightest accountability, except when it comes to locking up the private who ensured that we would know about these acts – let me repeat – the honor of your country and mine is at stake and at risk.  Not the security of your country, though the prosecution will claim otherwise, but the honor of our country, and especially the honor of our military.

Pfc. Bradley Manning is one soldier who has done his duty.  He has complied with it to the letter.  Now you must do your duty as members of this jury and as soldiers.

Our Whistleblower Laws Protect Pfc. Manning

The prosecution will surely tell you that none of our existing whistleblower protection laws, interpreted narrowly, apply to Bradley Manning.

I say otherwise, and so will the experts we will call to the stand.  You will hear from legal expert Jesselyn Radack, an attorney and former whistleblower who was purged, punished, and then vindicated for her courageous acts of disclosing illegal wrongdoing inside the Bush administration’s Department of Justice.  Ms. Radack will explain to you why and how Bradley Manning is well protected by our current laws.  After all, the Whistleblower Protection Act is designed to protect a government employee who exposes fraud, waste, abuse, or illegality to anyone inside or outside a government agency, including a member of the news media.  This is well supported by case law.  (See Horton v. Dep’t of Navy, 66. F3d 279, 282 (Fed. Cir. 1995)].  Isn’t that exactly what Pfc. Bradley Manning has done?

As a fallback argument, the prosecution is sure to suggest that WikiLeaks is not a real media entity in the way that the New York Times is.  Any one of you who has ever gotten the news and information from the Internet knows otherwise.

The prosecution will also be eager to inform you that the Military Whistleblower Protection Act (MWPA) does not apply here.  We, however, will prove to you that the act applies with great and particular force to Pfc. Manning.  For one thing, the MWPA not only allows an even wider array of government officials to make disclosures of classified information, it also broadens the scope of what kinds of disclosure a soldier can make.  It expressly allows disclosures of classified information by members of the armed forces if they have a “reasonable belief” that what is being disclosed offers evidence of a “violation of the law,” “an abuse of authority,” or “a substantial danger to public safety.”  In other words, the purpose of the Military Whistleblower Protection Act is to protect soldiers just like Pfc. Manning who report on improper – or in this case, patently illegal – activities by other military personnel.

Now, there is no strict precedent, the prosecution will claim, for any of our whistleblower protection laws to apply to Pfc. Manning.  But as we will make clear, there is no contrary precedent either.  That’s because we’ve never seen a whistleblower disclosure as massive, vivid, and horrific as this one.  We are in uncharted territory.  If the plain language of these whistleblower protection laws is unclear, legal convention dictates that we look at the laws’ intent.  Clearly Congress meant, and legislative history supports this, for the whistleblower protection laws to protect whistleblowers, not – as this administration seems to think – to prosecute them.

The progress of our common law is prudent, it is incremental, it is slow.  But our common law is not dead.  It does progress.  Whether the common law will take that small step forward in the case of Pfc. Manning is your duty to decide.  And your decision will have repercussions.

For if you convict Bradley Manning, then you are also clearing the way to try and possibly convict Army Specialist Joseph Darby, the whistleblower who leaked the Abu Ghraib photos and thereby ended acts of torture and abuse that were shaming our military and our nation.  Now, Specialist Darby did not leak the photos of this disgrace up the chain of command or to the Army Inspector General as our whistleblower law envisions.  Instead, he leaked it straight to the Army Criminal Investigative Division, and this path is not strictly what our whistleblower laws allow.  Was Spc. Joseph Darby doing his duty as an honorable soldier when he exposed the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib?  Or was he just trying to damage the United States?  Your verdict on Bradley Manning could reopen that question, and answer it anew.

If you convict Bradley Manning, you will also potentially be convicting the father of Army Specialist Adam Winfield.  In February 2010, Winfield informed his father, Christopher Winfield, a marine veteran, via Facebook, of a homicidal “Kill Team” at Forward Operating Base Ramrod in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, that was murdering civilians.  Winfield’s father tried to sound the alarm via phone calls to the Army Inspector General’s 24-hour hotline, to Senator Bill Nelson, and even to members of his son’s command unit in Fort Lewis.

Both father and son went beyond the “proper” channels to stop the murder of innocent Afghan civilians.  Spc. Winfield is now on trial for possible complicity in the “kill team” murders, but no charges have been filed against his father.  Tell me, then: Is Winfield’s father guilty of damaging his country because he tried to warn the Army about a homicidal “kill team” in the ranks?  Whether you like it or not, whether you care to or not, this is something you will decide when you render your judgment on Bradley Manning’s actions.

The Espionage Charges

The most outlandish entries on the overachieving charge sheet are those stemming from the Espionage Act of 1917. After all, Pfc. Manning is just the fifth American in 94 years to be charged under this archaic law with leaking government documents.  (Of the five, only one has been convicted.)

The Espionage Act was never intended to be used in this way, as an extra punishment for citizens who disclose classified material, and that is why the government only carts it out when its case is exceptionally desperate.

In order for Espionage Act charges to stick, it is required that Pfc. Manning had the conscious intent – take note of that crucial phrase – to damage the United States or aid a foreign nation with his disclosures.  Not surprisingly, given this, you are going to hear the prosecution spare no effort to portray the release of these cables as the gravest blow to America’s place in the world since Pearl Harbor.

I hope you’ll take this with more than a grain of salt.  For where is the staggering fallout from all the supposed bombshells in these leaked documents?  Months after the release of the State Department cables, not a single American ambassador has been recalled.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who commands far more budget and power than the Secretary of State, publicly insists that these leaks – the Iraq War logs, the Afghan War Logs, and the diplomatic cables – have not done any major harm.  “Now I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer and so on,” said Gates. “I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought.”  Significantly overwrought?  “Every other government in the world knows the United States government leaks like a sieve,” he added, “and it has for a long time.”

So what happened to the biggest blow to American prestige since the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam?  And keep in mind that the Secretary of Defense is by no means the only official pooh-poohing the hype about the WikiLeaks apocalypse.  One former head of policy planning at the State Department looked at the cables, shrugged, and said that the documents hold “little news,” and that they are “unlikely to do long-term damage.”  A senior Pentagon spokesperson, Colonel David Lapan, confessed to reporters last September that there is zero evidence any of the Afghan informers named in the leaked documents have been injured by Taliban reprisals.  Tell me, where is the Armageddon that this 23-year-old private has supposedly loosed on our American world?

Of course, there’s no denying that some members of our foreign policy elite have been mightily embarrassed by the State Department cables.  Good.  They deserve it.

Their fleeting embarrassment is nothing compared to the shame they have brought down on our country with their foolish deeds over the past decade, actions that range from the reckless and incompetent to the downright criminal.  It’s no secret that America’s standing in the world has been severely damaged in these years, but ask yourself: Is this because of recent disclosures of civilian deaths and war crimes – most of which are surprising only to Americans – along with diplomatic tittle-tattle?

I suggest to you that the damage to our nation, which couldn’t be more real, has come not from the disclosures of a young private, but from our foreign policy elite’s long pattern of foolish and destructive actions.  After all, the invasion and occupation of Iraq have cost rivers of blood.  The price tag for our current foreign wars has now officially soared above the trillion-dollar mark (and few doubt that, in the end, the real cost will run into the trillions of dollars).  And don’t forget, the invasion of Iraq has inspired new waves of hatred and distrust of our country overseas, and has provided an adrenaline boost for Islamic terrorists.

Needless to say, our political, military, and media elites have not lined up to take responsibility for this series of self-inflicted wounds.  Before they try to pin a nonexistent catastrophe on Pfc. Manning, they ought to take a long, hard look in the mirror and think about the real damage they’ve done to our nation, the world, and not least the overstretched, overstrained U.S. military.

Just imagine: if only someone like Bradley Manning had leaked conclusive documentation about Saddam Hussein’s supposedly deadly but nonexistent arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, the excuse for our invasion of Iraq.  Such a disclosure would have profoundly embarrassed Washington’s foreign policy elite and in the atmosphere of early 2003, the media would undoubtedly have called for that whistleblower’s head, just as they’re doing now.

Such a leak, however, would have done a powerful load of good for our nation. Four thousand four hundred and thirty-six American soldiers would not be dead and thousands more would not be maimed, wounded, or suffering from PTSD.  At the very least, more than 100,000, and probably hundreds of thousands, of Iraqi civilians would still be living.  These are the consequences of policy-making by a secretive government that wants the American people to know nothing, and a media that is either unable or unwilling to do its job and report on facts, not government spin.

You all are old enough to have noticed that the health of our republic and the reputations of our ruling elites are not one and the same.  In the best of times, they overlap.   The past 10 years have not been the best of times.  Those elites have led us into disaster after disaster, imperiling our already breached national security, straining our ruinous finances, and tearing to shreds our moral standing in the world.  Don’t try to blame this state of affairs on Private Bradley Manning.

The Nuremberg Principles Mean Something in Our Courts

Our soldiers have a solemn duty not to obey illegal orders, and Pfc. Manning upheld this duty.  General Peter Pace’s statement on a soldier’s overriding duty to stop the torture and abuse of prisoners, whatever his or her orders, is not just high-minded public relations; it’s the law of the land.  More than 50 years ago, U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 incorporated the Nuremberg Principles, among them Principle IV: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to an order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”  This remains the law of our land and of our armed forces, too.

I suspect the prosecution will have other ideas.  They will tell you that the Nuremberg Principles are great stuff for commencement addresses, but don’t actually mean anything in practical terms. They will tell you that the Nuremberg Principles are of use only to the Lisa Simpsons of the human-rights industry.

But know this: some 400,000 of your fellow soldiers died in the Second World War for the establishment of those principles.  For that reason alone, they are something that you in the military ought to treat with the utmost seriousness.

And if the judge or prosecutor should tell you that the Nuremberg Principles don’t mean a thing in our courts, they would be flat wrong.  Courts have taken the Nuremberg Principles to heart before, and more and more have done so in the past few years. In 2005, for example, Judge Lieutenant Commander Robert Klant took note of the Nuremberg principles in a sentencing hearing for Pablo Paredes, a Navy Petty Officer Third Class who refused redeployment to Iraq, and whose punishment was subsequently minimized.

Similarly, at his court martial in 2009, Sergeant Matthis Chiroux justified his refusal to redeploy to a war that he believed violated both national and international law, and was backed up by expert testimony on the Nuremberg Principles.  The court martial granted Sgt. Chiroux a general discharge.

A long line of Supreme Court cases, from Mitchell v. Harmony in 1851 all the way back to Little v. Barreme in 1804, established that soldiers have a duty not to follow illegal orders.  In short, it is a matter of record and established precedent that these Nuremberg Principles have meant something in our courts. Yours will not be the first court martial to apply these principles, fought for and won with American blood, nor will it be the last.

Whistleblowers Are Patriots Who Sacrifice for Their Country

Whistleblowers who attempt to rectify the disastrous policies of their nation are not criminals.  They are patriots, and eventually are recognized as such.  Bradley Manning is by no means the first American to serve his country in such a way.

Today, Daniel Ellsberg is famous as the leaker of the Pentagon Papers, a secret internal history ordered up by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara himself that candidly recounted how a series of administrations systematically lied to the nation about the planning and prosecution of the Vietnam War.  Ellsberg’s massive leak of these documents helped end that war and bring down a criminal administration.  How criminal?  Midway through Ellsberg’s trial in 1973, the Nixon administration offered the judge overseeing his treason trial the directorship of the FBI in an implicit quid pro quo, a maneuver of such brazen corruption as to shame any banana republic.  The judge dismissed all the government’s charges with prejudice and now Daniel Ellsberg is a national hero.

Those born after a certain date may be forgiven for assuming that Ellsberg was some long-haired subversive of an “anti-American” stripe.  In fact, he had been, like Bradley Manning, a model soldier.

At the Marine Corps Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, Ellsberg graduated first in a class of some 1,100 lieutenants. He served as a platoon leader and rifle company commander in the Marine 2nd Infantry Division for three years, and deferred his graduate studies so he could remain on active duty with his battalion during the Suez Crisis of 1956.   (You will note that deferring graduate school in order to stay on active military duty is the exact opposite of what so many of our recent, and current, national leaders did in those decades.)  After satisfying his Reserve Officer commitment, Ellsberg was discharged from the Corps as a first lieutenant, and leaving the military went on to a distinguished career in government.

Daniel Ellsberg was a model Marine, and later a model citizen.  His courageous act of leaking classified information was only one more episode in a consistent record of patriotic service.  When Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers he did so out of the profoundest sense of duty, knowing full well, just like Bradley Manning today, that he might spend the rest of his life in jail.

Ellsberg calls Pfc. Manning his hero and he is a tireless defender of the brave Army private our government has locked away in solitary.

Vandals trash things without a care in their hearts, but real patriots like former Lt. Ellsberg and Pfc. Manning do their duty knowing that the privilege of living in a free society does not always come cheap.

“Frankly and in the Public View”: The American Tradition of Diplomacy

Today, Ellsberg himself is lionized, even by the U.S. government, as a national hero.  The State Department recently put together a traveling roadshow of American documentary films to screen abroad, and front and center among them is an admiring movie about Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.  But then it is only appropriate that the government recognize Ellsberg and his once-controversial disclosures as part and parcel of the American tradition.

After all, demands for more open and transparent diplomacy are as American as baseball and Hank Williams.  World War I-era President Woodrow Wilson himself insisted on the abolition of secret treaties as part of his 14 points for the League of Nations; in fact, it’s the very first point: “Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”

How can foreign policy be democratic if the most serious decisions and facts – alliances, death tolls, assessments of the leaders and governments we are bankrolling with our tax dollars – are all kept as official secrets?  The “Bricker Amendment” was an attempt by congressional Republicans in the 1950s to require Senate approval of U.S. treaties, in large part to open up public debate about foreign affairs.  The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat who served as representative to the U.N. for Republican President Richard Nixon, was also a severe critic of government secrecy and the habitualover-classification of state documents. These American statesmen knew that if foreign policy is crafted in secret, without the oxygen and sunlight of vigorous public debate, disaster and dysfunction would result.

For the past 10 years, we have had exactly such disaster and dysfunction as our foreign policy.  Our leaders have plunged us into a dark world of secrecy and lies.  Tell me: Is this Private Bradley Manning’s fault?

Let me be clear as I bring this opening statement to a close: for all the complexities this case holds, your job will in the end prove a simple and basic one.  It’s your task not to let our leaders, or the prosecution, pin the horrendous state of affairs into which this country has been thrown on Pfc. Manning.  I am confident that you will see him for the patriot he is, a young man with a moral backbone whose goal was not self-aggrandizement or profit or even attention and glory.  His urge was to shine a bright light on his own country’s wrongdoing and, in that way, bring it, bring us, back to our nobler national traditions.

It is Pfc. Manning, not our fearless national leaders, who has sacrificed much to restore the rule of law and a minimal level of public oversight to American foreign and military policy. “Frankly and in the public view“: this once would have been called a reasonable description of the American character, something that set us apart from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Otto von Bismarck’s Prussia, or Imperial Japan.  Whether our government has any responsibility to conduct its affairs frankly and in the public view in 2011 and beyond – this is something else you will decide in your judgment on Pfc. Manning.

As soldiers, you know well that most Americans have insulated themselves from the last decade’s foreign-policy disasters.  Even as we spend a trillion dollars on foreign wars, our taxes are cut.   If you’re making decent money, the odds are it’s not your kids, grandchildren, brothers, or sisters who are off fighting, killing, and dying in our foreign wars.  Most Americans, thanks in part to the media, have little idea of what you and your peers have lived through, the weight you have shouldered.

This is not true of Pfc. Bradley Manning.  He came face to face with this disaster.   He saw, and participated in, the roundup of Iraqi civilians to be tortured by their own national police force.  Tell me honestly: Was this what Operation Iraqi Freedom was supposed to accomplish?  Is this why you, his jury of peers, enlisted in the military?

Pfc. Manning saw this misery and rampant illegality with his own two eyes, and then, online, he discovered more of the same – much, much more – and he did something about it, knowing full well the penalty. “I wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much, if it wasn’t for the possibility of having pictures of me […] plastered all over the world press,” he confided to the informant who betrayed him.  Manning knew the stakes and the risks when he leaked these documents, but still he loyally performed his duty, both to the United States Army and to his country.

As one of Manning’s childhood friends from Crescent, Oklahoma, has testified, “He wanted to serve his country.”  It’s up to you to decide whether he did.

You have a duty as a fully informed jury of free citizens. You are not an assortment of rubber stamps pulled out of a judge’s desk drawer.  You are as important a part of this court as the judge, prosecutor, and the accused himself.

Whichever way you decide in your verdict, you will not face the consequences Bradley Manning already endures, but your judgment will have great consequences, not just for him, but for the honor and future of the country you have taken an oath to serve.

Now, go and do your duty.

February 12, 2011

Tom Engelhardt [send him mail] co-founder of the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com, is the co-founder of the American Empire Project. His book, The End of Victory Culture, has recently been updated in a newly issued edition. He edited, and his work appears in, the first best of TomDispatch book, The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso), an alternative history of the mad Bush years. His new book is The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s. Chase Madar is an attorney in New York and a member of the National Lawyers Guild.  He writes forTomDispatch, the American Conservative magazine, Le Monde Diplomatique, and the London Review of Books. (To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast video interview in which Chase Madar explores Manning’s case and his defense, clickhere, or download it to your iPod here.)

Copyright © 2010 Chase Madar


Visitor provides update on Bradley Manning’s condition

Visitor provides update on Bradley Manning‘s condition

PDF

Print E-mail
Image

By Courage to Resist. February 6, 2011

After being detained and questioned the previous weekend, Bradley Manning Support Network member David House was allowed to visit accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning at the Quantico, Virginia Marine Corps brig on both January 29th and 30th. David has been visiting Bradley regularly over the last few months. Below (select “Read more…”) David talks about last weekend’s visits on MSNBC.

Thank you to everyone who called, or attempted to call, the White House switchboard on behalf of Bradley last Thursday, February 3. While there were thousands of calls regarding Egypt that day as well, switchboard operators shared that Egypt and Bradley were the “issues of the day” being recorded and noted.


Call White House to Support Bradley Manning on 2/3/11

National White House call-in day to support Bradley Manning

E-mailPDFPrint

Image

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011~ 9am to 5pm EST

White House Switchboard: 202-456-1414
(or the White House comments line after hours: 202-456-1111)

From the Bradley Manning Support Network

Call the White House Thursday, February 3, 2011, to voice your support for accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower US Army PFC Bradley Manning. Express your concern that Bradley’s human rights need to be respected by the Quantico, Virginia, brig authorities.

Bradley has been held in solitary confinement-like conditions for over eight months, and his trial is still months away. This American citizen-soldier has been convicted of no crime, yet continues to endure inhumane conditions of pre-trial confinement like no other inmate at the Marine Corps brig at Quantico.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs recently stated that the White House was not paying attention to Bradley Manning’s extreme confinement conditions, or the fact that recently pre-approved visitors of Bradley’s have been detained and interrogated by military police in order to block their scheduled visit. It is critical that we educate the White House of this ongoing injustice!

Recommended points to make:

US Army PFC Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower being held at the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia, is an American citizen who is innocent until proven otherwise. Yet, he has been subjected to continuous illegal pre-trial punishment since his arrest in May 2010. Based on these abuses alone, Manning should be freed pending court martial.

Military pre-trial confinement is supposed to be about ensuring a soldier’s presence at court martial, yet for eight months now Manning has been subjected to extreme pre-trial punishment through the arbitrary use of rarely applied regulations–specifically the “maximum security classification” and the “prevent of injury” order. If he is not freed pending court martial, then at the very least, Manning’s human rights need to be respected, and the illegal pre-trial punishment must end.

The arbitrary restrictions placed on Manning–and no other inmates at Quantico–mean that: Manning is allowed no meaningful physical exercise, he is allowed no social interaction with other inmates, he is kept in his cell at least 23 hours per day, and he is not allowed out of his cell without restraints.

If the charges against him are true, they actually show that Manning is a patriot acting to advance an informed democracy. There is no allegation that Manning did anything but share truthful information with the American public regarding the realities of our nation’s ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with absolutely no benefit to himself, in order to spark public debate regarding foreign policy.

The Bradley Manning Support Network: www.bradleymanning.org

Sign-up the “Stand with Bradley Manning” public declaration: www.standwithbrad.org

Related Articles
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Recent Letter to Quantico Marine Base Commander

Former Quantico commander objects to Manning treatment

PDF Print E-mail
Image 

From David C. MacMichael. January 19, 2011

Dear Commandant of the Marine Corps General James F. Amos:

As a former regular Marine Corps captain, a Korean War combat veteran, now retired on Veterans Administration disability due to wounds suffered during that conflict, I write you to protest and express concern about the confinement in the Quantico Marine Corps Base brig of US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Manning, if the information I have is correct, is charged with having violated provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice by providing to unauthorized persons, among them specifically one Julian Assange and his organization Wikileaks, classified information relating to US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and State Department communications. This seems straightforward enough and sufficient to have Manning court-martialed and if found guilty sentenced in accordance with the UCMJ.

What concerns me here, and I hasten to admit that I respect Manning’s motives, is the manner in which the legal action against him is being conducted. I wonder, in the first place, why an Army enlisted man is being held in a Marine Corps installation. Second, I question the length of confinement prior to conduct of court-martial. The sixth amendment to the US Constitution, guaranteeing to the accused in all criminal prosecutions the right to a speedy and public trial, extends to those being prosecuted in the military justice system. Third, I seriously doubt that the conditions of his confinement—solitary confinement, sleep interruption, denial of all but minimal physical exercise, etc.—are necessary, customary, or in accordance with law, US or international.

Indeed, I have to wonder why the Marine Corps has put itself, or allowed itself to be put, in this invidious and ambiguous situation. I can appreciate that the decision to place Manning in a Marine Corps facility may not have been one over which you had control. However, the conditions of his confinement in the Quantico brig are very clearly under your purview, and, if I may say so, these bring little credit either to you or your subordinates at the Marine Corps Base who impose these conditions.

It would be inappropriate, I think, to use this letter, in which I urge you to use your authority to make the conditions of Pfc. Manning’s confinement less extreme, to review my Marine Corps career except to note that my last duty prior to resigning my captain’s commission in 1959 was commanding the headquarters company at Quantico. More relevantly, during the 1980s, following a stint as a senior estimates officer in the CIA, I played a very public role as a “whistleblower “ in the Iran-contra affair. At that time, I wondered why Lt.Col. Oliver North, who very clearly violated the UCMJ—and, in my opinion, disgraced our service—was not court-martialed.

When I asked the Navy’s Judge-Advocate General’s office why neither North nor Admiral Poindexter were charged under the UCMJ, the JAG informed me that when officers were assigned to duties in the White House, NSC, or similar offices they were somehow not legally in the armed forces. To my question why, if that were the case, they continued to draw their military pay and benefits, increase their seniority, be promoted while so serving, and, spectacularly in North’s case, appear in uniform while testifying regarding violations of US law before Congress, I could get no answer beyond, “That’s our policy.”

This is not to equate North’s case with Manning. It is only to suggest that equal treatment under the law is one of those American principles that the Marine Corps exists to protect. This is something you might consider.

Sincerely,
David C. MacMichael

Source: http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/content/view/879/122/


Letter From Amnesty International To Robert Gates SecDef

 

`

`

`

`

`

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT

Peter Benenson House, 1 Easton Street

London WC1X 0DW, United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)20 7413 5500 F: +44 (0)20 7956 1157

E: amnestyis@amnesty.org W: www.amnesty.org

 

BY FAX AND MAIL

Ref: AMR 51/2011/004

AI index: AMR 51/006/2011

The Honorable Robert M. Gates

Secretary of Defense

1400 Defense Pentagon

Washington DC 20301

USA

19 January 2011

Dear Secretary of Defense

I am writing to express concern about the conditions under which Private First Class (PFC) Bradley

Manning is detained at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

We are informed that, since July 2010, PFC Manning has been confined for 23 hours a day to a single

cell, measuring around 72 square feet (6.7 square metres) and equipped only with a bed, toilet and

sink. There is no window to the outside, the only view being on to a corridor through the barred doors

of his cell. All meals are taken in his cell, which we are told has no chair or table. He has no

association or contact with other pre-trial detainees and he is allowed to exercise, alone, for just one

hour a day, in a day-room or outside. He has access to a television which is placed in the corridor for

limited periods of the day. However, he is reportedly not permitted to keep personal possessions in his

cell, apart from one book and magazine at a time. Although he may write and receive correspondence,

writing is allowed only at an allotted time during the day and he is not allowed to keep such materials

in his cell.

We understand that PFC Manning’s restrictive conditions of confinement are due to his classification as

a maximum custody detainee. This classification also means that – unlike medium security detainees

– he is shackled at the hands and legs during approved social and family visits, despite all such visits

at the facility being non-contact. He is also shackled during attorney visits at the facility. We further

understand that PFC Manning, as a maximum custody detainee, is denied the opportunity for a work

assignment which would allow him to be out of his cell for most of the day. The United Nations (UN)

Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR), which are internationally recognized

guiding principles, provide inter alia that “Untried prisoners shall always be offered opportunity to

work” should they wish to undertake such activity (SMR Section C, rule 89).

PFC Manning is also being held under a Prevention of Injury (POI) assignment, which means that he is

subjected to further restrictions. These include checks by guards every five minutes and a bar on his

sleeping during the day. He is required to remain visible at all times, including during night checks.

His POI status has resulted in his being deprived of sheets and a separate pillow, causing

uncomfortable sleeping conditions; his discomfort is reportedly exacerbated by the fact that he is

required to sleep only in boxer shorts and has suffered chafing of his bare skin from the blankets.

We are concerned that no formal reasons have been provided to PFC Manning for either his maximum

security classification or the POI assignment and that efforts by his counsel to challenge these

assignments through administrative procedures have thus far failed to elicit a response. We are further

concerned that he reportedly remains under POI despite a recommendation by the military psychiatrist

overseeing his treatment that such an assignment is no longer necessary.

Amnesty International recognizes that it may sometimes be necessary to segregate prisoners for

disciplinary or security purposes. However, the restrictions imposed in PFC Manning’s case appear to

be unnecessarily harsh and punitive, in view of the fact that he has no history of violence or disciplinary

infractions and that he is a pre-trial detainee not yet convicted of any offence.

The conditions under which PFC Manning is held appear to breach the USA’s obligations under

international standards and treaties, including Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and

Political Rights (ICCPR) which the USA ratified in 1992 and which states that “all persons deprived of

their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human

person”. The UN Human Rights Committee, the ICCPR monitoring body, has noted in its General

Comment on Article 10 that persons deprived of their liberty may not be “subjected to any hardship or

constraint other than that resulting from the deprivation of liberty; respect for the dignity of such

persons must be guaranteed under the same conditions as for that of free persons …”.

The harsh conditions imposed on PFC Manning also undermine the principle of the presumption of

innocence, which should be taken into account in the treatment of any person under arrest or awaiting

trial. We are concerned that the effects of isolation and prolonged cellular confinement – which

evidence suggests can cause psychological impairment, including depression, anxiety and loss of

concentration – may, further, undermine his ability to assist in his defence and thus his right to a fair

trial.

In view of the concerns raised, we urge you to review the conditions under which PFC Manning is

confined at the Quantico naval brig and take effective measures to ensure that he is no longer held in

23 hour cellular confinement or subjected to other undue restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Lee

Program Director

Americas Regional Program

Cc COL Carl R. Coffman Jr., Commander, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Myer, VA

COL Daniel J. Choike, Base Commander, MCB, Quantico


Bradley Manning and the Rule of Law

2011-01-11                                                                                                                                                         

By Kevin Zeese

The case of Private Bradley Manning raises legal issues about his pre-trial detention, freedom of speech and the press, as well as proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Putting aside Manning’s guilt or innocence, if Bradley Manning saw the Afghan and Iraq war diaries as well as the diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks what should he have done? And, what should be the proper response of government to their publication?

A high point in the application of the rule of law to war came in the Nuremberg trials where leaders in Germany were held accountable for World War II atrocities. Justice Robert Jackson, who served as the chief prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials while on leave from the U.S. Supreme Court, said “If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”

One of the key outcomes of the Nuremberg trials was that people who commit war crimes or crimes against humanity will be held accountable even if they were following orders.  This is known as Nuremberg Principle IV which states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.” The Nuremberg principles were enshrined in a series of treaties.

How do the Nuremberg Principles and other laws of war apply to Bradley Manning?

What is a person who does not want to participate in war crimes or hiding war crimes supposed to do when he sees evidence of them? If Manning hid the evidence would he not be complicit in the crimes he was covering up and potentially liable as a co-conspirator? These were questions that Bradley Manning allegedly wrestled with.  According to unverified chat logs Manning, talking with Adrian Lamo on email, asks: “Hypothetical question, 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, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?”  . . .

In Iraq, Manning was ordered “to round up and hand over Iraqi civilians to America’s new Iraqi allies, who he could see were then torturing them with electrical drills and other implements.” Manning questioned the orders he was being given to help round up Iraqis and brought his concerns to the chain of command. He pointed to a specific instance where 15 detainees were arrested and tortured for printing “anti-Iraqi literature” he found that the paper in question was merely a scholarly critique of corruption in the government asking “Where did the money go?” He brought this to his commander, who told him to “shut up” and keep working to find more detainees. Manning realized he “was actively involved in something that i was completely against…”

He wrestled with the question of what to do.  According to the unverified chat logs with Lamo Manning told Lamo that he hoped the publication of the documents and videos would spur “worldwide discussion, debates, and reform.”  He went on to say, “I want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”  The command structure would not listen, so Manning went beyond them to the people who are supposed to control the military in our democratic republic. He wanted Americans to know the truth.

In the chat logs, Lamo asked Manning why he did not sell the documents to a foreign power.  Manning realized he could have made a lot of money doing so, but he did not take that path. He explained: “it belongs in the public domain – information should be free – it belongs in the public domain – because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge – if its out in the open… it should be a public good.”  These are not the words of a traitor, of someone out to hurt the United States, these are the words of someone trying to improve the United States, trying to get the country to live up to its highest ideals.

Manning is charged so far with three counts of unlawfully transferring confidential material to a non-secure computer, i.e. leaking state secrets.  Manning faces up to 52 years if convicted of these crimes and it is likely that he will be charged with additional offenses.  The charges against Manning end stating that Manning’s “conduct being prejudicial to good order and discipline in the armed forces and being of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”

Well, what exactly did the materials Manning allegedly leak show?

The video that is the focus of these initial charges is known as the Collateral Murder video. The video shows American soldiers in an Apache helicopter gunning down a group of innocent men, including two Reuters employees, a photojournalist and his driver, killing 16 and sending two children to the hospital. The video, which has been viewed by millions, shows initial blasts at the group killing and wounding people. U.S. forces watch as a van pulls up to evacuate the wounded. The soldiers again open fire from the helicopter, killing more people. A crew member is heard saying, “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards.” But, that was not the end, journalist Rick Rowley reported that the man who they drove over had crawled out of the van and was still alive when the tank drove over him, cutting him in half.

Marjorie Cohn, who teaches criminal law and procedure, evidence, and international human rights law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, describes multiple war crimes from this single video.  First, targeting and killing civilians who do not pose a threat violated the Geneva Conventions. Second, when soldiers attacked the van attempting to rescue the wounded they violate the Geneva Conventions which allows the rescue of wounded.  Third, the tank rolling over the wounded man, splitting him in two, is a war crime and even if he were already dead disrespecting a body violates the Geneva Conventions.

The Collateral Murder video documents war crimes according to this legal expert on human rights law.  When Manning saw these war crimes, what should he have done?  Should he have covered up the evidence of potential war crimes?  Should he try to go up the chain of command – a strategy that he had already unsuccessfully tried?  If Manning did what he is accused of, he did the only thing that could stop these crimes from continuing.

Other documents Manning allegedly provided to WikiLeaks showed the 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan, in which as many as 140 civilians, including women and children, were killed in a U.S. attack. The Australianreported that the airstrike resulted in “one of the highest civilian death tolls from Western military action since foreign forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001.”  The Afghan government has said that around 140 civilians were killed, of which 93 were children – the youngest 8 days old – 25 were women and 22 were adult males.  The U.S. military had said that 20-30 civilians were killed along with 60-65 insurgents.

Allegedly, Manning released hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks who, working with traditional media outlets has released a small percentage of them.  He left it to journalists to decide what was appropriate for release. The small percentage of documents released show widespread and systemic abuses in U.S. foreign policy and in the conduct of wars.  WikiLeaks documents including the Iraq andAfghanistan War Logs and the diplomatic cables show:

-        That U.S. troops kill civilians without cause or concern and then cover it up (more examples of hiding civilian killings here, here and here) including killing reporters;

-         The CIA is fighting an undeclared and unauthorized war in Pakistan with Blackwater mercenaries;

-        The President of Afghanistan is not trustworthy, that Afghanistan is rife with corruption and drug dealing;

-        The Pakistan military and intelligence agencies aid Al Qaeda and the Taliban;

-        The U.S. looks the other way when governments it puts in power torture;

-        The diplomatic cables also show that beyond the war fronts that Hillary Clinton has turned State Department Foreign Service officers into a nest of spies who violate laws to spy on diplomats all with marching orders drawn up by the CIA;

-        That Israel, with U.S. knowledge is preparing for a widespread war in the Middle East, keeping the Gaza economy at the brink of collapse and show widespread corruption at border checkpoints.

These are a few examples among many. The documents published by WikiLeaks, allegedly provided to them by Manning, are of critical importance to understanding that U.S. foreign and military policy is not what Americans are told.  No doubt historians, human rights lawyers, academics and others will be reviewing these documents and reporting in greater detail the systemic nature of the unethical and often illegal behavior of U.S. foreign policy.  This already has the world looking at the United States with new eyes.

Experience inside the U.S. military turned a young man from Oklahoma who believed in America into someone who doubted it.  Manning believed in American freedom, especially economic freedom and believed the United States played a positive role in the world. He wanted to serve his country. In doing so he became someone who questioned the leadership of the nation, its foreign policy and its conduct of wars.  He saw war crimes, violations of law and constant deception. After much soul searching he decided that the quest for a more perfect union required him to share this information.

Justice Robert Jackson, during his Opening Address at the Nuremberg Trials, said: “If we can cultivate in the world the idea that aggressive war-making is the way to the prisoner’s dock rather than the way to honors, we will have accomplished something toward making the peace more secure.” Bradley Manning joins in this enlightened viewpoint and is working to make peace more secure and the United States a better nation.

A mature American leadership, rather than prosecuting Manning, would encourage an honest debate about U.S. foreign policy. Thomas Jefferson warned that “oppressions are many” and that for the people to govern we should “leave open . . . all the avenues to truth.” Manning has provided an avenue to truth where we can look honestly at our government and dramatically change direction. Enlightened leadership would renounce blackmail, threats and spying of foreign officials, as well as torture and war.

Instead Manning is suffering a fate Thomas Jefferson warned about: “Most codes extend their definitions of treason to acts not really against one’s country.  They do not distinguish between acts against the government and acts against the oppressions of the government.” Manning has been sitting in solitary confinement for seven months awaiting trial.  He is suffering this fate for the betterment of the nation.  People who care about the United States and our impact on the world should stand with Bradley and work to transform American foreign policy away from militarism and toward one where we work cooperatively with nations for the advancement of all.

To stand with Bradley visit: Stand With Brad.

To prevent prosecution of WikiLeaks visit: WikiLeaksIsDemocracy.org

Kevin Zeese is executive director of Voters for Peace is a member of the Steering Committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network and WikiLeaksIsDemocracy.org.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Of Urgent Concern To All Who Claim To Love Freedom of Speech!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Bradley Manning Support Network Condemns Unjust Detainment of Activist

MEDIA:
Mike Gogulski, Steering Committee, Bradley Manning Support Network press@bradleymanning.org

Washington, DC, November 10, 2010 – Last week, David House, a developer working with the Bradley Manning Support Network, was detained and had his computer seized by the FBI when returning from a vacation in Mexico. He committed no crime, nor was he ever alleged to have committed a crime. He was questioned extensively about his support for alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning, who has been imprisoned at Quantico for over 160 days.

This invasive search is of great concern to all Americans who value the Constitutionally-protected rights to free speech and free assembly. The campaign to free Bradley Manning – which has garnered the support of tens of thousands of individuals from across the United States and the world – is rooted in a belief that government transparency is key to a healthy democracy. Our network stands firm in support of alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning and has raised over $80,000 for his defense. If he is a source for documents published by WikiLeaks illuminating the campaign of disinformation about US foreign wars, then Manning deserves the gratitude of the entire nation.

House sent an email to the Network describing his detainment, saying that, “My computer, video camera, and flash drive were confiscated, leaving me in a tough spot in terms of research obligations; the reason for the seizure, said the officials, was ‘border search.'”

The FBI denied House’s requests to have a copy of his research data. This seems to be part of a disturbing trend of intimidation and property seizure being carried out against activists critical of US policies, including the detainment and laptop seizure of activist Jacob Applebaum in July and the September 24th FBI raids against antiwar and social justice activists.

House has not been charged with a crime.

“I try to be as even-handed as possible, but based on the subject of the search I can’t help but feel that this constitutes a form of intimidation,” wrote House in an email to the Network, “I feel as though the DHS has turned to harassing the friends and supporters of Bradley Manning in a potential attempt to disrupt our abilities to run a legal defense network.”

The Bradley Manning Support Network denounces this recent attempt by the FBI to intimidate its supporters. Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime, and neither is standing up for Bradley Manning.

# # #

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Who’s Afraid of Bradley Manning?

From: http://www.lewrockwell.com/kwiatkowski/kwiatkowski253.html

by Karen Kwiatkowski

Recently by Karen Kwiatkowski: Contempt of State – An Indispensable Virtue

U.S. Secretary Robert Gates has stated that WikiLeaks has “moral culpability” for potentially deadly repercussions in Afghanistan and presumably Iraq. Gates said, “The Taliban can glean a lot about U.S. tactics and sources from the documents.”

I’m delighted that Gates has brought up the topic of morality. He, son of the Midwest, an Eagle Scout, a trusted CIA operative, and … oops. I should have stopped at Boy Scout.

We easily recognize corruption and immorality in our elected officials – we lap up stories of seat haggling by glossy-haired pols in Chicago, we thrill at the sexcapades of prosecutors and presidents. We marvel at the sheer criminality of Congressional members and their staffs, even as we shudder fearfully at its mighty collective lawlessness.

As constituents, we can look at their crimes early and often. We can check to see if they vote with or against the Constitution, be it state or federal. We can contact them and even speak to them about what we care about, and when that has no effect, we can campaign against them, put in a different criminal, or step away from electoral politics altogether. But we will not be confused as to what is lacking in our elected representatives. They have a law to follow – the Constitutions of various states and of the federal government – and these public documents guide them regardless of creed or party. With rare exceptions, elected officials will fail to follow the basic rules they swore to uphold. We are informed, and entertained.

On the other hand, civil servants, particularly at the federal level, have been given a full pass in the ethics and morality department. We have been told basically that a professional government workforce was created from the void and that it is very good. We hear this even of the CIA, an organization with which Gates is quite familiar. We hear it of the Pentagon, Gates’ current area of responsibility.

Since its inception, much has been written on the extra-legal activities of the CIA. This history exists – and is ongoing, as the more recent role of the CIA in rendition and torture is public knowledge. I’m sorry. Rendition is kidnapping people, including Americans, and holding them for years without charges, without evidence, and without legal representation – and lying about it. Torture, as you may have heard, is something the United States government does not do, even as its agents systematically drug, deprive, waterboard, psychologically abuse, physically rough up, maim, wound, rape, threaten and lie to those we have rendered.

Bob Gates, as a career government civil servant knows all of this, and far, far more. He shares responsibility for the evolution of the CIA even as he escaped the heaviest stench of Iran-Contra. A senior CIA official as the Cold War ended and a new mission needed to be found, under George Herbert Walker Bush, Gates was an indispensable servant. The demonization and manipulation of former CIA asset and Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein fit the bill, and it simply boggles the mind the decisions and actions that Bob Gates was knowledgeable of and involved in between 1986 and 1993. The Iran-Contra Independent Counsel, with a little help from grand Jury secrecy rules, predictably found that prosecution of Gates was not warranted. His role in creating storylines to sell the first Persian Gulf War, in hiding or adjusting evidence to play the world, and in managing state secrets is undeniable, and largely unexamined. He was the ultimate trusted agent – the first CIA career civil servant to ever rise to Director.

There is a heavily promoted myth that professional civil servants, whether in uniform or in dress suits, are somehow more bound to the constitution and law and ethics than are politicians, and insultingly, more ethical than the average doctor, lawyer or car mechanic. But of course, they are not. Practically speaking, why would they be? Civil servants are extraordinarily hard to get rid of. Poor performance, lack of ethics, incompetence, immorality – none of these will generally get a civil servant fired, and often, these behaviors produce promotions. Now, these tolerated behaviors may be used to remove a civil servant – but only as needed to make a point of loyalty, as in the case of Rumsfeld’s persecution of Air Force Lt General Fiscus, who had the audacity to suggest that the law must limit Rumsfeld’s desires to detain and torture.

Civil servants – including members of the military – are part of a loyalty-based crime family, led largely by the executive level and his appointees, controlled by executive sponsors, backers and funders, and loyalty is demanded no less seriously than it is demanded by the dons of any crime syndicate. In this environment, just following orders is not only an acceptable excuse, it is all that the bosses ever wish to hear.

Professional civil servants and military members know this. They embrace doublespeak, as Orwell defined it:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.

The small minority of civil servants and military who cannot take the doublespeak, or over time, find that it is becoming harder to take, self-eliminate. Sometimes they do so by finding another job where the doublespeak is less offensive, and sometimes they leave the institution entirely. Sometimes they self-medicate, or morally or functionally degenerate to the point where the institution is forced to isolate or expel them. Sometimes they talk it out, debate, argue and actually try to change things from within the institution. As the great Daniel Ellsberg discovered, and many before and after him, introducing ethics and honesty in a system that runs on carefully constructed lies is quite a challenge. In spite of the fact that this will predictably destroy your career, possibly your ability to get a job anywhere, and subject you to scurrilous attacks and storytelling, the only honest and workable thing to do is to try and expose the lies to the light of day.

Creating this light of day is the mission of WikiLeaks, and the basic goal of independent media everywhere. But as Daniel Ellsberg experienced, and as whistleblowers in the 21st century from Sibel Edmonds, to Joe Darby, Jim Massey, and Sam Provance, from Joe Wilson and many more who sacrificed careers to speak morally and honestly have all found that the institution is like an angry grizzly, insulted that one man or one woman has the audacity to be sane. How dare they?

The institutionalized barbarism we see in the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” was made possible because a 22-year-old soldier could not lie. He was unable to effectively doublethink, and for some reason of upbringing, character, intelligence or basic goodness, could not bear the evilness he saw all around him – in American military behavior, in the institution’s lawlessness, in the immorality of war.

For his innocence and lack of ethical “sophistication,” Brad Manning is held in isolation, under a 24-hour suicide watch. For providing a ray of hot light on the carefully constructed lies of our government, those associated with WikiLeaks are being monitored and harassed, and even threatened by various agents of the federal government, and its allies. Bob Gates suggests that Brad Manning is a traitor and that WikiLeaks is morally culpable in sharing information with Afghans that they can use against us.

As made clear by Julian Assange and others, the Afghans – while certainly victims of Washington, DC imperialism – are not victims of our institutional doublethink. They see what we do, how we do it, and they have relatively accurate theories as to why we are doing it. And unlike our generals, Afghans and their neighbors and friends, have developed and are developing a wide variety of effective strategies to get us to go away.

Instead of keeping us safe, prosperous and free, our government demands that we stay uninformed and obedient, and keeps its professional servants in a strict and constant state of doublethink. Gates and Obama and Petraeus are nervous, with their curious doublespeaking mantra that “The leaks are deadly dangerous, but not all that serious.” Perhaps they know an open secret: Regular Americans – newly aware, sharply analytical, financially pragmatic and deeply moral – are nearing their potential to become the most fearsome enemy of American empire on the planet.

August 3, 2010

LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty and Power and The Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here or join her Facebook page.

Copyright © 2010 Karen Kwiatkowski

The Best of Karen Kwiatkowski


%d bloggers like this: