Tag Archives: Julian Assange

Shoulder to Shoulder With Edward Snowden

For your consideration. (E)

Bill Bonner

I’d thank my lucky stars to be livin’ here today, 
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away, 
And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.

Lee Greenwood

We’re here on a bend in the Rhine river. Enjoying the 4th of July.

From our hotel, we see the Rhine water flowing swiftly, from right to left. (Let’s see, the Rhine flows from South to North… to discharge into the North Sea. Or somewhere near there. So, if the water is flowing to the left, we must be on the west bank of the river.)

We just arrived yesterday and spent the day in business meetings. Switzerland is a good place to do business, especially for French people. But, except for a brief walk through the old part of the city, we haven’t had much time to get our bearings.

One thing we notice, however: Like Zurich, Basel is a calm, civilized place. We see no poor people. Nor are there any slums. Nor are there people who look like they shouldn’t be allowed out in public.

In short: This ain’t Baltimore. But then, what is?

Back to the news:

Poor Edward Snowden. The man performed a valuable public service. He should get a medal on this Independence Day. Instead, he will have to face the music.

“As Snowden looks for asylum, doors slam around the world, ” says the International Herald Tribune.

Tuesday, the Russians seemed to close their doors to him. Ecuador seems to be withdrawing its invitation. Venezuela and Bolivia are still possibilities.

But like Julian Assange, he may be forced to hole up in some gloomy embassy. Or worse, he may be handed over to the US for a full program of torture. Yes, they could force him to watch TV! Or a Senate hearing! Or listen to Lee Greenwood whine on the radio!

He will surely want to slit his wrists after a few hours… saving the feds the cost of killing him.

Shoulder to Shoulder With Edward Snowden

Yes, the music Snowden will face, if he is delivered to the Americans, will be grim. He will be charged with treason… which comes with a funeral dirge.

Here at the Diary, we are shoulder to shoulder with Snowden. “He broke the law, ” say the news reports. That’s what we admire about him. Sometimes the law needs be broken.

America circa 2013: History will record that laws grew up like kudzu.

One law told people they had to have health insurance, whether they wanted it or not. Another told them what they could do with their money… another gave them the right to ingest certain things, but not others.

The proliferation of laws made more and more things unlawful. You cannot smoke a cigarette where you please. You cannot have a private conversation. You cannot do this… but you must do that.

This trend gave lawmakers – including mid-level bureaucrats and unnamed officials – more and more power. And took power away from ordinary citizens, who were convinced that it made sense to limit their rights more and more to preserve their freedom.

And every day, during the summer of 2013, the sun shone, the kudzu grew, and wrapped itself around their necks. Did they fail to report a $5 tip? Did they forget to separate their garbage? Or dare to fix a clogged toilet without a permit? Americans were so proud of their freedom, they didn’t notice how fast they were losing it.

They didn’t notice (how could they?) the huge growth in secret organizations around Washington. They could scarcely remember going through an airport without standing in ‘security’ lines with their belts and shoes in their hands. They had to assume (what else could they do?) that public officials really were working to make their lives safer and more prosperous.

But, as more and more things could get you into trouble (more than anyone could possibly keep track of), it became more and more important to keep one’s affairs private.

Likewise, the controllers found it evermore convenient to tap phones and record private email conversations. Who knows when you might say something they could use against you!

Lies Are More Valuable Than Truth

Is the kind of “big data” the feds are gathering useful? Our friend Nassim Taleb tells us that it is probably less accurate… or more prone to misconstruction… than the feds believe:

We’re more fooled by noise than ever before, and it’s because of a nasty phenomenon called “big data.” With big data, researchers have brought cherry-picking to an industrial level.

Modernity provides too many variables, but too little data per variable. So the spurious relationships grow much, much faster than real information. In other words: Big data may mean more information, but it also means morefalse information.

But this is just great for the feds. They know perfectly well that the fight against terror is a pretext. They are zombies. The real goal of zombies is to increase their power and wealth at someone else’s expense. And for that, false information is better than the real thing.

False information can show anything you want it to show – even that a 93-year-old great grandmother is a threat to the nation.

Lies are more valuable, to them, than the truth.

Edward Snowden came out and revealed the extent to which the feds – under the guise of protecting us from terrorism – are keeping track of everyone and everyone’s business.

This was deeply disturbing to thoughtful people… if there still were any who feared the rise of an all-knowing, all-powerful Big Brother state from which no secrets are kept and from which no desires are hidden.

And it was disturbing too to the Big Brothers. They insist on knowing everything about everybody else’s business. But they made it a crime to reveal what they were up to!

In short, nobody likes a snitch… and a snoop especially dislikes a snitch.

Snowden was paid to snoop, not to snitch. He was paid to break the law and lie about it. And now he may have to face the law and pay the price for telling the truth.

Regards,

Bill Bonner

Bill

© Bill Bonner’s Diary of a Rogue Economist | 819 N Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Original Article: http://www.billbonnersdiary.com/articles/bonner-independence-day.html


5 WikiLeaks Hits of 2011 That Are Turning the World on Its Head — And That the Media Are Ignoring

While I do not agree with all of the author’s conclusions this information is very important as it presents further evidence that revolution, non-violent if possible, is well overdue in this nation. Government is intrinsically evil but if it is needed it must be a benign as possible. It is time to put the knife to the testicles of the monster that has become the USA!

 

AlterNet

By Rania Khalek, AlterNet
Posted on June 7, 2011, Printed on June 8, 2011
http://www.alternet.org/story/151232/5_wikileaks_hits_of_2011_that_are_turning_the_world_on_its_head_–_and_that_the_media_are_ignoring

 

Between Collateral Murder, the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary, and Cablegate, it appeared as though 2010 would go down in history as the most shocking year in WikiLeaks revelations. Americans discovered that trigger-happy soldiers who have been trained to kill are likely to shoot innocent civilians, including journalists and children. They learned that the US military handed over detainees they knew would be tortured to the Iraqis, and as a matter of policy, failed to investigate the hundreds of reported torture and abuse by Iraqi police and military. The Afghanistan logs showed many more civilians killed than previously known, along with once-secret US assassination missions against insurgents. And Cablegate shed light on a US foreign policy that values self-interest over democracy and human rights at all costs, perpetuating anti-American sentiment in the process.

Is 2011 capable of exceeding 2010’s revelations? And what discoveries in 2011 has WikiLeaks unearthed thus far?

1) The Arab Spring: Information is power. In January of this year, the north African country of Tunisia captured the world’s attention, as a relentless and inspiring democratic uprising managed to overthrow the autocratic President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in just a matter of weeks. Protests were initially sparked by food price inflation and staggering unemployment, as demonstrated by the self-immolation of a disillusioned young man named Mohamed Bouazizi.

But we should never underestimate the power of information when it comes to stirring things up. The role of the WikiLeaks Embassy cables, which revealed the US government’s view of the president and his ruling circle as deeply corrupt, cannot be overlooked.

Of course, Tunisians were well aware of their government’s corruption long before Cablegate. However, the Tunisian government felt threatened enough by the leaks to block access to the Lebanese news Web site Al-Akhbar after it published U.S. cables depicting Ben Ali and his government in an unflattering light. They went on to block not just WikiLeaks, but any news source publishing or referencing leaked cables that originated or referenced Tunisia. Their repressive reaction to the leaks pushed protesters over the brink, as it epitomized the country’s utter lack of freedom of expression.

And if there’s anything the hacktivists at Anonymous hate, it’s censorship, which is why they retaliated by shutting down key Web sites of the Tunisian government, an effort they dubbed “OpTunisia.”

The Tunisians were the first people in the Arab world to take to the streets and oust a leader for a generation. There is no denying that WikiLeaks acted as a catalyst in that effort, supplying more fuel to a fire that eventually toppled a regime. This helped inspire the revolt in Egypt and beyond, as uprisings against brutally repressive regimes extended to Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, and Libya. As the protests spread, WikiLeaks cleverly released key cables revealing government abuse and corruption in those nations, which intensified the protesters’ demand for democracy.

Amnesty International recently drew a link between the protests in the Arab world and the release by WikiLeaks of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic documents. In fact, the United Nations recently declaredInternet access a basic human right in a report that cites WikiLeaks and the Arab Spring as driving factors.

2) The ‘worst of the worst’ included children, the elderly, the mentally ill, and journalists. In April of this year, WikiLeaks released the Guantanamo Files, which included classified documents on more than 700 past and present Guantanamo detainees. These files paint a stunning picture of an oppressive detention system riddled with incoherence and cruelty at every stage.

They shed new light on the persecution of Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj, who was caged at the camp for more than six years and then abruptly released without ever being charged. His crime was working for Al Jazeera. It was also revealed that almost 100 of the inmates sent to Guantanamo were listed by their captors as having had depressive or psychotic illnesses. Many went on hunger strikes or attempted suicide. Officials in charge also found it appropriate to detain children and old men, including an 89-year-old Afghan villager suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim.

Authorities heavily used unreliable evidence obtained from a small number of detainees under torture to justify due-process free detentions. They continued to maintain this testimony was reliable even after admitting that the prisoners who provided it had been mistreated. Despite President Obama’s promise to close it, the shameful, legal black hole that is Guantanamo is still open for business: 172 detainees remain imprisoned at Guantanamo, about 50 of whom are being subjected to indefinite detention.

3) US allies are among the leading funders of international terrorism. Following the secret raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, WikiLeaks released the Pakistan Papers, a batch of previously top secret State Department cables specifically dealing with the US relationship with Pakistan. The cables were published in Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest and most widely-read English-language newspaper.

The documents expose the complicity of senior Pakistani officials in US drone strikes that have maimed and killed hundreds of innocent civilians, including children. A cable from late 2009 reveals Pakistani officials actively encouraging the bombing missions.

Despite longstanding denials, the documents disclose that the US has been conducting special ops inside Pakistan and taking part in joint operations with the Pakistanis since 2009.

The most disturbing, though not surprising, reports show that the Saudis, our supposed allies, are among the leading funders of international terrorism. It appears Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been financing jihadist groups in Pakistan for years. A cable written in 2008 by Bryan Hunt of the U.S. consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, reads: “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith clerics in south Punjab from organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”

Hunt outlines the process of recruitment for militancy, describing how “families with multiple children” and “severe financial difficulties” were exploited for recruitment purposes. The cable details the recruitment of children, who are given age-specific indoctrination and would eventually be trained according to the madrassah teachers’ assessment of their inclination “to engage in violence and acceptance of jihadi culture” versus their value as promoters of Deobandi or Ahl-i-Hadith sects or recruiters.

Recruits “chosen for jihad” would then be taken to “more sophisticated indoctrination camps, after which “youths were generally sent on to more established training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and then on to jihad either in FATA, NWFP, or as suicide bombers in settled areas.”

Therefore, the US government, well aware for years of Saudi Arabia’s disgusting exploitation of children, has remained a steadfast ally of the world’s biggest financier of terrorism.

4) World leaders are practically lighting a fire under the Arctic. As Secretary of State Hilary Clinton met with the Arctic Council last month to discuss oil exploration, WikiLeaks, with impeccable timing, published a new trove of cables highlighting a race to carve up the Arctic for resource exploitation. Nations battling to poison the arctic with oil drilling include Canada, the US, Russia, Norway, Denmark, and perhaps even China, which all have competing claims to the Arctic.

The leaks illustrate a frightening reality, where world leaders are greedily awaiting the opportunity to exploit the oil and natural gas that lie beneath the melting Arctic ice, even arming themselves for possible resource wars. A least that’s what the Russian Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin hinted in a 2010 cable that reads, “The twenty-first century will see a fight for resources. Russia Should not be defeated in this fight.”

A 2009 cable suggests US paranoia about Russia: “Behind Russia’s policy are two potential benefits accruing from global warming, the prospect for an [even seasonally] ice-free shipping route from Europe to Asia, and the estimated oil and gas wealth hidden beneath the Arctic sea floor.” Russian Navy head Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky is quoted in a 2008 cable as saying, “While in the Arctic there is peace and stability, however, one cannot exclude that in the future there will be a redistribution of power, up to armed intervention.”

Clearly, banking on the melting of the polar ice caps has taken priority over halting or even reversing the catastrophic effects of climate change. The Arctic contains as much as one quarter of the world’s gas and oil reserves, once hidden under huge masses of ice and inaccessible through frozen seas. However, ice is melting faster than predicted, presenting profitable business opportunities which are leading the Arctic countries to lose sight of longer-term climate issues. Greenpeace oil campaigner Ben Ayliffe underscores the danger of this mentality:

“These latest Wikileaks revelations expose something profoundly concerning. Instead of seeing the melting of the Arctic ice cap as a spur to action on climate change, the leaders of the Arctic nations are instead investing in military hardware to fight for the oil beneath it. They’re preparing to fight to extract the very fossil fuels that caused the melting in the first place. It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.”

5) Washington would let them starve to protect US corporate interests. The Nation has teamed up with the Haitian weekly newspaper Haiti Liberté, to analyze some 2,000 Haiti-related diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks. The cables will be featured in a series of Nation articles posted each Wednesday for several weeks. The first in the series, “PetroCaribe Files,” reveals, among other things, how the United State, with pressure from Exxon and Chevron, tried to interfere with an oil agreement between Haiti and Venezuela that would save Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, $100 million per year or 10 percent of the country’s budget.

The second piece, set to publish this week, “Let Them Live on $3/Day,” reveals Washington’s willingness to keep Haitian sweatshop wages at near slave labor levels to save American corporations a few bucks. US clothing makers with factories in Haiti, such as Hanes and Levi Strauss, were infuriated after the Haitian government raised the minimum wage from a puny slave wage of 24 cents an hour, to a slightly less puny slave wage of 61 cents an hour.

In a clear symbol of who it serves, the US State Department stepped in to exert pressure on Haiti’s president, who duly carved out a $3 a day minimum wage for textile companies. But, according to theNation’s expose, that was still too much: “Still the US Embassy wasn’t pleased. A deputy chief of mission, David E. Lindwall, said the $5 per day minimum “did not take economic reality into account” but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”

To understand the barbarity of this behavior, consider that a Haitian family of three (two kids) needed $12.50 a day in 2008 to make ends meet.

More to come?

These revelations are not the only leaks of 2011, just those I have chosen to highlight. WikiLeaks continues to leaks cables all over the globe. Although they have received little attention in the US press, leaks in countries like PeruIrelandMalaysia, and El Salvador are generating headlines, controversy and debate. Perhaps what we have seen from WikiLeaks is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

Rania Khalek is a progressive activist. Check out her blog Missing Pieces or follow her on Twitter@Rania_ak. You can contact her at raniakhalek@gmail.com.

© 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/151232/

Anarchy is order, whereas capitalistocratic government is civil war

Anarchy symbol - Basic traditional circumscrib...

Image via Wikipedia

by Darian Worden

The prospect of state collapse brings forth worries about a “power vacuum,” an unrestrained state of nature where chaos rules until the strong take over. But chaotic conflict is produced by efforts to seize power and exert power over other people. It is not the rejection of rulership, but the struggle to achieve rulership, that creates deadly conflict. The negation of authority, as advocated by anarchists, does not necessitate the chaotic mess associated with the phrase “power vacuum.”

Anarchy would mean that power is dispersed among individuals who would rather safeguard each others’ freedom than rule over each other. And if power is firmly in the hands of organized people then there is no power vacuum.

In politics, the word power generally signifies the ability of an individual or group of individuals to influence the decisions of others. Authority is an attempt to legitimate the exercise of power to compel obedience or allegiance to the higher ranks. Anarchists reject authority in favor of individual autonomy. Anarchy means that individuals have ultimate decision-making power over their own lives, and the only social arrangements recognized as legitimate are those that are based on consensual cooperation.

When authority amasses and exercises political power against people, it creates conflict. Hence the axiom that “anarchy is order, whereas government is civil war.”

The very concept of having no rulers often encounters fears of a power vacuum — an unsustainable, dangerous situation that can only end in the re-establishment of rulers. But the rejection of authority does not mean that power is up for grabs — it means that power is widely distributed, making it harder for tyrants to usurp.

The practice of anarchism fills society with empowered individuals, diffusing power throughout society so that no authority can take it over. Interactions of free individuals — the everyday pursuit of needs and desires combined with the recognition that mutual respect for freedom is the best way to realize needs and desires — build counter-power. Organizations of social cooperation established for the mutual benefit of participants, not for the power of some at the expense of others, help keep power dispersed in a fashion that safeguards individual liberty. Institutions of authority can be subverted or seized for the purpose of dispersing power.

Certainly, anarchy requires a number of people to accept the idea, but this true of any state of affairs that does not rest on brute force alone. A state can only exist so long as it can muster a significant level of allegiance. Every individual has the decision of whether to obey the decrees of those trying to amass power, or to follow the logic of appeals to disperse power. The creation of dispersed power establishes a basis from which authority can be effectively challenged.

When individuals possess power over their own lives, it means they have no personal power vacuum that tyrants could exploit. Power held by ordinary individuals gives them a greater stake in a functioning society as well as a more effective means of preventing social catastrophe.

The rejection of authority, as advocated by anarchists, does not mean that a nightmare scenario associated with the phrase “power vacuum” is likely. It means the power that authority monopolizes will be dispersed among the people.

About the writer:

C4SS News Analyst Darian Worden is an individualist  writer with experience in libertarian activism. His fiction includes Bring a Gun To School Day and the forthcoming Trade War. His essays and other works can be viewed at DarianWorden.com. He also hosts an internet radio show, Thinking Liberty.

Source: http://lecanadian.com/2011/02/13/anarchy-is-order-whereas-capitalistocratic-government-is-civil-war/

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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.

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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


WikiLeaks among nominees for Nobel Peace Prize

By Wojciech Moskwa

OSLO | Wed Feb 2, 2011 11:32am EST

(Reuters) – Anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks has been nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian politician behind the proposal said on Wednesday, a day after the deadline for nominations expired.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee accepts nominations for what many consider as the world’s top accolade until February 1, although the five panel members have until the end of the month to make their own proposals.

Norwegian parliamentarian Snorre Valen said WikiLeaks was “one of the most important contributors to freedom of speech and transparency” in the 21st century.

“By disclosing information about corruption, human rights abuses and war crimes, WikiLeaks is a natural contender for the Nobel Peace Prize,” Valen said.

Members of all national parliaments, professors of law or political science and previous winners are among those allowed to make nominations. The committee declined to comment on the WikiLeaks proposal or any other nominations.

Washington is furious at WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange for releasing tens of thousands of secret documents and diplomatic cables which it says have harmed U.S. interests abroad, including peace efforts.

Assange, An Australian, faces extradition to Sweden from Britain for questioning in a sex case which he and his supporters say is a smear campaign designed to close down WikiLeaks, a non-profit organization funded by the public and rights groups.

Awarding WikiLeaks the prize would be likely to provoke criticism of the Nobel Committee, which has courted controversy with its two most recent choices, jailed Chinese pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo and President Barack Obama a few months after his election.

NOBEL DEFINITION STRETCHED

The prize was endowed by Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, who said in his will it was to be awarded to whoever “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

In past decades the committee, appointed by the Norwegian parliament, has stretched Nobel’s definition to include human rights, climate activism and even micro-financing, which have been a source of criticism from Nobel traditionalists.

Nobel watchers say a prize for WikiLeaks would highlight the growing role of specialist Internet sites and broad access social media in bringing about world change.

Sites such as Twitter and YouTube have played important roles in mobilizing people in countries with a tight grip on official media, such as Egypt where mass anti-government protests have been taking place.

Kristian Berg Harpviken of the PRIO peace think tank in Oslo agreed that innovative use of “new tools for bringing about peace” could be a major theme in this year’s Nobel, but he said he expected the prize to go to a woman after a series of male recipients.

His strongest tip was the Russian human rights group Memorial and its leader, Svetlana Gannushkina.

The nomination deadline may make it difficult for Middle East nominees should mass protests there produce peace.

Egypt‘s Mohamed ElBaradei won the prize in 2005 as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog. Although theoretically possible, no individual has won the peace prize twice. The Red Cross has won three times.

(Editing by Andrew Dobbie)



Recent Letter to Quantico Marine Base Commander

Former Quantico commander objects to Manning treatment

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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/


How WikiLeaks Enlightened Us in 2010

From: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-20026591-503543.html

December 31, 2010 7:50 AM

Posted by Joshua Norman

(Credit: Getty Images/Oliver Lang)

WikiLeaks has brought to light a series of disturbing insinuations and startling truths in the last year, some earth-shattering, others simply confirmations of our darkest suspicions about the way the world works. Thanks to founder Julian Assange‘s legal situation in Sweden (and potentially the United States) as well as his media grandstanding, it is easy to forget how important and interesting some of WikiLeaks’ revelations have been.

WikiLeaks revelations from 2010 have included simple gossip about world leaders: Russia’s PM Vladimir Putin is playing Batman to President Dmitri Medvedev’s Robin; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is crazy and was once slapped by a Revolutionary Guard chief for being so; Libya’s Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has a hankering for his voluptuous blond Ukrainian nurse; and France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy simply can’t take criticism.

CBS News Special Report: WikiLeaks

However, WikiLeaks’ revelations also have many  major implications for world relations. The following is a list of the more impactful WikiLeaks revelations from 2010, grouped by region.

The United States

– The U.S. Army considered WikiLeaks a national security threat as early as 2008, according to documents obtained and posted by WikiLeaks in March, 2010.

Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commanders repeatedly, knowingly lied to the American public about rising sectarian violence in Iraq beginning in 2006, according to the cross-referencing of WikiLeaks’ leaked Iraq war documents and former Washington Post Baghdad Bureau Chief Ellen Knickmeyer’s recollections.

– The Secretary of State’s office encouraged U.S. diplomats at the United Nations to spy on their counterparts, including collecting data about the U.N. secretary general, his team and foreign diplomats, including credit card account numbers, according to documents from WikiLeaks U.S. diplomatic cable release. Later cables reveal the CIA draws up an annual “wish-list” for the State Department, which one year included the instructions to spy on the U.N.

– The Obama administration worked with Republicans during his first few months in office to protect Bush administration officials facing a criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies that some considered torture. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid obtained by WikiLeaks details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.

– WikiLeaks released a secret State Department cable that provided a list of sites around the world vital to U.S. national security, from mines in Africa to labs in Europe.

Iraq

– A U.S. Army helicopter allegedly gunned down two journalists in Baghdad in 2007. WikiLeaks posted a 40-minute video on its website in April, showing the attack in gruesome detail, along with an audio recording of the pilots during the attack.

– Iran’s military intervened aggressively in support of Shiite combatants in Iraq, offering weapons, training and sanctuary, according to an October, 2010, WikiLeaks release of thousands of secret documents related to the Iraq war.

– According to one tabulation, there have been 100,000 causalities, mostly civilian, in Iraq – greater than the numbers previously made public, many of them killed by American troops but most of them were killed by other Iraqis, according to the WikiLeaks Iraq documents dump.

– U.S. authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished, according to the WikiLeaks Iraq documents dump.Afghanistan

– U.S. special-operations forces have targeted militants without trial in secret assassination missions, and many more Afghan civilians have been killed by accident than previously reported, according to the WikiLeaks Afghanistan war document dump.

– Afghan President Hamid Karzai freed suspected drug dealers because of their political connections, according to a secret diplomatic cable. The cable, which supports the multiple allegations of corruption within the Karzai government, said that despite repeated rebukes from U.S. officials in Kabul, the president and his attorney general authorized the release of detainees. Previous cables accused Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, of being a corrupt narcotics trafficker.

Asia

– Pakistan’s government has allowed members of its spy network to hold strategy sessions on combating American troops with members of the Taliban, while Pakistan has received more than $1 billion a year in aid from Washington to help combat militants, according to a July, 2010, WikiLeaks release of thousands of files on the Afghanistan war.

– A stash of highly enriched uranium capable of providing enough material for multiple “dirty bombs” has been waiting in Pakistan for removal by an American team for more than three years but has been held up by the country’s government, according to leaked classified State Department documents.

– Despite sustained denials by US officials spanning more than a year, U.S.military Special Operations Forces have been conducting offensive operations inside Pakistan, helping direct U.S. drone strikes and conducting joint operations with Pakistani forces against Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in north and south Waziristan and elsewhere in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, according to secret cables released as part of the Wikileaks document dump.

– China was behind the online attack of Google, according to leaked diplomatic cables. The electronic intrusion was “part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government.”

– Secret State Department cables show a South Korean official quoted as saying that North Korea’s collapse is likely to happen “two to three years” after the death of the current dictator, Kim Jong Il. The U.S. is already planning for the day North Korea implodes from its own economic woes. China has “no will” to use its economic leverage to force North Korea to change its policies and the Chinese official who is the lead negotiator with North Korea is “the most incompetent official in China.”

– North Korea is secretly helping the military dictatorship in Myanmar build nuclear and missile sites in its jungles, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. Although witnesses told the embassy that construction is at an early stage, officials worry Myanmar could one day possess a nuclear bomb.

– Five years ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross told U.S. diplomats in New Delhi that the Indian government “condones torture” and systematically abused detainees in the disputed region of Kashmir. The Red Cross told the officials that hundreds of detainees were subjected to beatings, electrocutions and acts of sexual humiliation, the Guardian newspaper of London reported Thursday evening.

– The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a “government death squad”, leaked US embassy cables have revealed. Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has been held responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years and is said to routinely use torture, have received British training in “investigative interviewing techniques” and “rules of engagement”.

– Secret U.S. diplomatic cables reveal that BP suffered a blowout after a gas leak in the Caucasus country of Azerbaijan in September 2008, a year and a half before another BP blowout killed 11 workers and started a leak that gushed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Middle East

– Saudi Arabia’s rulers have deep distrust for some fellow Muslim countries, especially Pakistan and Iran, despite public appearances, according to documents from the late November, 2010, WikiLeaks U.S. diplomatic cable dump. King Abdullah called Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari “the greatest obstacle” to the country’s progress and he also repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program to stop Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

– Iranian Red Crescent ambulances were used to smuggle weapons to Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group during its 2006 war with Israel, according to the leaked U.S. diplomatic memos.

– In a leaked diplomatic memo, dated two weeks after elections that landed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in office, a senior American diplomat said that during a meeting a few days before “Netanyahu expressed support for the concept of land swaps, and emphasized that he did not want to govern the West Bank and Gaza but rather to stop attacks from being launched from there.”

– The United States was secretly given permission from Yemen’s president to attack the al Qaeda group in his country that later attempted to blow up planes in American air space. President Ali Abdullah Saleh told John Brennan, President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, in a leaked diplomatic cable from September 2009 that the U.S. had an “open door” on terrorism in Yemen.

– Contrary to public statements, the Obama administration actually helped fuel conflict in Yemen. The U.S. was shipping arms to Saudi Arabia for use in northern Yemen even as it denied any role in the conflict.

– Saudi Arabia is one of the largest origin points for funds supporting international terrorism, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged U.S. diplomats to do more to stop the flow of money to Islamist militant groups from donors in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government, Clinton wrote, was reluctant to cut off money being sent to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Pakistan.

– The U.S. is failing to stop the flow of arms to Middle Eastern militant groups. Hamas and Hezbollah are still receiving weapons from Iran, North Korea, and Syria, secret diplomatic cables allege.

– A storage facility housing Yemen’s radioactive material was unsecured for up to a week after its lone guard was removed and its surveillance camera was broken, a secret U.S. State Department cable released by WikiLeaks revealed Monday. “Very little now stands between the bad guys and Yemen’s nuclear material,” a Yemeni official said on January 9 in the cable.

– Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, constructed with apparent help from North Korea, fearing it was built to make a bomb. In a leaked diplomatic cable obtained by the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, then-US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice wrote the Israelis targeted and destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor just weeks before it was to be operational.

– Diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks indicate authorities in the United Arab Emirates debated whether to keep quiet about the high-profile killing of a Hamas operative in Dubai in January. The documents also show the UAE sought U.S. help in tracking down details of credit cards Dubai police believe were used by a foreign hit squad involved in the killing. The spy novel-like slaying, complete with faked passports and assassins in disguise, is widely believed to be the work of Israeli secret agents.

– WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Al Jazeera network that some of the unpublished cables show “Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency. These officials are spies for the U.S. in their countries.”

Europe

– Of the 500 or so tactical nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal, it is known that about 200 are deployed throughout Europe. Leaked diplomatic cables reveal that dozens of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons are in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

– NATO had secret plans to defend the Baltic states and Poland from an attack by Russia, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. NATO officials had feared “an unnecessary increase in NATO-Russia tensions,” and wanted no public discussions of their contingency plans to defend Baltic states from Russian attack.

– The Libyan government promised “enormous repercussions” for the U.K. if the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, was not handled properly, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. The Libyan government threatened “harsh, immediate” consequences if the man jailed for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 died in prison in Scotland.

– Pope Benedict impeded an investigation into alleged child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. Not only did Pope Benedict refuse to allow Vatican officials to testify in an investigation by an Irish commission into alleged child sex abuse by priests, he was also reportedly furious when Vatican officials were called upon in Rome.

– Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness carried out negotiations for the Good Friday agreement with Irish then-prime minister Bertie Ahern while the two had explicit knowledge of a bank robbery that the Irish Republican Army was planning to carry out, according to a WikiLeaks cable. Ahern figured Adams and McGuinness knew about the 26.5 million pound Northern Bank robbery of 2004 because they were members of the “IRA military command.”

Africa

– Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC has infiltrated the highest levels of government in Nigeria. A high-ranking executive for the international Shell oil company once bragged to U.S. diplomats, as reported in a leaked diplomatic cable, that the company’s employees had so well infiltrated the Nigerian government that officials had “forgotten” the level of the company’s access.

– Mozambique is fast on its way to becoming a narco-state because of close ties between drug smugglers and the southeastern African nation’s government, according to U.S. Embassy cables released by WikiLeaks. The cables say cocaine, heroin and other drugs come in from South America and Asia, and are then flown to Europe or sent overland to neighboring South Africa for sale.

– Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe-appointed attorney general announced he was investigating Mugabe’s chief opposition leader on treason charges based exclusively on the contents of a WikiLeaks’ leaked cable. The cable claimed Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai encouraged Western sanctions against his own country to induce Mugabe into giving up some political power.

Americas/Caribbean

– Mexican President Felipe Calderon told a U.S. official last year that Latin America “needs a visible U.S. presence” to counter Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s growing influence in the region, according to a U.S. State Department cable leaked to WikiLeaks.

– A newly released confidential U.S. diplomatic cable predicts Cuba’s economic situation could become “fatal” within two to three years, and details concerns voiced by diplomats from other countries, including China, that the communist-run country has been slow to adopt reforms.

– The Honduran military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired in 2009 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. However, the constitution itself may be deficient in terms of providing clear procedures for dealing with alleged illegal acts by the President and resolving conflicts between the branches of government.

– Venezuela’s deteriorating oil industry and its growing economic problems are taking a toll on President Hugo Chavez’s popularity. In one confidential leaked diplomatic cable dated Oct. 15, 2009, the U.S. Embassy said “equipment conditions have deteriorated drastically” since the government expropriated some 80 oil service companies earlier that year. It said safety and maintenance at the now state-owned oil facilities were in a “terrible state.”

– China has been reselling Venezuela’s cheap oil at a profit, according to a classified U.S. document released by WikiLeaks. President Hugo Chavez was upset that China apparently profited by selling fuel to other countries, fuel that it had sold China at a discount in order to gain favor. The cable also describes falling crude output in Venezuela caused by a host of problems within the national oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA.

– Jamaica’s counter-drug efforts have been so sluggish that exasperated Cuban officials privately griped about their frustrations to a U.S. drug enforcement official, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable. The communique released by WikiLeaks said Cuban officials painted their Caribbean neighbor to the south as chronically uncooperative in stopping drug smugglers who use Cuban waters and airspace to transport narcotics destined for the U.S.

 

– A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable published Saturday depicts the leader of Mexico’s army “lamenting” its lengthy role in the anti-drug offensive, but expecting it to last between seven and 10 more years. The cable says Mexican Defense Secretary Gen. Guillermo Galvan Galvan mistrusts other Mexican law enforcement agencies and prefers to work separately, because corrupt officials had leaked information in the past.

– McDonald’s tried to delay the US government’s implementation of a free-trade agreement in order to put pressure on El Salvador to appoint neutral judges in a $24m lawsuit it was fighting in the country. The revelation of the McDonald’s strategy to ensure a fair hearing for a long-running legal battle against a former franchisee comes from a leaked US embassy cable dated 15 February 2006.

In 2010, WikiLeaks released only about 2,000 of the approximate 250,000 cables it claims to possess, and the pace of those releases dropped dramatically as the holidays approached. If Assange’s promises are to be believed, 2011 will be another important year for learning about the hidden forces that drive our world.

 


Obama officials caught deceiving about WikiLeaks

From: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/01/19/wikileaks/index.html

WEDNESDAY, JAN 19, 2011

BY GLENN GREENWALD

 

AP Thorny issues: Obama and Bush in November 2008.

 

(updated below)

Whenever the U.S. Government wants to demonize a person or group in order to justify attacks on them, it follows the same playbook:  it manufactures falsehoods about them, baselessly warns that they pose Grave Dangers and are severely harming our National Security, peppers all that with personality smears to render the targeted individuals repellent on a personal level, and feeds it all to the establishment American media, which then dutifully amplifies and mindlessly disseminates it all.  That, of course, was the precise scheme that so easily led the U.S. into attacking Iraq; it’s what continues to ensure support for the whole litany of War on Terror abuses and the bonanza of power and profit which accompanies them; and it’s long been obvious that this is the primary means for generating contempt for WikiLeaks to enable its prosecution and ultimate destruction (an outcome the Pentagon has been plotting since at least 2008).

When WikiLeaks in mid-2010 published documents detailing the brutality and corruption at the heart of the war in Afghanistan, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullenheld a Press Conference and said of WikiLeaks (and then re-affirmed it on his Twitter account) that they “might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.”  This denunciation predictably caused the phrase “blood on their hands” to be attached to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, in thousands of media accounts around the world.  But two weeks later, the Pentagon’s spokesman, when pressed, was forced to admit that there was no evidence whatsoever for that accusation:  “we have yet to see any harm come to anyone in Afghanistan that we can directly tie to exposure in the WikiLeaks documents,” he admitted.  Several months later, after more flamboyant government condemnations of WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of Iraq War documents, McClatchy‘s Nancy Youssef — in an article headlined:  “Officials may be overstating the danger from WikiLeaks” — reported that “U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date” that the disclosures resulted in the deaths of anyone, and she detailed the great care WikiLeaks took in that Iraq War release to protect innocent people.

The disclosure of American diplomatic cables triggered still more melodramatic claims from government officials (ones faithfully recited by its servants and followers across the spectrum in Washington), accusing WikiLeaks of everything from “attacking” the U.S. (Hillary Clinton) and “plac[ing] at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals” and “ongoing military operations” (Harold Koh) to being comparable to Terrorists (Joe Biden).  But even Robert Gates was unwilling to lend his name to such absurdities, and when asked, mocked these accusations as “significantly overwrought” and said the WikiLeaks disclosures would be “embarrassing” and “awkward” but would have only “modest consequences.”

Since then, it has become clear how scrupulously careful WikiLeaks has been in releasing these cables in order to avoid unnecessary harm to innocent people, as the Associated Press reported how closely WikiLeaks was collaborating with its newspaper partners in deciding which cables to release and what redactions were necessary.  Indeed, one of the very few documents which anyone has been able to claim has produced any harm — one revealing that the leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition privately urged U.S. officials to continue imposing sanctions on his country — was actually released by The Guardiannot by WikiLeaks.

To say that the Obama administration’s campaign against WikiLeaks has been based on wildly exaggerated and even false claims is to understate the case.  But now, there is evidence that Obama officials have been knowingly lying in public about these matters.  The long-time Newsweekreporter Mark Hosenball — now at Reuters — reports that what Obama officials are saying in private about WikiLeaks directly contradicts their public claims:

 

Internal U.S. government reviews have determined that a mass leak of diplomatic cables caused only limited damage to U.S. interests abroad, despite the Obama administration’s public statements to the contrary.

A congressional official briefed on the reviews said the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers. . . .

“We were told (the impact of WikiLeaks revelations) was embarrassing but not damaging,” said the official, who attended a briefing given in late 2010 by State Department officials. . .

But current and former intelligence officials note that while WikiLeaks has released a handful of inconsequential CIA analytical reports, the website has made public few if any real intelligence secrets, including reports from undercover agents or ultra-sensitive technical intelligence reports, such as spy satellite pictures or communications intercepts. . . .

National security officials familiar with the damage assessments being conducted by defense and intelligence agencies told Reuters the reviews so far have shown “pockets” of short-term damage, some of it potentially harmful. Long-term damage to U.S. intelligence and defense operations, however, is unlikely to be serious, they said. . . .

Shortly before WikiLeaks began its gradual release of State Department cables last year, department officials sent emails to contacts on Capitol Hill predicting dire consequences, said one of the two congressional aides briefed on the internal government reviews.

However, shortly after stories about the cables first began to appear in the media, State Department officials were already privately playing down the damage, the two congressional officials said.

 

In response to Hosenball’s story, Obama officials naturally tried to salvage the integrity of their statements, insisting that “there has been substantial damage” and that there were unspecified “specific cases where damage caused by WikiLeaks’ revelations have been assessed as serious to grave.”  But the only specific cases anyone could identify were ones where the U.S. was caught by these documents lying to its own citizens or, at best, concealing vital truths — such as the far greater military role the U.S. is playing in Yemen and Pakistan than Obama officials have publicly acknowledged.

And this, of course, has been the point all along:  the WikiLeaks disclosuresare significant precisely because they expose government deceit, wrongdoing and brutality, but the damage to innocent people has been deliberately and wildly exaggerated — fabricated — by the very peoplewhose misconduct has been revealed.  There is harm from the WikiLeaks documents, but it’s to wrongdoers in power, which is why they are so desperate to malign and then destroy the group.

Just as was true in 2003 — when the joint, falsehood-based government/media demonization campaign led 69% of Americans tobelieve that Saddam Hussein participated in the planning of the 9/11 attacks(the Bush era’s most revealing fact about American politics) — this orgy of anti-WikiLeaks propaganda has succeeded, with polls reliably showing the American public largely against the group and even favoring its prosecution (citizens in countries not subjected to this propaganda barrageview the group far more favorably).  As has been demonstrated over and over, when the U.S. Government and its media collaborate to propagandize, its efficacy is not in doubt.  And as Marcy Wheeler notes, these lies were told not only to distort public opinion and justify prosecuting WikiLeaks for doing nothing more than engaging in journalism, but also to coerce private corporations (MasterCard, Amazon, Visa, Paypal) to cut all services to the group.

The case against WikiLeaks is absolutely this decade’s version of the Saddam/WMD campaign.  It’s complete with frivolous invocations of Terrorism, grave public warnings about National Security negated by concealed information, endlessly repeated falsehoods, a competition among political and media elites to advocate the harshest measures possible, a cowardly Congress that (with a few noble exceptions) acquiesces to it all on a bipartisan basis and is eager to enable it, and a media that not only fails to subject these fictions to critical scrutiny, but does the opposite:  it takes the lead in propagating them.  One might express bewilderment that most American journalists never learn their lesson about placing their blind faith in government claims, but that assumes — falsely — that their objective is to report truthfully.

 

UPDATE:  Kevin DrumDan Drezner and Daniel Larison all cite this report as evidence that the WikiLeaks disclosures have been insignificant.  They seem to equate a finding of “no harm to national security” with “nothing of significance,” but not only are those two concepts not the same, they’re hardly related.  Many revelations are very significant even though they do not harm national security.

When The New York Times revealed that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on Americans’ communications without the warrants required by law, that revelation was extremely important even though it entailed no national security harm.  The same is true of The Washington Post‘s exposure of the CIA “black site” program, or David Barstow’s exposé on the Pentagon’s propaganda program, and countless other investigative reports.  The WikiLeaks disclosures — like most good investigative journalism — harm those in power who do bad things (by exposing their previously secret conduct), but do not harm the national security of the United States.  I’d be interested in hearing anyone who wants to argue that the WikiLeaks disclosures contain “nothing new” dismiss the actual revelations (here and here).

As for the comparison of this deceit to Saddam/WMD:  obviously, the magnitude of the consequences are not similar, but the misleading tactics themselves — for the reasons I enumerated — are.  Moreover, prosecution of WikiLeaks would hardly be inconsequential; it would likely be the first time in history that a non-government employee is convicted of “espionage” for publishing government secrets and, as such, would constitute one of the greatest threats to press freedom in the United States in a long time.

 

 


On Guarding the Public’s Right to Ignorance and Meeting With Julian Assange

From Taki’s Magazine

by Charles Glass

January 12, 2011

 

We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.
—Benjamin Franklin

 

 

When a journalist disappears in Russia or is murdered in Iraqi Kurdistan, his or her colleagues in safer climes stand up to be counted. No one should be killed, tortured, or imprisoned for publishing information or opinions that the powerful find inconvenient. Organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, Article 19, and PEN regard it as their duty to defend writers’ and publishers’ rights, as PEN famously did for Arthur Koestler against Nazi tyranny in the 1930s. Index on Censorship, a publication with an honorable pedigree, came into existence to publish the samizdat articles and stories of writers who risked the gulag for expressing themselves.

In journalism schools, they teach aspiring reporters it is their duty to ferret out information the state and other power centers conceal that affects ordinary people’s lives. Bringing information to the governed about their governors is the breath of democracy, the exposure that animates liberty’s spirit, and a necessary check against the world’s imbalances in wealth and power. When Upton Sinclair revealed the way meat was packaged in America in The Jungle, when Lincoln Steffens told the truth about municipal government corruption, when Ida Tarbell exposed the Standard Oil Company to public scrutiny, when I. F. Stone published the truth behind the Gulf of Tonkin lies that Lyndon Johnson used as an excuse to escalate the war against Vietnam (the Weapons of Mass Destruction of its time), when Seymour Hersh reported the American massacre at My Lai, when Ray Coffey of the Chicago Daily News broke the story of America’s illegal bombing of Laos, did their colleagues rise as one to defend them?

The hell they did. A few stood with the investigators, but most condemned them. Hearst columnists and other guardians of the public’s right to ignorance railed against the muckrakers for betraying American values. Who could be against Rockefeller and Standard Oil apart from a traitor? The good burghers of the popular press turned on them like a pack of hounds for questioning the wisdom of duly (albeit corruptly) elected rulers and daring to publish documents that God had deigned as comprehensible only to a bureaucratic inner circle.

Journalistic guard dogs of power, the most likely hacks to climb the ladder for the Purina Dog Chow of corporate-media op-ed columns, talk shows, and editorships, have turned against WikiLeaks. Julian Assange has committed the crime for which we, from the safety of time’s passage, honor Steffens, Tarbell, Stone, and Hersh. It is no surprise that a pseudo-journalist such as Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard calls for Washington to employ “various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators.” But it is more difficult to excuse the distance that real journalists, many of whom published the documents and videos that WikiLeaks made available to them, are putting between themselves and Assange. The Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Broadcasters, and The New York Times’ opinion pages have run for cover as fast as politicians during a police raid on a whorehouse.

The New York Times, along with The Washington Post, had the honorable distinction of publishing the Pentagon Papers. They received those documents from Daniel Ellsberg, who was pilloried in his time just as Assange is today. The Nixon Administration, in a precursor to the Watergate break-in, raided his psychiatrist’s office and circulated stories that Ellsberg was insane. The argument was not unknown in the Soviet Union: If you are against us, you must be crazy. Now they are turning on Assange over his sex life, his alleged imperiousness, and his supposed recklessness.

I understand why the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House hate Assange and WikiLeaks. He broke into their cozy little circle of lies and turned on the lights. We’ve seen the amusement of helicopter pilots and gunners as they blew away journalists in Iraq. We’ve read how Hillary Clinton illegally suborned UN diplomats to spy on their colleagues. We’ve had a look into secret discussions where the US tried to persuade the Japanese to shut down the anti-whaling Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. We have read that Israeli border guards have been trying to shake down American companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and Westinghouse for bribes to let them send their products into the Gaza Strip.

We have seen all of this, while Assange’s critics tell us (1) nothing he has revealed is of any significance and (2) what he has revealed is so significant he must be prosecuted or terminated with prejudice. Let the government fight its corner, fair enough. But does the press, which collaborated with WikiLeaks in bringing so much information to public scrutiny, need to condemn him? In the battle between the state and the free press, I stand with the free press.

This is an easy decision, and I made it well before I met Assange last weekend. He seemed to me to be neither arrogant nor deceptive. He is, however, single-minded and determined to fight for his corner. He has accepted his predicament with good grace, having endured nine days in Wandsworth Prison in solitary confinement. The terms of his bail, while he awaits a possible extradition to Sweden for alleged crimes that carry no sentence other than a small fine, require him to remain inside the Norfolk farmhouse of his friend Vaughan Smith, a brave former Grenadier Guards officer and combat cameraman. Julian may leave the house only for daily visits to the local police station. When we wanted to smoke outside, in deference to Pranvera Smith’s understandable concern about the air around her beautiful little daughters being fouled by tobacco, Julian had to stand inside the doorway. I was free to pace the garden with my cigar, the absurdity of which was obvious to us both.

He spends most of his time working on WikiLeaks and preparing his legal defense, showing no sign of the tension that would break most of us. But making this a battle about his personality misses the point: The issue is freedom to publish information without fear of intimidation, imprisonment, and death. Where are my colleagues? Many have stood up honorably to defend him and to guarantee his bail in Britain. Others have turned on him, including the two English-language newspapers (The Guardian in London and The New York Times) that published documents they could have obtained only from him. It was ever thus, as Julien Benda reminded us in La Trahison des Clercs:

Our age has seen priests of the mind teaching that gregarious[ness] is the praiseworthy form of thought, and that independent thought is contemptible. It is moreover certain that the group which desires to be strong has no use for a man who claims to think for himself.

During America’s war in Vietnam, Noam Chomsky referred to the journalistic and academic defenders of the aggression as the “secular priesthood.” Their heirs worship at the same altar of power, even when it means sending one of their own to prison for a “crime” they only pretend to commit: speaking truth to and about power.

 


Bradley Manning: One Soldier Who Really Did “Defend Our Freedom”

 

http://www.bradleymanning.org/15918/bradley-manning-one-soldier-who-really-did-defend-our-freedom/

2010-12-30 Originally written by Kevin Carson for the Center for a Stateless Society

When I hear someone say that soldiers “defend our freedom,” my immediate response is to gag.  I think the last time American soldiers actually fought for the freedom of Americans was probably the Revolutionary War — or maybe the War of 1812, if you want to be generous.  Every war since then has been for nothing but to uphold a system of power, and to make the rich folks even richer.

But I can think of one exception.  If there’s a soldier anywhere in the world who’s fought and suffered for my freedom, it’s Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Manning is frequently portrayed, among the knuckle-draggers on right-wing message boards, as some sort of spoiled brat or ingrate, acting on an adolescent whim.  But that’s not quite what happened, according to Johann Hari (“The under-appreciated heroes of 2010,” The Independent, Dec. 24).

Manning, like many young soldiers, joined up in the naive belief that he was defending the freedom of his fellow Americans.  When he got to Iraq, he found himself working under orders “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.”  The people he arrested, and handed over for torture, were guilty of such “crimes” as writing “scholarly critiques” of the U.S. occupation forces and its puppet government.  When he expressed his moral reservations to his supervisor, Manning “was told to shut up and get back to herding up Iraqis.”

The people Manning saw tortured, by the way, were frequently the very same people who had been tortured by Saddam:  trade unionists, members of the Iraqi Freedom Congress, and other freedom-loving people who had no more use for Halliburton and Blackwater than they had for the Baath Party.

For exposing his government’s crimes against humanity, Manning has spent seven months in solitary confinement –  a torture deliberately calculated to break the human mind.

We see a lot of “serious thinkers” on the op-ed pages and talking head shows, people like David Gergen, Chris Matthews and Michael Kinsley, going on about all the stuff that Manning’s leaks have impaired the ability of “our government” to do.

He’s impaired the ability of the U.S. government to conduct diplomacy in pursuit of some fabled “national interest” that I supposedly have in common with Microsoft, Wal-Mart and Disney.  He’s risked untold numbers of innocent lives, according to the very same people who have ordered the deaths of untold thousands of innocent people.  According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Manning’s exposure of secret U.S. collusion with authoritarian governments in the Middle East, to promote policies that their peoples would find abhorrent, undermines America’s ability to promote “democracy, open government, and free and open societies.”

But I’ll tell you what Manning’s really impaired government’s ability to do.

He’s impaired the U.S. government’s ability to lie us into wars where thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of foreigners are murdered.

He’s impaired its ability to use such wars — under the guise of promoting “democracy” — to install puppet governments like the Coalition Provisional Authority, that will rubber stamp neoliberal “free trade” agreements (including harsh “intellectual property” provisions written by the proprietary content industries) and cut special deals with American crony capitalists.

He’s impaired its ability to seize good, decent people who — unlike most soldiers — really are fighting for freedom, and hand them over to thuggish governments for torture with power tools.

Let’s get something straight.  Bradley Manning may be a criminal by the standards of the American state.  But by all human standards of morality, the government and its functionaries that Manning exposed to the light of day are criminals.  And Manning is a hero of freedom for doing it.

So if you’re one of the authoritarian state-worshippers, one of the grovelling sycophants of power, who are cheering on Manning’s punishment and calling for even harsher treatment, all I can say is that you’d probably have been there at the crucifixion urging Pontius Pilate to lay the lashes on a little harder.  You’d have told the Nazis where Anne Frank was hiding.  You’re unworthy of the freedoms which so many heroes and martyrs  throughout history — heroes like Bradley Manning — have fought to give you.

C4SS Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political EconomyOrganization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.

 


Wikimania and the First Amendment

by Ralph Nader

Thomas Blanton, the esteemed director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University described Washington’s hyper-reaction to WikiLeaks‘ transmission of information to some major media in various countries as “Wikimania.”

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last Thursday, Blanton urged the Justice Department to cool it. WikiLeaks and newspapers like The New York Timesand London’s Guardian, he said, are publishers protected by the First Amendment. The disclosures are the first small installment of a predicted much larger forthcoming trove of non-public information from both governments and global corporations.

The leakers inside these organizations come under different legal restrictions than those who use their freedom of speech rights to publish the leaked information.

The mad dog, homicidal demands to destroy the leaders of WikiLeaks by self-styled liberal Democrat and Fox commentator, Bob Beckel, the radio and cable howlers and some members of Congress, may be creating an atmosphere of panic at the politically sensitive Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder has made very prejudicial comments pursuant to his assertion that his lawyers considering how they may prosecute Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks leader.

Mr. Holder declared that both “the national security of the United States” and “the American people have been put at risk.” This level of alarm was not shared by the public statements of defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of States Hillary Clinton who downplayed the impact of these disclosures.

The Attorney General, who should be directing more of his resources to the corporate crime wave in all its financial, economic and hazardous manifestations, is putting himself in a bind.

If he goes after WikiLeaks too broadly using the notorious Espionage Act of 1917 and other vague laws, how is he going to deal with The New York Times and other mass media that reported the disclosures?

Consider what Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith, who was head of the Office of Legal Counsel in George W. Bush’s Justice Department just wrote:

“In Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward, with the obvious assistance of many top Obama administration officials, disclosed many details about top secret programs, code names, documents, meetings, and the like. I have a hard time squaring the anger the government is directing towards WikiLeaks with its top officials openly violating classification rules and opportunistically revealing without authorization top secret information.”

On the other hand, if Mr. Holder goes the narrow route to obtain an indictment of Mr. Assange, he will risk a public relations debacle by vindictively displaying prosecutorial abuse (i.e. fixing the law around the enforcement bias.) Double standards have no place in the Justice Department.

WikiLeaks is also creating anxiety in the corporate suites. A cover story in the December 20, 2010 issue of Forbes magazine reports that early next year a large amount of embarrassing material will be sent to the media by WikiLeaks about a major U.S. bank, followed by masses of exposé material on other global corporations.

Will these releases inform the people about very bad activities by drug, oil, financial and other companies along with corruption in various countries? If so, people may find this information useful. We can only imagine what sleazy or illegal things our government has been up to that have been covered up. Soon, people may reject those who would censor WikiLeaks. Many people do want to size up what’s going on inside their government in their name and with their tax dollars.

Wasn’t it Jefferson who said that “information is the currency of democracy” and that, given a choice between government and a free press, he’ll take the latter? Secrecy-keeping the people and Congress in the dark-is the cancer eating at the vitals of democracy.

What is remarkable about all the official hullabaloo by government officials,who leak plenty themselves, is that there never is any indictment or prosecution of government big wigs who continually suppress facts and knowledge in order to carry out very devastating actions like invading Iraq under false pretenses and covering up corporate contractors abuses. The morbid and corporate-indentured secrecy of government over the years has cost many American lives, sent Americans to illegal wars, bilked consumers of billions of dollars and harmed the safety and economic well-being of workers.

As Cong. Ron Paul said on the House floor, why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our government’s failure to protect classified information? He asked his colleagues which events caused more deaths, “Lying us into war, or the release of the WikiLeaks papers?”

Over-reaction by the Obama administration could lead to censoring the Internet, undermining Secretary Clinton’s Internet Freedom initiative, which criticized China’s controls and lauded hacktivism in that country, and divert attention from the massive over classification of documents by the Executive Branch.

A full throttle attack on WikiLeaks is what the government distracters want in order to take away the spotlight of the disclosures on their misdeeds, their waste and their construction of an authoritarian corporate state.

Professor and ex-Bushite Jack Goldsmith summed up his thoughts this way: “The best thing to do….would be to ignore Assange and fix the secrecy system so this does not happen again.”

That presumably is some of what Peter Zatko and his crew are now trying to do at the Pentagon’s famed DARPA unit. That secret initiative may ironically undermine the First Amendment should they succeed too much in hamstringing the Internet earlier advanced by that same Pentagon unit.

December 24, 2010

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. Visit his website.

Copyright © 2010 Ralph Nader

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Ron Paul’s Take on Wikileaks

U.S. Government’s Lies Killed Thousands of People – WikiLeaks’s Truth Killed Nobody

FROM: http://www.ronpaul.com/

Ron Paul criticized the U.S. government’s efforts to shut down WikiLeaks and attack Julian Assange, and compared the murderous consequences of the U.S. government’s lies to the fact that not a single life has been lost due to the WikiLeaks revelations.

He also commented briefly on the prospects for a 2012 run for the presidency, and on his son Rand Paul moving into his condominium in Virginia.

 

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What the State Fears Most: Information

by Jonathan M. Finegold Catalán

An MP3 audio file of this article, read by Steven Ng, is available for download.

History tells a cyclical story of man versus state: man persistently creating new ideas and the state tirelessly laboring to destroy them. Bureaucracy has never been a friend to the ideas that undermine its artificial legitimacy.

All too often, history provides us with examples of state-enforced book burnings and other forms of extreme censorship. Many of us today take our so-called freedom of speech for granted, and few realize just how pervasive government censorship remains. It is true that not many of us living today in the industrially advanced world have experienced the worst kinds of censorship[1] – few have memories, for example, of the Nazi book burnings that took place throughout the 1930s, which claimed over 18,000 works.

By and large, efforts to censor were relatively successful until only very recently. Book burnings, especially in more modern times, failed to completely eliminate a book from worldwide circulation, but they most definitely limited circulation within the borders of the governments in question. How many copies of Human Actioncirculated within Nazi Germany between 1940 and 1945? I would venture to guess very few.

The battle has always been between the state and market, or man’s ability to circumvent the tentacles of government through economic progress. Until only very recently, man has been at a technological disadvantage. The ability to evade book burnings amounted to the ability to hide the book. The end of censorship in Germany, for example, came only with the end of the Nazi regime.[2]

Presently, our ability to attain knowledge is threatened because said knowledge represents a threat to the state – not to “national security,” as is claimed, but to the legitimacy of the state itself. Julian Assange, through WikiLeaks, has made available to society a vast collection of information that undermines the state’s legitimacy. Assange cracked the government’s veil of benignity and brought into question the state’s tactics. His website undermines its moral authority.

The threat posed by Assange is underscored by the government’s seemingly disproportionate response. Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, successfully used the power of the state to shut down part of WikiLeaks.[3] He did so by threatening to sanction Amazon, which at the time hosted that part of Assange’s operation.

Amazon’s acquiescence to Lieberman’s demand has brought about a round of recrimination. Most of those upset are justifiably angry at Lieberman, and some have even supported a boycott against Amazon proper (for collusion with the state) – showing that Amazon has more to lose by acting against the will of its customers than it has to gain from complying with government.[4]

Both sides of the debate may have merit. The purpose of the present essay lies elsewhere, however. There is something positive that both sides have neglected to take notice of – WikiLeaks won.

WikiLeaks was only shut down for one dayThe service found a new host, outside the immediate reach of the American government. Bureaucracy has been stumped by a new obstacle that, ironically, it helped to create (although the market let it flourish) – the Internet. Now it is the state that finds itself one step behind. Book burning has been rendered obsolete.

The Internet knows no borders, jurisdictions, or physical limitations. A server in Nigeria can be accessed from the United States. One simply has to look at the number of pirating websites seemingly immune to intellectual-property laws. This global network of information dispersion has made irrelevant the state’s tools of repression: How can a nation’s costume-sporting thugs effectively stop something that does not physically exist within their geographic jurisdiction? How can a government threaten with regulation an entity that operates outside its ability to enforce its laws? The state has been left behind.

True, governments have had some success censoring the Internet through security blocks and similar tactics, but just how effective these means have been is up for scrutiny. Even China’s vast army of “Internet police” has been ineffective at stopping the less technically challenged individuals from evading their firewalls.

How many times has an individual brought about such a reaction to a blatant attack on the state? How many times has that individual gotten away with it? More importantly, how many times has the government responded with force and failed? The recent events illustrate that government is losing and the market is winning.

One hundred years ago, or even 40 or 50 years ago, such a tyrant as Lieberman would have most likely been a feared man in whatever country he could enforce his censorship. Today men like Lieberman are nearing irrelevancy. What greater satisfaction can there be than seeing a despot stripped of his power?

Some may fear that the uncontrollable nature of the Internet might stimulate more pervasive forms of government intervention and regulation. That is, that the Internet may force the state to grow at a faster pace than it already is. Perhaps an “Internet police” is in the United States’ future (if it doesn’t already exist).

I say bring it. It is worthwhile to consider the following passage from Ludwig von Mises’s Human Action,

In the long run there is no such thing as an unpopular government. Civil war and revolution are the means by which the discontented majorities overthrow rulers and methods of government which do not suit them.[5]

What Mises meant is that government’s legitimacy stems from the people it purports to rule. Government can survive only to the extent that it exists without creating overbearing costs for the citizenry it lives on. The nature of government as an ever-growing bureaucracy suggests its incompatibility with society, since government growth undermines its own authority. Thus, the faster it does this the better – and because the relevant growth will take place in an area that all Americans hold dear, it will make government’s crookedness all the more obvious.

The revolution that Mises spoke of has been occurring since time immemorial – it is the perpetual clash between man and state. Historically, man has been limited by strength. A revolution could only succeed if it physically overpowered the state’s thugs. Such means of revolution are beginning to be outmoded, because technological advances, such as the Internet, have made the state’s thugs powerless.

We are above emulating the state’s tactics. The role of ideas has become so comprehensive that even government-empowered gangsters are susceptible once they realize just how ridiculous they have been made to look.

Just how extensive or important the role of the Internet is in the fight against tyranny will be for the historian to tell. It might be the case that man has not yet developed the necessary tools to protect his interests against the hegemonic relationship he is forced to accept with the state. The purpose of this essay is not to exaggerate current events. It is meant to bear witness to how the rules are changing. In human history, the state has rarely failed in the short run in its endeavors to deprive its citizens of knowledge – and it has been the task of bloody revolution to spread this knowledge.

Bloody revolution is no longer with the times, because government’s armies are becoming more and more immaterial. As this WikiLeaks episode unfolds, and as government sows the seeds of its own humiliation, we will see government combated, not by force of arms, but by the supremacy of the market.

Today we have seen bureaucracy in retreat. Once the state is fully denied the use of its force, through the market, we will witness a complete rout.

Notes

[1] This is a general observation, made mostly from an American perspective. Some industrially advanced nations did relatively recently experience extreme censorship. For example, Francisco Franco’s authoritarian regime ended in Spain only 35 years ago.

[2] For East Germany, extreme censorship did not end until 1989.

[3] Rachel Sladja, “How Lieberman Got Amazon to Drop WikiLeaks,” in Talking Points Memo.

[4] The anti-Amazon movement has received mixed reactions from the libertarian community (perhaps a sign of a lack of sufficient strength to make much of an impact). In support of the boycott, see Justin Raimondo, “Defend WikiLeaks – Boycott Amazon,” and Eric Garris, “Boycott Amazon.com.” In opposition, see Lew Rockwell, “Should We Boycott Amazon.com?,” and Robert P. Murphy, “Some Concerns with the Amazon Boycott” and “Still Not Convinced on Amazon Boycott.”

[5] Mises, Ludwig von (1998), Human Action (Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig von Mises Institute), pp. 149–50.

Reprinted from Mises.org.

December 15, 2010

Jonathan M. Finegold Catalán [send him mail] writes from San Diego and studies political science and economics. He blogs at economic thought.net.





Wikileaks Spreads The Love or In Government We Distrust-One Can Hope!

At the bottom of this story is a link to a mirror connector provided by Lew Rockwell‘s site. Please use it. It will use an available mirror site. Each time I have clicked on it I have been sent through a different mirror. If you have concerns about your government tracking where you link, and they likely are,  use a proxy. There are hundreds out there-just google it. (E)

http://www.slate.com/

Why I Love WikiLeaks

For restoring distrust in our most important institutions.

By Jack Shafer
Updated Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, at 5:48 PM ET
Julian Assange. Click image to expand.

Julian Assange

International scandals—such as the one precipitated by this week’s WikiLeaks cable dump—serve us by illustrating how our governments work. Better than any civics textbook, revisionist history, political speech, bumper sticker, or five-part investigative series, an international scandal unmasks presidents and kings, military commanders and buck privates, cabinet secretaries and diplomats, corporate leaders and bankers, and arms-makers and arms-merchants as the bunglers, liars, and double-dealers they are.

The recent WikiLeaks release, for example,shows the low regard U.S. secretaries of state hold for international treaties that bar spying at the United Nations. Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, systematically and serially violated those treaties to gain an incremental upper hand. And they did it in writing! That Clinton now decries Julian Assange’s truth-telling as an “attack” on America but excuses her cavalier approach to treaty violation tells you all you need to know about U.S. diplomacy.

As WikiLeaks proved last summer, the U.S. military lied about not keeping body counts in Iraq, even though the press asked for the information a million times. Indeed, the history of scandal in America is the history of institutions and individuals routinely surpassing our darkest assumptions of their perfidy.

Whenever scandal rears its head—Charles Rangel’s financial dealings, the subprime crash, the Valerie Plame affair, Jack Abramoff and Randy Cunningham‘s crimes, Bernie Kerik’s indiscretions, water-boarding, Ted Stevens’ convictions, the presidential pardon of Marc Rich, the guilty pleas of Webster Hubbell, the Monica Lewinsky thing, the Iran-contra scandal, the Iran-contra pardons, the savings-and-loan fiasco, BCCI, and so on—we’re hammered by how completely base and corrupt our government really is.*

We shouldn’t be surprised by the recurrence of scandals, but, of course, we always are. Why is that? Is it because when scandal rips up the turf, revealing the vile creepy-crawlies thrashing and scurrying about, we’re glad when authority intervenes to quickly tamp the grass back down and re-establish our pastoral innocence with bland assurances that the grubby malfeasants are mere outliers and one-offs who will be punished? Is it because our schooling has left us hopelessly naïve about how the world works? Or do we just fail to pay attention?

Information conduits like Julian Assange shock us out of that complacency. Oh, sure, he’s a pompous egomaniac sporting a series of bad haircuts and grandiose tendencies. And he often acts without completely thinking through every repercussion of his actions. But if you want to dismiss him just because he’s a seething jerk, there are about 2,000 journalists I’d like you to meet.

The idea of WikiLeaks is scarier than anything the organization has leaked or anything Assange has done because it restores our distrust in the institutions that control our lives. It reminds people that at any given time, a criminal dossier worth exposing is squirreled away in a database someplace in the Pentagon or at Foggy Bottom. Assange’s next stop appears to be Wall Street. According to the New York TimesDealBook, WikiLeaks has targeted Bank of America. Assange foreshadowed this scoop by tellingComputerworld in 2009 of the five gigabytes of data he’d acquired from a B of A executive’s hard drive; this month he toldForbes of an “ecosystem of corruption” he hopes to uncover. Today, he reiterated his intention to take on banks in an interview with Time.

As Assange navigates from military and diplomatic exposés to financial ones this year, his Wall Street targets won’t be able to shield their incompetence and misconduct with lip music about how he has damaged national security and violated the Espionage Act of 1917 and deserves capital punishment. But I’m sure they’ll invoke trade secrets, copyright, privacy, or whatever other legal window dressing they find convenient. Rather than defending their behavior, they’ll imitate Clinton and assail Assange’s methods and practices.

As the Economist put it yesterday, “secrecy is necessary for national security and effective diplomacy.” But it “is also inevitable that the prerogative of secrecy will be used to hide the misdeeds of the permanent state and its privileged agents.”

Assange and WikiLeaks, while not perfect, have punctured the prerogative of secrecy with their recent revelations. The untold story is that while doing the United States’ allies, adversaries, and enemies a favor with his leaks, he’s doing the United States the biggest favor by holding it accountable. As I.F. Stone put it, “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.”

© Copyright 2010 Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC

Wikileaks Mirror Connector

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