Tag Archives: wikileaks

Colbert on Manning Conviction

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

 

The Truth About Bradley Manning

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

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

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


The Main Reason Why Americans Need to Stand Against A War With Iran-The People of Iran

The Difference Between You & Me

“The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk together and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same.”

Marjane Satrapi, Author


Blood on Whose Hands?

Chase Madar

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

Lawyer, writer

Bradley Manning, Washington, and the Blood of Civilians

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

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

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

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

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

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

Putting Lives in Danger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Military Whistleblowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Almost Gone by Graham Nash and James Raymond

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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/

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

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

Download (PDF, 669kb)

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1. Innocence is no excuse

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

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

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

3. Common enemies make great friends of despots

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

4. Torture is better when others do it for you

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

5. Botched Covert-Ops are never our fault

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

6. US Tax dollars spent on child trafficking?!

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

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

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

8. Climate “Diplomacy” is a scam

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

9. Human rights abuses as usual

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

10. Protecting torturers is required

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

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Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bradley Manning Faces Death Under New Charge of “Aiding Enemy”

This is the way Statists deal with those who expose their crimes. The evil satanic spawn at the Pentagon and, to be sure within the Obama administration, must dispense with the one person in the entire military industrial complex who had the guts to say NO MORE. The murder and slaughter of innocent women, children and all civilians within Afghanistan, Iraq and every other place the US corporation is involved is an atrocity that should bring the death penalty to any officer and senior enlisted persons involved.

Bradly Manning saw crimes being committed in the name of the American people and decided it needed to be exposed to the world. He made no money, received nothing and expected to be imprisoned for his willingness to do the right thing. So far as I know, he is not a believer and yet has more integrity and righteousness than all those who say they follow Jesus or even Yahshua and yet, support or are a part of these atrocities as military personnel.

Something is wrong here folks. Evangelicals are going around calling Manning all kinds of names while supporting the dumping of radioactive waste on innocent civilians in those places where we are engaged that will leave those nations with horrible birth defects and DNA destruction that will continue to plague them for generations, probably hundreds of years.

We think we will liberate them, yet we will bring their revenge down upon our heads. Not only that but we also have YHWH to worry about since He brought great judgment to both Judah and Israel for how they treated the widows, orphans and poor. Do not forget that even Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for these reasons not, as we have been taught, for Sodomy alone. See:

Eze 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

 

This is what YHWH speaks to those who would support the of slaughter innocents:

Isa 1:15-17

15. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

 

 

16. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17. Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

 

 

 

“I’m shocked that the military opted to charge Pfc. Bradley Manning today with the capital offense of “aiding the enemy”. While the military is down playing the fact, the option to execute Bradley has been placed on the table. It’s beyond ironic that leaked US State Department cables have contributed to revolution and revolt in dictatorships across the Middle East and North Africa, yet an American may be executed, or at best face life in prison, for being the primary whistleblower. Millions of Americans, and even more internationally, clearly understand the contribution of Pfc. Manning towards not only freedom of information, but literally freedom itself. It’s hard for me to reconcile that with the US Army’s additional criminal charges against Pfc. Manning today.”
– Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist / Bradley Manning Support Network


US ARMY NEWS RELEASE BY JOINT FORCE HQ-NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE #11-04, DATE: March 2, 2011

ADDITIONAL CHARGES PREFERRED AGAINST PRIVATE 1st CLASS BRADLEY E. MANNING

FORT LESLEY J. MCNAIR, D.C. – After seven months of additional investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC) and other investigative agencies, the U.S. Army has charged Pvt. 1st Class Bradley E. Manning with 22 additional charges. These charges allege that as a military intelligence analyst, Manning introduced unauthorized software onto government computers to extract classified information, unlawfully downloaded it, improperly stored it, and transmitted the classified data for public release and use by the enemy. The investigation is still ongoing.

“The new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes that Pvt. 1st Class Manning is accused of committing,” said Capt. John Haberland, a legal spokesperson for U.S. Army Military District of Washington. “The new charges will not affect Pvt. 1st Class Manning’s right to a speedy trial or his pretrial confinement,” he added.

On March 1, the commander, U.S. Army Headquarters Command Battalion, preferred the following specific charges:

  • Aiding the enemy in violation of Article 104, Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)
  • 16 Specifications under Article 134, UCMJ:
  • Wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy (One Specification)
  • Theft of Public Property or Records, in violation of 18 United States Code (U.S.C.) 641 (Five Specifications)
  • Transmitting Defense Information, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 793(e) (Eight Specifications)
  • Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Computers in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(1) (Two Specifications)
  • Five Specifications in violation of Article 92, UCMJ, for violating Army Regulations 25-2 “Information Assurance” and 380-5 “Department of the Army Information Security Program.”

The charge of aiding the enemy under Article 104 is a capital offense; however, the prosecution team for the United States has notified the defense that the prosecution will not recommend the death penalty to the Convening Authority, Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, commanding general, U.S. Army Military District of Washington. Under the UCMJ, the Convening Authority ultimately decides what charges to refer to court-martial, and whether to seek the death penalty if Article 104 is referred. Therefore, if convicted of all charges, Manning would face a maximum punishment of reduction to the lowest enlisted pay grade, E-1; total forfeiture of all pay and allowances; confinement for life; and a dishonorable discharge.

At the request of Manning’s defense attorneys, the trial proceedings have been delayed since July 12, 2010, pending the results of a defense requested inquiry into Manning’s mental capacity and responsibility pursuant to Rule for Courts-Martial (R.C.M.) 706. Depending on the results of the R.C.M. 706 board, an Article 32 hearing may follow. An Article 32 hearing is the civilian equivalent of a grand jury, with additional rights afforded to the accused.

Manning remains confined in the Marine Corps Base Quantico Brig in Quantico, Va. He was notified of the additional charges in person during a command visit today. Despite his pretrial confinement, Manning is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The U.S. Army is committed to ensuring the continued safety and well-being of Pvt. 1st Class Manning while in pretrial confinement.

For media queries, please call the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, Public Affairs Office at 202-685-4645.

-30-

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

 

Read more: http://www.bradleymanning.org/16235/bradley-manning-facing-possible-death-penalty-under-new-charges/#ixzz1Gs49Lh2E


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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The Shame of Being an American

 

by Paul Craig Roberts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And America is a superpower, an indispensable nation.

What a total joke!

February 17, 2010

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

Copyright © 2010 Paul Craig Roberts

The Best of Paul Craig Roberts

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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


Visitor provides update on Bradley Manning’s condition

Visitor provides update on Bradley Manning‘s condition

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By Courage to Resist. February 6, 2011

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

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


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)



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

National White House call-in day to support Bradley Manning

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

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

From the Bradley Manning Support Network

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

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

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

Recommended points to make:

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

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

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

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

The Bradley Manning Support Network: www.bradleymanning.org

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

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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.

 

 


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