Powerful and persuasive argument
Chris Cannon: What the Manning case tells us about the U.S. military
(Ottawa Citizen) If Manning is a traitor, we must ask whom Manning betrayed. An American soldier only serves the government in the sense that the government is the people, so for the government to commit and then hide illegal or immoral activities from its own people is a betrayal of that soldier’s faith. A government expecting a soldier to protect secrets it knows are immoral is like a child telling his parents “promise not to be mad” before revealing that he burned down the house.
If a government tricks honourable men and women into doing dishonourable work, then it is they who have broken the unwritten promise to use its soldiers in a manner appropriate to a free democracy. And these are honourable men and women, these soldiers and civilians who must wash and fold America’s dirty laundry. There must have been many who laid eyes on the same material as Manning and wanted to scream. But they didn’t, no doubt, because they were fearful of the repercussions to themselves and their families. And now that fear is justified.
We Americans must accept that these are not our government’s secrets, they are ours, but we trust our leaders to keep them from us in good conscience. If we find that trust is betrayed and we do nothing — or worse, we blame the messenger — then we are accessories to the crimes committed in our names. So Manning is locked away, and the message has been sent to whistleblowers everywhere. The question we are left to contend with: How safe do we feel now?
Bradley Manning Announces Female Identity And Wants To Live As A Woman Named Chelsea
(Reuters) – Bradley Manning, sentenced to 35 years in military prison for the biggest breach of classified U.S. documents in U.S. history, said in a statement on Thursday she is female and wants to live as a woman named Chelsea.
“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning, I am a female,” Manning, 25, said in the statement read on NBC News’ “Today” show.
“Given the way that I feel and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible,” Manning said. “I also request that starting today you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun.”
Manning’s lawyer David Coombs said on the program that he expected Manning to get a pardon from President Barack Obama.
Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years
A military judge sentenced Private First Class Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison Wednesday for providing more than 700,000 government files to WikiLeaks, a leak that lifted the veil on military and diplomatic activities around the world.
The sentence is the longest handed down in a case involving a leak of U.S. government information to be reported to the public. Pfc. Manning will apparently be eligible for parole in slightly more than eight years. …
Pfc. Manning’s sentence must be reviewed by the convening authority, a general who oversees the Military District of Washington and has the power to reduce it but not add to it. The case will then automatically be sent to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.
Mr. Coombs argued that Pfc. Manning had leaked the files because he wanted to start a public debate and bring about change on matters like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, back-room diplomatic dealings and prisoners who are held without trial at Guantanamo Bay.
But Mr. Coombs, seeking leniency, also argued that his client was naive and confused at the time by stresses including going through a crisis over his gender identity while on a military deployment to a combat zone. He elicited testimony showing that the military had played down serious and recurring signs that his client’s mental health was deteriorating, noting that had the military responded differently, his client might not have had access to classified information.
(BBC) Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years in Wikileaks case
Bradley Manning trial: six things we learned
(The Guardian) As the army private awaits news of his sentencing, here’s a look at the intriguing nuggets which emerged from his court martial
WikiLeaks’ Teenage Benedict Arnold
How the FBI used a baby-faced WikiLeaks volunteer to spy on Julian Assange.
When he met Julian Assange for the first time, Sigurdur Thordarson admired the WikiLeaks founder’s attitude and quickly signed up to the cause. But little more than a year later, Thordarson was working as an informant spying on WikiLeaks for the U.S. government—embroiling himself as a teenager in one of the most complicated international events in recent history.
In a series of interviews with Slate, Thordarson has detailed the full story behind how, in an extraordinary sequence of events, he went from accompanying Assange to court hearings in London to secretly passing troves of data on WikiLeaks staff and affiliated activists to the FBI. The 20-year-old Icelandic citizen’s account is partly corroborated by authorities in Iceland, who have confirmed that he was at the center of a diplomatic row in 2011 when a handful of FBI agents flew in to the country to meet with him—but were subsequently asked to leave after a government minister suspected they were trying to “frame” Assange.
Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who laid bare America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by covertly transmitting a massive trove of sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks, has been convicted on 19 of 21 charges, including 6 counts of espionage. He was found not guilty of aiding the enemy, the most serious and controversial charge laid against him.
After warning a courtroom packed with 30 spectators, almost all of them Manning supporters, that she would accept no disruptions, the judge overseeing his military court martial, Col. Denise Lind, rapidly delivered her verdict in a crisp voice.
For journalists watching the proceedings from a remote media room, there was no time to gauge Manning’s reaction before the military cut off a live feed from the courtroom.
The prosecution’s novel legal theory that Manning knew his disclosures to WikiLeaks, once published on the Internet, would wind up in al Qaeda’s possession could have had implications that extended beyond the fate of the 25-year-old Crescent, Okla., native.
Although he had admitted the underlying fact of his disclosures to WikiLeaks, and to many of the lesser charges against him, the prosecution nonetheless went ahead with trying to prove Manning was guilty of aiding al Qaeda. Press freedom advocates had warned that if he was convicted on that count, the verdict would threaten to criminalize both journalists and their sources — a possibility that still lingers on with the Espionage Act convictions. (30 July 2013)
Julian Assange says Bradley Manning verdict is ‘dangerous precedent’ as whistleblower faces sentencing
Charge carried possible life sentence, although he will now be sentenced after convictions on lesser charges of espionage and theft
(The Independent) Following the verdict, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accused President Barack Obama of “national security extremism,” referring to Manning “the most important journalistic source the world has ever seen”.
“The government kept Bradley Manning in a cage, stripped him naked and isolated him in order to break him, an act formally condemned by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for torture. This was never a fair trial,” Assange said from inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, his home for more than a year.
Amy Davidson: Manning’s Convictions and His Victory
(The New Yorker) In a hearing that opens on Wednesday, Colonel Denise Lind, a military judge, will decide whether to sentence Bradley Manning to a hundred and thirty-six years in prison or some lesser span of time. (There’s no minimum.) As soon as the term is decided, she will subtract a hundred and twelve days—a sanction on the government for its illegal treatment of Manning during the months he was kept in solitary confinement. As big and as small as those numbers are, Manning, who gave hundreds of thousands of classified battlefield reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks when he was a twenty-two-year-old Army specialist, won something on Tuesday, even as he was convicted of twenty counts ranging from theft of government property and computer fraud to half a dozen violations of the Espionage Act. Lind, who heard the case—Manning waived a trial by a military jury—acquitted him on the most serious charge, of aiding the enemy. That one carried a life sentence; it would also have set a dangerous precedent about what it means to harm the United States and to have a free press.
Michael Moore: What Bradley Manning’s Sentence Will Tell Us About Our Military Justice System
Today Bradley Manning was convicted on 20 of 22 counts, including violating the Espionage Act, releasing classified information and disobeying orders. That’s the bad news. The good news is he was found not guilty on the charge of “aiding the enemy.” That’s ’cause who he was aiding was us, the American people. And we’re not the enemy. Right?
… When you hear about how long Manning – now 25 years old – will be in prison, compare it to sentences received by other soldiers … My guess is Bradley Manning will spend more time in jail than all of the other soldiers in all of these cases put together. And thus, instead of redeeming ourselves and asking forgiveness for the crimes that Spc. Manning exposed, we will reaffirm to the world who we really are.
The Guardian WikiLeaksarchives
NYT WikiLeaks State’s secrets
A mammoth cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the last three years, provides an unprecedented look at bargaining by embassies, candid views of foreign leaders and assessments of threats. The material was obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations in advance.
The Guardian: The U.S. embassy cables
WikiLeaked is FP’s blog dedicated to sorting through the more than 250,000 State Department cables acquired by WikiLeaks as they are gradually made public. FP’s editors and contributors provide a guided tour of the documents, highlighting the most important, surprising, and just plain entertaining details from the WikiLeaks archive and putting them in context, explaining what matters, what doesn’t, and why.
Spiegel’s full coverage of WikiLeaks Diplomatic cables
No Secrets: Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency.
by Raffi Khatchadourian June 7, 2010
(The New Yorker) … WikiLeaks is not quite an organization; it is better described as a media insurgency. It has no paid staff, no copiers, no desks, no office. Assange does not even have a home. He travels from country to country, staying with supporters, or friends of friends—as he once put it to me, “I’m living in airports these days.” He is the operation’s prime mover, and it is fair to say that WikiLeaks exists wherever he does. At the same time, hundreds of volunteers from around the world help maintain the Web site’s complicated infrastructure; many participate in small ways, and between three and five people dedicate themselves to it full time. Key members are known only by initials—M, for instance—even deep within WikiLeaks, where communications are conducted by encrypted online chat services. The secretiveness stems from the belief that a populist intelligence operation with virtually no resources, designed to publicize information that powerful institutions do not want public, will have serious adversaries.
Gwynne Dyer: Is Julian Assange a political martyr?
(Straight.com) … So is there really an American plot to whisk Assange away and lock him up for good?
There’s no question that many senior American officials would like to do exactly that. … However, the official American outrage that prompted those comments was triggered by Assange’s big document dump in November, 2010. The incidents in Stockholm and the Swedish request for his extradition happened before that.
There is also the question of why it would be easier for the U.S. government to extradite Assange from Sweden than from the United Kingdom, assuming that it eventually does indict him? There is a serious question as to whether US laws on treason, espionage, etc. can be applied to a foreign citizen who has never lived there.
More importantly, London and Stockholm would both be deeply reluctant to hand Assange over to the tender mercies of the American justice system. They would face a huge outcry from their own citizens, most of whom think that WikiLeaks is a useful check on the untrammelled exercise of American power in the world: the domestic political price would be too great.
Indeed, the remarkable absence of a U.S. indictment and a subsequent demand for extradition after all this time suggests that Washington knows there would be no point. So there probably isn’t a U.S. plot to grab Assange.
There probably wasn’t a rape either, but that’s for the Swedish courts to decide. Assange should allow them to get on with it.
WikiLeaks’ long, strange tail
By Daryl Copeland |
(iPolitics Insight) Irony and paradox, as elements of art, add texture, depth and complexity.
The same is true in life, and perhaps nowhere more so than in the ever-surprising case of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks and for many a champion of the freedom of information, a resister of arbitrary authority and a defender of the public interest. …
The fact that Mr. Assange has thrown his fate upon the tender mercies of diplomacy might be considered rather curious in the wake of his central role in “Cablegate”, the publication in 2010-11 of over 250,000 US-origin diplomatic cables on the WikiLeaks site. That episode, by exposing the innermost workings of the world’s second oldest profession, appeared intended to damage and discredit the integrity of the very institution upon which Assange is now relying.
And the irony has been compounded. By showing diplomats hard at work doing their best to advance national interests around the world 24/7, and writing capably about their efforts, the longer-term impact of “Cablegate” has been to burnish diplomacy’s image and reputation.
Be that as it may, I would like to table some additional thoughts regarding both Mr. Assange and the WikiLeaks enterprise. When the larger picture is assessed, some other interesting patterns emerge.
WikiLeaks and Free Speech
By MICHAEL MOORE and OLIVER STONE
(NYT op-ed) WE have spent our careers as filmmakers making the case that the news media in the United States often fail to inform Americans about the uglier actions of our own government. We therefore have been deeply grateful for the accomplishments of WikiLeaks, and applaud Ecuador’s decision to grant diplomatic asylum to its founder, Julian Assange, who is now living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
… Since WikiLeaks’ founding, it has revealed the “Collateral Murder” footage that shows the seemingly indiscriminate killing of Baghdad civilians by a United States Apache attack helicopter; further fine-grained detail about the true face of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; United States collusion with Yemen’s dictatorship to conceal our responsibility for bombing strikes there; the Obama administration’s pressure on other nations not to prosecute Bush-era officials for torture; and much more.
Predictably, the response from those who would prefer that Americans remain in the dark has been ferocious.
… If Mr. Assange is extradited to the United States, the consequences will reverberate for years around the world. Mr. Assange is not an American citizen, and none of his actions have taken place on American soil. If the United States can prosecute a journalist in these circumstances, the governments of Russia or China could, by the same logic, demand that foreign reporters anywhere on earth be extradited for violating their laws. The setting of such a precedent should deeply concern everyone, admirers of WikiLeaks or not.
Viva Assange! Latin American groups rally around Ecuador’s asylum decision.
(CSM) Latin American groups say that Ecuador’s decision to grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a matter of sovereignty.
Julian Assange urges US to release Bradley Manning and end ‘witch-hunt’
From London’s Ecuadorian embassy, WikiLeaks founder thanks supporters and asks Obama to ‘do the right thing’
Asylum for Assange
(The Economist) … the Foreign Office may be right to question whether Ecuador’s actions adhere to the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. … Mr Assange’s request for asylum was preceded by lengthy talks with the populist regime. According to an official close to Mr Correa, the president gave his approval for Mr Assange’s asylum request on the condition that it would be a straightforward matter. But unbeknownst to his inexperienced crop of diplomats, says the official, European countries, unlike Latin American ones, mostly do not accept the concept of diplomatic asylum.
Assange asylum case ripples through Latin America Ecuador’s decision to grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could have an impact on extradition cases throughout Latin America.
Ecuador Mulls Giving Julian Assange Asylum
(Voice of America) Ecuador says it is giving serious consideration to giving Julian Assange political asylum, after the founder of the WikiLeaks website made the request at the country’s embassy in London. British authorities say they will arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy.
2 February 2012
Extradition fight: Who is Julian Assange, why is Sweden seeking him?
(BBC) A British court is hearing a final appeal from Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks whistleblower site, to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations. Mr. Assange has made many powerful enemies, including the US government. Here are four questions about the man and the case.
Jonathan Kay on the fall of Julian Assange: Couldn’t happen to a better anarchist
Assange was no genius: The technology behind WikiLeaks’ website is relatively simple. And in any case, most of the technical work was done by Domscheit-Berg and other subordinates. Assange’s main contribution to the project was charisma: He inspired the people around him to believe there was something noble and virtuous about sabotaging the interests of Western governments in the name of some vague, utopian doctrine of information freedom.
In truth, he is a hypocrite and a narcissist — and the world will be a better place if WikiLeaks never publishes another document.
The ‘Getting’ of Assange And The Smearing Of A Revolution
(Information Clearing House) it is not the Swedish judicial system that presents a “grave danger” to Assange, say his lawyers, but a legal device known as a Temporary Surrender, under which he can be sent on from Sweden to the United States secretly and quickly. The founder and editor of WikiLeaks, who published the greatest leak of official documents in history, providing a unique insight into rapacious wars and the lies told by governments, is likely to find himself in a hell hole not dissimilar to the “torturous” dungeon that held Private Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower.
Julian Assange faces arrest in Australia over unredacted WikiLeaks cables
Government says at least one intelligence official identified after complete cache of cables was published
(The Guardian) WikiLeaks published its entire cache of US diplomatic cables without redactions to protect those named within, a move condemned by all five of the whistleblowing website’s original media partners. Why was Spiegel so quick to decide that this was done by mistake? Accidental Release of US Cables Endangers Sources 29/08
U.S. contrasted ‘forceful’ Rae, ‘meek’ Ignatieff: WikiLeaks
Cables released by WikiLeaks offer candid impressions of 2 Liberals
New Book from Assange’s Deputy: The Difficult Partnership of WikiLeaks’ Leadership Duo
(Spiegel) The release of a new book by former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg marks the end of a friendship with Julian Assange. But the book lacks the kind of analysis of WikiLeaks’ influence on politics that one might have hoped for. It often feels more like the story of a spurned lover than an important historical account.
WikiLeaks nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Making governments accountable leads to peace, nominator says
An Inside Look at Difficult Negotiations with Julian Assange
By Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark
(Spiegel) In an excerpt from a new book, Holger Stark and Marcel Rosenbach recount the tense negotiations with Julian Assange in the run-up to the publication of the diplomatic cables.
Dealing With Assange and the Secrets He Spilled
By BILL KELLER
(NYT) Is the WikiLeaks founder a puppet master of the news media? He would like you to think so. But The Times’s dealings with him reveal a different story.
Bill Keller is the executive editor of The New York Times. This essay is adapted from his introduction to “Open Secrets: WikiLeaks, War and American Diplomacy: Complete and Expanded Coverage from The New York Times,” an ebook available for purchase at nytimes.com/opensecrets.
WikiLeaks unlikely to release Swiss bank data soon
(Reuters) – WikiLeaks is unlikely anytime soon to make public material provided to it this week by Swiss bank whistleblower Rudolf Elmer, according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and sources close to Elmer.
(Reuters) Swiss whistleblower hands bank data to WikiLeaks
Ex-banker hands over data on offshore accounts to Assange
Elmer says wants to disclose “damaging” money flows
WikiLeaks to vet data before publication
David T. Jones: Another Take on WikiLeakage
(Penn Gazette) … Observers may have noticed that nothing regarding the Middle East Peace Process has been revealed. Essentially, for years, these negotiations were undertaken by a small, dedicated team virtually without the reporting cable/record keeping/memcon drafting that characterized other negotiations. Why? Because the Middle East negotiators feared that such reporting and assessments would be leaked–not by Mr Assange, who didn’t exist as a political force in that era, but by others with “dogs in the fight.” Thus in balancing the virtues and liabilities of small team/close hold style, this time the virtues won out. The odds are that more negotiating will be done in that style, emphasizing “not for the system” communications and scrambled/secure voice approach. Diplomats with total recall memories will be much in demand.
The event also raises the troubling societal/security question regarding why it is the US Government that has been so plagued by massive security breaches. From the “Pentagon Papers” to Inside the Company: CIA Diary, we have had massive security breaches (not even mentioning the earlier WikiLeaks releases addressing US Government activity in Iraq/Afghanistan). There are other democratic, open Western societies that put a high premium on freedom of speech/press–and obviously keep extensive archives of their governments’ confidential activities. But these do not appear–certainly not in significant quantities–in the local media. We will be going back to the basics of document and internal security to find systemic causes for these hemorrhages rather than just mopping up the blood afterwards.
16 December 2010
(Stratfor) Taking Stock of WikiLeaks
Julian Assange has declared that geopolitics will be separated into pre-“Cablegate” and post-“Cablegate” eras. That was a bold claim. However, given the intense interest that the leaks produced, it is a claim that ought to be carefully considered. Several weeks have passed since the first of the diplomatic cables were released, and it is time now to address the following questions: First, how significant were the leaks? Second, how could they have happened? Third, was their release a crime? Fourth, what were their consequences? Finally, and most important, is the WikiLeaks premise that releasing government secrets is a healthy and appropriate act a tenable position?
… U.S. diplomats come away looking sharp, insightful and decent. While their public statements after a conference may be vacuous, it is encouraging to see that their read of the situation and of foreign leaders is unsentimental and astute. Everything from memos on senior leaders to anonymous snippets from apparently junior diplomats not only are on target (in the sense that STRATFOR agrees with them) but are also well-written and clear. I would argue that the leaks paint a flattering picture overall of the intellect of U.S. officials without revealing, for the most part, anything particularly embarrassing.
Diplomats’ work hobbled by revelations
(The Independent) The US government is being forced to undertake a major reshuffle of the embassy staff whose work has been laid bare by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.
A mere 1,100 of the roughly 250,000 secret documents obtained by the website have so far been published, leading to fears that the unhelpful revelations will continue for months to come, destabilising US relations with almost all of its key allies and inflaming tensions with already-hostile governments in the Middle East and beyond. “In the short run, we’re almost out of business,” a senior US diplomat told the Reuters news agency, saying it could take five years to rebuild trust.
Tom Friedman: The Big American Leak
Fifty years ago, the world was shaped in a certain way, to promote certain values, because America had the leverage to shape it that way. We have been steadily losing that leverage because of our twin addictions to Middle East oil and Chinese credit — and the WikiLeaks show just what crow we have to eat because of that. I know, some problems — like how we deal with a failing state like Pakistan that also has nukes — are innately hard, and ending our oil and credit addictions alone will not solve them. But it sure would give us more leverage to do so — and more insulation from the sheer madness of the Middle East if we can’t.
Cables Depict Range of Obama Diplomacy
Now we know, from the granular picture of engagement-in-action that emerges from that trove of 250,000 WikiLeaks cables, many from the first 13 months of the Obama presidency. Mr. Obama’s style seems to be: Engage, yes, but wield a club as well — and try to counter the global doubts that he is willing to use it.
David Jones: WikiLeaks document deluge remains a diplomatic, public relations disaster, says former diplomat
Forewarned is forearmed, but however useful the ‘forearming,’ WikiLeaks releases were a nasty body blow.
… the United States really must do more to secure its classified material. We have made a fetish over the First Amendment right to publish, but other states have free speech without suffering WikiLeaks equivalents. Do we need tighter personnel screening? Vigorous prosecution of violations by those who assume their “virtue” trumps stodgy government regulations? One hesitates to think of the fate of the WikiLinks founder had he been publishing Kremlin documents.
It is not a question regarding whether foreign officials will talk with U.S. diplomats—talk yes, but trust? WikiLeaks may be forgiven, but hardly forgotten.
WikiLeaks Founder on the Run, Trailed by Notoriety
In his remarkable journey to notoriety, Mr. Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowers’ Web site, sees the next few weeks as his most hazardous. Now he is making his most brazen disclosure yet: 391,832 secret documents on the Iraqi war. He held a news conference in London on Saturday, saying that the release “constituted the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record.”
Twelve weeks ago, he posted on his organization’s Web site some 77,000 classified Pentagon documents on the Afghan conflict.
Much has changed since 2006, when Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, used years of computer hacking and what friends call a near genius I.Q. to establish WikiLeaks, redefining whistle-blowing by gathering secrets in bulk, storing them beyond the reach of governments and others determined to retrieve them, then releasing them instantly, and globally.
Now it is not just governments that denounce him: some of his own comrades are abandoning him for what they see as erratic and imperious behavior, and a nearly delusional grandeur unmatched by an awareness that the digital secrets he reveals can have a price in flesh and blood.
Several WikiLeaks colleagues say he alone decided to release the Afghan documents without removing the names of Afghan intelligence sources for NATO troops. “We were very, very upset with that, and with the way he spoke about it afterwards,” said Birgitta Jonsdottir, a core WikiLeaks volunteer and a member of Iceland’s Parliament. “If he could just focus on the important things he does, it would be better.”