Tag Archives: bradley manning

Bradley Manning Trial Begins…Finally

4 Jun

Bradley ManningWhether the Obama administration wanted to punish Bradley Manning with three years of pre-trial imprisonment under the worst conditions, or was just incompetent is a small detail, neither of which reflects well on it.

Well, the court-martial of Bradley Manning is really the last ugly chapter of our sordid and ugly Iraq War. A war that we rushed into catastrophically, in no small part because of extreme government secrecy, is now ending in the trial of a truth teller behind a veil of extreme government secrecy. Now, none of the CIA torturers, much less Bush and Cheney, were put on trial, but Washington has finally found a scapegoat in a young Army private who leaked these important documents. Now, to put things in perspective, this is the biggest security breach in U.S. history, but it’s also less than 1 percent of what Washington classifies in a given year. It has not put us on the brink of total transparency. It has not caused diplomatic Armageddon. And there is no concrete evidence whatsoever that any civilian or soldier has been harmed by the leaks. On the other hand, we have a very clear understanding of what the Iraq War was really all about and what our Afghan War is still all about. And the leaks have sparked important debates and even reforms, and in the case of Tunisia, did help spark an uprising that overthrew a hated dictator there. What’s not to like?

Absolutely nothing. But it’s all in the framing. The prosecution had its own perspective.

In an hour-long opening statement for the prosecution on Monday, Captain Joe Morrow told the court martial that the US army private had been motivated by a craving for “notoriety” that had led him to disregard his extensive training and to the “aid of our adversaries”.

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Leaks, Holder, Manning

3 Jun

U.S. President Obama and Attorney General Holder attend the National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the Capitol in WashingtonWe now know, that the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, personally signed a warrant, to investigate James Rosen, a Fox News reporter, for his role in leaks from a mid-level State Department official, Stephen Kim, that involved a sensitive source in North Korea, Sarah Chayes can write about the frustrations of over-classification.

I was always stunned to hear reporters ask me — as they did half a dozen times when I worked at the Pentagon — to show them some classified document or other. They’d just pop the question blithely, unfazed, without an apparent thought for the implications. My incredulous retort would usually reap an only half-sheepish answer: “Well, I had to ask.”

Countless national security officials have had some version of this conversation – including the State Department security adviser that Fox News correspondent James Rosen allegedly plumbed for information on North Korea. Rosen wrote in an e-mail that he’d “love to see some internal State Department analyses.”

I’ve served on both sides of the line, as an NPR reporter and a Defense Department official, and it’s from that split perspective that I’ve been observing the furor over the seizure of journalists’ telephone and e-mail records in Justice Department investigations of national security leaks. Especially troubling to some reporters and pundits is a search warrant application suggesting that Rosen was “an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator” with his source. Commentators have decried the Justice Department for criminalizing journalism itself.

The value to democracy of a courageous and unfettered press poking into back corners that agencies would rather keep hidden is incontrovertible. But I find myself wondering why journalists shouldn’t shoulder some responsibility for transgressions they often goad their sources to commit.

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The Witchhunt Against Assange

13 May

Wanted: Julian AssangeSay what you will ideologically about Julian Assange, the 41-year old founding editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, but is this abuse of power necessary?

A tiny tip of the vast subterranean network of governmental and intelligence agencies from around the world dedicated to destroying WikiLeaks and arresting its founder, Julian Assange, appears outside the red-brick building on Hans Crescent Street that houses the Ecuadorean Embassy. Assange, the world’s best-known political refugee, has been in the embassy since he was offered sanctuary there last June. British police in black Kevlar vests are perched night and day on the steps leading up to the building, and others wait in the lobby directly in front of the embassy door. An officer stands on the corner of a side street facing the iconic department store Harrods, half a block away on Brompton Road. Another officer peers out the window of a neighboring building a few feet from Assange’s bedroom at the back of the embassy. Police sit round-the-clock in a communications van topped with an array of antennas that presumably captures all electronic forms of communication from Assange’s ground-floor suite.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), or Scotland Yard, said the estimated cost of surrounding the Ecuadorean Embassy from June 19, 2012, when Assange entered the building, until Jan. 31, 2013, is the equivalent of $4.5 million.

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