User Picture

Quantico Brig Staff Mostly Ignored Recommendations Medical Staff Made on Bradley Manning

By: Kevin Gosztola Thursday July 14, 2011 3:33 pm

A Freedom of Information Act request for documents on accused whistleblower to WikiLeaks Pfc. Bradley Manning’s treatment at Quantico Marine brig, filed by POLITICO, reveals on multiple occasions Manning was recommended for removal from “prevention of injury” (POI) status by psychiatrists and psychologists but was not removed.

Chief Warrant Officer-5 Abel Galaviz’s inquiry, launched as a result of Manning’s Article 138 complaint found “brig personnel ignored the Navy Corrections Manual when they kept Manning on suicide watch in August 2010 and January 2011 for several days after doctors said it was inappropriate. (Article 138 is a right soldiers have under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that any soldier can use to request redress if a soldier believes his or herself has been wronged.)

Galaviz also found, in regards to suicide risk status that “on two occasions, 6 August 2010 and 18 January 2011, a medical officer determined that suicide risk status was no longer warranted and the brig staff did not immediately take PFC Manning off the suicide risk status.” He recommended, “Brig staff remove confinees from suicide risk immediately upon receiving a medical officer’s evaluation.”

The February inquiry conducted in February, however, found that “Chief Warrant Officer 4 Averhart did not abuse his discretion when he classified PFC Manning as a maximum custody detainee.”

Col. Daniel Choike issued a memo in March in response to the inquiry findings. As Josh Gerstein notes he “embraced” much of the inquiry findings but rejected the “only critique of Manning’s treatment.

“There is no requirement … that requires an immediate removal from suicide risk after the [brig’s] mental health care provider or medical officer recommends it,” Choike wrote to Manning. The delays in removing Manning from suicide watch were “reasonable in light of all the information available to the [brig] commander and applicable … procedures,” Choike concluded. “I do not concur with [Galaviz] that an ‘immediate move’ is required.”

“The memos revealed today by POLITICO confirm that military officials repeatedly violated their own standards of detainee treatment while PFC Manning was held in abusive pre-trial confinement conditions at the Quantico brig. Commander Averhart should never have been put in a position to reject the military’s investigation into his own unprofessional conduct,” said Kevin Zeese, an attorney with the Bradley Manning Support Network. “Justice demands that the charges against PFC Manning be dropped, because the government has acknowledged that they have abused the rights of a soldier in their custody.”

Co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network said, “President Obama can no longer hide behind his subordinates in claiming that the treatment of PFC Manning has met ‘basic standards’ of conduct. Clearly, by the government’s own admission, the treatment of PFC Manning has fallen far short of the standards demanded by the Constitution.”

(photo: Jail cell depicted in Anonymous video message on Manning’s Quantico detention)

Choike’s memo shows an adept ability to play the game of semantics. Choike explains how Manning was not held in solitary confinement:

Maximum custody detainees are held in a specific area in the MCBQ PCF. Because the MCBQ PCF is a pretrial confinement-only facility with limited staff, all detainees are held in single cells within a 30-cell block known as “Special Quarters 1.” This cell block is further broken down into specific areas depending on custody classification or other reasons requiring segregation. Maximum custody detainees are held in cells nearest the guard post to facilitate observation. Additionally, prisoners not classified as maximum custody, but requiring additional supervision and attention may also be moved to cells near the guard post. PFC Manning is being held in Special Quarters 1 with all other detainees; he is not in solitary confinement (MCBQ PCF does not have solitary confinement and reference (b) does not recognize a solitary confinement category.) Consistent with his custody classification, PFC Manning is held in the area in Special Quarters 1 reserved for maximum custody detainees.

Manning may not have been held in what the military considers to be “solitary confinement,” but when he was at Quantico Marine Brig from July 2010 to April  of this year, he was, during his time given a POI status and suicide risk classification, which meant he was required to remain in his cell 24 hours of the day. It required his clothing to be removed except for his underwear and that his prescription eyeglasses be taken away from him. And, this is how his lawyer David Coombs described his detention in January of this year:

For 23 hours per day, he will sit in his cell. The guards will check on him every five minutes by asking him if he is okay. PFC Manning will be required to respond in some affirmative manner. At night, if the guards cannot see him clearly, because he has a blanket over his head or is curled up towards the wall, they will wake him in order to ensure that he is okay. He will receive each of his meals in his cell. He will not be allowed to have a pillow or sheets. He will not be allowed to have any personal items in his cell. He will only be allowed to have one book or one magazine at any given time to read. The book or magazine will be taken away from him at the end of the day before he goes to sleep. He will be prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop. He will receive one hour of exercise outside of his cell daily. The guards will take him to an empty room and allow him to walk. He will usually just walk in figure eights around the room until his hour is complete. When he goes to sleep, he will be required to strip down to his underwear and surrender his clothing to the guards.

The military may not think they were subjecting Manning to solitary confinement or that other soldiers in the brig are subjected to solitary confinement because that is not what they call it or because they specifically have not built a solitary confinement section, but the reality is that Manning (and others) in the prison are held in single cells with little to no contact for 23 hours of the day.

David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network and one of the few people who visited Manning when he was at Quantico, spoke out multiple times, while Manning was held at Quantico. He recently said in an appearance on Democracy Now! this week:

…As time progressed, around December 2010, he had deteriorated to a state where it was very hard to have a conversation with him, where he seemed utterly exhausted, fatigued all the time. And then January 2011 was the point at which he was the worst. It was almost impossible to really talk to him at all, and he looked—he looked like someone who had been held in solitary confinement for some months, you can imagine. It was this odd emotional roller coaster for me, because not only is this my friend, right, who’s being held in confinement, but also you’re actually watching him undergo this deterioration over time, like watching your friend waste away. And I think that seeing him like that and seeing this being an ongoing process was my main motivation in continuing activism for him, going into early this year.

Additionally, this is Choike’s description of how prisoners are given custody statuses:

Custody classification is guided by reference (b) and requires an objective custody classification process. Classification criteria relevant to this case include the seriousness of the offense/potential length of confinement. [REDACTED] Reference (b) makes it clear that the listed factors are not all inclusive and the classification authority may consider other relevant factors in determining the proper custody classification. He was also on suicide risk. These other relevant factors included national security concerns and protection of classified material. [emphasis added]

The commander notes he was facing “serious charges alleging multiple compromises of classified information.” After a redacted portion of text, he says an evaluation of charges and other factors supported a maximum custody classification. It’s noted that serious charges were pending. Yet, Choike also claims that the maximum custody status or suicide risk classifications were not retribution or punishment for his alleged crimes.

This seems semantic too. How could someone alleged to have released classified information to an organization like WikiLeaks need such classification? That doesn’t appear to suggest danger. It seems entirely unnecessary for that to be material to his classification and, when one thinks about it, the classifications seem like a public relations decision. There are people in this country in positions of power that would not have liked it if in his first months in the brig he had not been given these designations.

How does one signal to members of the military not to release information to WikiLeaks or any organization like it? How does one ensure that soldiers do not talk to the press or release photos, videos or documents on their deployment in war zones? Give someone who is accused of releasing information a classification status that is questionable and subject him to a detention regime that could put the fear in soldiers and deter them from taking a similar action.

The released documents contain multiple redactions that are made under FOIA exemption (b)6, which means “Personal Information Affecting an Individual’s Privacy.” As the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer details, “This exemption permits the government to withhold all information about individuals in ‘personnel and medical files and similar files’ when the disclosure of such information ‘would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.’ This exemption cannot be invoked to withhold from a requester information pertaining to the requester.”

Former State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley is right. The Marine Corps should have never had custody of Manning. He should have always been in the hands of the Army. Perhaps, what Manning’s defense should work to obtain is a full inquiry on why he was transferred into Marine custody and not Army custody.

That Manning is now at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas is just another reason to be suspicious of how he was handled at Quantico. That he is now able to move among prisoners in Leavenworth, wear normal prison clothing and have access to a communal area means should lead one to continue doubt the Marine brig’s assertion that he was treated like all the other prisoners. The fact that he was such a high-profile prisoner makes it virtually impossible that the guards and staff treated him like all other prisoners.

*

This week, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez has condemned the US for seeking to impose restrictions on a planned visit with Manning and even prevent him from meeting with Manning. Thus far, he has not met with Manning and now questions whether the US will allow him to visit any of the country’s detainees.

Wired magazine has also finally released what they claim to be the entire chat logs, which they sat on and concealed months after Manning was arrested even though the contents were extremely pertinent to understanding what Manning was thinking when he allegedly chose to release material to WikiLeaks.

With those two news items in mind, along with revelations from this psych evaluation, I give Lt. Dan Choi the last word:

…The chat logs of his conversations are reminiscent of some of the same feelings that go unvoiced by the vast majority of soldiers: questioning the purpose of our mission when politics has mired us in prisons of moral turpitude. That Bradley voiced his concerns proves he was the least unstable and most moral of all the members of his team. That he happens to be gay or transgender gives our community a new hero who brings great credit to the moral force of our people in this world….

…Bradley Manning is a soldier of great honor and we must stand with him in his journey to bring an abiding justice for our world. Those who fear the controversy of truth do not know the responsibility of moral living. Their moral silence is a moral disorder…

 

 

Sen. John McCain Renews Push for Senate Committee to Halt WikiLeaks’ Undermining of America

By: Kevin Gosztola Thursday July 14, 2011 11:05 am

(photo: Wikimedia Commons)

On Wednesday, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona renewed his push for the creation of a temporary Senate committee to investigate WikiLeaks and the hacktivist group Anonymous that would be called the Committee on Cyber Security and Electronic Intelligence Leaks.

In a letter to Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, he urges the creation of a committee to get around the issue of “competing committees of jurisdiction.” (Essentially, establishing the committee means no discussion over who has the right to develop legislation to take down WikiLeaks or Anonymous once and for all. Every senator will have an opportunity for glory now, however, only a few will be chosen.)

McCain opens by suggesting a committee must be developed to address “the continuing risk of insider threats that caused thousands of documents to be posted on the website WikiLeaks.”  The alleged whistleblower to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning may have been on the inside, however, as far as one can tell, he does not fit the classic definition of an insider. His story is different from Aldrich Ames, an insider who did commit real espionage against the United States, at all. Manning did not do what he is alleged to have done for money. He did not allegedly give secrets to another country like Russia, China or Iran but WikiLeaks.

The White House and several committees in Congress have been deliberating over the development of national cybersecurity proposals that can be implemented. As McCain notes, “The White House put forward a legislative proposal in May and the Department of Energy put forth requirements and responsibilities for a cyber security program that same month.  Earlier this month, the Department of Commerce sought comment on its proposal to establish voluntary codes of behavior to improve cyber security and the Department of Defense issued its strategy for operating in cyberspace.”

McCain argues the development of cybersecurity policy and legislation would benefit from using a model recommended by the 9/11 Commission Report for the organization of a committee that a small group of members could be a part of to conduct oversight of the intelligence establishment. He says it would help the creation of “adequate safeguards to detect and defeat any insider threat of disclosure of classified documents such as we experienced with the Wikileaks fiasco that endangered the security of many of our nation’s diplomats and soldiers serving abroad.”

That diplomats or soldiers serving abroad have been endangered is phony and speculative in the same way that former Vice President Dick Cheney or Karl Rove’s suggestion voting John Kerry in 2004 could’ve meant US had another 9/11 was phony and speculative.

There is significant doubt as to whether soldiers or diplomats have been harmed.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on October 17, 2010 “the review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by the disclosure.” A senior NATO official on that same day said, “There has not been a single case of Afghans needing protection.” The Associated Press has reported, “There is no evidence that any Afghans named in the leaked documents as defectors or informants from the Taliban insurgency have been harmed in retaliation.” And Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said on August 11, 2010, “We have yet to see any harm come to anyone in Afghanistan that we can directly tie to exposure in the WikiLeaks documents.”

There is no concrete conclusion that people have suffered or died as a result of the releases.

McCain closes his letter saying:

Just this month former CIA Chief and current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee and said, “The next Pearl Harbor we confront could very well be a cyber attack …”  We must act now and quickly develop and pass comprehensive legislation to protect our electric grid, air traffic control system, water supply, financial networks and defense systems and much more from a cyber attack.

When it comes to WikiLeaks, McCain has raised the issue of WikiLeaks in Senate Armed Services hearings. In a hearing to consider the nomination of General Martin E. Dempsey for appointment to chief of staff of the US Army in March, McCain said, “I’m very concerned about WikiLeaks. Almost daily, we see some additional revelation of the WikiLeaks situation. First of all, how did this happen? And second of all, who has been held responsible for this greatest disclosures, frankly, of classified information in the history of this country?”

During a hearing on defense budget requests for 2012 and future years, McCain asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “Mr. Chairman, just briefly, anything more on the WikiLeaks investigation?” Gates said:

Well, sir, after our last hearing, I went back and — and I had been told that I had to keep my hands off of it because of the criminal investigation, but I have been able to narrow an area of where I have asked the secretary of the army to investigate in terms of procedures and — and the command climate and — and so on that has nothing to do with the individual, the accused individual. But — but to see what lapses there were where somebody perhaps should be held accountable.

McCain considers the release of WikiLeaks cables to be “America’s worst security breach in the history of the country.” That’s quite reactionary when you consider the fact that, in 1942, in the aftermath of the Battle of Midway, the Chicago Tribune published a story strongly suggesting that the decisive American naval victory at Midway owed to the fact that the United States had been successfully reading Japanese codes.” No information has been revealed like that at all. Nothing has been published that could give any “enemies” information on the location of US troops, which could help them launch successful attacks.

In November 2010, McCain told the National Review, the WikiLeaks “scandal” will have consequences “far beyond the cables. ” He predicted it would have a “devastating and chilling effect on our ability to carry on relationships with foreign leaders, harming our ability to fight this war against radical Islamic extremism.”

Yes, it would have profound implications on Sen. McCain’s ability to meet Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and discuss terms of for providing US military aid again. It would limit the chances of him ever having another “interesting meeting with an interesting man” at his “ranch” in Libya. It would put limits on all leaders meeting with despots of the world, as there is now a trove of information to question the US’ diplomatic relationships with countries all over the world.

This committee would likely be building off of procedures that have already begun to be implemented to “create ‘insider threat’ programs to ferret out disgruntled workers who may leak state secrets.” It would likely reinforce plans among agencies to look for “behavioral changes” among employees with access to secret documents.

There is a federal grand jury based in Alexandria, Virginia, empanelled to investigate WikiLeaks for crimes of espionage that is currently issuing subpoenas to those the government thinks are connected to or have information on WikiLeaks. David House, Bradley Manning Support Network co-founder, has gone before the grand jury already and pled the fifth.

Would this committee be something that could complement the grand jury’s fishing expedition by developing law that can turn what was done into a crime that could lead to indictments?

The pursuit of mechanisms to clampdown on who the government presumes is responsible for the release of material to WikiLeaks and the increased regulation of access to secret documents within government agencies will not address the problem. It won’t because the problem is overclassification, something the Department of Defense, with a new rule to safeguard unclassified information, simply are making worse.

The government has told a court that there should be no such thing as “good leaks.” This virtually ensures that individuals, instead of going through proper channels to blow the whistle on government waste or criminal wrongdoing in government, will turn to organizations like WikiLeaks and create further problems for the government in the future.

The public is growing to understand that overclassification is rampant. Nick Davies of The Guardian illuminates the situation:

…If you look for example at the Afghan war logs what you see is a military which routinely classified every single instance in which they were involved as secret. Why should we respect that kind of mechanical routine classification. Just pull back and look at what’s going on here and ask yourself, is the attempt to prosecute Bradley Manning something to do with the judicious application of the law or a really rather vile piece of political persecution?…

If a committee is established, it won’t prevent future acts of whistleblowing by individuals and guarantee information doesn’t get released to WikiLeaks. A press that tolerates overclassification of information and only asks for selective leaking of materials on secret government operations every now and then, a press that does not ask more questions about the operations of power domestically and internationally will inevitably lead to, in this age of widespread corruption, individuals in government, who have not lost their conscience, finding a way to share the truth.

If a committee is established, it won’t ensure that the world never learns what is really going on behind closed doors in America again because the people of this country are living in a very broken democracy. Many of its citizens know government officials are outright lying when they stand before them and speak. They suspect government officials and whole entire agencies are serving powerful corporate and special interests instead of them. They know coverups of mass misconduct and criminal wrongdoing are being carried out. And so, information will continue to be released to WikiLeaks and there’s nothing Sen. John McCain or any senator can do to stop it so long as they defend the system that created the symptom that is the release of information to WikiLeaks.

Release of Full Manning-Lamo Chat Logs Shows Logs Raise Questions on Admissibility in Court

By: Kevin Gosztola Thursday July 14, 2011 6:49 am


For over a year, the technology magazine Wired has had some command over what the public knows about Pfc. Bradley Manning, alleged whistleblower to WikiLeaks. The magazine since June possessed the full “chat logs,” as they were when given to Wired editor Kevin Poulsen by Adrian Lamo just after Manning was arrested. Yesterday, the magazine chose to relent and give up editorial control over the material by releasing what they claim are the full chat logs.

The chat logs have been a bedrock for a press that has been working to build an understanding of why Manning was motivated to do what he is alleged to have done. In documentaries, like the PBS FRONTLINE documentary WikiSecrets, the chat logs are what compel narrator Martin Smith to go on a crusade in search for a connection between Assange and Manning. They are responsible for giving the press greater interest in having interviews with Lamo, an individual The Sunday Times of London describes as “an unsettling character,” someone who was admitted to a psychiatric hospital when he lost his antidepressant medication last year.

The release of the logs should now remove some of the control Lamo & Wired have had over the story. Journalists should now be able to practice scientific journalism and look at the logs themselves to glean information (assuming the chat logs are legitimate and valid) and draw their own conclusions without having to talk to an often-medicated government informant.

I’ve already published one post after taking a first glance. However, before I get into new revelations I gleaned for this second post, a user in a “NetSecurity” group on Reddit (a group likely composed primarily of hackers) has this post, which may turn out to be quite damning for the case against Manning, which has relied on these chat logs.

In the alleged logs, I noticed the following:

(12:24:15 PM) bradass87 has not been authenticated yet. You should authenticate this buddy.

(12:24:15 PM) Unverified conversation with bradass87 started.

(12:24:58 PM) bradass87: hello again

Those of you familiar with Off-the-Record Messaging (OTR) will recognize those two lines. Manning used OTR to chat with Lamo!

I strongly suspected this from the beginning but obviously had no proof. So, what’s the significance? Well, OTR providesdeniability. From the OTR website:

The messages you send do not have digital signatures that are checkable by a third party. Anyone can forge messages after a conversation to make them look like they came from you. However, during a conversation, your correspondent is assured the messages he sees are authentic and unmodified.

Bottom line: these “logs” are useless. They are inadmissible in court.

But, James Grimmelmann, a professor at New York Law School affiliated with the Institute for Information Law and Policy, disputes the Reddit user’s conclusion saying, “OTR logs are no less admissible than chat/IM logs or emails.” He cites Federal Rules of Evidence 901 and also highlights U.S. v. Tank, 200 F.3d 627, 630-31 (9th Cir. 2000), which dealt with admitting logs of a participant.

He argues that authentication probably satisfied with testimony of Lamo as to handling of evidence, plus statements in chat. And, he says “hearsay” is okay to admit against interest under Federal Rules of Evidence 801 (b)(3) (which is a lot of “legalese” but important to whether what the Reddit user says is valid or not).

So, the logs would likely be admitted into court for Manning’s case, even if the logs were likely tampered with or forged. Let’s proceed with these thoughts in mind (and, note, the merged Manning-Lamo chat logs produced by Firedoglake may provide some insight into what exactly was forged).

*

Looking at the newly released portions of the chat logs, one finds Lamo suggested to Manning he could be considered, for this conversation, a journalist and a minister and that, if Lamo gained Manning’s trust, he violated Manning and burned his source. It becomes evident that Manning believed he had “political ties” in the White House that he could speak to on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and “the disaster [that] kept going on with that.” For example, as Firedoglake editor-in-chief Jane Hamsher noted, Shin Inouye, who “worked as a communications coordinator for Obama” on his 2008 presidential campaign.

One can see Manning knew the implications of his actions and, as he was about to be discharged from the military, was gathering documents on his career for his defense. One document he told Lamo about was an award recommendation never completed that celebrated “Manning’s persistence,” which “led to the disruption of ‘Former Special Groups’ in the New Baghdad area” and “identification of previously unknown enemy support zones.”

Manning comes off as a person very “infosec” savvy (savvy on information security). He talks about NSA, SIGINT, FISA, etc. In one great message, he asks Lamo if he knew “it took NSA 6 months, and 50 people to figure out how to tap the iPhone.” He claims the NSA didn’t know what was going on because of the “sudden format switch” AT&T made in its contract.

As an intelligence analyst, it seems Manning has access to details on a massive botnet China has for infiltrating and penetrating Google and various government and military websites. He tells Lamo, “China can knock out any network in the world with a DDoS” (a distributed denial of service attack).

One section, worth excerpting fully, gives reason to doubt those opposed to Manning’s alleged whistleblowing, who claim he just dumped a quarter of a million State Department cables and didn’t read or consider the contents of them at all.

(05:48:59 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: Do you know of any ops in Colombia other than anti-narco ones?

(05:50:11 PM) bradass87: not really… i know of state department initiatives to improve relations with columbians… mostly because of our poor history there… and because we’re still tracking FARC

(05:50:30 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: Venezuela?

(05:50:45 PM) bradass87: borders watched closely

(05:51:12 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: But nothing specific?

(05:51:24 PM) bradass87: smuggling, trafficking… for some reason a lot of DC politicos don’t like Chavez

(05:51:41 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: Imagine that.

(05:51:53 PM) bradass87: i dont give specifics unless i have them in front of me, sorry

(05:52:09 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: why?

(05:52:24 PM) bradass87: because my memory sucks sometimes

Manning appears to be able to carry a conversation about the cables and answer questions about what he has come across. This definitely is helpful to any defense of Manning and may force those opposed to Manning to recalibrate their arguments against him.

Manning also understands that Assange and WikiLeaks has guidelines for working with sources. He understands he is a source and not working for WikiLeaks. He tells Lamo Assange “knows little about me,” “he takes source-protections uber-seriously,” and Assange won’t work with you if you reveal too much about yourself.”

Finally, there’s the personal information, details on his home life that were not in the portion originally release as well as points which further reinforce the idea that Manning was seeking to become a woman after being discharged from the military. The portion previously released showed a soldier who felt isolated and distressed. Newly released portions add to what has been known, as he talks about being uncertain about his uncertainty over his gender identity and how he’s in the desert “with a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger happy ignorant rednecks as neighbors…and the only safe place” he had was a “satellite internet connection.”

It is Manning’s discussion of his issues with gender identity that Wired editor Poulsen alleges kept the magazine from releasing the (almost) full logs. This may be a rather dubious excuse because BoingBoing and Washingtonian’s Shane Harris caught on to some of the conversation and asked if Manning was transgender in June of last year. BoingBoing was “congratulated” by commenters for “outing” Manning after people read lines like, “waiting to deploy to the US be discharged…and figure out how on earth I’m going to transition” and “the CPU is not made for this motherboard.”

Additionally, the chat logs might lead one to ask if Manning was discharged under DADT before being arrested. If that is the case, Wired magazine was concealing an important element of the story, as military repression of homosexuals is definitely something that has politicized individuals (i.e. Lieutenant Dan Choi).

As to claims, which Wired senior reporter Kim Zetter made in WikiSecrets on Assange being alarmed about the contents of the logs because of what was in them, there is really nothing in the previously unreleased portion to incriminate Assange. It really makes Zetter look disingenuous, if she had seen the full chat logs.

BoingBoing reported in December 2010 that Poulsen and Evan Hansen “confirmed key details concerning unpublished chat logs between whistleblower Bradley Manning and informant Adrian Lamo. Responding to questions on Twitter, Poulsen wrote that the unpublished portion of the chats contain no further reference to ‘private’ upload servers for Manning, while Hansen indicated that they contain no further reference to the relationship between Manning and Wikileaks chief Julian Assange.” Yet, Zetter appeared in the documentary as a source on the logs the magazine still refused to publish and she suggested Assange was worried about something in the chat logs.

There has not been much media coverage of the new portions released yet, but Alan Wang for the local ABC News affiliate in San Francisco has a post up. He claims that for the first time “we’re getting a glimpse of a possible motive behind the top secret leaks.” This is blatantly false. Only if you were just joining this week’s regularly scheduled programming would you look at the newly released portions and conclude, “A-ha! He did it because he was transgender!”

Wang should know this isn’t the Eureka moment he thinks it is, as he notes that the New York Magazine published information on his gender identity issues last week. Still, he pursues this line and then he suggests a connection between Manning and Assange has been revealed. But, Poulsen already said back in December that there wasn’t any more on Assange and Manning being connected plus, if you read between the lines, it is entirely possible for someone to be acting as Assange when talking with sources. It’s possible Manning equated WikiLeaks with Assange and, when talking to someone in WikiLeaks about the information he allegedly transferred, he believed he was forming a working relationship with Assange.

Greenwald, who challenged Poulsen and Hansen in December when they were still concealing the chat logs, has posted his response to the release. He acknowledges some of what the magazine withheld was personal information that had “no newsworthy relevance” but that “substantial portions of what they withheld do not even arguably fall within those categories.” Noting that Lamo suggested Manning could enjoy a “modicum of legal protection,” Greenwald concludes:

Lamo lied to and manipulated Manning by promising him the legal protections of a journalist-source and priest-penitent relationship, and independently assured him that their discussions were “never to be published” and were not “for print.”  Knowing this, Wired hid from the public this part of their exchange, published the chat in violation of Lamo’s clear not-for-publication pledges, allowed Lamo to be quoted repeatedly in the media over the next year as some sort of credible and trustworthy source driving reporting on the Manning case, all while publicly (and falsely) insisting that the only chat log portions it was withholding were — to use Poulsen’s words — “either Manning discussing personal matters . . .  or apparently sensitive government information.”  As BoingBoing’s Rob Beschizza put it in rejecting Wired’s claims: this passage “reads like a deliberated attempt to manipulate or even entrap Manning, on Lamo’s part, and seems quite important to understanding what Manning thought he was doing by talking to him.”  There are multiple passages for which that’s true.

James Ball of The Guardian, who used to work for WikiLeaks, engaged Poulsen in a conversation after the release. Poulsen told Ball, “We’ll get flack for not publishing sooner, for publishing at all, and, Orwellianly, for “concealing” everything we’ve revealed.”

Shouldn’t the Wired editors be held responsible for what the public in the US and the entire world has not understood about Manning, Lamo and the entire WikiLeaks story up to this point and are now able to understand because of the portions released? Why is it so dismaying that people suggest Wired was “concealing” the logs when they were not released in full for over a year?

Much happened in the timeline of Bradley Manning’s story since they acquired the logs. It is not necessarily true, as Greenwald emphasizes, that personal details or sensitive government information was what was being withheld. Details in Manning’s decision to open up and share his heart and soul with Lamo were in the unpublished portion. Moreover, his detention at Quantico, how he was treated and the way that the press has been able to dissect his personal and military life from all angles should have been enough for Wired to realize they needed to publish much earlier, as the chat logs are the only way the public can get a sense of why Manning did what he did because he is not allowed to speak on his case from prison.

Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network in Chicago, who now serves on the Bradley Manning Support Network advisory board, says the treatment Manning was subjected to was “very reminiscent of the sexual humiliation that was tinged with homophobia [which] we saw the US conduct against prisoners in Abu Ghraib and other prisons” in Iraq. He doesn’t think the sexual humiliation he was subjected to was an accident.

The chat logs, if the military and government officials had seen them, would have created the possibility that Manning’s gender identity struggle could be used against him to gain possible information from Manning on Assange and WikiLeaks. Certainly, in retrospect, if we know about Manning’s gender issues, the movement in support of Manning to get him moved from Quantico is different. It may have even been more intense and accelerated because of how vulnerable LGBT people are in the hyper-masculine US military that is rife with homophobia.

Wired Magazine Finally Releases Entire Manning-Lamo Chat Logs: What’s Revealed?

By: Kevin Gosztola Wednesday July 13, 2011 2:38 pm

(updates below)

Finally, Wired magazine released the complete, unedited chat logs between Pfc. Bradley Manning, the accused whistleblower to WikiLeaks, and Adrian Lamo, the known hacker who turned Manning into government authorities. About a quarter of the logs, which Wired senior editor Kevin Poulsen obtained from Lamo in June 2010 after Manning’s arrest, were published during June. Wired editor-in-chief Evan Hansen and Poulsen fought critics like Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald, who argued in December 2010 that Poulsen was committing a “journalistic disgrace” by refusing to release the full logs.

Hansen and Poulsen denied that they had a journalistic obligation to publish the full logs and declared they would not disclose the full logs until the story or case had reached a point where it would be acceptable for “everything Manning disclosed in confidence” to become “fair game for reporting.”

What can be gleaned from the full chat logs? What in the approximately seventy-five percent of the logs not previously disclosed did Wired editors think was too toxic to put out for the public to read and consume?

Upon first glance, it appears one main concern of the Wired editors was the remarks Manning makes on questioning his gender identity and wanting a sex change. On July 6, 2011, New York Magazine published instant message chat logs between Manning and a 19-year old gay activist and web designer Zachary Antolak, a transgender who called herself Queen of the Atheists.

With that story published, the Wired magazine editors probably felt it could do no more harm if sections like the following were made public:

(10:19:00 AM) bradass87: im kind of coming out of a cocoon… its going to take some time, but i hopefully wont be a ghost anymore

(10:19:53 AM) info@adrianlamo.com: You mentioned gender identity, I believe.

(10:19:59 AM) bradass87: ive had an unusual, and very stressful experience over the last decade or so

(10:20:53 AM) bradass87: yes… questioned my gender for several years… sexual orientation was easy to figure out… but i started to come to terms with it during the first few months of my deployment

(10:21:09 AM) info@adrianlamo.com: May I ask the particulars?

(10:21:34 AM) info@adrianlamo.com: I’m bi myself, and my ex is MTF.

(10:21:34 AM) bradass87: im fairly open… but careful, so yes..

(10:22:00 AM) bradass87: im aware of your bi part

(10:22:24 AM) bradass87: uhm, trying to keep a low profile for now though, just a warning

And later on May 22:

(11:47:28 AM) bradass87: im very isolated atm… lost all of my emotional support channels… family, boyfriend, trusting colleagues… im a mess

(11:49:02 AM) bradass87: im in the desert, with a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger happy ignorant rednecks as neighbors… and the only safe place i seem to have is this satellite internet connection

(11:49:51 AM) bradass87: and i already got myself into minor trouble, revealing my uncertainty over my gender identity… which is causing me to lose this job… and putting me in an awkward limbo

(11:50:54 AM) bradass87: i wish it were as simple as “hey, go transition”… but i need to get paperwork sorted… financial stuff sorted… legal stuff… and im still deployed, so i have to redeploy back to the US and be outprocessed

(11:52:09 AM) bradass87: i could be hanging out here in limbo as a super-intelligent, awkwardly effeminate supply guy [pick up these boxes and move them] for up to two months

(11:52:23 AM) bradass87: at the very least, i managed to keep my security clearance [so far]

(11:57:49 AM) bradass87: im sorry, im a total mess right now… :’(

(11:58:33 AM) bradass87: and little does anyone know, but among this “visible” mess, theres the mess i created that no-one knows about yet

And on May 23:

(10:15:19 AM) bradass87: always been too intellectual, if not just plain queer, for religion

Poulsen has written, “At the time of his discussions with Lamo, he’d been through a bad breakup and had other personal conflicts. But I felt — and still do feel — that it’s a mistake to automatically ascribe Manning’s actions to his feeling depressed. (For one thing, his breakup occurred after the leaking.) There’s an implicit political judgment in that conclusion: that leaking is an aberrant act, a symptom of a psychological disorder. Manning expressed clear and rational reasons for doing what he did, whether one agrees with those reasons or not.” That is why it is justified to presume the gender identity messages played a part in the decision to no release the full logs. (But, is it the full explanation for not disclosing the full logs?)

What also was not in the portion released were details on how Manning gathering documents on his career to have after his discharge:

(02:13:54 PM) bradass87: gathering as many documents as possible re: my career

(02:14:12 PM) bradass87: trying to control the narrative

(02:14:50 PM) bradass87: From an award recommendation (never completed): “SPC Manning’s persistence led to the disruption of “Former Special Groups” in the New Baghdad area. SPC Manning’s tracking of targets led to the identification of previously unknown enemy support zones. His analysis led to heavy targeting of insurgent leaders in the area that consistently disrupted their operations. SPC Manning’s dedication led to the detainment of Malik Fadil al-Ugayli, a Tier 2 level target within the Commando OE.”

Recommended awards for assisting in the disruption of Former Special Groups (FSG) in Southeastern Baghdad, identifying and disrupting operations from previously unknown enemy support zones in Hayy Zafaraniyah, and assisting in the detainment of Malik Fadil al-Ugayli, a Tier 2 level target.

(02:16:47 PM) bradass87: Malik was a heavy cell phone user

This of course raises the question: Does WikiLeaks have documents on Bradley Manning’s career? Did Manning transfer documents on himself to WikiLeaks?

From May 22, one also gets a glimpse at how savvy Manning became on NSA operations, while in the military:

(7:45:52 AM) bradass87: im not all that paranoid about NSA / SIGINT services… you just have to be OPSEC savvy, and you’re all good

(7:46:27 AM) bradass87: and FISA actually does come in very handy

(7:46:46 AM) bradass87: though, its frequently overlooked

(7:47:36 AM) bradass87: i.e.: they’ll collect signal information, to refine other intel sources and try to collect evidence…

(7:47:57 AM) bradass87: erasing the signal data

(7:48:11 AM) bradass87: since its not legally “evidence”

(7:49:38 AM) bradass87: and yes, illegal wiretaps are used in coordination between NSA and FBI… though its not seen as illegal, because often the data is only used to give leads

(7:49:42 AM) bradass87: and not evidence

(7:50:49 AM) info@adrianlamo.com: *nod*

(7:50:52 AM) bradass87: one of the reasons assange uses his rubberhose plausibly deniable whole-disk encryption setup

(7:51:46 AM) bradass87: i can see both sides of the whole illegal wiretap debate

(7:52:17 AM) bradass87: it IS awfully useful in catching bad people… but innocent privacy IS violated…

(7:52:37 AM) bradass87: but everyone does it now…

(7:53:08 AM) bradass87: its an inevitability… thats my honest opinion

(7:53:31 AM) bradass87: so, i encrypt as much as i can

And on May 23:

(1:24:21 PM) bradass87: did you know it took NSA 6 months, and 50 people to figure out how to tap the iPhone

(1:24:21 PM) info@adrianlamo.com <AUTO-REPLY>: I have more messages than resources allocatable to action them. Please be very patient.

(1:26:16 PM) bradass87: they honestly didn’t know what was going on, because of the sudden format switch when AT&T made the contract

(1:26:32 PM) bradass87: =P

(1:27:42 PM) bradass87: [not 100% if thats true, but i've heard enough variations by NSA types to believe it]

Finally, there is an excerpt from a New York Times article published on January 20 in 1919. The excerpt deals with the concept of “open diplomacy.”

OPEN DIPLOMACY.

“Open diplomacy” does not mean that every word said in preparing a treaty should be shouted to the whole world and submitted to all the misconstructions that malevolence, folly, and evil ingenuity could put upon it. Open diplomacy is the opposite of secret diplomacy, which consisted in the underhand negotiation of treaties whose very existence was kept from the world. It consisted also in the modification of openly negotiated treaties by secret treaties by some of the Powers behind the backs of the others. It is against this kind of double dealing and secret dealing, the mother of wars, that the world protested. It has demanded the substitution of open diplomacy for secret diplomacy. But open diplomacy does not turn a peace conference into a debating society.

It would be reasonable for the newspaper correspondents at Versailles to expect that the delicate work of reconciling divergent points of view on so tender a subject as national interests should be wholly conducted in their presence. The conferees, by reserving the right of holding executive sessions while they admit the correspondants to open sessions, have gone as far as the needs of the public demand. The world has intrusted the Peace Conference with the work of preparing the treaty. It wishes to know what is done, and why it is done; but the sensible part of it, at any rate, has no desire to have spread before it all the heart-to-heart talksmand turns of phrase of men performing the gigantic task of reconciling national differences and coming to agreement. It wishes to give malice and anti-Ally propaganda as little as possible to distort and warp. It knows from four years’ experience what infinite possibilities are in that line.

Sharing this excerpt helps Manning’s case, if he did in fact release information to WikiLeaks. This excerpt indicates he thought about what he was doing and he can effectively defend himself, if he ever gets his day in court, and use this as he makes a case that he is a classic military whistleblower.

A few more details in the full logs: Lamo tells him his MICE (Money, Ideology, Coercion & Ego) is ideology. That Lamo didn’t think he was motivated by money, coercion or ego is also possibly helpful to his defense.

Manning asked Lamo what he thought about the ethics of his situation. He also told Lamo, “I’m not a violent guy” and said he was “on the verge of becoming most notorious ‘hacktivist’ or whatever you want to call it.”

The full released chat logs show he was thinking deeply about the implications of his action, before and after. The motivation for engaging Lamo in the manner which he engaged Lamo likely stems from a belief that he would face repercussions from the military and government. But, at the same time, he thought about the content of the material he was allegedly releasing to WikiLeaks, as he could cite a few examples of what he thought might be revelations when released.

*

It should be noted that Firedoglake has a role in this story. Throughout 2010, FDL tracked the chat logs:

Wired published the first chat logs on June 10, 2010. In the article, they indicate that these represent roughly 25% of the logs they received from Adrian Lamo of his chats with Bradley Manning. Later, Wired’s Kevin Poulsen told Glenn Greenwald of Salon that  the logs were complete with the exception of “Manning discussing personal matters that aren’t clearly related to his arrest, or apparently sensitive government information that I’m not throwing up without vetting first.”

Lamo also provided Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post with a complete version of the logs, which were also excerpted on June 10.  And on June 19, BoingBoing published what was purported to be a more complete version of one section of the log.

The result of the tracking led to the publication of the “Merged Manning-Lamo Chat Logs.” Using color coding, Firedoglake noted what was revealed by the Washington Post, BoingBoing and Wired and FDL highlighted the sections that BoingBoing alleged to be edited.

It’s worth noting, on Monday, David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, appeared on Democracy Now! House, who has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury empanelled to investigate crimes of espionage allegedly committed by WikiLeaks, described the chat logs:

AMY GOODMAN: For the people who aren’t familiar with this case, explain what those chats were that were released by Wired magazine.

DAVID HOUSE: Right, so Wired magazine released the alleged chat logs of Bradley Manning, between Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo.

AMY GOODMAN: Some of them.

DAVID HOUSE: Some of them, right. And these chat logs were purported to show Bradley Manning confessing to having released the WikiLeaks cables to WikiLeaks. But there’s a lot of controversy about the validity of these logs, whether they’re true or not, because the logs, the way they’re made up, it’s actually just like a text document, something anyone can type up. And these were released by Wired.com, partially, during the May 2010 story that broke all of this to the mainstream press…

 

UPDATE

Jeff Kaye has a post up on FDL highlighting how the full logs indicate Adrian Lamo asserted to Bradley Manning that he is both a journalist and a minister, and that their conversations were “legally protected.” Kaye notes this excerpt:

(10:21:34 AM) bradass87: im fairly open… but careful, so yes..

(10:22:00 AM) bradass87: im aware of your bi part

(10:22:24 AM) bradass87: uhm, trying to keep a low profile for now though, just a warning

(10:23:34 AM) info@adrianlamo.com: I’m a journalist and a minister. You can pick either, and treat this as a confession or an interview (never to be published) & enjoy a modicum of legal protection.

He points out this is not new information, but what’s important is it corroborates what Glenn Greenwald reported on June 18, 2010. For more, go here.

UPDATE 2

Jane Hamsher has posted her first reaction to the release of what Wired claims are the entire chat logs. She reports, “With all the appropriate caveats — the government still has to prove that Manning was actually the one engaging in these chats — the logs indicate that Manning (bradass87) claimed he was doing more than just data mining on computer systems.  He also claimed to be getting information from highly placed people within the government, including the White House.”

She highlights sections indicating this revelation. And, she also addresses the release itself:

So what is Wired’s excuse for redacting the names in the above exchange?  Manning is clearly trying to impress Lamo with the notoriety and prestige of his ex-boyfriends, people he met in DC who were powerful and well-placed within the government. The context of the exchange implies he was dropping names he thought Lamo would know (“im a pretty connected guy for a ghost, i guess”)…

…It’s possible that Wired has a perfectly valid reason for redacting the names of these individuals, although the fact that they were gay doesn’t seem to be adequate.  Manning claims that anyone could meet them if you “hang around the right bars at the right times in Dupont Circle,” so they can’t be that closeted.

It’s also possible that they were not able to confirm that Manning actually knew these people. But did they try?  Because if in fact Manning had cultivated relationships with powerful, “politically tied”  people in the government, I don’t know what the justification is for withholding their names.  Manning is being charged with “aiding the enemy.”  It would seem like his association with politically well-connected individuals who were feeding him information (Manning’s “sub-sources”) would have considerable news value, and Wired’s history of dubious justification for their redactions makes the decision to withhold them all the more questionable.

Meanwhile, Greenwald tweets:

Greenwald likely has much to say on the release of the logs, which aren’t necessarily all the logs but Wired claims they have just released the full logs. This post will link to his analysis of the logs when he puts up his post.

*Stay tuned for more from Firedoglake on the recently released Manning/Lamo chat logs.

Decision in Julian Assange Extradition Appeal Postponed: Sweden Created This Standoff, Says Assange Lawyer

By: Kevin Gosztola Wednesday July 13, 2011 10:34 am

A decision in WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange’s extradition appeal hearing is not expected for three weeks, as the court has reserved judgment whether he should be extradited to Sweden to be questioned for allegedly committing sex crimes. The postponement came as the hearing wrapped up after being in session for two days.

Assange’s appeal hearing challenged a lower court ruling, where a judge decided he should be extradited to Sweden. The process itself is part of the European arrest warrant (EAW) system, which is an “adopted framework” under the European Union that was developed to simplify and speed up extradition among member states. The allegations of sex crimes are part of the extradition process but not necessarily dependent or relevant to whether Assange is eventually extradited.

The Guardian, in its blow-by-blow documentation of hearing on its website, reports Clare Montgomery, appearing on behalf of Swedish authorities, argued “public prosecutors have long issued arrest warrants that were processed by UK courts as grounds for extradition” and it doesn’t matter if Assange is wanted for questioning and not for charges. Assange’s legal team, however, suggested there existed “more proportionate” ways to handle this situation than using the EAW system.

The judge said, “We are not concerned with whether this is a good case or a bad case but whether what is charged amounts to a crime.” Mark Summers, an attorney for Assange, said, “The prosecutor has never sought to explain why she has not engaged all other mechanisms [ie other than extradition] to progress this investigation … The reason there is a stand-off is entirely of Sweden’s making. What a waste of time.”

Yesterday, Assange’s legal team made claims that the European arrest warrant, which led to the hearing, contained “fundamental misstatements.” The team argued he had consensual sex with the two women who claim they were raped or sexually violated. And, the team argued Swedish authorities could use other means to investigate and pursue Assange that were not as “disproportionate.”

Assange had a new legal strategy and team for this hearing. Tom Hayden for The Nation wrote in June, “Until now, the Assange defense team has disparaged the Swedish assault charges and suggested that once in Swedish hands, the WikiLeaks founder might face extradition to the United States on conspiracy charges carrying a life sentence.” Gareth Peirce, a “renowned British human rights advocate who has defended Guantanamo detainees and Irish republicans in previous decades,” was brought on along with Ben Emmerson, “also a respected human rights attorney who has served as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism.”

Peirce told Hayden before the extradition appeal hearing:

The history of this case is as unfortunate as it is possible to imagine, in which encounters, undoubtedly believed by all parties at the time to be private, became inappropriately the subject of publicity and thereafter in consequence no doubt the more difficult to resolve. Each of the human beings involved deserves respect and consideration. It is hoped that whatever steps as are required to be taken in the future will be taken thoughtfully, with sensitivity and with such respect.

[*Note: Peirce has previously come out strongly against the United States on the issue of extradition. Read her article, which was published in the London Review of Books in May 2010.]

The change in legal team and strategy may explain why Assange did not give any speeches on either day of the appeal hearing.

Assange’s extradition case has called attention to irregularities and unjust aspects of the EAW system. A parliamentary committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, singled out the case of hacker Gary McKinnon, who has spent nine years fighting extradition to America, and urged that Britons not be sent overseas for offenses “committed wholly or mainly inside the UK” or for cases “without any evidence against them.”

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding spoke out in April and said, according to The Guardian, “crossborder pursuits of bicycle thieves, piglet rustlers and those accused of trivial offences was damaging the authority of the European arrest warrant (EAW).” The EU Commission planned legislation to address some of the problems that have stemmed from the process.

Duncan Campbell, for The Guardian, detailed in June how the EAW has been a “very blunt instrument.”

The EAW was first introduced at the beginning of 2004 as a way of expediting the extradition across European borders of wanted criminals and those who had fled countries rather than stand trial for serious offences. That was its intention, anyway, and it is fair to say that, on many occasions, it has been very helpful in the speedy capture of violent and dangerous people who have sought to avoid a country’s justice by hiding abroad…

… While there can be no argument on behalf of some of those who have had their collar felt in some foreign land, the warrant has been too readily used in cases that were very minor, flimsy or nonexistent. It is time to rework it, so that the warrant is only employed when there is a clear, credible case against an alleged offender and when a speedy trial and proper legal representation is assured.

On June 9th,  the European Parliament held a debate on the EAW system. Gerard Batten MEP detailed how the EAW was being used to oppress political dissidents, like Assange and said, “There are many irregularities in the case against him.”

He listed the irregularities: failure of prosecutor to interview witnesses that could clear Assange, allegations against Assange would not constitute “rape” in England, complainants’ lawyer has stated the ladies in question cannot tell if what happened constitutes “rape” because they are not lawyers, Assange was in Sweden for five weeks but was not questioned, etc. And, he went on to provide context for an argument that the EAW is being used to suppress the efforts of Assange and WikiLeaks and is feeding into US efforts to investigate and go after Assange for espionage.

Assange has not hid his fear that he might be extradited from Sweden to the United States. The legal team may not be describing this possibility in court or publicly to fuel support for Assange’s case, but it is widely known that Assange finds it possible he could end up in US custody.

In a chat with Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in February explained why he thinks Sweden would extradite him to the US:

This is an interesting question that few people have looked at with any depth. Onwards extradition – to the United States – entirely a matter of politics. The Swedish Prime Minister has refused to block such an extradition, saying, falsely, that it is a matter entirely for the judiciary, while at the same time pathetically pandering with his other commentary on the case. Infact, he has the power, in the Swedish extradition relationship with the US, to disqualify my extradition. He refuses. According to what I have been told of the protocol between Sweden and the UK, and the US and the UK, the Home Secretary of the UK, simiarly has such power to politically veto such an extradition. The British government, thus far, has refused to do so. Now, while it is convention that an extradition from the UK or Sweden to the US would require the US to agree to not execute or torture me or other european based WikiLeaks staff, any such diplomatic guarentee would be meaningless. Sweden went through that formalism with its CIA assisted extraditions to Egypt, which were immediately ignored. In the US many senior politicians have called for our assassination or life imprisonment. There are three bills before Congress and the Senate to do such things as declare us a “transnational threat”, so all our staff can be treated like al-Quada – as “enemy combatants” and shipped off to Bagram or Guantanamo, etc. Nothing Sweden can politely ask for can stop this legislative risk.

Tom Hayden, in another article on Assange’s case, explained, “If American authorities eventually indict Assange and demand his extradition, the proceedings could raise a firestorm of protest. But any extradition from Sweden would have to be approved by both Stockholm and London—under extradition law, an individual may not be extradited on one charge from nation A to nation B, and then extradited to nation C on a different charge. The prosecutors will be faced with strong opposition from the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden.”

The postponement of a decision naturally invites speculation. Why couldn’t the court give an immediate decision? The public does not know the backroom conversations and power politics, which might be playing out. But, read Peirce’s article published in the London Review of Books and one can assume there are power politics involved in most extradition cases.

If Assange loses his appeal, he will have one more avenue for appeal and could take his case to the UK Supreme Court. The Swedish authorities, of course, could also end their pursuit of an extradition and use the other avenues the Assange legal team has outlined to give the women, who allege sex crimes, justice.

Obama Has Decriminalized Torture: Do Americans Care?

By: Kevin Gosztola Wednesday July 13, 2011 7:07 am

From President Barack Obama’s inauguration to now, he has treated the issue of torture and the legalization of this supreme violation of human rights as an inconvenience. Obama has kept the possibility of holding former Bush Administration officials accountable for torture shrouded in remarks that contain platitudes on nobody being above the rule of law, yet, in those same remarks, he has shifted the responsibility to people like Attorney General Eric J. Holder to prosecute Bush officials, effectively freeing him of any obligation or liability that might stem from having to launch an investigation.

A new report from Human Rights Watch, “Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees,” provides opportunity to reflect on the reality that Bush Administration officials committed and effectively legalized torture and the Obama Administration, in its failure to hold these officials accountable, has in a way decriminalized torture.

As a number of news organizations and blogs have noted, the critical thing about the report is that it appears to give up on any possibility of a thorough investigation being launched by the Obama Administration. It encourages “judicial systems in foreign states to pursue investigations” and prosecute “under the doctrines of ‘universal jurisdiction’ and ‘passive personality’ jurisdiction. Under the principle of international that states have an interest in bringing to justice “perpetrators of particular crimes of international concern.” And, it notes that under the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which the US has ratified, “grave breaches” including “willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; willfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health; and willfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial” puts an obligation on countries that have signed to search for those alleged to have committed “grave breaches” and even push for extradition of officials suspected of violations.

While urging foreign countries to prosecute may show human rights groups are desperate, that human rights groups are now pursuing this as an option says a lot about America’s contempt for the rule of law. Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch explained on Democracy Now! torture is the “intentional infliction of severe pain and suffering, whether physical or mental.” Mock executions, like waterboarding, have been prosecuted by the US previously. But, the political class and establishment lawyers argue that prosecuting violations under the law will “politicize criminal law.” Or, they display as much interest in addressing the misconduct as those who know the war in Libya is a downright illegal war.

Those who were opposed to Bush Administration policies of torture, like human rights groups and lawyers, have been understandably disappointed with the Obama Administration. It has failed to close Guantanamo, indicated support for indefinite detention of terror suspects without a trial, bowed to the rancor of neoconservatives and decided to prosecute terror suspects with military commissions, refused to release “torture photos” and chosen to not charge any former CIA officials with the destruction of interrogation tapes.

Human rights groups have been very patient with the administration. Not only has the Obama Administration failed to uphold its duty to investigate and prosecute Bush officials under signed treaties like the Convention against Torture but it has let Bush officials tour around with their memoirs—books which contain prideful admissions of torture.

When Osama bin Laden was killed in a targeted operation, the administration put up with people like former Vice President Dick Cheney, who suggested torture had likely helped the Obama Administration kill him. And, with the news that the Justice Department was dropping ninety-nine of the one hundred and one cases against the CIA for abuse and torture, Bush officials were effectively absolved of any real threat of prosecution from the Obama Administration.

Jeff Kaye draws attention to how the “fight for transparency” makes this renewed push for prosecutions important. Kaye highlights how the Department of Defense is now considering a new policy for unclassified information that would enable less openness and more secrecy. This proposal is to be expected from an administration that has derailed torture lawsuits by invoking “states secrets” privileges. For example, in Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., in a suit brought by five survivors of the CIA’s rendition program, the ACLU reports, the Obama Administration argued against a lower court ruling, claimed the “case could not be litigated without the disclosure of state secrets.”

What’s more striking is how this report further demonstrates the US has no culture of accountability for those in power who do not commit crimes that involve sexual misbehavior. Probe after probe and investigation after investigation can produce pages of evidence that would fill an entire room. Recommendations on what to do and blueprints for moving forward can be drafted. Nobody in Washington wants to be bothered with the business of correcting injustice.

Today, President Obama could call for a criminal investigation into US government detention practices, as recommended in the HRW report. But, in America, those guilty of crimes in the national security establishment are permitted to commit crimes so long as it appears it happened while trying to protect America from terrorism. They can trash people’s civil liberties, torture people and violate treaties that are law and get away with it just like bank executives on Wall Street can get away with collapsing the US economy.

The effect of not investigating and prosecuting torture is not only that laws are violated but that torture becomes normalized. A rot spreads throughout the American population as Americans find power should be granted the benefit of the doubt and be allowed to torture terror suspects. Ignoring the number of people detained by the US, who are innocent and have no relationship to any terror group, they remember the mythology of 9/11 that has been seared into their brain by leaders like President Bush and President Obama, who countlessly retell the story of 9/11 in war speeches, and see no problem dehumanizing people.

Torture legalized as a tool for those carrying out “counterterrorism operations” becomes legitimate for use throughout America. Guards in Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, who tortured detainees, can come home and become guards at prisons like the Pelican Bay prison and torture prisoners by subjecting them to solitary confinement in a prison-within-the-prison called the Security Housing Unit or the SHU. They can get away with using interrogation techniques, which are tantamount to torture, on political prisoners like Bradley Manning, the alleged military whistleblower to WikiLeaks.

As reported yesterday, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez has been restricted from having access to detainees in the US so he can conduct inquiries into torture or inhumane treatment. Mendez reports:

I am assured by the US Government that Mr. Manning’s prison regime and confinement is markedly better than it was when he was in Quantico. However, in addition to obtaining first hand information on my own about his new conditions of confinement, I need to ascertain whether the conditions he was subjected to for several months in Quantico amounted to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. For that, it is imperative that I talk to Mr. Manning under conditions where I can be assured that he is being absolutely candid.

The US Department of Defense has said they would allow Mendez to visit but that he would not be able to have an unmonitored visit, violating “long-standing rules that the UN applies to prison visits.” Mendez reluctantly agreed to a monitored visit, but Manning declined to agree to speaking to Mendez while under close watch by any agents or guards. Now, Mendez concludes the US may no longer wish to allow him to visit detainees in any US prisons if he makes a country visit to the United States.

This prevention of access is not unique to the Obama Administration, as the Bush Administration also put unacceptable conditions on UN visits to Guantanamo Bay. This is part of the “new normal,” an era where officials who commit crimes are shielded from accountability for engaging in warrantless wiretapping, torture, or rendition; state secrets are invoked to prevent transparency; detainees are denied habeas corpus; prisons like Guantanamo and Bagram (along with black prison sites that likely still exist) continue to hold detainees perhaps indefinitely; navy ships hold prisoners that can no longer be sent to Guantanamo because there will be public outrage; the right to target and kill U.S. civilians and bypass due process is asserted; and military commissions or “kangaroo courts” force detainees into Kafkaesque proceedings that make it nearly impossible to not be found guilty.

America purports to have moral authority in the world to push for prosecutions for crimes in Third World countries. It condemns Middle Eastern and African countries (excluding Israel), which do not allow access to their countries for investigations of human rights violations. But, it does not investigate and prosecute its own officials, who are responsible for committing and legalizing torture.

The country appears to care little when it is suggested that what happened under Bush could happen again because all too many fail to see how shopping around for legal arguments to create justification for torture or “enhanced interrogation techniques” was wrong. The idea of moving forward instead of looking backward to hold Bush officials accountable enchants the population. And so, the population presses on without collectively confronting the system that has been put in place over the past ten years.

In Court, ACLU Defends US Citizen Detained & Threatened by FBI with Torture

By: Kevin Gosztola Tuesday July 12, 2011 3:31 pm
Amir Meshal (photo: The Public Record)

The ACLU was in court today to defend a US citizen, who was illegally detained and mistreated by US officials in Kenya and Ethiopia. The citizen, Amir Meshal, a man from New Jersey, was in Mogadishu, Somalia, studying Islam in December 2006 when violence erupted. He fled to Kenya in a boat, spent three weeks in a forest looking for shelter and assistance and was arrested by the joint US-Kenyan-Ethiopian task force.

After arrest, he fell victim to rendition and wound up back in Somalia and then Ethiopia. As the ACLU’s filed complaint reads, over four months and three days, “He was detained in three different countries without ever being charged, without ever being granted access to counsel and without ever being presented before a judicial officer.”

The complaint further alleges Meshal was interrogated “more than thirty times by US officials who failed to adhere to the most elementary requirements of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991.” During interrogations, Meshal was threatened with torture, forced disappearance and forms of serious harm in an effort to coerce him to admit to committing a crime. His detention was also at the “behest of US officials,” with their participation and a result of conspiracy with the FBI and other foreign officials.

The lawsuit filed in 2009 charges two Supervising Special Agents of the FBI, Chris Higgenbotham and Steve Hersem, were both involved in “investigating non-Somalis apprehended along the Somali-Kenyan border in a joint US-Kenyan-Ethiopian operation” in December 2006 and violated Meshal’s rights. The lawsuit also charges that ten other individuals, John Does 1-10, were involved in the violation of Meshal’s rights as well.

Meshal was arrested on January 24, 2007, with four other men in a forest in Kenya He was surrounded by “thirty heavily armed Kenyan soldiers” who apprehended him and “stripped him to his underwear” and tightly bound his hands behind his back with a rope. A soldier asked him to identify himself and seized his US passport, social security card and $800 in cash. He was taken to a village called Kiunga, where seven or eight Kenyans interrogated him.

My Own Farewell to Emptywheel

By: Kevin Gosztola Tuesday July 12, 2011 10:15 am

As Marcy and bmaz leave and Jeff Kaye and I step in to take up the responsibility of chronicling the growing bipartisan consensus among the American corporate and political class that civil rights and civil liberties are disposable and expendable, I would like to share my own memories of Marcy and my appreciation for her work.

Marcy endorsed me for a Democracy for America Netroots Nation 2011 scholarship (that I ended up earning). I don’t know when she started to pay attention to what I was doing, but I went to see who was supporting my scholarship and her name was listed. It was an honor to have someone, who was doing exactly what I could see myself doing, covering WikiLeaks, torture, national security issues, etc, support me. (I thought she kept up a great Twitter account too.)

At the National Conference for Media Reform 2011 in Boston, I met her as an intern with The Nation magazine. I planned to interview and WikiLeaks live blogger extraordinaire Greg Mitchell (who I was interning for). I arranged to do a video interview with Marcy.

I came to hear her speak during a panel on investigative journalism. After she spoke, she asked me if I wanted to eat lunch. Eating together and finally being introduced to the person behind the great snarky tweeting was such a great experience. Not only could Marcy write but she could also talk in detail, off-the-cuff, on these issues.

We talked about some of the topics, which were raised in this interview posted below.