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

3:33 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

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

11:05 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

(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

6:49 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola


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?

2:38 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

(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.

The Conscience & Agency of Bradley Manning

6:01 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

With previously unreleased instant message chat logs, Steve Fishman for New York Magazine published a feature story July 3, 2011, that further examined the accused whistleblower to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning. It looked at his family life before going to Iraq, his time in Baghdad and plans to use the military to pay for college and his current relationship with his father. The tidbit that drew the most attention, and will likely continue to draw attention, was the section of Fishman’s article allegedly detailing Manning’s interest in pursuing a sex change.

Ethan McCord, former specialist in the US Army and Iraq War veteran, who can be seen rescuing children in the “Collateral Murder” video allegedly released by Manning to WikiLeaks, put together a response to Fishman’s article. He sent it to New York Magazine and they agreed to publish portions by Monday, July 11.

The magazine published the portions late on Sunday, July 10—a few sentences where he directly mentioned Manning.

…The chat logs at the center of the story “add depth to the picture that’s emerged of Manning as a psychologically damaged ‘mess of a child,’” Adrian Chen added on Gawker. But others felt the profile, which dealt extensively with Manning’s gender-questioning, focused on the personal at the expense of the political. “If PFC Bradley Manning did what he is accused of doing, then it is clear—from chat logs that have been attributed to him—that his decision was motivated by conscience and political agency,” writes Ethan McCord, a former Army specialist whose unit was depicted in WikiLeaks’s first big scoop, the video “Collateral Murder.” “Unfortunately, Steve Fishman’s article erases Manning’s political agency. By focusing so heavily on Manning’s personal life, Fishman removes politics from a story that has everything to do with politics.” Read the rest of this entry →

Update on Bradley Manning from His Lawyer

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

(photo: Abode of Chaos)

A couple days ago I did a post on the support contingents for Bradley Manning, the accused whistleblower to WikiLeaks, which participated in the LGBT pride parades that took place in the United States during the weekend. I was asked how Manning was doing but had no update. Now, Manning’s lawyer David Coombs has posted an update on Manning.

From his blog:

It has been a little over two months since PFC Manning was moved from Quantico to the Joint Regional Corrections Facility (JRCF) at Fort Leavenworth.  Since being moved to the JRCF, PFC Manning’s overall mood and demeanor has greatly improved.  PFC Manning is able to maintain regular contact with his defense team.  He receives weekly written updates, phone calls and visits from defense counsel.  In addition, he receives regular visits from family.  Finally, PFC Manning also receives hundreds of letters from supporters every week.  He wishes to extend his sincere appreciation to those who have taken the time to send along their thoughts and well-wishes.

The Bradley Manning Support Network adds, “Let’s keep Bradley’s mood up as he approaches a pre-trial hearing this summer by continuing to send him letters of support. Mr. Coombs’ blog has more information regarding the rules around mail and Bradley’s address.”

*

Additionally, here are a few items worth noting:

-London Pride on July 2nd – Bradley Manning supporters will be out marching.

-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks on Manning from a recent Vanity Fair feature story: Logan Price draws attention to her remarks in a post here at myFDL. (His post is also published on the Bradley Manning Support Network website.)

Clinton said:

“Hillary told staff that she could not fathom how an army private, Bradley Manning, with psychological problems and a drag-queen boyfriend could single-handedly cause the United States unprecedented embarrassment just by labeling massive downloads as Lady Gaga songs.”

Crabby Go Lightly takes down this idea that Manning has “psychological problems.”

For the most part, the American LGBT community has been silent on Manning’s case while LGBT communities throughout the world have taken an interest in his case. It’d be great if these inflammatory comments led more LGBT people to take interest and come to his defense. That’s not because they have an obligation since Manning is gay but because Manning has kind of become this example for the military that can be used to argue gay people shouldn’t be allowed in the military. Plus…

-Lt. Choi Continues to Speak Out for ManningHowever, as this collection of tweets shows, he has been taking flack for it.

Supporters of Bradley Manning have really appreciated the fact that Choi is now an outspoken ally of Manning, who is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with him.

In recent days, he’s said things like, “Bradley Manning is not a hero because he is gay. He is a hero because he rejected war crimes” and “If treason is the exposure of truth to end an unjust war, I could only hope to be such a ‘traitor.’” He’s also debunked the myth that “WikiLeaks did not endanger our troops; cultural illiteracy, false pretenses and war crimes did. They still do.”

Choi has done what people should do on and offline: challenge people on Manning.

There are numerous misconceptions. For example, @ThatGirlRuns tweets, “You might have noticed that nothing has been achieved by his dumb actions. We already knew the war was unjust,” and, “There is no way Manning knew every detail of what was in the documents he leaked.”

First of all, he is alleged to have released information to WikiLeaks. He has not been convicted yet (except in the court of public opinion by Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama).

If Manning did release the information, he helped contribute to the toppling of a dictatorship in Tunisia. Tweeting one’s penis is a “dumb action.” Releasing information that can liberate a country? Is that really dumb?

And, it wasn’t Manning’s duty as a whistleblower to filter the information and decide what to release. That was the job of the media organizations and possibly WikiLeaks. Contrary to the widespread myth, a document dump did not occur. The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel all collaborated and released stories on cables they wanted to cover. Since the beginning of “Cablegate,” WikiLeaks has been using media organizations as filters to provide context and get the maximum impact out of the information contained in the US State Embassy cables. (Plus, if you believe what Manning allegedly said in his now infamous chat with hacker Adrian Lamo, who ultimately turned him into authorities, he likely read more cables than many think he did if he leaked the information to WikiLeaks.

Why make such a fuss about all this? The cumulation of all this misunderstanding and nonsense on Manning has an effect. We who are interested and care should read up on what really happened. We should confront people in public and online who don’t really know what happened. And, we should put into context the war on WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning and show Americans what the cost of not standing up for Manning or WikiLeaks might be.

A number of people may have made up their mind that he is a traitor. However, many Americans don’t know the case of Manning all that well and reflexively parrot what they’ve heard on the news or in a PBS or CNN special. We can connect with them and perhaps shift their understanding.

Most in LGBT Community Don’t Even Know of Bradley Manning

6:24 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

Chicago “Free Bradley Manning” Contingent (photo: ChicagoGeek)

(update below)

In San Francisco, New York and Chicago, support contingents for Pfc. Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistleblower, participated in Sunday’s gay pride parades. Those who marched in contingents aimed to make the LGBT community more aware of Bradley Manning.

Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network and Bradley Manning Support Network Advisory Board member, says he and others in the LGBT community organized a contingent because Manning is a gay man and “we think it is important to stand up for those in our own community who are being victimized.”

The Bradley Manning Support Network finds Manning is “being increasingly hailed by LGBT activists as a hero.” Lieutenant Daniel Choi, an active and well-known gay rights advocate who helped contribute to the movement that ultimately results in the repeal of DADT, recently announced he was “proud to stand by side with Bradley Manning” and on the day of the pride parades tweeted, “I dedicate this Pride to American Hero Private Bradley Manning, our fellow gay freedom fighter currently locked up in Ft. Leavenworth, KS.”

The pride parade in Chicago was one of the first major events for the Chicago chapter of Bradley Manning supporters. Here in Chicago, activists are confronting the fact that many do not know of Manning.

“I thought that we need to do more work in Chicago to make people more aware of Bradley Manning and the fact that he’s been in prison for over a year now and he hasn’t had a trial,” shares Stansfield Smith, an antiwar organizer and someone who has done work to defend twenty-three activists given subpoenas to appear before a grand jury. “He was in solitary confinement and he’s basically being framed up because President Obama’s already said he’s guilty for leaking this information to WikiLeaks. I [feel] some obligation to defend this young guy.”

An organizer in San Francisco, Stephanie Tang, who is with World Can’t Wait and other groups, reports up to a million crowded the city’s Market Street to watch the parade. Around forty to fifty marched in a contingent. Orange and pink Manning stickers were handed out. The contingent was able to get pockets of the crowd to cheer and join chants like “Free Bradley Manning! Stop These Wars!” In some instances, it was clear people didn’t know Manning and the contingent would inform the crowd and then those they were talking to almost always wanted stickers and flyers so they could learn more and perhaps even begin to support him. [Photos of the SF contingent.]

Up to this point, there has been hesitation and division among the LGBT community over whether to support Manning. Thayer suggests this has to do with class and party affiliation.

“[We] have a whole section of leadership of various LGBT organization, which is like leaderships of other minority organizations that try to curry favor with the politicians,” explains Thayer. They are “loathe to do anything controversial.” He believes that can be turned around “once the majority of LGBT people know what Bradley Manning” has allegedly done.

One aspect of the Manning story that carries particular resonance is the abuse he experienced at Quantico. Thayer says what he was subjected to was “very reminiscent of the sexual humiliation that was tinged with homophobia that we saw the US conduct against prisoners in Abu Ghraib and other prisons in that country.” He doesn’t think the sexual humiliation he was subjected to was an accident.

The key for LGBT people (and all other activists) appears to be convincing Americans that what he did was a “signal service.” Thayer recently participated in an illegal pride parade in Moscow, Russia, with LGBT people from the country and Eastern Europe. They all know Bradley Manning’s case unlike many LGBT people in America.

Making Americans aware of how WikiLeaks cables he allegedly released helped contribute to the Arab Spring and communicating to Americans how he has helped to expose the most serious war crimes committed by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan could potentially help grow the community of supporters here in the United States.

*For more, here’s a “This Week in WikiLeaks” podcast I produced that features Stan Smith and Andy Thayer.

Update

Dido Rossi of the Lesbian Bi Trans Queer (LBTQ) in the Global Women’s Strike and Dean Kendall of the Payday Men’s Network have signed on to a letter to the LGBTQ community. The letter calls attention to the silence of LGBT organizations in North America. It declares:

We say “There’s no pride in the slaughter of others!”

We take pride in our LGBTQ sisters and brothers who refuse to be killers, such as gay Filipino/Native-American Stephen Funk, the first US soldier to be convicted and jailed for refusing to fight in Iraq; Mehmet Tarhan, gay Kurdish military refuser in Turkey, whose torture and imprisonment were ended by an international campaign in which grassroots LGBTQ organizations were prominent; and now Bradley Manning.

Similar to Thayer’s comment, the letter points out:

The campaign against the punitive conditions of Bradley’s confinement at Quantico has likewise shone a light on the solitary confinement and other torture endured by many tens of thousands of prisoners, not only but especially in the US. [3] The blueprint for Bradley’s treatment at Quantico, for Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Baghram, is the US gulag of civilian prisons, where most prisoners are people of color, and where especially those perceived as LGBTQ may endure endless sexual violence.

UK Bradley Manning supporters are preparing a contingent for the London Pride parade that will take place on July 2.

Here’s a photo from @payamtorabi of the banner for the upcoming parade:

Lt. Dan Choi: Proud to Stand Shoulder to Shoulder with Bradley Manning

9:52 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

While at Netroots Nation 2011, I had the privilege of speaking to Lieutenant Dan Choi, who served in the US Army infantry, went to war in Iraq and graduated from West Point with a degree in Arabic.

Choi was kicked out of the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) about one year ago. At Netroots Nation, Choi celebrated his one year “anniversary or birthday” as a civilian. He also noted that despite DADT being repealed there are still soldiers getting kicked out of the military for being gay.

The US government is putting Lt. Dan Choi on trial August 29 for “demonstrating in front of the White House in November of last year.” Choi refuses to plead guilty or accept any kind of deal.

“I believe this Administration is making a grave mistake in limiting the areas, times and manners that free speech should be allowed,” declares Choi. And adds nobody should be intimidated into not protesting.

I spoke to Choi the day after he had gone with Hamsher to support Bradley Manning Support Network co-founder David House, as he went before a federal grand jury investigating individuals supportive of alleged military whistleblower Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks. Choi says House is an “American hero” and “our situations are exactly the same.”

Whenever a government tries to stifle the truth by censoring the people, we sometimes take a look at the people. And that’s what’s going on with Bradley Manning. People have been trying to scapegoat him as someone who is crazy or someone who should not have gone to war but I think that Bradley Manning is a great soldier who did something as far as morality.

This was supposedly one of the first times Choi had expressed solidarity with Pfc. Manning so openly on camera.

He continues:

What the true mandate of the American servant of society is he embodied through his act. It’s no different from what Daniel Ellsberg did with the Pentagon Papers. And, I wonder what this president is about to do to this new hero of American patriotism. He is not antiwar. I want to make sure that everybody knows that. From the things that I’ve heard this soldier signed up because he believed in this country and when he saw things that were unbelievable and were being perpetrated by this country, he wasn’t attacking this country. He was trying to teach this country what this mandate of service really was. So, I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with anybody who speaks up against injustice, against war crimes, against torture and against the reprobate actions of any kind of reprobate government that tries to tell them that power belongs to the powerful.

Choi recently visited Moscow to participate in the Moscow Pride parade and stand in solidarity with gays in Russia. I ask him the United States has some effect on how countries around the world treat their own people, particularly gay people.

The US is a “horrible role model not only on gay rights but progress,” replies Choi.

He doesn’t fault the government entirely for failing to be a good role model and concludes, “I blame our courage inadequacy. The only ingredient that is missing nowadays [among activists] is the willingness to stick to your guns ’til the very day that you achieve what you set out to accomplish in the first place.”

Obama DOJ’s War on Free Speech and Activism

7:12 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

A few days ago, rallies were held in cities all over the United States in support of veteran Chicano activist Carlos Montes, who had his home raided by the FBI on May 17. The rallies coincided with Montes’ arraignment hearing for felony charges, which were filed against him by the LA County Sheriffs and FBI after the raid.

The target of an ever-expanding government investigation into antiwar and international solidarity activists, Montes demanded that his charges be dropped. The District Attorney denied his request. Montes asked to see the search warrant and police report on the raid of his home. The District Attorney initially refused the request but then agreed to release heavily edited versions of the documents. Montes was also told he would not be allowed to show the documents to the press.

Tom Burke, a spokesperson for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression and a subpoenaed activist, explains that Montes allegedly was found to be in possession of a weapon that was not properly registered. Burke believes that if Montes hadn’t been a political activist or organizer he would have been contacted about a problem on the gun permit. But, the LA sheriffs chose to make an example of Montes.

Burke also notes, like twenty-three other activists subpoenaed thus far, Montes has a link to the organizing of marches at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The FBI raided the Antiwar Committee office in the Twin Cities in Minnesota in September 2010. On the warrant for the raid there were seventeen names. Burke says Carlos Montes’ name appears on the warrant.

When Montes’ home was raided by the FBI & SWAT team, they smashed Montes’ front door, rushed in with automatic weapons while Montes was sleeping and proceeded to ransack his home, “taking his computer, cell phones and hundreds of documents, photos, diskettes and mementos of his current political activities in the pro-immigrant rights and Chicano civil rights movement.” They did this at 5 am in the morning.

“For people who have had their homes raided, it’s worse than being robbed because it’s the government coming in and taking the things that are nearest and dearest to you – your own writing, your own diary,” says Burke.

Rallies in eighteen cities were held in support of Montes and against ongoing FBI repression of activists. And because the judge did not drop the felony charges against Montes, another round of rallies will be held July 7 to again call for the charges to be dropped.

Recent articles in news publications like the Washington Post has given the repression against activists greater attention. At the Netroots Nation 2011 conference, a member of the audience asked at a panel session titled, “What the Government Wants to Know About You,” if he could get more information on what he read on the recently published Post article.

Marcy Wheeler of Firedoglake, one of the speakers on the panel, described to the audience how the activists are alleged to be “material supporters of terrorism.” She outlined how the grand jury investigation has been opened and recounted how an informant infiltrated the Antiwar Committee. She noted the activists are alleged to have connections to groups in Palestine and Colombia that perhaps have engaged in terrorist activities but concluded, “Chiquita has far closer ties to terrorism than any peace activists but nobody from Chiquita has gone to jail.”

Essentially, the FBI now has all this data and is able to use it to start investigations. The FBI can turn over any rock that they want to turn over and they can seek out whatever they want to find and piece together a case.

With the FBI moving to expand surveillance powers, it is cases like this investigation into activists that the new powers will effectively make legitimate.

Burke reacts to the news that the FBI is claiming new powers, “The FBI has been violating their own guidelines and their own standard operating procedures and instead of saying we violated what we set out ourselves, they decided to expand what they were allowed to do.

Why does the government want these new powers? Why does the Justice Department under Obama support a growing investigation into activists?

Burke suggests with the economy getting worse the American people are getting more frustrated, with the Congress’ approval rating getting lower and lower, the war in Afghanistan failing, stability in Iraq not being maintained and troops not being sent home, the Colombia war stagnating with no defeat of the insurgency—This “cumulation” is leading to more state repression against those fighting for change in the system.

The war on free speech and activism is apparent here at Netroots Nation as people like Lt. Dan Choi and Tim DeChristopher speak on panels and as individuals like David House are discussed during panel sessions.

Lt. Dan Choi, a soldier and gay rights advocate who engaged in an act of civil disobedience at the White House fence last year to push the Obama Administration to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” is facing federal charges for exercising his right to demonstrate. While most people receive misdemeanors for protesting, for the first time since 1917, the Department of Justice under Obama is taking him to trial this August for speaking out.

Tim DeChristopher, a climate activist who placed fake bids in a public land auction to disrupt drilling by energy companies, has been convicted of a crime. Although the land auction was ultimately declared illegal, the Obama Administration has gone ahead and pursued a case against DeChristopher. The prosecution pushed the jury in his trial to not consider his conscience but rather that he broke a law. They nudged the jury to obfuscate facts and, in fact, many key details on the auction were kept from the jury. And so, DeChristopher now faces up to ten years in prison.

And, David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, has been embroiled in a grand jury investigation that seeks to embroil him in espionage charges for being linked to WikiLeaks. House has been targeted consistently by the government for the past months. His lawful association with the Bradley Manning Support Network, which was created to raise funds for the legal defense of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower to WikiLeaks now being held at Ft. Leavenworth, has led the Department of Homeland Security stop him at airports and seize his laptop, camera and USB drive.

What is at stake with the targeting of activists is an American’s right to protest against the government and sometimes take bold action that could be regarded as adversarial. Those who believe in free speech and support a person’s right to protest must not ignore the cases the Department of Justice is pursuing against individuals in this country, who are being made examples to send a message to others that if they draw inspiration and display courage in the face of power they too might face the same punishment or harassment as these people.

*For video of Montes speaking at the rally on June 16, go here.

Grand Jury Meets to Question WikiLeaks Supporters: ‘Do You or Have You Ever Worked for WikiLeaks?’

7:13 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

(update below)

A federal grand jury empaneled to investigate WikiLeaks meets again in Alexandria, Virginia today. David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, is expected to appear before the grand jury. He and others in the Greater Boston area have been subjected to this process, which seeks to embroil them in espionage charges for being linked to WikiLeaks.

It is a tired cliché, perhaps, but, with each new development in the investigation of WikiLeaks—in a process that might be considered a part of a larger war on WikiLeaks—more and more individuals are being made to answer the question, “Do you or have you ever worked for WikiLeaks?” (Soon they will be asked, “Are you or have you ever been supportive or sympathetic toward WikiLeaks?”)

House has been targeted consistently by the government for the past months. His lawful association with the Bradley Manning Support Network, which was created to raise funds for the legal defense of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower to WikiLeaks now being held at Ft. Leavenworth, has transformed him into a marked man. In November 2010, Department of Homeland Security agents stopped House at O’Hare International airport as he was returning from Mexico.

The agents asked House about his political activities and beliefs. His laptop computer, camera, and a USB drive were all seized. The questioning and seizure of personal property does not appear to have been carried out because House posed a threat to border security. But, House was made to face intrusive and intimidating tactics because he joined a lawful group.

“The search and seizure of my laptop has had a chilling effect on the activities of the Bradley Manning Support Network, by silencing once-outspoken supporters and causing donors to retreat. Our government should not be treating lawful activists like suspects,” explains House.

The ACLU has come to his defense and filed a lawsuit against the DHS. The ACLU has called for the “return or destruction of any of House’s personal data still in the custody of the government and disclosure of whether and to whom the data has been disseminated.” And, if not for the ACLU sending a letter to DHS, House would likely have not been able to get his seized laptop, camera and USB drive back after seven weeks.
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