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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.

Glenn Greenwald: Two Obama Policies That Expand the Assault on Civil Liberties [VIDEO]

4:30 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

Throughout the past couple of days, I have been posting video of  Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald’s speech at the Socialism Conference held in Chicago, IL. last weekend. Instead of posting the speech in full, I have been posting the speech in segments to draw attention and encourage discussion on key aspects of Greenwald’s speech.

My post on Part 1 of the speech is here. My post on Part 2 of the speech is here. And now, here’s part 3.

Greenwald describes two areas where President Obama has embraced two policies that former President George W. Bush never employed. The first is asserting the right to target and assassinate US citizens.

…The Washington Post in January 2010 reported there were four Americans on Obama’s list of individuals, who he has declared without any due process to be terrorists, who the CIA is now not just permitted but instructed to hunt down and murder. One of who is Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born American citizen in Yemen who the US government hates because he speaks effectively to the Muslim world about the violence that the US commits in that part of the world and the responsibility of Muslims and the need of Muslims to stand up to this violence. The US hates him because this message is resonating and so the solution is not to charge him with crimes, because he’s not committing any crimes because you have the First Amendment right to say the things you say. It’s not even to detain him without process. They’re not bothering with that. They’re trying to kill him. They’ve shot cruise missiles and used drones at at least two occasions in the last year to try and kill this US citizen without due process, not on a battlefield but in his home, in his car, with his children, wherever they find him. And, this power is one that the Obama Administration has asserted for itself in a way that George Bush and Dick Cheney never did. [emphasis added]

As Maria Lahood pointed out on Democracy Now! in May, after the Obama Administration attempted to assassinate al-Awlaki but did not succeed, he has not been charged with anything.

The Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU brought a case against the US government charging that al-Awlaki had a right to due process. They weren’t arguing that he could not be killed. They were arguing that if he is guilty of a crime he had the right under international law and the Constitution to be granted due process, a right that most in the American political class appear to have utter contempt for when it is granted to those suspected of engaging or promoting terrorism.

The case, brought on behalf of Al-Awlaki’s father but ultimately thrown out because the court found his father didn’t have the standing to seek relief for his son and the questions raised were “political.” The decision to label him a terrorist and decide to kill him overseas was determined to be not reviewable by a court of law.

The second area Greenwald outlines is the war on whistleblowing, which the Obama Administration is waging, which he argues is important ”because if you combine the extraordinary secrecy powers of the US government…with the unbelievable subservient establishment media that won’t disclose any facts or truths without getting permission from the US government,” you see that “whistleblowing is one of the very few avenues left that we even have to learn about what our government does.” And, according to Greenwald, that is why the US government sees whistleblowing as such a threat.

He talks about WikiLeaks in the context of this war on whistleblowing:

Not only is the Obama Administration trying to criminalize what WikiLeaks is doing; there’s a very aggressive grand jury in northern Virginia to try to turn what they’re doing into a crime, even though all it is is the core of investigative journalism—revealing the secrets of the world’s most powerful corporate and government factions. If that’s turned into a crime, then meaningful transparency and journalism are dead, but they’re also doing a whole other variety of things like trying to invade the social networking communications who anyone who is even suspected of supporting WikiLeaks. And they’ve even gone so far as to execute a policy of detaining anyone they suspect of being associated with WikiLeaks at airports when they try to reenter the country, American citizens. And they’ve not only detained them but they’ve seized their laptops and other electronic devices like thumb drives and the like, memory drives. And then they just seize them and copy their contents, sometimes don’t return them, sometimes return them after a couple months—All without any form of judicial oversight or search warrant. They literally go through and do it routinely. It’s a form of pure harassment. [emphasis added]

David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, and Jacob Appelbaum, a WikiLeaks volunteer, have faced this harassment. Not only have they been harassed at airports, but House has been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in Virginia and Appelbaum has had his Twitter user data subpoenaed. You can read more about the government’s repression of Appelbaum and House here.

Also, in the case of New York Times reporter James Risen, the government is arguing there is no such thing as “good leaks,” effectively laying the groundwork for criminalizing whistleblowing in most if not all instances.

Greenwald goes on to further contextualize these two policies the Obama Administration has adopted. And, he concludes after demonstrating the Administration’s utter disregard for the Constitution (call it the “audacity of hope”):

You really do wonder, if we allow these sorts of things, these kinds of breaches of basic constitutional freedom without much backlash or objection, what is it that we would object to? Or what would trigger real backlash? That I think is an important question to answer.

There have been small attempts to preserve American civil liberties. A number of people condemned the recent extensions of provisions of the PATRIOT Act. And, after Bush left office, a number of people pushed for accountability for Bush Administration officials, only to abandon their campaigns for justice because they did not think there was any realistic chance of holding officials accountable.

Many have accepted defeat. Some are just realizing that Obama has been continuing Bush policies that continue and expand attacks on civil liberties (see Part 1 of Greenwald’s speech). Either way, it should be considered stunning and abysmal that the public tolerates what the government is doing. But, unfortunately, those who are most capable of fighting tolerate the apathy or melancholiness of the public and do very little to challenge the Obama Administration.

Glenn Greenwald: Obama Has Maintained Indefinite Detention, State Secrets Powers [VIDEO]

8:32 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

The Socialism Conference was held in Chicago, IL, over the weekend. On Saturday, July 3, Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald delivered a speech on civil liberties in the age of President Obama.

I attended the conference and recorded Greenwald’s speech. Part 1 of the speech has already been posted. Now, here’s Part 2.

Up front, Greenwald makes clear the critique of Obama should not be that he has been “slow to reverse” Bush policies. Rather, the critique should be that he ”has affirmatively embraced them as his own and in many cases extended far beyond where George Bush and Dick Cheney ever dreamed of taking them” (and, if you saw Part 1, you understand this is now bipartisan consensus in American politics).

Indefinite detention is the first area he outlines. He describes how ”the heart and soul of the controversy over Guantanamo, over Abu Ghraib, over the universal worldwide system of detention,” the notion of putting a person in cage for life without any shred of due process, has been maintained.

A key salient point:

…If you talk to Democratic partisans and apologists of the president, what they will say is that the reason that he hasn’t close Guantanamo is not his fault. The reason is that Congress passed a law or a series of laws impeding his doing so. And that’s not necessarily untrue. Congress did pass a series of laws barring the closing of Guantanamo, in effect. But, before that ever happened, the president’s plan for a “closing of Guantanamo” was not really to close Guantanamo at all. It was simply to move it a few thousand miles north to Illinois, where the aspects that made it so controversial—namely imprisoning people for life without due process—was going to be fully preserved and maintained.

Now, the controversy as I understood it during the Bush presidency about Guantanamo was not, “Isn’t it so outrageous that George Bush and Dick Cheney are imprisoning people without due process on an island in the Caribbean rather than doing it in Illinois?” …

Recently, in May, Rep. Howard McKeon (R-CA) introduced legislation to “embed in law the principle of indefinite detention without trial for suspected terrorists.” This was a part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which gave the president the authority to wage war anytime, anywhere and without congressional authorization (a power that Congress doesn’t need to grant the Executive Branch because it has already claimed the right to engage in worldwide war without the consent of the American people, effectively rendering Congress an administrative and mostly impotent body when it comes to checking the consolidation of power in the Executive Branch).

Greenwald also outlines how habeas corpus rights have been argued against by the Obama Administration:

…Despite the horrendous record of not just imprisoning people without due process but imprisoning obviously innocent people without due process, the Obama Administration took the position that this right the Supreme Court recognized applies only to people in Guantanamo but not anywhere else that the US imprisons people, such as at Bagram, Afghanistan or in places in Yemen or any other places where the US maintains prisons…

By winning this argument in the Supreme Court, President Obama can simply direct agencies and formulate policy that circumvents Guantanamo and instead just use prisons America has in other countries, for example, “black sites.” Or, the US can just use navy ships to indefinitely detain people (and maybe in some cases bring them to trial).

Finally, Greenwald illuminates how Obama has gone along with a Bush policy on state secrets that Bush significantly altered in such a way that his administration was able to guard against judicial review if they were suspected of breaking the law.

[The state secrets doctrine] said that, in certain cases involving national security and certain judicial cases, some documents may be so secretive that, even though they’re relevant to the litigation, even though they’re relevant to the case, even though in all other instances they would be allowed to be used, some documents are so sensitive and risk triggering the disclosure of important state secrets that they can’t be used in the case, even if they’re relevant. And what the Bush presidency did was it converted this doctrine from a document-specific privilege, that said certain documents couldn’t be used, and they developed a new theory that said certain topics are so secretive that they cannot be the subject of litigation, even when the president is accused of breaking the law. And that was basically the tool the Bush presidency used to shield itself from any judicial review for its actions, even the most illegal ones.

Obama has used the state secrets doctrine to guard against investigations into torture, rendition, warrantless wiretapping, etc.

As University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey R. Stone, someone who has spoken publicly about going after WikiLeaks under the Espionage Act, points out in and editorial published on June 26 titled, “Our Untransparent President“:

…The dawn of the Obama administration brought hope that Congress would enact the proposed State Secrets Protection Act of 2009, which would have limited the scope of the doctrine. Indeed, shortly after President Obama took office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. suggested that the doctrine should be invoked “only when genuine and significant harm to national defense or foreign relations is at stake and only to the extent necessary to safeguard those interests.”

Since then, however, the Obama administration has aggressively asserted the privilege in litigation involving such issues as the C.I.A.’s use of extraordinary rendition and the National Security Agency’s practice of wiretapping American citizens…

*Check back soon for more video of Glenn Greenwald’s speech.

Glenn Greenwald: Bush/Cheney Approach to Civil Liberties Has Been Continued & Embraced by Obama [VIDEO]

3:31 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

The Socialism Conference was held in Chicago, IL, over the weekend. On Saturday, July 3, Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald delivered a speech on civil liberties in the age of President Obama.

I attended the conference and recorded Greenwald’s speech. Throughout the next couple of days, I will be posting video of his speech and, eventually, a full transcript of it will be made available.

In this first part, Greenwald discusses how it has become conventional wisdom that Obama has continued many of the Bush Administration policies, which were once regarded as policies that shredded the Constitution, but now in Democratic circles it is considered to be “Democratic consensus.”

He describes how one year ago it was “controversial” and “provocative” to utter observations that President Obama had virtually continued “the entirety of the Bush/Cheney approach to the war on civil liberties and terrorism.” It was something people found “repellent.” But, now, it has become “so obvious” and “self-evidently true.”

That it has become so blatantly obvious means one no longer has to spend time proving the existence of continuity between the two administrations, Greenwald argues.

One of Greenwald’s most salient points is made as he highlights how the Bush-following American right has had to acknowledge Bush policies have continued under Obama and thus admit he has been strong and courageous on national security.

“The reason why I find it interesting that even the right wing is willing to acknowledge these policies have continued under the Obama presidency is for decades the Republicans have gained really potently on a political level from accusing Democrats of being weak on national security or soft on terrorism in the age of terror,” Greenwald suggests.

He adds:

Now, weak on national security in American political parlance doesn’t mean that somebody shies away from acts of strength and courage. And similarly, strength and national courage doesn’t mean that one acts strongly or engages in acts of courage. It means the opposite. What strength and national security means is a willingness to send other people’s children off to war to risk their lives to kill large numbers of civilians in foreign countries.

Greenwald cites Jack Goldsmith, former National Security Agency head under former President George W. Bush, Michael Hayden, and former Vice President Dick Cheney as proof that one of Obama’s greatest achievements among the political and ruling elite in America is that he has made what was once controversial, and seen as right wing radicalism, part of a bipartisan political consensus. And, by making this part of a consensus, Greenwald argues, debate is effectively ended; the policies are no longer objectionable to the political class in Washington.

Finally, Greenwald notes liberal professors and leaders of liberal groups like the ACLU have noted the continuity and expressed their disgust and outrage at the fact that the assault on civil liberties has continued and in some cases escalated under President Obama.

Discussion of civil liberties and the Obama administration’s assault has been largely absent from conversations. At liberal conferences, discussion has been pushed to the margins.

Netroots Nation had one panel, “What the Government Wants to Know About You,” that looked at some of the policies expanding under Obama. There was little talk about Guantanamo and lack of accountability for torture. Liberal organizers focused on the right wing attack on the middle class, avoiding outright condemnation of the bipartisan support that President Obama has created on national security (although Kaili Joy Gray of Daily Kos did ask White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer why Guantanamo hasn’t been closed).

In October, the liberal Campaign for America’s Future that holds a “Take Back America” conference each year is rebranding their conference, “Take Back the American Dream.” Led by Van Jones, there will likely be minimal conversation on civil liberties or national security policy, as the focus will involve a much more politically safe discussion on jobs and unemployment.

A key difference between those who attend Netroots and “Take Back America” conferences and those who attend Socialism conferences is the fact that those in attendance seldom consist of people with radical views, which in American history have been openly condemned and in many cases left people with those views open to government smearing and prosecution. Those with socialist views understand what many liberals take for granted, why civil liberties must be protected.

How can one fight a right wing assault on what Democratic Party operatives term the middle class if one’s civil liberties or rights under the constitution have been entirely stripped away or rendered meaningless, especially in cases when one is challenging power?

There’s a Twitter town hall tomorrow at 2 pm ET. This is an opportunity to undermine liberal organization leaderships’ efforts to make nice with the Obama Administration and overlook the Administration’s ever-expanding assault on civil liberties by doubling down on Bush Administration “war on terror” policies.

Purify the Tweet stream for #AskObama with lots of questions and remarks on the continuity between the Bush and Obama Administrations.

*Go here for Part 2 of Glenn Greenwald’s speech.

As Wall Street Support Shifts from Left to Right, Liberal Pundits Respond to Gibbs’ Attack

6:29 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

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Robert Gibbs in studio interview by studio08denver

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs became the spokesperson for Obama Administration contempt toward the left on Tuesday. The display of contempt came in the midst of a nearly 70 percent shift in Wall Street executive donations from Democratic candidates to Republican candidates ahead of the November mid-term elections.

On Tuesday, The Hill published an interview with Gibbs, who said what Obama has done and is doing would never be "good enough" for the "professional left." Gibbs attacked the left for comparing Obama to George W. Bush, suggested, "these people ought to be drug tested" and said they "wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president." He also said they would only "be satisfied when [America has] Canadian healthcare and [America has] eliminated the Pentagon."

Gibbs’ remark revealed a lot about what members of the Obama Administration think of the role of debate and citizen participation in government. And, the implicit apology Gibbs made in the aftermath of his "inartful" comments revealed even more about an administration that believes progressives should take marching orders from this administration or else.

"So we should all, me included, stop fighting each other and arguing about our differences on certain policies," he said, and work together "because we’ve come too far to turn back now," Gibbs said after mentioning he watches a lot of cable television, as if to excuse his remark.

While circumstantial, the best evidence for why Gibbs would feel like uttering the aforementioned remarks is the shift of money from Wall Street to Republicans ahead of the election. Obama was the candidate of Wall Street in the 2008 Election garnering nearly $8 million in campaign contributions from securities and investment industries (nearly double what Republican presidential candidate John McCain garnered). The Democrats earned 57 percent of campaign contributions from securities and investment industries.

The situation compels the Obama Administration especially White House press secretary Gibbs to whip the left and the sections that are most listened to by voters into line not only because money from business interests needs to swing back the other way but because disappointed and disillusioned voters will likely stay home, not donate to Democratic Party campaigns, not make phone calls, and refuse to go door-to-door canvassing prior to Election Day if they do not fall in line.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →