You are browsing the archive for julian assange.

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.

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

10:34 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peirce told Hayden before the extradition appeal hearing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 →

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.
Read the rest of this entry →

CNN’s ‘WikiWars’ Documentary Exploits Character of Julian Assange to Cast Doubt on WikiLeaks

9:58 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

Closely following the character of Julian Assange, founder of the pro-transparency media organization WikiLeaks, the recently aired CNN documentary, “WikiWars,” provides a presentation of the story of the organization with a prime focus on Assange’s character. It is another opportunity, like PBS’ Frontline documentary “WikiSecrets,” for a wide audience in the United States to get a better grasp of the nature of the organization.

That, perhaps, is what makes discussing this documentary important. There is no new information in this documentary, but, packaged together, the documentary uses Assange as a vector for communicating the idiosyncrasies of WikiLeaks to an audience. Whether legitimately done or not, viewers are able to hear Assange in footage obtained by the producers and also hear a handful of people, who have worked with Assange, discuss what he is like.

The documentary can be broken into the following parts: an introduction into the behavior and motivations of Assange, the founding of WikiLeaks (which highlights the work that impacted Kenya and Iceland), the release of the “Collateral Murder” video, the release of the Afghan War Logs that involved collaborating with the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, the accusations of sexual assault that now find him under house arrest in the UK and the rise of a secret global force of cyber hacktivists known as Anonymous that have launched DDoS attacks in defense of WikiLeaks.

Larsen frames the story in the opening scene like this:

Over twenty years ago the Berlin Wall came down and it marked the end of a cold war between two superpowers. Now, there’s a battle that’s being waged for control of information. Its frontlines aren’t brick and mortar walls, they’re firewalls. Its weapons are computers, not missiles. And its warriors—hackers, activists, even anarchists. It’s an epic struggle over state secrets between institutions and individuals. And at the center of this war is Julian Assange.

Centering the documentary on Assange has a way of reinforcing the notion that WikiLeaks is an autocratic organization that is all a project of Assange, who has little regard for his actions. The enigma of Assange is built up throughout the film. He is made to seem more like a fictional character in a spy movie instead of a human being whom has the ability to discern right from wrong and is committed to transparency because of his conscience belief in what the opening up of governments can do to correct injustices and corruption.

As Daniel Domscheit-Berg, former member of WikiLeaks who defected from the organization, says, Assange is smart and intelligent and doesn’t really care what anybody else thinks about him. He says Assange sees himself as a “hero of a spy novel” and believes he and everyone around him is being constantly tapped and followed (which journalist Mark Davis says later in the documentary is probably true).

The story sets viewers up to doubt the judgment of Assange’s handling of WikiLeaks releases. It asks those watching to consider whether he might be a maniac by showing interviews with journalists like David Leigh of The Guardian, who not only claims Assange has to have it explained to him there are “flesh and blood consequences” to leaking but also says at one point Assange “didn’t behave like earthlings.”

Fmr. Brig. Gen. Used to Discredit the “Collateral Murder” Video

The most disparaging criticism comes from former Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt. Kimmitt, who served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs under George W. Bush from August 2008 to January 2009, is used as a tool to discredit the work of Assange and WikiLeaks. The producers employ his viewpoint to help viewers decide whether Assange and WikiLeaks are correct in their belief that the “Collateral Murder” video, which WikiLeaks released in April 2010, is in fact a war crime.

Here’s the full exchange between Kimmitt and Larsen, who go through some of the video together in the CNN Studios in Washington, DC (note: not once is it noted that Kimmitt served in the Bush Administration and might have a clear bias):

LARSEN: This clip is where they believe they identify an RPG. It turns out as we know now that was a long lens telephoto camera held by a Reuters journalist. You can see him as he peak’s around the corner there.

(voice over) The Reuters photographer, his assistant and the men around him were all gunned down.

KIMMITT: This photographer shouldn’t have been walking around with an instrument that looks very much like a weapon.

LARSEN: Is the blame on the photographer or is it a causal series of mistakes made by the crew there that led to the ultimate negative consequences?

KIMMITT: Warfare is not perfect. There are mistakes that are sometimes made. He shares much of the blame for what happened here.

LARSEN: I want to move to the van video. And what you see is the van that’s coming to help grab some of the wounded people on the ground. The Apache helicopter asks for permission to engage.

KIMMITT: Again, this is an active battlefield. That van could have other fighters inside of it with weapons. Those fighters could put soldiers at risk and kill other soldiers that they’re fighting.

ASSANGE: We can see in this video that the young pilots in the Apache helicopters have become debased in their charcacter. They are playing video games with real human lives and looking for excuses to kill people.

(voice over) LARSEN: It turned out there were children inside the van.

LARSEN: I have a decade in naval special warfare. You’re obviously thirty years in the army. Soldier to sailor, ground pounder to ground pounder, should these men have exercised more restraint?

KIMMITT: I don’t think so. What we have here from everything I’ve seen is that they followed the proper procedures.

LARSEN: If they did everything by the book, is there something wrong with the book?

KIMMITT: I don’t think so. The book doesn’t have every scenario. It doesn’t have every possible outcome.

Ethan McCord and Josh Stieber might agree with Kimmitt. Both are soldiers who were part of Bravo Company 2-16, the company of soldiers in the video. McCord and Stieber, however, did not accept that nothing morally reprehensible happened that day. They wrote an open letter of reconciliation and responsibility to all who were injured or lost during the shootings in the released video.

The Iraq War veterans wrote the “Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created. From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region.”

Larsen could have easily contacted McCord and Stieber and had them talk about their opinion on the “Collateral Murder” video release. Since Larsen and others involved in the making of the film specifically wanted people who were active in the WikiLeaks story, McCord and Stieber would have made good characters to feature especially since “Collateral Murder” and the Afghan and Iraq War Logs were a major part of the film. Both could have spoke to “rules of engagement” and what they were asked to do as soldiers during the Iraq War.

But, they are not included. The documentary instead presents us with Kimmitt, a character who defies the criteria Larsen and others set for including people.

Kimmitt is not an active player in the WikiLeaks story; he has only read the military’s report on the “Collateral Murder” video. Essentially, Kimmitt does for the documentary what “military analysts” planted on news shows by the Pentagon did throughout the Iraq War: he appears to be objective because he read the report and is calling it like he sees it and this supposedly gives him the authority to minimize the significance of a video that depicts the horror of war.

Is it even worth it to explain why blaming the Reuters photojournalist for being killed is reactionary? The remark is like blaming a hot blond woman for a sexual deviant’s decision to rape her.

Assange Thought Afghani Civilians Deserved to Die

After discrediting the “Collateral Murder” video release and presenting Assange as an adversary of the United States, journalists whom Assange worked with on the release of the Afghan War Logs appear to discuss the relationship between them and how the release of classified information occurred. Nick Davies, a journalist with The Guardian, describes tracking Assange down and speaking to him in Brussels, Belgium. It is here that Davies convinced Assange partnering up with media organizations could maximize the impact of his war logs releases.

The key tension in this part of the documentary stems from discussions over what names to redact and not redact. Davies explains, “All of us came across material which was clearly likely to lead to the death of innocent civilians if we published it. All of us had the experience of bringing this to his attention and being told in effect, ‘If an Afghan civilian helps coalition forces, then they deserve to die.’”

It is a “high crime” for a pro-transparency organization to release material it knows will endanger the people it most wants to help. Therefore, there should be some kind of skepticism raised as to whether this is true or not. But, Leigh and Davies are not pressed on their description of the dispute that was had.

From PBS Frontline’s full interview with Assange for the documentary “WikiSecrets,” there is a reasonable motivation for the release of names, as Assange explains:

We, as all good investigative journalists do, name names. We name names of those people that are involved in corrupt or abusive activities, and that includes in Afghanistan. And then there are people that are incidental characters, that are not themselves threatened in any way. They should also be named as part of just the context of the situation.

We have a harm-minimization procedure. A harm-minimization procedure is that we don’t want innocent people who have a decent chance of being hurt to be hurt. Now, no one has been hurt. There is no allegation by the Pentagon or any other official source that anyone has been physically harmed as a result of our publication of the Afghan war logs, the Iraq war diaries or the State Department records, or the “Collateral Murder” video, or in fact anything we have done over the past four years in over 120 countries.

Here, “WikiWars” fails. It had the potential to really get into specifics of allegations that WikiLeaks “has blood on its hands.” It could have gone to official sources in the Pentagon and State Department. It could have talked with people in Europe and in the Middle East. There could have been a segment that got to the bottom of this consistent claim that WikiLeaks has led to the deaths of innocent people. For example, former State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley alleged during an Index on Censorship panel discussion that hundreds of people are known to have suffered because of the release of material by WikiLeaks. CNN’s “WikiWars” crew could have involved Crowley and worked to find out what evidence Crowley has for such allegations.

The Government is Not Going to Stop WikiLeaks

In the final part of the documentary, viewers are introduced to Anonymous, which is described as a “secretive global force of cyber hacktivists.” Two members of Anonymous – sometimes referred to as “Anons” – speak with Larsen.

An Anon explains that Anonymous is part of an Internet subculture that believes in anonymity, freedom of thought freedom of speech and freedom of expression all taken to a logical extreme. The Anon explains the government is after Anonymous and that is why members must have anonymity. And, WikiLeaks is worth supporting because they believe in many of Anonymous’ ideals especially the idea of exposing secrets.

“They’re not going to stop WikiLeaks. Even if the government were to take down WikiLeaks, they’d essentially be martyring WikiLeaks and a hundred other sites would spring up. The only thing they can do is turn the Internet off and even that didn’t stop the people in Egypt,” explains an Anon.

Larsen understands this reality. As the documentary concludes, he laments, “In some sense, the WikiLeaks phenomenon is unstoppable—part of a new reality where whistleblowers go global and make governments quake, where a leak can add fuel to a revolution. But, governments will fight back.”

The section on Anonymous along with the scenes on the release of war logs and the “Collateral Murder” video all serve to present a rising challenge to US government, one that consists of players creating much uncertainty for the future of American superpower. It’s the same uncertainty driving the US government to ramp up its efforts to establish a coherent strategy and policy for cybersecurity that can protect commerce and agencies withing US government. It’s an uncertainty that leads to questions like, for example, should a pro-transparency organization that is accountable to no one (as government officials and those in US media contend) be allowed to release material and make it harder for the US to conduct wars and international diplomacy?

Julian Assange understands it doesn’t matter if the war on WikiLeaks by the US succeeds or not. As he said in a press conference call:

…. Either the mainstream press in the United States collapses as an effective investigative organ holding the government to account and all sources then are forced to only deal with WikiLeaks, or the administration finds that it has to conform to the U.S. First Amendment and other parts of the Constitution and then the United States is a free society that upholds our values…

Don’t underestimate the impact that a presentation like this can have on the public in the United States if what is said is not clarified or reviewed properly.

Many Americans know very little about WikiLeaks. They may know the name Julian Assange and the name Bradley Manning. They might have heard media reports that said Assange was suspected of raping two women or they might know that a soldier was held at Quantico for leaking classified information. Certainly, PBS Frontline’s “WikiSecrets” documentary went a long way to “educate” Americans on the key details in the story of Bradley Manning. And, now with “WikiWars,” Americans get an “education” on the character of Julian Assange.

Larsen and crew properly include Iceland and Kenya in the backstory of WikiLeaks and Assange. How WikiLeaks revealed there were “hundreds of killing at the hands of Kenyan police” during violent disputed elections in 2007 show that WikiLeaks can potentially make the world a better place. The spotlight on WikiLeaks’ posting of a secret loan book in July 2009 that revealed one of the largest bailed out banks, Kaupthing Bank, made risky loans that likely contributed to Iceland’s banking crisis which brought the country to its knees further establishes that WikiLeaks can improve society. In Iceland, viewers learn they were regarded as “local heroes” because of the leak and influenced a push in Iceland to strengthen press protections and make Iceland a “haven for whistleblowers.”

Post Iceland and Kenya, audiences are not treated to this kind of tolerant analysis of WikiLeaks operations. The case might be made that it is far better to be critical and get to the truth. Supposing that is true, it is worth considering the fact that a CNN poll conducted in December 2010 found seventy-seven percent of American disapprove of “the online organization’s release of thousands of confidential US government documents concerning US diplomatic and military policies. Only twenty percent approved of the action.”

Assuming the level of support found here was an accurate representation of the level of support in the United States and assuming that it remains at this level, Larsen and crew would have known going in that most Americans are skeptical and, in fact, irked by the operations of WikiLeaks. So, in that sense, what Larsen presents is “safe” journalism that helps to affirm Americans’ views toward WikiLeaks.

That WikiLeaks has published information the US public should have a right to know (i.e. the overclassification of information by government) is overlooked. That WikiLeaks is a publisher and should be protected by press freedoms that all media organizations enjoy is not discussed. The sheer number of revelations on US corruption and abuse of power by the United States is omitted (an excuse might be that production had to wrap and could not get to this aspect). And, that Assange was awarded a Sydney Peace Prize and WikiLeaks has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize is not fully examined.

Here’s two key questions for the producers of “WikiWars”: Why, all over the globe, is WikiLeaks being given credit for being a force for good?  Why is it being nominated for peace prizes and medals when here in the United States most contend it has put lives at risk and exercises reckless authority when deciding what information to publish and not publish?

The answer might help the producers understand where they failed and why Americans will, even after “WikiWars,” still not get what WikiLeaks is all about.

WikiLeaks Through the Looking Glass: A Panel Discussion in a School of Journalism Classroom

7:15 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

ImageA student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago was gracious enough to invite me to speak on a panel on Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower to WikiLeaks, which he had to put together for his “Media, Ethics and the Law” class. I participated in the panel this morning.

In addition to myself, the student informed me Timothy McNulty, a foreign editor for the Chicago Tribune who covered the Iraq invasion and the Afghanistan War, and Paul Rosenzweig, Carnegie Visiting Fellow and former Department of Homeland Security official, would be participating. A couple of student journalists would speak during the panel as well.

McNulty and Rosenzweig were both present in the classroom where the panel was held. I was in The Nation Magazine office in Manhattan, New York.

The student who organized the panel had me call in and put me on speakerphone. I was able to listen to what McNulty and Rosenzweig were saying.

Rosenzweig began the panel saying with assurance there isn’t any doubt the material WikiLeaks has released has caused risks. He said lists have been created of people who were listed in the documents—lists featuring the names of informants—and the Taliban has been hunting these people down.

Rosenzweig cited a Zimbabwe opposition leader who many believe to be endangered as another example of the risks WikiLeaks’ releases have created. He said there are good laws on secrecy, files released contained information on whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, and he has no problem with Manning being prosecuted.

McNulty agreed. And I was greatly disturbed by the falsehoods that McNulty let stand and made certain that I was able to comment.

I corrected what Rosenzweig said about there being no doubt that there has been harm to people was “pretty false.” There is significant doubt as to whether people have been harmed. I don’t know if there is a concrete conclusion on how many people have suffered or died as a result of the releases.
Read the rest of this entry →

We Have the Rest of This Year to Save Bradley Manning

9:00 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

A little more than a year ago, Pfc. Bradley Manning was arrested for allegedly leaking classified information, specifically the “Collateral Murder” video that showed the slaying of two Reuters journalists by the US military forces. He was held in Baghdad, shipped to Kuwait, held in isolation away from any sort of media attention and then transferred to Quantico Marine brig in Virginia, where he suffered inhumane treatment as the military subjected him to harsh conditions hoping he would crack and comply with interrogation.

Ann Clwyd in the UK House of Commons, former State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley, David House, Amnesty International, the Bradley Manning Support Network and numerous other supporters from around the world including over 500,000 individuals who signed a virtual Avaaz petition to President Barack Obama, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates all contributed to the attention that eventually led to Manning being transferred to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, where he now is given much better treatment.

To discuss Manning and the one year anniversary of his arrest, I had Kevin Zeese, a Bradley Manning Support Network Steering Committee member, come on the weekly podcast I independently produce called “This Week in WikiLeaks.” The show looks at stories related to WikiLeaks from the past week and offers people a way to stay informed on the latest news related to all things WikiLeaks especially news that involves Cablegate, Bradley Manning, the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks, transparency, secrecy, whistleblowing, etc.

[*To listen to the show, go here and click play on the embedded player. Or, go to CMN News and click "download" or "listen." It will appear at the top of the page or in the list.]

In the past week, there were two documentaries (or films) that went public, which portrayed Bradley Manning. One was the PBS FRONTLINE documentary (which I had much to say about and even went on RT’s “The Alyona Show” to discuss). Another was an investigative short film put together by The Guardian.
Read the rest of this entry →

PBS Chat Raises More Questions on ‘WikiSecrets’ Documentary

7:41 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

ImageProducer Marcela Gaviria and producer/correspondent Martin Smith, who both worked on the FRONTLINE “WikiSecrets” documentary that aired last night, and Brian Manning, Bradley Manning’s father, participated in an online PBS chat that offered people an opportunity to ask questions and make comments about the film.

Gaviria/Smith suggest the prosecution in the Manning case is “quite strong” and investigators have “matched Manning’s computer to [computer hacker Adrian] Lamo’s, verifying the authenticity of the chats.” Gaviria/Smith add, “To be acquitted Manning’s lawyer would somehow have to prove that Manning had been framed and his computer had been tampered with.”

This focus on Lamo overlooks a key legal dilemma that has risen as a result of President Barack Obama declaring at a fundraiser that Manning “broke the law.” That’s the issue of “unlawful command influence.”

Whether Manning could have a fair trial now that the Commander-in-Chief has told his subordinates he thinks Manning is guilty is doubtful. A military officer would be risking his career if he or she handed down a decision that did not meet the approval of the Obama Administration. Gaviria/Smith are seemingly oblivious to this when they type their answer.

Asked why the documentary overplayed Manning’s homosexuality, Gaviria/Smith explain, “Manning’s homosexuality is not relevant. What is relevant was his struggle with the Army’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy. It eroded his respect for Army authority and led to disillusionment with Army life. It’s not that he was gay, it was that he was discriminated for being gay.”

A clarification is necessary. Two points are raised here: one is that he lost respect for authority. That is a point that could very well incriminate Manning during his trial. The other point that he was discriminated is much more benign. It implies his frustration with the military was justified because he was being treated unequally.
Read the rest of this entry →