Re why he pled guilty, there’s this from the same interview:
ALEXA O’BRIEN: Well, Bradley Manning is really young, first of all. When he leaked these, he was in his, you know, early 20s. He’s currently 25 years old. He’s also very, very bright and precocious, and he’s very methodical and very logical, and he’s incredibly earnest. He’s earnest in the way that really bright, passionate people can be, and so they can oftentimes be also a bit intense. [...] But you know fundamentally Bradley Manning is actually a very obedient and earnest young man, and if you see him in court he has the kind of personality that would even disarm and has disarmed this very aggressive and boisterous military prosecutor. During the Article 13 when Manning was on the stand for nine hours, by the end of his cross examination with the government, the government prosecutor was smiling at him. There isn’t much mendacity to Bradley Manning, and in many ways he answers questions in the way that you or I would answer questions if we were on the stand for these serious charges. I think he really, really, truly believes that he was doing the right thing and that he couldn’t handle – in a statement he talked about the fact that he didn’t want to work for the Iraqi security police because he knew that these people would be disappeared or would be tortured and he just couldn’t live with that.
HARRY SHEARER: I guess the question about him that lingers with me is, after following the story of his treatment, his pretrial confinement, especially the treatment at Quantico, the person you describe, I mean certainly within the broad parameters of what we consider normal, sounds utterly normal. He doesn’t sound like somebody who’s been tortured for nine months. It doesn’t sound like he behaves like somebody who’s been tortured for nine months.
ALEXA O’BRIEN: You know, Bradley Manning isn’t a maniac. He’s a very reasoned person. And even if you see how he’s instructed his lawyer to handle himself with the press, he said to his lawyer that he only wanted text-based documents published, that he didn’t want to do any kind of exposés. This is a person who’s very scientific in his thinking. I think the fact that he leaked source documents is a thread throughout that, that he wanted the public to really be informed, that he believed in the idea of self-governance and the requirement of public information and knowledge as a requirement for that. This is not somebody who is a showboat, a gloryboat, a media whore, so to speak, so I think he can – even in his plea, he said, “I admit guilt, that these actions are service discrediting and prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the U.S. armed services, and I can see how these leaks harmed U.S. reputation as to how it could handle information, and for that I, you know, I take full responsibility.”
Again, I’m sorry he pled guilty because I think in a fair trial in a not-dumbed-down court (@57) he could be found innocent, and it’s a defense the Constitution deserves and a vindication it sorely needs.
re info on bin Laden’s computer, I thought this was a good exchange in the Harry Shearer-Alexa O’Brien interview:
HARRY SHEARER: …Do we know at this point whether what was found on Osama bin Laden’s computer were the documents themselves or reports of them as published by the New York Times or The Guardian?
ALEXA O’BRIEN: We don’t know. All we know is basically one reference made that was a descriptor by the government when it was talking to the judge in a colloquy about even admitting this evidence; they wanted to have a classified review in camera, which is in chambers with the judge to sort of talk about this evidence. And we know that it consisted of the Afghan war logs and State Department information.
HARRY SHEARER: So theoretically – I’m speculating here – the evidence could constitute the presence on Osama bin Laden’s computer of stories from the New York Times and The Guardian which included reports on some of this information.
ALEXA O’BRIEN: Absolutely. You know, it’s interesting because I think Glenn Greenwald, a highly respected former Constitutional lawyer and journalist, has said that, you know, Bob Woodward writes books that have Top Secret classified information in it, and Osama bin Laden has produced videos recommending to everybody to read Obama’s War by Bob Woodward – what’s the difference here?
(That last I know relates to @58.)
Catching up on earlier replies, re the Reuters FOIA I see James Goodale wrote @71:
It’s hard to justify. The weakness may be in FOIA itself. I have always favored leaking and entrepreneurial reportorial effort myself. Obviously, the Reuter’s “incident” to me was highly protectable whistleblowing.
What does last sentence mean? Govt had legal obligation to release CM video to Reuters, or govt had good legal excuse to protect its own butt, or is that a sidestep to WikiLeaks right to publish or Manning’s right to leak, or – ? I dunno, help appreciated. Finkel got to see the video for his 2009 book, apparently obviously though I don’t think he has said, but not Reuters? How unusual is it for that video not to be classified? Stuff I wonder about.
Thanks to James and Kevin and Bev. Great Book Salon!
I don’t think the Espionage Act was intended to go this far, but here it’s going into made-up law “wantonly publishing” and thought crimes. Also, from point above, if Collateral Murder was unclassified, why couldn’t Reuters get it on a FOIA?
You said on Democracy Now that the Pentagon Papers contained no secrets:
When I—I’ve got one message, basic message, in the Pentagon Papers part of the book, which is: When you look back at the so-called secrets, which the audience heard about in the clips, it’s all a bunch of malarkey. There are no secrets. The case with the Pentagon Papers was a bunch of—bunch of hot air. So, therefore, when we hear today the attorney general saying, “This is the worst secret I have ever seen disclosed,” you know, beware, because, invariably, these secrets turn out to be non-secrets. They are the ability of the government to protect themselves and their own information and their own political power.
It seems to be more about protecting Wizard of Oz pay no attention to that man behind the curtain?
Also, I don’t know if you’ve read Matt Taibbi’s article from March, Wikileaks Was Just a Preview: We’re Headed for An Even Bigger Showdown Over Secrets. I think it’s good; he mentions the Pentagon Papers.
The secrets are out there and everyone from hackers to journalists to U.S. senators are digging in search of them. Sooner or later, there’s going to be a pitched battle, one where the state won’t be able to peel off one lone Julian Assange or Bradley Manning and batter him into nothingness. Next time around, it’ll be a Pentagon Papers-style constitutional crisis, where the public’s legitimate right to know will be pitted head-to-head with presidents, generals and CEOs.
My suspicion is that this story will turn out to be less of a simplistic narrative about Orwellian repression than a mortifying journey of self-discovery. There are all sorts of things we both know and don’t know about the processes that keep our society running.
The interview says to go to orepa.org’s website – just cursory clicking there brings me to this about Ramsey Clark’s testimony:
Both Yochai Benkler (The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case)
Big font inset graphic: The charge of “aiding the enemy” is vague. But it carries the death penalty—and could apply to civilians as well as soldiers.
and Daniel Ellsberg have both noted that the military law Manning is being prosecuted under applies to civilians as well, which makes all of us eligible for the death penalty if the administration so chooses.
Daniel Ellsberg: …by the way, the military clauses surprised me when I really saw an analysis of it. It says “any person.” It doesn’t have to be military. I didn’t know there were military regulations that could be applied to a civilian. I thought I was free of that charge now, being a civilian. No. You don’t even have to be a veteran like me. Any person, anybody else, who writes a letter to the editor that would lead some enemy like Osama to say, “Hey! Right on! I like that!” (laughs) “Post that one on the wall, that’s good,” is subject to the death penalty.
Just wondering if you’d like to comment on that too, thanks.
A related… knot, don’t know best word, is that even though Collateral Murder was unclassified, Kevin says charges are being pursued again Manning for leaking Collateral Murder because Manning thought it was classified. So a thought crime.
Meanwhile, prior to WikiLeaks’ receiving the video, the same Collateral Murder video was apparently leaked or made available, I guess that depends on whether or not you knew it was unclassified, to David Finkel, who wrote about it in his 2009 book The Good Soldiers, which was Army-friendly and Finkel has gone on to win much praise and journalism and monetary awards. It’s just stark the difference between Finkel’s experience and Manning’s, yet it’s the same information that they both received and passed on.
Secret law, made-up law, and law that is excluded from courts and juries?
Also, I’ve commented on Kevin’s page about this, Alexa O’Brien was interviewed recently by Harry Shearer and said Manning’s prosecutors have come up with new crime out of thin air, “wantonly publishing,” that they say is “far, far worse than espionage.” Do you have a comment?
ALEXA O’BRIEN: [Bradley Manning] pled not guilty to one of the more provocative and disturbing charges against him. It’s never been used before. In fact it’s not tied to any existing federal criminal violation or punitive article under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It’s what’s called “wantonly publishing.”
HARRY SHEARER: (laughs)
ALEXA O’BRIEN: (laughs)
HARRY SHEARER: I think we both of us do that every day.
ALEXA O’BRIEN: Yeah. That’s why it’s so terrifying.
HARRY SHEARER: Mmhmm.
ALEXA O’BRIEN: But the crazy thing about this charge is that the knowledge element parallels the knowledge element in the aiding the enemy charge, so it essentially dovetails into aiding the enemy.
HARRY SHEARER: Now, “wantonly publishing” is actually legislative language in some law?
ALEXA O’BRIEN: Well, in oral arguments early on in the pretrial, the government argued that it was, you know, in terms of punishment that it was analogous to espionage but that it was far, far worse than espionage. And the defense came back and said, “This is a made-up offense. This shouldn’t be allowed.”
Also, related question, I just listened to a podcast about the recent OREPA Y12 Resisters case, a Plowshares action to protest nuclear weapons in Oak Ridge. Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark wanted to testify about the Nuremberg Code and the Nonproliferation Treaty and “an individual’s responsibility to the law even if the government tells you otherwise.” I’ll include the part I’m referring to here for reference, but point here is, the judge wouldn’t let the jury hear him. It’s an amazing scenario. I’m not a lawyer, but I could be a juror, and I’m appalled at what juries can’t hear and how dumbed down that makes court. Both here, and in the Tim De Christopher case, and I expect all over the place. By the way, I also want to hat tip all of you that were fighting this fight back in the 1960s and 70s that I still see standing up — you, Ramsey Clark, Daniel Ellsberg. Anyway, comment on Nuremberg defense?
Ralph Hutchison, OREPA: A week before we had the trial here last week, we had a hearing to determine whether or not former Attorney General Ramsey Clark could testify at the trial, and the judge listened to him and eventually said, “I’m not going to allow the jury to hear that kind of testimony.” So Ramsey Clark said that the work that’s done at Y12 violates U.S. agreements under the Nonproliferation Treaty and he called it unlawful, and then the prosecutor said, “Are you saying the people who build these bombs are war criminals?” And Ramsey Clark said, “I’ll say they’re engaged in a criminal activity.” And, I mean, that’s sort of the reality of it. And then Ramsey Clark said, “Everybody who has a part in this is responsible.” There was a discussion about whether to allow the defendants to argue the Nuremberg Code which says, after World War II, after the Germans were obliterated in the Nazi concentration camps, the Nuremberg trials established that every citizen has a responsibility to the law even if the government tells you otherwise. And so these people said, “Well, we went in under our Nuremberg obligation. We see out government is preparing to destroy the planet and innocent civilians would be killed if a nuclear weapon is used, and that violates the laws of war, so it’s a war crime and we want to stop the preparation for a war crime.” But the judge would not allow that testimony to happen, and eventually he said, our prosecutor said everybody has the responsibility, and the judge said, “Well, except the judge doesn’t have responsibility, even though the prosecution can decide whether or not to bring charges, but once they do, I just have to apply the law.” And he tried to duck his responsibility. And of course the lawyer for the defendants asked Ramsey Clark, who had been at the Nuremberg trials, “Were any judges, any German judges put on trial at Nuremberg?” And Ramsey Clark said, “Yes, they were.” And were any prosecutors put on trial? “Yes, they were.” So it was clear in the courtroom, there isn’t any place to hide from our responsibility.
Has anyone ever used upholding their oath to the Constitution, when going up the chain of command has failed, as a legal defense? Has it ever been tested in court? I was sorry to see Manning plead guilty to anything. Look at his context.
As a citizen, the idea of secret law reeks of idiocy and fail. I keep waiting for a ref to blow the whistle, throw a flag and stop the game right there. But they don’t.
It’s a failure of reason, which undermines the whole Constitution.
Do you have a comment on the recent FOIA decision on info related to targeted killings wherein Judge Colleen McMahon wrote that she couldn’t see how the government’s position could be constitutional…
I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our Government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.
… and yet denied the ACLU and NYT’s FOIA?
How do you challenge that when the courts faint and crap out at the mention of the words “state secret”? There is no constitutional check and balance anymore.
I would quote Joey Cain, who nominated Manning. Again, from Kevin Gosztola:
Or, as Cain told me in an interview:
I got news: the gay community is part of the larger human community. So, when someone does something that exposes the US military’s crimes, that may embarrass the US, but this is stuff Americans should know and the world should know. To me that benefits gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and I don’t buy this argument that he’s done nothing for the gay community because we have this narrow definition of what that means. It’s ridiculous.
He added, “The idea that a gay person who does a heroic act that benefits humanity should not be a Grand Marshal for Pride is reprehensible.”
That’s as close to definitive as I can get.
I quoted and linked to 5/9 Gosztola, wherein he links to his 4/27 post, “SF Pride President Capitulates to Military Groups, Announces Bradley Manning Won’t Be Honored,” which contains various quotes, including:
—A Navy veteran and gay military activist named Sean Sala, who immediately launched a campaign to boycott the SF Pride parade this year if Manning was honored and wrote in a press statement:
…As the organizer of the 2011 Active Duty Military March in San Diego Pride and working with the Pentagon to approve the first ever Uniformed Military march in a Pride parade, I am appalled, infuriated and sad. San Francisco has spit in the face of LGBT Military by using a traitor to our country as a poster child. They are not using Manning for anything they truly admire, only to boost their attendance and garnish more currency for their parade….
thatvisionthing commented on the blog post To Those Who Think Bradley Manning Supporters Should Get Their Own Damn Parade
I read it as “not this category not this year.” He cannot win community grand marshal this year, so put him over there in celebrity grand marshal category and let him compete there NEXT year. Works for them, dust off hands.
It sounded to me like Second Amendment cold dead fingers stuff. I’m kind of that way about the First Amendment myself.
Oregon is beautiful. I’m in an area that the ACLU has mapped out as Constitution-Free Zone. Sigh. I drive through border patrol check stations and a gauntlet of cameras and scanners every time I go to work. It sucks, it’s sad, it’s stupid, but you can still meet kindness even here.
Here’s another Eisenhower quote I saw when I was looking up the prison one: “No one can defeat us unless we first defeat ourselves.” I think the government can’t defeat itself fast enough with its Alzheimers compartmentalization of information and mindless paranoia, but I keep looking to the people to see what we’ll do next.
There was another quote that made me think Eisenhower would be proud of Manning: “That was not the biggest battle that ever was, but for me it always typified one thing – the dash, the ingenuity, the readiness at the first opportunity that characterizes the American soldier.” In one of the youtubes I saw, at a rally for Bradley Manning, Daniel Ellsberg was giving a speech in front of a giant Manning banner. And you could believe that Manning was being honored at like a Fourth of July parade. And it seemed so right. Maybe it was this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmqx0VXCdqA Maybe someday he will be. I hope.
You’re talking number of documents, he was weighing lives and watching a system fail with horrible consequences. You’re acting as if the system was sound and working. It wasn’t and isn’t. He blew the whistle as well as he could. He did something imperfect when there are no perfect remedies. He gave us something to reason with. He exposed it to our consciences. He involved us. Get real, wake up.
As for the documents, see @331. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange offered the U.S. government the chance to identify harm and redact, just as govt does when stuff is leaked to NY Times etc., and govt blew him off. So, no harm identifiable after all, or who was irresponsible?
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