Bradley Manning · Wikileaks

What You Need To Know About The Bradley Manning Verdict

Think Progress

At 1 PM EST, a military court handed down the long-awaited verdict in the case of United States v. Bradley Manning, finding him not guilty of the most serious charge against him, that of “aiding the enemy,” in leaking thousands of government and military documents. Manning has, however, been found guilty of another 19 charges, including 5 counts of espionage.

Manning has been both vilified and lionized during his time in the spotlight and today’s conclusion of his trial will likely bring those two sides back into debate over what Manning’s saga means for the ongoing debate between secrecy and security in the United States. While the sentences for the other charges he was found guilty of remain to be decided, here’s what you need to know about the case:

The Private 

Private First Class Bradley Manning joined the U.S. Army in 2008, training as an intelligence analyst after his graduation from basic training. Reports indicate that before and during his service, Manning was dealing with various issues, including a history of depression and possible bullying for being openly gay in a time of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In 2009, Manning was deployed to Iraq’s Forward Operation Base Hammer, from which he had access to the various classified networks that at the time were available to any and all analysts with very few restrictions. It was while in Iraq that Manning was arrested in May 2010 on allegations of passing on documents and videos to Wikileaks. After three years in detention, Manning’s trial finally began in June of this year.

The Leaks 

The first leak included videos passed along to Wikileaks showing the U.S. military opening fire on a crowd of mostly unarmed Iraqi civilians. The next, much larger, drop of information showcased a failing war effort in Afghanistan and a flailing U.S. attempt to keep the country together during a time when the U.S. focus was on Iraq. That was soon followed up with a similar drop of documents related to the war in Iraq. Both of the troves were released through a series of agreements among the New York Times, Guardian, and Der Spiegel newspapers to redact the names of sources and anything they believed would harm personnel serving in the field.

The final set of documents published from the cache Manning passed to Wikileaks was the massive repository of U.S. diplomatic cables that became known as Cablegate. Ranging from 1966 to 2010, the documents — all of which were classified as Secret or below — painted a clearer picture of the inner workings of international diplomacy than had ever been made public. Several deals between the U.S. and other countries related to counterterrorism — including with Yemen and Pakistan — were brought to light through this document dump, and some observers say they helped spark the protests that would become the Arab Spring.

Critics, however, allege that the release of the diplomatic documents made the conducting of international relations all the more difficult — particularly after the accidental release of all of the cables in full — and that several informants listed in the unredacted Afghan cables have since faced harsh retribution and possibly death at the hands of the Taliban.

The Charges 

A large part of the confusion surrounding both the charges and the proceedings of Manning’s trial has been the venue in which it has taken place. Due to the fact that Manning was still in the Army at the time of the leaks, his case wasn’t ready-made for a civilian court. Instead, the U.S. military opted to place Manning through a court-martial, with military appointed prosecutors, defense, and judges.

Manning stands accused of 21 charges under the Uniform Military Code of Justice, including several that have been incorporated from the civilian code. Manning has already plead guilty to several of the lesser charges, including many of those involving computer fraud or abuse. What remains include charges of failures to obey a lawful order, in this case ignoring the protection of classified material and circumventing security software, and several counts charged under the Espionage Act — including delivering national defense information to “persons not entitled to receive it.”

Most serious of the charges Manning faced was one count of UCMJ 104, “Aiding the Enemy,” which has the distinction of also being the most controversial of the charges against him. According to the statute, the military had to prove that Manning aided “the enemy with arms, ammunition, supplies, money, or other things” or “knowingly harbors or [protects or gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly.”

If Manning had been found guilty, the sentence would have come with a likely life sentence in prison and the possibility of being awarded the death penalty. A conviction from Army Col. Denise Lind would possibly have hadwide-ranging ramifications, as it would be the first time that such a verdict would be handed down to someone who did not directly pass along information, having more often been used against prisoners of war who provided information while in captivity.

Treatment In Detention 

Supporters of Manning allege that during the time before he was officially charged, Manning was subject to mistreatment from the U.S. military. This includes being forced to stand for hours on end, being granted little in the way of bedding during his time in solitary confinement, and being stripped of his clothing. P.J. Crowley, at the time spokesman for the State Department under Secretary Hillary Clinton, spoke out against Manning’s treatment and later resigned, saying he had lost the White House’s “trust and confidence.” (Crowley has also said he opposes the charge against Manning of aiding the enemy.)

Then-senator, now Secretary of State, John Kerry at the time defended Manning’s treatment as a protective measure. “There are concerns about what is happening, but a strong argument is being made that they’re trying to preserve his safety, they don’t want him harming himself, and using his own clothing to hang himself, or do something like that,” Kerry said. Kerry’s statement conforms to what military prosecutors said of Manning early in his detention, deeming him a suicide risk due to his history of depression.


Anonymous Announces Wikileaks Alternative (VIDEO)

I’m not sure what to make of Anonymous.  I do know that they have piqued my curiosity…

Addicting Info

Love it or hate it, Wikileaks has become entrenched in popular culture. By releasing what are otherwise secret documents, Wikileaks has changed the world. But the repeated attacks on the group has exposed weaknesses of its centralized operation and have driven a wedge between it and previously allied groups, such as the hactivist collective Anonymous. And with Wikileaks founder and spokesman Julian Assange a wanted man, the days of Wikileaks have always been numbered.

But, as with the attacks on Napster, the attacks on Wikileaks did not crush the customers of the service. Instead, it restructures the operation, changing from a centralized agency to a de-centralized. Napster became replaced by bittorrent, and now Anonymous has announced its replacement for Wikileaks, a service they call TYLER.

The issues between Wikileaks and Anonymous go back to the financial problems forced upon Wikileaks after its finances were cut off. In order to continue functioning, Wikileaks had to begin to demand payment. This in turn added liabilities to Wikileaks and its supporters. Facing the added pressure, and the proven liability of the single target to focus efforts against the access of information, Anonymous took the same approach as taken several times before: decentralize. So began Anonymous’s “Project Mayhem” which has produced TYLER:

Now instead of a single target, every single machine connected to Tyler will become a hub. Millions of machines, all churning over and handling the data. It is a nightmare scenario for any group or agency seeking to hide its secrets. No longer will there be a large rat to target, but millions of scurrying cockroaches, any single survivor enabling the reconstruction of the entire network.

The actions against Wikileaks have, instead of prevented the leaking of sensitive data, now made the leaking of that data now a trivial occurence, done by anyone in a matter of minutes, all in complete anonymity. The concerns over another Bradley Manning, being held for releasing secret documentation, are almost trivial, since  it will be next to impossible to track when the next Private Manning comes along. It has now become no longer a matter of if, but when.

The Anonymous TYLER system, the culmination of years of work for the hactivist collective, stands poised to change the rules of not only the internet, but of society itself. The age of state secrets, of corporate lies, can not continue with the bright light of TYLER to shine on them. This is a disruptive technology, you cannot fight it, only adapt to it.

The Fog of War · Wikileaks

WikiLeaks cable: U.S. troops handcuffed, shot Iraqi children in raid

I must admit that when I read this story at around 8:00 am on the McClatchey site, I was hesitant about reporting it for various reasons which I won’t detail here.

I will not post the horrifying picture that accompanies the story on either McClatchey or The Raw Story.  One would have to click on the link to either site to witness the horrific graphic detail.

In every war this country has ever fought, there are a few soldiers, who for whatever reason, have sunken into the darkest depths of the so-called fog of war.

The Raw Story

According to a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, U.S. troops massacred an Iraqi family in the town of Ishaqi in 2006, handcuffing and then shooting 11 people in the head including a woman in her 70’s and five children ages five and under.

McClatchy is reporting that the soldiers then called in an air strike on the house to cover up evidence of the killings.

This account differs sharply from an official version of the 2006 incident, which indicated that coalition forces captured an al Qaeda in Iraq operative in the house, which was destroyed in a firefight. The WikiLeaks cable, however, corroborates accounts by Ishaqi townspeople and includes questions about the incident by Philip Alston, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The cable is dated twelve days after the incident, which took place March 15, 2006. In it, Alston says that autopsies performed in Tikrit on bodies pulled from the wreckage of the farmhouse indicated that all of the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head.

The victims included “at least 10 persons, namely Mr. Faiz Hratt Khalaf, (aged 28), his wife Sumay’ya Abdul Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra’a (aged 5) Aisha (aged 3) and Husam (5 months old), Faiz’s mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz’s sister (name unknown), Faiz’s nieces Asma’a Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 3 years), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad Hameed Mehdi (aged 23) were killed during the raid.”

Here is the cable…

Julian Assange · Mike Huckabee · Wikileaks

Assange calls for criminal charges against ‘shock jock’ Fox hosts

Raw Story

WikiLeaks founder calls Bradley Manning ‘political prisoner’; says Fox hosts, politicians committing ‘terrorism’

Julian Assange has accused Fox personalities Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, among others, of committing terrorism through their calls to hunt down and kill the WikiLeaks founder.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Cenk Uygur, Assange referred to the politicians-turned-Fox-personalities as “shock jocks” who should be charged for inciting violence against him and his organization.

He also referred to Huckabee as “just another idiot trying to make a name for himself.”

Asked what he thought of the accusation — made by Vice President Joe Biden and others — that he is a “high-tech terrorist,” Assange said his organization’s actions didn’t meet the definition of terrorism — but those of Fox personalities and other TV pundits did.

“We see constant threats from people, the Republican Senate trying to make a name for themselves, people like Sarah Palin to shock jocks on Fox and, unfortunately, some members also of the Democratic Party, calling for my assassination, calling for the illegal kidnapping of my staff,” Assange said.

“What sort of message does that send about the rule of law in the United States? That is conducing violence in order to achieve a political end. The elimination of this organization or the threat of violence to achieve a political end, the elimination of a publisher. And that is the definition of terrorism.”     More…


Confirmed: WikiLeaks’ next target is Bank of America, Assange says

Logo used by Wikileaks
Image via Wikipedia

Now this should be interesting, and less intimidating to the U.S. Government…uh, on second thought…

Raw Story

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Tuesday the Swedish women who have accused him of sexual assault had got into a “tizzy” about the possibility they had caught a sexually transmitted disease from him.

Assange told the BBC that one account of what happened in August — the month at the centre of allegations against him — was that the two women had panicked when they found out they had both slept with him and went to police who “bamboozled” them.

He insisted he was fighting a Swedish extradition warrant because he believes “no natural justice” would occur in Sweden.

“There are some serious problems with the Swedish prosecution,” he said in an interview from the mansion of a wealthy supporter in eastern England where he must stay as part of his bail conditions.

Sweden wants Britain to extradite the 39-year-old Australian to face questioning over allegations from two women that he raped one of them and sexually assaulted the other in Stockholm in August.

Assange claimed that the Swedish authorities had asked that his Swedish lawyer be “gagged”, adding that his offers to be interviewed by video link or by Swedish officials in Britain had been rejected.

“I don’t need to be at the beck and call of people making allegations,” he said.   More…

Julian Assange · Wikileaks

Julian Assange Bail GRANTED; WikiLeaks Founder Back In Court

Julian Assange (2)
Image by bbwbryant via Flickr

Update:  Julian Assange remains in jail as Sweden appeals against bail decision

Huffington Post

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is back in court today, and has been granted bail by a British judge. He has been in a British prison for a week after being denied bail last week. Assange is wanted for questioning for alleged sex crimes involving two women in Sweden. It is thought that one of the women, Anna Ardin, may no longer be cooperating with prosecutors.

Assange released a statement from prison via his mother saying that Visa, MasterCard and PayPal are “instruments of U.S. foreign policy.” He also said:

My convictions are unfaltering. I remain true to the ideals I have expressed. This circumstance shall not shake them. If anything this process has increased my determination that they are true and correct.

Ron Paul · Wikileaks

Ron Paul Defends WikiLeaks On House Floor (VIDEO)

Ron Paul lays out his own basic libertarian principles as the reason for defending WikiLeaks…

Huffington Post – Jason Linkins

In the wake of the recent WikiLeaks document dump, Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), the self-styled libertarian crusader who’s spent the past half-decade building up a massive grassroots following, has emerged as a principal voice in support of the transparency that WikiLeaks has provided. In a speech on the House floor yesterday, Paul held forth at length on the controversy.

Others may disagree, but I don’t read Paul’s remarks as a defense of Julian Assange specifically — Assange is only mentioned three times during the five minute oration. This was perhaps wise, given the fact that Assange is facing charges unrelated to WikiLeaks abroad, and has become a fractious enough figure within the WikiLeaks organization itself that internecine battles have broken out, with one faction preparing to open their own site, “OpenLeaks.”   But it’s certainly a defense of WikiLeaks in principle, and whistleblowers in general — Paul spends more time discussing Daniel Ellsberg than he does Assange.

On balance, Paul’s speech primarily touches on themes that he’s advanced throughout his career: his antipathy to neo-conservative empire-building, the lies that precipitated the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the primacy of individual liberty, and the value of dissent. WikiLeaks simply gives Paul’s convictions some urgency.


Continue reading here…

Sarah Palin · Wikileaks

Palin Complains Hackers Violated Free Speech, But She Scrubs Even ‘Benign’ Content From Her Own Website

I’m an advocate of the First Amendment and always will be.  Attacking anyone’s site to inhibit “free speech” is wrong.   That includes whoever was responsible for denial of service to Wikileaks and those responsible for the subsequent similar attacks on opponents of Wikileaks. 

However, when I see blatant hypocrisy and duplicity regarding “free speech”,  especially while  hiding behind the same principle when it’s convenient to do so, I prefer to stand on the side that exposes the hypocrisy.  Hence…

Think Proogress

Yesterday, Sarah Palin’s website came under attack from pro-WikiLeaks hackers angry at her criticism of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Palin e-mailed ABC News and said, “This is what happens when you exercise the First Amendment and speak against his sick, un-American espionage efforts.” Her spokeswoman added that Wikileaks supporters claim to be “in favor of free speech yet they attack Sarah Palin for exercising her free speech.”

While shutting down Palin’s website is both illegal and inappropriate, Palin is hardly one to call out free speech hypocrisies. Her Facebook page, for example, is strictly policed for content that Palin doesn’t find appropriate. Time magazine writes in its current issue that “eight Palin lieutenants scattered across the country were quietly given the job of policing her site. To this day, they scrub anything that is threatening, pornographic or unfit for children; that questions Barack Obama’s citizenship or the parentage of Palin’s toddler son Trig; or that hints that the government was behind the 9/11 attacks.”

As Slate’s John Dickerson noted recently even polite disagreements with Palin are regularly expunged:

The comments on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page offer a relatively unbroken chain of adulation, applause, and approval: “Tell it LIKE IS MRS. PALIN.” “God Bless you Sarah!! Thanks for all you do!!” “Palin 2012!!!!” No matter the topic of her posting—an endorsement of a candidate or a remark about energy policy—scores call for her to run for office.

[But] there are a host of benign posts deleted from supporters who simply disagreed with the person Palin chose to endorse in a particular note. A typical one addressed her endorsement of Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire for U.S. Senate: “I can’t believe Sarah endorsed Ayotte. Ayotte is not a Momma Grizzley, she’s just another progressive in Rep. clothing. The 912 group I belong to and some of the other groups in the state are disappointed by this endorsement.”

This [deletion] caused a little stir among the commenters. “Why are the few comments expressing disagreement with this endorsement being deleted?” wrote one. “Just because some of us disagree with the endorsement doesn’t mean that we don’t follow Sarah Palin.” Alfred Petross wrote, “I just wish you would listen to me as a resident of the 3rd Congressional District. All I am doing is voicing my opinion and my posts keep getting deleted….” (These comments were then deleted.)

Continue reading here…