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I've purposely been mostly silent on the Wikileaks business, but I'll begin by saying I do not agree with Wikileaks' most recent actions. However, I certainly do not believe Assange should be prosecuted over it. The United States has an obligation to guard its secrets. Mr. Assange does not. He is not American nor subject to American jurisdiction. I do not like what he did any more than I like to see people burning the American flag overseas. That does not mean I believe we need to start wars or prosecutions over it. Wikileaks was given the information. All we know at this point is that they did nothing illegal to obtain it. They have every right to publish what they obtain. That is free speech and the United States has to live with it.

Pfc. Bradley Manning, however, is a different story.

Bradley Manning was born in Oklahoma and enlisted in the Army of his own free will at age 18. Manning was an intelligence analyst assigned to the famed 10th Mountain Division which is headquartered at Fort Drum, N.Y. He was promoted to the rank of Specialist. Before this incident, he faced disciplinary action including being busted down in rank back to Pfc. His unit was deployed to Iraq. In his position an analyst, he was given access to DISN, although it appears not full access. His clearance level was secret, giving him access to both confidential and secret information, but not Top Secret.

Private Manning should have had his secret clearance taken at the first incident of trouble. After striking a fellow soldier, being busted down in rank, and being prepared to be discharged, it is simply insane that this man was still given clearance. The Pentagon should investigate Private Manning's chain of command because there was a problem of supervision here. I realize that the granting of secret clearance is not uncommon. I had it myself while standing watch at an American embassy. However, at any sign of discipline problem, which striking a fellow soldier definitely is, that security clearance has to go. I don't know about Big Army, but I know the Corps would have put Manning to cleaning head pronto. So that's the Pentagon's fault in this.

But Private Manning had a responsibility as well. As a member of the armed forces, he is sworn to defend the constitution and obey his chain of command. When Manning was given a security clearance, he was given the duty to keep what he saw secret, no matter how disturbing or unconstitutional. And if he did see something criminal or unconstitutional, he should have reported this up his chain of command. If he got resistance or inaction from his chain of command, then he should have taken it to the staff of the House or Senate Intelligence Committees. If that was ineffective, he should have taken the matter to the Inspector-General. And if that didn't work, refer the matter to FBI or other Justice Department officials who deal with intelligence matters. Only after exhausting all these avenues of administrative remedy should Private Manning have gone to the press, and even then only after he was discharged.

What you don't do is leak that information to a foreign entity. That is most certainly something very much like sedition. Or if he was a Marine, very much like mutiny.

It is only fitting that he is now in the Marine Corps Brig at Quantico. That is exactly where his ass belongs until a court-martial strips of him of whatever dignity he has left and puts him away for a long, long time. He is not a good soldier and certainly not a hero. He should consider himself lucky no American lives were lost as result of his actions or he'd deserve to be put before a firing squad or hanged at high noon. I have absolutely no sympathy for people who voluntarily join our armed forces and then bring dishonor upon it. But there is a chain of command and a military code of justice for a reason: to distinguish the real heroes from the posers.

Private Manning didn't believe in any of this. He didn't believe in the uniform he wore nor what it stood for. He didn't believe in his country. Which is fine. That is his right. He only needed to serve out his tour and become a civilian. He could then emigrate to any country of choice. But what he did while serving in uniform is no different than your banker taking your deposits and heading to Vegas. A trust was violated and a vow broken. He isn't a hero in any sense of the word. Because real heroes don't do shit like this. Not in this way.

So I say free Assange. Shame on the Pentagon. And good riddance to Bradley Manning.

Originally posted to Triple-B in the Building on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 04:43 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Oorah! (5+ / 0-)

    Your suggestion has only one flaw - it is logical and fair which seems to deny it Republican support. - Jay Inslee

    by psilocynic on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 04:47:04 PM PST

  •  Word. (9+ / 0-)

    If Assange wasn't doing what he's doing, someone else would.  The Internet made something like Wikileaks inevitable.

    But, Bradley Manning didn't come across a smoking gun.  He harvested documents and then dumped them.

    He will be serving time, and rightfully so.

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 04:49:33 PM PST

    •  First he came across 2 smoking guns, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geekesque

      the Iraq and afghanistan footage.

      Then, the thrill of it all went to his head.

      President Obama: Free The Baculum King dailykos userid 13754

      by ben masel on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 05:08:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And I would argue he shouldn't be (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ivorybill, PhilJD

        prosecuted for the footage leaks.

        Heck, I don't think he should do a lot of time for the other leaks.  I'd rather he was a young kid screwing up this way than with a gun in a village.

        But, the people who let him have access to vast databases--some superiors' heads should roll (figuratively of course) as a purely operational matter.

        "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

        by Geekesque on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 05:14:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  He had other options available (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vcmvo2

        to report what he saw.  He could have tried for an investigation or gone to his superiors.

        •  the Iraq helicopter murders had already (8+ / 0-)

          been 'investigated,' and whitewashed, by brass with access to the same tapes.

          President Obama: Free The Baculum King dailykos userid 13754

          by ben masel on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 06:02:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ditto with so much that happened (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Garrett, opinionated, Dallasdoc, 3goldens

            Even the IGs were implicated in whitewashing the bush admin's corruption.

            There is so much that was pushed under the rug during the bush years. And before and after. But, the stench of corruption is all over the bush admin.  

            <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

            by bronte17 on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 06:23:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, there was a lot of covering up during the (0+ / 0-)

              Bush administration, but there have also been a number of prosecutions, some successful and some not, of misbehaving military members.  I NEVER see the people who are so eager to talk about war crimes talk about the prosecutions which have occurred and are ongoing to this day.  Guess it doesn't feed the narrative.

              •  Who has been prosecuted? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                crose

                Grunts? Like Lyndie England?

                Lyndie was an outcropping of a larger symptom. She did not formulate the psychological warfare on the Abu Ghraib prisoners.

                The issue is that the top echelons in the chain of command has never been touched.

                <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                by bronte17 on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 07:04:13 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Hey, I'm all for prosecuting those responsible (0+ / 0-)

                  up to the highest level, but you're straying pretty far afield here.  The question is:  Did Manning violate his oath in downloading and providing to a foreign privileged information?  Yes, he did.  So is that OKAY with you?  Do you not see ANY problem with what he did?  Focus on that and stop talking about OTHERS. This is about Manning.

                  •  The comment was in response to "never see" (0+ / 0-)

                    this site talk about the prosecutions that have occurred "because it doesn't feed our narrative."

                    ... I NEVER see the people who are so eager to talk about war crimes talk about the prosecutions which have occurred and are ongoing to this day.  Guess it doesn't feed the narrative.

                    As for Manning... there are various degrees over several different issues in which he should be prosecuted. It's not all-or-nothing.

                    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                    by bronte17 on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 12:58:56 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  So the cure is to appoint himself (0+ / 0-)

            the one who takes not only THAT information but literally every single other bit of information he could get his hands on and hand it to a foreigner?  Sorry, this point doesn't sell.  Moreover, I've watched that footage many times.  One thing I noticed was that during the initial encounter the background chatter was to the effect that there were American Humvees nearby and whoever was looking at it on the feed clearly believed he was looking at weapons.  So I've never bought the idea that the initial shooting was a deliberate murder, but more the fog of war.  But that asshat Assange LABELED it a deliberate and calculated murder and ran around selling it as such. As to the second attack, that's far more problematic, but still, we don't know the entire story behind it.  Looks criminal, yes, but a lot of so-called simple crimes really aren't.  

            •  Yes that is the only remedy. (0+ / 0-)

              Unreasonable people change history.

              A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

              by Salo on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 08:33:10 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  I am (0+ / 0-)

          sure that would have gone as well as every other military investigation.

  •  Totally agree about giving one's word, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RaulVB, vcmvo2, Geekesque

    taking an oath and honor. I'm also in favor of second chances, so I hope that Manning eventually learns and is rehabilitated, though he's got what's come to him for sure.

    Assange is a different case, and I have been discussing it with some friends recently...basically, we're trying to formulate the difference between whistle blowing published by journos and wholesale document dump a la Assange. Won't bore anyone with my thoughts (OK I'm not willing to argue them.)

    Pareto Principle: 20% of the people do 80% of the work.

    by jeff in nyc on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 04:50:15 PM PST

  •  Largely, I agree with you BBB (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dallasdoc, ivorybill

    but I can't help but feel sorry for Mr. Manning. I remember how it was being in the armed services. I remember being alone. If a group like Assange's had approached me at my lowest point (you said he was already going through Article 15 proceedings and being busted down a rank to PFC) and said "You can be a hero. You could save America" I probably would have taken them up on their offer.

    I am not sure thats exactly how it went down, but I have my suspicions. Even though he deserves to be in prison for what he did, I can't help but feel for the guy.

    Keep your objectivity: masturbate early and often!

    by rexymeteorite on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 04:52:37 PM PST

  •  Manning should be severely punished, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jeff in nyc, Ezekial 23 20

    but that doesn't take away from how beneficial his actions have been to the free world.

    He knew what he was getting into, and will suffer the harsh consequences so we can all be a little more free.

    Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you what you are.

    by Musket Man on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 04:52:46 PM PST

  •  Seriously, what was the protocol for protecting (8+ / 0-)

    privileged information if a moon-faced, unstable, poorly behaved private could access this kind of stuff?

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 04:54:58 PM PST

    •  "Intelligence Sharing" (5+ / 0-)

      According to reports, he was able to gain access to the State Department's cables because they were put on the Department of Defense's computer network after the September 11th attacks, as a way to share information between agencies & departments.

      From Stratfor (via the NY Times):

      The cables themselves come via the huge Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet. SIPRNet is the worldwide US military Internet system, kept separate from the ordinary civilian Internet and run by the Department of Defense in Washington. Since the attacks of September 2001, there has been a move in the US to link up archives of government information, in the hope that key intelligence no longer gets trapped in information silos or "stovepipes". An increasing number of US embassies have become linked to SIPRNet over the past decade, so that military and diplomatic information can be shared. By 2002, 125 embassies were on SIPRNet: by 2005, the number had risen to 180, and by now the vast majority of US missions worldwide are linked to the system - which is why the bulk of these cables are from 2008 and 2009.

      SIPRNet is a network used to distribute not particularly sensitive information that is classified at the secret level and below. However, while the last two batches of documents were largely battlefield reports from U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, this latest group allegedly consists of some 250,000 messages authored by the U.S. Department of State, many of which appear to have been sent by U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

      U.S. State Department messages are called "cables" in State Department parlance, a reference that hearkens back to the days when embassies really did send messages via telegraph rather than satellite transmissions or e-mail messages via SIPRNet. These State Department messages were intentionally placed on SIPRNet under an information-sharing initiative known as "net-centric diplomacy" that was enacted following criticism levied against the U.S. government for not sharing intelligence information that perhaps could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Net-centric diplomacy ensured that even though Manning was a low-level soldier, he had access to hundreds of thousands of State Department cables by virtue of his access to SIPRNet.

    •  This was a result of antistovepiping info. (0+ / 0-)

      Theonly problem with Manning is that wasn't well connected. It was amateur. If he were in his 30s he'd have been better able to beat the rap.

      A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

      by Salo on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 08:27:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "no matter how disturbing or unconstitutional"? (9+ / 0-)

    Carefu here, there is a bigger obligation that all US Army soldiers must follow and that is detailed in the Military Code of Conduct:

    "An order which is unlawful not only does not need to be obeyed, but obeying such an order can result in criminal prosecution of the one who obeys it."

    Private Manning was aware of this principle.

  •  And yet (17+ / 0-)

    Nothing has been done to prosecute the perpetrators of the mass murder in Iraq and Afghanistan done in our names. Quite the double standard.

    "Pardon me, I've got something sanctimonious to do." The Rude Pundit

    by BOHICA on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 04:59:11 PM PST

  •  I agree with this diary. (9+ / 0-)

    Again, Wikileaks is not up in the Pentagon's business busting down its servers to gather secret information.  The information was given to them by one of the Pentgon's own.  It is freedom of speech and the United States just have to deal with it.  In fact their ire should be at how the fuck can this information get out there?  Obviously, the high level clearances are just being given away with no serious checking.  That is a United States of America problem, not Wikileaks.  Manning should have had his access restricted at the first sign of trouble, in fact when I was in the military and I had high level access, we had one person out on a drunken rage talking crazy from our group, the information got back to our Captain and the individual's access was revoked, IMMEDIATELY.  And this individual did not get his access back.  This incident also indicates that there are a lot of moving parts going on in the military and not enough individuals to watch it.

  •  Bradley Manning... no way, no how, no hero. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vcmvo2, greatdarkspot

    I propose a toast, knowing that our ties subsist because they are not of iron or steel or even of gold, but of the silken cords of the human spirit. 11/9/10

    by BarackStarObama on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 05:10:30 PM PST

  •  If our government's actions are evil... (15+ / 0-)

    and someone reveals them, they are acting heroically...laws, oaths or regulations notwithstanding.  

    All these secrets are covering up unspeakable horrors committed in all of our names.  I, for one, have had my fill of it.

    Long live the rebels!

  •  Bradley Manning is a hero (10+ / 0-)

    Just like Daniel Ellsberg is a hero. For at least the past decade, this country's government has been engaged in serial behavior that rises to the level of war crimes under the terms set by the Nuremberg Tribunal. Yet, there is no—zero, zed, null set—accountability by our political leaders for their crimes.

    Obama's DOJ has two standards of justice: one for the powerful criminals who get to brag of their crimes in public with no consequences (Bush, Cheney) and another for whistleblowers who try and inform the public of the atrocities being committed in our names. The powerful benefit from the shameful, politically expedient doctrine of "look forward, not backward" while whistleblowers have to face the fist of an authoritarian state.

    Under those circumstances, this government has forfeited the presumption of good faith surrounding its "secrets." (Which are actually secrets being kept from us, the public.)

    Furthermore, the mainstream media has largely abrogated its responsibilities to hold public officials accountable and ferret out abuse.

    Until the rule of law is restored and powerful, violent criminals—torture and war are crimes of violence, are they not?—have to face the bar of justice, I applaud every honorable citizen with the courage to expose the corrupt, imperialist dealings of this government.

    •  The bloodlust against Bradley Manning, (6+ / 0-)

      even on "progressive" DKos, is disturbing. None of us will ever truly know his motivations-- how could we? All we can judge are his actions... and his actions are those of a hero. Any action that puts a roadblock in the path of the American war machine is heroic. The parallel to Ellsberg is precise.

      Many here seem, incredibly, to believe that an American life is worth more than an Afghan life, ten Afghan lives... or a hundred. That's just another version of "American exceptionalism," a neocon mantra that has no place here.

      As others have pointed out, BBB could hardly be more off base than this:

      When Manning was given a security clearance, he was given the duty to keep what he saw secret, no matter how disturbing or unconstitutional.

      Emphasis added. An inconvenient truth revealed at Nuremberg puts the lie to this.

      Most appalling of all is the attitude of some Kossacks, who applaud as Manning rots in chains at Quantico, who want to hang him from the highest tree, yet insist we must look forward not backward while the real criminals, the true traitors of the old regime, walk free in golden slippers, teaching courses at Berkeley Law and writing gloating memoirs.

      That hypocrisy makes me physically ill.

      When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill...

      by PhilJD on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 06:33:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  He's embarrassed very powerful (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CT Hank

      Unaccountable shitheads. But for his own personal safety he's done it badly. He should have used info more sparingly and ally himself to factions in the CIA, State and FBi who might protect him as they did with Ellsberg. Ellsberg had people backing him very high up in the government.

      A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

      by Salo on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 08:08:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder what MB thinks of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA

    this part of your diary

    He is not a good soldier and certainly not a hero. He should consider himself lucky no American lives were lost as result of his actions or he'd deserve to be put before a firing squad or hanged at high noon.

    Plastic ocean: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

    by eeff on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 05:17:34 PM PST

    •  hmm. (0+ / 0-)

      If you are inferring that BBB is inciting violence, I disagree with that. First, his argument was heavily nuanced with an if/then statement. He was saying IF american live had been lost THEN he should have been hanged or brought before a firing squad or whatever the hell he said. Second, he is talking about state-sponsored murder, aka the death penalty. I don't think that counts as inciting violence.

      I disagree with BBB vehemently here, but if you are saying that he broke site rules I would vehemently disagree with you too.

      Keep your objectivity: masturbate early and often!

      by rexymeteorite on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 05:24:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sure you'd be saying exactly the same thing.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lost Left Coaster

    if Mr Manning was a member of the Mexican, Chinese or Iranian military.

  •  Thanks for this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greatdarkspot, dizzydean

    It's a needed perspective. I'm not sure that very many people consider Bradley Manning to be a hero. I think the debate about Assange and Wikileaks is more interesting. Espionage? Maybe so. But Bradley Manning definitely deserves to be locked up for a long, long time.

    •  Disagree (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc, esquimaux, worldlotus, PhilJD

      brooklynbadboy writes:

      But Private Manning had a responsibility as well. As a member of the armed forces, he is sworn to defend the constitution and obey his chain of command. When Manning was given a security clearance, he was given the duty to keep what he saw secret, no matter how disturbing or unconstitutional. And if he did see something criminal or unconstitutional, he should have reported this up his chain of command. If he got resistance or inaction from his chain of command, then he should have taken it to the staff of the House or Senate Intelligence Committees. If that was ineffective, he should have taken the matter to the Inspector-General. And if that didn't work, refer the matter to FBI or other Justice Department officials who deal with intelligence matters. Only after exhausting all these avenues of administrative remedy should Private Manning have gone to the press, and even then only after he was discharged.

      There is so much that I disagree with this in this pivotal paragraph. What about when "defending the Constitution" and "obeying his chain of command" conflict? After all, one takeaway from Nuremberg is that one doesn't blindly follow orders. Now, Manning does not appear to have been given orders that would violate the law. But the U.S. military has certainly been given orders and taken actions in the past decade that violate national and international law.

      "He was given the duty to keep what he saw secret, no matter how disturbing or unconstitutional." I'm sorry but if you are privy to activity that is disturbing and unconstitutional, your first and highest duty is public exposure not fealty to a command structure that facilitates such activity.

      "He should have taken it to the staff of the House or Senate Intelligence Committees." Are you f*cking kidding me? And they would do what? Oversight?! If they haven't done that over the past ten years with all the sh*t that has gone down (and they haven't), why should some lowly enlisted man think they will do it now and commend his ass for the trouble?

      Take it to the FBI or Justice Department? You mean the "look forward, not backward" Justice Department that prosecutes whistleblowers but not torture architects? That DOJ? Or the abuse-National-Security-Letters and illegally wiretap FBI? Let's get real here.

      We have a military, Congressional and executive government that has been engaged in serial assaults on civil liberties and human rights for a decade with each arm protecting and covering for the other.

      If the System was working, if justice was being pursued impartially, if War wasn't the health of our current state, then, yes, Bradley Manning should have gone through the proper channels.

      But that is not the case in contemporary America. The System is rotten. And just as we would have applauded soldiers who went to an outside independent press to reveal the dirty secrets of the old Soviet Union—just as we would applaud any dissident soldier who reveals the corrupt secrets of their country when that nation's government practices torture, illegally wiretaps its citizenry, and starts illegal wars—we should applaud Manning. Would you have insisted dissidents in the Soviet Union, Iran, China, etc. go through the proper channels when you know those channels are corrupted?

      •  How do (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vcmvo2

        State Department cables talking about the mental status of the President of Argentina violate international law?

        Manning dumped 250,000 state department cables.  Had he specifically released information on torture or other violations of international law, I perhaps could see your point.  

        But he released information on NATO discussions on defending the Baltic states, and that even pissed off Sweden.  He released information on scandals affecting Turkish politicians at a time when we need them for negotiations on both Iran and Iraq.

        If your position is that there should be no secrets, or that the United States is so irremediably corrupt that it is an enemy entity, well I can't help you with that.  Any administration, even one you agree with, will have classified information.  I agree that too much is classified.  I agree that there is a whistleblowing role for things like war crimes.  But I'm not sufficiently alienated or dismissive of the US to believe that massive transfer of diplomatic cables, most of which have nothing to do with war crimes, is defensible.  We're just going to disagree on that.  

        "Die Stimme der Vernuft ist leise." (The voice of reason is soft)

        by ivorybill on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 06:41:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Perhaps he didn't have time (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          worldlotus

          To sort through all the cables to get just the most damning ones.

          In a world where our government didn't torture people, maintain an offshore concentration camp, conduct two overt wars and more covert wars, your concern that Manning should have painstakingly sifted all the cables might be one that I would take seriously.

          I assume that he was furtively trying to get as much info as he could with the intention that folks like WikiLeaks and reporters would separate the wheat from the chaff.

          Your examples may embarrass and annoy people. But if your suggestion is that in order to avoid the release of those less relevant cables, Manning shouldn't have released the trove of info that he did, well, you're right—we just disagree.

          I have no respect for the secrets of killers, torturers and warmongerers. It's our country and it is being done in our name and we are the ones who may have to face the blowback.

  •  This doesn't make sense to me (5+ / 0-)

    he [Manning]is sworn to defend the constitution and obey his chain of command. When Manning was given a security clearance, he was given the duty to keep what he saw secret, no matter how disturbing or unconstitutional.

    Emphasis mine.

    He was supposed to keep unconstitutional behavior secret from We The People in order to defend the Constitution.  Oooookaaaay.

    Whatever.

    Feingold needs a "I'm not primarying Obama, you dumb fucks!" t-shirt.

    by zett on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 05:34:24 PM PST

    •  He is supposed to follow (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vcmvo2

      ...the legally established oversight policy all the way through first.  When he ran through that and nothing happened, then he would have a major ethical decision on his hands.  And one part of that ethical decision would be his willingness to take the consequences of legal action.  And that is the action that would defend the Constitution if need be.

      50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

      by TarheelDem on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 06:11:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If all he leaked (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vcmvo2

      consisted of evidence of violations of international law, you might have a point.

      But how do cables on the mental stability of Argentina's president fit in with your reasoning?  Should the US not report on the status of foreign leaders?  If the US should report on that, should all of that information be made public?

      And I'm talking about cables that were released to the press.  I don't think you can make a case that all 250,000 cables were even remotely relevant to unconstitutional behavior.  Had he released specific, targeted cables of illegal acts, he would probably still have to serve some time but he could reasonably claim to be a whistleblower.  This looks a lot more like vandalism to me, with a little whistleblowing thrown in.  

      "Die Stimme der Vernuft ist leise." (The voice of reason is soft)

      by ivorybill on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 06:45:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  All the information maybe wouldn't need to be (0+ / 0-)

        made public - like the mental status of other countries' leaders - if it had not be long standing policy to overuse classification.  But when the government has shown for decades that it can't be trusted, then I don't see how one brings about reform or transparency piecemeal. The whole MIC is one interconnected system of lies, a system that kills people and takes away their human rights. I don't have a problem with someone throwing sand in the gears of a system like that.

        I don't know this, but I do wonder if Manning had time to sift through and decide what to leak or if he had to grab and run if he was going to leak anything.

        If our country is as great as well tell ourselves it is, it will survive these leaks. The world hasn't ended due to the leaks so far.

        Feingold needs a "I'm not primarying Obama, you dumb fucks!" t-shirt.

        by zett on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 05:43:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Tough diary to write, BB, but a good one (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vcmvo2, ivorybill, greatdarkspot

    and spot on.  This kid violated many things he had sworn not to do.  We can talk all we want about the value of the info provided to us or others, but the bottom line is that he went against his oath, violated his clearances and acted unethically.  Certainly should not be put in the same category as Daniel Ellsberg.

    Yes, friends, governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class. James Connolly

    by dizzydean on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 05:35:26 PM PST

  •  Fundamentally on target (5+ / 0-)

    Bradley Manning should be court martialed under the due process of the UMCJ and given proportional punishment.

    Assange was a medium, just like the consortium of newspapers that have be vetting the cables that are being published.

    The deeper issue is this.  You don't classify something secret and give 2 million individuals clearances to see it.  Either it was not secret at all, or secret only within a brief time span, or it was secret enough to protect without interfering in the functioning of the government.  And most of what has come out should have been declassified even before Manning leaked it.  And some major parts of what has been released has already been leaked "on background" to US and other media.

    We have a fundamental structural problem with our national security apparatus.  It was designed 63 years ago and has not changed much since.  It was designed to handle a continuing Cold War, which ended 21 years ago.  It has too many people involved, requiring too many clearances, gumming up the analysis of too much raw data, and providing too many opportunities for the leaking or espionage of information that truly affects US national security.

    That must be dealt with quickly or another person acting like Bradley Manning could very well have access to something substantial and not have the good sense to leak it to someone like Assange, who in turn would not have the good sense to let members of the world press in countries sympathetic to the US publish it.

    In reading the released cables, there are some diplomats I am proud of, who seem to be delivering straightforward information to others in the State Department.  There are others who seem to be grinding out an agenda (the cables about Bolivia from the Bush administration were, er, interesting).  There is a lot of peer-to-peer contacts with embassies of other countries in the same city.  And there are issues that I was not aware of that now are critical to look at; the latest is the concern that Africa is becoming the location of drug networks marketing to Europe (and possibly the US) and that those networks are rapidly developing with indigenous drug lords.  As the formal economy continues in crisis, the underground economy grows; people try to survive.

    There has been a lot of value in the information in the published cables.  Go browse what the Guardian has released thus far to understand a lot more about the world we live in.

    But this diary fundamentally gets the issue of Assange and Manning right.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 06:07:22 PM PST

    •  fundamental problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, worldlotus

      You write, "We have a fundamental structural problem with our national security apparatus."

      True, but it's not the one you describe. The fundamental structural problem we have is that we have a secretive apparatus with no respect for human rights or the sovereignty of other countries. We have a national security apparatus that is a metastatic military cancer not only on the world but also on our own body politic.

      It needs to be cleansed with the disinfectant of exposure.

      •  The fundamental structural problem (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vcmvo2, worldlotus

        ...are the unintended consequences of creating large secret apparatus with less and less real Congressional oversight.  And giving that apparatus the authority to act contrary to international law in matters of human rights.  The issue of sovereignty is a less simple one; intelligence by its nature, and even when Franklin was ambassador to Paris for example, infringes on sovereignty to a certain degree.  And so does asking other countries to observe their commitments to human rights agreements (even if our own record were spotless, this would still be the case).

        There have been two books that I have found helpful in thinking about these issues:

        Jackson Lears, Rebirth of a Nation: the Making of Modern American, 1877-1920, which deals with the rise of American imperial militarism (the external frontier) as opposed to Manifest Destiny (the internal frontier).

        James Carroll, House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power, in which the son of the first director of the Defense Intelligence Agency describes how he, his dad, and the Pentagon all grew up together and how the mindset of the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex developed.  Carroll, currently a writer for the Boston Globe, opposed the Vietnam War even as his dad was gathering intelligence related to that war and was an ordained priest as a result of the witness of Daniel and Phillip Berrigan in the antiwar movement.  He dissects the history of the Pentagon in a way I have not seen done before.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 06:37:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Response (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          worldlotus

          This seems somewhat different from the way you initially framed the fundamental problem. And I obviously am in far more agreement with this framing.

          I also realize that my negative reaction to how I construed your initial framing caused me to pass over somewhat your subsequent paragraphs with which I have significant agreement.

          I still significantly disagree with your contention that this diary fundamentally gets the issues of Assange and Manning right. While we would always want purity of background and purity of intent in those who take on the Leviathan, we know that we are all human. My understanding is that Manning, after having joined the military, saw that things weren't as he had believed. This appears to be a true act of conscience, however messy it may be.

          Daniel Ellsberg said on a recent Colbert Report:

          If Bradley Manning did what he’s accused of, then he’s a hero if mine and I think he did a great service to this country. We’re not in the mess we’re in, in the world, because of too many leaks. . . . I say there should be some secrets. But I also say we invaded Iraq illegally because of a lackof a Bradley Manning at that time.

          •  Acts of conscience (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            vcmvo2, worldlotus

            ...sometimes require that they go to jail for the law they intentionally broke and witness to their conscience from jail.  The classic example is Martin Luther King, or Phillip Berrigan.  Manning most likely is being charged for what he actually did.  And it is most likely a violation of the UMCJ.  The legal procedure that as a soldier he was obliged to follow is the one BBB outlined.

            Assange on the other hand has not been charged with anything related to the transmission of the documents to the consortium of newspaper.  Nor have the newspapers been charged yet.  In these cases, venue is everything.  Being charged for releasing UK secrets is a much different situation than being charged in the US.  The UK has a legislatively passed State Secrets Law.  The US executive has been asserting state secrets as a principle in responses to the US courts, no doubt with the hope of getting it blessed by the courts.

            And Ellsberg is correct.  And Ellsberg could have gone to jail if the prosecution had wanted him to and been competent.  And if there was a jury in the US who would have convicted him.

            50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

            by TarheelDem on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 07:27:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Jail & acts of conscience (0+ / 0-)

              But you don't believe that Martin Luther king, Jr. and Phillip Berrigan believed they deserved to be in jail for what they done, right?

              The point—or at least an important point—of such acts is to highlight the failings of the justice system. The risk is taken to make a larger, moral point.

              When the Wobblies launched their free speech fights in the early part of the 20th century and filled the jails, it wasn't because they felt they deserved to be put in jail for exercising their rights. It was to shame and burden the government that would deny them their rights.

              And while Ellsberg no doubt recognized that his actions might have put him at legal risk, I'm sure he would argue that any crime he committed in his effort to unveil the truth paled next to the massive crime that was the Vietnam War.

              Now, if your point is that different legal issues are raised by the what Manning and Assange did, then of course that is true.

              I'm not making a legal point. I'm saying that a system that allows the architects of torture and leaders who launched illegal wars to escape accountability has no moral standing to then bring the hammer of the law down on Bradley Manning for revealing its secrets.

              •  Sure they did (0+ / 0-)

                They understood that the law is the law and that the moral act aims to change the law by showing that it is immoral.  And sometimes that happens through legislation, and sometimes that happens through direct action that lands you in jail.  Read their writings.

                I'm not sure what "deserve" means in this context.

                What it does require is self-consciousness and a sympathetic organization that can provide support and with whom one is a colleague -- that is, a nucleus for a movement.

                I don't see that happening with Manning.  I already see it happening with Assange.

                Your point about leaders who launched illegal wars and escape accountability is in itself on point, but we have not yet seen the movement or the individual stand up to challenge that.  Persistently challenge it like the Madres of the disappeared in Argentina, or like Daniel Choi with Don't Ask Don't Tell.

                WikiLeaks could be a medium for whistleblowers who have incriminating evidence, but we lack a movement that will go ten years if need be calling for accountability.  There hasn't been that consensus or passion or dedication yet on that issue.  But maybe we are at a logistical disadvantage compared to the movements I used as examples.  They did not have to contend with exercising democratic rights in a homeland security state.  With a media designed to black out the existence of dissent.  And vigilantes ready to punish dissent in a way not seen since the civil rights era.  This is all new, slightly disorienting to folks used to gentler times.

                50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

                by TarheelDem on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 09:24:46 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  There's nothing in violation of US law (0+ / 0-)

    ...or the Constitution in the State Department memos, so anyone who leaked those doesn't have a whistleblower leg to stand on.  Hating US policy, or imperialism generally, isn't enough.  Whoever leaked those documents is guilty of something, but I'm more interested in why they were all available in one place for a person who's not even in the State Department to access so easily.  Hasn't our government heard of compartmentalization as the first rule of keeping things secret?  You don't take all of your disparate secret stuff and keep it together.

    "George Washington said I was beautiful"--Sarah Palin on Barbara Bush, as imagined by Mark Sumner

    by Rich in PA on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 06:27:52 PM PST

  •  Highly irresponsible (0+ / 0-)

    Manning's actions were wrong.  It was also ridiculous for so much to be open to so many people via SIPRNET. That was just insane.

    Manning cannot be defended simply on the grounds that secrets are used to cover up crimes.  Diplomacy is a tricky game, a peaceful way to deal with other nations. Manning compromised diplomacy with his strategic nuclear information bomb.  In so doing he was harming the cause of peace.  Had he leaked evidence of specific crimes, it would have at least had some moral justification.  But dumping over 250,000 messages onto the world was more than reckless.

    Wikileaks, of course, has no responsibility to the US government.  Assange's actions are of questionable benefit -- again, he didn't just publish the bad stuff -- but he should not be seen as a spy.  He's a publisher.

    •  I do wonder if someone like Feingold (0+ / 0-)

      Or Kucinich couldn't have been approached to enhance the intel available to lefties in Congress. The power this could have afforded certain Dem factions was probably wasted. Imagine how effectively certain figures could have been blackmailed into toeing  a progressive line.

      A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

      by Salo on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 08:44:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bradley Manning = Hero + Patriot. (0+ / 0-)
    Totally disagree with this diary.  Is a man no longer innocent until proven guilty in the United States of America.

    Never thought I would be reading such a crock from a Front Pager.

    Send your old shoes to the new George W. Bush library.

    by maxschell on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 07:45:43 PM PST

    •  That's not the way it works (0+ / 0-)

      That's not the way it should work. That's not the way it will ever work.

      He took an oath. He violated it. To hell with him.

      "They proved that if you quit smoking, it will prolong your life. What they haven't proved is that a prolonged life is a good thing." - Bill Hicks

      by Moon Mop on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 09:41:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh the military doesn't believe in the Const.? (0+ / 0-)

        That's news to me.

        How do you know he violated an oath?  Were you there?  Or are you just so confident in the second, third and fourth-hand accounts that you are willing to convict him on a blog?

        Send your old shoes to the new George W. Bush library.

        by maxschell on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 10:41:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am surprised he was given access at that age. (0+ / 0-)

    And with a record of attacking other soldiers.

    I don't know why he ever joined up.

    He is literally out of his depth and without friends. He's an unconneced bum, so jutice will be harsh for him.

    A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

    by Salo on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 08:01:09 PM PST

  •  obey, obey, obey (0+ / 0-)

    funny how it didn't work for Lyndie - she really was obeying orders.

    And what collective judgment shall we heap on Joe Darby, the man who first blew the whistle on Abu Graib?  

    I'm not sure where the line is, but I'm quite certain it's not as clear as you make it out to be.

    "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." President Obama in Prague on April 5

    by jlynne on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 01:48:34 AM PST

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