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Bradley Manning, a US soldier, has been kept alone in his cell in a Virginia jail for 23 hours a day, under constant surveillance for seven months.

The Pentagon denies he is being mistreated, saying that he receives visitors, can make phone calls, and routinely meets with doctors.

But the UN says the use of solitary confinement for prolonged periods can be a form of torture that should be used sparingly.

Greg Mitchell:

3:25 We've followed this issue for a bit and now Amnesty International declares flatly that Bradley Manning is a UK citizen and UK gov't should intervene and protest his harsh and "punitive" confinement.  "The British government is under pressure to take up the case of Bradley Manning, the soldier being held in a maximum security military prison in Virginia on suspicion of having passed a massive trove of US state secrets to WikiLeaks, on the grounds that he is a UK citizen."

Kevin Gosztola from The Nation

WikiLeaks Cables Show Mubarak Not Very Open to Reforms or Freedoms for Egyptians [UPDATE 4]

Typically, Mubarak has been averse to calls from the U.S. (and presumably other governments) to reform. A WikiLeaks cable,09CAIRO874, provides insight into Mubarak’s attitude toward reforming his regime:

¶4. (S/NF)No issue demonstrates Mubarak,s worldview more than his reaction to demands that he open Egypt to genuine political competition and loosen the pervasive control of the security services. Certainly the public "name and shame" approach in recent years strengthened his determination not to accommodate our views. However, even though he will be more willing to consider ideas and steps he might take pursuant to a less public dialogue, his basic understanding of his country and the region predisposes him toward extreme caution. We have heard him lament the results of earlier U.S. efforts to encourage reform in the Islamic world. He can harken back to the Shah of Iran: the U.S. encouraged him to accept reforms, only to watch the country fall into the hands of revolutionary religious extremists. Wherever he has seen these U.S. efforts, he can point to the chaos and loss of stability that ensued. In addition to Iraq, he also reminds us that he warned against Palestinian elections in 2006 that brought Hamas (Iran) to his doorstep. Now, we understand he fears that Pakistan is on the brink of falling into the hands of the Taliban, and he puts some of the blame on U.S. insistence on steps that ultimately weakened Musharraf. While he knows that Bashir in Sudan has made multiple major mistakes, he cannot work to support his removal from power.

The above mentioned cable highlights Mubarak’s disdain for all these "freedoms" the US (and other countries) think he should grant Egyptians: "As with regional issues, Mubarak, seeks to avoid conflict and spare his people from the violence he predicts would emerge from unleashed personal and civil liberties. In Mubarak’s mind, it is far better to let a few individuals suffer than risk chaos for society as a whole." (In addition to Mubarak’s attitude toward "reform," the cable also indicates Mubarak was not open to talking about the Egypt economy, specifically Egyptian poverty, which has fueled the revolution.)

On elections, cables released prior to January 31, indicate that Egyptians might not be so confident that organizing free and fair elections with Mubarak still heading the regime would in the end be free and fair. A cable,10CAIRO213 , shows fear of police has led Egyptians to be afraid of "procuring voter registration cards" for elections. Another cable, 10CAIRO197 , highlights a round of Muslim Brotherhood arrests that took place just before parliamentary elections in 2010. The arrests were regarded by observers as "part of a continuing GOE campaign to suppress the NDP's only significant political challenge ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections.

It is tough to analyze the past few years of governance in Egypt by Mubarak’s regime and not understand why the opposition does not want to compromise or form an agreement for moving forward with Mubarak.

The opposition will continue to make demands and call for Mubarak to step down from power. The Egyptian people do not want reform. They want Mubarak gone. And, they also do not want Mubarak in power when elections are held this year.

As we read in Informationthread 50 Al Jazeera English Blacked Out Across Most Of U.S.

Canadian television viewers looking for the most thorough and in-depth coverage of the uprising in Egypt have the option of tuning into Al Jazeera English, whose on-the-ground coverage of the turmoil is unmatched by any other outlet. American viewers, meanwhile, have little choice but to wait until one of the U.S. cable-company-approved networks broadcasts footage from AJE, which the company makes publicly available. What they can't do is watch the network directly.

Other than in a handful of pockets across the U.S. - including Ohio, Vermont and Washington, D.C. - cable carriers do not give viewers the choice of watching Al Jazeera. That corporate censorship comes as American diplomats harshly criticize the Egyptian government for blocking Internet communication inside the country and as Egypt attempts to block Al Jazeera from broadcasting.

The result of the Al Jazeera English blackout in the United States has been a surge in traffic to the media outlet's website, where footage can be seen streaming live. The last 24 hours have seen a two-and-a-half thousand percent increase in web traffic, Tony Burman, head of North American strategies for Al Jazeera English, told HuffPost. Sixty percent of that traffic, he said, has come from the United States.

Wadah Khanfar, Dirctor General of Al Jazeera writes an amazing article that you should read RIGHT NOW Al Jazeera English Should Be Available on American Television :

As I write, Egyptian President Mubarak is closing our offices and arresting our journalists. The Egyptian government has removed Al Jazeera from NileSat, the state-owned satellite carrier, delaying our ability to be found on the dial in Egypt and North Africa. We have reappeared through other carriers, while instructions on how to find us go viral across the Internet.

Elsewhere, in the United States, Al Jazeera faces a different kind of blackout, based largely on misinformed views about our content and journalism. Some of the largest American cable and satellite providers have instituted corporate obstacles against Al Jazeera English. We are on the air and on the major cable system in the nation's capital, and some of America's leading policymakers in Washington, D.C., have told me that Al-Jazeera English is their channel of choice for understanding global issues. But we are not available in the majority of the 50 states for much of the general public.

We believe all Americans, not just those in senior governmental positions, could benefit from having the option to watch Al-Jazeera English -- or not to watch us -- on their television screens.

We know the demand is there. We have seen a 2000 percent increase in hits on our English-language website, and more than 60 percent of that traffic originates in the United States. We have seen Jeff Jarvis, in the pages of the Huffington Post, make the case publicly that many are making privately. While millions of Americans have turned to the Internet and to Internet-connected-devices, many more millions should have the freedom to flip to our channel on their remotes -- especially when the Middle East is on everyone's mind.

We will report the news however we can. If we have to use flip cams in Egypt, we will. If we have to use online platforms in the US, we will. Yet we will work hand in hand with partners everywhere -- including American cable and satellite companies -- to ensure that even more people have the option to watch Al Jazeera. Even those with access can choose to change the channel and watch something else -- Fox News or Desperate Housewives. But the last month has shown us something that America can no longer ignore: millions of Americans want to watch our channel and better understand our region, and too many are deprived that opportunity.

Jeremy Scahill writes A MUST READ Washington Embraces Al Jazeera

If it weren’t for Al Jazeera, much of the unfolding Egyptian revolution would never have been televised. Its Arabic- and English-language channels have provided the most comprehensive coverage of any network in any language hands-down. Despite the Mubarak regime’s attempts to shut it down, Al Jazeera’s brave reporters and camera crews have persevered. Six Al Jazeera journalists were detained briefly on Monday, their equipment seized. The United States responded swiftly to their detention, with the State Department calling for their release. "We are concerned by the shutdown of Al Jazeera in Egypt and arrest of its correspondents," State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley tweeted. "Egypt must be open and the reporters released."

The Obama White House has been intently monitoring al Jazeera’s coverage of the Egyptian revolt. The network, already famous worldwide, is now a household name in the United States. Thousands of Americans—many of whom likely had never watched the network before—are livestreaming Al Jazeera on the Internet and over their phones. With a handful of exceptions, most US cities and states have no channel that broadcasts Al Jazeera. That’s because cowardly US cable providers refuse to grant the channel a distribution platform, largely for fear of being perceived as supporting or enabling a network that for years has been portrayed negatively by US officials.

For people who have followed Al Jazeera’s history with the United States, the fact that it is now perceived by the White House and the American public as a force for democracy and freedom is an ironic, some would say hypocritical, development. The contrast between Washington’s posture toward Al Jazeera from the Bush era to the Obama presidency could not be more stark.

During the Bush administration, nothing contradicted the absurd claim that the United States invaded Iraq to spread democracy throughout the Middle East more decisively than Washington’s ceaseless attacks on Al Jazeera, the institution that did more than any other to break the stranglehold over information previously held by authoritarian forces, whether monarchs, military strongmen, occupiers or ayatollahs. Yet, far from calling for its journalists to be respected and freed from imprisonment and unlawful detention, the Bush administration waged war against Al Jazeera and its journalists.

The United States bombed its offices in Afghanistan in 2001. In March 2003, two of its financial correspondents were kicked off the trading floor of NASDAQ and the NY Stock Exchange. "In light of Al-Jazeera’s recent conduct during the war, in which they have broadcast footage of US POWs in alleged violation of the Geneva Convention, they are not welcome to broadcast from our facility at this time," said NASDAQ’s spokesperson. Later NASDAQ backed off from that claim and said the network’s accreditation had been revoked for "security reasons."

From May 19, 2008 NYTimes Al Jazeera English Tries to Extend Its Reach

PARIS — The English-language offshoot of Al Jazeera, the Arabic television news network, is pushing for a "breakthrough" that would make the channel available to American TV viewers and help it move beyond a turbulent start-up phase, according to its new managing director, Tony Burman.

Skip to next paragraph

Al Jazeera
Tony Burman was named managing director of Al Jazeera English last week.
The hiring of Mr. Burman, a former editor in chief of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canadian public broadcaster, was announced last week.

Al Jazeera English’s first year and a half has been marked by intense scrutiny of its coverage and by the recent defection of several high-profile Western journalists who had been recruited to lend credibility to the channel.

Al Jazeera English, which is part of the Al Jazeera Network, based in Qatar, also announced distribution agreements last week in markets as far-flung as Portugal, Ukraine and Vietnam, increasing its potential audience to 110 million homes. Conspicuously absent, however, was the United States, where Al Jazeera is still largely unavailable on television. Viewers can watch it on the Web through a deal with YouTube, the online video service.

In the United States, a market of 300 million people and hundreds of pay-television services, "the idea that certain channels would effectively be banned is medieval," Mr. Burman said.

Al Jazeera English is not actually banned, but the reputation of its Arabic sibling as the preferred outlet for videos from Osama bin Laden has made the English-language version too hot to handle for some cable operators. A lack of space on crowded cable systems has also made it difficult for operators to offer Al Jazeera English.

Much more coming in the next few Informationthreads about U.S./Al Jazeera.

What we learned in Informationthread 51 :

Dylan Ratigan video with transcript on Manning's treatment

The Scandal Everybody Seems to Have Missed

Stephen Colbert vs. Julian Assange: The Great Debate Video here

Cable: Egyptian April 6 activist's democracy goals "highly unrealistic"

US state cables on Syria

UK firm's partner 'wanted Peru to curb priests in mine conflict areas'

WikiLeaks releases 480 secret cables on Libya

James Mann at Foreign Policy on what they show about U.S. - China relations, how tense they are "in real time," and how one state dinner won't do much really.

What you missed in Wikileaks Informationthread 49: Omar Suleiman And Etc.

Who Is Omar Suleiman?




WaPo: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange: 'Anarchist,' 'agitator,' 'arrogant' and a journalist

The WikiLeaks Revolt

A claim that WikiLeaks cables on Egypt released not this week but in early December, and published by indie paper there, had something to do with current revolt.

In Informationthread 48 we read these:

Cable: Egypt action against poet, bloggers, novelist and journalists

Cable: Egypt's Emergency Law

Cable: Police torture in Egypt

Cable: Police brutality and poor prison conditions in Egypt

Mubarak skeptical of U.S. reform push: leaked cables

Amid Digital Blackout, Anonymous Mass-Faxes WikiLeaks Cables To Egypt

Guardian Liveblog on Egypt

Vodafone confirms role in Egypt’s cellular, Internet blackout

US Constitution Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3 No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

Near v. Minnesota

Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697 (1931), was a United States Supreme Court decision that recognized the freedom of the press by roundly rejecting prior restraints on publication, a principle that was applied to free speech generally in subsequent jurisprudence. The Court ruled that a Minnesota law that targeted publishers of "malicious" or "scandalous" newspapers violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (as applied through the Fourteenth Amendment). Legal scholar and columnist Anthony Lewis called Near the Court's "first great press case."[1]

It was later a key precedent in New York Times Co. v. United States (1971), in which the Court ruled against the Nixon administration's attempt to enjoin publication of the Pentagon Papers.

New York Times Co. v. United States

New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971), was a United States Supreme Court per curiam decision. The ruling made it possible for the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers to publish the then-classified Pentagon Papers without risk of government censure.

President Richard Nixon had claimed executive authority to force the Times to suspend publication of classified information in its possession. The question before the court was whether the constitutional freedom of the press under the First Amendment was subordinate to a claimed Executive need to maintain the secrecy of information. The Supreme Court ruled that First Amendment did protect the New York Times' right to print said materials.

As Assange told Time: "It is not our goal to achieve a more transparent society; it's our goal to achieve a more just society."

Originally posted to cedar park on Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 05:26 PM PST.


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