Crossposted from The People's View
When I think of torture, I think of how horrible and degrading the African American experiences were during the Jim Crow era where black folks were whipped, lynched, dragged, castrated, mutilated and burned alive for having a black skin color. Those days may be over where brutality was embraced as a spectacular ceremony but the impact of that atrocity on the lives of black folks still lives on today not to mention today's moderner day enslavement and lynching exercised in our current Criminal Injustice System.
Black folks are still physiologically lynched with all the double standard that comes with having a black skin color. Even the President of the United States is questioned about his birth and has to provide proof that he is legit. If it was a choice, the Donald Trumps of our modern day lynch mob will indeed embrace such pain on a sector of Americas minorities. In fact, to me these images come to mind instantly when torture is discussed. Torture is brutal and inhumane and does not have a place in a humane society. PERIOD. A blogger, GenXangster, said it best when she said,
"Why do I always do that? I mentally erase the face of the lynching victim and replace it with my own child. I do that with every victim of torture and injustice that I hear about, historical, present, black, Jewish, etc"
Since I will be discussing Bradley Manning and since there has been a lot of accusation of torture and many fishing expeditions about whether Manning was tortured or not from vocal anti-torture advocates while Bradley Manning is held by the authorities and in isolation under the custody of the US Government, I think it is important to make sure my view on torture is expressed before moving to the real subject matter I want to address today - Bradley Manning's admitted criminal act.
Here is my believe on the many unsubstantiated torture accusation of Bradley Manning - The US Government is not torturing Bradley Manning. I will leave it with what the former State Department Offical, P. J. Crowley, whose prior comment had been taken out of context but nonetheless was used to sell this narrative that this Administration is doing what the Bush Administration has done in Abu Ghraib. P. J. Crowley said,
Earlier this month, I was asked by an MIT graduate student why the United States government was "torturing" Private First Class Bradley Manning, who is accused of being the source of the WikiLeaks cables that have been reported by the Guardian and other news outlets and posted online. The fact is the government is doing no such thing.
Stealing Government Secret
There are a lot of people out there who are trying to make Bradley Manning the hero he is not for breaking the law. Stealing Government secret that is protected by the Laws of the United States America is straight up a criminal act. NO ifs and buts about it. We can argue about whether the secrets should have been a secret to begin with or not but that is another argument that will require an evaluation of how Congress has defined what is classified and confidential State secret. While Manning's act take guts and some may argue he is a hero, someone with Top Secret access leaking indiscriminately all kinds of top secret Government information and sharing it to foreign entities better know of the consequences of such acts but I will get to Manning in a little bit.
The Pentagon Papers
Brief background history about the Pentagon Papers is that the DOD at the time of the Vietnam war under the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, put together a top-secret task force to study the real history of the war in Vietnam and the United States involvement which was intended to be kept a secret from the public except top level officials within DOD. The study entitled "History of U.S. Decision-Making Process on Viet Nam Policy" was suppose to be a tell all project of US's involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. It was intended to reveal what really had happened and was happening in Vietnam for insiders use only unlike the lies the Government told to the public and the United States Congress.
The study was kept secret from the Johnson administration including the Secretary of State but brought to the attention of the public making the front page story in the NY Times paper in 1971 at which time the full top-secret documents were leaked by a former United States military analyst, Daniel Ellsberg, to the NY Times and Washington Post while Nixon was the President.
Nixon, a crook he was, trying to score a political point was willing to let the predecessor Democratic Administration fry in hell for their lies and mischief to embarrass them for the things they had kept secret as documented in the Pentagon Papers until advised that his administration must defend these secrets from being released for a self serving reason so that the Nixon Administration can use the same standard to suppress and keep secrets in case they come under similar scrutiny that may be embarrassing and they don't want the public to know about it.
The NY Times Company vs. The United States Government case
Of course, the Nixon Administration lost the NY Times Company vs. The United States Government case by 6-3 Supreme Court decision giving the NY Times and Washington Post the go to publish the Pentagon Paperscalling any injunctions against the press/newspapers " a flagrant, indefensible, and continuing violation of the First Amendment".
Reading the opinion of JUSTICE BLACK, with whom MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS joins, concurring - selected opinions below:
I adhere to the view that the Government's case against the Washington Post should have been dismissed and that the injunction against the New York Times should have been vacated without oral argument when the cases were first presented to this Court. I believe that every moment's continuance of the injunctions against these newspapers amounts to a flagrant, indefensible, and continuing violation of the First Amendment... In my view it is unfortunate that some of my Brethren are apparently willing to hold that the publication of news may sometimes be enjoined. Such a holding would make a shambles of the First Amendment...Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. To find that the President has "inherent power" to halt the publication of news by resort to the courts would wipe out the First Amendment. The word "security" is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental laws embodied in the First Amendment...
You have to appreciate a US Supreme Court Justice who can speak for the people like this and I do HOPE we will clean up our RW crazy troll Justices in our current higher court, the likes of Scalia and Thomas, sometime in the next 6 years. Justice Black goes further ridiculing the Government's intent to censor the press...
In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. In my view, far from deserving condemnation for their courageous reporting, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers should be commended for serving the purpose that the Founding Fathers saw so clearly. In revealing the workings of government that led to the Vietnam war, the newspapers nobly did precisely that which the Founders hoped and trusted they would do.
[you can read the opinion in its entirety here]
I agree that the press must be able to report freely all matters of interest that affect the People in a responsible ways including exposing the lies about our Government. In the case of the Pentagon Papers leak, the NY Times and Washington Post should indeed be allowed to show the American people how the People have been lied to and how the Government's lies has caused the lives of many innocent Americans.
Let us look at this statement closely though...
"...the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy"
Has the press really fulfilled its essential role in our democracy? Well, to start with, you can ask Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and the rest of our MSM that feeds us drama day in and day out in order to win a rating bonanza rather than really educate our citizens reporting all the truth and nothing but the truth.
The Birth of Wikileaks
It is because we no longer have free press that protects the people's interest that Wikileaks was born. It is because of the heavy self serving corporate representing media that an alternative medium was sought out to share some shady business of our Government which Wikileaks has cashed-in thanks to the former President's (George W. Bush) illegal activities and Bradley Manning massive illegal leaks of classified documents.
When the founders were talking about giving the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy, they were protecting essentially entities like Wikileaks to speak freely as the Founders hoped and trusted the Press would do. I think the actions of Wikileaks releasing confidential secrets of the US Government is no different than what the NY Times or Washington Post were trying to do in 1971 in their efforts to publish the Pentagon Papers. However, I also think some of what Wikileaks is doing is amateur and irresponsible. I will get to the irresponsible part later but what is so dumbfounding is the effort by some Right Wing teabaggers and birthers who have forgotten about the First Amendment and ready to silence and/or wanting the owner of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, assassinated. Watch this fox porterage:
These inhumane characteristics of wanting to have Julian Assange taken out by some RW idiots is absolutely outrageous and must be rediculed indeed but the question also is, could Wikileaks have been able to avoid all this character assassination and demonizing had they done what they did responsibly? The answer to that is YES. Wikileaks could have avoided all of these political backlash and organized attack from everywhere if they had done their homework, comb through the data (some 250K pages of classified information) provided to them by Manning and publish only the things that are lies and embarrassing to the Government. As such, the Government won't make them thousands ofdiplomatic cables released by Wikileaks and frame the issue of the leak as something that created diplomatic fallout where now foreign officials are less than honest to fully engage with US diplomats or as something that put US lives in danger, which I think is a legitimate concern but also an argument that takes the steam out of few important details of mischief during the Iraq and Afganistan wars that was revealed via Wikileaks.
The Responsibility of the Free Press
As an entity protected by the constitution, the Free Press must also act to protect its people for the greater good and ensure that it fulfills its obligation to reporting information that won't put people's lives at risk. If information is leaked indiscriminately like in the case with Wikileaks, while the freedom to report it is not illegal as past precedents has shown it to be the case with the Supreme Court decision noted above, I still feel it is irresponsible to put out just about any information that hinder the ability to advance or promote peace around the world. In fact, doing so is as good as tarnishing the very core principle of the First Amendment that protects an entity (the Free Press) that is suppose to protect our democracy. It is important to acknowledge that some secrets are important to advance the good and Wikileaks indeed has failed to identify the good from the bad and the ugly, in the process has failed in doing its job diligently and responsibly.
However, the big question is how is that Wikileaks able to obtain such information that is so classified? Shouldn't the United States Government have a tight procedure to ensure that what is classified, sensitive and confidential data as defined by law are indeed secured? How is it that Bradley Manning, an employee of the Federal Government with top secret access, who has signed a non-disclosure agreement/contract with the Government able to leak thousands and thousands of pages of so information?
Well, I have heard so much about Bradley Manning being in solitary confinement or the many bogus and unsubstantiated claims that he is being tortured by the current Administration without any evidence but a hearsay. More over, I have heard that he does not deserve to be in prison until he is found guilty. I think some people mistaken the seriousness of the crime Manning has committed and in accordance with The Espionage Act of 1917, how it is consider a capital offense.
When the President said at a fund raising event in California a few days ago that Mannning "broke the law", he indeed was telling the truth. You can argue about the law that protects one until proven guilty but it does not mean we don't know one is, for example, a murderer after witnessing the act of murder. Was the President right for saying "He broke the law"? I say, damn right it was appropriate because he told the truth some just don't like to hear or have not seen the evidence.
Mannings Chat logs
Well, according to the chat logs of Manning's, this is why it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the man has committed theft, conspiracy and treason by disseminating 260,000 pages of classified State Department diplomatic cables and more videos and whatever else we may not know.
Here is an example of just one chat log:
Manning told Lamo that he had provided Wikileaks with 260,000 classified State Department diplomatic cables. Lamo asked him for details on what scandals the cables might expose. Manning didn’t provide a lot of detail, but he pointed to one cable (a “test”) that Wikileaks already published. He didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “test.”
(1:39:03 PM) Manning: i cant believe what im confessing to you :’(
(1:40:20 PM) Manning: ive been so isolated so long… i just wanted to be nice, and live a normal life… but events kept forcing me to figure out ways to survive… smart enough to know whats going on, but helpless to do anything… no-one took any notice of me
(1:40:43 PM) Manning: :’(
(1:43:51 PM) Lamo: back
(1:43:59 PM) Manning: im self medicating like crazy when im not toiling in the supply office (my new location, since im being discharged, im not offically intel anymore)
(1:44:11 PM) Manning: you missed a lot…
(1:45:00 PM) Lamo: what kind of scandal?
(1:45:16 PM) Manning: hundreds of them
(1:45:40 PM) Lamo: like what? I’m genuinely curious about details.
(1:46:01 PM) Manning: i dont know… theres so many… i dont have the original material anymore
(1:46:18 PM) Manning: uhmm… the Holy See and its position on the Vatican sex scandals
(1:46:26 PM) Lamo: play it by ear
(1:46:29 PM) Manning: the broiling one in Germany
(1:47:36 PM) Manning: im sorry, there’s so many… its impossible for any one human to read all quarter-million… and not feel overwhelmed… and possibly desensitized
(1:48:20 PM) Manning: the scope is so broad… and yet the depth so rich
(1:48:50 PM) Lamo: give me some bona fides … yanno? any specifics.
(1:49:40 PM) Manning: this one was a test: Classified cable from US Embassy Reykjavik on Icesave dated 13 Jan 2010
(1:50:30 PM) Manning: the result of that one was that the icelandic ambassador to the US was recalled, and fired
(1:51:02 PM) Manning: thats just one cable…
(1:51:14 PM) Lamo: Anything unreleased?
(1:51:25 PM) Manning: i’d have to ask assange
(1:51:53 PM) Manning: i zerofilled the original
(1:51:54 PM) Lamo: why do you answer to him?
(1:52:29 PM) Manning: i dont… i just want the material out there… i dont want to be a part of it
In this chat, Manning discussed his role as a source for Wikileaks and his interactions with its enigmatic founder, Julian Assange. He also talked about two videos he claimed he provided Wikileaks — one of an airstrike in Iraq in 2007, which he said he gave Wikileaks in February and which Wikileaks said it spent three months decrypting before publishing it this last April; and another video taken during an air strike in Afghanistan in 2009, which Wikileaks has acknowledged it possesses but has not yet published.
(2:04:29 PM) Manning: im a source, not quite a volunteer
(2:05:38 PM) Manning: i mean, im a high profile source… and i’ve developed a relationship with assange… but i dont know much more than what he tells me, which is very little
(2:05:58 PM) Manning: it took me four months to confirm that the person i was communicating was in fact assange
(2:10:01 PM) Lamo: how’d you do that?
(2:12:45 PM) Manning: I gathered more info when i questioned him whenever he was being tailed in Sweden by State Department officials… i was trying to figure out who was following him… and why… and he was telling me stories of other times he’s been followed… and they matched up with the ones he’s said publicly
(2:14:28 PM) Lamo: did that bear out? the surveillance?
(2:14:46 PM) Manning: based on the description he gave me, I assessed it was the Northern Europe Diplomatic Security Team… trying to figure out how he got the Reykjavik cable…
(2:15:57 PM) Manning: they also caught wind that he had a video… of the Gharani airstrike in afghanistan, which he has, but hasn’t decrypted yet… the production team was actually working on the Baghdad strike though, which was never really encrypted
(2:16:22 PM) Manning: he’s got the whole 15-6 for that incident… so it wont just be video with no context
(2:16:55 PM) Manning: but its not nearly as damning… it was an awful incident, but nothing like the baghdad one
(2:17:59 PM) Manning: the investigating officers left the material unprotected, sitting in a directory on a centcom.smil.mil
(2:18:03 PM) Manning: server
(2:18:56 PM) Manning: but they did zip up the files, aes-256, with an excellent password… so afaik it hasn’t been broken yet
(2:19:12 PM) Manning: 14+ chars…
(2:19:37 PM) Manning: i can’t believe what im telling you =L
Some might think Manning is a hero to defying our Government and breaking the law.
Sorry. I don't.
The Law has been broken and it was done intentionally. Manning's actions has destroyed relationships that took many years of faith and trust between many countries who are now less willing to cooperate with the US. These relationships have saved lives in the past and has protected many nations interest. However, The diplomatic fallout all over the world if not already caused by the cowboy ex-President Bush before, it sure has ruptured and will definitely will take a long time to earn it back and that is if we are lucky.
Manning's actions will be handled in similar fashion to the ways the military handles its enlistees who have been charged with serious crimes and to think the Government is going to take these crimes lightly or be forced to let go of Manning free because of some fishing expedition that is currently going on using Rovian tactics to arm twist this Administration is ludicrous. There is a lot of evidence that has already been public that confirms admission of guilt by Manning, a reason why Manning and his lawyers are not denying the charges. In case, folks have not read the 22 counts of charges:
The charges, filed Tuesday but not disclosed until Wednesday, are one count of aiding the enemy, five counts of theft of public property or records, two counts of computer fraud, eight counts of transmitting defense information in violation of the Espionage Act, and one count of wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing it would be accessible to the enemy. The aiding-the-enemy charge is a capital offense, potentially carrying the death penalty. Five additional charges are for violating Army computer-security regulations.
This is what Daniel Ellberg said when he turned himself in for exposing the lies that were being told by leaking the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam war to the public knowing the consequences of his action could warrant him to face a total maximum sentence of 115 years under the Espionage Act of 1917, theft and conspiracy. He said:
I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public. I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision.
What Mr. Ellberg had done was leak the Pentagon Papers and it targeted specifically the illegal activities of the Government and the lies the Government told during the Viet Nam war. He did not cause any international diplomatic fall out by releasing other confidential pentagon secrets of the Government which I am sure he had access to as well.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. had said:
An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
Mr. Ellberg did indeed break the law but he did it to "arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice" in the VietNam war. Was he a criminal? Yes for breaking the law by leaking information that is protected by the United State Government law. But, I would say he is a holy criminal in my book. Was he guilty and deserved a prison term. Yes, because we all have to abide by the law as we are a nation of law with all its short coming that are discussed at Criminal InJustice Kos and he broke the law.
However, for Mr. Ellberg, luckily during his criminal trial, "due to the gross governmental misconduct and illegal evidence", the Government's case against Daniel Ellberg was dismissed and today Daniel Ellberg is alive and still a free man at age 79.
On the contrary, what Bradley Manning has done leaking a whole host of secret Government data indiscriminately was not arousing the conscience of a community over the injustice. Yes, some mistakes during the war has been made where innocent people were killed and we must own up to them. However we must not forget that the kind of leaks made by Mannings' does not fit into the narration given by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., a symbol of "expressing the highest respect for the law". It was rather an act of treason that has tarnished many diplomatic relationships and cripple the United States Governments' standing in the world stage.
Yes, we are a nation of laws with all of its flaws but in the end we MUST follow the LAWS of the LAND that has a lot of fixing to do.