The first videos of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have surfaced since he received asylum in Russia. The footage, provided by WikiLeaks, was taken during the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence awards ceremony.
The video fragments of a meeting, attended by the former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, former NSA executive Thomas Andrews Drake and former FBI agent Coleen Rowley, Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, and Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks – all whistleblowers in their own respects – were released by WikiLeaks on Friday.
According to Gosztola, here and here from Day 1 of the trial, it is clear that the government will be painting Manning as an arrogant, small man who “dumped” a load of classified info on the Internet, despite being trained on the consequences of allowing such information to get into the wrong hands.
Gosztola describes the Army’s opening salvo:
[Military prosecutor Capt. Joe Morrow] declared, “This is not a case about a government official” making discreet disclosures. It is a case about a soldier who “literally dumped” information on the Internet “into the hands of the enemy.” It is a case about “what happens when arrogance meets access to information.”
Morrow added that Manning’s training repeatedly had warned him of the “enemies’ use of the Internet writ large.” He had conducted research that warned him of the “enemies’ use of WikiLeaks.” He knew the dangers of “unauthorized disclosure to an organization like WikiLeaks and he ignored that evidence.”
Manning violated superior officers and engaged in an act to the “aid of our adversaries.” He used his military training to “gain notoriety.” He “knew the consequences of his actions and disregarded that for self-interest…(clip)
Manning, the military prosecutor argued, knew there was a “great value to our adversaries and in particular our enemies.”
Most interestingly — though not surprising — it appears the government will spend the next 12 weeks trying to convince the jury that not only was Manning fully cognizant that his actions would “aid the enemy” — the “enemy” being al Qaeda — but that he conspired with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to do it.
The leitmotif in this ongoing tragedy is that the government is looking for a way to finally prosecute Assange, who is living under Ecuadoran asylum in that country’s embassy in London. WikiLeaks in currently under investigation by the U.S Justice Department. Many believe the government is trying to prove that Assange helped Manning obtain, store and release the documents, which would make him a co-conspirator rather than merely the recipient of more than 700,000 classified U.S documents. Manning has adamantly denied this co-conspiracy scenario, but has admitted handing the files to WikiLeaks after being turned down by major American newspapers. WikiLeaks has neither confirmed nor denied it got the documents from Manning.
The government argued that a “pressassociation” account on Jabber was used by WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange himself and seemingly suggested that Manning had been “enlisted” to “help” WikiLeaks obtain copies of documents on the “Most Wanted” list (something the defense heavily disputed prior to Morrow’s opening argument).
Though no proof has been presented that Assange was actually using the “pressassociation” account, the government appears prepared to go forward and argue this as fact during the trial.
Also, the government claimed that chat logs showed Manning had “enlisted Assange’s help in figuring out a way to browse” the secret network with information “anonymously.” The government also suggested that Manning had helped WikiLeaks edit the “Collateral Murder” video.
The government’s argument went witness by witness and through each set of documents chronologically detailing all that the government plans to show over the course of the trial. It was a broad overview of what can be expected.
For their part, Manning’s defense posed the 25-year-old Manning as naive yet determined to do the right thing, according to Gosztola’s reporting. It was his experience in Iraq — which has been well documented as Manning’s initiation into civilian killing, U.S-condoned torture, the dehumanizing ritual of watching Collateral Murder-like videos over and over in the intelligence centers for which he worked:
[Defense attorney David] Coombs described Manning as “not the typical soldier.” He had custom dog tags that said on the back “Humanist,” a “religious belief he ascribed to and those values are placing humans first, placing value on human life.” …(clip)
Coombs said Manning struggled not only with his obligation and duty to people but also with an internal struggle. This led him to decide he “needed to do something to make a difference in the world. He needed to do something to help improve what he was seeing .”
He began to select info that he believed “the public should hear and should see.” As Coombs said, “If public,” it would “make the world a better place.” And he specifically selected documents he believed could not be used “against the United States” and “could not be used” to the advantage of a foreign nation.
Manning has already pled guilty to 10 lesser charges, but the government in its infinite zeal to make an example of the young man, is going for the one that brings with it the life sentence — aiding the enemy. It will call 141 witnesses for the prosecution, many testifying behind closed doors. In a statement, Assange suggested it was nothing more than a kangaroo court:
This is not justice; never could this be justice. The verdict was ordained long ago. Its function is not to determine questions such as guilt or innocence, or truth or falsehood. It is a public relations exercise, designed to provide the government with an alibi for posterity. It is a show of wasteful vengeance; a theatrical warning to people of conscience.
We have the great honor of nominating Private First Class Bradley Manning for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. Manning is a soldier in the United States army who stands accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The leaked documents pointed to a long history of corruption, war crimes, and imperialism by the United States government in international dealings. These revelations have fueled democratic uprising around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on our foreign policies, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S.troops from the occupation in Iraq.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has requested political asylum from Ecuador.
British courts recently rejected Assange’s appeal against extradition to Sweden. Assange has good reason to fear extradition to Sweden: many believe it likely that Sweden would extradite Assange to the United States to face charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 for his role in publishing leaked U.S. diplomatic cables, charges that could carry the death penalty. The treatment of Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier accused of providing U.S. diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, suggests the treatment that Assange might expect in U.S. government custody. Manning has been subjected to repeated and prolonged solitary confinement, harassment by guards, and humiliation such as being forced to strip naked and stand at attention outside his cell.
By Coleen Rowley (with editing assistance from Hugh Iglarsh, writer/editor/citizen based in Chicago)
These two words sum up well the op-ed I co-wrote with Bogdan Dzakovic before the ninth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks last year, a shortened version of which was published later in the Los Angeles Times under the title: “WikiLeaks and 9-11: What If?” There are so many reasons why and examples how secrecy hurts public safety; why it should be considered at best a necessary evil; why both civil rights advocates and security experts recognize that secrecy must be limited in both time and extent.
The truth about governmental secrecy is precisely contrary to the propaganda message of the last few years, especially since the advent of WikiLeaks and the Bush and Obama administrations’ renewed vigor in prosecuting government whistleblowers as a threat to security. We are constantly fed the Orwellian myth that governmental secrecy protects us. But the opposite is true: effective governance and public safety are simply not possible unless secrecy is kept to a bare minimum.
Amid the release of 35,000 new cables by WikiLeaks this week comes new and tragic, but perhaps not so surprising news about the five deaths of Iraqi civilians, reportedly at the hands of U.S forces in the early to mid-2000’s. In each case the military investigated, but declined to prosecute the perpetrators, therefore resigning these Iraqi killings to the grimy dustbin of the war’s history.
Until now. This May 2007 cable from Philip Alston, U.N Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to the U.S Secretary of State, which at the time would have been Condoleezza Rice, sheds light on how alleged “accidents” and extrajudicial killings by U.S soldiers and Marines may have been adjudicated internally, punishments waived and the truth summarily cordoned off from public view. Whatever became of these cases, and how many there ultimately were, we may never know. They call it the fog of war. If what is in this cable is true, we can call it obstruction, a deterrence of justice, and one huge reason why we were never destined to “win” the Iraq war in the first place.
As for the memo, it includes the story of a journalist who was killed outside Abu Ghraib in 2003 when his camera was supposedly mistaken for a rocket launcher, and a wounded Iraqi who was shot repeatedly by a Marine as he lay dying in front a mosque. The second incident was apparently captured on video, where the marine, sounding unhinged, kept repeating, “He’s f-cking faking he’s dead! He’s faking he’s f-cking dead!” After shooting him several times, another Marine is heard saying, “he’s dead now.”