Ideas at the House: Panel – The War on Whistleblowers and Their Publishers: “US Journalist and activist Alexa O’Brien and Australian commentator Robert Manne are joined by video conference with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Guardian Journalist Glenn Greenwald and Chelsea Manning’s Lawyer David Coombs on stage at the Sydney Opera House (moderated by Bernard Keane of Crikey).”
Tag Archives | Whistleblowers
Via Salon, Chase Madar on the limits of a legalistic outlook:
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Law remains our litmus test. Very often the mightiest anathema we can muster for something we oppose is that it’s “illegal” or, even worse, “unconstitutional.” One of the first reasons given for the Iraq War’s wrongness is it’s “illegality”; today, the mass surveillance is denounced as “unconstitutional.”
These condemnations pack all the fierce visceral impact of Ned Flanders trying to curse. Would the Iraq War have been redeemed by a permission slip from the UN Security Council? Were the sanctions against Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands, okay because they were in conformance with the UN charter? And even if the NSA surveillance is ruled unconstitutional is this really the problem with it? And what if the courts determine, as is entirely possible, that the NSA surveillance is legally permissible?
We urgently need to remind ourselves that “lawfulness” is never an indicator of wisdom, efficacy, prudence, or even justice.
Dear President Obama:
As commander in chief, you’ve been responsible for the treatment of the most high-profile whistleblower in the history of the U.S. armed forces. Under your command, the United States military tried — and failed — to crush the spirit of Bradley Manning.
Your failure became evident after the sentencing on Wednesday, when a statement from Bradley Manning was read aloud to the world. The statement began:
“The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life. I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.”
From the outset, your administration set out to destroy Bradley Manning.… Read the rest
Thirty-Five years in military prison. Is that really a reasonable sentence for Bradley Manning’s “crimes” against the state? From ABC News:
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FT. MEADE, Md. — Bradley Manning, the Army private convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the website WikiLeaks, was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison today.
Manning, 25, a former Army intelligence analyst, was convicted July 30.
He was found guilty of 20 of the 22 charges he faced, mostly for espionage, theft and fraud. But a judge found him not guilty of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, which carries a life sentence.
The 20 charges originally carried the possibility of 136 years in prison, but Judge Col. Denise Lind later granted a defense motion that reduced the potential maximum sentence to 90 years.
Bradley Manning Guilty on Most Charges, but Not Aiding Enemy
At the end of the sentencing phase of the trial, Army prosecutors said Manning should serve at least 60 years in prison.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is allowed to enter the country’s territory. The whistleblower has been granted temporary political asylum in Russia, Snowden's legal representative Anatoly Kucherena said. “I have just handed over to him papers from the Russian Immigration Service. They are what he needs to leave the transit zone,” he added. Kucherena showed a photocopy of the document to the press....
A military judge has found Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history, not guilty of aiding the enemy -- a charge that would have carried a maximum sentence of life in prison. Manning was also found not guilty of unauthorized possession of information relating to national defense. He was found guilty of most of the remaining charges against him, with the judge accepting some of the guilty pleas he made previously to lesser charges...
Why have Edward Snowden’s actions resonated so powerfully for so many people?
The huge political impacts of the leaked NSA documents account for just part of the explanation. Snowden’s choice was ultimately personal. He decided to take big risks on behalf of big truths; he showed how easy and hazardous such a step can be. He blew the whistle not only on the NSA’s Big Brother surveillance but also on the fear, constantly in our midst, that routinely induces conformity.
Like Bradley Manning and other whistleblowers before him, Snowden has massively undermined the standard rationales for obedience to illegitimate authority. Few of us may be in a position to have such enormous impacts by opting for courage over fear and truth over secrecy—but we know that we could be doing more, taking more risks for good reasons—if only we were willing, if only fear of reprisals and other consequences didn’t clear the way for the bandwagon of the military-industrial-surveillance state.… Read the rest
CNN reporter and writer for many major publications, Fareed Zakaria recently spoke about Ed Snowden in TIME stating that Snowden is “No hero”. He says, “But while Snowden is no hero, his revelations have focused attention on a brave new world of total information.”
In the article and on video, Zakaria states:
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“One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly and with a willingness to accept the penalty.” That was Martin Luther King Jr.’s definition of civil disobedience. It does not appear to be Edward Snowden’s. He has tried by every method possible to escape any judgment or punishment for his actions.
Snowden has been compared to Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. But Ellsberg did not hop on a plane to Hong Kong or Moscow once he had unloaded his cache of documents. He stood trial and faced the possibility of more than 100 years in prison before the court dismissed the case against him because of the prosecution’s mistakes and abuses of justice.
It’s not the act of revealing secrets that has gotten Edward Snowden in trouble, after all, members of the Bush Administration did exactly that in the Plame affair as did members of the Obama Administration by leaking the drone memo. Leaking classified documents doesn’t always lead to prosecution, on the contrary, sometimes it leads to advancement of personal agendas:
“Does the rule of law demand that leaks of highly classified information be prosecuted? If so, John Brennan and many other current and former national-security officials had better be given orange jumpsuits. They weren’t even leaking to alert Americans to behavior that they found immoral. Often times, the U.S. national security establishment leaks to exploit a political advantage.”
The reason that the United States government is so adamant about getting their hands on Snowden is because, as Chris Hedges pointed out in “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” while discussing popular uprisings when referencing Victor Sebestyen’s book “Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire” in which he was chronicling the events leading up to the collapse of East Germany, the dissolution of the Stasi, and the fall of the Berlin Wall:
“This was the turning point, when the people knew that the regime lacked the will or the strength to maintain power.”
The U.S.… Read the rest
“The CIA was granted permission to use rendition (to the USA of indicted terrorists) in a presidential directive signed by US President Bill Clinton in 1995, following a procedure established by US President George H. W. Bush in January 1993”. This program kicked into high-gear under Bush junior after 911 and continues to this day under the Obama administration.
“According to a US Congress report , up to 14,000 people may have been victims of rendition and secret detention since 2001. Some reports estimate there have been twice as many. The US admits to have captured more than 80,000 prisoners in its ‘war on terror’.”
The map below shows the countries involved in fast tracking rendition flights, helping to transport U.S. captives to secret prisons – black sites – across the globe, condemning innocent men, women, and children to confinement, torture, and death. To the best of my knowledge, not a single rendition flight was ever grounded or searched.… Read the rest