December 1, 2013
Did Bradley Manning’s Disclosures Kill American Soldiers?

the-forward-observer responds to this photo of Bradley Manning that I posted recently:

This piece of shit got American soldiers killed, he’s not a hero, he’s a fuck up and a murderer! Even he’s admitted that, from his own mouth! Pay attention people, he’s says he was wrong! WTF

The claim that American soldiers died as a result of Manning’s disclosures is typically tied to the disclosure of the Afghan war logs.  The evidence on this point is extraordinarily lacking.  Retired Brigadier General Robert Carr stated after Manning’s trial that "he had never heard that a source named in the Afghan war logs was killed."  Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated in 2010 that the alleged harm caused by Manning’s disclosures was fairly significantly overwrought.”  This is important, because if even a single American soldier had been killed as a result of Manning’s disclosures, Gates’ statement would have been a gaffe of epic proportions.  He would have been accused of ignoring or minimizing the deaths of American Soldiers.  Luckily for Gates, it was not a gaffe, because not a single journalist with any credibility—nor a military official with access to government intelligence—has ever established a link between Manning’s disclosures and the death of a single American soldier.

With respect to being a “fuck up and a murderer,” I think you will find that Manning said no such thing.  What he did do is express regret for his actions during the sentencing phase of his trial because that’s what one does when one is in front of a judge who is about to determine how many years of your life you get to spend in a cage once the proceedings are over.  When you go before a judge to receive your sentence, expressions of defiance and pride are generally met with a longer sentence.  It is silly to presume from statements made at Manning’s sentencing hearing that he was admitting to being a “fuck up and a murderer.”  I’m quite sure if you were placed in the same position, you would plead for mercy as well, as would I, and most sensible people who’s liberty is at steak.

If you are worried about the lives of American soldiers, then I suggest you save your anger for the American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who have committed various war crimes—many of whom were convicted by military Courts Martial according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  These war crimes enrage the populace of Afghanistan and encourage them to take up arms against American soldiers—which is to say that they serve as recruiting tools for the terrorist organizations that are shooting at American soldiers overseas.  The American soldiers in the stories linked above have done far more to put other American soldiers’ life at risk than Bradley Manning ever did.  Manning simply told the truth on a subject of great importance to the American electorate,  which should never be considered a crime.

November 27, 2013
Via War Costs
I laughed.  Then died a little.

Via War Costs

I laughed.  Then died a little.

August 23, 2013
"Even as they condemn the Syrian regime’s use of cluster munitions, the U.S. is selling Saudi Arabia $640 million worth of American-made cluster bombs. Cluster munitions have been banned in 83 countries on account of their indiscriminate nature and their record of killing children. …The international ban began to take effect in June 2010, just after a U.S. cluster bomb killed 35 women and children in Yemen, with the Pentagon stubbornly refusing to admit to the wrongdoing despite damning evidence compiled by Amnesty International, which was later corroborated by classified diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks."

John Glaser

August 21, 2013
"As the late Howard Zinn once said, ‘There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.’"

Bradley Manning, by way of David Coombs at a post-sentencing Press Conference (via The People’s Record)

August 21, 2013
cheatsheet:

A petition asking Barack Obama to pardon Bradley Manning has launched.

LTMC: And into the mouth of hell, rode the 600.

cheatsheet:

A petition asking Barack Obama to pardon Bradley Manning has launched.

LTMC: And into the mouth of hell, rode the 600.

August 21, 2013
35 Years

That’s What Bradley Manning got for his sentence.  It could have been much worse.

I’m going to repeat what I’ve said in the past: exposing the war crimes of your own government should not be a crime in of itself.  The problem with the current federal whistleblower regime is that there was literally no way for Bradley Manning to disclose the things he saw without breaking the law.  It was all classified intelligence.  And nobody in their right mind is going to declassify a video of U.S. soldiers gunning down unarmed civilians, or embarrassing diplomatic exchanges which reveal the Yemeni government lying to its own people to cover up for U.S. bombing campaigns in Yemen.

Does that mean Bradley Manning had to be prosecuted?  No.  Prosecutors regularly ignore violations of the law for various reasons.  Sometimes it’s not worth the hassle.  Sometimes it’s due to limited resources.  Other times it’s because prosecutors think it would be bad public policy to pursue charges against a particular suspect.  Also, in the military, a commanding officer can literally overturn a conviction out of hand.  

So what next?  The Obama administration will almost certainly not pardon Manning.  Even if Obama wanted to, it’s too politically costly.  Republicans would use it against the Democratic party in the next presidential election.  They would claim that Democrats have no respect for the military or the rule of law.  They’ll paint Bradley Manning as a traitor and Barack Obama as an enabler of Manning’s treasonous conduct.  They’ll claim that a Democratic president rewarded a traitor for betraying the U.S.  It would be a political liability for years to come.

In other words, Bradley Manning is probably going to rot in a military prison for the next three decades for following his conscience and exposing U.S. war crimes and diplomatic shenanigans abroad.  This even though there still has not been a single report of someone being placed in danger or killed by Manning’s leaks.  The only people who died in this case were the innocent civilians killed by U.S. bombs and machine gun fire.

And so I renew my call for a reform of federal whistleblower laws that would allow a person accused of disclosing classified material to assert as an affirmative defense that their disclosures were in the public interest.  The Bradley Manning case demonstrates that our whistleblower laws do not offer the kind of protection needed to encourage conscientious government employees to come forward without fear of retribution when they see wrong-doing.  Suppressing this type of speech is extraordinarily detrimental to the proper functioning of a Democracy.  As the Supreme Court said in United States v. Treasury Employees, 513 U.S. 454 (1995):

The large-scale disincentive to Government employees’ expression also imposes a significant burden on the public’s right to read and hear what the employees would otherwise have written and said.

And again in San Diego v. Roe, 543 U.S. 77 (2004):

Were [public employees] not able to speak on [the operation of their employers], the community would be deprived of informed opinions on important public issues. The interest at stake is as much the public’s interest in receiving informed opinion as it is the employee’s own right to disseminate it.

 I’m not saying that disclosing classified information should be protected by the First Amendment.  That would obviously never fly.  What I am saying is that there is a sound public policy behind giving public employees an opportunity to defend their actions and escape legal liability for their conduct.  Once the information is already in the public sphere, there is no additional harm in allowing a jury or tribunal to hear the case and, after considering the testimony of all relevant parties—including any “experts” the Government wishes to present—decide whether the disclosures were in the public interest.  So if any good comes from Bradley Manning’s ordeal, hopefully it will be the reform of our horrendous whistleblower laws.

Update: metamorphoseandbodhi correctly notes that Manning’s sentence is “35 years minus 1293 days served with possibility of parole. He could only spend 8 more years in prison if he’s fortunate.”  (Source)

August 5, 2013
"The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemly delightful blood-lust the aerial weapons team seemed to have. They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life, and referred to them as quote-unquote ‘dead bastards,’ and congratulated each other on their ability to kill in large numbers. … For me, this seemed similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass."

Bradley Manning (via azspot)

(via azspot)

July 31, 2013
From The Horse’s Mouth

Via Courthouse News:

The largest intelligence leak in U.S. history, disclosed by Pfc. Bradley Manning to WikiLeaks, did not lead to the deaths of any military sources, the government’s first sentencing witness testified Wednesday.

 Manning has long admitted to sending WikiLeaks more than 700,000 confidential files, including U.S. embassy cables, Guantanamo detainee profiles, and footage of airstrikes that killed civilians.

The battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan are known as the war logs. WikiLeaks calls its Afghan War Diary “an extraordinary secret compendium of over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010.”

In 2011, then-Army Chief of Staff Mike Mullen had said that Manning and WikiLeaks “might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family” named in the leaked documents as a source of intelligence to the United States.


But Manning has insisted that he sent WikiLeaks only low-sensitivity categories of files that he believed would shed light on U.S. war fighting and statecraft. Three years of journalistic scrutiny into the effects of the leaks could not uncover a case of an intelligence source who was killed or injured because of the disclosures.


The military’s position took another hit Wednesday, as the former brigadier general who headed the Information Review Task Force investigating the leaks said that he had never heard that a source named in the Afghan war logs was killed.

July 30, 2013
brooklynmutt:

Here’s the Bradley Manning verdict. Sentencing begins tomorrow 9:30am.
(via @carwinb)

brooklynmutt:

Here’s the Bradley Manning verdict. Sentencing begins tomorrow 9:30am.

(via @carwinb)

July 17, 2013

shortformblog:

Here it is: The trailer to the new Wikileaks movie, “The Fifth Estate,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the man in question, Julian Assange. As you might guess, Wikileaks has already commented on this(via @AlexJamesFitz)

LTMC: "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.  But if you give him a mask, he will tell you the truth."

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »