Bradley Manning's inhumane treatment during his pretrial incarceration looks set to become a millstone around Obama's neck in his dealings with other countries.
Today, International Bradley Manning Support Day, marks also the announcement of a campaign to have the United States president arrested once he arrives on Irish soil, during a planned visit to the Western European democracy in May. The #ArrestObama #May22 campaign holds that Ireland has an obligation under international law to pursue and prosecute all those within its jurisdiction who carry out or authorize torture, or who permit torture to be carried out, or who obstruct bringing those who do so to justice.
The campaign makes the claim that Obama's failure to prosecute high-ranking Bush administration officials - as well as the cruel and inhumane treatment to which U.S. military whistleblower Bradley Manning is being subjected in the Marine brig in Quantico - constitutes ownership of responsibility for torture.
The campaign comes at an inconvenient moment for the new Fine Gael/Labour coalition government, elected mid-last-month in a landslide ousting of the previously dominant Fianna Fail party. The new government will be seeking to establish strong diplomatic ties with the United States, in the hopes that this will reap benefits in the face of Ireland's withering economic situation. In November, the last Irish government revealed that it had negotiated a deal with the International Monetary Fund, in response to the deepening crisis in the banking sector. Any matter that jeopardizes the precarious bargaining position of the tiny European state will likely frustrate the fledgling government.
WL Central will be covering the Bradley Manning protests in Quantico this weekend. Currently, protesters were warned to leave the site, 118 stayed past the final warning, arrests have begun. FireDogLake reports that the director of operations at Quantico Marine Base issued a “threat advisory” regarding the protests this weekend.
This date, March 19, 2011, marks the beginning of the ninth year of the US war in Iraq. The war, which began in 2003 with a bombing campaign of “shock and awe," has for years been more of an occupation than a war. Despite the fact that many believe the war is over (especially Americans), the US still has 47,000 troops in Iraq and, despite a 2011 withdrawal date, will likely continue to have tens of thousands of soldiers based in Iraq for years to come.
The past year has seen the world learn a great deal about the US war and occupation of Iraq. With the WikiLeaks release of US State Cables, the Iraq War Logs, and a “Collateral Murder” video showing US soldiers firing on journalists and innocent civilians from an Apache helicopter, the criminal nature of the war and occupation has become more evident. To mark the end of eight years of US troops in Iraq and the beginning of a ninth year, it is worth noting the many revelations on Iraq that have become known thanks to WikiLeaks.
On October 22, 2010, 390,000 field reports, which became known as the Iraq War Logs, showed the regular use of abuse, brutality and torture used on Iraqis by Iraqi Police and Iraqi Security Forces. The logs revealed, despite US claims, a tracking of civilian deaths had been going on, and, in fact, 66,000 civilian deaths (15,000 which were previously unknown) had occurred.
On 10th March 2011 Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a speech to the US Congress. It was notable for one reason, the US media appeared barely to report it—Google searches show Australian entries page after page—and perhaps that’s because the US media market for show ponies, seals and canines performing obsequiously for an audience is already saturated.
Crafted for a US audience it was as Hugh White (Australian National University professor and a former senior Defence Department official) said: a piece of policy-free puff…I suppose she wanted the Americans to like her, but she decided not to say anything serious to them.
Our leaders never say much that is seriously an assertive, independent point of view to the USA. This is of course as befits a thoroughly one sided relationship characterised by ultra obsequiousness by an almost endless line of Australian prime ministers from Robert Menzies who begged the US to join in the Vietnam war; Harold Holt’s—all the way with LBJ and more lately John Howard who jumped on the Bush orchestrated litany of lies bandwagon, otherwise known as the second Iraq war (and absurdly incorporating a war on an abstract noun--terrorism) as if we somehow owed an eternal debt--which can never be repaid--as a satrapy of the USA and our prime ministers are the satraps. Or as liberal party Senator Brandis, leaker of the ‘Ratty’ label might have said in the case of John Howard, a ratsap.
WL Central published an article two days ago, outlining the extraordinarily heavy handed redaction by the Guardian of a Bulgarian cable. Wikileaks tweeted the article, saying it was "Another very serious example of the Guardian "cable cooking" in violation of WikiLeaks agreements". Guardian investigations editor David Leigh responded with "@wikileaks Another stupid lie from #Assange alleging 'cable censorship' by #Guardian, (stuck with UK libel laws as he knows). What a liar!"
Wikileaks did not however, accuse the Guardian of cable censorship, they accused them of "cable cooking". A closer inspection of what happened in this one instance of cable redaction by the Guardian indicates that the Wikileaks description was closer to the mark. In fact, an examination of this document brings a feeling that the world will be in for Cablegate 2.0 when we finally get to see these cables without Guardian redaction.
The redaction on this particular cable is best shown here. The parts redacted by the Guardian are in green.
India cables released to The Hindu have created a storm in the past days. Now, The Hindu reports that the US State Department warned the India government of the “existence of such communications on December 23, 2010. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and spoke to Krishna about WikiLeaks. She warned the government of “potentially embarrassing disclosures.”
On December 21, 2010, then-State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “Those mutual interests are unchanged by any document that has been released by WikiLeaks. We are going to do this one day at a time, one action at a time. The Secretary continues to have regular contacts either in person or in phone calls with world leaders. This issue comes up, and without exception, the leaders reassure her that notwithstanding whatever ripples have been created by these revelations, our relations with these countries will continue because they're important.”
The key cable creating a massive political crisis in India was sent out from Consulate Chennai on May 13, 2009. A US diplomat writes:
The subject of politicians bribing voters, with either cash or gifts, was a recurring theme in the course of covering the 2009 election campaigns in South India. Wherever we went, journalists, politicians, and voters spoke of the bribes as a commonly accepted fact of the election process. Political insiders, and in some instances candidates themselves, admitted to us that candidates regularly violate India's election rules in the course of campaigning for office. This cable examines methods by which political parties bribe voters and how those bribes affect elections in India.
Human Rights Watch has issued a statement demanding that the US government explain the "extremely restrictive and possibly punitive and degrading treatment" of PFC Bradley Manning in pre-trial detention at Quantico Marine base in Virginia:
According to regulations governing operation of the brig issued by the secretary of the Navy, when a prisoner has been assessed to no longer pose a suicide risk by a medical officer they should be returned to appropriate quarters. According to a complaint filed by Manning, on 16 occasions military mental health professionals recommended that he be removed from POI status. While Manning's complaint was made public by his lawyer, the brig commander has not released the brig's formal response to his allegations. If Manning agrees to the release of medical or mental health information that would otherwise be confidential to protect his privacy, the government should immediately make public its rationale for his continued POI status.
... The new charges filed against Manning, for which the death penalty is possible, include aiding the enemy, even though Manning allegedly provided documents to WikiLeaks, not an agent of a government or armed group at war with the US. The removal of Manning's underwear during the evenings began the same day the additional charges were filed.
The language of the HRW statement approaches that of the ACLU's warning that Manning's treatment may be unconstitutional, as we reported here. That report has been updated with news of Ann Clwyd's question in the House of Commons today, the leader's lack of objection to her comparison between Manning's situation and that of prisoners at Guantanamo, and a transcript and video of Clwyd's exchange yesterday in committee with Foreign Minister William Hague.
Update: Ann Clwyd MP's question today, 17 March, in the Commons, on the turn
MP Ann Clwyd (L-Cynon Valley) today raised the question of the treatment of PFC Bradley Manning at the Quantico military base in Virginia with the foreign secretary, William Hague, during his testimony before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. (The exchange between Clwyd and Hague appears in the last several minutes here.)
Although Hague stood on legal formalities in his reply -- he cannot take a position without Manning's consent; Manning has stated that he does not consider himself a UK citizen; and it is up to Manning's US lawyer to seek redress of any treatment he considers unlawful -- he made one significant concession. At the close of his remarks he said voluntarily that the concerns of UK citizens about Manning's treatment would be brought to US diplomatic attention because they had been raised in a parliamentary committee.
Earlier in the day, an interview with Manning's friend David House, who has been talking to support networks in the UK this week, was published in the Guardian.
On March 12, 2001, in Colombia, then-president and vice president of Sintramienergetica, were both picked up by men of the the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a terrorist paramilitary force in Colombia that has at this point been mostly dissolved. According to El Espectador, a Colombian newspaper (that has partnered with WikiLeaks), the trade unionist leaders were murdered in Locarno and transported in a van to Orcasita where they were found dead hours after being killed.
Sintramienergetica is a trade union that has workers that do labor for a US company based in Alabama, Drummond Coal. The history between the trade union and the coal giant has been tumultuous. Paramilitary leaders alleged to be responsible for the murders of the two trade unionists have gone on trial with Drummond being accused of handing over a suitcase of money to leader Rodrigo Tovar Pupo asking him to help “remove barriers” the union was creating for the company.
An “open letter” from the ex-Bank of America employee was recently posted on the website Anonymous has been using to share the leaked emails. It appears to be in response to how he was characterized in coverage of the leak.
TechHerald.com has focused on this comment, which he wrote in response to a question from Anonymous on whether he had more emails: “I have to save the rest. I promised a WSJ [Wall Street Journal] reporter in Australia the story back in Jan when the Balboa sale was announced. I also need to keep a few aces for my inevitable years of litigation for what I’m doing.”
Today, Anonymous published a letter from him. It suggests he may not be so focused on profiting off his information after all.
He thumps his chest at Bank of America saying Bank of America continues “to underestimate me.”
“I’ve already read their plan of action against me. Anonymous leaked it for the world to see months ago,” he adds. “While “Anonymous” BofA executives huddle together and cower behind their corporate logo, hoping their corporate name can withstand a greater shitstorm than mine, we’ve both been reading the exact same battle plan. Don’t be fooled by press releases. The HB Gary plan cost a lot of the money from their piggy bank, and they’re not ones to let their own money go to waste.”
He suggests he is not afraid of Bank of America executives or employees who might be plotting against him:
Russian nuclear accident specialist Iouli Andreyev, who helped with cleanup in the aftermath of Chernobyl, said on March 16, “The Japanese were very greedy, and they used every square inch of the space. But when you have a dense placing of spent fuel in the basin, you have a high possibility of fire if the water is removed from the basin.” His comments came as Japan faces a growing nuclear disaster with nuclear reactors leaking and radiation plumes discharging into the atmosphere.
Andreyev put the blame on corporations and United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency, saying they had “willfully ignor[ed] lessons from the world's worst nuclear accident 25 years ago to protect the industry's expansion.” He condemned the nuclear industry for ensuring Chernobyl was not studied properly.
Japan has been scrambling to contain a nuclear catastrophe ever since an 8.9 earthquake struck last week. As of Wednesday, March 16, a helicopter was unable to drop water on “the most troubled reactor” in the country. Workers left the power plant briefly as radiation levels increased.
In 2007, twelve power companies “admitted to thousands of irregularities in reporting past problems.” Japanese citizens began to resist the building of new nuclear reactors. They pushed for legal actions to suspend operations. Now, US State Cables released by WikiLeaks, which are being published by the Telegraph and The Guardian, further affirm that some sort of coverup has been going on.
Several writers have published their thoughts on the bank employee emails posted by Anonymous. They appear to have been caught up in the news cycle, hoping to get ahead of this story and get the most traffic to their post. In rushing the story, at least a few have committed a basic failure of journalism, one that could easily be remedied by fact checking.
Juli Weiner at VanityFair.com writes, “A-ha! Bank of America is indeed the large United States bank whose internal documents and e-mails were rumored to soon appear on the Internet. But twist! The leaker of those documents was not WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, spectral nuisance and folk hero, but Anonymous, the rabble-rousing hacking collective.”
Angela Orr on Technorati writes, “Alluded to by the Anonymous community for months, leaks of Bank of America documents have finally begun to come to light, as the so-called #BlackMonday Operation began, today.”
And, at ComputerWorld, Darlene Storm writes, “It's unclear whether part one of the bankofamericasucks leak is the same information that BofA was afraid WikiLeaks would publish.”
Actually, it is incredibly clear. Look at the dates: they are all from days ago, the first one being sent out on March 10, 2011. This makes it impossible for Anonymous to be leaking whatever material WikiLeaks happens to hold.
Anonymous, the hacktivist group known for supporting WikiLeaks and mounting actions in cyberspace in defense of freedom of information and transparency, launched “#BlackMonday” at midnight. Emails between an Anonymous user and an employee with Balboa Insurance, whose work is connected to the operations of Bank of America, were posted.
The employee claims to have worked for the company for the last seven years. He writes, “Many of you do not know who Balboa Insurance Group (soon to be rebranded as QBE First by Australian Reinsurance Company QBE according to internal communication sent to all Balboa associates) is, but if you’ve ever had a loan for an automobile, farm equipment, mobile home, or residential or commercial property, we knew you. In fact, we probably charged you money…a lot of money…for insurance you didn’t even need.”
Emails from the employee allegedly affirm suspicions that banks like Bank of America have been engaged in rampant fraud. But, the bigger story here is Anonymous has made contact with an employee at Balboa Insurance and opened up a conduit for getting information out to the world. He appears intent to push others to blow the whistle of Bank of America fraud.
In an email sent on March 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm, the Balboa Insurance employee writes about a key strategic issue that Anonymous faces in its campaign to take down Bank of America for its disingenuous and fraudulent dealings (particularly a campaign that began when the bank announced it would cease to process donations to WikiLeaks).
The spokesman for the Department of State in the Obama administration, PJ Crowley, resigned today for having criticized the inhumane treatment of U.S. political prisoner Bradley Manning as "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."
Commentary in TIME and Politico strongly suggest that Crowley's resignation was a forced move by an administration that does not bear internal criticism. Politico indicates that insider sources have been heralding the replacement of Crowley - with NSC spokesman Mike Hammer - for a long time, and that the Manning incident allowed this to be expedited. Crowley has publicly expressed his pleasure that Hammer will replace him on his twitter account.
Late last week, commentators on the treatment of alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning were surprised when Crowley unequivocally criticized the Department of Defense at a small seminar in MIT on new media. An attendee reported his statement:
UPDATE: Unedited podcast is posted.
This week’s guest is Debra Sweet. She is the Director of World Can't Wait, initiated in 2005 to "drive out the Bush regime" by repudiating its program, forcing it from office through a mass, independent movement and reversing the direction it had launched. Based in New York City, she leads World Can't Wait in its continuing efforts to stop the crimes of our government, including the unjust occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the torture and detention codes, as well as reversing the fascist direction of U.S. society, from the surveillance state to the criminalization of abortion and immigrants.
To mark the eighth anniversary of the Iraq War, Sweet discusses some of the revelations that have come from WikiLeaks on the Iraq War thanks to Cablegate and the Iraq War Logs and the "Collateral Murder" video.
Sweet addresses how WikiLeaks revelations on the wars are fueling antiwar resistance in America. She will highlight upcoming actions on March 19 and 20 in the United States to oppose ongoing US wars and occupations and to support Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower being held at Quantico Marine Brig in Virginia.
Following Sweet’s interview, some time was spent doing a roundup on some of the past week’s news related to WikiLeaks. The milestone that was reached this week, the 100th Day of Cablegate, was recounted.
To listen to the podcast, click play on the widget below. Or, go to CMN News.
A whole new avenue of the Wikileaks story opened up in late November, early December 2010 when the Prime Minister of Australia said the following about Julian Assange:
It’s a grossly irresponsible thing to do and an illegal thing to do.
This writer took umbrage and responded with a letter posted here on 4th December 2011. Many others were outraged and spoke out.
Immediately prior to that, on 29th November 2010 the Federal Attorney General Robert McClelland had said:
From Australia's point of view we think there are potentially a number of criminal laws that could have been breached.
A defence taskforce which had been monitoring Wikileaks would become a "whole-of-government taskforce", Mr McClelland said.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald today 12th March 2011:
The Australian government discussed the charge of treason - the most serious of federal offences and one that carries a mandatory life sentence - when it examined the WikiLeaks matter last year.
The advice, in a departmental briefing for the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, was among several documents published yesterday by the department in response to Senate estimates questions.
It was provided by a senior officer in the Attorney-General's Department in September, after WikiLeaks published 90,000 US military reports filed during the war in Afghanistan.
Federal Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan ruled the “Twitter 3,” who have become ensnared in a WikiLeaks investigation, cannot keep the US government from looking at their Twitter information and the information they would like to be public cannot be disclosed. With support from the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Jacob Appelbaum, Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Rop Gonggrijp, the three, will appeal the decision.
The “Twitter 3” sought to convince the court the Twitter Order violated First and Fourth Amendment rights. The Court found there was no First Amendment violation because the three had “already made their Twitter posts and associations publicly available.” The Court memo on the decision explains:
On the Fourth Amendment argument, the Court finds no “privacy interest” in protecting “IP addresses” and argued, “The Court is aware of no authority finding that an IP address shows location with precision, let alone provides insight into a home’s interior or a user’s movements.”
In a new development, U.S. State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley has made a statement indicating that opinion is divided among officials in Obama's government concerning the punitive and inhumane pre-trial treatment of alleged Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning.
While speaking to a small audience in MIT organized by the Center for Future Civic Media, Crowley was asked what he thought of the treatment of Bradley Manning. According to an attendee at the meeting, Philippa Thomas, Crowley unequivocally denounced the treatment of Manning by the Department of Defense as "ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid."
What did Crowley think, he asked, about Wikileaks? About the United States, in his words, “torturing a prisoner in a military brig”? Crowley didn’t stop to think. What’s being done to Bradley Manning by my colleagues at the Department of Defense “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” He paused. “None the less Bradley Manning is in the right place”. And he went on lengthening his answer, explaining why in Washington’s view, “there is sometimes a need for secrets… for diplomatic progress to be made”. But still, he’d said it. And the fact he felt strongly enough to say it seems to me an extraordinary insight into the tensions within the administration over Wikileaks.
Rep. Peter King of New York, who held the first in a series of hearings on radicalization in the American Muslim community on March 10, has a well-known position on WikiLeaks: It’s terrorism. He urged the Treasury Department in January 2011 “to add WikiLeaks and its founder Jullian Assange to the Specially Designated National and Blocked Persons List (SDN List).”
His letter to the Treasury Department explains his opinion, “The U.S. government simply cannot continue its ineffective piecemeal approach of responding in the aftermath of Wikileaks’ damage. The Administration must act to disrupt the Wikileaks enterprise. The U.S. government should be making every effort to strangle the viability of Assange’s organization.”
Presumably, King would like to see WikiLeaks “strangled” in the way that the Committee on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) is being cracked down on by the FBI. King explicitly called for Muslim-Americans to reject CAIR, which he said “was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorist financing case involving the Holyland Foundation.”
In the leadup to this hearing I found it shocking and sad that the mainstream media accepted CAIR’s accusations as if it were a legitimate organization. Thankfully, FBI Director Mueller has ordered the FBI to cease all dealings and contact with CAIR. I would hope that all law enforcement officials would follow the lead of the FBI Director.