We are on the eve of Judge Lind’s sentencing of Bradley Manning. Protests are planned after the verdict is announced. Details on this are at the end of this article.
For context we should not forget that Obama, the man who promised “hope” and “change,” decided to charge Manning and ordered him kept in solitary isolation for nine months, subjecting him to conditions that the UN special rapporteur on torture labeled “cruel, inhuman and degrading,” as The Guardian reported on March 12, 2012:
The UN special rapporteur on torture has formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning, the US soldier who was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source.
Juan Mendez has completed a 14-month investigation into the treatment of Manning since the soldier’s arrest at a US military base in May 2010. He concludes that the US military was at least culpable of cruel and inhumane treatment in keeping Manning locked up alone for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period in conditions that he also found might have constituted torture.
Protests and only protests (including P.J. Crowley’s resignation as the State Department spokesman over Obama’s treatment of Manning) finally forced Obama – the man committed to “transparency,” the “rule of law,” and who used to teach Constitutional Law – to move Manning out of solitary isolation – where he was, among other outrages, forced to sleep and stand naked – into a normal prison.
Brought to trial, the U.S. government headed by this champion of due process and the rule of law denied Manning the right to mount a real defense, with the judge ruling that he could not assert his rights as a whistleblower.
Obama on August 9, 2013 claimed in relation to Edward Snowden that Snowden could have and should have gone through channels and Obama was a supporter of whistleblowers’ rights.
This is what Obama said at his news conference:
So the fact is, is that Mr. Snowden’s been charged with three felonies. If in fact he believes that what he did was right, then, like every American citizen, he can come here, appear before the court with a lawyer and make his case.
If the concern was that somehow this was the only way to get this information out to the public, I signed an executive order well before Mr. Snowden leaked this information that provided whistle-blower protection to the intelligence community for the first time.
There, you see, Mr. Manning and Mr. Snowden, you should never have gone outside proper channels. We have procedures here and we have a president who for the first time ever, provided whistleblower rights to people such as yourselves.
Never mind what other whistleblowers before Manning and Snowden have said that going through proper channels will only get you fired and persecuted and will produce no results:
- “The idea that we have robust checks and balances on this [NSA spying] is a myth.”
- Congressional overseers “have no real way of seeing into what these agencies are doing. They are totally dependent on the agencies briefing them on programs, telling them what they are doing.”
- Lawmakers “don’t really don’t understand what the NSA does and how it operates. Even when they get briefings, they still don’t understand.”
See also the revelations of NSA whistleblower Russ Tice, cited in a Business Insider article:
“In the summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a forty-some-year-old senator from Illinois… That’s the President of the United States now.”
Tice added that he also saw orders to spy on Hillary Clinton, Senators John McCain and Diane Feinstein, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, Gen. David Petraeus, and a current Supreme Court Justice.
“The abuse is rampant and everyone is pretending that it’s never happened, and it couldn’t happen. … I know [there was abuse] because I had my hands on the papers for these sorts of things: They went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of congress — Senate and the House — especially on the intelligence committees and the armed services committees, lawyers, law firms, judges, State Department officials, part of the White House, multinational companies, financial firms, NGOs, civil rights groups …”
Suppose a situation where a public official actually does understand what’s going on and moves to end the illegal and dangerous activities that he or she sees. Recall what happened to then-NY Governor Eliot Spitzer when he publicly declared his intention to clampdown on the corrupt and exceedingly dangerous practices of the major financial institutions literally months before the 2008 worldwide economic crisis. He was told by unnamed powerful individuals to leave it alone or his career would be ruined. He persisted nonetheless. As a reward for doing his ostensible job as the NY governor to monitor Wall Street, he was outed for his penchant for high-priced call girls and driven from office. Not long after this the crisis that he saw coming and tried to avert was headline news the world over.
We have been dealing with the wreckage of that crisis ever since.
Manning’s crime was to reveal the truth to the American people and the world. That is his crime because this POTUS does not tolerate whistleblowers. He has prosecuted twice as many whistleblowers as all of his POTUS predecessors combined.
Obama did not say at his latest press conference that he has instituted what he calls an Insider Threat Program. It must have slipped his mind.
For those of you who haven’t not heard about this overlooked program, here is a description courtesy of a June 22, 2013 McClatchy’s newspapers’ article “Obama’s Crackdown Views Leaks as Aiding Enemies of the US” by Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay:
President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.
Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.
“Hammer this fact home . . . leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,” says a June 1, 2012, Defense Department strategy for the program that was obtained by McClatchy.
Perhaps when Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Obama meet, after Obama gets over Putin’s granting Snowden temporary political asylum (I can’t believe I just wrote that – former KGB head Putin granting someone political asylum!), they can compare who is better at creating a snitch state in their respective countries.
Obama also neglected to mention this other policy of his at his recent news conference. In a New York Times’ OpEd piece by Eyal Press, published May 27, 2013, Press revealed a barely noticed White House memo issued on January 25, 2013 that sabotages whistleblowers’ ability to protect themselves against retaliatory firings by the Federal Government. As Press notes:
[T]he memo instructs the director of national intelligence and the Office of Personnel Management to establish standards that would give federal agencies the power to fire employees, without appeal, deemed ineligible to hold “noncritical sensitive” jobs. It means giving them immense power to bypass civil service law, which is the foundation for all whistle-blower rights.
In other words, someone who blows the whistle on corruption, crimes, egregious and consequential incompetence, and so on, can, under this memo, be fired by the agency they work for simply by having their job be newly designated as “noncritical sensitive.” By labeling their job as such, the agency can claim that it was not firing someone for their whistleblowing, but merely because their job was now “noncritical sensitive.” The odd terminology here appears to be designed so as to say that while your job is “sensitive,” it is no longer “critical,” and therefore we are terminating you. What’s sensitive here, of course, is your access to sensitive information.
The Snitch-Man’s next targets are Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange. He can accomplish this in his alter-ego identity as Drone-Man.
What are their crimes?
Also like Manning, revealing the truth to the people.
Just this past Saturday Time Magazine’s senior national correspondent Michael Grunwald tweeted that he can’t wait to justify the drone attack that kills Julian Assange.
Grunwald would be very happy I suspect in an open dictatorship. He could applaud ahead of time an assassination by the Fuhrer and thus win brownie points for his patriotism.
Manning and other whistleblowers, including a few genuine investigative journalists such as Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange, and Wikileaks, and dissenters and people who can still think clearly are arrayed on one side of this dramatic confrontation. Their supporters number in the millions.
On the other side stand those whose argument does not rest upon reason, logic, morality, or legal standards. Their stand is indefensible on any of those grounds. Their “arguments” rest solely upon their ability to dominate the airwaves and deploy the full apparatus of official violence via police, FBI, CIA, the military, and via judicial and extra-judicial action.
In full view and behind the scenes they have marshaled an intimidating display of brute murderous force side-by-side with lies, half-truths, deceitfulness, and dishonesty that surpass imagination.
Their aim: to make an example of Manning so that other whistleblowers do not think to come forward. Their goal is to shut people up and terrorize enough people so that the public meekly accepts whatever authorities tell them.
This is why Manning Matters. This is why protesting this railroading of a true hero matters so much. This is why people have to throw down and make visible their stand on this. The fate of the people and the planet are at stake.
Judge Lind will pronounce her sentence of Bradley Manning tomorrow, Wed., August 21, 2013 at 10 am EST.
In anticipation of this, please join us in spreading word via Twitter, especially this evening. Tweet #BecauseOfBradleyManning and help it trend. It was launched a few days ago based on the title to an article I wrote here on 8/1/13 and which was reposted at WorldCantWait.net on 8/15/13: “Because of Bradley Manning.”
Protests in support of Bradley and demanding that he be released are scheduled in numerous cities.
Fort Meade: Press Conference with Manning attorney David Coombs 1:30 pm Location TBA see bradleymanning.org
Boston: 5:00 pm EDT MBTA Park Street Station Facebook Boston
Chicago: 6:00 pm CDT “The Bean” in Millennium Park Facebook Chicago
Denver 7:00 pm MDT P&L Press 2727 West 27th Facebook Denver
Las Vegas: 5:00 pm PDT Federal Building 300 Las Vegas Blvd Event
Los Angeles: 5pm Downtown LA US District Court: 312 N Spring Facebook LA
Minneapolis: 4:30pm Federal Courthouse 300 S 4th St Facebook Minneapolis
Milwaukee: 6:00 pm Milwaukee City Hall 200 E Wells Street Facebook Milwaukee
New York City: 5:00 pm EDT (47th & Broadway) Red Steps at Times Square, south of the TKTS Booth Facebook NYC
San Francisco: 5;00 pm PDT Bradley Manning Plaza (aka Ferry Plaza), at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco. Facebook SF
Seattle: 5:00 pm PDT Westlake Plaza 4th & Pine Facebook Seattle
Tallahassee 5:00 pm EDT United States Courthouse Facebook Tallahassee
Washington DC: Rally 7:30 EDT White House Facebook DC March at 8:30 pm
Demands: Free & Release Bradley Manning.
Posters from World Can’t Wait here — easy to print on 11×17″ paper
Send photos, comments, video to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dennis Loo is a member of the steering committee of World Can’t Wait. His website is dennisloo.com.