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Bradley Manning, Traitor or Hero?


The big question is in the title, so please discuss…

Cheers Comrades








  1. Lin M. Hall says:

    Hero. Look at No justice for Bradley Manning by Charles Davis.

    Recognise that military justice, anywhere, is about as far from justice as this blog is.

  2. Richard Ryan says:

    I wonder what the defacto Minister for Defence Sax, has got to say about that comment. Shalom

  3. Sax says:

    I think that is a bit harsh Lin.
    I think this blog, and more importantly its owner, is pretty even handed. That’s why I came here, and not some of the other rags around.

    The military, to all that haven’t served, is an institution that can be hard to understand. Hell, I spent a couple of decades living it, and still came out with massive questions as to how some things work ? It has a weird sense of tradition, law, and most of all, bloody minded logic. That was Australian military too, as for the American military, a whole different kettle of fish.

    As for the case above, he would have had to sign a confidentiality clause, when he entered. As to whether or not that clause justifies not releasing the above video (which btw has been around for a while), is a judgement call. He made that call, and unfortunately has to live with the consequences.

    The most imortant matter here is, and what is foremost in my mind is ?
    The press agencies, the television news services that scored points showing, and critiquing the video when they got it, now have a responsibility I think, to go in and bat for the young man. If they actually have the guts to do that, is the only question left unanswered.
    The young man has a tough road ahead of him, unless he gets a massive groundswell of civivy support.

    As to whether he gets that, is up to the networks, who profited from the vision, have the guts, to rally that support on his behalf ? Personally, I think they will let him down. After all, they have their vision, and will probably leave the young man swinging.

  4. Simon says:

    Malcontent, so traitor. If he’d been a whistle-blower, alerting the US Government or the world to crimes being committed I’d give him some respect. But his story seems to be just one of being unprofessional in his role, sitting behind the safety of a desk – bored – and like the girl no one wants to dance with he “put out” just to get some attention.

    The US Army holds some responsibility too for allowing these nincompoops to act with minimal oversight. Manning has just had the misfortune to be the one caught – or stupid enough to leak.

  5. Iain Hall says:

    Actually Lin I think that the Al Jezerra piece is rather unbalanced and suggesting that Manning was acting on some sort of high principle is something of a projection from the author of the piece. The sheer volume of data that he stole suggests that he was far less concerned with any particular er, “indiscretion” of the US military or governemnt than that.To steal that much data suggests the hacker’s motivation to me, he did it because he could and once he had taken it he really did not think that much about the consequences to those named in the documents, his country or fro that matter the consequences that he now faces.

    Raf Sanchez at Fort Meade, Maryland

    12:13AM GMT 18 Dec 2011
    In the days after his arrest in Iraq, agents from across the American government rushed to gather information about the man accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of documents and quickly grew alarmed that his background suggested he may have been a double agent.

    Among their concerns was time Private Manning spent in Wales as a teenager, where he lived for three years after his Welsh mother divorced from his American father.

    Special Agent Mark Mander, of the Army’s computer crime unit, told the Private Manning’s court martial: “At the beginning of this investigation there was a great deal of concern that foreign intelligence services could be involved.” He did not clarify whether the US government believed British intelligence might have played a part.

    At the hearing in Fort Meade, Maryland, where Pte Manning faces 22 charges including “aiding the enemy”, details emerged for the first time how the FBI, the Department of Justice, the State Department and the Army all joined what Special Agent Mander said was an unprecedented operation.

    With days of the arrest in May 2010, five agents from different departments were sent to the home in Maryland of Pte Manning’s aunt, Debra Van Alstyne, where the young soldier had at one point lived.

    The initial search of the 24-year-old’s messy room yielded little intelligence but on a second visit in October they found memory cards and hard disks, some of which contained classified information.

    Ms Van Alstyne also told investigators how Pte Manning had made several references to a leaked video of an air strike which appeared on WikiLeaks in April 2010, asking “specifically how its release was being perceived in the US”.

    He even asked her to make a posting on his Facebook page referencing the video, Special Agent Mander told the Article 32 hearing, the military’s equivalent of a pretrial appearance.

    The court also heard for the first time about Jason Katz, a US Department of Energy employee who was apparently brought to the attention of the government by the same hacker who first raised the alarm about Pte Manning’s alleged activities.

    At the end of July 2010, Adrian Lamo approached the Army to allege that Mr Katz had been “boasting” of how he was helping to decrypt footage that apparently showed the Granai air strike, a 2009 incident in Afghanistan that killed dozens of civilians.

    Special Agent Mander told the court that that Mr Katz had been dismissed from his job at a government laboratory as a result of “inappropriate” activities and that when his computers were seized the footage was found in an encrypted and password-protected file.

    It is not known whether Mr Katz was arrested as a result of the findings or if he has been charged with any crime.

    now that is a far more balanced report than the one that you have cited

  6. Lin M. Hall says:

    Have it your own way Iain.

    I don’t tend to always believe the establishment’s view of a preliminary hearing after only two days. I’m particularly troubled by this passage in your quoted report—

    The initial search of the 24-year-old’s messy room yielded little intelligence but on a second visit in October they found memory cards and hard disks, some of which contained classified information.

  7. Lin M. Hall says:

    Just in case you’re still out on your limb, Iain, you might want your readers to think about this article from The Independent, a UK newspaper.

    Leading article: The worst instincts of the bully
    The forgotten protagonist of the WikiLeaks story spoke in a US military court on Friday to confirm that he had read the charges against him. “Yes, sir,” said Bradley Manning. The young soldier – yesterday was his 24th birthday – is not exactly a butterfly, but he is certainly on a wheel.

    In fact, he has been crushed between two opposing cogs. On the one hand, the US Department of Defense accuses him of high treachery against American national security, leaking a quarter of a million diplomatic cables. On the other, WikiLeaks supporters celebrate him as a hero, in a fight against authority and secrecy.

    Both of these two world-views overlook the vulnerable person at the story’s centre. On the WikiLeaks side, far too much attention has been sought by and devoted to Julian Assange, who was merely the publicist for material passed to a group with which he has now fallen out – as he often seems to do with his co-workers.

    On the Pentagon side, Pte Manning has been treated as a non-person. Partly, this may be because the Defense Department realises at some level that it failed in its duty of care to him. Since his arrest, it has emerged that his superiors had intended to discharge him, because he seemed unstable and a risk to himself and others. Yet the army changed its mind – possibly because of a shortage of computer intelligence analysts in Iraq – and sent him to east Baghdad anyway.

    There, morale was low and security even lower, with login details for the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) written on notes stuck to the side of computer screens. A month after Pte Manning first contacted Wikileaks, an army psychologist found that he was “potentially dangerous to himself and others”, according to the document prepared by his legal defence team that we report today. His gun was disabled and later he was disciplined for punching a female officer. Yet still he was allowed access to secret information.

    Since Pte Manning’s arrest, the US military has defaulted to its assumption that national security trumps all considerations of humanity – a position that has done so much damage to America’s standing in the world since the Second World War. Pte Manning has been held, in effect, in solitary confinement, was at one point deprived of bedclothes, and is woken repeatedly “for his safety and security”.

    His treatment prompted P J Crowley, the official spokesman at the State Department, to say: “What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” Mr Crowley resigned, but he achieved at least one thing, forcing Barack Obama to say that Pentagon officials “assure me” that the terms of Pte Manning’s confinement were “appropriate”.

    Such weasel words emphasise the bad part of the good-in-parts attempt by President Obama to recover some of the moral ground lost by his predecessor. Unfortunately, Guantanamo, which Mr Obama promised to close, has now been open for 10 years, and still holds one British resident, Shaker Aamer, in legal limbo.

    The Obama administration’s failure to wash away the sins of George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld is, incidentally, a reminder to us of the importance of, for example, the Gibson inquiry in atoning for the British record of collusion with torture in the Bush-Blair years.

    The Bradley Manning story, some of which was reported in The Guardian in May, but which has not attracted sufficient attention, is one of the mighty American superpower overreacting to its failure to spot the security risks of a troubled young man in a military base ruled by tedium. It reflects its own mortification over the leaks that resulted.

    This newspaper does not believe that it was right to leak confidential documents indiscriminately, but the fears expressed by Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, that the security breach would put lives at risk, seem to have been exaggerated. In fact, its main effect has been to embarrass some US allies, such as the Saudi princes who privately urged military action against Iran.

    The Pentagon has reacted to its humiliation with the worst instinct of the bully, taking a vindictive attitude towards a scapegoat. If Pte Manning is guilty as charged, he did something wrong, but it is the US authorities who must take responsibility for the intelligence disaster.

    I’m sure that anyone can find other opinions about how this case has destroyed the future for whistleblowers. Those ordinary people who don’t have the support of such as Wikileaks, just the support of users of Queensland Health Services and the like.

  8. Simon says:

    The last paragraph of The Independant article is at the heart of the issue. US authorities are responsible for the intelligence disaster. Pte Manning is a sworn member of the US military. He appears to have failed in his duties and a trial will now try and decide the reason why. If he is ideologically opposed to keeping secrets and the offical protocol for their eventual release he shouldn’t have joined the army.

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