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Posts Tagged ‘Bradley Manning’

Pfc. Bradley Manning is believed to be the man responsible for leaking most of the Iraq, Afghanistan, and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Thanks to an entrapping series of online chats with ex-hacker and likely government agent Adrian Lamo, Manning was arrested last spring. Since then, he has been held in solitary confinement  for seven months. Mind you, Manning has never been charged with a crime and likely will not be in the near future.

Glenn Greenwald was the first person I saw really address this topic. He hit all of the most horrifying points: that Manning is kept in his cell for 23 hours a day, that he is denied even sheets and a pillow, that he may not exercise in his cell, that he is forbidden from any access to the news, etc. Most importantly, Greenwald pointed out that solitary confinement, especially for this length of time, has a demonstrable effect on mental health and could likely be considered torture.

More details were added by Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs (H/T: Lew Rockwell). Coombs revealed that Manning is kept awake from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. by guards walking past his cell and asking him to verify his status every five minutes. Can you imagine how horrible this must be? To be kept awake in a cell with nothing to do for 15 hours straight? It is amazing that Manning is not already insane, though if Manning visitor David House’s report that Manning wants to some day use the GI Bill to get a B.A. in PoliSci and a grad degree in Physics is true, maybe insanity has already arrived. There are draconian restrictions on his access to reading materials. His clothes are taken away from him each night.

And yet somehow the U.S. government that treats a man, let alone a man convicted of no charges, in this manner has the gall to criticize other countries for torture. There was a time when those criticisms might have rung true. That time is long since past with this country’s shameful collapse into a police state.

The good news, if there is any, is that the efforts of people like Greenwald and Coombs have led the UN to investigate Manning’s treatment. There is little reason to expect any sort of fast action from such a bureaucratic organization, and even less reason to suspect any sort of satisfactory action from an organization run by imperialists, but at least maybe it will shame the U.S. government into doing something to ameliorate Manning’s condition.

We must not forget Bradley Manning, as I am afraid some of us, myself included, did in the excitement of the diplomatic cables being released. That this man remains imprisoned without charge in such shameful conditions is a moral outrage. Together maybe we can do something to rescue him.

In the meantime, I love what Kevin Carson at Center for a Stateless Society wrote: “If there’s a soldier anywhere in the world who’s fought and suffered for my freedom, it’s Pfc. Bradley Manning.”

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To the old guard, the last few weeks have been hectic with me facing the end of my internship. Apologies for the long layoff. But I’ve accumulated a good batch of links for you in the meantime. Note: I am saving the majority of my links about WikiLeaks for a separate, dedicated post.

  • Globe & Mail: Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian resident, has been sentenced to death in Iran for running a porn site. That is it–running a porn site. This case is just as bad as the wife-stoning last summer, but getting nowhere near the attention. Don’t forget this guy’s name, don’t let him die.
  • Via Brian Doherty, Chicago Breaking News: Aurora (Ill.) police have yet to return $190k confiscated from two drug suspects in a traffic stop. A judge has even ordered the money returned, only to have the city refuse. This is nothing new–the cops routinely confiscate money from suspects and then make it so hard to get back a lot of people just give up.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, The Telegraph: Switzerland considers overturning their ban on incest between consenting adults. Do I think incest is disgusting and unfathomable? Yes. But could I agree more with this statement? “Incest is a difficult moral question, but not one that is answered by penal law.” No, I couldn’t. Freedom means defending even the rights of people with whom we do not agree.
  • Kevin Carson at Center for a Stateless Society: Covering every angle of the UK student riots in a way no other outlet has. Such a well-considered piece. Carson points out that it’s easy to blame the protesters for being thugs, but harder to see them as victims of a government education system that perversely subsidizes education and creates infinite new credentialing standards.
  • National Post: Oh my God–a woman is filing a lawsuit against McDonald’s for marketing food to her children and making it hard to say no. Oh my God. I am about to explode in flames just reading about this vile human trying to use force against a business for more or less existing. Burn in hell, Monet Parham.
  • Globe & Mail: This story fails in every way possible. What was once a private project to build a Canadian Museum of Human Rights is now a government-funded boondoggle (funded by the supposedly conservative Harper government, btw). Now, Ukrainian-Canadian groups are whining that the museum doesn’t do enough to cover the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s. There’s almost nothing more unseemly than this sort of genocide porn.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy: Dinging Drudge for linking to PrisonPlanet.com, the main Alex Jones site. Alex is too far out there, way too wrapped up in conspiracy theories for me to like him. But just because he is a conspiracy theorist doesn’t mean his (very popular) site is incapable of breaking stories.
  • Via Tyler Cowen, Bruce Schneier: Interesting argument that rather than arguing about security for the Washington Monument, it should be closed as a “monument to our fears.” I don’t think Schneier really wants to close it and neither do I, but his “this is why we can’t have nice things” point about America’s love of fear is pretty awesome.
  • Tim Cavanaugh at Reason: Did you know Wesley Snipes is sitting in jail now, even though he beat his tax charges, just because the judge brought him up on another misdemeanor? And that the sentence he got for the misdemeanor is longer than a lot of sentences issued to felons? The statists don’t like it when you mess with their revenue stream.
  • Der Spiegel: In a super-minor WikiLeak, American authorities got butthurt over Austria’s “limited” worldview. In this case, “limited” means “not interested in pursuing imperialism and global war.” Yet another reason for me to love Austria.
  • National Post: A trade war may be brewing in my native Ohio, where a Canadian contractor made the cheapest bid to provide chairs to a courthouse, only to be told the contract needed to be awarded to an American firm. First of all, color me disgusted that Franklin County (home to Columbus) “needs” a $100 million, 7-story courthouse. Sounds like too many laws. Second of all, the idea that this will “create” jobs when it just means government will have to spend more money stolen from working people on the stupid chairs is ludicrous.
  • NYT: Old news, but the judge tossed out the case against extrajudicial murders targeted killings filed by Anwar al-Awlaki’s dad. Apparently, this issue should be left up to the executive branch…because they are transparent, fair, and moral. God, this is sickening.
  • Globe & Mail: Ted Turner urged leaders at the Cancun conference to institute a worldwide one-child policy. Bye bye, Ted. Go back to your ranch and STFU. You are insane and you hate humans. Guess what? We hate you back, you old loon.
  • NYT: Telling the chilling story of Danroy Henry, another unarmed black man killed by a white cop in shady circumstances. It happened in October and we still haven’t heard much about the evidence. People need to stop trusting the police and start realizing they are bullies who kill people.
  • Matt Welch at Reason: L.A. extended a moratorium on fast food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods to become a full-on ban. I understand fast food is horrible for health and encourages bad decisions. But this isn’t the way to solve the problem, by denying people their access to it and telling companies where they can and can’t operate.
  • LewRockwell.com blog: Using Foreign Policy‘s list of the world’s top 15 imprisoned dissidents to ask when Julian Assange and the tortured Bradley Manning will make the list. These dissidents are worth learning and remembering, for sure. But the point about Assange and Manning is incredibly valid–we are doing things we associate with dictators.
  • NYT: The WTO ruled in favor of a U.S. tariff against Chinese tires. This is what passes for pro-trade in our world. No more WTO, no more NAFTA-style free trade agreements, no more tariffs. Just free people in different places trading freely with each other, please.
  • Globe & Mail: The idiotic son of Canada’s third-party leader, who is unfortunately on the Toronto council, is calling on the council to condemn MacLean’s for their now-infamous “Too Asian?” article. And just like all of the other kneejerkers complaining about this article, little Mike Layton seems to have failed to read past the title. Or maybe he did and he is just a cynical opportunist pol gunning for more votes. Whatever it is, shut up.
  • Globe & Mail: One of the articles in a series about religion in Canada was about unused church infrastructure closing down and falling into disrepair, especially in Quebec. I just really loved this quote: “It’s not because you stop believing in Amon-Ra that you destroy the Pyramids.” So well said!
  • NYT: Three New Orleans cops have been convicted in the post-Katrina murder of Henry Glover. Amen. Have fun in jail, you thugs. Would that more murderer cops were getting acquainted with the general population right alongside you.
  • Justin Raimondo: Remember all the big media fawning over Richard Holbrooke’s death last week? How the power-loving, arrogant old fool had said we should end the war in Afghanistan as his last words, even though he was too much of a coward to do it whilst he lived? Raimondo points out that that was only the tip of the crappy iceberg with Holbrooke.
  • The Economist: The judge hearing Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s case suddenly and inexplicably decided to postpone his ruling. In fact, just long enough for Vladimir Putin to make a tamper-tastic, completely unfair statement condemning Khodorkovsky on national tv. Khodorkovsky is no saint, but his punishment has already far exceeded his crimes.

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WikiLeaks has done it again, this time releasing over 400,000 pages of classified documents on the Iraq War. God bless you, Bradley Manning! Before I get into the new information, let me just say that I loved the Yahoo News headline today wondering why the Sunday morning talk shows essentially ignored the WikiLeaks documents. Is it really a mystery? Those spineless “journalists” are all tools of the American imperialist-security complex. Of course they are going to ignore these documents, they’ve got two wars to perpetuate!

The NYT and Der Spiegel both had preferential access to the documents. I liked the presentation employed by the Times more, sort of bundling big clumps of documents together into related portfolios. The two most interesting bundles were about the treatment of detainees and civilian casualty figures.

The documents on detainees are, unfortunately, almost all about their treatment by other Iraqis. The information is horrifying: torture, death, abuse, etc. The U.S. seems to have done a little wink-wink, nod-nod show most of the time and let the Iraqis “investigate” abuses for themselves. Oh, and the U.S. used the threat of Iraqi detention to intimidate detainees in our custody. This stuffy is horrifying, but it’s not surprising at all. It’s basically a carbon copy of the model the CIA has been employing around the world since whenever extraordinary rendition started. We don’t need to torture people ourselves when we can find all manner of thugs from failed authoritarian states who are unemployable in any career except for violence and who would love to torture fellow humans in places beyond U.S. jurisdiction. If the slaves back home get wind of it and try to do anything, just invoke state secrecy against them and let the courts take over!

The civilian casualties in the report add up to an additional 15,000 deaths. That pushes the Iraq Body Count to somewhere between 98-106,000 civilian deaths. That’s blood on our hands, guys. We didn’t have to fight this war. Saddam was no saint, but even his infamous gassing of the Kurds at Halabja amounted to something like 3000-5000 deaths. Keep our crimes in perspective.

Der Spiegel‘s best reporting was on unfair attacks conducted by Apache helicopters, of which the infamous Collateral Murder video was just the tip of the iceberg, it seems. It’s easy to point your joystick at people trying to surrender and click a button that will eliminate them. It feels just like a video game. Maybe you can even compare your kill stats with your buddies back at the base!

Don’t let the war-loving mainstream media fool you: the WikiLeaks Iraq documents reveal new and damning evidence about our awful war in Iraq. Don’t let the government fool you, either: these documents don’t put anyone in any more danger than our continued ignorance would. The Surge is unraveling. Chaos is returning. We broke Iraq, but sticking around indefinitely isn’t going to help anything. Don’t let the military fool you into thinking our conduct there is justified. End the war now, bring the troops home, and don’t forget to Free Bradley Manning and donate to WikiLeaks.

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  • Via Tyler Cowen, CNBC: British tax authorities would now like to have employers send paychecks to the government, let Caesar take his tribute and then transfer the remaining sum to employees’ bank accounts. It’s just like direct deposit, except with massive concerns about privacy and Big Brother! Yay! And I thought U.S. withholding taxes were a gross violation of my rights…
  • The Globe & Mail: fascinating rundown of an American soldier-refugee who has invoked the right of sanctuary and taken up residence in a Canadian church rather than get deported home to a military prison. I know ours is now a volunteer military and the case isn’t as clear-cut as it was in the Vietnam era, but many of the ex-soldiers who have absconded to Canada did it for reasons of conscience or ridiculous policies like stop-loss. It’s sad to see Canada cooperating with the bullies in Washington. If you want to help these refugees out, check out the War Resisters Support Campaign.
  • Free Keene: hilarious video that shows exactly how to exercise your rights as a free, law-abiding, camera-bearing citizen in the presence of the police. I haven’t laughed this hard in weeks. It’s amazing to watch just how maddening it is for these cops that people will only answer the questions they are required to answer and want nothing more than to observe them.
  • Andrew Sullivan: responding a (not-worth-linking-to) piece from a dead soldier’s sister about how network news coverage of graphic war scenes is insulting and wrong. Andrew hits exactly the right note here–if you really care about our soldiers and their safety, you should hope for graphic war coverage of the sort that will not allow Americans to forget the deaths going on in our name.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Wired: calling for the U.S. to rub out the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Congo. Wh-what? You want more wars in our name? There’s not enough death and destruction and bills we can’t afford already? Go hug a cactus, you dithering little “humanitarian interventionist,” you.
  • LewRockwell.com: covering the inexplicable case of an 84-year-old man slammed headfirst on the ground by a 26-year-old cop. He was drunk and he did raise a hand against the cop, but talk about disproportionate force! Witnesses confirm that he was not a physical threat and now, because of what was originally a towing call, the man clings to life with broken vertebrae.
  • National Review: bemoaning the Atlantic Yards development project in New York…not primarily because of their gross use of eminent domain, but because it will be financed largely through investments from foreigners interested in acquiring residency permits under the EB-5 visa program. The EB-5 program lets you get a green card if you agree to invest $500k in the U.S., so it’s basically a cute little way for the government to tell foreigners “Well, we don’t really like you or respect your rights as a free individual, but if you pay us enough money, we’ll look the other way.” And somehow these people coming to the U.S. is a bad thing? People who will pay outrageous sums to help prop up our failing economy? Sweet Jesus, National Review.
  • Damon Root at Reason: reporting on WaPo and Institute for Justice coverage of one of the nation’s dumbest licensure laws, the D.C. license for sightseeing tour guides. The usual nonsense line trotted out by happy cartel members is that licenses are needed to protect public safety–“Why, of course we need a barber’s license. There’s scissors involved!” But with tour guides, there’s not even that flimsy argument. Living in Seattle has exposed me to another colossally stupid licensing scheme–the Washington food handlers’ permit. Yes, many restaurants looking for unskilled labor in the kitchen actually want you to have a state permit to do it.
  • National Post: fresh off their successful signature drive and the provincial government’s disappointing announcement of a referendum in only a year’s time, the anti-harmonized sales tax (HST) folks in B.C. prepare to initiate recalls against 18 provincial legislators. They’re even making a Survivor-style contest out of who they go after first.  Good for them. They just have to be careful not to forget that all politicians are sick people who love power and force, not just the HST liars.
  • Der Spiegel: at least 100,000 Germans have asked Google to blur out their homes on Google StreetView. It’s interesting because I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a building blurred out in an American street search. And they say Americans value privacy!
  • The Globe & Mail: the Conservatives spent a record-breaking $130 million on advertising last year. Ugh. You’ve seen the same stuff in the U.S., too–all of those “Paid for with stimulus funds” signs hovering around any highway project. Must they constantly remind us of how much they are doing to for us?
  • Via National Review, the (ugh) Weekly Standard: Koch Industries’ legal team wants to know if the White House might have gotten a little bit too excited about killing the Kochtopus and leaked too much tax information to the press. I don’t really like the Kochs’ brand of libertarianism, but this reminds me to mention that Jane Meyer’s anti-Koch hit piece in The New Yorker was a revolting exercise in conflation and deception, and the normally-stellar Terri Gross’s interview of Meyer on Fresh Air was beyond the Fox News-does-Sarah-Palin level of softballing.
  • Center for a Stateless Society: holding the state to the same standards to which they hold us. Oh, Bradley Manning is a murderer for leaking documents that include information about informants in Afghanistan? Does that mean that all the war-supporting politicians in Washington are murderers for supporting two endless, bloody wars? Cat got your tongue?
  • National Post: people in Nunavut learn how to cope with their territory’s ban on alcohol imports from Europe. The ban was initiated because the EU is boycotting Canadian seal products, upon which the Nunavut economy is heavily dependent. Isn’t it cute how people in the EU and Canada can both lose out on products they want and maybe even need because their governments can’t get along? How delightful!
  • NYT: not for the faint of heart–trying to reform India’s rape laws. For a flavor of what you’ll get, Human Rights Watch “called for an end to the [finger] test, which as the name suggests, involves inserting fingers into the woman to measure ‘vaginal laxity’ and thereby ascertain whether she was ‘habituated to sex’ before the alleged assault.” Sweet Jesus. Let’s use a test that has a spurious physiological basis to suggest that sexually active women deserve to be raped. Come on, India.
  • The Economist: putting the Afghanistan murder-squad case in the context of a genre of surprisingly similar tales going back to WWII, My Lai, etc. It’s an interesting analysis. And the final commentary is one with which I agree: most Americans would just rather not know this stuff.
  • The Globe & Mail: a former Conservative campaign manager calls for both sides in Canada to get consistent on personal freedoms. Liberals, stop trying to restrict gun rights whilst respecting drug rights. Conservatives, stop trying to restrict drug rights whilst respecting gun rights. Amen!

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The biggest news of the day: Wikileaks releasing 90,000+ classified documents on the war in Afghanistan. Alleluia! Two quick thoughts:

  1. If you can afford it, donate to Wikileaks here and help them continue to speak truth to power
  2. If you hear or read anyone saying, “Look, this isn’t a big deal, this doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know,” ignore that person as a death-worshiping neocon and draw your own conclusion on the story. Nearly every pro-war response to the Wikileaks release has hewed so close to this line that it almost seems orchestrated. A perfectly good example is all-around horrible person Bill Kristol 2.0 Max Boot (HT). The people using this line are the equivalent of the cop at any major accident scene going, “Move along, nothing to see here.”

Coverage-wise, you should start with the main NYT article on it since they were one of three newspapers given access to the files weeks ahead of publication. Another of the lucky three papers was Der Spiegel, and their lead-in page with links to all of their articles can be found here. Make sure you don’t miss their interview with Wikileaks founded Julian Assange, who came up with an instant classic line: “I enjoy crushing bastards.” Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com pays tribute to Wikileaks, but also reminds us not to forget the brave whistle-blower who made all of this possible, the imprisoned Spc. Bradley Manning. Andrew Sullivan aggregates even more reactions here. Salon republishes some responses from government officials here, including everyone’s least favorite hawk, Joe Lieberman.

My favorite response was actually a very measured and balanced one, coming in this Globe & Mail editorial. Money quote:

If a war is to incur such a high cost, in lives and treasure, and is based on such a nuanced argument, then support for it cannot be taken for granted. Governments have a special duty to speak extensively about operations, including individual combat incidents. They need to disclose the facts – regarding the support of Pakistan or the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces – that underpin the strategy. Where such information is not forthcoming, leaks of raw military intelligence are a necessary, if extreme, service that fills in the picture.

Try to dispute that argument. Even a neocon, if he or she cares about liberal democratic values at home as much as they purport to care about them abroad, should have nothing to argue with in that statement.

My feelings on the case are mainly a deep sense of gratitude to Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and everyone responsible for Wikileaks and a tiny breath of relief as a small bit of optimism creeps back into me and hopes that these revelations might turn public opinion against this awful war once and for all. Westerners have to be moved by these stories of targeted killing squads wearing our uniforms, innocent families accidentally being shot to death and, in the anecdote that was most disturbing to me, a deaf-mute man being shot dead for failing to heed a command to halt. We have to say these horrors–our teenagers coming home in body bags as they protect highways for Hamid Karzai’s dope baron half-brother to make a quick buck, our soldiers being put in bad situations that end up with them putting civilian lives at risk, our soldiers being ordered to do vile things like execute people without trial–will not continue in our name. It’s time that we make Obama earn his Peace Prize and end the war now.

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The Country Estate analyzed the story already, but there were two more reactions to yesterday’s news of charges issued against Pfc. Bradley Manning, the U.S. army soldier responsible for leaking the video of a U.S. Apache helicopter crew killing Iraqi civilians, that stood above the rest for me. (more…)

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NYT:

BAGHDAD — An American soldier in Iraq who was arrested on charges of leaking a video of a deadly American helicopter attack here in 2007 has also been charged with downloading more than 150,000 highly classified diplomatic cables that could, if made public, reveal the inner workings of American embassies around the world, the military here announced Tuesday.

The soldier in question is Pfc. Bradley Manning, the guy responsible for leaking the video of a U.S. Apache helicopter attacking Iraqi civilians as well as this collection of diplomatic correspondence to Wikileaks. The Country Estate already reacted to Glenn Greenwald’s excellent reporting of the Manning case here–in case you missed it, Manning was certainly manipulated and may have been falsely promised immunity by his eventual betrayer. (more…)

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