Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Alaska Progressive Blog Roundup: Alaska Blogs and the Snowden-Greenwald Smear Circus

Progressive Alaskan blogs - September 2009.  Click to enlarge.
I.  Progressive Alaska used to carry a weekly feature, titled Saturday Alaska Progressive Blog Roundup.  I dropped it about three years ago.  As part of my new approach to this blog, I've decided to bring the feature back.

The "new approach" means far fewer articles than I used to write.  Since April, the number of articles I've actually written here has dropped off considerably.  There have been a number of reasons for this, not least of which have been: my work, musical composition and public volunteer activity schedules.  Here's an enumeration of Progressive Alaska articles per year, since PA started in early November, 2007:

2007:      78 articles --- 1.35 per day
2008:    924 articles --- 2.52 per day
2009: 1,006 articles --- 2.76 per day
2010:    786 articles --- 2.15 per day
2011:    712 articles --- 1.95 per day
2012:    576 articles --- 1.58 per day
2013:    178 articles ---   .99 per day

I'm re-thinking what my blogging and writing mean, over the course of this summer.  While composing six new works (a piece for narrator, chorus and orchestra, about Elizabeth Peratrovich (in collaboration with Diane Benson), a trumpet concerto, a song cycle, some short a capella pieces, my 5th Symphony, and transcriptions for brass quintet of several madrigals by Don Carlo Gesualdo),  I'm also preparing notes for a book about the Alaska I've been lucky enough to have known, experienced and taken a small part in shaping.

Writing hundreds of articles over the past six years at PA, and at firedoglake has helped me to become a better writer.  I appreciate that.

Although I hope to concentrate most centrally here in the future on environmental issues concerning Alaskans, I view the startling, seemingly unchecked growth of the national surveillance state as an existential threat to American democracy, and to the framework of our constitution and its bill of rights.  Hence, my longstanding coverage here of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and - recently - Edward Snowden.

In one of the last Saturday Alaska Progressive Blog Roundups I posted here, I described my take on the evolution of these outlets over the course of two years or so.  Since that September, 2009 post, the Alaska progressive blogging community has diffused in interesting ways.  I'll get back to that next Saturday.  (hopefully .....)

II.  Most of the coverage of the flight and revelations of former CIA and NSA techie, Edward Snowden, has been pretty much confined to three Alaska blogs:  Stonekettle Station, The Immoral Minority, and PA.  I'll look at the coverage in that order:

Stonekettle Station:  I met Stonekettle's host, Jim Wright a couple of months ago, when he addressed our monthly Mat-Su Democrats' Egan Dinner.  Although Wright is somewhat affable and an excellent public speaker, he is an intense authoritarian.

His talk was about the insanity of the ways we deal with gun control and the 2nd Amendment in public life and lawmaking.  On the subjects of gun violence and gun fetishes, I was pretty much in agreement with Wright.  However, in his talk, and responding to audience questions afterward, his worldview struck me as somewhat warped by his military background and present business, in which he "occasionally consult[s] for the military."

His strange naivety about process might be illustrated in his sole essay so far on the subject of the role of the National Security Agency, in which he writes:
In the horrific aftermath of 9-11, we, as a nation, we Americans demanded that those who protect this country be right every single time, no matter the cost.  
We demanded that the enemy, whoever he was, could not get lucky, even once. 
No matter what the consequences.  
And so we changed the rules.
Wright claims, and I trust his veracity on this, that he fought against and objected to all the "stupid" in what "we" changed:
These programs began a long, long time ago, and right after 9-11 they were ramped up to full throttle and the safeties were removed and they’ve been running that way ever since.

And there were plenty of those who raised the alarm, including yours truly right here on this blog, plenty who protested – on both sides of the political aisle. They were ignored. They were dismissed as alarmists, denounced as cowards and traitors and enemies of America (and in fact if you go back and read the comments under certain posts here on Stonekettle Station, you’ll find accusations of exactly that. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been called a traitor by supposed patriots).
I've been fighting against our relentless, needless wars since the last few months of my U.S. Army service, back in the mid-60s, when Wright was probably in elementary school.  Wright describes, as a postscript to his article how close he was to NSA [emphases added]:

I used to work for NSA. As a uniformed member of the US Naval Security Group and its successor organization, I spent more than twenty years in and around the agency. Unlike Edward Snowden, I take my oath very, very seriously indeed and therefore I will not discuss my duties in any fashion whatsoever. Suffice it to say that I am intimately familiar with the National Security Agency and while I may be biased, I have very good reason to believe in the organization’s professionalism and regard for the rights and liberties of all Americans. I don’t expect you to take my word for it, but I will say this: unless you’ve been inside, everything you think you know is wrong.  
Here’s what I know for certain, based on my personal and professional experience: The folks at NSA are dedicated professionals who hold their oath to the nation above all else. No one is more aware of the power they wield and the potential for abuse than they are – because they, my friends, are Americans too. They were set a task and authorized to carry it out and they will do so with the utmost dedication – until they’re told to turn it off. If you, as a nation, want it turned off, really want it turned off, then you need to hold your elected representatives to account. I’ll offer this caution however: think very carefully before you command the Djinni, think it all the way through.  
Regarding Edward Snowden: He was a contractor IT dweeb, not an operator, not an analyst, and certainly not a policy maker and you should regard anything he says from that perspective. The programs he revealed are legal under our current laws and as I said in the article they should have been a surprise to nobody. Snowden claims that he can’t get a fair trial in the United States, boo hoo, he’s got nobody to blame but himself. He betrayed his oath, he broke the terms of his contract, he purposely violated the provisions of his security clearance. If he had concerns, he could have availed himself of any of a dozen avenues of address, including contacting members of Congress directly, instead he chose to make himself into a martyr and so now he can suffer the consequences.
It actually hasn't been positively ascertained whether or not Snowden, as an employee of a private contractor, took any sort of "oath."  When I was Whittier Harbormaster and Fire Chief, I was a sworn officer of the city and state, and took an oath.  When I was Director of Allvest's Cordova Center, the state's largest halfway house, and with more control over peoples' destinies than I ever had in my Whittier service, I took no oath, as I was an employee in the private sector.  While with Allvest, I had to watch as my employer, Bill Weimer, routinely violated his contracts with the State of Alaska.  I have a hunch Snowden had similar experiences.

Wright's essay on the National Security Agency is quite good in some respects, but he minimizes the implications of many of Snowden's revelations, particularly about the extent of of our spying, eavesdropping and tapping of governments, institutions and individuals around the world, often in violation of treaties our country has solemnly obliged to honor.  And that authoritarian streak in Wright seems to throttle and hold him back every time he's about to break on through to the other side.

Additionally, the commenting community at Wright's blog, though sometimes confrontative, can be knowledgeable and informative.

The Immoral Minority:  Jesse Griffin has written a few posts on Snowden's flight and its implications.  At first Gryph was agnostic or non-commital, writing:
Okay I am not going to prejudice any discussion by telling all of you what I am thinking about this whole thing right now, though I ma thinking quite a lot actually, and instead open up the floor to discussion on whether you think Snowden a hero, a criminal, a dupe, or a facade for others to hide behind. 
I will weigh in with one opinion however. I saw Glenn Greenwald on MTP today, and he came off as a complete asshole. Not that assholes can't be right, but he did not do himself too many favors with his attitude and arrogance. 
I disagreed with Jesse's assessment of Greenwald's confrontation with David Gregory, commenting at IM:
My diary on Snowden's move from Hong Kong to a Moscow airport at firedoglake.  
It is probably too early to tell who Edward Snowden really is, but I disagree strongly that Mr. Greenwald "was a complete asshole" on CNN Sunday morning. He could have answered Gregory's question implicating Greenwald in possible criminal activity better, but few here in the comments have chosen to delve into Gregory's continuing accommodation to USG talking points, without questioning their veracity.
My appearance as a commenter at IM infuriated someone:
Why the fuck are you promoting your far left wing bullshit on Jesse's blog. I thought Jesse had banned you? WTF Jesse, why do we have to be subjected to this asshole's garbage comments again? WTF? He doesn't add anything of value except bashing Obama and the US. WTF Jesse? WHY IS HE HERE AGAIN????????
and it infuriated someone else, too [even more - emphasis added]:
Greenwald is not only a complete asshole, he is a despicable, smarmy traitor to this country, along with Snowden.  
As I see, Munger is sucking on Greewald's dick again, as he has done for years. 
Guess birds of a feather flock together, eh? It 's a pity that Gryphen has caved to let you back on the blog, you're a disgrace to this country. And now you're already attacking people on this blog. WTF is wrong with you? 
It's very disturbing that you found some way to twist Gryphen's arm and allow you to putrify the comment sections of his blog.
In spite of this uncharitable person's assertion, I haven't twisted Jesse's arm.

Griffin returned to Snowden about the time the organized slime campaign against the fleeing whistleblower emerged:
I have been asked my opinion on Mr. Snowden and here it is.

While I think learning about these programs and recognizing that our government, and yes that includes President Obama, lied to us is an important and necessary thing to learn, I do not think that how Edward Snowden went about this is defensible, nor do I trust his motives.

As for Glenn Greenwald, I am not a fan and believe that if a better journalist had been the one to break this story Snowden would not be gallivanting around the country dropping our personal information, and top Secret data, all over the world like a tipsy businessman into the ear of a $200 streetwalker.
Griffin seemed to back away a bit in his next post on Snowden:
The problem with the information that Snowden revealed is that it hit us in the face with information that most liberals either did not think about or actively hoped was not true. And that was that the apparatus put into place by the Bush administration, the same apparatus that infuriated liberals all over the country, was now being used by an administration that we desperately wanted to trust and support.

Now we can agree that Snowden is no angel, and in fact might even be considered a traitor. But the information that he revealed, well that is another matter altogether.  
But here's the thing. We also learned through Snowden's documents, that Britain has a similar program. As does Israel. And I think it goes without saying that China, Russia, most Middle Eastern countries, and possibly the majority of European countries have programs that are quite similar.
I doubt that "the majority of European countries" or "most Middle Eastern countries" have anything remotely resembling what has come to light.

Jesse has continued to write on this subject:

Edward Snowden might find himself stranded as Ecuador cools to the idea of allowing him into the country. Update!

An interesting aspect of Griffin's articles on Snowden is that commenters defending Snowden (and Glenn Greenwald) are almost universally respectful and on topic, but are often attacked with the same vitriolic enthusiasm as I was there.

Progressive Alaska:  Most of my articles on Snowden and the issues raised by his flight and disclosures have been mere cut-and-pastes of videos I wanted to post because they appeared to be important.  The firedoglake version of my article on Snowden's move from Hong Kong to Moscow elicited 274 comments there, while the version of it at Progressive Alaska received two.

In the course of twitter interaction over my article, I Call the White House Regarding the Edward Snowden "We the People" Petition, I was able to interact and communicate with prominent liberartian thinker, writer and blogger, Justin Raimondo, founder of, whose work I've been following since the beginning of the century.

If other Alaska progressive blogs have covered Edward Snowden, I've somehow missed it.

I'll conclude with an interview Thom Hartmann conducted on RT TV with Pentagon Papers revealer, Daniel Ellsberg, to whom Edward Snowden has often been compared:

Monday, June 24, 2013

I Call the White House Regarding the Edward Snowden "We the People" Petition

On June 9th, someone started a petition at the White House niche, We the People, requesting the President address Edward Snowden's legal status:
Pardon Edward Snowden 
Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs.
When I signed this morning, there were about 108,000 signatures.  Supposedly, once a petition gets over 100,000 signatures, it receives front-rank attention.  Here's the video the White House posted at YouTube, explaining the process.  Note that a specific number of signatures for the "signature threshold" isn't mentioned in the video:

Soon after I signed, Justin Raimondo urged twitter followers to call the White House, and politely ask about the petition's status, now that it had gone over the 100,000 signature threshold.

I called.  After jumping through some hoops, I got a real person.  I wanted to know:
1). Does some specific action happen when a petition reaches 100,000 signatures? 
2).  Are there specific people assigned to the "We the People" site to deal with petitions deemed to have met the "threshold" when they get there? 
3).  If so, is there a way you can connect me with one of them over the telephone?
The courteous young man responded to my likewise courteous questions with vague answers, ending up with "I've got a lot of calls coming in, and I don't have time to refer you to somebody who can answer your questions specifically, but if you call back ........."

I've given the White House 20 minutes.  I'll call back now.  The petition is up to 112,379 signatures.

My call went through the hoops.  Another nice young man eventually answered.  When I started explaining why I was calling, the line went dead.  Must be some glitch in their switchboard, eh?  I'll try again.  112,408.

Sort of the same thing.  I got through.  This not-so-young male listened, said "OK," and the line went dead.  Must be some other glitch, huh?

One more try - 112,419.

On my fourth call, I finally was given a different phone number - the White House switchboard - 202-456-1414.

This time (fifth call), a polite, very professionally polished young woman answered.  She stated that all petitions that reach the 100,000 mark are dealt with the same way.  There is no established time frame in which that might happen, though.  She stated that although specific people at "We the People" handle this task, they are never available to take calls from, uh we, the people.  She did note that she has received a lot of calls on this petition.

We wished each other a nice day.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

I Am Bradley Manning

As Edward Snowden Wings to Moscow (and Beyond?) American Hubris, Criminality and Arrogance Are Challenged on Several Fronts

On Saturday, an arrogant White House, perturbed that Hong Kong seemed to be taking its time in responding to an extradition request for Edward Snowden, was quoted by CBS News:
If Hong Kong doesn't act soon, it will complicate our bilateral relations and raise questions about Hong Kong's commitment to the rule of law.
Before the government of Hong Kong had time to reply in writing to the American extradition request, the statement, believed to have been made by White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, was the butt of several tweets by national security writer and blogger, Marcy Wheeler:
The Administration that won't prosecute James Clapper for lying to Congress is lecturing Hong Kong about the rule of law.
followed by:
The Admin that has not prosecuted a single major bankster is lecturing Hong Kong about the rule of law.
The Admin that didn't prosecute any torturers is lecturing Hong Kong about rule of law.
and, finally:
The Admin that did not prosecute anyone for illegally wiretapping Americans is lecturing Hong Kong about rule of law.
The Hong Kong government refused to be intimidated (emphasis added):
HKSAR Government issues statement on Edward Snowden *************************************************** 
The HKSAR Government today (June 23) issued the following statement on Mr Edward Snowden: 
Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel. 
The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government's request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong. 
The HKSAR Government has already informed the US Government of Mr Snowden's departure. 
Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong. 
Ends/Sunday, June 23, 2013 
Issued at HKT 16:05
By refusing the demand from the Obama administration, Hong Kong gave Snowden a window to exit the appendage of the PRC. He's headed to Moscow, but that may not be the end destination:
His departure was revealed on the website of the the Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post, which said that Russia was not thought to be his intended final destination. 
It is thought that the eventual destination could end up being Iceland or Ecuador. 
He is understood to have left on the Russian airline Aeroflot flight SU213. 
The paper said it left Hong Kong around 11am local time (4am UK time) and was due to arrive in Moscow around 5.15pm local time (1pm UK time). It is believed to be currently in the air.
That is fairly soon, from the time of my writing.

Meanwhile, the questions being raised globally about our own commitment to the rule of law are playing out in many arenas every day.  My favorite one this past week was the speech given on the floor of the lower house of the Irish Parliament, the Dáil Éireann, by member Clare Daly, an unabashed Irish progressive.  Ms Daly is objecting to the slavish, lavish coverage Irish and Northern Irish media and institutions gave to Obama (and the Obamas) during his attendance at the G8 Conference:

Whether it is the government of Hong Kong, a back-bencher in the Dáil Éireann, an Ecuadorean government resentful of past travesties we have inflicted upon their sovereignty, a Russian government upset about brazen American espionage, or an entire world community disturbed about implications of what Snowden and others have recently revealed about how fully we break treaties and conventions with them by the way we surveil and target their citizens, corporations, leaders and people, we may be about to witness a tsunami rise against our empire.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Head of U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Wants Glenn Greenwald in the Slammer

 On CNN today, Greenwald responded:

One of the things that is fascinating me most, as this latest revelation on our national security state's dysfunctional aspects unfolds, is how little focus is turning onto the threat of private enterprise taking over more and more of the vital functions of government.  What's next?  Having some new company take over the Trident submarine fleet?

Chris Hedges and Geoffrey Stone Debate Edward Snowden on Democracy Now

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday Edward Snowden Wrapup

Abby Martin talks to firedoglake's Kevin Gostzola:

 Snowden's girlfriend:

 Chris Hayes talks to Sen. Bernie Sanders:

 Kathleen Mcclellan confronts The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin on Snowden:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Is Starting to Look Like Summer

A perennial blooming in Judy's rock garden
During the hot spell last week, vegetation was just starting to get going after the late departure of very cold weather and snow.  We planted our vegetable garden about four days later than usual. The transplants had the advantage of four days of real hot weather to warm the soil around them.  I actually felt warm feet, as I planted peas, green beans and potatoes barefooted.

Each year, I try an experiment or two or three in the garden.  This year, the experiments are in growing new root vegetables, and in a new approach to one I have grown before.  So, I'm growing rutabagas, parsnips and burdock.  This is the first time I've tried parsnips, which need a long growing season.

Image of harvested burdock in Japan
I've grown burdock twice before.  Rather than planting it in the ground this year, I've transplanted my starters into something I'm calling a "burdock box."  A root vegetable, burdock in my garden in the past grew so deep, it would break off the bottom half of each root, even if I was very careful and used a calm shovel.  Hopefully, the box will fix this.  I'll just unscrew the plywood end pieces when it is time to harvest, and will have four feet of the burdock already above the ground.

Here's my burdock box:

Here's a lettuce head that is growing so rapidly, we'll be eating it next week:

Here is a huge spearmint plant, that wintered over in the house.  I later transplanted it into the soil:

Here's another of Judy's wildflowers, happy in the sunshine:

And here are our resident swans, with the female warming her nesting mound:

John Kerry Addresses the American Jewish Community Global Forum on Middle East Peace Prospects

Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the annual American Jewish Community Global Forum on Monday, June 3rd.  He focused on the limited time he believes the Palestinians and Israelis have to come up with a workable "two-state solution."
So I want to ask you this: Whenever you think about this challenge and how hard it is, think about what will happen if it doesn’t work. We will find ourselves in a negative spiral of responses and counter-responses that could literally slam the door on a two-state solution, having already agreed, I think, that there isn’t a one-state one. And the insidious campaign to de-legitimize Israel will only gain steam. Israel will be left to choose between being a Jewish state or a democratic state...
Personally, I believe the two-state solution is dead, and was probably never viable.  The "negative spiral" he cites is an ongoing death spiral of what might have been Democratic Israel, with equal rights for all its citizens.

The ultra-Orthodox are growing in numbers, population percentage and political power.  They do not want a two-state solution.  They want to expel the Palestinian Christians and Muslims, either across the Jordan into other countries, or onto increasingly smaller allotments, similar to the former South African Bantustans, or the kinds of Indian reservations one finds in upstate New York, or along the California coast.  So that they can have their ethnically cleansed, and - in their minds - pure Judea and Samaria.

Kerry paints the growing isolation of Israel and its few supporters glumly, without acknowledging why this is happening [emphasis added]:
So before anyone gives up on this hope, we have to ask whether we are prepared to live with permanent conflict, with the possibility of widespread civil disobedience, with the possibility of a civil rights movement that grows in the West Bank, with the possibility of another intifada always looming around the corner. If the parties don’t agree to come back to the table, the Palestinians have already said that they will go to the UN and seek to join more UN organizations, where, despite the best efforts of the United States, they will probably get more votes in their favor than they got last time. And last time, we only got nine votes against. And the Palestinians have also threatened to take their case to the International Criminal Court.
Why is "the possibility of a civil rights movement that grows in the West Bank" a bad thing, in the face of the continuing land confiscations, ghettoization, repression and random violence that Palestinians face daily?

Overall, it is an excellent speech.  However, it offers nothing imaginative regarding the dangerous impasse with Iran.  it is more than a bit too obsequious.  But it is no more of that than any typical speech about Israel by any leading American politician.

Discussion of the speech:



The Forward

Text of the speech

"I Am Bradley Manning" Video Teaser Released

for more information

Bradley Manning Trial - Day Two

Demonstrators outside of Ft. Meade on Monday
Early in Tuesday's legal proceedings against Bradley Manning at Ft. Meade, Maryland, the man who turned Manning in to the U.S. government,'s Adrian Lamo, testified.  He will not be back.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation has raised the funds necessary (I contributed) to hire a court stenographer to provide daily transcripts of the proceedings.  The U.S. Army and Federal government are also transcribing the trial, but have stated their transcripts will not be made available to the public or press.  Here is a link to the transcript of yesterday's trial.

Kevin Gosztola is continuing his live blog updates from the trial at firedoglake.

At facebook yesterday, where I posted a link to my PA article on day one, my good friend Matt Murphy claimed Manning had divulged information which endangered U.S. troops in a direct way:
This case pulls me in a couple different directions. On one hand he was doing what he felt morally obligated to do. On the other he transferred classified information about troop movements to the enemy. That is the one that gets me. With as media driven as al Qaida and other groups have shown themselves to be how many other soldiers did he put in jeopardy? Either way I don't see this ending well for him. Unfortunately what he saw as a moral duty violated both the UCMJ and the US code.
I replied:
What evidence do you have that Manning "transferred classified information about troop movements to the enemy"? I've never seen any evidence of that.
Matt replied:
Part of a battlefield log, which is one of the document types that he leaked is the daily reports of personnel and where they are at including movement of units in theatre. 
I googled "Bradley Manning leaked battlefield log,"  and came up with this:
Bradley does not deny leaking the materials, which include 500,000 battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, he called the “War Logs”.  
He was horrified at what he was seeing and reading about what the US was doing through his job.  
He wanted to provoke public debate about US actions in the wars.  
At a pre-trial hearing in February of this year he said, “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.”
What "battlefield logs" Manning released weren't related to anything having to do with active troop movements or future battle plans, from what I have been able to determine.

There are many myths about what damage Manning may have done.  Here is an article on aspects of this, Seven Myths About Bradley Manning, by Chase Madar, who is covering the trial for The Nation.

Here's a short youtube on the Manning trial Madar made recently:

Here is Democracy Now's segment on the trial's beginning, from this morning's edition:

American police and intelligence agencies announced they are monitoring blog posts such as this one closely over the course of the trial [emphasis added]:
The military legal matter expert took multiple questions this morning from reporters. One of the questions related to something that happened yesterday, where Manning supporters were told to turn their black “Truth” T-shirts inside out.  
What the legal matter expert said is that the base had brought in military police from other bases to help with security. One of the officers had apparently taken initiative and thought, since there are strong feelings on both sides, it would be a good idea to have supporters turn the shirts inside-out. This would decrease the possibility that a supporter and opponent of Bradley Manning sat next to each other and got into arguments.  
He went on to add that the military police “can’t read someone’s mind.” They do a “threat assessment.” They knew on Saturday there would be 1600 people who would come. There were demonstrations. They read the comments on the Internet (on stories covering Bradley Manning) and see comments and determine whether they need to follow through on any of them for security.  
What happened yesterday “wasn’t a very targeted decision.” He said it would not happen again.
He's referring to the T-shirt episode, not the internet monitoring.


Monday, June 3, 2013

The Bradley Manning Trial Begins

After being held for more than three years awaiting trial, U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning is finally getting his case heard.  Manning has already stipulated that he did download and distribute classified information to an unauthorized source - Wikileaks.

Kevin Gostzola, who has been covering the pre-trial hearings extensively for firedoglake (disclaimer - I have written hundreds of articles for firedoglake), was interviewed this morning, on Democracy Now:


 Gostzola, in his article today at firedoglake, notes:
10:42 AM EST Judge asked, “What are procedures put in place for public access to trial?” Maj. Ashden Fein, military prosecutor, answered that there are two different sets, ones for general public and then press access. 16 seats are in the courtroom, which are dedicated to public access to sit in this courtroom. Then there’s a trailer with a feed from the courtroom for 35 individuals from the public.  
If there is an overflow of 35, there is a “theater next door to courthouse that seats presently 100 individuals, however, there is flexibility for up to 540 based off fire marshal coming in changing seats.”  
As far as media goes, there are 10 seats for media organizations that are credentialed. Two additional seats are in the courtroom for credentialed sketch artists.
Although the mainstream media, which largely ignored the pre-trial phases, is now there in force, their coverage will be fairly shallow, often reactionary.

firedoglake will be covering the trial as fully as they did the pre-trial events.  Other bloggers of note who will be there are:

Alexa O'Brien:
I had been covering the WikiLeaks releases from late 2010 into early 2011 and so I had, you know, covered Manning’s nine months of confinement at Quantico where the judge actually ruled that his treatment was unlawful in her recent ruling, and I went to the pretrial and nobody was covering this trial. This is the largest leak trial in U.S. history. You know, in the secular age of information, we’re going through a type of Reformation of sorts, and these source documents are in a certain sense our Bible in the vernacular language so to speak, and so this is such an important trial and no one was covering it in the way in which I felt that this story needed to be covered, so I started to actually transcribe the trial that was being conducted in secrecy with no public docket.
Greg Mitchell, for The Nation:
Having pled guilty to some offenses, there was no scenario where Manning would not be found guilty in the months to come. Manning will serve jail time. The key question now, as the trial proceeds, is: How much jail time? And will he be convicted of offenses (which he did not plead guilty to committing) such as “aiding the enemy”?  
Back in December 2011, the government charged Manning with 22 offenses. They have decided not to pursue one charge related to the release of the Reykjavik cable, but on all other charges they intend to pursue the greater offenses. And they claim to have uncovered digital media from the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan that held some of the State Department cables and Iraq or Afghanistan war logs, and they may be used as evidence to convict Manning of “aiding the enemy.” And that’s where we are, as the trial (which I’ll be attending each day), is set to begin, or so it seems.
Notably, national pro-Obama, so-called "progressive" blogs, such as Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo, have shown little interest in promoting the idea that what Manning did was necessary, or even commendable.  The most pro-Obama Alaska blog, The Immoral Minority, doesn't have a Bradley Manning tag (or a Wikileaks tag, either).