Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wikileaks and the never-ending war

Now the state department has told BBC News how Bradley Manning, based at the Hammer military field base in Iraq, could have accessed information unrelated to the US mission in that country.
In an e-mail, US state department spokesperson Megan Mattson said: "After the events of 11 September 2001, agencies across the federal government understood that greater information sharing was vital to protecting our national security interests.
"As part of our efforts to make Department of State information available to those who have a legitimate need to know, we established the Net Centric Diplomacy initiative, which allows Department of State information to be shared on the Department of Defence's SIPR (Secret Internet Protocol System) Net system."

The above is from Chris Vallance's "US government lifts lid on alleged leak to WikiLeaks" and, on this topic, dropping back to yesterday's snapshot, these three paragraphs confused some:

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reported last month that the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Last Tuesday, the military charged Manning. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported he had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Today on Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton discussed the issues with Glenn Greenwald. Strangely, Glenn Greenwald was able to talk about what Bradley was charged with, what he was alleged to have done. Example below.

Glenn Greenwald: Well one of the interesting parts of the charging document is how different it is than the chat logs that were released by Wired magazine in which he allegedly confessed to this hacker Adrian Lamo which is what started this case in the first place. There's a lot of facts that are very different if you look at what the charging documents said he did versus what he allegedly said in those chats.

In the final moments, Scott would point out that Wired refused and refuses to release the alleged transcripts in full (unexpurgated) and Glenn would talk about how, based on his legal experience, when someone refuses to do that, they generally are attempting to conceal something that doesn't jibe so easily with the rest of the narrative. This was a very brief segment.

There were five paragraphs. The confusion isn't the fault of anyone trying to follow along. The snapshot was too long and that's one of the dangers of editing in your head without looking over it. I said, "Pull __ and pull ___" and two of the paragraphs pulled (there was more pulled but that was largely a commentary about the State Dept event with Hoshyar Zebari and Hillary Clinton) were after "a very brief segment." I wrongly thought the comparison had been made in the above paragraphs. If you drop back to Friday's snapshot, you'll note it opens with Nancy Youssef's garbage -- broadcast over NPR's The Diane Rehm Show -- about Bradley. In Nancy's world, if you're charged with something, you are guilty. In Nancy's world, if a convicted felon insists you said something, even though you've never publicly stated anything, you said it. The term "allegations" is as foreign to Nancy as is "innocent until proven guilty."

On the subject of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), today Diane devotes an hour to the wars and to the topic of empire. I'm in DC and attempting to catch two hearings today. Translation, it's doubtful that we'll have time to excerpt much -- if anything -- from that broadcast today.

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange is profiled by Stephen Moss (Guardian):

Assange unveiled in January 2007 and has pulled off some astonishing coups for an organisation with a handful of staff and virtually no funding. It has exposed evidence of corruption in the family of former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, published the standard operating procedures for the Guantánamo Bay detention centre, even made public the contents of Sarah Palin's Yahoo account. But what has really propelled WikiLeaks into the media mainstream is the video it released in April of a US helicopter attack in Baghdad in July 2007, which killed a number of Iraqi civilians and two Reuters personnel, Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen.
The video, posted in a 39-minute unedited version and as an 18-minute film called Collateral Murder, gives a chilling insight into US military attitudes: sloppiness in identifying targets (the helicopter pilots mistook the Reuters employees' cameras for weapons), eagerness to finish off a grievously wounded man as he attempts to crawl to safety, and lack of concern even for two children in a van that arrives to pick up the bodies and is immediately attacked. "It's their fault for bringing their kids to a battle," says one of the pilots. "That's right," replies his colleague matter-of-factly. This, though, is one of the most one-sided battles you will ever witness. Very few cameras can bring down a helicopter gunship.
My thesis, soon to be exploded by Assange along with pretty well everything else I have predetermined on the basis of what I have read about him, is that this remarkable video is a transformative moment for WikiLeaks. But just before I can put that to him, a handsome, bearded student who was at the talk springs forward. "Julian, before you go, can I just shake your hand," he says, "because I really love what you do and you're like a hero, you really are." They shake hands. The icon and the acolyte. The Warhol parallel becomes ever stronger: Assange as impresario of a new form of news.

Is the Iraq War ending? Not yet. Will it end at the end of 2011 as some hope and believe (despite evidence to the contrary)? Tom Lees (Pennsylvani's Times Herald) observes, "Because we have built the biggest embassy building in the world in Baghdad, and we have built a number of very big, permanent-looking bases in Iraq, I am quite concerned that we may have troops in Iraq indefinitely. By the way, those bases I just mentioned are very rarely mentioned in the mainstream media." MK Bhadrakumar (Asia Times) notes the lingering concerns:

The US troop strength in Iraq at present stands at 77,500, the lowest since the 2003 invasion and less than half of the peak level of 165,000 during the "surge". This will fall to 50,000 by September 1, which suggests that at an average roughly 2,500 troops a week will be withdrawn through July and August. With this we will see the end of the US's "combat mission" in Iraq.
How, beyond that defining moment, the US proposes to retain the power to shape events in Iraq and the wider region remains a big question. Uncertainty envelops the fate of the US troops remaining in Iraq after September 1. As per commitments, they are also to be pulled out of Iraq by the end of 2011. However, there is continuing speculation that Washington
and Baghdad may renegotiate the terms of the troop withdrawal so that provisions can be made for some form of long-term US-Iraqi military agreement. Unlike in Afghanistan's case, the US has well-established military bases and "lily pads" in Iraq's neighborhood.
Biden claimed the US had no "hidden agenda" in Iraq, but the fact is there are pressure groups in Washington seeking to slow the drawdown. This is where the political alignments in Iraq and the calculus of power within the next government that assumes office in Baghdad after the March 27 parliamentary elections become important.

Turning to the US and political prisoner Lynne Stewart. Her daughter Breanna spoke to the Minister of Information JR (for San Francisco Bay) about her mother:

M.O.I. JR: Can you give a little bit of history about your mother’s legal career? Who are some of the high profile people that she has represented?

Breanna Stewart: Lynne Stewart has had a long legal career. In the mid ‘70s she graduated from law school and did Brinks, Anti SpringBok, Richard Levasseur – the New Jersey trooper shooting – and Larry Davis criminal defense work. She did state and federal drug cases, murder trials etc.

M.O.I. JR: How has the government responded to Lynne Stewart representing these people?

Breanna Stewart: Not well, they hate getting beat. They don’t mind if someone has politics but isn’t such a great lawyer. They hate it when the lawyer is good and she has good politics.

M.O.I. JR: Can you give us the history on this case that she is currently wrongfully being held captive for?

Breanna Stewart: Easier to get this in detail from the website In a few words she represented the sheik in the first World Trade Center bombing and as a result of that and many years later post- 9/11, the Bush administration made her a scapegoat and used the case against her to further the Patriot Act and to stop lawyers from representing unpopular clients – political clients, especially Muslims.

Events today and tomorrow in NYC to show support for Lynne.

July 14, 2010
March from Tom Paine Park (Worth St. between Centre & Lafayette Streets)
3 blocks to Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC- where Lynne is detained)

7-9pm Vigil in Support of Lynne
At Metropolitan Correctional Center 150 Park Row

JULY 15, 2010
Sentencing is at 2:30pm, we will be there at 11am
Federal Courthouse
500 Pearl Street
Doors will open at 2pm

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