| ‘Who controls the past controls the future’: Assange presents massive Project K leak!

‘Who controls the past controls the future’: Assange presents massive Project K leak ~ RT.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange formally unveiled on Monday the latest release from the whistleblower site, Project K, calling it “the single most significant geopolitical publication that has ever existed.”

Speaking via Skype from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Assange introduced Project K on Monday morning to a group of journalists at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Nearly three years earlier to the day, Assange spoke at the Press Club in person to debut “Collateral Murder,” a video of US soldiers firing at Iraqi civilians that has since become one of WikiLeaks’ most well-recognized contributions to journalism. Since that release, WikiLeaks and the organization’s associates have become the target of a number of government investigations, with Assange himself having been confined to the embassy in London for nearly one year while awaiting safe passage to Ecuador where he was granted political asylum. Ongoing attempts to prosecute the journalists for sharing state secrets aside, however, Assange and company have now unloaded the organization’s biggest leak yet.

Project K, says Assange, contains roughly 1.7 million files composed of US Department of State diplomatic communications. And although the material has been classified, declassified and, in some instances, re-classified, the public’s inability to access and peruse the unredacted copies has made them nearly inaccessible.

“One form of secrecy is the complexity and the accessibility of documents,” WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson said during Monday’s event. “You could say that the government cannot be trusted with these documents.”

“He who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past,” Assange chimed in using his webcam in London to quote from George Orwell’s novel 1984.

“The US administration cannot be trusted with its control of its past,” he said. “That is the result of this information being hidden by secrecy, but more often being hidden in the borderline between secrecy and complexity.”

The 1.7 million cables released on Monday span the period of time between 1973 and 1976 when Henry Kissinger sat at the head the State Department under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. WikiLeaks has now combined their latest files with the previously-released State Department diplomatic cables that they published starting in 2010 after US Army Private first class Bradley Manning gained access to military intelligence servers and sent over 250,000 documents to the site, along with “Collateral Murder” and a trove of other documents.

By combining the earlier State Dept. memos with the new collection of Kissinger cables, Assange says WikiLeaks has created a database that gives journalists unprecedented access to roughly 2 million documents that paint a unique picture of the United States’ relationships with foreign nations during a number of presidential administrations.

That infrastructure, dubbed the WikiLeaks Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD), “is what Google should be like,” Assange said.

“This is a search system that investigative journalists can use effectively,” he said.

With the publishing of the State Dept. cables credited to Pfc. Manning, WikiLeaks previously brought to the public periphery a tome of material that largely focuses on US foreign policy at the dawn of the twenty-first century. The Kissinger cables though, said Assange, reveals a multitude about the US and other nations during a time when western society as we know it today really began to take form.

“The period of the 1970s in diplomacy is referred to as the ‘Big Bang.’ This is when the modern international order came to be,” Assange said at the press conference. “There is really only two periods: post-World War Two and the 1970s.”

During the ‘70s, vast decolonization caused the number of countries on the planet to go from only 104 to roughly 160. “To understand all of that complexity, the US State Dept. put together a system to harvest intelligence from its diplomats across the world,” Assange said of Project K.

Today, he added, the White House has “more direct control of the periphery.” During the 70s, however, “the relationship between ambassadors and their host government was more essential.”Project K helps shine a light on exactly how those interactions played out during a time when the Vietnam conflict, Watergate and the Cold War warranted the US to embark in a number of conversations with persons of all affiliations around the world.

“The United States makes a priority gaining influence and contacts and informants within opposition movements. Partly in order to corrupt them, partly in order to have bets on both the lead horse and the second in case there is a transition of power,” he said. But while American interest in the Soviet Union was largely a focal point of the US during the 1970s as one might expect, Assange said that the “titanic struggle” between the two bodies represents only a small sampling of the State Department’s interests during that time. The Kissinger Cables, at roughly one billion words, show that the US “is essentially checking the activity and inactivity of other empires,” said Assange. France, Spain, the UK, Australia and Sweden are all discussed in length in the cables, and even politicians still relevant today make appearances.

“Margaret Thatcher died last night and of course there is a great many cables about her,” said Assange, who put the figure of memos relating to the recently passed former prime minister at around 400.

Kissinger, who is alive and active today, is referenced in over 200,000 individual documents included in the trove. Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt — a critic of the whistleblower site and today the nation’s foreign minister — also makes a number of appearances in Project K as well.

Speaking to RT at the conference, Hrafnsson said that neither Kissinger nor the current Department of State has yet to respond to the leak — nor does he expect them to. On his part, however, Assange told RT that any formal federal investigation into this project will likely not dwell on any damages spawned by the leak, but instead will focus on how his organization managed to take 1.7 million documents and reverse engineer them in order to publish them in the public domain.

“Essentially,” said Assange, it’s “what Aaron Swartz was doing.”

“If the Department of Justice was to go after us for this release like they are attempting to prosecute us for previous releases involving US embassies documents, the approach would probably be along the lines of the approach that was taken was Swartz,” said Assange, “which is the sort of manner of acquisition as opposed to the classification for the matter.”

Hrafnsson said that WikiLeaks has been working on Project K and the PlusD database for roughly one year.



Kissinger A

| 2012 in review – 2013: Give us your best shot!

2013: Give Us Your Best Shot! ~  Antiwar.com.


Here a few highlights — some that lay bare the rot behind the Potemkin Village of our national security state, others that indicate that change, thanks to a few brave individuals and collective dedication, may be afoot in 2013.


As they say: it’s a wrap!

In many ways, 2012 was a status quo year. At its end, Barack Obama is still president, and our global war continues to march in varied incarnations across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. At home, Americans toil and play in a constant state of denial, hardly blinking at the loss of personal privacy, growing government surveillance, the militarization of domestic law enforcement, the shrinking influence of people-powered change in the face of entrenched special interests.

And yet at the same time, so much is happening to challenge all of that. While 2012 seemed to roll tediously on its current depressing trajectory, there were things the media could not ignore, provocative insights into the corruption, events that exposed the weakness of the American conceit that we can control, contain and shape anything to our will. We’ve seen the limits to political and military hubris, narcissism and hate.

Here a few highlights — some that lay bare the rot behind the Potemkin Village of our national security state, others that indicate that change, thanks to a few brave individuals and collective dedication, may be afoot in 2013.

(Clark Stoekley/Flickr)

(Clark Stoekley/Flickr)

1.)Bradley Manning in a Cage: For the first time since Pvt. Bradley Manning was arrested and jailed for allegedly downloading some 750,000 government files and giving them to WikiLeaks, he took the stand in his own defense. The most recent string of hearings in December illuminated the period of time that Manning had spent confined and isolated at the Quantico detention facility shortly after his 2010 arrest. While Army physicians and counselors insisted Manning was no danger to himself or to others, various testimony bore out that he was routinely humiliated by the guards, forced to sleep naked in a “suicide smock,” and endured long periods alone with nothing but a mirror in his dark, cramped cell.

David Coombs, Manning’s civilian attorney, who has done an extraordinary job defending a man who the government has made out to be nothing less than a gender-confused traitor and monster — said in his first public comments outside the courtroom that these conditions were not only “stupid and counter-productive,” but “criminal.”

Positive indications for 2013Manning’s impressive demeanor, and the obvious devotion of his lawyer (who is ex-military) only served to flesh out the portrait of a serious individual who did what he allegedly did because he thought it was the right thing to do, and that the military is overplaying its hand in trying to make him an example. Meanwhile, airing out the heinous conditions of his imprisonment, juxtaposed with the growing awareness that the now-infamous “dump” of secret diplomatic and military files did nothing but embarrass governments and expose the truth about our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, should only help to soften public opinion of Manning, not erode it, as he faces his court martial in February.

2.) Julian Assange Seeks Asylum — Assange generated a stream of headlines and a near global uproar when he sought and received asylum from Ecuador in August. The WikiLeaks founder had exhausted all appeals against British extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning on nebulous sex assault charges. While some critics call him a megalomaniac who is using political sanctuary to avoid facing the consequences of his alleged rakish if not criminal behavior, others question why he would seek the protection of a government beset by its own questionable record on free speech and human rights.

But the Brits’ insistence that Assange be arrested the moment he sets foot outside the protection of the Ecuadoran embassy in London should give us pause. Assange’s fears of extradition — that his passage would lead him right into U.S. captivity — aren’t fully unfounded. The Australian government has all but abandoned him, and we know there is a U.S. Justice Department investigation into WikiLeaks ongoing. The British government is ready to send him packing, and has done itself no great service in treating Assange like a cornered animal for the last six months.

What to look for: Whatever critics might say, WikiLeaks played no insignificant role in the political and social revolution now roiling across the globe. Assange could be made a martyr for all times if the U.K and U.S. governments proceed in persecuting him for it. If the DOJ presses charges, it will further polarize us, put at risk our own constitutional rights, and expose the authoritarian impulses we sensed were in our government, and among our neighbors, all along.

3.) The Drone Wars — Not only has been there been a continuing drone war —- thousands of kills in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia by the Obama Administration since 2009 — but this year a war over the drone war emerged in great earnest. More specifically, an effective opposition has risen against the heretofore unchecked forces in the media and the government who have been defending their use all along.

This couldn’t have come at a better time. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has served as the spear point in this opposition, providing the cold facts and data often hidden from view, says the Obama Administration conducted its 300th drone strike against Pakistan this year. Overall, since 2002, there have been 400 strikes killing upwards of 1,117 civilians, according to the Bureau. The most recent attacks took place on Christmas Eve, killing seven alleged militants in Yemen. “It appears they waited until Christmas Eve on purpose to conduct a couple strikes as there had not been action in the covert drone war in Yemen for well over a month,”observed writer Kevin Gosztola.

This hardly invokes our idea of heroism, nor the humanity of the oft-told story of the Christmas truce in the trenches. Then again, this was the year we found out that the White House harbors a “kill list,” and that counterterrorism czar John Brennan has the authority to carry out foreign executions in secret, outside judicial scrutiny.

Look on the bright side: 2012 for the first time brought the debate over drones into the mainstream. When CNN’s Peter Bergen dared to say there had been no civilian deaths by drone, an organized wave of opposition was there to refute him. While the pendulum — and the defense establishment — continues to swing in favor of these killer flying machines, the public’s unease (especially over the prospect of their domestic use) and foreign blowback, grows.

4.) The blight of Benghazi — The death of ambassador Christopher Stevens, a State Department information officer and two CIA contractors on Sept. 11 in Benghazi was a full-on gut check of U.S. policies in the Global War on Terror. First, the raw anger against America among our supposed allies in Egypt and Afghanistan and other places across the Muslim world over a crudely made anti-Islamic video could not be ignored. Then, the recognition that our intervention in the Libyan revolution was poorly planned and, as in the case of Iraq, not well thought-out in terms of what might come afterward. In Benghazi, America came face-to-face with the limits of the military solution, which has carried our foreign policy for the last ten years.

Now, it has become clear that we have, however inadvertently, enabled al Qaeda movements in North Africa and created more areas of vulnerability in the region.

The good, bad and the ugly: While the Benghazi disaster exposed the weakness of our interventionist policies, it is now being used to justify further military forays into Africa, with Mali being one in several possible new battlegrounds on the horizon. This could get much uglier before the full lesson of Benghazi is realized.

5.) The Green on Blue Red Line — After 11 years of fighting in Afghanistan the U.S. last year faced an enemy that could have very well turned out to be the final psychological straw: our own allies. Despite the fact the U.S. has spent $642 billion so far in Afghanistan, much of it to train 352,000 Afghan security forces to take our place come 2014, members of those security forces are killing U.S. and coalition forces with greater frequency than ever in so-called “green on blue” attacks. And there seems to be no ready solution, save picking up and getting out sooner.

What it means for 2014: While premature withdrawal is not likely to happen (2014 seems to be the hard date; the debate now is over how many troops will be left behind, if any), it is clear that some of the biggest die-hards for staying the course have been demoralized by the attacks on our soldiers. No longer do we hear the chest-thumping — everything now quietly revolves around how we get out, and the mess we leave behind. Sadly, none of the blaring messages of failure had gotten through before — the rising influence of the Taliban, the corruption, the lack of support from the people, the horrendous IED injuries sustained by our troops. Green on blue appears to be a red line, however, one that signals the real beginning to an actual end.

6.) The 2012 Election — If Benghazi exposed the weakness of our U.S. foreign policy abroad, the presidential election exposed the weakness of our foreign policy in Washington. In fact, all arguments that the Beltway is filled with pusillanimous brown-nosers, knuckle-dragging meatheads, salivating war profiteers, clucking chickenhawks — not to mention courtiers masquerading as journalists — were fully realized in 2012’s quadrennial spectacle.

With nary a word in favor of peace or restraint, the campaign wore on with every Republican candidate striving foolishly to out-hawk the proven hawkishness of the Obama Administration. Ladled with all of the flag-waving, tobacco spitting, God-fearing gusto they could muster, the Republican Party again took their cues from the neoconservative wing, and pursued their unabashed fealty to the American civil religion — war — to absurd lengths. Meanwhile, all Obama had to do was look nominally more informed and less bombastic than his ill-fated opponents. He did, and quite easily, won.

Under the radar: was Ron Paul’s impact on the foreign policy debate. While he was eventually forced from the stage, it was not before he could show the rest of the nation that not all conservatives get their credentials getting off on Gitmo and the smell of napalm in the morning. Far from being booed, Paul’s arguments against preemptive war, bombing Iran and isolating Cuba, got cheers from the largely GOP audiences. Furthermore, he made candidates like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann look more foolish than usual, and so incited the righteous Rick Perry that the man seemed at risk of exploding all over the stage.

Upside? We like seeing conventional pro-war prigs upstaged. More importantly, more non-interventionist conservatives are joining the ranks now, and are not afraid to say so publicly.

7) Major Victory Against the War on Drugs: One of the most underreported stories of the election was the passage of referendums in both Colorado and Washington State that make possession and the use of marijuana legal for the first time. In fact, Colorado just made it official and will be the first state to tax the sale of pot on the open market.

Why do we care? Two major reasons — one, the states’ will be ignoring federal law, making this a major test of the 10th Amendment and the lengths to which the Obama Administration will go to enforce Washington’s will on the people. Despite his promises to the contrary, Obama has cracked down on more marijuana dealers and users than even the Bush Administration. Now he says he won’t go after “recreational users” in the states that legalize it, but sorry, we’ve heard that tune before.

More importantly, the Colorado and Washington votes — along with a string of decriminalization measures over the years — are a critical blow to the broader War on Drugs. For years, Latin American leaders have called for a recalibration in dealing with the black market, citing legalization as one serious approach. This first step, backed heavily in these brave states by both politicians, cops and citizenry alike, could have a huge impact on the fate of this failing decades-old war going forward.

7) Thanks to the Whistleblowers — Without whistleblowers we may know even less than we already do about the nefarious things the government has been doing in our name, particularly after the 9/11 attacks raised up the artifice of “security” in order to spend gazillions of our tax dollars in pursuit of neo-empire abroad and an ever-expanding surveillance state at home.

Whistleblowers —ex-government officials who have risked everything to tell the tale, are still an endangered species. But they are brave, and getting stronger. Here at Antiwar.com, we’ve interviewed folks like Jesselyn RadackTom DrakeDiane Roark,Col. Morris Davis and Peter Van Buren, all who have lost their livelihoods and so much more for crossing the government, the most recent being John Kiriakou, who spoke out against CIA torture and just pleaded guilty to charges that he leaked a fellow agent’s name to a reporter. But thanks to social media and independent journalists and activists, they are bonding together and finding common cause and a vehicle though which to not only support each other, but to serve as a force for change: trying to get real protections passed, speaking more publicly in the mainstream, and keeping a glaring light on Washington’s dark side.

Where to find them: Twitter; the Government Accountability ProjectKevin Gosztola’s blog. Just recently, the Chaos Communication Project (29C3)

9.) Reality in Iraq — In a country where millions were killed or displaced in a matter of six years following a “shock and awe” invasion and subsequent occupation by western forces, nothing says “fail” like the continuing pain and suffering of the Iraqi people today. They began their new year in 2012 with bombings that killed upwards of 73 people. The horror continued throughout the year — daily bombings that were hardly acknowledged by their former occupiers, and ended this week with astring of more sectarian attacks.

Al Qaeda is back. Meanwhile, basic services like electricity still elude the people. The Kurds are in a current standoff with the central government, which is tight with the Iranians and accused of oppressing the Sunni population. All hopes for a regional headquarters that would do American bidding in the Middle East seem abandoned as we watched our diplomatic influence shrivel up in 2012 and Shia fighters — and Iraqi money — scrambled across the border with zealous fury to assist the pro-Assad forces in Syria.

What this means for 2013: More tumult as we see further disintegration of the security situation. There are so many lessons here that were ignored as the military took its fantastical COIN formula on to Afghanistan in 2009. Perhaps 2013 will be the year we finally face up to these massive failures as the first step in rewriting the fiction that was “Victory in Iraq.”

10.)Speaking of which, where’s King David? — This story is so instructive, so outrageous, so crackling with the karma of hubris and corruption, that it could have warranted its own column. Where to start? In November, we learned that former top general and CIA Director David Petraeus was at the center of an FBI investigation in which his alleged mistress, former biographer Paula Broadwell, had been writingnasty and potentially threatening emails to another military groupie, Jill Kelley, who turned out to be a big pen pal of Gen. John Allen, the commander of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Phew.

As the dust settled on the hair-rending lamentations by his die-hard devotees, it became clear that the man who had become a god was hurtling back to earth like Icarus with a bang — tough landings for a general who had worn a chest full of medals without serving in combat, who had been lauded as a conquering hero without really winning a war. Much has been said about his masterful ability to manipulate the media, to lead congress and defense elites around on a string, to create what will become known as the silliest, yet probably most effective “clique” inside a war zone, at least for a spell.

I have often compared Petraeus to the fictional character Don Draper from AMC’sMad Men, but until now, didn’t quite know how far their resemblances went. Petraeus and Broadwell are both married and worse, he engaged her publicly as his biographer, apprentice and adviser. She approached him first while earning a PhD., she used his story as her academic dissertation. Privately, they were allegedly using the war and the heady Beltway defense world as a backdrop to a sexual affair. When her book “All In” was published earlier in the year, most of us scoffed at it as hagiography — we already knew her as another acolyte who tried to explain away the American razing of an Afghan village in 2010. News of the affair confirmed every rotten thing we already believed about the Cult of Petraeus.

From the Ashes: David Petraeus is a mortal man who had a great run as something else. Too bad a lot of time and lives were wasted when we should have been listening to more clear-headed people about war strategy and the future of military policy. The American people are as guilty as anyone for raising the military in such superhuman regard as to allow people like Petraeus to so skillfully wrest away civilian responsibility for the war, while using it clearly as a stepping stone for his own personal ambitions. To think he is the only one, however, would be our next mistake. We must not forget.


To all of our Antiwar.com readers, who have been so responsive and loyal, and to all newcomers, who may be coming in from the cold — Happy New Year!

Follow Vlahos on Twitter @KelleyBVlahos

Read more by Kelley B. Vlahos



Related articles

occ mind1

| Pre-trial Torture: The Shameful Exploitation of Bradley Manning!

The Shameful Exploitation of Bradley Manning ~ Robert Scheer, Truthdig.

Keep an American soldier locked up naked in a cage and driven half mad while deprived of all basic rights, and you will be instantly condemned as a barbaric terrorist. Unless the jailer is an authorized agent of the U.S. government, in which case even treatment approaching torture will go largely unnoticed. Certainly if a likable constitutional law professor happens to be president, all such assaults on human dignity will easily pass muster.

After being interned like some wild animal in that cage in Kuwait, Pfc. Bradley Manning was transferred to the Quantico, Va., Marine base and further subjected to conditions that his lawyer termed “criminal.” Not all that far from the White House, and yet our ever-enlightened president seems not to have noticed that this soldier, whose alleged criminal offense is that he attempted to inform the public of crimes committed in its name, has been held in an environment clearly designed to destroy his very sense of self.

As Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, a lieutenant colonel in the Army reserves and a veteran of 12 years of active duty, put it: “Brad’s treatment at Quantico will forever be etched into our nation’s history as a disgraceful moment in time.” Coombs warned that the most serious charge facing his client, “aiding the enemy,” is a “scary proposition” designed to “silence a lot of critics of our government.”

Who is that “enemy” other than the public that came to be informed about the true nature of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by news reports based on a trove of documents allegedly made available to the WikiLeaks website by Manning? The documents were labeled secret, but as the many important news reports based on them revealed, they contained information that an enlightened public had a need and right to know.

Yet for too many in the mainstream media, led by the example of the editors of The New York Times, the recent military courtroom proceedings where Manning’s lawyer finally got to document the government’s attempt to destroy his client was largely a nonevent. Conveniently so, given that the Times and other major news outlets that were thrilled to exploit the information that Manning uncovered are deeply afraid of being associated with the brave whistle-blower himself.

AP/Patrick Semansky

Not all, however. The British Guardian—which features Glenn Greenwald, today’s most compelling writer on civil liberties—has taken seriously the plight of the man alleged to be one of the paper’s sources. But why haven’t others? As Margaret Sullivan, the public editor of The New York Times, asked: “Why did readers of The Times have to turn to Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, or to one of the great number of other news organizations that sent reporters, to hear Private Manning tell of the Mordor into which he had been drawn—where he had to stand naked, in chains, in the ‘maximum custody’ brig at Quantico, Va., imploring his prison guards for something as simple as toilet paper, or, earlier, in a ‘cage’ in Kuwait?”



While the Times is to be applauded for running Sullivan’s devastating critique, the replies from individual editors responsible were lame. Asked why the paper didn’t send a reporter to cover this rare opportunity to learn Manning’s side of the story, Times Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt said, “We’ve covered him and will continue to do so. But as with any other legal case, we won’t cover every single proceeding.”


Really? This is hardly just another legal case, for it goes to the heart of the First Amendment freedoms on which the Times has relied so heavily during its storied history.


If the public had a right to know the information that Manning allegedly revealed, as the Times demonstrated by publishing important stories featuring it, then the source should be honored rather than scorned. As Sullivan wrote: “To its credit, The Times published article after article based on the very information that Private Manning provided to WikiLeaks, just as it had published the Pentagon Papers that Mr. [Daniel] Ellsberg leaked during the Vietnam War.”


Manning is in the same position as was Ellsberg, who four decades ago leaked to The New York Times details of government lies and crimes in Vietnam. Both men had access to material classified as secret, but both believed they had an obligation to puncture the veil of government secrecy when it was employed to deceive the public.


What is protected in the First Amendment is not the right of commercial enterprises to exploit the news for profit, but rather of citizens to become informed. That requires the courage of heroic sources, including Bradley Manning.




| CNN losing Bradley Manning story: Manning was reporting a War Crime: “The Van Thing!”

CNN Losing Bradley Manning Story: Manning Was Reporting a War Crime, “The Van Thing” ~ Ralph Lopez Daily Kos.

You could have knocked me over with a feather that the major media was talking about the Bradley Manning trial at all, after years of being confined to the progressive Internet, but although it is important for Manning’s treatment in virtual isolation be a focus, the real  story is being ignored.  Bradley Manning is where he is in the first place because he was reporting a war crime.

No matter what Manning’s treatment, many Americans, not always the most big-hearted people, will believe Manning deserved every bit of it unless context is provided.  The CNN reports on the trial which have run so far delve no deeper than his complaints about being forced to stand naked, not being allowed to sleep, and being harassed under a bogus “suicide watch” by being asked every five minutes “are you okay?”

Manning wrote to his then friend Adrian Lamo of the Wikileaks video which has since made the news:

“At first glance it was just a bunch of guys getting shot up by a helicopter…No big deal … about two dozen more where that came from, right? But something struck me as odd with the van thing, and also the fact it was being stored in a JAG officer’s directory. So I looked into it.”

Manning was talking about the now-famous video in which an American Apache helicopter crew is seen firing upon a group of Iraqi men in “New Baghdad” in 2007.  Most of the public debate has since centered around the first of two attacks in the video, in which a Reuters journalist is killed.

Manning’s eyes were elsewhere, and in perhaps a sad commentary on the rules of engagement at the time, accepted the first attack as “just a bunch of guys getting shot up.”  It was the second attack, the “van thing,” which caught Manning’s attention.  Manning knew a war crime when he saw one.

In the second attack, unarmed men are attempting to evacuate a wounded man, an act which since the Geneva Convention of 1864 is protected.  Article 12 of the Geneva Convention of 1864 states that,


  “…Members of the armed forces and other persons (…) who are wounded or sick, shall be respected and protected in all circumstances. They shall be treated humanely and cared for by the Party to the conflict…Any attempts upon their lives, or violence to their persons, shall be strictly prohibited; in particular, they shall not be murdered or exterminated…”.

In the second attack a man is seen crawling upon the ground after the first attack, when a van pulls up with men who attempt to evacuate him.  The Apache gunner in his bloodlust requests and receives permission to open fire, muttering the words “just pick up a weapon,” even though no weapons are anywhere visible near the crawling man.  It is in this attack that two children in the van are wounded, whereupon the gunner remarks “that’s what they get for bringing their kids to the battle.”

These are the children saved by Spc. Ethan McCord, who brings them to a Bradley vehicle after another soldier, upon discovering them, runs away vomiting.  A documentary has been made about the shooting featuring McCord which has won the award for Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival“Incident in New Baghdad.”

A perusal of soldier’s and veterans blogs shows surprising unanimity even among the battle-hardened.  Remarks go roughly: First shooting, tough sh*t.  Second shooting, war crime.

If it came out that Manning had been hung upside down and beaten on the soles of his feet, many Americans would conclude it was deserved given the incomplete reporting which merely mentions that Manning is accused of leaking classified documents.  This may be part of it, but the fact also remains that Bradley Manning was reporting a clear war crime.

Bradley Manning’s “van thing” can be seen starting at about 9 minutes.


mlk justice1

Related articles


English: Protest against the imprisonment of B...

English: Protest against the imprisonment of Bradley Manning#2, March 2011, Fort Snelling, Minnesota Deutsch: Protest gegen die Inhaftierung von Bradley Manning#2, März 2011, Fort Snelling, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Support for Bradley Manning via postc...

English: Support for Bradley Manning via postcard from Portugal, August 2010 Deutsch: Unterstützerpostkarte an bradley Manning aus Portugal, August 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

| Breaking Private Manning!

Breaking Private Manning ~ Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional RightsCenter for Constitutional Rights.

Bradley Manning is being punished – and tortured – for a crime that amounts to believing one’s highest duty is to the American people and not the American government.

bradley manning

Bradley Manning

By the time the 23-year-old soldier’s court martial starts on February 4, 2013, Bradley Manning will have spent 983 days in prison, including nine months in solitary confinement, without having been convicted of a single crime. This week, in pre-trail hearings, a military court is reviewing evidence that the conditions under which he has been held constitute torture. These conditions include the nine-month period spent 23 hours a day in a six-by-eight-foot cell where he was forbidden to lie down or even lean against a wall when he was not sleeping – and when he was allowed to sleep at night, officers woke him every five minutes – and where he was subjected to daily strip searches and forced nudity. The UN Special Rapporteur for Torture has already found this amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and possibly torture.

For almost three years Manning has endured intense physical and mental pressure, all designed to force him to implicate WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange in an alleged conspiracy to commit espionage. It is also a message to would-be whistleblowers: the U.S. government will not be gentle.

“[If] you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington, D.C.… what would you do? … It’s important that it gets out…it might actually change something… hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms…”

These are purportedly Manning’s words*, and that is change many of us would like to believe in: that if you give people the truth about their government’s unlawful activities, and the freedom to discuss it, they will hold their elected officials accountable.

But it is one thing to talk about transparency, the lifeblood of democracy, and even to campaign on it – in 2008, candidate Obama said, “Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal” – and another thing to act on it. On a fundamental level, Manning is being punished, without being convicted, for a crime that amounts to having the courage to act on the belief that without an informed public our republic is seriously compromised. Or, as he is quoted saying, for wanting  people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

The U.S. government is intent on creating a portrait of Manning as a traitor who aided and abetted Al Qaeda by releasing classified information into the public domain. But what actually occurred was that documents were sent anonymously to WikiLeaks, which published them in collaboration with The New York TimesThe Guardian and other news media for the benefit of the general public, much like the Pentagon Papers were published a generation ago.

The emails the prosecution is using to try to prove Manning was the source of the leaks also depict the side of the story they want to hide, that of a young soldier grappling with the dilemma of a would-be whistleblower who knows he is taking great risks by exposing the state-sponsored crimes and abuses he witnessed, the “almost criminal political back-dealings… the non-PR-versions of world events and crises,” as he is quoted describing them to the confidant who ultimately betrayed him.

“I will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens.”  One can’t help wondering what Manning must think now, after so long under such brutal conditions of confinement. Did he expect the government to punish him in such a disproportionate and unlawful manner?

Manning’s abusive pre-trial treatment is a clear violation of the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and even U.S. military law. In fact, Manning’s defense attorney David Coombs is arguing in the pre-trail hearings this week that in view of this blatant disregard for his client’s most fundamental rights, all charges should be dismissed.

The government claims this was all done to prevent Manning from committing suicide, though any rational observer might point out that these conditions are more likely to drive someone to suicide than keep him from it. The more likely explanation is the obvious one: the government wants to break Manning enough to force him to implicate WikiLeaks and Assange, and make enough of a show of it to deter other whistleblowers. At stake is the foundation of our democracy, a robust free press, and the fate of a true American hero.

*Disclaimer: Bradley Manning has not been convicted of any charges, nor has he admitted to any of the allegations against him. Likewise, he has not acknowledged the chat logs that purport to be his words.


Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents WikiLeaks and Julian Assange as well as other journalists and major news organizations seeking to make the documents from the Manning trial public.