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The Gainesville 8 and a Nixonized World

A 40-year reunion is being planned for the end of this month in Gainesville, Fla., of the Gainesville 8.  Sadly, Richard Nixon won't be able to join them, although his presidential library has just released more audio recordings of his descent into madness -- or what we like to call today: standard government practice.

The Gainesville 8 were eight men, seven of them members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), who planned to nonviolently demonstrate at the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami.  They were wrongfully prosecuted for planning violence, and they were all acquitted by a jury on August 31, 1973, in a highly publicized trial.

Under the shadow of the chaos that surrounded the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, VVAW took extra steps to avoid violence at the '72 RNC, meeting with the Miami police and with right-wing groups in an effort to prevent conflicts.  And yet, prior to the convention, President Nixon's FBI began preemptively arresting VVAW leaders, accusing them of plotting murder and mayhem, and attempting to prevent them from taking part in what they were really plotting: a nonviolent march to the convention, where they would request to meet with the president.

Many VVAW members managed to pull off the march, during the course of which they came upon an activist carrying weapons; they turned him in to the police.  Three vets, including Ron Kovic, made it into the convention to pose some uncomfortable questions to some long-distance, stay-at-home war supporters.

Just prior to the arrests of the VVAW members in Florida, burglars working for Nixon had been arrested breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate.  When the Watergate burglars were captured, one of them, James McCord, explained that they were investigating a link between the Democrats and the VVAW which they believed was planning trouble at the upcoming Republican National Convention.  McCord submitted an affidavit to the Gainesville 8 defense team restating this.  The Gainesville 8 defense argued that their prosecution was aimed at strengthening Nixon's thugs' phony case for the Watergate break-in.

One of several infiltrators and would-be provocateurs who made up the fabricated case against the Gainesville 8 was Vincent Hanard.  He said that Nixonian henchmen Howard Hunt, Bernard Barker, and Frank Sturgis had asked him to infiltrate VVAW and cause trouble.  Another hired trouble-maker, Alfred Baldwin, was employed both monitoring a bug at the Watergate and infiltrating VVAW with a goal of embarrassing Democrats if VVAW demonstrated at the RNC.

Another professional provocateur named Pablo Fernandez was summoned to a grand jury investigating Nixonian henchman Donald Segretti.  Fernandez said he'd tried to sell the VVAW guns and been turned down (something the Miami police confirmed), and that he'd spied on the veterans using electronic devices.  In fact, he'd tried to record a conversation with VVAW leader Scott Camil, but Fernandez' hidden microphone had failed.

Other of the government's many infiltrators in the VVAW included William Koehler, Karl Becker, Emerson Poe, and William Lemmer.  Poe had become best friends with Camil (or so Camil thought).  Poe sat in meetings with the defendants right up until he was called as a prosecution witness, thus blowing his cover -- about which the government had previously lied under oath.  Lemmer was the star witness, however, alleging wild tales of violent plans.  He was himself violent and unstable.  Lemmer had already set up a 17 year old to vandalize a building in Arkansas and arranged to have the FBI waiting for him.  Lemmer had helped bust six people for marijuana.  His specialty was talking people into considering the use of violence.  He just wasn't very convincing as a witness.

Scott Camil was the southeast regional coordinator of VVAW.  His lawyer's office was broken into during these proceedings, and his file taken.  Also, FBI agents with electronic gear were found hiding in a closet of the room that the defendants and lawyers were meeting in during the trial.

"It's not really 11 years till 1984," Camil said in his closing statement (PDF) in court.  "It's a lot closer than that." 

This sounds odd to us, living in 2013.  Technology, if not morality, has made great leaps forward.  There's no more need for bungling idiots with brief cases full of spy gear hiding in closets.  The government can spy on us without making its presence known.  But provocateurs are still employed to manufacture crimes, and much of what was considered illicit under Nixon is treated as acceptable established practice under Obama.

A careful study of the FBI's own data on terrorism in the United States, reported in Trevor Aaronson's book The Terror Factory, finds one organization leading all others in creating terrorist plots in the United States today: the FBI.  Peace groups today, including chapters of Veterans For Peace, have been redefined as "security threats" and "potential terrorists."  The police have been militarized.  Free speech cages are established at great distance from political conventions.  Preemptive detentions before demonstrations don't always bother with charges or prosecutions at all.  And the corporate-state media has internalized these practices as normal.  In 1973, CBS sued for the right to cover the Gainesville 8 trial.  Today I think it would be easier to find a media outlet willing to pay money to avoid having to cover something.  Chelsea Manning's trial was covered by bloggers.

Camil represented himself in court, and included no apologies, as observers of Chelsea Manning's trial might have expected.  Camil's opening statement should be read in full (PDF).  He put the government and the war and President Nixon on trial.  Here's an excerpt:

"The evidence will show that the seven of us who went to Vietnam spent a total of 111 months over there, received 57 medals and citations, and were all honorably discharged.  The evidence will also show that we threw our medals away out of shame, because we knew that what they stood for was wrong.  For myself, the throwing away of the medals I once cherished was the cutting of the umbilical cord between myself and the government lies, such as, 'We are helping the people of Vietnam,' 'Our purpose is honorable,' the covering up, such as, 'We are not bombing Cambodia,' 'We are not murdering unarmed civilians,' 'We are not bombing hospitals,' the immorality, such as 'free fire zones,' where all life was fair game, to show the American people back home  that we were winning the war by giving them a tool of measurement to judge, and that tool of measurement was the use of dead human beings -- it was called 'body count.'"

On August 31st the jury quickly acquitted all of the defendants. VVAW said at the time:

"The government needed, first of all, to defuse the anti-war issue in the 1972 presidential campaign. What better way to do this was there than by portraying a leading anti-war group as a bunch of vicious killers? With the public outcry caused by the Watergate scandal, a secondary purpose for the trial can be found: an attempt to partially divert attention away from the Watergate affair by fabricating a phony 'threat to national security.' James McCord specifically named VVAW/WSO as the chief villain in this 'threat to national security' and as a justification for their actions."

The Gainesville 8 were John Briggs, Scott Camil, Alton Foss, John Kniffin, Peter Mahoney, Stanley Michelson, William Patterson, and Don Perdue. All but Briggs were Vietnam veterans.  Kniffin and Patterson are now deceased.

Four of the eight are gathering for a reunion in Gainesville this month: Peter Mahoney, Don Perdue, Alton Foss, and Scott Camil.  Joining them are three of the lawyers who worked on the defense: Larry Turner, Nancy Stearns (Center for Constitutional Rights), and Brady Coleman (Texas National Lawyers Guild).  Also coming are jurors from the trial: Donna Ing, and the husband of Jury Foreperson Lois Hensel who is now deceased.  Plus members of the defense committee: Nancy Miller Saunders, Nancy Burnap, and Carol Gordon. And John Chambers who spent 40 days in jail for refusing to answer questions from the grand jury. And Richard Hudgens who was subpoenaed to the grand jury.  The Oral History Department at the University of Florida will be doing interviews.

I went ahead and did my own interview of Scott Camil.  "We came home from Vietnam," he said, "and saw that the government was not telling the truth about the war.  We exercised the Constitutional rights that we fought to protect and tried to educate the public to the truth.  The government came after us with a vengeance, trampling on our rights in an effort to silence and intimidate us. We stood up to the government and prevailed."

And what has happened since?

"Things have gotten much worse since then -- the illegal activities that brought down President Nixon are now legal.  Then the press accepted its role as the 4th estate.  Today the press has become a propaganda arm of the National Security State.  Today the National Security State wipes its boots on the Constitution.  And the public, rather than standing up for the Constitution, cowers and hides its head in the sand.

"Today's whistleblowers trying to educate the public to what is being done in our name with our tax money are under attack as we once were.  I hope that they are able to prevail as we once did."

Bradley Manning: Imprisoning a National Hero

 

Bradley Manning: Imprisoning a National Hero

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

We're all vulnerable. We're all Bradley Manning. His fate is ours.

 

Charging, prosecuting, convicting, sentencing and imprisoning him reflects the shame of the nation. It reveals its true face.

 

Lawless NSA Spying Exposed

 

Lawless NSA Spying Exposed

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

It's longstanding. It's no secret. It's well known. Now we know more. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) deserves credit.

 

On August 21, it headlined "Intelligence Agency Attorney on How 'Multi-Communication Transactions' Allowed for Domestic Surveillance."

‘You Failed to Break the Spirit of Bradley Manning’: An Open Letter to President Obama

By Norman Solomon

Dear President Obama:

As commander in chief, you’ve been responsible for the treatment of the most high-profile whistleblower in the history of the U.S. armed forces. Under your command, the United States military tried -- and failed -- to crush the spirit of Bradley Manning.

Your failure became evident after the sentencing on Wednesday, when a statement from Bradley Manning was read aloud to the world. The statement began: The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life. I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.”

From the outset, your administration set out to destroy Bradley Manning. As his biographer Chase Madar wrote in The Nation, “Upon his arrest in May 2010, he was locked up in punitive isolation for two months in Iraq and Kuwait, then nine more months at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia. Prohibited from lying down during the day or exercising, he was forced to respond every five of his waking minutes to a guard’s question: ‘Are you OK?’ In his final weeks of isolation, Manning was deprived of all clothing beyond a tear-proof smock and forced to stand at attention every night in the nude.”

More than nine months after Manning’s arrest, at a news conference you defended this treatment -- which the State Department’s chief spokesman, P.J. Crowley, had just lambasted as “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.” (Crowley swiftly lost his job.) Later, the UN special rapporteur on torture issued a report on the treatment of Manning: “at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading.”

At a fundraiser on April 21, 2011, when asked about Manning, you flatly said: “He broke the law.” His trial would not begin for two more years.

Bradley Manning’s statement after sentencing on Wednesday said: It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized that (in) our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

Public accountability is essential to democracy. We can’t have meaningful “consent of the governed” without informed consent. We can’t have moral responsibility without challenging official hypocrisies and atrocities.

Bradley Manning clearly understood that. He didn’t just follow orders or turn his head at the sight of unconscionable policies of the U.S. government. Finding himself in a situation where he could shatter the numbed complacency that is the foundation of war, he cared -- and he took action as a whistleblower.

After being sentenced to many years in prison, Manning conveyed to the American public an acute understanding of our present historic moment: In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

“Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission.”

Clearly, Mr. President, you have sought to make an example of Bradley Manning with categorical condemnation and harsh punishment. You seem not to grasp that he has indeed become an example -- an inspiring example of stellar courage and idealism, which millions of Americans now want to emulate.

From the White House, we continue to get puffed-up sugar-coated versions of history, past and present. In sharp contrast, Bradley Manning offers profound insights in his post-sentencing statement: Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy -- the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps -- to mention a few. I am confident that many of the actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light. As the late Howard Zinn once said, ‘There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.’”

Imagine. After more than three years in prison, undergoing methodical abuse and then the ordeal of a long military trial followed by the pronouncement of a 35-year prison sentence, Bradley Manning has emerged with his solid humanistic voice not only intact, but actually stronger than ever!

He acknowledged, I understand that my actions violated the law; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.”

And then Bradley Manning concluded his statement by addressing you directly as president of the United States: “If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.”

You failed to break the spirit of Bradley Manning. And that spirit will continue to inspire.

__________________________________

 

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information on the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

Egypt's Reign of Terror

 

Egypt's Reign of Terror

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Mark Twain once said history doesn't repeat. It rhymes. French history includes la Terreur (the Reign of Terror). Dickens called it the best and worst of times.

 

It began in 1789. It promised "liberte, egalite and fraternite. It lasted a decade. It ended a millennium of monarchal rule. It was socially and politically disruptive. It was violent.

 

Action for Bradley Manning in DC on 28th

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 28, 2013
 
Call for the immediate pardon and release of Bradley Manning!
 
Revealing the truth about US war crimes is not a crime!
 
RELEASE BRADLEY MANNING!
Dear Friends and Bradley Manning Supporters,
 
Thank you for for being one of the 4,140 who signed our petition to serve part of Bradley Manning's sentence. Thanks also to all of you who have told us you are interested in taking further action! This morning, August 21, we were told what sentence Bradley must serve.  There are a number of actions planned today and your best source for information on these is http://www.bradleymanning.org  Here, I will update you on what we have planned for people who signed our petition.

After reading your ideas Kevin Zeese, Malachy Kilbride and I agreed to have Malachy take the lead for the next phase of our plan. He explains the plan, 
"We will deliver the petition you signed to appropriate authorities and request a meeting withthe individual(s) in a policy position who can discuss the sentencing of Bradley Manning with us.  If they refuse to accept the petitions or meet with us, we will continue our peaceful assembly by sitting down and refusing to leave until they meet with us. If you have never done this we are able to provide you with information about the process and how risking arrest works.  If you do not want to risk arrest there will still be a role for you."

We want to draw attention to the fact that many people want to see Bradley Manning pardoned and released from prison. 

The date of the action is Wednesday the 28th of AUGUST. We will gather in Washington, DC and go to The White House. Will you join us?

If you cannot make it to Washington, DC but want to be in solidarity with us actions are being planned around the country also. If you would like find out about these actions or to organize an action in your area let us know. Our gatherings will be peaceful, but we will be defiant in our protest to Bradley's prison sentence demanding he be pardoned and released.

If you have questions about this action, like time and specifics, please contact me at malachykilbride@yahoo.com.

We are doing this to support Bradley but we also want to demonstrate to our government that we support truth tellers, people who promote transparency in government; people who have the courage to report the War Crimes being committed by our country.

Join us. Release Bradley Manning!
 
Charlotte Scot, Malachy Kilbride and Kevin Zeese

'Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society'


The following is a rush transcript by Common Dreams of the statement made by Pfc. Bradley Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference on Wednesday following the announcement of his 35-year prison sentence by a military court:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war.  We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.  It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing.  It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity.  We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians.  Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture.  We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government.  And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror. 

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power.  When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few.  I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light. 

As the late Howard Zinn once said, "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people." 

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States.  It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people.  When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.  I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Bradley Manning

Whisteblower Bradley Manning is the US Army Private (Pfc) who leaked military and government documents to the online media outlet Wikileaks which became the basis for the Collateral Murder video, which showed the killing of unarmed civilians by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. Leaks made by Manning also resulted in the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and a series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables that became known as Cablegate. He remains in the custody of the US government while facing a military court martial.

Remembering Bradley Manning's service to humanity as he's sentenced to 35 years in jail



By Birgitta Jónsdóttir, The Guardian, h/t Stop The War Coalition

As of today, Wednesday 21 August 2013, Bradley Manning has served 1,182 days in prison. He should be released with a sentence of time served. Instead, the judge in his court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland has handed down a sentence of 35 years.

Of course, a humane, reasonable sentence of time served was never going to happen. This trial has, since day one, been held in a kangaroo court. That is not angry rhetoric; the reason I am forced to frame it in that way is because President Obama made the following statements on record, before the trial even started:

President Obama: We're a nation of laws. We don't individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate … He broke the law.

Logan Price: Well, you can make the law harder to break, but what he did was tell us the truth.

President Obama: Well, what he did was he dumped …

Logan Price: But Nixon tried to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg for the same thing and he is a … [hero]

President Obama: No, it isn't the same thing … What Ellsberg released wasn't classified in the same way.

When the president says that the Ellsberg's material was classified in a different way, he seems to be unaware that there was a higher classification on the documents Ellsberg leaked.

A fair trial, then, has never been part of the picture. Despite being a professor in constitutional law, the president as commander-in-chief of the US military – and Manning has been tried in a court martial – declared Manning's guilt pre-emptively. Here is what the Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg had to say about this, in an interview with Amy Goodman at DemocracyNow! in 2011:

Well, nearly everything the president has said represents a confusion about the state of the law and his own responsibilities. Everyone is focused, I think, on the fact that his commander-in-chief has virtually given a directed verdict to his subsequent jurors, who will all be his subordinates in deciding the guilt in the trial of Bradley Manning. He's told them already that their commander, on whom their whole career depends, regards him [Manning] as guilty and that they can disagree with that only at their peril. In career terms, it's clearly enough grounds for a dismissal of the charges, just as my trial was dismissed eventually for governmental misconduct.

But what people haven't really focused on, I think, is another problematic aspect of what he said. He not only was identifying Bradley Manning as the source of the crime, but he was assuming, without any question, that a crime has been committed.

This alone should have been cause for the judge in the case to rethink prosecutors' demand for 60 years in prison. Manning himself has shown throughout the trial both that he is a humanitarian and that he is willing to serve time for his actions. We have to look at his acts in light of his moral compass, not any political agenda.

Manning intentions were never to hurt anyone; in fact, his motivation – as was the case for Ellsberg – was to inform the American public about what their government was doing in their name. A defense forensic psychiatrist testified to Manning's motives:

Well, Pfc Manning was under the impression that his leaked information was going to really change how the world views the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and future wars, actually. This was an attempt to crowdsource an analysis of the war, and it was his opinion that if … through crowdsourcing, enough analysis was done on these documents, which he felt to be very important, that it would lead to a greater good … that society as a whole would come to the conclusion that the war wasn't worth it … that really no wars are worth it.

I admit that I share the same hopes that drove Manning to share with the rest of the world the crimes of war he witnessed. I am deeply disappointed that no one has been held accountable for the criminality exposed in the documents for which Manning is standing trial – except him. It shows so clearly that our justice systems are not working as intended to protect the general public and to hold accountable those responsible for unspeakable crimes.

I want to thank Bradley Manning for the service he has done for humanity with his courage and compassionate action to inform us, so that we have the means to transform and change our societies for the better.

I want to thank him for shining light into the shadows. It is up to each and everyone of us to use the information he provided for the greater good. I want to thank him for making our world a little better. This is why I nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, for there are very few individuals who have ever brought about the kind of social change Manning has put in motion.

The wave of demands for greater transparency, more accountability, and democratic reform originate with Manning's lonely act in the barracks in Iraq. He has given others – such as Edward Snowden – the courage to do the right thing for the rest of us. The heavy hand dealt Bradley Manning today is a massive blow against everything many of us hold sacred – at a time when we have been shown how fragile and weak our democracies are by the revelations of, first, Manning, and now, Snowden.

There is no such thing as privacy anymore; nor is there such a thing as accountability among our public servants. Our governments do not function for the benefit of the 99%. If Manning had received a fair sentence that was in proportion to his supposed crime – which was to expose us to the truth – then there would have been hope.

Instead, we are seeing the state acting like a wounded tiger, cornered and lashing out in rage – attacking the person who speaks the truth in order to frighten the rest of us into silence. But to that, I have only one answer: it won't work.

Manning get’s slammed; a mass-murderer got sprung Crimes and Punishment (or Not)

By Dave Lindorff


Right now I’m thinking about William Laws Calley. 


Bradley Manning Wrongfully Sentenced

 

Bradley Manning Wrongfully Sentenced

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On July 30, he was wrongfully convicted on 20 of 22 charges. They included multiple Espionage Act violations. It's a WW I relic. 

 

It belongs in history's dustbin. It's unrelated to exposing serious government wrongdoing. 

 

#BecauseofBradleyManning We Know That Truth Telling Is Dangerous #FreeBrad

 

#BecauseofBradleyManning We Know Truth Telling Is Dangerous #FreeBrad

 



The U.S. government and its corporate masters lashed out (again) at young soldier Bradley Manning today, with court martial Judge Denise Lind handing down a sentence of 35 years. He's already been detained for 1,294 days, and tormented plenty, but none of his punishment can change the fact that the information Manning provided changed history forever.

Keeping Wikileaks founder Julian Assange under house arrest at Ecuador's embassy in London will not halt the changes already underway. Information wants to be free, and Assange already helped Manning free a lot of it; historians thank them both.

Similarly, hours of airport detention of journalist Laura Poitras or of David Miranda, working as a courier between Poirtras and his partner, journalist Glenn Greenwald, cannot change the fact that the information they shared from NSA leaker Edward Snowden has changed history.

And will continue to do so.

Governments may fulminate, threaten, and symbolically smash hard drives containing leaked material (do they even know how digital information works? one has to wonder). They may ground airplanes hoping the faint of heart will cower before them, but real journalists respond by becoming even more determined to see that the truth gets out.

"I believe the public has a right to know"
—Alexa O'Brien, journalist and unofficial civilian transcriber of the Bradley Manning trial

Here's something to know: NSA surveillance now in place can monitor about 75% of all Internet activity, as reported by mainstream news organization Reuters here.

Here's something else to know: the NSA is funded from the Pentagon budget, which gobbled up about 57% of the federal budget for 2013 and looks to do the same for 2014.

A place governments historically run into trouble is that they don't believe the public has a right to know, but they still insist that the public pay for what they can't know about. Like war crimes and dragnet spying, to give just two examples.

Tax revolt anyone?


Source: http://beforeitsnews.com/contributor/upload/5385/images/manningmm.jpg

Update: Manning has since admitted that he leaked the Collateral Murder video of war crimes in Iraq.
 
 


Britain's War on Freedom

 

Britain's War on Freedom

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Arguably America, Israel and Britain are the developed world's most repressive states. Democracy's a convenient illusion. It exists in name only.

 

Police state ruthlessness reflects policy. It's not new. It's worse than ever now. Modern technology makes it easy. It's used oppressively. It targets ordinary people. It's done for any reason or none at all.

 

Militarized Peacekeeping for Palestine?

 

Militarized Peacekeeping for Palestine?

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

So-called Blue Helmets stoke conflict. They don't preserve peace. They don't anywhere. They're imperial enforcers. They're human rights abusers.

 

Vulnerable people they control suffer horrifically. NATO's worse. It's a killing machine. It's mission is war, not peace. More on that below.

 

If we don't like what you're doing, we'll just destroy your shit

 

If you think Sunday's story was bad -- and it was -- wait'll you hear this.

America’s assault on a free press moves into high gear: Detention of Greenwald Partner in London Clearly Came on US Orders

By Dave Lindorff


It is becoming perfectly clear that the outrageous detention of American journalist Glenn Greenwald’s Brazilian partner David Miranda by British police during a flight transfer at London’s Heathrow Airport was, behind the scenes, the work of US intelligence authorities.


Police State Terror in Egypt

 

Police State Terror in Egypt

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Protracted conflict continues. Reports suggest Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) plans to declare the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a terrorist organization.

 

Russia vs. U.S. Gas “Cold War” Underlying Edward Snowden Asylum Standoff

Cross-Posted from Mint Press News

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Nearly two months ago, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden handed smoking-gun documents on the international surveillance apparatus to The Guardian andThe Washington Post in what’s become one of the most captivating stories in recent memory.

NSA Caught Red-Handed

 

NSA Caught Red-Handed

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

It's a longstanding rogue agency. It always operated extrajudicially. It's worse than ever now. It's a power unto itself.

 

Obama claims "(w)e don’t have a domestic spying program. What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat."

 

Police State Egypt

 

Police State Egypt

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Bloody Wednesday revealed state-sponsored police state harshness. Egypt exhibits classic characteristics.

 

Wikipedia calls a police state one "in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic, and political life of the population." 

 

War is more than a queer issue

By Burkely Hermann

In a recent discussion on reddit, I mentioned the views of genderqueer activist Dooler Campbell who has said time and time again, that war is a queer issue because “our military is being used to promote and push forward an imperialist and neoliberal agenda that is damaging to people across the world, including...non-heterosexual people...people are being killed, queer and trans folk included...these acts are justified through the rhetoric of gay rights...US military presence negatively affects the lives of gays and lesbians in the countries we are bombing.” People dismissed this view saying that “US militarism didn't apply to all LGBTQ people...that war was a trans* issue...[and no one said that] Gay Inc. should...link up with the waning US anti-war movement, to oppose militarism since it is an issue that affects LGBTQI people worldwide.” In summary, there people were saying that I didn't know what I was talking about, and that militarism is completely unrelated to QUILTBAG (Queer/Questioning, Undecided/Unidentified, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans*, Bisexual, Asexual, and Gay) people. I use this term because I am tired of using LGBTQ and debating how many letters to add to it, and QUILTBAG just makes it easier. This article is for those naysayers and many others.

Bradley Manning Addresses Sentencing Hearing

 

Bradley Manning Addresses Sentencing Hearing

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

He's an American hero. He's no spy. He committed no crimes. He acted responsibly. He did the right thing. He deserves praise, not prosecution.

 

He exposed US war crimes. He fulfilled his legal obligation to do so. He's victimized unjustly. Police state injustice wants him imprisoned longterm. Systemic unfairness defines US policy.

Screaming in Bradley Manning's Trial

I sat in the courtroom all day on Wednesday as Bradley Manning's trial wound its way to a tragic and demoralizing conclusion.  I wanted to hear Eugene Debs, and instead I was trapped there, watching Socrates reach for the hemlock and gulp it down.  Just a few minutes in and I wanted to scream or shout.

I don't blame Bradley Manning for apologizing for his actions and effectively begging for the court's mercy.  He's on trial in a system rigged against him.  The commander in chief declared him guilty long ago.  He's been convicted.  The judge has been offered a promotion.  The prosecution has been given a playing field slanted steeply in its favor.  Why should Manning not follow the only advice anyone's ever given him and seek to minimize his sentence?  Maybe he actually believes that what he did was wrong.  But -- wow -- does it make for some perverse palaver in the courtroom.

This was the sentencing phase of the trial, but there was no discussion of what good or harm might come of a greater or lesser sentence, in terms of deterrence or restitution or prevention or any other goal.  That's one thing I wanted to scream at various points in the proceedings.

This was the trial of the most significant whistleblower in U.S. history, but there was no mention of anything he'd blown the whistle on, any of the crimes exposed or prevented, wars ended, nonviolent democratic movements catalyzed.  Nothing on why he's a four-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee.  Nothing.  Every time that the wars went unmentioned, I wanted to scream.  War was like air in this courtroom, everybody on all sides militarized -- and it went unnoticed and unmentioned.

What was discussed on Wednesday was as disturbing as what wasn't.  Psycho-therapists, and relatives, and Bradley Manning himself -- defense witnesses all -- testified that he had been wrong to do what he'd done, that he'd not been in his right mind, and that he is a likable person to whom the judge should be kind. 

Should likable people get lesser sentences? 

The prosecution focused, with much less success I think, on depicting Manning as an unlikable person.  Should unlikable people get heavier sentences? 

What, I wanted to scream, about the likability of blowing the whistle on major crimes?  Shouldn't that be rewarded, rather than being less severely punished?

There were some 30 of us observing the trial on Wednesday in the courtroom, many with "TRUTH" on our t-shirts, plus six members of the news media.  Another 40 some people were watching a video feed in a trailer outside, and another 40 media folks were watching a video in a separate room.  The defense and prosecution lawyers sat a few feet apart from each other, and I suppose the politeness of the operation was preferable to the violence that had led to it.  But the gravity of threatening Manning with 90 years in prison seemed belied by the occasional joking with witnesses. 

Before he'd become a criminal suspect, Manning had written in an online chat:

"If you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time… say, 8-9 months… and 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 DC… what would you do? . . . or Guantanamo, Bagram, Bucca, Taji, VBC for that matter . . . things that would have an impact on 6.7 billion people . . . say… a database of half a million events during the iraq war… from 2004 to 2009… with reports, date time groups, lat-lon locations, casualty figures… ? or 260,000 state department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world, explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective?"

Manning made clear what his concern and motivation were:

"i think the thing that got me the most… that made me rethink the world more than anything . . . was watching 15 detainees taken by the Iraqi Federal Police… for printing 'anti-Iraqi literature'… the iraqi federal police wouldn't cooperate with US forces, so i was instructed to investigate the matter, find out who the 'bad guys' were, and how significant this was for the FPs… it turned out, they had printed a scholarly critique against PM Maliki… i had an interpreter read it for me… and when i found out that it was a benign political critique titled 'Where did the money go?' and following the corruption trail within the PM's cabinet… i immediately took that information and *ran* to the officer to explain what was going on… he didn't want to hear any of it… he told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding *MORE* detainees…"

Manning wanted the public informed:

"its important that it gets out… i feel, for some bizarre reason . . . it might actually change something . . .  i just… dont wish to be a part of it… at least not now… im not ready…"

In other words, Manning didn't want his name to be known, but he wanted the information to be known.  This was, again, what Manning said during a pre-trial hearing:

" [W]e became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.  I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday."

Manning wanted to end wars that the majority of Americans think were wrong ever to have begun, and he helped to end them -- at least in the case of Iraq.  He'd had clearly thought out intentions, and they led to the sort of success he'd hoped for, at least to some degree.  A full-blown public debate on abolishing the institution of war is yet to come. 

The first witness on Wednesday was a therapist who had consulted with Manning while he was in the Army and in Iraq.  This man noted that Manning had problems with his occupation, but gave no indication of what that occupation was.  Manning was under stress, but the moral crisis discussed in the chat logs was never mentioned.  Instead, Manning's lawyer directed the witness to discuss "gender issues."  The witness said that Manning had informed him that he was gay, that being openly gay in the military was a violation of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice), and that such violations were an exception to doctor-patient confidentiality.  Neither defense nor prosecution followed up on that.  Nor did they ask whether Manning had mentioned any concerns over other violations of the UCMJ of which he had become aware in the course of his duties.  Perhaps not turning Manning in for being gay was simply the decent thing to do.  But, then, wasn't Manning's effectively turning others in for their more serious abuses also the decent thing to do? 

While I might have liked to see Manning choose a jury rather than a judge, hire a different lawyer, and argue for protection as a whistleblower, the defense's case -- on its own terms -- was well done.  The prosecution did not manage to respond effectively or even competently.  A prosecutor, referring to comments in a chat log, asked the therapist what it would mean if a soldier called other soldiers ignorant rednecks.  The witness replied that he couldn't say that he'd never said such a thing himself.  The whole room laughed.  I clapped.  I forgot for a moment about wanting to scream. 

The next witness was a therapist hired to work for the defense.  He said that Manning suffered fits of rage in the military.  Shouldn't he have?  If you'd been dropped into the war on Iraq and seen what it was, how would you have most healthily reacted?  This therapist believed Manning suffered from gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder.  The whole room seemed to suffer from basic human decency dysphoria.  Manning also suffered, the therapist believed, from fetal alcohol syndrome and Asperger's.  Manning also, we were told, suffered from narcissism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  These were related, apparently, to his post-adolescent idealism, a state this therapist considered wide-spread and normal, yet not quite acceptable, as it explained Manning's so-called misdeeds.  Manning, we heard, had been stressed out over his boyfriend, and as a result of his alcoholic parents.  The notion that war could cause stress didn't enter the courtroom. 

Was Manning too stressed to appreciate the wrongness of his actions, his own lawyer asked.

The witness took that question and actually turned the discussion toward Manning's whistleblowing in his answer, suggesting that Manning had found injustices and believed he had an oath to uphold by exposing them.  This therapist, however, believed that if Manning had had a friend to talk to, he might not have blown the whistle on anything. 

How did stress impact his thought process, asked Manning's lawyer.  It impaired it, the therapist explained.  Manning suffered from Post-Adolescent Idealism (if only that were contagious! I wanted to scream).  Manning underestimated how much trouble he'd be in.  The worst he believed could happen to him would be separation from the Army, this expert informed us.

Back in the real world in which Manning had written the messages in the published chat logs that exposed him, Manning had had this to say:

"i wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much, if it wasn’t for the possibility of having pictures of me… plastered all over the world press… as boy . . .  i think im in more potential heat than you ever were [speaking to the snitch who turned him in]  . . .  Hilary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and finds an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format to the public."

What other impressions did the therapist have of Bradley Manning?  Well, Manning had a very consistent system of beliefs. 

I wonder if the witness knew what Bradley was going to say on the stand in just a few hours. 

The prosecution's cross-examination of the first therapist had been so incompetent that even the judge grew fed-up.  This second one was no better.  The prosecutor managed to get the witness to talk about Manning's supposed narcissism, grandiosity, arrogance, and haughtiness, but the witness described Post-Adolescent Idealism as so widespread as to be considered normal.  (Wouldn't that be nice!) 

Did Manning know that what he was doing was illegal, the prosecutor asked.  Yes, the therapist said.  There was no objection from the defense, of course.

Was personal recognition a motive?  No.

Would Manning commit the misconduct again?  (This was the only moment that bordered on President Obama's much-beloved looking forward.)  I don't know, was the answer.

If in the future he saw something that violated his sense of morality would he take action again?  Well, he's been pretty consistent with his principles.

Before Manning reversed his principles on the stand, there was one other witness to testify: Manning's older sister.  Her testimony was stunning.  I nearly cried.  A number of people did openly cry.  She described a family in which both parents were alcoholics.  Her and Bradley's mother was drunk every day, and a mean drunk at that.  Their father was nearly as bad.  Manning's sister, 11 years older than he, raised him more than anyone else.  Their mother drank through her pregnancy with Bradley.  He was tiny and underfed.  And things got worse as the parents split up, the mother became suicidal, the sister fled.  If this testimony were aired on television, people would discuss it -- in tears -- for many months.  There would be endless discussions of each tangential topic, including alcohol, fetal alcohol syndrome, child abuse, rural isolation, divorce, older sisters, and -- of course -- whether traitors can be excused because they had bad childhoods.

And yet, I wanted to scream out: Why aren't we analyzing the people who had better or worse childhoods than Manning and all failed to do what he did?  What about their mental health?  What about their Blind Obedience Disorder?

Manning's sister said that he had calmed down and matured during the past three years.  No mention of his naked isolation cell.  No mention of the existential threat hanging over him.  No mention of how clear-minded and principled he appears to have been back when he was supposedly immature.

Then, Manning made his sworn statement.  He said he was sorry his actions had hurt people, despite no evidence having shown that they did.  He said he was sorry his actions hurt the United States, whereas clearly his actions benefitted the United States, allowing us much greater access into what our secretive government is doing in our name.  Manning questioned how he could have possibly believed he knew better than his superiors.

It's an interesting question.  Manning went into the Army in hopes of receiving money for college.  He was entering a hostile world.  Loyalty to buddies did not overpower loyalty to humanity, in Manning's case, because the Army wasn't his buddies.  So, Manning looked at the horrors of war and said to himself: I can shine a light, and that light can fix this.  We can, Bradley Manning believed, have a peaceful government of, by, and for the people.

The next and last witness was Bradley's aunt, who told a very sympathetic tale paralleling Bradley's sister's.  She concluded by asking the judge to consider Manning's difficult start in life, and the fact that Bradley thought he was doing the right thing when he was not thinking clearly at all.

I never screamed.

I took off my "TRUTH" shirt.

TSA manager Shane Hinkle charged with sexual abuse

 

And yet another TSA agent has been arrested for sexual assault. 


Oh, well. Just another day in the TSA!
 

Read the rest at ABombazine.

NYPD Stop and Frisk Ruled Unconstitutional

 

NYPD Stop and Frisk Ruled Unconstitutional

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Longstanding NYPD stop and frisk practices are flagrantly racist. They violate constitutional privacy rights. People of color are systematically targeted.

 

Hundreds of thousands of law abiding residents are persecuted. According to New York's ACLU, mostly minority "New Yorkers (were) subjected to police stops and interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002."

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