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Mar 3, 2011

Rundle: with WikiLeaks, Manning erred in being human

Just at the point when the WikiLeaks saga was collapsing into final absurdity, US soldier Bradley Manning faces 22 additional charges, including that of aiding the enemy, which attracts the death penalty.


Just at the point when the WikiLeaks saga was collapsing into final absurdity — with Julian Assange’s apparent outburst about a Jewish conspiracy, his attempt to trademark his name (to be fair, this is to protect him from false endorsement claims, etc), and the announcement that Steven Spielberg has bought the rights to  The Guardian book and the tell-all by former WikiLeaker Daniel Domscheit-Berg — something comes along to tip it into tragedy again, and that is the charging of US soldier Bradley Manning with 22  additional crimes, including that of aiding the enemy, which attracts the death penalty.

The other charges include wrongfully obtaining classified material, fraud, and illegal transmission of defence information. The capital charge relates specifically to the presence of names of informers in many of the leaked documents, and the argument that such release may have led directly to deaths in Afghanistan.

None of the charges mention WikiLeaks, and WikiLeaks claims that it has no way of knowing who its sources are — or were , when it had the capacity for people to submit material — but it is usually supposed that Manning is the source for the “Afghan” and “Iraq” war logs, and the entire “Cablegate” archive. Manning, a low-level military information operative in Iraq and then back in the US, copied the archives over eight months from the US US SIPRNet network, and passed them on to WikiLeaks — or so he claimed to Adrian Lamo, a well-known hacker, who shopped him to the authorities. Lamo already had criminal convictions on hacking charges, and was terrified of massive retaliation by the authorities.

That retaliation has now fallen on Manning, who has been held virtually incommunicado, save for lawyer contact, for the past 10 months. Despite being innocent until proven guilty, even under military law, his extended remand has been a bloody-minded application of every regulation associated with US “supermax” prisons — he is in permanent solitary confinement (even his one hour/day exercise), under permanent surveillance, must make a verbal response to a query every 10 minutes, and if he attempts to take exercise in his cell — push-ups, for example — he is physically prevented from doing so. Visitors — including former Salon journalist Glenn Greenwald and Congressman Dennis Kucinich — have been prevented from visiting him.

The clear intent of such a process is to break Manning down to a pitiful state of desperation, and persuade him to incriminate Julian Assange as an active conspirator (although even then, it would be difficult to charge a non-US citizen with espionage charges). In his online chats with Lamo, Manning talks of some contact with Assange but it would be up to the prosecution to prove that this was something more than idle chat.

Whether it achieves that or not, it may well overshoot the mark and drive Manning completely and irrevocably insane. Such forms of confinement are unquestionably torture, but they are torture of a very specific kind — a sort of paradoxical torture. If the aim of torture per se is to make the prisoner’s body rebel against their soul — have animal pain and terror fill the consciousness until any principle, belief, or commitment is undermined — then the “supermax” regime is the opposite — it dissolves subjectivity by removing all that is most basically human, from diversion to human connection.

This is the point made most famously by Foucault: that the notion that neat antiseptic prison regimes are more humane than physical punishment is the founding conceit of modernity. In many ways they can be worse. Solitary confinement and the microcontrol of a prisoner’s behaviour are designed as a form of total annihilation, because they exert enormous energies in ensuring that the prisoner goes on existing, while depriving him of anything resembling life. That division of existence from purposeful life is effectively a standardised and routinised way of producing despair.

Not surprisingly, it is a particularly American form of human annihilation. The “supermax” prisons, and such total regimes, are the descendants of the first modern prison schemes, the penitentiaries established by the Quakers in Pennsylvania in the 1830s. Where other prisons housed prisoners collectively in squalor as part of their punishment, the Quakers believed that this merely bred criminality. The object was to make a prisoner repent (as the name suggests) by developing a relationship with God — and the only way to do that was to deprive a prisoner of a relationship with anyone else.

Thus, prisoners in the penitentiary were ideally utterly isolated from anyone else — they even had separate corridors so they couldn’t see each other. Eventually through their screaming isolation they would seek and find God. The gentle and peaceful Quakers thought that this invention was a force for good; many of those who observed it, such as Charles Dickens, thought it was a horrifying nightmare. But someone who never saw a problem with it was Alexis de Tocqueville, whose Democracy in America was based on the trip he took to the US to report on this marvellous new prison system, for the French government.

Much of Democracy in America was devoted to trying work out what the problems of the new American society might be. He never realised that the answer was the very thing he was sent to study — the penitentiary was the other side of American depthlessness, an indifference to the full humanity of others hidden from oneself by following correct procedure and affirming goodness of heart.

The penitentiary is bad enough when it’s part of a God-centred culture; when part of one — even the US — where God is a shaky notion, then it’s a literal Hell. Its deeply anti-human nature does achieve what the Quakers sought, since many prisoners become believers out of the sheer need for someone to talk to, but it’s a counterfeit conversion, won through psychological warfare.

With 2 million Americans in prison, many of them in semi-penitentiary style incarceration, the prison system mirrors key aspects of American life — in particular the substantial atomisation and isolation of everyday life.

It even reflects much of the case at hand. Manning, a gay man, joined the military out of lack of direction, and found himself in a situation where he had to live the shadow-life of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. It was a relationship in Boston that brought him into contact with hackers such as Lamo — and the end of that relationship that plunged him into the loneliness and despair that prompted him to blab to Lamo. Lamo himself writes as a floating child of the aether — an isolated, disconnected depressive and chemically enhanced. There’s no doubting the genuineness of Manning’s outrage at much of the material he saw, but nor is there any doubt that the chaotic and unstable way in which this has all come about is a much a measure of the age, as is the content of the cables themselves. Their lives, and the punitive regimes Manning is under are of a piece with the war he was exposing, where a high-tech obsessed with notions of its own virtue could — as illustrated by the “collateral murder” video — distance itself from any consequences of individual action, any basic shared humanity.

What options there are for Manning now is anyone’s guess, but he’s in a tight corner. The WikiLeaks process has been part of an argument that governments should be more open, that power relations should be reconstructed in a new era. That’s not the same as saying that individual operatives should have the legal right to distribute as they wish. At some point, the prosecution of such an act becomes an act of decorum essential to the state’s existence, and to suggest that a massive classified document leak could be ignored is simply unreal. For Assange and WikiLeaks, a defence is clear and absolute. Manning erred in being human; his only hope may now lie in finding a quality of mercy. Judging by his treatment to date, that is a long way off.


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33 thoughts on “Rundle: with WikiLeaks, Manning erred in being human

  1. shepherdmarilyn

    I suspect the charges against him will be thrown out by the Supreme court but Obama and Holder are making a dreadful mistake here in this case.

    The only “evidence” that Manning did anything at all is the word of Lamo who is clearly unhinged if not dangerously insane.

  2. Bob the builder

    Fascinating discussion about the horrors of sterile imprisonment. I remember talking to a soldier who went AWOL (from an Australian base in peacetime – the ’90s) for a day or two and was sent to military prison. I asked him what it was like and a look of genuine horror came over his face. Rough, brutal, I thought. No, completely regulated; to get a ciggie, prisoners would have to line up and progress across a series of marks, each time saluting and yes-sir-ing and generally be completely obedient and controlled. This regimentation and humiliation was present in every aspect of the prison and a few weeks of that had deeply shaken this bloke.

  3. Michael James

    Manning is subject to military justice and is being held by the US Military in the standard US Military detention facility, known officially as a stockade. The treat ment he is receiving is likely the same as other military personnel held there.

    As for decrying his experience as a gay man in the US army, he was surely well and truly aware of the US military’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. To then blame that for his actions, where he broke the laws he was subject to, looks like a cheap cop out.

    You might think that the actions he undertook were for some ‘greater good’, but the truth is he stole classified material and passed the material to people who were not authorised to receive it. In any military in the world, that is a very serious offence and Manning is being charged and will stand trial for it.

  4. Martin Doyle

    The US Military should need to provide some evidence to show that the release of this classified information caused someone’s death.

  5. baal

    so much to say, so little time and space to say it

  6. klewso

    Watching Domscheit-Berg on Lateline last week, started me wondering what sort of personality is attracted to work for WikiLeaks? What sort of person does it take to hold them all together, and what happens if “one” of them starts to thinking they aren’t being appreciated enough, aren’t getting the sort of recognition they think they deserve? He’s done all right.

    (The week before it was John Burns (London’s NY Times boss) lining up for a free-kick, waffling on about how Assange wasn’t a real journalist or something – and the resources/”inclination” they have to put into “investigation” of such things – apparently forgetting the ironic fact that “Murdoch” has “journalists” working for them – from “News of the World” to “FUX News”, doing just that!)

  7. Fitz

    A fine evocation of some of the horrors of getting entangled in the American legal system (in almost any way in any capacity).

    I hope it will eventually get through to some of our unimaginative though high-minded civil libertarians that extraditing Australians anywhere is to be avoided if possible. It is one thing to be a Conrad Black on trial in Chicago but most people are more like the lonely hacker who was gaoled in the US for a copyright “crime” even though he had never been to the US and had to be extradited – to the shame and disgrace of those who allowed the Free Trade Agreement to give the US so much.

    Why shouldn’t a Zentai, the 89 year old still resisting extradition to Hungary, be tried in Australia? Let the necessary legislation be passed if there are difficulties. As there are no living witnesses even the old arguments about convenience (for the prosecution!!!!) are not even theoretically available. And this is 2011 after all….

    Back, almost, to GR’s article. Isn’t it obvious that, amongst the hundreds of thousands who, after 9/11 were given the access that Manning had, the Chinese and Russians have found a few who will have given them all those secrets for money or because of blackmail? Wikileaks ought to be thanked for showing us how unsafe our secrets are in the hands of the Americans.

  8. Kevin Tyerman

    Guy Rundle reports:
    Despite being innocent until proven guilty, even under military law, his extended remand has been a bloody-minded application of every regulation associated with US “supermax” prisons — he is in permanent solitary confinement (even his one hour/day exercise), under permanent surveillance, must make a verbal response to a query every 10 minutes, and if he attempts to take exercise in his cell — push-ups, for example — he is physically prevented from doing so.

    Michael James points out:
    The treat ment he is receiving is likely the same as other military personnel held there.

    So, is this typically how the US military treats it’s personnel before they are found guilty of any charges? Are they treated this way throughout all imprisonment?

    Does “must make a verbal response to a query every 10 minutes” apply 24 hours a day and amount to a rather serious case of effective sleep deprivation?

  9. Tony Kevin

    Guy Rundle’s ‘s article was informative, depressing but I believe missed the main point about why Bradley Manning did what he allegedly did.

    Bradley did not ”err’. As his revealed email to Lamo makes clear. he made a moral judgement that he knew great evils – crimes against humanity – were being routinely committed in Iraq by the organisation of which he was a part, the US Army, and he felt morally obliged to make those great evils public whatever the cost to him.

    This is the the same moral judgement written about by Benjamin Franklin in 1792: ”a nation as a society forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society’. Martin Luther King made the same point: “Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about things that matter.”‘ And Assange has made a similar point on his website – if we ignore state evil, we become part of it. I believe it too, which is why I wrote my book on SIEV X.

    What must now terrify Manning’s torturers is that he will stay sane and brave enough to say such things in court, in which case he will become a martyr. They would rather drive him insane so that he cannot say them. I pray for him that he will find the strength to face as a hero a death that , if it comes, will not have been in vain.

  10. MLF

    Agree, fascinating discussion on Manning’s treatment – how do we know this by the way? Is it from his lawyer? And although you lost me a little in the middle, I’m outraged that – despite his crimes – he can be held for so long without trial.

    “The WikiLeaks process has been part of an argument that governments should be more open, that power relations should be reconstructed in a new era. That’s not the same as saying that individual operatives should have the legal right to distribute as they wish. At some point, the prosecution of such an act becomes an act of decorum essential to the state’s existence, and to suggest that a massive classified document leak could be ignored is simply unreal.”

    So true, Rundle, so true. Thanks for the balance.

  11. Roquefort Muckraker

    I guess he hadn’t been forgotten after all.

  12. Acidic Muse


    Michael James is talking absolute rubbish.

    Only a handful of US citizens held in US Military prisons are held in segregation (solitary confinement) prior to trial

    As Salon Magazine reported in Dec

    “Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a “Maximum Custody Detainee,” the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.”

    Currently Manning is the only detainee being held in Maximum (MAX) custody and under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch. Every other detainee at that Quantico Brig (stockade is the Army equivalent) are being held in Medium Detention In (MDI) and without POI watch restrictions. Therefore, unlike Manning, every other detainee is allowed outside of their cell for the majority of the day

    Article 13 of the US Code of Military justice actually states:

    No person, while being held for trial, may be subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement upon the charges pending against him, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon him be any more rigorous than the circumstances required to insure his presence, but he may be subjected to minor punishment during that period for infractions of discipline.

    So segregation is punishment for infractions or coercion meted out to those deemed Maximum Custody Detainees, not standard practise at all.

    It is abundantly clear that Manning is being held in breach of Article 13. The problem for his Defence team is that the issue of whether there is a violation of Article 13 can only be litigated at a pretrial motion hearing. At this hearing, the defence may call witnesses and the accused may testify concerning the nature of the pretrial confinement conditions.

    After more than 9 months in solitary confinement, Manning is STILL awaiting that pre-trial hearing mostly because the case against him is still too weak to guarantee Mannings conviction nor the extradition of Assange

    Despite being a US citizen yet to be proven guilty of any crime, Manning is being treated in much the same deplorable manner as the “enemy combatants” at Gitmo. Sadly the Obama administration is just as quick to run roughshod over both the Bill of Rights and a few very basic human ones in pursuit of it’s ideological goals as the Bush Cheney Blood for Oil Junta was.

    As Gore Vidal once so accurately stated, the USA has two right wings of the same political party .. who do their level best to hide the fact they pretty much pander to the same special interests to the detriment of the common man …and if more Australian’s don’t start paying as much attention to how we are governed as they do Master chef and Shane Warne’s sexual conquests, we’re probably all heading to hell in the very same hand basket

  13. twobob

    I suspect that michael james is not a real person but an identity paid to comment. It is difficult to believe that a real person could be so indifferent to the torture of any individual regardless of his crimes. That is made even worse when it is appreciated that what Manning did was expose criminal behaviour and fraud being conducted on behalf of and paid for by the american public. If someone is doing something similar on my behalf that I am in some way contributing towards I would like to know about it. Did you ever think about that michael james?

  14. MLF

    Tony Kevin, you are wrong in your assessment that stealing and sharing confidential files about Iraq, for example, is the same as stealing and sharing confidential files of the likes of ‘Cablegate’. One is whistleblowing – although not of the nature that we are used to, but the other is not.

    Rundle has it right on the money.

    Although I do not agree with Private Manning’s treatment to date, he is a man of the military and as such fully aware of the consequences of his actions when he took them. That he was aware and took them anyway makes him a bit of a hero in my book – and this goes to your quotes from BF and MLK. But it does not excuse him from them.

    Assange is a completely, utterly and entirely different story. Pvt Manning and Julian Assange should not be compared in this way.

  15. Tony Kevin

    Thanks, MLF. We agree on most aspects of this issue.

    It is a detail, but I am not sure whether your statememt “”One is whistleblowing – although not of the nature that we are used to, but the other is not” implies that your view is that for a US serviceman to leak State Dept diplomatic cables may be more acceptable than leaking war records from Iraq and Afghanistan: or the reverse? You might like to clarify and amplify .

    My analysis of the issues here was obviously more focussed on whether Bradley Manning may have felt a moral obligation to release the war diaries and the video of the Iraq helicopter killings? His alleged responsibility for this body of leaked material must presumably be the US Army’s main grievance against him.

    I don’t know whether the charges relate to all the leaked US Govt material including the US State Dept cables. I would guess they do. To me, these are a lesser-order issue.

    However a moral obligation of release could be held to attach to diplomatic cables too, if those cables reveal important true information relating to a state’s duty to protect human life, which contradicts what its government is saying publicly. I can think of such cases, eg any allied WW2 cables regarding allied responses to the Holocaust .There are no doubt some examples of such matters in the 250,000 Wikileaks diplomatic cables. But nothing has surfaced yet to compare with the impact of the video of the Iraq helicopter shootings, as released to world media by Wikileaks and shown recently in full on SBS, in an excellent Swedish-made documentary film about Wikileaks ( well worth seeing).

  16. Elan

    No MLF; you are wrong! You are American are you not? NOT a crime I hastily add, but it is colouring your judgment noticeably.

    I can empathise with BAAL. For me at this stage, the need to go out and breathe some fresh air, and not involve myself in the fetid stench that is American Democracy is overwhelming.

    At this stage.

  17. MLF

    Thanks Tony Kevin. Yes I was referring to the war logs as being the whistleblower part. What I meant by ‘not in the way we are used to’ is that ‘normally’ whistleblowing exposes illegal or fraudulent activities a) for direct public interest and b) upwards in the chain of command. The war logs being different to this, but no less worthy. Anyway, that’s what I meant.

    The cables I don’t think have been shown to be of a whistleblowing nature. Some were embarrassing, some named informants, some named secure sites, some gave details of world leaders opinions of each other. Nothing here speaks to the public interest – in my mind anyway.

    So I guess I was just saying not everything stolen and shared should necessarily count under the ‘moral imperative’ bar.

  18. MLF

    My dear Elan, no, I’m not American. No offence taken.

    Remember, I don’t think the good old Uncle Sam is all that good either. I just try to keep it balanced and evaluate each point on its particular merits. You know how it is: some people see the moral deficit apparent in US activities and therefore see Assange/Wiki as the world’s saviour. I don’t. I can see the failing of the US but also the inadequacies in the whole Wiki/Assange shamozzle.

    I have great sympathy for Pvt Manning. But he did what he did with his eyes wide open and if we are to say that his actions showed the US to be the big bad guy that it is – and therefore Manning/Wiki should bear no consequence – well to me that says “means justifies ends”.

    And that’s exactly the same argument Blair and Bush used for Iraq.

  19. MLF

    Bollocks. I meant: “ends justifies means”.

  20. Michael James

    @Twobob. I served in the military and understand the basis for military discipline, something that most of the people here don’t.

    If Manning had handed to the Chinese secret police the online records and emails of members of anti-Chinese dissident groups, would you be so accommodating of his actions? I think not.

    When you sign up to the military you sign up to a code of conduct and a military code of discipline which is at variance from the more permissive norms of civil society, for the simple reason that civil society does not require its members to go out and put their lives on the line on a regular basis to prevent other people from visiting their particular brand of ideology on our society.

    You may not like that, however you have the luxury to be a member of a siociety where dissent is protected. We have seen what happens when someone dissents from the Taliban or Al Quaida. Personally I prefer our system, and wore the uniforn to defend our system from theirs.

    Manning broke the law, no matter how much people here may try to place it into some sort of grey context, he signed up to a defined code of conduct, with strong penalties for breaking that code, and then proceeded to break that code. Not surprisingl, he is paying the penalty for it.

    Manning will be tried in a military tribunal for the offences of passing classified information to someone not authorised to receive it. That may be considered spying, it may not, depends on the specific legislation, however he will, if found guilty, be incarcerated for some time.

    Break the law, get caught, be convicted and do the time. Thats how it works for Manning, the same as you. You steal, you get caught, you get tried and if convicted pay the penalty.

  21. baal

    @ michael james: What would that ‘code’ he supposedly signed up to actually say about preventing other people ‘from visiting their particular brand of ideology on our society’? Or is that just a theoretical assumption you have made about what the military thinks its duty is? Happy to be enlightened on this. It just nags me a little that the way you interpret military duty might excuse, condone or even advocate all kinds of political actions (by the military) against perceived enemies. I know you are doing us a service trying to tie it down to a black and white case of giving away secrets but your ancilliary argument is alarmingly loose, so please elaborate.

  22. Elan

    I wish I could just watch the telly. I like telly, some people don’t, but it’s the only thing that relaxes me-if I could just stay out of these discussions. But I can’t. I just can’t.

    I’ve said this before,-either here, or elsewhere. And MICHAEL JAMES, you would have some idea about my reluctance for detail.

    I was third generation military. I followed my father and brothers into the Service. Suffice it to say, I worked in military aviation. Just like the Pater I followed the trend and went into law afterward. Pathetic really, but that was the way it was. (Having watched Immigration Nation last night, I count my blessings that this was in the UK. I doubt that White Australia would have let someone of my skintone into service in the OzMil,- they were reluctant to let me into the country as it was!)

    I know the military. Three generations of service added up to nearly 100 years for our family!!
    My father before his death, was one of the ex. military that tried to stop the Iraq invasion. He and many others wrote to Blair (grief!! I wrote that ‘Bliar’ the first time. Very Freudian!).

    I have long argued that (in modern history. How far do we go back?),-the military has been used as an Attack Force and not a Defence Force. To that end I will NEVER go with the ‘he was a soldier, he should follow orders-he is therefore a traitor….’.

    I know the old man was VERY perturbed about the nature of engagements in the latter part of the 20C. He was appalled at the rationale for the Iraq invasion. And I am absolutely certain he would endorse what I’m saying.

    If you want to argue the rationale that:- ‘once you put on a uniform, you do not question anything. You do not feel. You do not get emotionally involved. You follow orders. Because you are wearing that uniform’,-then I am more than comfortable discussing that at some length.

    I can match and raise you on military experience, I suspect.

    It has become imperative to question. It has become critical to stop the humanitarian abuses that the West seems to get away with, but that the East is so rightly condemned for.

    IF..if Manning has done what he is accused of, then he is a very courageous human-being. I hold Manning as FAR more courageous than the Assange team, if Manning has done what he is accused of.

    In your enthusiasms to condemn Manning,-you choose to ignore his disgraceful treatment. A cold calculated and deliberate attempt to break him. This behaviour is being carried out ‘in plain sight’ by an allied country. A country that dragged smaller nations into its revenge engagement by using a very subtle force over them. A country with the blood soaked stain of Abu Ghraib,-of Guantanamo-and countless breaches of human rights.

    And Manning is a bad guy!!

    The distinction I make between Assange and Manning, is that Manning has received a fraction of the attention that has Assange. That is an outrage.

    But BOTH are necessary. Both are very courageous. Both have been long overdue.

    I will repeat it again and AGAIN: there are those who control,-and those who do their will. It is the global World Order. It has led to the innocent deaths of millions as time has passed.

    “Do not question what we do, for we know what is good for you.
    Do not seek to ask us why, for ours is but to do, and yours is but to die”

    Perhaps there was a time; a feudal time when we obeyed. We did as we were told. But this is the late 20 early 21C and now we are starting to ask WHY?

    Manning was asking WHY?
    Assange (and importantly all his group) are asking WHY?

    Not before time. We have gone too far. World Order still demands that the poor get poorer; the rich get richer.
    …………………………..that we do the bidding of powerful men (women?),- and a superpower becomes omnipotent and countless lives are lost.

    Not least the families of service personnel who must-MUST be proud of their family member when they are handed a f.ucking flag in exchange for their life. For these types of unjustifiable engagements.

    I would never;-could NEVER decry the job a military man/woman has to do,-BUT, the ethic of their Government-or the palpable lack of ethic IS starting to show in the ranks. Some of these personnel are vicious bloody thugs!

    There is an incalculable amount at stake here. What is at stake is the principle that I wrote that ‘poem’ over.

    It is requisite of those that control, that we MUST do their bidding. It is how the world has turned. But WE pay; NOT them!

    If the alleged actions of Bradley Manning ore true then that young man has my undying respect.
    Assange has also, because he broke the journalistic embedded style of hack reporting-he kicked the sh.it out of it.

    Both of these men, BOTH are remarkable. And this global society has suffered, and will continue to suffer if their like are subjugated, are suffocated; are stopped.

    My father served with honour. My brothers served with honour. I served with honour.

    What our compatriots are being asked to do today is NOT honourable., and it is turning many of them into cold blooded killers.

    DON’T give me ‘the terrorists are killers thing’. We KNOW it. We condemn them. We do not need to turn into them.

    No damned apologies for the length of this post.

  23. MLF

    NYT is now reporting that Pvt Manning has to sleep naked and present naked for daily inspections.

    “Lieutenant Villiard said the new rule on clothing, which would continue indefinitely, had been imposed by the brig commander, Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes. He said that he was not allowed to explain what prompted it “because to discuss the details would be a violation of Manning’s privacy.”

    Unlike having is bollocks on show a couple of times a day.

  24. Elan

    B.ASTARDS. Absolute b.astards.

  25. Pedrojs

    Elan, thank you for your insightful comment on Friday!

    @Michael, whistleblowers on military & govt lies should be celebrated not tortured, as it would take great courage to break rank in the public interest. Of course the military and govt would be able to claim the right to lock someone up for these breaches but the very least the public should be demanding is the humane treatment of Manning leading up to a fair trial.

  26. Michael James

    It appears that there is a fundamental disconnect apparent on this site regarding Manning’s actions and consequences.

    He passed clasified material to a person not authorised to receive it, and got caught. That is what he will be tried on. There are rules under which members of the military operate and he broke those rules.

    Therefore he will be tried for breaking the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the code which governs members of the US Military.

    People here have shown sympathy with the results of his actions, however the military is trying him for the crime he carried out.

    The trial will determine if he did in fact steal classified material and pass it to others not authorised to receive it. If proven, then his sentence will be as outlined in the UMCJ for that offence.

    You may have sympathies for what he did, you may hate the US for various reasons, however he will be tried for his actions and if convicted will pay the penalty for that act.

    On that point, all your thoughts, sympathies and such, are irrelevant.

    If I had done the same while covered by the Australian Defence Force Discipline Act, then I too would be charged, tried and if found guilty, sentenced.

  27. Bob the builder

    Regardless of the technical legalities and one’s position on being a US-syncophant or not, the point is the discretionary pre-trial punishment that is being meted out to the accused. I would bet money on the butchers of Faluja not being treated this way, or the killers in the leaked helicopter footage for that matter. Cold-blooded murder seems more acceptable than the light of truth. Manning is not just being charged for these crimes; he is being extra-judicially punished before trial in an extreme way.

  28. Elan

    ‘Fundamental disconnect’ ?

    “He passed clasified material to a person not authorised to receive it,…”


    “The trial will determine if he did in fact steal classified material…”

    Now THAT is a ‘fundamental disconnect’!

    THAT is the type of statement that differs with itself,because the initial statement is to condemn-which IS your focus MICHAEL JAMES, and then the reluctant concession to ‘due process’!

    Both are wrong!

    It is somewhat galling to spend time explaining what is so ‘fundamentally’ wrong about this, – have it blithely dismissed with that absurd phrase,-and THEN make the bald assertion that Manning didpass classified documents!!


    ………..and further: ‘the trial will determine’ ??!! Will it now! I suppose we could agree on those first four words, but for completely different reasons….

    Manning is a marked man. Do you think the West incapable of show trials? Have you seen any evidence that the USA does notconduct such trials?

    Trot out the same blind obedience rationale if you must MJ- it has been seen for what it is for quite some time now. I see no loyalty; no integrity in the military man who subsequently defends brutality with the ‘I was just following orders’ thing. Many captured N.azi’s used the same rationale.

    NO military person I have ever known has been comfortable serving alongside men and women who could not think for themselves.

    So spare me your military by rote logic. It has caused so much damage to its own and to others.

  29. Fitz

    @ Elan

    Please calm down and take your pills. I don’t see anyone denying that the reports of Manning’s treatment suggest he is being treated very badly, even if there is no conscious attempt to render him unable to defend himself or embarrass the government. Your nitpicking about Michael James’s perfectly clear argument is just that, petty nitpicking. Unless you are seriously trying to persuade others that Michael James is so bereft of logical capacity that he would not be perfectly well aware that saying or suggesting someone is guilty and also noting that he has yet to be tried so as to determine his guilt and that the trial will determine his guilt or innocence contains a superficial inconsistency.

    Maybe he wrongly credited even you with being able to mentally subedit the follow up post you are referring to.

  30. Elan

    Please calm down and take my pills???………….come now, that’s not even original!!

    What a delightful piece of ‘don’t you be unkind to Michael’. I think that’s sweet!

    Other than than, I see no reason to change anything I’ve said; even at the risk of offending the Michael James’ Fan Club!!

    Strewth! is MJ sitting somewhere crying?

    “…saying or suggesting someone is guilty and also noting that he has yet to be tried so as to determine his guilt and that the trial will determine his guilt or innocence contains a superficial inconsistency.”

    And you are telling me to ‘calm down’ ??!!

    …….. somehow I don’t think that you are in any position to talk about logic….

  31. Sean

    Posted Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 7:18 pm | Permalink
    Back, almost, to GR’s article. Isn’t it obvious that, amongst the hundreds of thousands who, after 9/11 were given the access that Manning had, the Chinese and Russians have found a few who will have given them all those secrets for money or because of blackmail? Wikileaks ought to be thanked for showing us how unsafe our secrets are in the hands of the Americans.

    hmm, that’s a good point. With 2 million users with access to the diplomatic cable system, with poor security, as Manning has been alleged to confess to Lamo, it’s highly likely the Chinese authorities knew what Rudd thought about them without Wikileaks publishing it — quite some time before, possibly.

    Fomr a defence lawyer’s perspective, quite a few of the comments above need to have the word ‘alleged’ inserted in them in many places.

  32. freecountry

    There’s some validity to Michael James’ point about the crime Manning is alleged (thanks, Sean) to have committed. It’s a very serious crime. Being a citizen of the United States does not require an oath of loyalty to the state, because it’s not a f@scist state. (We used to be able to say the same in Australia but we have those “citizenship values” now.) However, signing up for military service is voluntary and it does require an oath of loyalty.

    If the soldier finds himself being ordered to do illegal things, there is no Nuremberg defence and it behoves the soldier to refuse the order. If the soldier must follow the order to save his own life then it behoves him to report it to the authorities afterwards. There are all sorts of places he can legally report it: military police, senior officers, Department of Justice, or in extremis, even his Congress member. If he has a change of heart and decides the whole campaign is immoral, he can request a discharge at the next opportunity. No matter what he chooses to do, the fact remains he has sworn an oath of his own free will and he must keep it.

    None of this justifies cruel and unusual punishment while awaiting trial, and as Acidic Muse points out, that in itself is illegal and reprehensible if that’s what’s happening.

  33. Elan

    I cannot disagree.

    What I have pointed out, and will continue to point out is that if-IF there is increasing evidence of human rights abuse both by an act or acts,-and effectively by those charged with countering such abuse (I offer Manning’s treatment as an example-I can provide many others), then one is left with little option but to go outside the ‘system’ because that system has failed.

    There appears to be clear evidence of human rights abuse in the case of Manning, as I’ve said,- but of course that throws up another aspect. Manning already stands ‘condemned’ !

    He is not being treated as innocent until proven guilty,-he is being treated as guilty-pre trial!

    Do any of you think this is a ‘one off’ ? It’s the first time it has happened? Rhetorical. I already know the answer.

    In essence,-to use a modern parlance, the opinion of some here is ‘in the box’.
    That box has failed. It has failed repeatedly. It has been seen to do so.

    My opinion is based on ‘thinking outside the box’.

    It is an opinion held by an increasing number of people, and for me personally it has taken over twenty years to develop. And it is strengthening.

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