Bradley Manning, the gay soldier accused of providing classified government documents to website WikiLeaks, was formally charged today but postponed entering a plea, the Associated Press reports.
There are 22 charges against Manning, including aiding the enemy, which in his case carries a maximum sentence of life in prison (it can carry the death penalty, which prosecutors decided not to seek for Manning). The other charges have a maximum combined sentence of 150 years.
A plea can be entered up until the beginning of a trial. Manning also deferred a decision on whether to be tried by a military judge or by a jury. Col. Denise Lind, the military judge who presided over today’s proceedings at Fort Meade, Md., scheduled another court session for March 15-16 but did not set a trial date. Manning’s defense team wants a trial no later than June, while government lawyers said they might not be ready until August. The defense says that would interfere with Manning’s right to a speedy trial.
Manning, arrested in May 2010, is accused of providing WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents. His lawyers say he was in a fragile emotional state and should not have been allowed access to such documents, nor should he have been sent to Iraq, where he was serving prior to his arrest. It has been reported that Manning was unhappy about conditions created by the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and that he had consulted a therapist about gender identity issues.
After his arrest, he spent nearly a year in solitary confinement under harsh conditions in a maximum-security military prison in Quantico, Va. Several human rights activists spoke out against his treatment, and he was transferred to a medium-security facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., last spring, where his circumstances reportedly improved. Read anAdvocate commentary on Manning’s case here.
Lt. Dan Choi Scraps MPs At Manning Hearing (Update)
The Advocate reports:
While gay activist and former Army lieutenant Dan Choi was ejected Monday from the military base where suspected WikiLeaks source Pvt. Bradley Manning is facing court-martial proceedings, Choi is apparently allowed to return for future hearings. Over the weekend Choi attended the hearings at Fort Meade in Maryland. He returned Monday with Daniel Ellsberg, famous for leaking the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, which published the reports in 1971. According to Politico, they were told to wait because the hearing was under way. While waiting in the courtyard, Choi saw another service member and called his name several times, but the sergeant did not respond. Choi said that’s when he was forced to leave the grounds. Choi told Politico that military authorities said he was heckling, but he disputes the claim. He said six military police officers pinned him to the ground, handcuffed him, and damaged part of his dress uniform. He was eventually released and was not charged, but he was told he could not return to the hearing for the rest of that day. Today, an Army spokesperson told Politico that Choi violated policy by creating a disturbance when he was “calling out ranks and names of individuals in uniform supporting the procedures.” The spokesperson’s statement appeared to allow Choi’s attendance at further hearings. Manning, who turned 24 this week, has been detained in a military prison for more than a year on suspicion of providing the owners of the website WikiLeaks with confidential government information.
UPDATE: Dan Choi has been banned from future hearings. Politico reports:
A retired Army lieutenant and prominent opponent of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, Dan Choi, says he was wrestled to the ground and handcuffed Monday while trying to attend the hearing at a Maryland military base for accused WikiLeaks source Pvt. Bradley Manning. “They said I was heckling. I definitely was not heckling,” Choi said in a telephone interview Monday morning. “They used six MPs to pin me down to the ground. They handcuffed me. I still can’t feel my right hand. They were so rough they ripped my rank off, the epaulets.” Choi attended the last two days of Manning’s preliminary hearing at Ft. Meade, wearing his full dress uniform, but he never made it into the courtroom on Monday. Choi said that when he drove to the base Monday, accompanied by Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, they were held at the gate for about ten minutes. “They said, well, ‘It’s because you’re wearing the uniform,’” Choi said. “I said, ‘I’m allowed to wear the uniform. I have an honorable discharge.’…It’s the first time I’ve had an issue with this from anybody.” Choi said when he and Ellsberg arrived at the courthouse, they weren’t allowed into the courtroom because the session was underway. He said security personnel insisted they hadn’t been delayed to keep them from the hearing, but Choi said he believed that was the reason they were delayed. Choi said that while waiting in the courtyard near the courthouse, he called out the name of a sergeant who was handling a canine dog, but the soldier didn’t respond. “Usually, when a veteran or a military officer calls out your name, you respond,” Choi said. He said it was after he called the sergeant’s name out a few times that he was arrested. Choi said he was told he was resisting arrest by standing still as the MP’s tried to arrest him. He said he was later released and was never charged, but has been told he cannot return to the hearing for as long as it continues. An Army spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the incident. Ellsberg made it into the hearing at a later break, but he too apparently got into trouble. “Security sought to remove @DanielEllsberg from #Manning courtroom for saying hello & expressing support to Bradley during court recess,” a WikiLeaks lawyer attending the session, Jen Robinson, said on Twitter. No word on how he’s getting home.
A Norwegian lawmaker has nominated WikiLeaks for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, saying Wednesday that its disclosures of classified documents promote world peace by holding governments accountable for their actions. The Norwegian Nobel Committee keeps candidates secret for 50 years, but those with nomination rights sometimes make their picks known. Snorre Valen, a 26-year-old legislator from Norway’s Socialist Left Party, told The Associated Press he handed in his nomination in person on Tuesday, the last day to put forth candidates. “I think it is important to raise a debate about freedom of expression and that truth is always the first casualty in war,” Valen said. “WikiLeaks wants to make governments accountable for their actions and that contributes to peace.” Valen also announced his choice on his blog, where he wrote that WikiLeaks had advanced the struggle for human rights, democracy and freedom of speech, just like last year’s winner, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Valen cited disclosures of nepotism and corruption in Tunisia’s presidential family, saying WikiLeaks “made a small contribution to bringing down” that regime. The prize committee typically receives more than 200 nominations, so being nominated doesn’t say anything about a candidate’s chances of actually winning. And there’s no way of knowing for sure that people who announce candidates actually submitted a legitimate nomination to the award committee. Kristian Harpsviken, a leading Nobel-watcher and director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, said he didn’t consider WikiLeaks as a strong candidate for the 10 million kronor ($1.6 million) award. “The reason I think it’s unlikely is that there has been so much criticism of WikiLeaks, not least how they have handled identification issues of people in the documents,” he said. “I don’t think it quite does the trick.” Harpsviken keeps a list of “possible and confirmed nominations,” based on public announcements and his own sources. His list this year includes WikiLeaks as well as Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of leaking material to the website. Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva, Afghan human rights advocate Sima Samar, and several rights groups including U.S.-based Wings of Hope and Cuban opposition movement Damas de Blanco are also on the list. His own top guess is Russian rights group Memorial, followed by activists Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Ory Okolloh of Kenya. The committee will announce the winner in October.
“No organization anywhere in the world is a more devoted advocate of free speech than WikiLeaks but when senior politicians and attention-seeking media commentators call for specific individuals or groups of people to be killed, they should be charged with incitement — to murder,… We call on US authorities and others to protect the rule of law by aggressively investigating these and similar incitements to kill. A civil nation of laws cannot have prominent members of society constantly calling for the murder and assassination of other individuals or groups.”
(Founder of WikiLeaks) talking about the shooting in Arizona.
A man walks inside the Pionen high-security computer storage facility of Swedish Bahnhof, one of the companies to host WikiLeaks servers on Dec. 9, 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. The Pionen White Mountain data center, once a cold-war era bunker and nuclear shelter, is now home of one of the most intense data centers in the world.
Damn, Just think about the secrets that remain inside (Still).
Just hours after MasterCard’s website was disabled by WikiLeaks supporters, Visa.com is now down as well. Via its Twitter account (@Anon_Operation), Anonymous, an activist hacker group, claimed responsibility for the denial of service attack—part of “Operation Payback”—that brought down Visa.com. “TARGET: WWW.VISA.COM :: FIRE FIRE FIRE!!! WEAPONS http://bit.ly/e6iR3X ::: SET YOUR LOIC TO irc.anonops.net ::: #DDOS #PAYBACK #WIKILEAKS,” Anonymous tweeted. Shortly after it posted a tweet thatWWW.VISA.COM :: FIRE FIRE FIRE!!! WEAPONS http://bit.ly/e6iR3X ::: SET YOUR LOIC TO irc.anonops.net ::: #DDOS #PAYBACK #WIKILEAKS,” Anonymous tweeted. Shortly after it posted a tweet that read, ” IT’S DOWN! KEEP FIRING!!! #DDOS #PAYBACK #WIKILEAKS.” Anonymous explains that Operation Payback is “an ongoing campaign by Anonymous against major anti-piracy & anti-freedom entities.” MasterCard and Visa are among many sites that have been targeted—and taken down—by “hacktivists.” Websites belonging to Swiss bank PostFinance, Senator Joe Lieberman, PayPal, and Sarah Palin have also been disabled. Like MasterCard, Visa also announced that it would suspend payments to WikiLeaks, a move that has rankled WikiLeaks supporters.
What’s funny about this is that the hackers took the time to shut down Sarah Palin’s website.
Here’s an Op Ed from Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. In it, he notes that the cables revealed so far (only like 300 out of some 250,000, by the way) show:
► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.
► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.
► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran’s nuclear program stopped by any means available.
► Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.
► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.
► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.
Wow, this guy must be nuts for doing this. Diplomatic relationships around the globe were shaken. Hypocrisy (the Art of Diplomacy) has been shown at it’s finest and darkest. Let’s see how far this goes.
Just a couple of months after telling a gathering of gay conservatives that “marriage is not a civil right,” commentator Ann Coulter is proving once again that she’s no friend to gays. In her latest syndicated column she uses Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of funneling classified documents to WikiLeaks, to argue against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” “Look at the disaster one gay created under our punishing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” Coulter writes. “What else awaits America with the overturning of a policy that was probably put there for a reason?” She allows that “the vast majority of gays are loyal Americans — and witty and stylish to boot!” but says DADT should be maintained because “a small percentage of gays are going to be narcissistic hothouse flowers like Bradley Manning.” She also asks, “Couldn’t they just work for JetBlue?” and says that Manning’s pretense of singing along to a Lady Gaga CD while downloading secret documents amounts to “telling” under DADT. “What constitutes being ‘openly’ gay now?” Coulter writes. “Bringing a spice rack to basic training? Attending morning drills decked out as a Cher impersonator? Following Anderson Cooper on Twitter?” She uses various examples of gay men caught spying to claim out-of-the-closet gays are unfit for military service, and even cites one who was no spy but merely a journalist who renounced right-wing ideology — her onetime friend David Brock, who went on to found the watchdog group Media Matters.
Coulter’s piece manages to work in references to Cher, Lady Gaga, Liza Minnelli, Patti LaBelle, “butt-less chaps,” The Wizard Of Oz, Halloween, Greenwich Village, and Steven Slater.
If you want to read the full article (don’t blame me if you end up mad), click here.
UPDATE: Ok, the Article Ann wrote, is beyond offensive and full of bigotry. She implies that just because the most damaging spy-related betrayed in British history were most of them gay (The most damaging spies in British history were the Cambridge Five, also called “the “Magnificent Five”: Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean and John Cairncross. They were highly placed members of British intelligence, all secretly working for the KGB.) she’s implying that just because this guy leak classified info, the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy is justified. That because of this guys, every single debate about DADT should begging with the examination of this case. What a bimbo.
No need to explain to my followers that there’s loyal people and traitors everywhere. The fact that Pfc. Bradley Manning is gay just means just that he’s gay. (Also proves that Gay spies are more intelligent, without regarding to their loyalty)
And her gay jokes are pretty lame. A mediocre drunk stand up comedian in a cheap pub in Queens would have done a better job. There, I’ve said it.
US has lost faith in Mexico’s ability to win drugs war, WikiLeaks cables show
The Guardian reports:
The US has lost confidence in the Mexican army’s ability to win the country’s drugs war, branding it slow, clumsy and no match for “sophisticated” narco-traffickers. Classified diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks also reveal a growing sense of alarm within Mexico’s government that time is running out in the battle against organised crime and that it could “lose” entire regions. The memos detail blunders in the fight against drug cartels and a desperate search for a new strategy to save President Felipe Calderón’s administration from a bloodsoaked fiasco. The assessments, made in a cable to Washington earlier this year, are bleak contrast to Mexican insistence that the state is prevailing in a war declared by Calderón in 2006. Four years later drug-related violence has killed more than 28,000 people and brought cities such as Ciudad Juárez and Tijuana to the brink of anarchy, with mayors, police chiefs and ordinary people gunned down with impunity and beheadings shockingly common. Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez, the undersecretary for governance, told US diplomats that “pervasive, debilitating fear” had infected even relatively safe parts of the country. “He expressed a real concern with ‘losing’ certain regions.” US diplomats painted a scathing picture of Mexico’s armed forces, singling out the army as bureaucratic, parochial, outdated and unfit to combat drug trafficking organisations (DTOs). “Mexican security institutions are often locked in a zero-sum competition in which one agency’s success is viewed as another’s failure, information is closely guarded, and joint operations are all but unheard of. Official corruption is widespread, leading to a compartmentalized siege mentality among ‘clean’ law enforcement leaders and their lieutenants.” The cable laments that only 2% of those detained for organised crime-related offences were brought to trial and said the army was “incapable” of processing information and evidence for judicial cases. “It has taken a serious beating on human rights issues from international and domestic human rights organizations, who argue with considerable basis, in fact that the military is ill-equipped for a domestic policing role.” It was a stinging verdict on the decision of Calderón, a White House ally, to deploy tens of thousands of troops, especially in Ciudad Juárez where narcos ran rings around them. “The DTOs are sophisticated players: they can wait out a military deployment; they have an almost unlimited human resource pool to draw from in the marginalised neighborhoods; and they can fan complaints about human rights violations to undermine any progress the military might make with hearts and minds.” The diplomats also criticised the “dysfunctionally low level of collaboration” between Mexican military and civilian authorities along the border. They praised Mexico’s navy as a nimbler force which took down the drug lord Arturo Beltrán Leyva but even that risked a downside of making the army, the navy’s institutional rival, more defensive and risk-averse. The classified cables reveal the depth of US concern about its neighbour and partly explain why in September Hillary Clinton compared Mexico to insurgency-plagued 1980s Colombia and floated the possibility of US troops intervening. Mexican officials indignantly rejected the secretary of state’s comments. Privately, Gutierrez Fernandez admitted to US officials that Mexico bungled the early phase of the Mérida Initiative, a security pact between the US, Mexico and central America, by focusing too much on equipment rather than competent personnel and institutions. “Gutierrez went on to say, however, that he now realizes there is not even time for the institution building to take hold in the remaining years of the Calderon administration.” If there was no tangible success within 18 months the next government would have difficulty sustaining the drugs war, said the minister. Gutierrez and Jorge Tello Péon, the national security system coordinator, said despite setbacks Mexico would “stay the course” and asked the Americans to aid a new strategy focusing on the most violent cities. “If we could turn around Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, and one other city such as Culiacán, it would solve 60% of the violence, and send a signal to the Mexican people that the war can be won,” reported the cable. It urged Washington to back the strategy. The US diplomats noted that Mexico’s president had recognised the failure of army deployments and replaced troops with federal police. “Calderón has openly admitted to having a tough year … and contacts have told (political officers) that he has seemed ‘down’ in meetings.” Last month, in an interview with the BBC, Calderón insisted that as long as the US remained the biggest consumer of drugs in the world, the terror wrought by the drug cartels in Mexico would continue. “They [the Americans] have a clear responsibility in this because they are providing the market for the drug dealers and the criminals,” President Calderón said. “They need to do a lot more in terms of reducing the consumption of drugs and to stop the flow of weapons towards Mexico.
Well, now that the shit has hit the fan, it’s time for Damaging Control. Americans know who to keep being the centre of attention.
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