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Bradley Manning Sentenced
August 21, 2013 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Whistleblower Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years for releasing documents to Wikileaks. Amnesty International, the ACLU, and other rights groups have decried the verdict.
posted by anemone of the state (397 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
America is not the country we were told it was. The fact that I'm not shocked by this verdict is, well, shocking.

(Love the username, anemone.)
posted by andreaazure at 8:43 AM on August 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


Center for Constitutional Rights: Manning Should Never Have Been Prosecuted
posted by anemone of the state at 8:44 AM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


.

Most transparent administration EVAR!!!1
posted by entropicamericana at 8:45 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bradley Manning isn't a "whistleblower". A whistleblower knows about a criminal act, and exposes it. Manning released over 300,000 documents. He didn't read them. He doesn't know what was contained in the vast majority of those documents. That's not whistleblowing.

Maybe he has some philosophical adversion of "secrecy", but he could not possibly know what information he was unleashing. Surely there was some exposure of wrongdoing, but he couldn't, and didn't try to, evaluate the impact of his actions. A generic belief that secrets are bad is not whistleblowing.

I agree the sentence is way too harsh, however.
posted by spaltavian at 8:45 AM on August 21, 2013 [66 favorites]


Daily Bugle: always relevant.
posted by tzikeh at 8:47 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


@PaulLewis: Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, tells me Bradley Manning's 35-year sentence will not deter all future whistleblowers.
posted by anemone of the state at 8:49 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


A whistleblowers knows about a criminal act, and exposes it.

It's perhaps some small comfort that Manning wasn't found guilty of aiding the enemy, I guess. Because that would have meant that any journalist could officially be made into a terrorist, other persona non grata or just another drone magnet at the whim of Obama and whichever Presidents follow him.

Though given Manning's exposure of the criminal activities behind Collateral Murder, for instance, journalists are already targets of the US government.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:51 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


spaltavian:

Bradley Manning is by any definition a whistleblower. He came across evidence of numerous crimes, including serious war crimes. He had only a short time, a very short time in which to deal with the cache of evidence he had - so he gave it to a group he perceived as responsible in order to sort it through.

The proof of how responsible Wikileaks was, the proof the success of this is that so far no one has identified even one person who was harmed by this disclosures.

What you're saying is that he should not have exposed these crimes - he should have shut up and done nothing.

Do note that no one has served even a minute in jail for any of the war crimes revealed - even the awful ones actually shown on video in "Collateral Murder". Why aren't you calling for the actual criminals, who, you know, actually killed innocent people, to suffer any consequences?

(EDIT: added a little more - I pressed "Save" instead of "Preview".)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:51 AM on August 21, 2013 [60 favorites]


Whether you call him* a whistleblower or a traitor or a choir boy* or a puppy kicker, he* didn't deserve the solitary confinement and other horrid treatment he's already gotten. And will likely receive in the next 35 years.

*I'm not sure of the correct pronouns to use here due to different reports about hir gender identity/status.
posted by desjardins at 8:54 AM on August 21, 2013 [26 favorites]


Oh, good, we're going to have the Manning-as-whistleblower argument again. I'm sure that will be helpful to the users, the site and the world at large. This time will totally be different.
posted by Etrigan at 8:54 AM on August 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


Manning also got credit for time served, and received a sentencing credit for the abusive conditions he endured. With that, and some other stuff, he could be paroled as early as 2021.

The sentence is surprisingly light, given what prosecutors had asked for.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:55 AM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yes, let's split the same goddamned hairs. Manning is a national hero, flaws and all.
posted by planetesimal at 8:56 AM on August 21, 2013 [25 favorites]


How likely is he to get parole?
I've seen the point that he will be eligible for parole after about 8 years presented on Twitter:
a) by govt supporters who say this is far too soon ( implying he will be probably be released with good behavior at 8 year mark) and the sentence is a slap in the face of prosecution ( who asked for 60 years minimum)
B) by Wikileaks supporters who say this parole eligibility timeframe (again implying he will relatively easily get out at 8 years) means a strategic victory for Wikileaks/Manning

These are minority views, to be sure - I am just wondering how credible is the belief , shared by both sides, that Manning getting released on parole will be straightforward.
posted by Bwithh at 8:56 AM on August 21, 2013


I'll call him a self-sacrificing hero, thanks.
posted by gman at 8:56 AM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


He confessed to enough charges to earn him this sentence, let alone the other things which were proved during his trial.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:56 AM on August 21, 2013


I'm not a fan of what Manning did and feel that some jail time was necessary, but 35 years? That's overly harsh. 10-15 at the extreme most, including time served.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:58 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: A whistleblowers knows about a criminal act, and exposes it.

It's perhaps some small comfort that Manning wasn't found guilty of aiding the enemy, I guess


I agree, and I thought even making that charge was absurd and prosecutorial overreach.

lupus_yonderboy: Bradley Manning is by any definition a whistleblower. He came across evidence of numerous crimes, including serious war crimes.

...and released 300,000 documents? There is no way to make that sound reasonable.

the proof the success of this is that so far no one has identified even one person who was harmed by this disclosures.

Which is why I agree that his sentence here was far too harsh. That doesn't somehow retroactively making what he did "whistleblowing".

Etrigan: Oh, good, we're going to have the Manning-as-whistleblower argument again. I'm sure that will be helpful to the users, the site and the world at large. This time will totally be different.

Whether what you believe he did counts as "whistleblowing" is obviously going to have a major bearing on what you think about his conviction and sentencing.
posted by spaltavian at 8:59 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think Manning deserved some punishment, because we really don't want our military, intelligence, or law enforcement officials ignoring their orders and regulations whenever they see fit. MeFi agrees with Manning, so MeFi wants to see him freed, but it has to be one rule for both soldiers who disobey orders in ways that MeFi approves of and soldiers that disobey orders in ways that MeFi would find horrifying. That said, 35 years is disproportionate, and no one, guilty or not, deserves to be tortured. Not even, say, NSA staff, who lie under oath.
posted by tyllwin at 9:01 AM on August 21, 2013 [20 favorites]


There is no way to make that sound reasonable.

Our definitions of "reasonable" differ, I guess!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:01 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


You were a brave man Bradley Manning. Stay strong.
You helped open a lot of people's eyes. I hope your backers support system is of benefit for you and that your acts are never forgotten.
For Collateral Murder alone you win the highest praise. The rest was above the call of duty to inform the rest of us what a shitpile your government has become.
posted by adamvasco at 9:01 AM on August 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


International comparison of Manning sentence suggests US is harsher than peers
posted by Bwithh at 9:03 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


planetesimal: Yes, let's split the same goddamned hairs. Manning is a national hero, flaws and all.

This is idiotic. The difference between exposing a crime and doing a massive file dump is huge, not hair splitting. If you uncovered fraud at a bank, would you release everything, including customer account information? Or just the documents that prove fraud?

If anything other than righteous lefty indigation gets in the way of your hero worship, feel free to skip my comments.
posted by spaltavian at 9:03 AM on August 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


@ggreenwald Obama admin: we aggressively prosecute those who expose war crimes, and diligently protect those who commit them.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:03 AM on August 21, 2013 [22 favorites]


What's idiotic is trotting out stats without looking at why he released information that should not have been classified in the first place.
posted by planetesimal at 9:04 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


MeFi agrees with Manning, so MeFi wants to see him freed, but it has to be one rule for both soldiers who disobey orders in ways that MeFi approves of and soldiers that disobey orders in ways that MeFi would find horrifying.

Please don't speak for all of us.
posted by kinetic at 9:04 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since this is about sentencing, I looked up a recent Navy court martial summary for one month. FWIW, the closest sentence I could find to Manning's was a First Mate who repeatedly raped a 8-year old girl whom he coached in soccer.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:05 AM on August 21, 2013 [28 favorites]


This is idiotic. The difference between exposing a crime and doing a massive file document is huge, not hair splitting. If you uncovered fraud at a bank, would you release everything, including customer account information? Or just the documents that prove fraud?

If that bank was murdering people I'd grab everything. Who knows what else they're up to?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:06 AM on August 21, 2013 [37 favorites]


Etrigan: Oh, good, we're going to have the Manning-as-whistleblower argument again. I'm sure that will be helpful to the users, the site and the world at large. This time will totally be different.

Whether what you believe he did counts as "whistleblowing" is obviously going to have a major bearing on what you think about his conviction and sentencing.


I'm okay with "I don't think Manning was a whistleblower, therefore X." "I do think Manning was a whistleblower, therefore Y." But the first parts of those sentences have long been hashed out here -- we did it barely three weeks ago when Manning was convicted. Has anyone's mind changed in the interim, or is this just going to be more "YUH-HUH!" "NUH-UH!" shouting as regards everything that happened before today?
posted by Etrigan at 9:06 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know what's unreasonable to me? A buck private having access to 300,000 "sensitive" documents. So either our Army's security procedures suck or maybe these documents weren't all that sensitive. Either way, Manning doesn't deserve to be excoriated for his actions.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:06 AM on August 21, 2013 [24 favorites]


planetesimal: What's idiotic is trotting out stats without looking at why he released information that should not have been classified in the first place.

Once again, that's an anti-secrecy philsophical position, not whistleblowing. I'm not sure what "stats" you think I am trotting out other than the widely reported number of documents he leaked.
posted by spaltavian at 9:06 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


spaltavian:

My comment wasn't that long and in it I wrote:

> He had only a short time, a very short time in which to deal with the cache of evidence he had - so he gave it to a group he perceived as responsible in order to sort it through.

What, exactly, would you suggest he do? Given that he found a huge cache of documents, many of which showed crimes and many more of which showed dishonestly or serious malfeasance on the part of the US government, and that he (correctly) perceived that he only had a few hours before getting caught, what should he have done?

I'd also add, as someone else above did, that most of the information should never have been classed as secret.

As a concrete example from the past: considering that the release of the Pentagon Papers was much more breaking of secrecy and did not reveal any actual crimes, should Daniel Ellsberg have gone to jail for over 35 years?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:08 AM on August 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


> Once again, that's an anti-secrecy philsophical position, not whistleblowing.

Documents were deliberately misclassified as secret in order to cover up crimes. Revealing this is whistleblowing.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:10 AM on August 21, 2013 [28 favorites]


Wikileaks on Twitter claiming victory:

Significant strategic victory in Bradley Manning case. Bradley Manning now elegible for release in less than 9 years, 4.4 in one calculation

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 21, 2013

posted by Bwithh at 9:12 AM on August 21, 2013


Wikileaks vets its documents. The Cablegate "public dump" happened when when Guardian editor David Leigh printed the password to the archive in a book, supposedly because he thought the password "wouldn't work" after a certain amount of time. It's pretty hard to believe he really thought that.

And then he had the gall to blame Wikileaks to endangering informants, after he made the password public.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:14 AM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


So, not good odds on a presidential pardon, when Obama leaves office?
posted by bouvin at 9:15 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, those are reserved for war criminals and inside traders.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:16 AM on August 21, 2013 [34 favorites]


Personally, I think 35 years is too harsh, though perhaps the best he could have hoped for.

Perhaps this is a false equivalence, but -- Albert Speer only got 20 years, for using mass slave labour. Assuming the very worst motivation for Manning, that he was actively working against the United States, were his acts that much worse than Speer's, in simple human cost or as against an American war effort?

Perhaps the comparison I'm making isn't appropriate, I don't know. My feelings on Manning's actions are mixed, but even so, the proportionality of this punishment seems way off, and the message it has about the values we hold as important is incredibly skewed.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:17 AM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's 15 years more than John Walker Lindh who directly fought with the Taliban against the United States.
posted by mattbucher at 9:17 AM on August 21, 2013 [35 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle: He confessed to enough charges to earn him this sentence, let alone the other things which were proved during his trial.

Not according to the ACLU
The first thing to be said about Bradley Manning's trial is that the entire exercise was unnecessary. There was no real factual dispute, since Manning admitted he had leaked the documents to WikiLeaks, and he offered guilty pleas that would have allowed a sentence of up to 20 years.
posted by snaparapans at 9:20 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I respect Manning for what he did. But he very clearly broke oaths and broke laws, for which there are clear penalties and always have been. People actually think a military officer should release classified documents and not get punished? I'm honestly having trouble imagining any administration that could achieve what even the most liberal commenters consider a healthy balance between security and transparency where what Manning did still wouldn't be a heinous breach of military security.

What makes Manning courageous is that he did all this knowing the legitimate penalties he would face. I frankly think the sentence (being eligible for parole in 9 years) is about as balanced as you could hope for.
posted by dry white toast at 9:21 AM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


Despite my previous comments, the sentence is ridiculous and I think time served plus compensation for the solitary confinement is appropriate.
posted by spaltavian at 9:24 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I agree. We all did this before, we did this to death. No one benefits from our having this argument all over again. If any minds were to be changed by this, they'd have been so by now. Metafilter is better than this.
posted by newdaddy at 9:25 AM on August 21, 2013


I'm not a fan of what Manning did and feel that some jail time was necessary, but 35 years? That's overly harsh

This is a military sentence. So, parole is possible after 1/3rd the sentence is over, clemency is possible after a year, and unlike federal prison, there's time off for good behavior, which can become as much as 10 days a month.

So, while the faceplate sentence is 35 years, it's already 4 years done, and assuming he behaves, will rapidly drop to 20, and be eligible for parole far before that. It's not inconceivable that he'll be out by 2015.

And this is far from over. It's over 10 years, so there's an automatic appeal, plus the convening authority has the power to reduce sentence.

It's a sucky sentence, and I was thinking more like 15 years + E1 + Loss of pay/Allowances + Dishonorable Discharge. But this could have been far worse, and there's every likelihood that he won't even serve a third of this, and may serve much less.
posted by eriko at 9:25 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


I understand that he will be eligible for release a lot sooner than 35 years, but can anyone comment on the likelihood of it being granted?
posted by forgetful snow at 9:25 AM on August 21, 2013


why he released information that should not have been classified in the first place

I may be confusing leaks here, but did he not also release a bunch of random diplomatic cables?
posted by Hoopo at 9:27 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


"When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn't distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it's also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate."
posted by bukvich at 9:27 AM on August 21, 2013 [43 favorites]


Anyone who says that Manning needs to be punished in order to uphold the rules of law and order should first examine what law and order means when the people in power can commit warcrimes with impunity. If they can do that, then what the law and order does the punishment of Manning uphold? Laws and orders that protect the powerful and punish the weak.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:28 AM on August 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


As a point of comparison, Specialist Sabrina Harman, who was photographed grinning alongside the abused prisoners at Abu Gharib, was sentenced to six months. Charles Graner, the "ringleader" of the abuse was sentenced to ten years. Of course, they only abused and humiliated the people under their power, while Manning embarrassed the government.
posted by metaBugs at 9:28 AM on August 21, 2013 [39 favorites]


Bradley Manning is a trans hero – I fear for him in prison. In my brief time in jail I found a way to express my femaleness, but Manning has a lifetime ahead of him locked in a cage
posted by homunculus at 9:30 AM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is a military sentence. So, parole is possible after 1/3rd the sentence is over, clemency is possible after a year, and unlike federal prison, there's time off for good behavior, which can become as much as 10 days a month.


A source (that I can't find now) said that the 1/3rd part is right, but that the good behavior credit is only applied towards the total sentence, not to be used to calculate time served. That and any sentence longer than 30 years is ineligible for parole until year ten - although Manning's time served counts towards that. Basically the story was that he'll be eligible for parole in 8 years or so.
posted by JPD at 9:32 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Birgitta Jónsdóttir: 35 years for exposing us to the truth. This was never a fair trial – Obama declared Manning's guilt in advance. But Manning's punishment is an affront to democracy
posted by homunculus at 9:32 AM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


No, those are reserved for war criminals and inside traders.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:16 AM on August 21 [1 favorite +] [!]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Loring_Morison

Small potatoes civilian intelligence analyst ( former Navy officer, grandson of famous Navy historian and rear admiral) convicted of leaks for personal gain (his defense was patriotic education of public) . 2 year prison sentence in 1985. Appeal declined by Supreme Court in 1988. Pardoned by Clinton in 2001
posted by Bwithh at 9:32 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


MeFi agrees with Manning, so MeFi wants to see him freed, but it has to be one rule for both soldiers who disobey orders in ways that MeFi approves of and soldiers that disobey orders in ways that MeFi would find horrifying.

Please don't speak for all of us.


I meant only that the majority of MeFi seems to view Manning as a hero. Or at least the more vocal parts of it. I didn't mean to imply unanimity, nor to imply anyone else's agreement about my perceptions of MeFi or opinions of Manning.
posted by tyllwin at 9:37 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The trial and sentencing being over, it's time for a Presidential pardon. Fat chance, I think, but it's the right thing to do.
posted by Gelatin at 9:37 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


@spaltavian - Bradley Manning isn't a "whistleblower". A whistleblower knows about a criminal act, and exposes it. Manning released over 300,000 documents. He didn't read them. He doesn't know what was contained in the vast majority of those documents. That's not whistleblowing.

The Pentagon Papers were some 48 boxes of documents - an encyclopedic history of US involvement in the Vietnam conflict. I find it very unlikely that Ellsberg had read and was aware of the content and potential impact of all 48 boxes of documents. Yet, clearly, history at least, considers Ellsberg a whistleblower.
posted by stenseng at 9:38 AM on August 21, 2013 [26 favorites]


The proof of how responsible Wikileaks was

It's pretty telling that you cite Wikileaks as the responsible party here, not Manning. I beleive that spaltavian is correct, Manning was not a whistleblower.

Had he just released the "Collateral Murder" or similar I would be shouting to the hills that he is being unjustly punished.
posted by Dr. Twist at 9:39 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


.

Most transparent administration EVAR!!!1


Was there anyone other than perhaps some genuinely mentally ill people who took pledges of official "transparency" to mean that the US government would cease to regard anything, at all, as an official secret and that anybody who had sworn to keep such secrets was now absolved from their promises?

There are good arguments to be made, pro and con, about how bad what Bradley Manning did was and what would be the appropriate response (although how anyone could think he would avoid prison time altogether baffles me), but this faux-naif "I'm shocked and appalled to learn that the US government has secrets!!!" doesn't seem a useful contribution to the debate.
posted by yoink at 9:39 AM on August 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


> That's 15 years more than John Walker Lindh who directly fought with the Taliban against the United States.

Obvious derail, but Lindh didn't actually fight against the US. The truth will never be mainstream about Lindh, but he was basically in the wrong place at the wrong time. He didn't go to Afghanistan to fight against the Americans.
posted by planetesimal at 9:40 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


dry white toast: People actually think a military officer should release classified documents and not get punished?

I think its entirely possible to have circumstances where releasing classified documents is in line with an oath and should be in line with the law, an obvious example would be where they relate to illegal activity by the government or its agents. This would seem to me to be very much in line with the expectation that soldiers disobey an illegal order.

Whether what Manning did is in line with this is another issue, it seems clear some people feel it is but that the situation is clouded by the fact he released so many files.
posted by biffa at 9:41 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Morison... Manning... Snowden... there's a common thread: USA governmental employees should clearly never be allowed to spend time in the UK. We corrupt their fine American morality with our filthy commonwealth ways.

The trial and sentencing being over, it's time for a Presidential pardon.

The same President who publicly said Manning was guilty before the trial began?
posted by forgetful snow at 9:42 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


The same President who publicly said Manning was guilty before the trial began?

His guilt was never a question. The question was what the response should be.

But, you are right. Obama will never pardon Manning. President Palin, however....
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:46 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it was too lenient. He could be paroled in 8 years. He deserves more like 20-30 before parole.
posted by knoyers at 9:48 AM on August 21, 2013


He deserves more like 20-30 before parole.

He deserves a longer punishment than war criminals who are responsible for the death of many many people?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:50 AM on August 21, 2013 [18 favorites]


He deserves a longer punishment than war criminals who are responsible for the death of many many people?

It's a bitter injustice that he got any time at all, given the murders he exposed, whose perpetrators walked free and are still free to this day.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:53 AM on August 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


@ Yoink but this faux-naif "I'm shocked and appalled to learn that the US government has secrets!!!" doesn't seem a useful contribution to the debate.


Yeah, I totally agree with you, or at least I would, if it appeared that anyone posting in this thread actually said or thought that.
posted by stenseng at 9:53 AM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, this seems about right, assuming that he actually only serves something close to the minimum and is paroled. He clearly doesn't pose any danger, and he ought to be able to have a life afterwards.

I really can't understand anyone expecting Obama (or any administration, for that matter) to do anything but prosecute him and seek jail time. The government absolutely must prosecute this kind of behavior, even if they personally didn't find what he did to be morally objectionable.

There will always be some government secrets. And punishing citizens who leak those secrets is a consequence of there being a goverent at all.
posted by graphnerd at 9:55 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


The same President who publicly said Manning was guilty before the trial began?

Of all the possible criticisms of the trial, this is an especially weak one. Manning himself admitted his guilt early on: you don't get to claim both that you did it for Good Reasons and that you didn't do it at all. Also, military tribunals don't have juries, so the President talking about Manning's guilt before the trial has absolutely no effect on anything, because there's no jury pool to taint.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:56 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


112 days off for "inhumane" treatment conditions tantamount to torture? As though he were a McDonalds employee working for time and a half on Labor Day? My god, the rationalizations.
posted by Apropos of Something at 9:57 AM on August 21, 2013 [17 favorites]


It's a bitter injustice that he got any time at all, given the murders he exposed, whose perpetrators walked free and are still free to this day.

Trying not to have the same old debate here, but are you saying that the (from your perspective) crimes he exposed outweigh the data dump of things that weren't crimes? Or do you feel that there was nothing wrong with releasing the diplomatic cables in bulk?
posted by graphnerd at 9:59 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


it has to be one rule for both soldiers who disobey orders in ways that MeFi approves of and soldiers that disobey orders in ways that MeFi would find horrifying.

I'm impressed that you could actually type out that entire sentence without thinking it through even a little bit. You're suggesting we should have one rule for "soldier disobeys order to murder a bunch of civilians" and "soldier disobeys order not to murder a bunch of civilians"? I mean, yeah, they are both "insubordination" and one rule about insubordination is probably enough, but to suggest both hypothetical soldiers should get the same punishment is nothing short of batshit insane.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:00 AM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


The same President who publicly said Manning was guilty before the trial began?

Manning admitted his guilt to certain charges as the trial began too, as Amanojaku pointed out. I also noted that I hardly expect Obama to pardon Manning. I've never mistaken Obama for a liberal -- he strikes me as an Eisenhower Republican, which just indicates how beyond-Goldwater-crazy the modern Republican Party has become -- but it'd be nice to be pleasantly surprised for a change.

If a message needed to be sent with this trial and sentence, its been sent already.
posted by Gelatin at 10:01 AM on August 21, 2013


Of all the possible criticisms of the trial, this is an especially weak one.

I'm not criticizing the trial - just saying that the idea of a Presidential pardon is ludicrous, since the President was quick to join the pile-on.
posted by forgetful snow at 10:02 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lets also not forget to put this in a historical context. Daniel Ellsberg didn't get out of going to prison because he didn't break the law, he got off because of prosecutorial misconduct. He potentially faced a life sentence for his actions, actions that in retrospect, I think the majority of Americans condone, and are appreciative of:

On June 28, 1971, two days before a Supreme Court ruling saying that a federal judge had ruled incorrectly about the right of the New York Times to publish the Pentagon Papers,[6] Ellsberg publicly surrendered to the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts in Boston. In admitting to giving the documents to the press, Ellsberg said:

I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public. I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision.[6]


He and Russo faced charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 and other charges including theft and conspiracy, carrying a total maximum sentence of 115 years. Their trial commenced in Los Angeles on January 3, 1973, presided over by U.S. District Judge William Matthew Byrne, Jr.
On April 26, the break-in of Fielding's office was revealed to the court in a memo to Judge Byrne, who then ordered it to be shared with the defense.[22][23]
On May 9, further evidence of illegal wiretapping against Ellsberg was revealed in court. The FBI had recorded numerous conversations between Morton Halperin and Ellsberg without a court order, and furthermore the prosecution had failed to share this evidence with the defense.[24] During the trial, Byrne also revealed that he personally met twice with John Ehrlichman, who offered him directorship of the FBI. Byrne said he refused to consider the offer while the Ellsberg case was pending, though he was criticized for even agreeing to meet with Ehrlichman during the case.[23]
Due to the gross governmental misconduct and illegal evidence gathering, and the defense by Leonard Boudin and Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, Judge Byrne dismissed all charges against Ellsberg and Russo on May 11, 1973 after the government claimed it had lost records of wiretapping against Ellsberg. Byrne ruled: "The totality of the circumstances of this case which I have only briefly sketched offend a sense of justice. The bizarre events have incurably infected the prosecution of this case."

posted by stenseng at 10:04 AM on August 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


graphnerd: Well he exposed multiple murder, so that would certainly justify breaking confidentiality. Time off. The issue is whether he was justified in releasing the wider data set where he did not know the full contents against what he knew did depict the murder, and whether given the limitations he could have behaved in a way that did expose the murders by the US service personnel without betraying any wider confidentiality.

Well that the issue for me anyway, clearly the US Government has a position with a bit more self interest thrown in.
posted by biffa at 10:04 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


because we really don't want our military, intelligence, or law enforcement officials ignoring their orders and regulations whenever they see fit.

We explicitly tell them that 'just following orders' is not acceptable and also expect them to decide what orders and regulations are, in fact, valid. Blindly doing what they're told is the LAST thing we want soldiers to be doing. That route leads to the abu ghraib abuse, for example.

They have to be lawful orders to be valid, and there's a good argument to be made that his standing orders to effectively bury the evidence of war-crimes were not lawful.

In a just country, Manning should not be serving a day more in prison while those who ordered, committed and knowingly concealed the war crimes he revealed still go free.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:05 AM on August 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm not criticizing the trial - just saying that the idea of a Presidential pardon is ludicrous, since the President was one of the first to pile on him.

Fair enough. I had just read the Guardian "This was never a fair trial – Obama declared Manning's guilt in advance" link above, and missed the difference in your point.
posted by Amanojaku at 10:06 AM on August 21, 2013


Can anyone explain to me please why and how the prosecution took his "gender dysphoria" into account?
posted by alona at 10:07 AM on August 21, 2013


and received a sentencing credit for the abusive conditions he endured

He was tortured before trial for 9 months; they couldn't even be bothered to give him 4 months credit for that time.
posted by mediareport at 10:10 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


George W. Bush outed Valerie Plame, a CIA field operative, according to his own press secretary, Scott McClellan, and for that and his other numerous war crimes, is sitting pretty, never having to worry about healthcare or anything else, all on the American taxpayer dime.

I live in dark times.
posted by dbiedny at 10:13 AM on August 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


Lady Gaga via Twitter:

The news of Bradley Manning's sentencing is devastating. If our own can't speak up about injustice who will? How will we ever move forward?
posted by ryanshepard at 10:15 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


You were a brave man Bradley Manning.

I'm not going to get into whether or not Manning should or shouldn't have released documents or was or wasn't a whistleblower: like etrigan, I think that's been rehashed a lot.

But I do want to remind you all that in conversations, Manning revealed that the one thing that bothered them the most was the idea that they would be sent to jail as a boy, plastered pictures all over as a boy, talked about all over the world as a boy.

I know not everyone may be familiar with this, but I think it would be nice if we could consider preferred gender identity in this thread.
posted by corb at 10:16 AM on August 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


He deserves a longer punishment than war criminals who are responsible for the death of many many people?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:50 AM on August 21


That others have gotten away with their crimes is not a viable argument that a criminal shouldn't be punished. Bradley Manning committed a callous and treacherous act that deserves serious punishment in its own right.
posted by knoyers at 10:16 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can anyone explain to me please why and how the prosecution took his "gender dysphoria" into account?
I don't know that they did*. I do know that the defense did. They were trying to argue it as a point for leniency - he was improperly stressed out by the Army due to its then-policy of denying him the right to be public about his own sexuality.

*: To be clear, I also don't know that they didn't.
posted by Flunkie at 10:17 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


the proof the success of this is that so far no one has identified even one person who was harmed by this disclosures.

As far as I know, not even one person has been identified who was helped by these disclosures, either. That may sound glib, but it's something to keep in mind before calling Manning a "hero." I'll add my voice to those who feel that his sentence was too harsh considering the apparent lack of harm.
posted by Edgewise at 10:20 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.

These words by the Obama Administration about whistleblower protections still anger me. He encouraged whistleblowers in this statement. And then his administration comes down hard with an iron fist (and then this statement disappears from official web sites). It feels like Obama played an extremely high stakes game of bait and switch.*

*yes...I say these things because I believe Manning is a whistleblower because his leaks were a source of information about "fraud and abuse" committed by the government.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:22 AM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


He was tortured before trial for 9 months; they couldn't even be bothered to give him 4 months credit for that time.

Serious question, was it nine months? I thought it was a just a few days at most, depending on how one defines torture.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:24 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bradley Manning is by any definition a whistleblower. He came across evidence of numerous crimes, including serious war crimes.
------------------------

...and released 300,000 documents? There is no way to make that sound reasonable.
------------------------

I just want to keep this in my posting history, to remind myself:

Even on MeFi, people legitimately think that, between "serious war crimes" and "released 300,000 documents," the latter is the unreasonable part.
posted by fatehunter at 10:29 AM on August 21, 2013 [17 favorites]


He literally had no idea what he was releasing, so he did it anyway.
posted by knoyers at 10:30 AM on August 21, 2013


Neither did Daniel Ellsberg. I guess he should be punished too for being callous and treacherous.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:32 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Bradley Manning committed a callous and treacherous act that deserves serious punishment in its own right.

Posting statements that are known to be false is not a good way to conduct a conversation. Pfc. Manning was not convicted of treason. Moreover, I don't think even the prosecutors represented him as "callous".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:33 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even on MeFi, people legitimately think that, between "serious war crimes" and "released 300,000 documents," the latter is the unreasonable part.

Well, this is a thread about Bradley Manning being sentenced, so people are understandably focused on what Manning did. There's no contradiction at all between simultaneously believing 1) that its disgraceful what was revealed in the "Collateral Murder" video and that there hasn't been accountability for it and 2) revealing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables to Wikileaks is illegal and deserving of punishment (even if 35 years is inappropriately severe, as are many if not most American prison sentences).
posted by dsfan at 10:35 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yikes. I'm not sure which is scarier, Manning's sentence or the way so many are so able and willing to see what he did as "wrong".
posted by IvoShandor at 10:35 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


knoyers:

> He literally had no idea what he was releasing, so he did it anyway.

Pfc. Manning certainly had a very good idea of what he was releasing, as he had read a chunk of it and seen the video that we now call "Collateral Murder".

He also did not "release" the documents - he gave them to a trusted journalistic outlet, relying on them to edit the documents. Later the Guardian actually "released" the documents (through gross stupidity or malfeasance).

Might I ask you to avoid posting statements that are known to be false, please? This is twice in a row...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:35 AM on August 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


He is technically not guilty of treason, but I said treachery, not treason. He undeniably betrayed his government while serving in the military. Releasing documents that could expose American agents and untold others to their enemies is very callous.

Pfc. Manning certainly had a very good idea of what he was releasing, as he had read a chunk of it and seen the video that we now call "Collateral Murder".

Yeah he read a chunk of it... exactly
posted by knoyers at 10:36 AM on August 21, 2013


I was actually genuinely surprised to see that he did not get the absolute maximum possible sentence without any considerations whatsoever beyond the required. In the very strange American way, I think that represents some sort of progress.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:38 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


but are you saying that the (from your perspective) crimes he exposed outweigh the data dump of things that weren't crimes?

That question assumes that the data dump didn't expose criminal behavior, which seems to be contradicted by the numerous examples of said criminal behaviors contained within, which have been discussed several times here and elsewhere.

I just find it a tragic injustice that the clearest evidence of murders and their subsequent cover-up merited no time in jail for their perpetrators, while the one who uncovered those and other crimes received a summarily harsh sentence, in addition to the torture he suffered at the hands of the US government.

Prosecuting and harshly treating whistleblowers is how low this country will stoop to protect criminals at the highest levels.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:38 AM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


He didn't release them willy nilly to the public, he released them to wikileaks, just like other whistleblowers released information to journalists in the past.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:38 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


entropicamericana: "You know what's unreasonable to me? A buck private having access to 300,000 "sensitive" documents. So either our Army's security procedures suck or maybe these documents weren't all that sensitive. Either way, Manning doesn't deserve to be excoriated for his actions."

Overclassification is an issue that this clearly brings up. President Obama signed an act in 2010 in order to reduce overclassification ... As of July 31, 2013 there is an article stating that Duncan Hunter (R) says we overclassify. This is not a partisan issue. How many of those supposed "classified" documents were actually deserving of classification? You may say that's irrelevant because at the time he released them they WERE classified, and that might be true, but the fact is that in the future, maybe this WOULDN'T be an issue if things that shouldn't be classified weren't.

It's done, IMO, out of sheer laziness. Easier to classify a big pile than dig through and figure out what actually needs to be classified.

We can't have this discussion without taking this into account.
posted by symbioid at 10:40 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:43 AM on August 21, 2013


> It's done, IMO, out of sheer laziness. Easier to classify a big pile than dig through and figure out what actually needs to be classified. We can't have this discussion without taking this into account.

This is what the people droning on about the volume of the data dump are missing. Quite a bit is misclassified, and exposing that should make the government reassess the process.
posted by planetesimal at 10:46 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's been said multiple times in this thread that Ellsberg did not know what was in the Pentagon Papers. Is this known to be true? He had worked on them specifically for months, and had photocopied them and had them in his possession for years before leaking them to the NYT. He also intentionally did not leak certain specific parts of them.
posted by Flunkie at 10:46 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


> > He literally had no idea what he was releasing, so he did it anyway.

> Yeah he read a chunk of it... exactly

These two statements cannot both be true...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:48 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Worth noting, too, that Ellsberg released Top Secret information. Manning did not.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:50 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pfc. Manning certainly had a very good idea of what he was releasing, as he had read a chunk of it and seen the video that we now call "Collateral Murder".

He also did not "release" the documents - he gave them to a trusted journalistic outlet, relying on them to edit the documents. Later the Guardian actually "released" the documents (through gross stupidity or malfeasance).


As for the claim that he didn't release documents, you contradict yourself, and I don't think it really merits response anyway.

He knowingly gave the documents to others who wanted to release them, and who did. Releasing classified documents is the ostensible purpose of Wikileaks, as Manning was well aware.

I think Ellsberg was clearly far more cognizant of the content of the Pentagon Papers compared to one who released thousands of pages of information that he had not bothered to look at at all, which literally could have been anything as far as he was concerned.

These two statements cannot both be true...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:48 AM on August 21


Maybe he read some of it, but he released thousands of classified pages that he had not read and had no idea what the contents were. Considering that, his punishment is lenient.
posted by knoyers at 10:52 AM on August 21, 2013


I think Ellsberg was clearly far more cognizant of the content of the Pentagon Papers compared to one who released thousands of pages of information that he had not bothered to look at at all, which literally could have been anything as far as he was concerned.

...


Maybe he read some of it, but he released thousands of classified pages that he had not read and had no idea what the contents were. Considering that, his punishment is lenient.



I think you're speculating in both cases, as they say "out the ass" and your assessments should be taken with the appropriate grain of salt.
posted by stenseng at 10:55 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


250,000 diplomatic cables and 500,000 Army reports. So you think he read all of that first?
posted by knoyers at 10:57 AM on August 21, 2013


48 boxes of Pentagon Papers, 7000+ pages. So you think Ellsberg read all of that first?
posted by stenseng at 10:59 AM on August 21, 2013 [10 favorites]


If he did read all of them, and released them, what do you think the appropriate response would be?

How many years will Manning have to serve to make up for not reading the documents?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:59 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


> It's done, IMO, out of sheer laziness. Easier to classify a big pile than dig through and figure out what actually needs to be classified.

As I have mentioned above, and is well-known, Pfc. Manning only had a short time between retrieving the documents and being arrested - there is no way he could have reviewed even 1% of the documents in that time.

> Maybe he read some of it, but he released thousands of classified pages that he had not read and had no idea what the contents were.

Again, this is not consistent with the statement:

> He literally had no idea what he was releasing, so he did it anyway.

And this:

> 250,000 diplomatic cables and 500,000 Army reports. So you think he read all of that first?

No one has said that. No one has implied that. Why are you saying that?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:59 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


48 boxes of Pentagon Papers, 7000+ pages. So you think Ellsberg read all of that first?
posted by stenseng at 10:59 AM on August 21

It's certainly possible to read 7000 pgs. Manning released hundreds of thousands of pages, which he had only briefly before releasing them.

If he did read all of them, and released them, what do you think the appropriate response would be?

How many years will Manning have to serve to make up for not reading the documents?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:59 AM on August 21


Probably 8

Had he carefully exposed only materials that showed certain specific crimes which he wanted the public to be aware of, then he would truly be a whistle blower. My feelings would be entirely different.

No one has said that. No one has implied that. Why are you saying that?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:59 AM on August 21


Certainly people in this thread have been arguing with me over the fact that Manning released bulk classified materials unread
posted by knoyers at 11:05 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is more of a treadmill than a debate.
posted by planetesimal at 11:08 AM on August 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


Seven thousand pages is, what, maybe 1.5 to 2 million words? That's less than one percent of the number of words in the leaked State Department cables alone, not even counting the other large scale leaks that are thought to have come from Manning.

And again, Ellsberg had worked on the Pentagon Papers specifically as his job, had had them for years before he leaked them, and there were specific parts of them that he intentionally did not leak.

I'm not saying Ellsberg definitely read the entire thing, but I don't think the person you're responding to was saying that either, and besides, it's not inconceivable that he did.

The idea that Manning did not know what was in a large, large portion of what he leaked is not "out (someone's) ass"; it would have literally taken him years to read it all, doing absolutely nothing else - and that means not even sleeping.
posted by Flunkie at 11:11 AM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


(it has to be one rule for both soldiers who disobey orders in ways that MeFi approves of and soldiers that disobey orders in ways that MeFi would find horrifying.)

I'm impressed that you could actually type out that entire sentence without thinking it through even a little bit. You're suggesting we should have one rule for "soldier disobeys order to murder a bunch of civilians" and "soldier disobeys order not to murder a bunch of civilians"? I mean, yeah, they are both "insubordination" and one rule about insubordination is probably enough, but to suggest both hypothetical soldiers should get the same punishment is nothing short of batshit insane.

In modern terms that's been thought about for decades, mostly prompted by that exact scenario: An order to kill Jews. The rule under the UCMJ, which Manning swore to uphold, is that he would be obligated to disobey such an order and report any superior issuing it. A drone operator refusing to knowingly commit a war crime is not guilty of insubordination, or of anything else under US military law. The rules and regulations of the US Army draw exactly the same distinction that you do

And, were this only about the killing of civilians by drone strikes, Manning might -- might -- not be guilty of anything either. Presuming it was a deliberate war crime. It's a debatable issue, but it's ultimately beside the point, since he divulged thousands of diplomatic cables which had nothing to do with the prevention or exposure of any war crime, which he'd been ordered to keep secret.
posted by tyllwin at 11:12 AM on August 21, 2013


There's a key point that needs to be emphasized.

IF the current Administration had shown the slightest interest in prosecuting criminals who caused serious damage to the world, then I don't think nearly as many people would be complaining here.

But the current Administration has showed simply zero interest in actually doing this.

We see innocent people being murdered in the Collateral Murder video - but no punishment, not even a slap on the wrist, was meted out.

The Bush Administration knowingly lied to bring the nation into war with Iraq; the Bush Administration deliberately outed Valerie Plame; no one served a day in jail or even had a slap on the wrist.

Investment bankers committed massive felonies and looted the economy and the Treasury - where are the jail sentences? Do note that in one case alone, HSBC, the company admitted to committing literally thousands of felonies, including systematically money laundering for known terrorist organizations, and for some of the most violent drug gangs into the world, over a period of years, and after being repeatedly warned - and yet not one person at HSBC served a day in jail. In the Blackwater case, the only person who went to jail was the one who turned State' evidence.

The message being sent is very clear. Committing crimes is perfectly OK, if you're one of the people in power - but exposing those crimes is completely wrong, and if you do it, you'll be crushed.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:13 AM on August 21, 2013 [53 favorites]


Which is why he outsourced the reading of the documents to wikileaks.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:13 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


What lupus_yonderboy said. The issue isn't this particular case, the issue is that there was no doubt that Manning would be severely punished, even tortured, for doing what he did, but that people who control the reigns of power can kill, murder, torture, maim, and bomb THOUSANDS of people, with impunity.

And there is no chance that they will ever be punished for their crimes in this vale.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:15 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know what's unreasonable to me? A buck private having access to 300,000 "sensitive" documents.

He was demoted to PFC after he had leaked information. He was a specialist when he had access.
posted by Jahaza at 11:18 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


If only it were possible to believe that Manning is a criminal and that 35 years is unfair punishment and that other people deserve to be in prison.
posted by Etrigan at 11:20 AM on August 21, 2013 [18 favorites]


Which is why he outsourced the reading of the documents to wikileaks.
Sure, but this is ignoring the context. It's basically been:

"Manning released a whole lot of stuff without any idea of what was in it."

"No, he had a great idea of what was in it!"

"There's just way too much of it for that to be true."

"There was way too much of it for Ellsberg, too, and he's a hero!"

"No, there wasn't too much of it for Ellsberg. There was, however, too much of it for Manning."

"Yeah! That's why he had to release it without knowing what was in it!"
posted by Flunkie at 11:21 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yikes. I'm not sure which is scarier, Manning's sentence or the way so many are so able and willing to see what he did as "wrong".

I'm more troubled by so many people seemingly incapable of recognizing that very few things are an unalloyed "wrong" or "right" -- that the same event can, and often does, have both aspects to it.

You can imagine how often I'm disappointed.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:22 AM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


We see innocent people being murdered in the Collateral Murder video

Surviving 'Collateral Murder': Soldier relives infamous WikiLeaks video

An appeal from Ethan McCord for Bradley Manning’s defense
I was part of the unit that was responsible for this atrocity. In the video, I can be seen attempting to carry wounded children to safety in the aftermath. I carried a young girl and a young boy away from the horrible scene. Both were shot and severely wounded. Much later, after WikiLeaks released the video, I saw both of them interviewed on television—they both survived. But they lost their father. The video released by WikiLeaks belongs in the public record. Covering up this incident is a matter deserving of criminal inquiry. Whoever revealed it is an American hero in my book.
posted by homunculus at 11:29 AM on August 21, 2013 [29 favorites]


Claiming that Bradley Manning had "no idea" what was in what he released is just wrong.

I don't think anyone actually disagrees with what happened - which was just reiterated in court.

1. Manning gained access to a large number of Classified (but not Top Secret) documents.
2. He looked through a fraction of them and found evidence of numerous crimes and misdoings.
3. He then dumped the whole lot of them to Wikileaks, expecting them to go through them and release the important material - as they did.

To claim that he had "no idea" of what he was doing is a massive distortion of the truth. He did not know the details of most of the documents - he DID know for sure that these documents included proof of many crimes that were otherwise not ever going to be punished (and in fact, apparently will never be punished...)

To claim that he should have gone through all the documents himself before reading them is to say that he should never have released them in the first place - because if he had he would have been arrested weeks or months before he had finished.

Suppose that you were working on your boss's laptop for a few minutes, and you found movies of him committing a very serious crime. What is the correct behavior?

1. Systematically go through his laptop and extract only the information relevant to his criminal activity - even though you expect him back in a few minutes.
2. Pick up the laptop, run out of the building, and give it to the authorities.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:33 AM on August 21, 2013 [22 favorites]


He was demoted to PFC after he had leaked information. He was a specialist when he had access.

Not much different, though. As someone who's held the lofty, exalted rank of SP4, let me assure you: any idiot who doesn't get kicked out of the service in the first year or so can be a SP4. Why on earth did all these documents - many largely unrelated other than being classified - go through a single point? Why would a SP4 in Iraq need to know about diplomatic cables in the rest of the world?
posted by me & my monkey at 11:34 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


> 2. He looked through a fraction of them and found evidence of numerous crimes and misdoings.

Just for accuracy - the fact that these were crimes and misdoings was not, in fact, touched upon in court - but we are pretty sure of this because we have seen the videos and read the leaked documents.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:34 AM on August 21, 2013


Yet, clearly, history at least, considers Ellsberg a whistleblower.

History is a very fickle critter.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:34 AM on August 21, 2013


Why on earth did all these documents - many largely unrelated other than being classified - go through a single point? Why would a SP4 in Iraq need to know about diplomatic cables in the rest of the world?

9/11. The US made information more accessible across departments and agencies.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:36 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why would a SP4 in Iraq need to know about diplomatic cables in the rest of the world?

Precisely because they weren't considered particularly sensitive.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:39 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The US made information more accessible across departments and agencies.

There's "more accessible", and then there's this. I'm no expert on SIPRnet, but it seems to me that there's got to be a more reasonable middle ground than this.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:39 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


In modern American society, the single greatest crime is admitting we were wrong. Exposing evidence that we were wrong is the greatest single crime any person can commit.
posted by maxwelton at 11:41 AM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's done, IMO, out of sheer laziness. Easier to classify a big pile than dig through and figure out what actually needs to be classified.

From my experience, it's a lot more deliberate than that. There are actually supposed to be laws against misclassifying on the grounds of "embarrassment" - but I'd wager a lot of stuff falls into those categories, rather than on the actual classification grounds.
posted by corb at 11:41 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


To claim that he had "no idea" of what he was doing is a massive distortion of the truth. He did not know the details of most of the documents - he DID know for sure that these documents included proof of many crimes that were otherwise not ever going to be punished (and in fact, apparently will never be punished...)

How did he know for sure what was things he never saw? It's not like it was a few big reports; the stuff he released was disparate, and again, it was 300,000. I can read the first couple pages of a document and guess what's on the remaining 200, but the sheer number of documents prevents that here.
posted by spaltavian at 11:55 AM on August 21, 2013


> How did he know for sure what was things he never saw?

No one has claimed this.

What is false is that he had "no idea" of what was in the entire leak.

Again, go back to the boss's laptop. You it contains some videos showing serious crimes. Must you search through the entire laptop before giving it to the authorities? If you brought it in, would your really be justified in saying that you had "no idea" what was on the laptop?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:10 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, about that sentence. Under what conditions is Manning going to be incarcerated? How do you suppose they'll protect (or not) their rights vis-à-vis their gender?
posted by eviemath at 12:15 PM on August 21, 2013


The sentence is surprisingly light, given what prosecutors had asked for.

Meaningless. It's common for the prosecutors to ask for everything even remotely possible, in an attempt to force a plea bargain.

Wikileaks on Twitter claiming victory:
Significant strategic victory in Bradley Manning case. Bradley Manning now elegible for release in less than 9 years, 4.4 in one calculation


Things could have been worse. Things could have been better. The world is complicated. A "strategic victory" often means a hidden victory. Being in the U.S. prison system for even a day is horrifying. Manning has already been in solitary for ludicrous amounts of time.

I notice Ironmouth's prediction, of ten/three years, was wrong by a good margin. I often disagree with him but he seemed to have a good handle on this at least.

What makes Manning courageous is that he did all this knowing the legitimate penalties he would face. I frankly think the sentence (being eligible for parole in 9 years) is about as balanced as you could hope for.

When doing good is against the law then only lawbreakers will do good.

Was there anyone other than perhaps some genuinely mentally ill people who took pledges of official "transparency" to mean that the US government would cease to regard anything, at all, as an official secret and that anybody who had sworn to keep such secrets was now absolved from their promises?

Underlined: That's needless escalation.

Whole quote: It's not just the Manning case, it's what he revealed, and that along with what Snowden revealed, and what the government has done to try to catch and do a similar thing to him, all those things together have resulted in a zeitgeist that runs wholly counter to Obama's high-minded rhetoric.
posted by JHarris at 12:15 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's not like it was a few big reports; the stuff he released was disparate, and again, it was 300,000.

I'm curious: If you wanted to expose a government's systematic, needless over-classification of vast, vast numbers of documents that didn't need to be and shouldn't be classified, how would you blow the whistle on that type of abuse? Assume there isn't a written memo saying, "Hey guys, let's classify everything potentially embarrassing to us," but that rather, as is often the case in organizations, this government has organically developed a certain culture with certain unwritten rules, and in this government that rule is one of them. How do you effectively and convincingly demonstrate that rule's existence to the public, and show how widespread and endemic it is? Nevermind how Manning did it for a moment, how would you do it?

Keep in mind, as corb points out, there are in fact rules and regulations (PDF) regarding what should or shouldn't be classified - rules which basically say "if necessary for national security only" - so yes, over-classification really is an abuse and pointing it out really is whistleblowing. Need further proof that it was an abuse that needed to be reigned in, well, one could point out that mere months after the cable dump, Congress passed a law to reduce over-classification (another PDF, I'm afraid).**

(For extra bonus points, help start the Arab Spring, expose some actual warcrimes, and don't get any US operatives killed.)


**I will note that I personally think that if you expose some kind of behavior, and one result is actual policy changes aimed at reducing that behavior, that really ought to settle the debate about "are you a whistleblower or not". Of course, the law against over-classification was spun as being good for inter-agency cooperation and Bradley Manning was assiduously never mentioned, so hey, keep the debate alive, I guess.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:27 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


He undeniably betrayed his government while serving in the military.

I, for one, deny the undeniable.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:29 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you wanted to expose a government's systematic, needless over-classification of vast, vast numbers of documents that didn't need to be and shouldn't be classified, how would you blow the whistle on that type of abuse?

Wait, what is the evidence that Manning's goal here was to expose over-classification as opposed to perceived war crimes?
posted by dsfan at 12:33 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Since a lot of the conversations over the next few weeks will be Apples vs. Oranges, I want to add this to the mix, ya' know for fruit comparison:

Abu Ghraib Punishments
posted by DigDoug at 12:37 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


He undeniably betrayed his government while serving in the military.

The state exists for the benefit of the people, not the other way around. By exposing the manner in which our state has been lying to us, the people upon whose consent it depends for power, he has done us a favor and made our country stronger in the long term. How were we supposed to talk about these issues if we didn't even know they existed?

I'm am not willing to place the needs of the ruling clique to save itself from embarrassment or criminal prosecution above the needs of the populace as a whole to know what the government is doing so we can make trifling decisions, like how to vote. That would be fascism, and I do not want to contribute to the construction of a fascist state.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:38 PM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm curious: If you wanted to expose a government's systematic, needless over-classification

So is he a whistleblower exposing crimes, or an anti-secrecy activist that is just demonstrating how much is classified?

Because Manning didn't want to "expose a government's systematic, needless over-classification", at least according to his defenders in this thread. His stated intent was to expose crimes. A philosophical objection to secrecy is not whistleblowing, as my first comment in this thread stated. Whistleblowing is protected, the other is "just, like your opinon, man" to borrow a popular phrase.

Nevermind how Manning did it for a moment, how would you do it?

The problem is, for me to know things shouldn't be classified, I would have to read them. I am not capable of reading 300,000 documents in a short period of time. For specific documents that I know shouldn't be classified, I would probably make a Freedom of Information Act request.
posted by spaltavian at 12:41 PM on August 21, 2013


That's how fascism gets fortified, man.
posted by planetesimal at 12:43 PM on August 21, 2013


That's how fascism gets fortified, man.

By what? Classified documents? Or over-classification? I don't disagree too much is classified, but how does doing a massive info-dump of things I haven't read do that? Doesn't it, in fact, seem to suggest we're not secure enough, if I am able to release 300,000 things without reading them?

Also, I'm a fascist now, seriously?
posted by spaltavian at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2013


Wait, what is the evidence that Manning's goal here was to expose over-classification as opposed to perceived war crimes?

The evidence is that he wanted to both. At the same time, even! Mind-boggling, I know.

(02:21:32 PM) Manning: its sad
(02:22:47 PM) Manning: i mean what if i were someone more malicious
(02:23:25 PM) Manning: i could’ve sold to russia or china, and made bank?
(02:23:36 PM) Lamo: why didn’t you?
(02:23:58 PM) Manning: because it’s public data
(02:24:15 PM) Lamo: i mean, the cables
(02:24:46 PM) Manning: it belongs in the public domain
(02:25:15 PM) Manning: information should be free
(02:25:39 PM) Manning: it belongs in the public domain
(02:26:18 PM) Manning: because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge
(02:26:55 PM) Manning: if its out in the open… it should be a public good
(02:27:04 PM) Manning: *do the
(02:27:23 PM) Manning: rather than some slimy intel collector
(02:29:18 PM) Manning: im crazy like that

posted by mstokes650 at 12:50 PM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


So wait, you're comparing "information wants to be free" favorably to exposing war crimes?
posted by spaltavian at 1:03 PM on August 21, 2013


Sure he's a whistle-blower. Where's the contradiction in sayiong that he's a whistle-blower and a criminal for illegally passing on confidential material unrelated to whistle-blowing?

Analogies get shredded here, but try one: Suppose I'm Johnny Toughguy's lawyer. I know Johnny knocked over a liquor store. The owner was killed. I think he's going to get away with it. He leaves his laptop unlocked in my office. I download all his email and IM's. I hand it over to a local reporter. It shows him talking to his accomplices and proves he knocked over a store. Combing through it also reveals where he buys his weed, some illegal cigarette sales, every married woman he's had an affair with, his kids' report cards, his wife's nude pictures, a file with the salaries of the people at the place he used to work, and some passwords belonging to some of his friends. Maybe I'm a whistle-blower. A murderer would have gotten away. But that isn't all that I am.
posted by tyllwin at 1:03 PM on August 21, 2013


Except there's nothing in that exchange where he is saying that there is some information in the cables that should be free that isn't (which is what overclassification means), he just asserts that "because it's public data" it should be released. This is, as spaltavian points out, just an ideological objection to secrecy as a concept.
posted by dsfan at 1:05 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


So is he a whistleblower exposing crimes, or an anti-secrecy activist that is just demonstrating how much is classified?

This is not an either/or proposition, no matter how many times you repeat it as if it were.

The problem is, for me to know things shouldn't be classified, I would have to read them. I am not capable of reading 300,000 documents in a short period of time. For specific documents that I know shouldn't be classified, I would probably make a Freedom of Information Act request.

This doesn't answer the question; the question was not about how you expose specific pieces of classified material that should not be classified, the question was about how you would expose an institutional culture that classified things needlessly. To give an analogy, you aren't looking to expose that a particular ad or ads made by a Tobacco company is misleading, you want to expose that Big Tobacco systematically downplays the risks of smoking all the time in its advertising. Is it necessary for you to have read every single tobacco ad ever made in order to expose that corporate culture?
posted by mstokes650 at 1:10 PM on August 21, 2013


how you would expose an institutional culture that classified things needlessly

The smoking gun would be an internal memo that directs relevant parties to over-classify things. Without that, I could release or make FOIA requests for specific classified documents that I know shouldn't be classified, which would require me to know what it is I am releasing.

You can't have it both ways; in order to argue that Manning was against "over-classification" had to know what was classified. Instead, he appears to just think nothing should be classified. "Information wants to be free" is a generic statement against all classification; not a exposure of abuse of the classification system.
posted by spaltavian at 1:22 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


the question was not about how you expose specific pieces of classified material that should not be classified, the question was about how you would expose an institutional culture that classified things needlessly.

This does not seem difficult; you would simply download a random sample* that was small enough that you could read them all (say 1000), and if say 990 were released harmlessly, then you can say "about 99% of cables are overclassified." It's strange to me that anyone would think an indiscriminate leak to Assange is the most effective, let alone the only, way to expose overclassification if this is your goal--has anyone been able to go through the hundreds of thousands of cables and do this?

*As I understand it, the cables are numbered, which makes picking a random selection reasonably straightforward, but clearly there are other ways you could do it even if they aren;t.
posted by dsfan at 1:23 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


He broke the law, but we didn't have to prosecute him for it. Recently a government official has lied under oath to deceive Congress about the secret activities of his agency. Just because he broke the law doesn't mean we prosecute him, if we don't want to. Since he broke the law to protect government deception it is okay. It's only a problem if you break the law to expose that deception.

How can the real rulers of this country, the people, make informed decisions in our voting under these circumstances? Too much is unnecessarily secret, and the government openly lies to our representatives without consequence. We are voting blind.

So, we live in a country where the law and common sense don't really matter all that much at the highest levels of government. That's why Ironmouth can be so wrong about how vindictive the sentencing would be even though he understands the law better than most of us, JHarris. Not everybody has the sense of legal fairness and equality and righteousness that he does.

Any sane system would recognize that within the lawbreaking of Bradley Manning was some psychological trauma that may have led to bad decisions and some courageous heroism and temper the punishment with that in mind. I think this sentence was too harsh and fails to do that.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:31 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


The smoking gun would be an internal memo that directs relevant parties to over-classify things.

As I covered in my original hypothetical: there isn't one. Organically developed unwritten rule. Doesn't mean the rule doesn't exist.

You can't have it both ways; in order to argue that Manning was against "over-classification" had to know what was classified.

I'm not trying to have it both ways; you're trying to argue that to act against over-classification, Manning needed to know every single thing that was classified. Is it possible that Manning was personally aware of a lot of over-classified material and could extrapolate from there? I'd say that seems quite easily possible.

How many FOIA acts about things you knew didn't need to be classified do you imagine you could put through before your access to classified material was revoked? A statistically significant amount, enough to get the world to take notice? Or would you just get poo-pooed for "cherrypicking" examples out of the vast array of classified documents that proved your point? After all, no one without access can prove that all the other documents you didn't leak weren't all totally legitimately classified!

Do you start to see the problem? The federal government classifies vastly more documents per year than any one person can possibly read. If you want to show a systemic problem, you need to prove you took an unbiased sample of statistically significant size, or else you're open to completely impossible-for-you-to-disprove accusations of bias in your sample.

This does not seem difficult; you would simply download a random sample* that was small enough that you could read them all (say 1000), and if say 990 were released harmlessly, then you can say "about 99% of cables are overclassified."

Okay, so dsfan at least understands that you need an unbiased, statistically significant sample, and seems to think Manning could've done basically the same thing he did, just with a smaller sample size. The question is, how do you prove you took a random sample if nobody can see the original set? Are we just to take your word for it that there was this database of numbered documents and you just took random ones? How do we know you didn't specifically pull out ones to make the US look bad? (Note that even amidst a 260,000-cable dump, the accusation that Wikileaks just wants to make the US look bad still gets play.)

Also you're going to have to define "released harmlessly" in a way that doesn't make it seem that Bradley Manning released all 260,000 of them "harmlessly". (That would suggest 100% over-classification, which even I don't believe, though 90%+ wouldn't surprise me at all. Though there's a tangent there about how diplomatic cables are not a representative sample of all government secrets, of course.)

Lastly, realistically, how much less jail time do you suppose Manning would be facing if he'd only released 1,000 [allegedly] random diplomatic cables instead of a whole database full?

See that's the thing; releasing more documents than he could possibly read was, in a strange kind of way, brilliant proof against accusations that he was only releasing what he wanted to release for his own motives and to satisfy his own biases (to see this argument in action, see literally any thread about Snowden). The only bias he can be accused of having is the "information should be free" bias you ridicule him for.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:53 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, about sentencing....

The people Manning exposed in the Collatoral Murder video were sentenced to zero years in prison.

Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for exposing them.

How, exactly, do we have a system of military justice where exposing abuse is more harshly punished than killing civilians? Isn't that a slightly more important discussion to be having than yet another rehashing of the definition of whistleblower?

Think about what this says about America. Our government has, at absolute rock bottom minimum, tortured 1 person to death and operated a torture regime that involved at minimum hundreds of victims. Not only has no one been prosecuted for this, there has been no trial, no investigation, and indeed our highest government official declared that he would *never* investigate.

However, the person who revealed that our military was murdering civilians for sport in Iraq was not merely investigated but aggressively prosecuted, tortured, and then sentenced to 35 years in prison. The people he exposed killing civilians, like the torturers, have not been sentenced to even a single year in prison.

So let's discuss sentencing, and the priorities that our sentencing of various criminals reveals.
posted by sotonohito at 1:56 PM on August 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


Think about what this says about America. Our government has, at absolute rock bottom minimum, tortured 1 person to death and operated a torture regime that involved at minimum hundreds of victims. Not only has no one been prosecuted for this

Well, one person was prosecuted over matters relating to torture.

Kiriakou was the first member of the CIA to publicly acknowledge that torture was official US policy under the George W. Bush administration. He was convicted in October of last year of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) when he provided the name of an officer involved in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program to a reporter and sentenced in January of this year.

posted by Drinky Die at 2:00 PM on August 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


The smoking gun would be an internal memo that directs relevant parties to over-classify things.

As I covered in my original hypothetical: there isn't one. Organically developed unwritten rule. Doesn't mean the rule doesn't exist.


Which is why I then added:

Without that, I could release or make FOIA requests for specific classified documents that I know shouldn't be classified, which would require me to know what it is I am releasing.

This is no different dsfan said; we're both arguing that you can't make a claim of over-classification if you don't know what's being classified.

The question is, how do you prove you took a random sample if nobody can see the original set?

The "random sample" is so you can actually break down the larger set into something you can actually read.

I'm not trying to have it both ways; you're trying to argue that to act against over-classification, Manning needed to know every single thing that was classified.

I said no such thing. I said he needs to know everything he released. If he doesn't know what he released, how does he know those things shouldn't be classified?

How do we know you didn't specifically pull out ones to make the US look bad?

The goal is this scenario is to make the US look bad. That's fine. You need proof to make such a contention- documents that were classified that should not be- not an info-dump.

Your focus on "random sampling" is strange. To prove things are being classified that shouldn't be, you need to release things are being classified that shouldn't be.
posted by spaltavian at 2:06 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whistleblowing is a crime in the USA. Torture and "Collateral Murder" are not. Them's the facts. Please act appropriately. Most of us do.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:06 PM on August 21, 2013


It's possible he wanted to expose over-classification but just didn't do it the best way, you know.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:10 PM on August 21, 2013


Lastly, realistically, how much less jail time do you suppose Manning would be facing if he'd only released 1,000 [allegedly] random diplomatic cables instead of a whole database full?

I don't want to go around in circles, so I'm going to bow out on the random selection/full data dump business--I've had my say, I don't think leaking things you haven't read is appropriate--but I hope that my criticism of Manning's methods does not lead anyone to believe I think that his sentence was appropriate (I think it was absurdly punitive, even apart from the pretrial detention issues), that it's not appalling that he is punished while torturers and perjuring officials are not (it most definitely is), or that I believe Manning's a traitor. Even if I think his methods were unsound, trying to do the right thing recklessly shouldn't cost you 12-35 years of your life in prison.
posted by dsfan at 2:19 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kiriakou was the first member of the CIA to publicly acknowledge that torture was official US policy under the George W. Bush administration.

Speaking of Kiriakou: CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou’s Open Letter to Edward Snowden
posted by homunculus at 2:19 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


lupus_yonderboy: The proof of how responsible Wikileaks was, the proof the success of this is that so far no one has identified even one person who was harmed by this disclosures.
The counterpoint to your "proof" is: I really don't expect the US government to ever publish a list of "U.S. spied who died because of Bradley Manning."

Ain't gonna happen. Whether 0 died, or 100 died, because of this leak, we'll never know.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:52 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I've made my point so I'll bow out after this. One of the most important revelations of Manning's leak, more important IMO (though I'm open to argument) than the contents of any of the individual cables, was just how thoroughly and consistently the government abuses the very concept of classification to classify huge amounts* of stuff. Proving the government engaged in a cover-up is a very different thing from proving that the government regularly covers up basically everything, even trivial stuff, as its standard operating procedure, and the latter requires a very different kind of proof.

I'm not representing Bradley Manning as a genius statistician who consciously realized the only way to avoid accusations of a biased sample size was to pick a sample size so large he couldn't possibly have biased it, but that is the end result: he couldn't have cherry-picked a rare few examples of the government over-classification, simply because he couldn't possibly have cherry-picked that much stuff. That data dump, far from making him not a whistleblower, was itself the proof of a form of endemic corruption and abuse within the United States government (because no, I do not believe a democracy can function when the people are not informed). And I don't see a way we could've gotten compelling proof of that if he'd stop to read each and every cable first.

*2012 figures: 73,477 original classification decisions, 95,180,243 derivative classification decisions. As far as I can tell from the report (PDF), classification decisions are per document, while declassification are measured per page. Not sure what the average length of a classified document is? I mean, even if they are also measured in pages it's still a crazy amount.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:52 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


knoyers: He undeniably betrayed his government while serving in the military
And since his government was engaging in illegal (unconstitutional) activities, I'm perfectly OK with that.

In fact, that's quite obviously in keeping with his enlistment oath.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:57 PM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ain't gonna happen. Whether 0 died, or 100 died, because of this leak, we'll never know.

Maybe somebody will leak it.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:59 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I bet Obama's pissed that the EU's squeamishness on capital punishment means that he doesn't get a photo opportunity signing Manning's death warrant, and uttering some platitudes about how “the ultimate crime against one's country merits the ultimate punishment”, in that rich, velvety baritone of his.
posted by acb at 2:59 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also just in: HarperCollins announces Adrian Lamo's autobiography “Cyberpatriot: How A Digital Outlaw Heard The Call Of His Country”
posted by acb at 3:00 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


"President Obama, in his news conference this month, said that Edward Snowden was wrong to go public with revelations about secret surveillance programs because 'there were other avenues available for somebody whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions.' This is a common refrain among administration officials and some lawmakers: If only Snowden had made his concerns known through the proper internal channels, everything would have turned out well. But it’s a load of nonsense. Ask Gina Gray."

Thanks to Rory Marinich, whose FPP for this was deleted as a "short opinion piece" just because the Washington Post was too meek to make it a Front Page Banner Headline.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:01 PM on August 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


If only Snowden had made his concerns known through the proper internal channels, everything would have turned out well. But it’s a load of nonsense. Ask Gina Gray."

Another example: Former CIA Officer & Whistleblower Sabrina De Sousa & the ‘Proper Channels’ Myth
posted by homunculus at 3:05 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised and pleased that it's "only" 35 years and that he gets credit for time already served and that he will be eligible for parole. I expected a much harsher sentence. I think he did deserve some jail time, but as far as I'm concerned he should have been released by now. Basically, in my view once you torture someone you shouldn't get to keep them in jail unless they commit a new crime after release.

After torturing someone, you simply lack any moral framework in which you can claim the right to imprison someone.
posted by wierdo at 3:15 PM on August 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


Here's a good comparison of Manning's sentence to other members of the military who revealed secrets. Spy for Iraq during the first war? 34 years, serve 12. Turn over secrets to East Germany? Sentenced to 30 years. Turn over to the Soviets both blueprints for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and identity information for active U.S. agents? 30 years, later cut in half, served less than 10 years.

Hard to say that any of those people were anything but flat out traitors. They all were sentenced to less time than Manning.

Makes a person right cynical, it does.
posted by straw at 3:16 PM on August 21, 2013 [19 favorites]


Adrian Lamo's autobiography “Cyberpatriot: How A Digital Outlaw Heard The Call Of His Country”

Too perfect. After all, "Patriot" is a title that can only be granted by the Ruling Powers. That's why America's original Revolutionaries were Traitors until they founded their own country (and why Benedict Arnold went from Traitor to Patriot to Traitor). And why I have no qualms with the civil-rights-busting legislation being acronymed the PATRIOT Act. "Patriot" can't be a compliment unless you have unwavering allegiance to the State bestowing that title.

So PLEASE find a better word to describe the leaking/whistleblowing heroes who challenge corrupt systems. Although these days, having ANY nation call you a Traitor is becoming a badge of honor.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:23 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Re: the Ellsberg/Pentagon Papers prosecution--the reason the judge gave for dismissing the case: The totality of the circumstances of this case which I have only briefly sketched offend a sense of justice.

You know the extraordinary conditions under which Manning were held at the beginning of his imprisonment, amounting essentially to torture, rather easily meet this same criterion as well: They offend the sense of justice and cast some pretty grave doubt on the professionalism and essential competence of the military justice system that held and tried Manning.

Somehow these kinds of cases just piss off the powers that be to such a degree, that they feel they can justify any amount of malfeasance to take their revenge.
posted by flug at 3:28 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's a good comparison of Manning's sentence to other members of the military who revealed secrets.

A good counterargument to the slogan that “the penalty for treason is death”. It has not been death for a very long time; had it been death, many of these people would have faced a firing squad.
posted by acb at 3:32 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Patriot" can't be a compliment unless you have unwavering allegiance to the State bestowing that title.

“Patriot” is, like “alpha male” or “yummy mummy”, one of those insults that sounds superficially like a compliment.
posted by acb at 3:37 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Statement by Bradley Manning: "Sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society."
posted by anemone of the state at 3:58 PM on August 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


The counterpoint to your "proof" is: I really don't expect the US government to ever publish a list of "U.S. spied who died because of Bradley Manning."

Yes, but the counterpoint to that is, if you're going to make serious allegations of this sort, you need to furnish some sort of proof.

All we have up to now is the vaguest of accusations, that something bad must have happened-something-something-mumble-mumble.

Out of 350,000 leaked documents, let's have just ONE specific example of the terribly grave harm done. I'm sure there must be one, so let's have it.
posted by flug at 4:17 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Manning didn't have especially good access to classified information and the techniques he used were quite unsophisticated. If the stuff he leaked is of any value than it's certain that other nations had already got it. The only people it was being kept from were civilians.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:36 PM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


Statement by Bradley Manning: "Sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society."

What a brave human being.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:47 PM on August 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


Out of 350,000 leaked documents, let's have just ONE specific example of the terribly grave harm done. I'm sure there must be one, so let's have it.

The position that seems to be permeating this thread that if one cannot identify very specific, grave harm if information is public, then there is something problematic about it being classified strikes me as incorrect. I'll take one non-military example from a book I was reading last week, The Alchemists by Neil Irwin, about central banks' response to the 2008 financial crisis (a good book by the way). In it, he recounts a minor scandal that erupted when one of the leaked cables revealed that the head of the Bank of England did not think that Tory leaders Cameron and Osborne grasped the pressures they would experience if they attempted to reduce the deficit.

Now, personally, I don't think there's anything remotely illegitimate about the US government trying to understand what sort of people they are going to be dealing with in the future. It's also obvious to me that this sort of conversation will never happen if it's going to be blasted across the front page of the Wall Street Journal on the next day, so the realistic option set is 1) have these conversations and classify them or 2) don't have these conversations. I don't really think the country is best served with the latter.

This doesn't mean, of course, that there isn't rampant overclassification throughout the government--pretty much everyone who has studied the issue has concluded that there is. But I do think it's worth distinguishing between overclassification of policy (such as the practices revealed by Snowden's leaks) and communications, where the benefits to disclosure are somewhat less clear. I don't think it's useful to say "no grave harm came from these leaks, therefore he was right to release them," because I think that underestimates the value of having the nation's leaders have as accurate a picture as possible of what goes on in other countries. The lack of specific grave harm does indicate to me, however, that a 35-year sentence is quite inappropriate.
posted by dsfan at 4:58 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


> The counterpoint to your "proof" is: I really don't expect the US government to ever publish a list of "U.S. spied who died because of Bradley Manning."

Overall, the idea that you can go to jail for decades without anyone actually proving or even claiming you did harm - because it's so "secret" you can't even discuss harm or the lack of it - this idea seems anathema to a free society.

But in fact this question came up during the trial and the prosecution witness admitted that there were no apparent victims of the leaks - source, and if you don't like that source there are plenty of places you can read the whole, unedited testimony.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:08 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joe in Australia's ʇuǝɯɯoɔ above hits the nail on the head.

> If the stuff he leaked is of any value than it's certain that other nations had already got it. The only people it was being kept from were civilians.

Imagine for a second what a rational, ethical government would have done when confronted by the Manning leaks.

1. Punish the criminals exposed.
2. Perform an urgent damage report, based on the assumption that all of this information was already known to America's enemies.
3. Start rationalizing the classification system so 99% of these documents became unclassified, and 99% of the people who had access to classified information no longer did.

What do we get? None of this.

None of the criminals were punished. All of the government's reactions seem to be based on the farcical notion that none of the literally million people who had access to this data had leaked any of it before Manning. And of course, nothing will be declassified.

My contempt for these cowardly and incompetent losers could not be any greater.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:16 PM on August 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


Interesting comparisons by FDL, thanks straw. Just shows that controlling public opinion takes precedence far above any actual operations in the DHS, DoD, DoJ, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:32 PM on August 21, 2013


The US government doesn't care about other governments learning (not really secret) State Secrets, because all of those governments are playing the same game. They're unsettled by Bradley Manning's hacker ethos and the failure of screening that allowed someone with a personal moral code so completely at odds with the military's code to rise so far in the ranks.

Torture is wrong. Bradley Manning was perhaps naive, both in thinking that something would change if so many "classified" documents were released, and in the kind of black-and-white, secrecy-is-evil-information-wants-to-be-free worldview s/he expressed prior to releasing the cables. But Manning's naiviety reminds us of how much bullshit we accept every day, under the moto of "the way things are"/"nothing to be done".

Also, considering how badly this could have gone, turning the documents en masse over to wikileaks turned out to be the most responsible thing to do (cf Glen Greenwald using his partner as a runner; a reporter phoning the mayor of Toronto's office to confirm an unreleased video of him smoking crack; etc. It's like "real" journalists have forgotten how to do their jobs properly).
posted by subdee at 6:21 PM on August 21, 2013


The position that seems to be permeating this thread that if one cannot identify very specific, grave harm if information is public, then there is something problematic about it being classified strikes me as incorrect.

I'm not very sure that's my position.

I would be quite understanding if the military drummed Manning out and maybe gave him a few months in the brig. Because it was in his job description to keep those secrets and he didn't.

But a 35-year sentence requires harm, serious harm, specific harm--and gobs and gobs and gobs of those harms. Not just, "Golly gee, we're a little embarrassed because the Bank of England guy talked about politics to our ambassador* and people found out, something-something-something-mumble-mumble-mumble."

I suppose I would be more satisfied with the fairness of Manning's sentence if people who illegally authorized illegal torture, people who illegally authorized war crimes, people who knowingly lied to the American people to facilitate going to war and committing war crimes, soldiers who are convicted of committing atrocities, etc etc etc, were also being handed out 35 year sentences on a routine basis.

But they're not, and Manning is.

I mean, our decision to not pursue ANY prosecution of torture instigators or facilitators, while vigorously prosecuting leakers and handing them very lengthy jail sentences, really does speak volumes about our national priorities.

*Saying, incidentally, the types of things I could have rather precisely predicted a leader of the Bank of England might have said or thought, knowing scarcely anything particular about either the Bank of England or British politics . . . .
posted by flug at 6:51 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Here is a general note about the tone of this conversation:

It is the nature of internet arguments to try to present one's own position in such hyperbolic tones so as to put the other side in the position of being ridiculously stupid. I really wish that weren't happening so much in this thread. I can see how the people who think Manning and/or Snowden were in the wrong (and those groups might not be groups) might see this as an example of necessary justice being served. But I am more in favor of the groups who see this as a case where the law gets in the way of the need to address serious systemic problems.

Both sides have good points. I think the public's need to know outweighs the other side by a large margin, but I can understand why someone would think otherwise, I just think they don't fully understand the context of the situation. So I don't see it necessary to characterize the other side as being idiotic, just as much as I don't think they have to refer to us as being so.
posted by JHarris at 7:02 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Statement by Bradley Manning: "Sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society."

Would that the former guaranteed the latter.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:07 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen quite a few people bring up Daniel Ellsberg here, and I think an interesting point that few people bring up at all is that it's entirely possible that no future situation will ever be comparable to the Pentagon Papers. Because of information technology, I'd argue that the behavior of a Vietnam-era reporter occurred in such a radically different context that any comparison is completely invalid.

The recording and dissemination on information is of a different kind than anything in the past. And I often suspect that some of the support for Manning/Snowden might be rooted in old mental models that simply don't apply anymore.

I'm very much open to the possibility that I've got this bass ackwards, and that looking back it'll be clear that we should unconditionally be supporting the Mannings of the world. But it's really difficult to say at this point in history.
posted by graphnerd at 7:18 PM on August 21, 2013


In my last comment:
"(and those groups might not be groups)"

Should read:
"(and those groups might not be the same groups)"
posted by JHarris at 7:22 PM on August 21, 2013


Because of information technology, I'd argue that the behavior of a Vietnam-era reporter occurred in such a radically different context that any comparison is completely invalid.

Because of what now? How does the means/ease of obtaining the information make the slightest difference?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:24 PM on August 21, 2013


To clarify my above point, I was thinking specifically about the over classification argument. I'm not by any means convinced that diplomatic cables shouldn't be classified by default, due to their often-sensitive nature.

And I think it's entirely possible that those need to be classified by default due to the sheer volume of information created. The institutional controls necessary to determine when that's valid or not might just be hugely onerous (and I think most everyone would agree that diplomatic cables need to be classified sometimes).

So we're in a position where the volume of recorded information is orders of magnitude greater than what could be imagined in the past. And I don't think that anyone today really knows how to handle this.
posted by graphnerd at 7:27 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pentagon Papers leaker calls Manning another ‘casualty of a horrible, wrongful war’
posted by homunculus at 7:39 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


History Will Pardon Manning, Even If Obama Doesn't
posted by homunculus at 7:40 PM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


me: He was tortured before trial for 9 months; they couldn't even be bothered to give him 4 months credit for that time.

Brandon Blatcher: Serious question, was it nine months? I thought it was a just a few days at most, depending on how one defines torture.

The very first footnote in that Wikipedia section you cite is an article that is full of the kind of detail I'm calling torture, which - yes - includes punitive pre-trial solitary confinement that went on for months:

For the first few weeks of his confinement in Quantico he was allowed only 20 minutes outside the cell, known as a "sunshine call". Even then whenever he left his cell – and this remained the case throughout his nine months at the marine brig – he was put into full restraint: his hands were handcuffed to a leather belt around his waist and his legs put in irons, which meant that he could not walk without a staff member holding him...

He was forbidden from taking exercise in his cell, and given that he was allowed out of the cell for at most one hour a day for the entire nine months at Quantico, he started to be creative about finding a way around the prohibition. "I would practise various dance moves. Dancing wasn't unauthorised as exercise."


It goes on to note:

Three Quantico forensic psychiatrists who gave evidence to the court this week agreed that within days of arriving at the marine base Manning had recovered his mental health and was no longer a risk to himself. They consistently recommended that the soldier be put on a much looser regime. But the authorities would not listen. All they would do was to lower his status from "suicide risk" to "prevention of injury order" or PoI, a theoretically more relaxed set of rules that in practice was in almost all regards just as restrictive as its predecessor.

Other military expert witnesses this week compared the PoI regime unfavourably with Guantánamo and death row, saying that it was more stressful on the inmate than either. Yet the Quantico authorities cited precisely those activities that Manning had used to keep his hopes alive to argue for him remaining on the PoI order. They referred to the fact that he danced in his cell, did fantasy weightlifting and made strange faces in the mirror. They even referred to the fact that he played peek-a-boo with the guards as a sign that he was at serious risk of suicide.


His lawyer noted in December 2010 that since that July the PoI order meant Manning had been confined to his cell "for approximately 23 hours a day."

I really don't understand why you're suggesting the torture went on for "just a few days at most," Brandon. He was kept in solitary confinement against the recommendations of Quantico's own psychologists for month after month after month, before trial. They wouldn't let him exercise and used the "fantasy weightlifting" he did to try and keep sane as more evidence to keep him under a horrible regime of pre-trial punishment. That is torture. It went on for 9 months (some say 11 months but we'll be conservative here).

Can you clarify what's not torture to you in all that?
posted by mediareport at 7:42 PM on August 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


Looking forward to the day the U.S. military prosecutes war criminals and torturers as vigorously.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 9:00 PM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


I find it very unlikely that Ellsberg had read and was aware of the content and potential impact of all 48 boxes of documents. Yet, clearly, history at least, considers Ellsberg a whistleblower.

I have heard Ellsberg interviewed about his release of information, as well as Chomsky, who bhelped review the material. (Zinn too, if I remember correctly).

My understanding is that he (and Chomsky) had detailed knowledge of the information they released, and that all three of them read through it all very carefully, and did select information to keep out of the release.

I will try to find the links and bring back.
posted by chapps at 9:53 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, here is the interview (video or transcript) on Democracy now where Ellsberg describes in detail the release of the papers.

He and another person, Anthony Russo, did the photocopying and carrying out of the documents.

He gave copies to a reporter of the New York Times, and also tried to shop around for a Senator to release the full document publicly.

The New York Times published analysis and excerpts, wining a court ruling to give them the right to do so unimpeded, after attempts to stop them by Nixon.

Chomsky and Zinn were also given copies, and published them in a book with commentary, after they were released as part of a filibuster in a Senate Committee that needed a long presentation to succeed (perhaps the best part of the story).

I heard Chomsky interviewed on Q (CBC radio) on Aug 20 (listen here though it is mostly about other things) and at one point he says they kept one part of the documents out of the book --if I understand him correctly it was because it would put someone at risk. The parts that were published were not edited.

I am not sure how that squares with Ellsberg's account of the fillibuster ... was everything included? Not sure. In any case, once the book (full transcript) was published it was already a matter of public record through the Senate.


All in all, a very different scenario to the Manning story, but not an ethically different one. (And I think neither should serve time, FWIW).
posted by chapps at 10:53 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is probably as good a place to mention an idea I had ages ago but forgot to mention out loud:

WhistlStartr: crowd-funding in support of whistle-blowers. 'cause whistle-blowers tend to lose their jobs and be subjected to expensive litigation. WB would help ease that pain. A lot more people would WB if they felt they wouldn't be bankrupted by it.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:59 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The prosecution would use this as evidence that they were betraying their employer for commercial reasons. It's really a no-win situation.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:58 AM on August 22, 2013


lupus_yonderboy: “My contempt for these cowardly and incompetent losers could not be any greater.”
Sure it could. You could also have to listen about how Manning was a "fruitcake nancy boy" who couldn't handle being in a real man's army and got what he deserved and only a "Pelosi-ite commie" like yourself would take up for him. As for "Collateral Murder", well "those people shouldn't have been born in a shitty country like Iraq."

Long story short, the dinner table conversation was kinda horrific last tonight. I might have to insist we start watching SportsCenter or something instead of the news.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:31 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well that's new to me:

As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female.
posted by bdz at 5:17 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well that's new to me

It shouldn't be, given that she has been saying so for years. The media have just chosen to ignore it.

It's an incredibly brave statement and my heart goes out to her, especially since she will be spending her prison term in a jail with no facilities for trans people or appropriate medical care.
posted by fight or flight at 5:26 AM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


The (male) prison Manning is being taken to does not provide HRT to inmates. Here's hoping that will change.
posted by fight or flight at 5:34 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


It shouldn't be, given that she has been saying so for years. The media have just chosen to ignore it.

Sources close to sources tell me that people who knew (and cared) kept quiet to protect him (or her, as you chose) because they and he (or she) didn't want it to become the public issue.

I have a feeling this is going to get ugly.

(Guardian seems to have had this story on the weekend as well. I'm electing to flip gender pronouns during this initial "what, no, really?" stage of befuddlement.)
posted by Mezentian at 5:37 AM on August 22, 2013


I'm electing to flip gender pronouns during this initial "what, no, really?" stage of befuddlement.

Given that she has explicitly said in her statement that she would like to be referred to using female pronouns, you can probably forgo that.

The more I think about it, the more I admire the incredible courage it must require to "out" yourself as a trans woman just before being incarcerated in federal jail.
posted by fight or flight at 5:41 AM on August 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


Given that she has explicitly said in her statement that she would like to be referred to using female pronouns, you can probably forgo that.

I reckon I get a few minutes of confusion (plus I hadn't read the statement).
And I reckon I'm going to be considerably more forgiving than the mainstream media.

I literally (in the sense of, two minutes before I posted) just found out and had to Google to make sure people weren't taking the piss.

The more I think about it, the more I admire the incredible courage it must require to "out" yourself as a trans woman just before being incarcerated in federal jail.

I'd add it to the list of "things I wouldn't consider".
Also on my list of things to consider not oputing myself after:
"betraying the US Government"
and "joining this man's army" (if it's still called that).

I'm going to make some popcorn and "enjoy" the right-wing media's take on this.
And wait for the "Assange/Ladyboy" rumours to sprout.
posted by Mezentian at 5:53 AM on August 22, 2013


I've seen people pointedly referring to her as Breanna Manning since the Lamo chats first came to light - her gender is mentioned in the first few lines of their first chat, in fact. There's also what I'd thought of as one of her more famous quotes (paraphrased by Wikipedia, although it's easy enough to find the full text for people less lazy than me) in there

"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 [a] boy ..."

homunculus linked it earlier in the thread, but once again here's Paris Lees on her pre-transition experience during a much briefer stint in prison. I hope to fucking god that Chelsea Manning somehow gets treatment while she's inside, but from what I'm reading it's almost certain she won't. Denial of treatment is tantamount to (further) torture, but I don't expect the authorities to entertain that notion for a moment.
posted by emmtee at 6:13 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


(that sounded kind of snippy about your not knowing, Mezentian, and I didn't mean it to - I'm just astonished at how under-reported this has been by almost all sectors of the press, considering the information's been right there in public for so long)
posted by emmtee at 6:33 AM on August 22, 2013


No worries at my end.

This came out of left field for me.

I knew there was something "off" about Manning. The uniform always seemed to big (physically, I wondered if that was deliberate clothing choice), and I just wrote off comments about psych problems to issues about 'him' struggling with being gay or something.

Turns out it has been an open secret for a while, and I can understand why. It could potentially completely change the broader narrative around the decisions Manning made in some sectors.

One of my friends runs a Trans charity-thingo in the UK and came out and made some really odd comments about Chelsea Manning, and I immediately assumed it was a family member.

Seems like there was a concerted effort to actively bury the issue during the trial. Why it wasn't picked up and exploited I am curious about.

If I were in the media, and looking for an angle, I'd have gone the "How Manipulative Sex Pest Julian Assange Manipulated a Confused Young Boy" route long before now.

And to think, when I got up this morning my only question around the case was whether Obama will issue a pardon when he leaves office.
posted by Mezentian at 6:43 AM on August 22, 2013


Count me in the camp of being surprised that people are surprised about her being transsexual, and I didn't even seriously follow everything about the case (too depressing). I wonder if Wikipedia has already ... Yep. And that's why I love the internet.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 7:24 AM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm just glad we have all these armchair whistleblowers here to define exactly what counts and does not count as whistleblowing. It is very helpful to have such complex issues rendered into an easy to understand system of yes/no.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:26 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have been following the Manning / Wikileaks issues pretty closely but, I confess, I'm pretty ignorant about transgender issues.

So I understand that we're supposed to refer to Chelsea Manning at this point forward as "she." Do we refer to Pfc. Manning historically (as in 'when Manning leaked the documents') as he or she?

Basically, what I'm asking for is a crash course in transgender etiquette. Is there any standard, generally accepted reference on the Internet somewhere? Thanks in advance for any help.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:28 AM on August 22, 2013


The more I think about it, the more I admire the incredible courage it must require to "out" yourself as a trans woman just before being incarcerated in federal jail.

It's my understanding - and correct me if I'm wrong - that's going to military prison (Leavenworth). Things in military prisons are... substantially better than in the state or federal prison system. Not that it will be joyride, of course, but...
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:32 AM on August 22, 2013


I mean, if I suddenly had 300 odd thousand classified documents fall into my lap, well, I'd do what any decent chap would do and at least take the time to read through them all. In my comfortable chair which isn't in a war zone while I'm desperately not trying to work out my own self identity and sense of self.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:32 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow. Right before she gets incarcerated. She's got more courage and more gumption than any of our elected officials. If only we had more people of this caliber in our military and government.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:38 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do we refer to Pfc. Manning historically (as in 'when Manning leaked the documents') as he or she?

Disclaimer: I do not identify as transgender, although I do consider myself under the trans* umbrella. I also do some trans* advocacy work.

In my experience (and ymmv), how someone decides to be identified when discussing their pre-transition history is a personal choice and varies from person to person. I believe, however, it is polite, when you don't have that information, to refer to the person's history using their preferred pronoun (since not doing so would imply that there was a point when they "stopped" being their birth assigned gender and "started" being their preferred gender, when for many people it is not so clear-cut).
posted by fight or flight at 7:44 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do we refer to Pfc. Manning historically (as in 'when Manning leaked the documents') as he or she?

"In 2011, Chelsea Manning, then known as Bradley… " there's really no reason to use a male pronoun since it has nothing to do with the story per se. It only needs to be made clear that you're referring to the same person, hence "formerly known as…" I guess it would be relevant if you were explaining why she's in a male prison. "Chelsea Manning was living as a man when she was sentenced to blah blah blah"

There was a metatalk in the last month or two about Trans 101 but I'm on my phone and it's hard to look up. Had some good resources though.
posted by desjardins at 7:47 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sources close to sources tell me that people who knew (and cared) kept quiet to protect him (or her, as you chose) because they and he (or she) didn't want it to become the public issue

From what I understand, a lot of people thought it would make Manning much less sympathetic. Which is shitty.
posted by corb at 7:49 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it's always best to apply someone's identification and pronouns etc whether you're talking about them before or after coming out - she was always the person she's now publicly made it known she is, whether or not the rest of the world was aware, and it's good to acknowledge that. (Obviously if someone were to request otherwise then sure, but I don't think I've literally ever met a trans person who did.)

That MetaTalk thread was this one, pointing to a post by Juliet Banana with this link and this other link being the substantial 101-ish bits.
posted by emmtee at 7:52 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not casting ANY doubt on Manning's desire to transition, but do you think the timing of this announcement is intended to help press for an early pardon? That is, given that HRT isn't available in Leavenworth, perhaps Manning will now push for a pardon on grounds that denying the right to transition is unjust? Otherwise, announcing gender issues on the way into a lengthy prison stay is a dangerous choice, no?

I'm not discounting the possibility that Manning is just brave, mind you. Just considering all possibilities.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:56 AM on August 22, 2013


I mean, if she were my sibling, I'd be supportive of her desire to transition but scared shitless for her for saying so publicly on the way into prison.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:00 AM on August 22, 2013


Not casting ANY doubt on Manning's desire to transition

That seems to be exactly what you are doing...or at least on her motivations.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:01 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am reminded of this passage from Simone de Beauvoir's The Blood of Others:

"Because the wrong lay not in the institutions, but in the depths of our being, we must huddle in a corner and make ourselves as small as possible. Better to accept everything, than to make an abortive effort, doomed in advance to failure! That prudence! That senseless prudence! As if there were a means of escape!"
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:08 AM on August 22, 2013


Not casting ANY doubt on Manning's desire to transition

That seems to be exactly what you are doing...or at least on her motivations.


I'm really not. I even went to the trouble of specifically saying I'm not. As in my second comment, I'm just looking at it from the perspective that prison has to be a terrifying place to be trans. If she were part of my family, I'd just worry that this would attract the wrong kind of attention from other inmates in a way that made her vulnerable to... well yeah... prison.

I mean you have to do what's in your heart. And maybe the real motivation for waiting until now to say so was, as suggested above, a desire not to do anything that would complicate the trial. But from a how-does-this-affect-your-day-to-day life perspective, this could be argued to be the single worst possible moment in Manning's life yet to start transitioning.

On the other hand, everything she's been through, maybe being true to herself is all she has left. Good on her for being brave then.

Whether it was her intent or not, I certainly hope it improves chances for a pardon.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:09 AM on August 22, 2013


I think in the context of her (much) earlier statement to Lamo that she was more afraid of being seen worldwide as male than of prison or even death, it's much more likely she's been wanting to correct the name and pronouns used in the media all along, and now she's mostly passed beyond the point where defence strategies and legal counsel were dictating her decisions, she's relatively free (in only this one sense, sadly) to set the record straight.
posted by emmtee at 8:09 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


And of course, added to that is maybe her understanding that the added dangers of being imprisoned while known to be trans are outweighed by the possibility she won't have to go this whole time without treatment, however remote a possibility that is.
posted by emmtee at 8:11 AM on August 22, 2013


There's talk that Manning will be pardoned after seven years. But that seems odd to me, given that we don't know which party will have the White House in seven years.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:14 AM on August 22, 2013


From what I understand, a lot of people thought it would make Manning much less sympathetic. Which is shitty.

Given that security issues have historically been used against LGBT persons (couched as "susceptibility to blackmail"), Manning may well have been trying to protect her fellow trans servicemembers from further discrimination.
posted by Etrigan at 8:15 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Manning may well have been trying to protect her fellow trans servicemembers from further discrimination.

Absolutely. I think it's worth noting that the repeal of DADT does not protect trans servicemembers.
posted by fight or flight at 8:18 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's certainly already plenty of evidence that Manning is willing do what she thinks is right, even at great personal cost.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:22 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why do we play the "guess the real motivation" game for whistle blowers and not for our elected officials?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:25 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Given that security issues have historically been used against LGBT persons (couched as "susceptibility to blackmail"), Manning may well have been trying to protect her fellow trans servicemembers from further discrimination.

Well, Manning might have wanted to do that, but she was not in control of what the Courage To Resist folks and (obviously) the Free Bradley Manning group did. And for them, I think it was largely tactical considerations that prevailed.
posted by corb at 8:27 AM on August 22, 2013


There's talk that Manning will be pardoned after seven years. But that seems odd to me, given that we don't know which party will have the White House in seven years.

"Pardon" won't really be the issue in seven years (although it would still be a possibility). In seven years Manning will be up for parole. It will be a parole board's decision whether or not to release her.
posted by yoink at 8:38 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really wasn't trying to cast doubt on Manning's motivations for wanting to transition which is clearly entirely authentic. I was just saying this choice of timing in announcing them could make her life even harder.

In some ways, Manning reminds me so much of a treasured loved one of mine, I can't help but think in sibling/family member terms. I mean, if I'm her brother and her choices are: announce desire to transition going into prison, start transitioning years later on release; or announce and begin transition on release... I'd be begging her to pick option two for fear of what could happen in between.

That said, I couldn't begin to understand the toll it must take to know that your sex and gender don't match. And Manning certainly has a history of being brave enough to do what's in her heart, even at great personal cost. So certainly I can believe she just did what she had to do. (Particularly in light of the other points brought up on other trans service people and DADT.)

But even if it were not her intent, I sure hope this improves her odds of pardon.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:41 AM on August 22, 2013


Why do we play the "guess the real motivation" game for whistle blowers and not for our elected officials?

Because in any social situation — including Metafilter, as it recently happens — people have an instinctive urge to defend those at the top of the hierarchy. We guess at the motivations of people who challenge authority, because of long-held instincts to defend the existing structure of authority.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:42 AM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


yoink: ""Pardon" won't really be the issue in seven years (although it would still be a possibility). In seven years Manning will be up for parole. It will be a parole board's decision whether or not to release her."

Not long after I posted that, the program I was listening to made the same correction. It's good to know.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:43 AM on August 22, 2013


Let me see if I can read the minds of the military officials here. Or, rather, predict their actions: "Private Manning's gender confusion would make him vulnerable to other inmates. Therefore, for his own security, he will need to be placed in solitary confinement."
posted by tyllwin at 8:55 AM on August 22, 2013


Why do we play the "guess the real motivation" game for whistle blowers and not for our elected officials?

What thread are you reading?
posted by Etrigan at 9:05 AM on August 22, 2013


What thread are you reading?

Apparently not the same one as you.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:23 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Longtime CNN contributor's response to Chelsea Manning's announcement.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:39 AM on August 22, 2013


anemone of the state: "Longtime CNN contributor's response to Chelsea Manning's announcement."

Christ, what an asshole.

Not surprisingly, he's on FOX News these days.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:47 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


GLAAD MEDIA REFERENCE GUIDE for Journalists - TRANSGENDER GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Sorry for allcaps, copy pasting from phone
posted by nicebookrack at 9:48 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why do we play the "guess the real motivation" game for whistle blowers and not for our elected officials?

Are you kidding? Nearly every thread about an elected official's actions gets a number of comments that are along the lines of, "Bah, this is just demagoguery to get himself elected again!" or "He's actually playing THREE-DIMENSIONAL CHESS" or "She's only saying these anti-gay things because SHE IS SECRETLY GAY" or "He's clearly trying to court donations from the banking industry", etc.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:14 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Longtime CNN contributor's response to Chelsea Manning's announcement.

Best response, "Weird, I reacted the same way when you got fired at CNN."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:22 AM on August 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


What thread are you reading?

Apparently not the same one as you.


I'm reading the one where the FPP contains two links decrying the motivation for the prosecution and the first screen of comments alone has comments about "most transparent administration evar!" and how Manning should never have been prosecuted and how Daniel Ellsberg says this won't have a chilling effect. All of which are moves in the "guess the real motivation" game for our elected officials.

I'm sorry that "we" aren't discussing this enough for you, but perhaps you'd care to discuss the motivation of our elected officials instead of doing what you're complaining about.
posted by Etrigan at 10:23 AM on August 22, 2013


I'm just looking at it from the perspective that prison has to be a terrifying place to be trans. If she were part of my family, I'd just worry that this would attract the wrong kind of attention from other inmates in a way that made her vulnerable to... well yeah... prison.

It was known already, though not widely publicized, that Manning is trans. She would be facing extra harassment, violence, and punitive measures in prison regardless. With a public announcement, she and her defense team can encourage the public to keep a closer eye on her treatment, and hopefully raise some awareness of trans issues, and maybe put pressure on the prison to not deny her treatment, and perhaps even move her to a gender-appropriate prison. I hope, though I do not have high expectations:( In any event, this is an incredibly brave and selfless/self-sacrificing act on Manning's part. Which is consistent with her other public statements, of course.
posted by eviemath at 10:27 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's interesting which media outlets are respecting (or not) Manning's request for female pronouns in their lead stories - The Guardian, Times and Mail(!) do, while the BBC, CNN, NYT, WP & Telegraph do not. Fox & ABC both avoid gendered pronouns entirely.
posted by anagrama at 10:28 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


eviemath: "With a public announcement, she and her defense team can encourage the public to keep a closer eye on her treatment, and hopefully raise some awareness of trans issues, and maybe put pressure on the prison to not deny her treatment, and perhaps even move her to a gender-appropriate prison."

That's a really good point. Here's hoping.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:31 AM on August 22, 2013


"With a public announcement, she and her defense team can encourage the public to keep a closer eye on her treatment, and hopefully raise some awareness of trans issues, and maybe put pressure on the prison to not deny her treatment, and perhaps even move her to a gender-appropriate prison."

The former two certainly. I think there might be a lot of complications with the prison, since military prisons do so much routine stripping, if she was getting HRT. In terms of moving her to a female prison, I think that is definitely not going to happen, it would also raise issues with existing prisoners. (Without getting into whether it's right or not, I could see a lot of lawsuits around that on all sides).

So the shitty thing is they're most likely to try to just put her into solitary as a gender-appropriate solution.
posted by corb at 10:41 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


So Wikipedia changed the title of her article to "Chelsea Manning" today, of course not without some contentiousness
posted by banal evil at 10:41 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


So the shitty thing is they're most likely to try to just put her into solitary as a gender-appropriate solution.

She'll likely already be fairly isolated -- Leavenworth in particular has a wing for those convicted of crimes against the state so they're not among the general population (whose attitude is generally, "Yeah, I killed someone, but I'm not a traitor").
posted by Etrigan at 10:44 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


So the shitty thing is they're most likely to try to just put her into solitary as a gender-appropriate solution.

Leaving aside the question of whether or not you agree with her facing prison time at all, though, isn't this a genuinely intractable problem? Is there an obvious solution? It hardly seems implausible to argue that it would be unsafe for her to join the general population of a men's prison and yet it also does seem genuinely unwise to say "any previously male person who chooses to identify as female automatically has the right to enter the general population of a women's prison." Assuming, for the sake of argument, that you were the one making the decision about where and how Chelsea Manning should be incarcerated and assuming, also, that you don't have the right to choose setting her free, what would you choose to do?
posted by yoink at 10:57 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that it is within the President's power as Commander in Chief to address the issue of accommodating the needs of transgender individuals in military prisons. I can see no excuse for not immediately beginning to do so at this point, not that there was any before. Am I wrong?
posted by Drinky Die at 11:02 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


If for some reason you need to get your outrage on today, that Wiki debate banal evil linked should get you there in a hurry.

What would you do if s/he self-identified as a dog, cat, broomstick, or banana then? Self-identification is not the same as legal identity
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:03 AM on August 22, 2013


It seems to me that it is within the President's power as Commander in Chief to address the issue of accommodating the needs of transgender individuals in military prisons. I can see no excuse for not immediately beginning to do so at this point, not that there was any before. Am I wrong?

I imagine it is within the President's power. My question, though, is what, specifically, does it mean to "accommodate the needs of transgender individuals" in this instance and given the institutional structures that currently exist? Again, if you were in the position of being able to issue the relevant commands, what commands would you issue? That Chelsea Manning enters the general population of a women's prison? What if the inmates there object to having someone who has not yet transitioned physically in any significant way admitted among them? Do you just tell them to get over it? If that is your decision, what safeguards, if any, do you put in place to prevent the possibility of someone claiming a desire to transition simply to avoid the relative dangers of being among male prisoners (or for worse reasons)?

I have nothing but sympathy for Chelsea Manning on this issue. It is obvious that she is thoroughly genuine in her desire to live as a woman from henceforth and it adds an immeasurable burden of difficulties to the already onerous conditions of imprisonment that she is seeking to undergo her transition at this time. It just isn't immediately obvious to me what the right and proper response to this problem is from the authorities.
posted by yoink at 11:14 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I would order would be that he have access to a qualified doctor to provide him with whatever medical attention he needs and an appropriate boarding area for his gender. If the President is running a prison system so dangerous that military men will pretend to be women even though they aren't then he can start reforming that issue separately.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:22 AM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


(I am not saying there are not all kinds of complexities to work out, just that he has to start doing that immediately)
posted by Drinky Die at 11:23 AM on August 22, 2013


What I would order would be that he have access to a qualified doctor to provide him with whatever medical attention he needs and an appropriate boarding area for his gender.

The fact that you say "his gender," though, does rather show that the question of an "appropriate boarding area" is still a little tricky. The fact that you find it difficult to actually talk in concrete specifics about what orders you would give (other than sweeping "make everything better" generics) I think confirms the fact that this is just an inherently difficult problem, without obvious solutions.

What, for example, do you mean by "whatever medical attention he needs"? Is that up to and including gender reassignment surgery should Chelsea Manning wish to go down that road? Does that mean it is incumbent upon every prison system everywhere to provide such care to every single inmate who professes such a desire (not just the inmates you happen to find politically sympathetic)? That could presumably become a troubling incentive for many poor trans people to get sentenced to prison so as to get what is normally a prohibitively expensive operation for free.

But O.K., let's say we do provide that option to Chelsea Manning and to every other inmate in Federal prison who elects to undergo the process. It's not an overnight "hey, presto chango" process, however. So, we still have the problem of housing her. Where and how should she be incarcerated while the process is underway? Should there be "Trans" prisons built specifically for people who are undergoing transition (and from which they move to "regular" prisons upon completion of the process, I guess?)? And given that the actual building of such a prison couldn't happen for years, what would you do with this actual person in this actual moment? What is the best, most humane and most reasonable decision to make right now?
posted by yoink at 11:36 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oops, force of habit. Her gender.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:37 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do not have an informed opinion on the medical needs or special prison accommodation needs of transgender individuals so I can't go into greater detail. I'm certain there are some folks on Mefi who can dig deeper on that so I hope they drop by this thread. As I said I am sure there are plenty of complexities. An announcement that those complexities are being addressed rather than ignored would likely go a long way towards easing the pain of any transgender individuals currently housed in the military prison system.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:42 AM on August 22, 2013


this is just an inherently difficult problem, without obvious solutions

One solution is to issue a pardon. Problem solved.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:42 AM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Thank you, DirtyOldTown, but a bunch of us trans folk know pretty well the kind of crap that's out there -- which is why some of us spend so much time on Metafilter instead.

What I'm trying to say is don't feel like you need to bring it here on our account.
posted by tigrrrlily at 11:49 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


this is just an inherently difficult problem, without obvious solutions

One solution is to issue a pardon. Problem solved.


A pardon for every trans inmate in the military prison system? yoink is pretty obviously looking to solve a systemic problem, not just the one suffered by someone you like.
posted by Etrigan at 11:53 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think confirms the fact that this is just an inherently difficult problem, without obvious solutions.

Indeed. If anybody is interested in digging deeper into these issues, one worthwhile reading assignment is Chief Judge Wolf's 123-page decision in Kosilek v. Spencer, issued on September 4, 2012. There has been plenty of media coverage of the case, some halfway decent, but you can find the actual decision as a PDF via Google. In brief, a federal court has ordered Massachusetts to provide an inmate with sex reassignment surgery. The court was careful not to make any ruling regarding where the inmate should be housed after surgery (see p. 122).

This is a case that's been going on for a long time, but that particular ruling is thoughtful and thought-provoking, whether or not you agree with it. It concludes the defendant's gender identity disorder is a serious medical need, and denial of surgery is a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
posted by cribcage at 12:11 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


A pardon for every trans inmate in the military prison system?

Yes, a pardon for every trans inmate in the military prison system. That is exactly what I meant. Precisely.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:14 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are you kidding?

No.

Nearly every thread about an elected official's actions gets a number of comments that are along the lines of, "Bah, this is just demagoguery to get himself elected again!"

Yes, of course there are those who question the government's positions, but they are sure to soon be answered by the government apology brigade which has never seen an atrocity or war crime that it can't rationalize away...unless it was committed by a Republican president. It was to those people that my comment was directed. So you got me...I was wrong to insinuate that no one ever questions the government's actions.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:47 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, you could poll some inmates in a women's prison and find some who are willing to share a unit with Manning, or other female-identified trans prisoners. Willingness to volunteer could be considered as contributing to "good behavior" or otherwise rewarded, as an extra incentive. An interview with volunteers to double-check that they weren't planning to use the opportunity for violence might be useful, especially in the case of applying this same idea for male-identified trans prisoners.

Or you could consolidate a number of trans prisoners in a single detention unit. This would be less ideal, since the issue of prisons tending to be located far away from inmates' families - thus obstructing visitation, which contributes to the isolation of prisoners from outside support networks, which makes their re-entry to society after serving their sentences more challenging - is a separate problem.

Or you could build some small-population units where inmates are removed from a larger prisoner population, but can still maintain normal prison routines and privileges, have contact with a few other inmates or at least with guards rather than no other human beings (not that guards are necessarily any less abusive toward trans prisoners than other prisoners, but one could make careful selection of the guards working such a unit), are allowed to exercise and see the outdoors, etc.

Or the US could not incarcerate so many people to begin with, so that prisons are not over-full; and at the same time re-structure prisons to promote rehabilitation programs rather than focus on punishment, working on making prisons safer places overall for everyone.

Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head, and without any particular expertise on the subject. There are a variety of options. Access to appropriate (physical and mental health) medical care would likely be a big help, even in the absence of any other accommodations.
posted by eviemath at 12:52 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Soldier who pleaded guilty to killing 16 Afghan civilians could be eligible for parole after 20 years.

Do we really live in a word where Manning could be locked up for longer than this guy?
posted by inertia at 12:58 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't mean to drag that awfulness in here, tigrrrlily. I'm not so used to that kind of awful talk myself and just found it jarring that yep, Wikipedia has that too.

It's like anything else, I guess. I should learn to stop being surprised.

"Yeah, it's bad on that link, too" would have been simpler and better in retrospect. My apologies.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:01 PM on August 22, 2013


Do we really live in a word where Manning could be locked up for longer than this guy?

"Could be"? Sure; Manning could become violent in detention or something and not be deemed eligible for parole while the other guy could become a saintly presence in prison and parole boards could become enormously more lenient towards violent crime and various other factors could align in just the right way. "Has any realistic chance of happening?" No. Manning has a pretty good chance, I'd have thought, of making parole early on. I think most people would see her as a very low-risk reoffender and she didn't commit a violent crime. I also think most people, even those who think she deserves some prison time, see her as naive and foolish rather than deliberately malicious. The bar to the other guy getting paroled is much, much higher.
posted by yoink at 1:20 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, a pardon for every trans inmate in the military prison system. That is exactly what I meant. Precisely.

Okay, my meter is busted: I sincerely can't tell if you're being sarcastic.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:44 PM on August 22, 2013


Okay, my meter is busted: I sincerely can't tell if you're being sarcastic.

Well, depends what's a more charitable interpretation. That the initial response was a flippant non-answer given out of no interest to actually engage in the conversation, or that pardoning all transgendered convicts simply because they're transgendered is actually being put forward as a good idea.
posted by kafziel at 1:46 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I even went to the trouble of specifically saying I'm not.

Going to the trouble of specifically saying you're not casting judgment is the first step to casting judgment like 99.999% of the time. It's a classic opener to judgment.
posted by xmutex at 1:50 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


sotonohito: "So, about sentencing....

The people Manning exposed in the Collatoral Murder video were sentenced to zero years in prison.

Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for exposing them.
"

When Manning apologists are called on their apologism, they resort to the Collateral Murder video. The fact is, if that was the only thing Manning had leaked, I seriously doubt they'd thrown the book at him.

But really, what was gained by leaking the State Department cables? I mean, I went through the cables for Brazil, for example, and they contain zero information about war crimes, zero information about corruption or wrongdoing. But they do have information about American interests in the region that should have been kept classified. There are reports of conversations between Brazilian politicians and American diplomats that only happened because there was trust between the parties. And without this trust, the State Department can't do its job.

So even if you forget about the actual lives put at risk, the fact is Manning didn't care. He wanted to fuck some shit up. And boy did he.
posted by gertzedek at 1:54 PM on August 22, 2013


Well, depends what's a more charitable interpretation. That the initial response was a flippant non-answer given out of no interest to actually engage in the conversation, or that pardoning all transgendered convicts simply because they're transgendered is actually being put forward as a good idea.

Honestly? Considering some of the things people have genuinely proposed on Metafilter, the latter doesn't strike me as entirely outlandish. So ... yeah, I guess I really needed a sarcasm tag on that one.
posted by Amanojaku at 2:06 PM on August 22, 2013


Assuming, for the sake of argument, that you were the one making the decision about where and how Chelsea Manning should be incarcerated and assuming, also, that you don't have the right to choose setting her free, what would you choose to do?

In extreme super brief because I am literally going out the door:

1. Establish a reasonable diagnosis and treatment pathway written in consultation w/ successfully treated trans people, relevant experts, specifically focused on allowing inmates to begin/progress treatment while incarcerated after suitable evaluation rather than current system of maintaining pre-prison doses often without qualified oversight, leading to people spending decades on dangerously high hormone doses without anti-androgens/orchiectomy etc, also focus on identifying strongly gender-variant inmates with no need/desire for medical treatment but flag as high risk in gen pop.

2. Classify hormones, orchi, necessary psych support, hopefully surgery as urgent medical care referencing estimated mortality rates among untreated trans people, also referencing relatively low cost of medication, surgeries next to eg. chemo, dialysis, other urgent treatments (rightly) provided to inmates at present.

3. Move trans prisoner populations diagnosed under 1. to segregated accommodation with specifically trained staff as some facilities in SF, LA etc currently do, assuming pop large enough to not be essentially solitary. Re-purpose older, smaller facilities as specific trans prisoner detention as Italy recently did & consolidate pops at as little distance from family as possible, accepting compromises where necessary in face of need for treatment & safety.

4. Establish treatment thresholds at which trans prisoners become eligible for entry into appropriate sex general population at pre-selected prisons, accepting necessity of housing some strongly non-gender-conforming but non-transsexual inmates longer-term in trans specific facilities

5. Stop worrying about trans people intentionally getting imprisoned for free treatment, this already happens occasionally with much, much more expensive conditions. Cost to uninsured trans patient for full course of treatment is a fraction the cost of say, chemo. Problem in need of a systematic fix, not reason to withhold treatment from a vulnerable inmate group in desperate need.

I would back at least some of this up if I weren't rushing off, although do imagine I only did an ok job at best because really.

I know not all of this is necessarily relevant to Manning, given the size of the military prisons I've been reading about I can't imagine a trans segregation wing would be feasible unless collated (and even then I can't find a thing about even estimated pop %), and I have no idea what the legal situation might be re: a transfer to specialist non-military prison, a reasonable compromise could involve keeping her in vulnerable prisoners' accommodation while receiving treatment & moving to a suitable women's prison within say, ~18 months.
posted by emmtee at 2:07 PM on August 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


gertzedek: "But really, what was gained by leaking the State Department cables?"

The cables that revealed how the US has been secretly bombing Yemen?

The cables that showed how US diplomats had been directed to gather DNA, fingerprints, DNA, and iris scans of the UN leadership?

The cables that touched off the Arab Spring?

Go home, you really don't know what you're talking about.
posted by anemone of the state at 2:08 PM on August 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


eviemath: "It was known already, though not widely publicized, that Manning is trans."

Every single profile published about Manning mentions gender issues. I'd say it's widely publicized.
posted by gertzedek at 2:09 PM on August 22, 2013


emmtee, thanks for that excellent answer. That's a great program that I hope gets implemented, although as you note it involves a lot of steps many of which, even with the best will in the world from all concerned parties (which we don't, alas, have) would take considerable time to implement. For the question "what is the best thing to do with Chelsea Manning right now" I'm still rather at a loss.
posted by yoink at 2:15 PM on August 22, 2013


I would say a suitable response could be housing/showering separately, while still having eating/exercise time with general population. I do like the idea of seeking volunteers for roommates and crediting it as good behavior, though.
posted by corb at 2:16 PM on August 22, 2013


"Has any realistic chance of happening?" No. Manning has a pretty good chance, I'd have thought, of making parole early on.

These two statements are not the same. "Any realistic chance" resolves down to a vanishingly unlikely probability, while "a pretty good chance" sounds a lot like could beat the odds.

So even if you forget about the actual lives put at risk, the fact is Manning didn't care. He wanted to fuck some shit up. And boy did he.

The "actual lives put at risk" meme, compared to the similar meme that "not a single person has been proven to have been harmed by Manning's leaks", are odd because it's a textbook case of people talking past each other.

As for Manning wanting to "fuck some shit up," well, let's say Manning wanted to only release cables that revealed definite wrongdoing. What would that have looked like?
- Manning is not omniscient. There was likely plenty of wrongdoing in them that he had no capacity to adjudicate. Under this argument, these instances would have to wait until the next leaker to see the light of day. And one of those releases may have helped start the Arab Spring.
- To look through the cables to find things to release would take lots of time and energy, which one man could not realistically provide. He would have to have help, which unless they had similar clearance (obviously problematic) would itself be a leak. Thus this argument is really an argument against substantive leaking at all.
- Manning actually trusted Wikileaks to to do the sorting for him, and they were working with newspapers. They had gone to the U.S. government for assistance in helping them weed out information that could endanger people but were (maybe understandably to some degree, yet still sadly) rebuffed.
posted by JHarris at 2:18 PM on August 22, 2013


JHarris: "And one of those releases may have helped start the Arab Spring."

It's the second time someone says "The cables helped start the Arab Spring!" as if it redeems Manning.

The cable that "started the Arab Spring" was written by a diplomat explaining the corruption networks in the Tunisian government. This is probably something he heard from sources within the country. It has nothing to do with American wrongdoing (like, arguably, the Yemen cables).

And let's not forget that the jury is still out on the Arab Spring. For many of these countries, we may end up at a worse place than where we started. If the Magreb becomes a Caliphate, do we blame Manning for it?
posted by gertzedek at 2:31 PM on August 22, 2013


These two statements are not the same. "Any realistic chance" resolves down to a vanishingly unlikely probability, while "a pretty good chance" sounds a lot like could beat the odds.

You're missing the point. First of all Bales has not yet been sentenced, and may well never be eligible for parole. Second of all, if he is eligible for parole it will be in twenty years. That would be seven years after Manning will have made her first appeal to the parole board. For Bales to get paroled before Manning it isn't necessary that Manning be paroled early, it is only necessary that Manning is paroled earlier than Bales. In other words, you have to imagine a scenario in which the parole board looks at Manning's case--someone sentenced to a much shorter term than Bales and for a non-violent crime and says "no, this person is too dangerous to let loose" and keeps doing that for seven years and then at some point looks at Bales's application for parole and says "hmmm, this person has been eligible for parole for seven years fewer than Manning, but, hey, he seems like a nice guy and we can't really remember what he did to end up in prison here, so sure, why not?"

Now, seriously, what do you think the odds of Manning being denied bail until Bales is freed? I think "vanishingly unlikely probability" covers the ground pretty well.
posted by yoink at 2:31 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


- Manning is not omniscient. There was likely plenty of wrongdoing in them that he had no capacity to adjudicate.

No, Manning was not omniscient. That was a pretty good reason not to release these documents wholesale to Wikileaks without having much of a clue what was in them and without having any good reason to trust Wikileaks's wisdom in deciding what should and should not be made public.
posted by yoink at 2:34 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the Magreb becomes a Caliphate, do we blame Manning for it?

Eh, this just sounds like your own jingoism rather than anything in reality.
posted by planetesimal at 2:37 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, depends what's a more charitable interpretation. That the initial response was a flippant non-answer given out of no interest to actually engage in the conversation, or that pardoning all transgendered convicts simply because they're transgendered is actually being put forward as a good idea.

Absent a commitment to reform, it's a reasonable alternative if you do consider the current situation of transgender individuals in the prison system to be cruel and unusual punishment.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:51 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


And to think, when I got up this morning my only question around the case was whether Obama will issue a pardon when he leaves office.

That looks like another for the Questions Whose Answer Is No list.
posted by acb at 2:54 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the Magreb becomes a Caliphate, do we blame Manning for it?

Some people blame Ralph Nader for the Iraq war so I guess those same people would probably blame Manning for any thing bad that happens in the Middle East. They would of course be hilariously wrong.

Besides loss of prestige, embarrassment, and the revealing war crimes can anyone list at least one harm that has befallen the U.S. government and/or people because of Manning's actions? I mean after all this time and all these threads I have yet to see this. Anyone? I mean she just got 35 years...for what?

I am also curious as to the mechanism the government apologists propose that would have brought these crimes to light? I guess in their world view it would be ok if the government was able to commit crimes in the dark without anyone finding out. Out of sight, out of mind? Or maybe you people don't really think what was revealed were crimes. Maybe you can come up with a feasible scenario where a lone leaker is able to vet and release the large volume of material that would be required to illustrate a systemic problem. Either way Manning trusted wikileaks to vet the material before releasing it. In fact if I remember correctly wikileaks offered to let the Pentagon and State Dept. vet the material before release...they declined the offer.

The fact of the matter is that you can't have it both ways. You can't be against Manning and against the things he revealed as without Manning we would know nothing of the crimes he brought to light. It's like saying: "I love a good steak but that butcher is an asshole for killing that cow."

America Is
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:57 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


[We do not do that "Let's make a statement about people with backwards mindsets by pretending to be them in the comments" thing here.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:23 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, my meter is busted: I sincerely can't tell if you're being sarcastic.

I'm issuing an entirely appropriate response to a sarcastic comment, exactly as it deserves.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:58 PM on August 22, 2013


It's the second time someone says "The cables helped start the Arab Spring!" as if it redeems Manning.

I didn't say it DID start the Arab Spring; reasonable people might disagree on that. But the world is a complicated place, there are good and bad elements to Mannings' act, but that at least is something good.

The cable that "started the Arab Spring" was written by a diplomat explaining the corruption networks in the Tunisian government. This is probably something he heard from sources within the country. It has nothing to do with American wrongdoing (like, arguably, the Yemen cables).

So? It's not all about the United States. It is information that a source had that for some reason they didn't tell to people who greatly wanted to hear it. They DID hear it, and they reacted.

On whether the Arab Spring is a good thing: anything that gives people more of a say in their fate is good, ultimately, because that is an axiom. The results might ultimately be harmful, but at least then it's due to their own fault, instead because some authority figure, still in place frequently due to inertia and the abuse of power, says how it's going to be. And need I remind you that the United States has very often supported those despots and dictators if it's in their best interests for that to happen, entirely regardless of all its self-serving rhetoric about Democracy. And when we DO act in a direct sense, we tend to make a hash of it like in Iraq or Afghanistan. Maybe the US shouldn't be wielding so much power in this area. Maybe that helped to create the kind of situation that eventually required an Arab Spring to react to it, and caused the reaction to be so strong that it went overboard, and in ways these people, inexperienced with democratic processes due to ???SOME REASON???, to act in ways they might regret?

I'm not assigning credit to Manning for the Arab Spring. I'm saying his release of the cables may well have loosened the foundations of the existing power blocks, and helped the revolutions and restructurings that have always been in the cards for the region to begin to happen, and thus allow people to see and learn some things for themselves that, in the long, can only be beneficial for them. Because at least they did it for themselves, instead of because someone in their government, their military, the State Department, or you or I said it was okay for them.
posted by JHarris at 4:17 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you do consider the current situation of transgender individuals in the prison system to be cruel and unusual punishment.

It is. It is also the case of most everyone else in the prison system. It's just worse for transgenders.
posted by JHarris at 4:21 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


We're kind of dancing around the fact that we have a duty of care to prisoners. Trans people are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault in prisons, and if we cannot assure their safety (which I do not for one moment believe) then yes, we should not be confining them. The alternative is to say that they have been sentenced to rape, and I do not believe we have fallen so far, yet.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:35 PM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


JHarris: "It is. It is also the case of most everyone else in the prison system. It's just worse for transgenders."

FYI, "transgender" is an adjective, not a noun. Better to say "transgender people".
posted by jiawen at 4:47 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not too hopeful about the treatment Chelsea will get, considering the crap CeCe McDonald had to put up with. It'd be really cool to see the US prison system's treatment of trans people (and the prison system in general) start to reform because of Chelsea's case. I wish it would happen. I'm not hopeful, though.
posted by jiawen at 4:49 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Besides loss of prestige, embarrassment, and the revealing war crimes can anyone list at least one harm that has befallen the U.S. government and/or people because of Manning's actions? I mean after all this time and all these threads I have yet to see this. Anyone? I mean she just got 35 years...for what?

So no? No one can come up with anything?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:56 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Chelsea Manning's Gender Transition Could Set Military Precedent
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:01 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


the government apology brigade
...
maybe you people don't really think what was revealed were crimes. Maybe you can
...
So no? No one can come up with anything?


I would like to sincerely apologize for "the government apology brigade" that you seem dead set on interrogating but who seem to have failed to show up in this thread.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:04 PM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


that you seem dead set on interrogating

Yep asking people to back up what they say with citations and/or evidence is interrogation. But since the G.A.B.™ (Government Apology Brigade) can't even rise to this simple task it would seem that there is no need to continue as their silence speaks much more poignantly than they ever could.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:26 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


GABba GABba Hey
posted by planetesimal at 5:31 PM on August 22, 2013


I would like to sincerely apologize for "the government apology brigade" that you seem dead set on interrogating but who seem to have failed to show up in this thread.

I've read several comments in this thread from a few people in particular who seems to think that what Manning did hurt people, though there is still no evidence for it, and that all of the leaked material was never reviewed before release, which seems to contradict her statements about her motivations for whistleblowing. I don't know if there is a "brigade" out there, as such a thing suggests organization, but there is a contingent of folks who seem dead set on making unsubstantiated claims in every thread related to this subject, which happen to be the same ones the media parrots on behalf of the US government. Assuming you are acting in good faith, you might probably reconsider your apology. If you are not, then carry on, I guess.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:35 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


AElfwine Evenstar: "Besides loss of prestige, embarrassment, and the revealing war crimes can anyone list at least one harm that has befallen the U.S. government and/or people because of Manning's actions? I mean after all this time and all these threads I have yet to see this. Anyone? I mean she just got 35 years...for what?"

You can't really measure the damage, but it's naive to suggest there was none. I'd be really surprised if people who used to talk to Americans about sensitive matters still trust them. How do you think the people who dished the dirt about the Tunisian government felt when their words were published publicly? Now multiply that by 300,000.
posted by gertzedek at 5:45 PM on August 22, 2013


How do you think the people who dished the dirt about the Tunisian government felt when their words were published publicly?

Some four million people had access to those files. Maybe the State Department should train its employees to remember that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:54 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


and that all of the leaked material was never reviewed before release

Yeah and they conveniently forget the fact that wikileaks offered to collaborate with them on vetting the material and excising material that might compromise operatives and/or military units on the ground. The government refused this offer which illustrates perfectly the value that these motherfuckers place on the lives of our service men and women....but of course this had already been amply demonstrated by the Iraq fiasco.

So please G.A.B. don't use this disingenuous argument again kthanks.

You can't really measure the damage, but it's naive to suggest there was none. I'd be really surprised if people who used to talk to Americans about sensitive matters still trust them. How do you think the people who dished the dirt about the Tunisian government felt when their words were published publicly? Now multiply that by 300,000.

As I stated above the only people to blame for this are the government officials who refused wikileaks offer of a collaborative effort to mitigate any adverse effects of the leak. So please stop using this fallacious and intellectually dishonest argument.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:54 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


AElfwine Evenstar: "As I stated above the only people to blame for this are the government officials who refused wikileaks offer of a collaborative effort to mitigate any adverse effects of the leak."

I believe you're familiar with the concept of blaming the victim? Because that's exactly what you're doing right now.
posted by gertzedek at 6:05 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, no content editing could "mitigate any adverse effects of the leak" - the very fact that there was a leak was the catastrophe. It could lead to thousands of U.S. sources to shut the hell up, drying up the information channels.
posted by gertzedek at 6:07 PM on August 22, 2013


Fred Kaplan debunks some myths about Manning's sentencing (emphasing that the military courts act independently of the DoJ and have an additional primary goal of upholding military discipline) and suggests that her transgender identity may help her achieve an earlier release.
posted by Bwithh at 6:08 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Government Apology Brigade is the finest of the True Scottish Regiments.
posted by Etrigan at 6:10 PM on August 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Some four million people had access to those files. Maybe the State Department should train its employees to remember that.

Does anyone have an actual, legitimate source for this oft-repeated claim? It seems to be, roughly, the number of people with security clearances, but security clearances don't work such that if you have a secret clearance you can just access anything (Etrigan, I feel like you may have some experience here, though I might be misremembering...).
posted by dsfan at 6:10 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gertzedek wrote: You can't really measure the damage, but it's naive to suggest there was none.

My reaction on reading the cables was how well the USA came out of it. By and large, the authors of the cables were people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations.

I'd be really surprised if people who used to talk to Americans about sensitive matters still trust them.

This is a real thing, but the fundamental problem is that too many (millions!) of people were allowed to access the cables. The informants probably didn't realise that; they do now, but it's arguably better to have everything out in the open (and potentially remedied) than to allow the problem to get worse. You could even argue the other side of things: people talking to USAn diplomatic staff now know that their concerns are taken seriously and passed on for analysis, rather than just bouncing around in some staffer's mind and potentially ignored.

Anyway, as I said above, I expect that every foreign government already had access to these cables; it was only civilians that were ignorant. If the USA's informants are in danger, isn't it better that they know about it? The USA has both a duty of care and pragmatic reasons for desiring the safety of its informants. It's better to let them make an informed decision about their welfare, rather than have them be mysteriously assassinated when an ambassador mentions their name.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:15 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah and they conveniently forget the fact that wikileaks offered to collaborate with them on vetting the material and excising material that might compromise operatives and/or military units on the ground.

You appear to be "conveniently forgetting the fact" that this offer only came after they'd already released a fairly large tranche of the documents. Nor is it clear that the US Government has any reason to believe that Wikileaks is either a secure or responsible partner in such a process. There seem to me to be fairly obvious reasons why you might not want to engage in a process of underlining all the really important and dangerous parts of the leaked documents with a pretty shadowy, undefined organization headed by a non-national.

But all of this is fairly beside the point. The amount of damage done or not done by these leaks is not all that significant to the question of whether or not Chelsea Manning merits legal punishment for what she did. Chelsea Manning chose to randomly release a vast trove of classified information, without bothering to check what the vast majority of it contained and without any good reason to feel confident in the intentions of the person she released it to. If nothing all that terrible happened, by good fortune, to result from that it doesn't suddenly make the act o.k. If I fired a gun blindly down on a busy street and the bullet harmlessly ends up in a tree that doesn't mean that I should only be punished for minor arboreal vandalism.
posted by yoink at 6:18 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I expect that every foreign government already had access to these cables

This is another sticking point I have with the GABbers, as I'm sick of the demented game of multinationals and I wonder why anyone outside of government wouldn't applaud a big rip in the veil like what Manning did. But, I am a bit of an anarchist.
posted by planetesimal at 6:20 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


yoink: "Nor is it clear that the US Government has any reason to believe that Wikileaks is either a secure or responsible partner in such a process."

And it was neither, as we now know:

David Leigh of the Guardian newspaper tells FRONTLINE of meetings he attended with Assange in the run-up to publication of the war logs. "And we said: 'Julian, we've got to do something about these redactions. We really have got to.' And he said: 'These people were collaborators, informants. They deserve to die.' And a silence fell around the table."
posted by gertzedek at 6:27 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


gertzedek: I believe you're familiar with the concept of blaming the victim? Because that's exactly what you're doing right now.

Victim-blaming US government officials? Poor, victimized US government officials?

HA

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
posted by anemone of the state at 6:27 PM on August 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Does anyone have an actual, legitimate source for this oft-repeated claim? It seems to be, roughly, the number of people with security clearances, but security clearances don't work such that if you have a secret clearance you can just access anything

It's not quite that simple, but an army Specialist in Iraq had access to these cables. Manning actually had a higher security clearance (putting her in the ~1 million camp) but didn't take advantage of it for the leaks.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:31 PM on August 22, 2013


I believe you're familiar with the concept of blaming the victim? Because that's exactly what you're doing right now.

Governments aren't people, but at least we know where your loyalties lie...i.e. not with the American people. And still no evidence is forthcoming so please forgive me if I don't really believe a word you say.

You appear to be "conveniently forgetting the fact" that this offer only came after they'd already released a fairly large tranche of the documents.

Nope, the only thing that had been released at that point was the collateral murder video. So once again the G.A.B. is caught red handed outright lying to try and paint the leakers in as bad a light as possible. The fact of the matter is that Assange made the offer on the 23rd or 24th of July 2010. The first "tranche" of documents was released on the 25th.

And it was neither, as we now know:

Are those allegations by the same Jeffery Goldberg who was a cheerleader for the Iraq War, lied to us about Saddam connections to Al Qaeda, and also said:

There is some debate among arms-control experts about exactly when Saddam will have nuclear capabilities. But there is no disagreement that Iraq, if unchecked, will have them soon... There is little doubt what Saddam might do with an atomic bomb or with his stocks of biological and chemical weapons.

That lying asshole? Sorry, I call bullshit on his Assange quote. Anyone who cheerled for the Iraq war is either an evil asshole or a complete idiot so I highly doubt his Assange quote is not, at the very least, embellished to paint Assange in the worst light possible. So, in other words Goldberg played a good G.A.B. game in college and went pro. He's in the big leagues now.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:44 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some four million people had access to those files. Maybe the State Department should train its employees to remember that.

Does anyone have an actual, legitimate source for this oft-repeated claim? It seems to be, roughly, the number of people with security clearances, but security clearances don't work such that if you have a secret clearance you can just access anything...

It's not quite that simple, but an army Specialist in Iraq had access to these cables.


Well, an Army Specialist in Iraq who was working in an Intel shop. It's not like she was a postal clerk.

But that number is sort of overstated. For instance, I have a Secret clearance*, but I wouldn't consider myself to have "access to those files," because I don't have routine access to a Secret-cleared computer. I can't just find one and sit down at it, either -- if I were to go to one, it would be logged and I would be asked why I needed to use it. Once I got past all that, I have not the faintest idea how I could find 300,000 old diplomatic cables. That doesn't mean I couldn't if I really wanted to -- and it would be significantly easier for me to do it than someone with no clearance -- but lumping everyone with a clearance as having "access to those files" is a wee bit over the top.

Of course, that speaks to part of the problem: Why do I even have a Secret clearance? Because all military officers have to have at least a Secret clearance. (So that's hundreds of thousands of other people who probably have "access to those files" in some technical way, even though they really don't.) And because everyone has a clearance, stuff gets classified for barely any reason, because there's not much of a barrier to it and there's no ill effect to saying "This brief is classified," because everyone in the room is cleared.

* -- Technically speaking, I have three (one will expire within the next few months). There's a lot of doubly cleared people, especially in those rows labeled "Contractor." Similarly, there's a lot of people who have clearances that are years out of date -- that one that's about to expire is a Department of Energy clearance that I literally never used. I got it because I was doing contracting work with the DoE, and it was approved something like six days before I left that job. That was in 2008. There have been two Presidential elections since I got that clearance, I have never used it to access any scrap of information, and I'm still the "1" in "4,917,751" on page 3 of that PDF.
posted by Etrigan at 6:46 PM on August 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


banal evil: "So Wikipedia changed the title of her article to "Chelsea Manning" today, of course not without some contentiousness"

A couple of those folks seem to be protesting a lot more than might be considered seemly. Like I can imagine the spittle flecks all over their monitor because someone had the gall to rename the article to reflect Chelsea's chosen name. Pro tip: When you start with "there's only one source," and as more sources roll in you fall back to "those are biased sources," and in the process basically call 10 newspapers biased, it looks to everyone else like your argument isn't actually about sourcing.

At least that particular person bothered to (apparently) invent a reason to mask his or her transphobia.
posted by wierdo at 6:50 PM on August 22, 2013


But that number is sort of overstated.

Regardless, if the number is over, say, a million it's best to consider it effectively public. At least for comportment reasons.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:02 PM on August 22, 2013


stuff gets classified for barely any reason

Sounds like a broken system to me.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:19 PM on August 22, 2013


G.A.B.
GABba GABba Hey
GABbers


Ugh, stop it.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:41 PM on August 22, 2013


Are those allegations by the same Jeffery Goldberg who was a cheerleader for the Iraq War

I was wrong, which I would have know had I taken he time to properly read the link. I saw Goldberg's name and began to froth at the mouth...sorry. The original allegation came from Guardian reporters who initially worked with wikileaks. David Leigh seems to be substantially more credible than the hack Goldberg, so I don't know maybe he did say it. So maybe you have a point about wikileaks not being the perfect venue for publishing the leaks, but as I have been told several times here on the blue while criticizing the current occupant of the White House: the perfect is the enemy of the good. In my book an imperfect release of these documents is better than no release.

I'm having trouble with the fact that many here want to prosecute and imprison Manning which the government admits is to "send a message" to other would be leakers. I just don't understand how one can be for the revealing of war crimes and atrocities, but at the same time advocate something that is sure to make that harder and harder as we move forward. Given the damage that's been done to our Constitution over the last 12 years we need people like Manning and Snowden more than ever to keep our government honest as "the proper channels" don't seem to be working anymore.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:13 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just don't understand how...

If no one has convinced you yet, then no one will. That is okay. But please stop acting like your failure to agree is the fault of everyone who has tried to put forth a view different from yours; or that it is due to some intractability on their part. If you don't believe that it is possible for reasonable people to disagree on this issue, then you might not be the reasonable one.
posted by Etrigan at 2:45 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, when your reaction to your mistake is "maybe you have a point, but..." when your reaction to a mistake by anyone on the other side of the discussion is "disingenuous, dishonest, bullshit," then maybe you need to take a breather.
posted by Etrigan at 2:52 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've read several comments in this thread from a few people in particular who seems to think that what Manning did hurt people, though there is still no evidence for it, and that all of the leaked material was never reviewed before release, which seems to contradict her statements about her motivations for whistleblowing.

Here's the thing.

What Manning did could very well have hurt people. I have heard that it has from people who would know. But in terms of evidence? There can be no evidence, because any harm that has come from the leaks would also be classified and require yet another leaker to make public.

In addition, I think it is quite clear that the leaked material was not reviewed before release, if only because it would have been physically impossible for Manning to review that many documents. People are saying "well, Wikileaks reviewed it before release" but are not understanding that to the US Government, and to many in the intel field, releasing it to Wikileaks is a kind of release. The notion of trusting that Wikileaks is a capable and competent reviewer is not one that is accepted by the US Government or, indeed, anyone in the intel community.

I, for example, support Snowden but not Manning (though I support her gender identity and prefer people not to be tortured in prison) precisely because Snowden did review and release targeted whistleblowing material, while Manning released hundreds of thousands of documents, many of which broke no laws whatsoever.

What Manning did undoubtedly did hurt the interests of the United States. People citing the Arab Spring as a positive result need to understand that the Arab Spring hurt America's interests. It is possible to take a moral stance that this is a better thing to have happened, but it doesn't mean that it wasn't a blow to America's diplomatic relations.
posted by corb at 4:38 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have heard that it has from people who would know. But in terms of evidence? There can be no evidence, because any harm that has come from the leaks would also be classified and require yet another leaker to make public.

Frankly, if there was a 'smoking gun' they could have hung on her, given all the vitriol about the damage she'd done coming out of American Government sources you'd expect them to have at the very least something. But no, nothing. Nothing at all. And don't tell me they couldn't on the one hand maintain radio silence while not be able to find at least a couple of cases where the need for operational security wasn't an issue. But still, absolutely nothing.

And in a way she did not harm the interests of the United States. She harmed the interests of a particular part of the power structure of the United States. Not the same thing.

Finally, who knows where the various political uprisings that we call the Arab Spring are going, and what effects they might have. And to be honest I don't really care about America's interests within that context, ain't your business - maybe they should throw some tea into the Nile.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:35 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And to be honest I don't really care about America's interests within that context, ain't your business

Sure, and it's a perfectly valid viewpoint, but I think it'd be flawed to assume it was universally shared. Some people do care about America's interests, about ensuring that America has the best trade relationships and the shiniest things and all of its foreign policy objectives accomplished.
posted by corb at 6:56 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


No doubt Corb, but not all of us here are American, or otherwise feel that we need to massage the expectations of the beast that is American self interest.

I don't want things to go bad for the US or anything like that. But sadly, for all of us really, the moral position America had after the collapse of the Soviet Union has been basically pissed away. I'm critical because I care, and as part of the overwhelmingly larger part of the Western world that doesn't really get a say, not to mention the rest of the world more broadly, in many cases American self interest tends to not align with our own or any sense of decency. At times I find your foreign policy objectives, and how they affect domestic policy, not only incredibly short sighted, but self defeating.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:20 AM on August 23, 2013


Also, when your reaction to your mistake is "maybe you have a point, but..." when your reaction to a mistake by anyone on the other side of the discussion is "disingenuous, dishonest, bullshit," then maybe you need to take a breather.

See the difference is that when I make a mistake I admit it. If someone else makes a mistake and admits it I am a pretty forgiving type of person. I don't see anyone else doing any mea culpas about all the bull shit they've been saying that has been proven time and time again to be false and baseless.

Remember that time upthread where you claimed that I was committing a "no true Scotsman" fallacy. I did no such thing as, to my knowledge, I have made no universal claims about any person or category and then changed my tune when presented with a counterexample...which is the definition of that particular informal fallacy. So just because you happen to know the names of a few informal fallacies doesn't mean you get to whip them out whenever you jolly well please. If I am committing fallacious reasoning, please, by all means call me on my bullshit. Otherwise I suggest you stop making baseless claims.

That is okay. But please stop acting like your failure to agree is the fault of everyone who has tried to put forth a view different from yours; or that it is due to some intractability on their part. If you don't believe that it is possible for reasonable people to disagree on this issue, then you might not be the reasonable one.

Of course it's possible for reasonable people to disagree, but to be considered reasonable one has to actually be reasonable. Is it reasonable to hold contradictory opinions?...i.e. i'm all for revealing war crimes, but lets do this thing which will make that harder. It's contradictory and makes no sense. Which is why I am trying to understand it...but failing. Since you seem to believe you and others have some how addressed this contradiction maybe you could point that out in the thread because i'm not seeing it. Also, I am pretty certain that when having an argument it is usually proper to provide evidence to back up claims. When asked to do so and none is forthcoming would seem to be the definition of intractability.

Also, when your reaction to your mistake is "maybe you have a point, but..." when your reaction to a mistake by anyone on the other side of the discussion is "disingenuous, dishonest, bullshit," then maybe you need to take a breather.

Except I haven't been repeating the same "mistake" over and over again in every thread about this topic, have I? After seeing the same "mistake" made over and over by the same people leads me to believe either they lying or just willfully ignorant. If I keep repeating the same mistake over and over after repeatedly being corrected feel free to label me as dishonest and disingenuous.

At this point unless you or anyone else can address the contradiction inherent in your position I am done with you guys as I am wasting my time.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:45 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're the one who set the bar to "prove actual harm" and derisively tarred everyone who doesn't agree that Manning should be set free and given the Congressional Gold Medal. Even Manning has said that she did not know no harm would result from the leaks of documents she had not vetted in any way. Criminal recklessness has a long history of being punishable. If you disagree with the idea that harm must be proven for any crime to have taken place, I hope you're as vocal about bullshit DUI laws or intellectually dishonest gun control measures.

And if you feel that anyone should be able to release classified documents to an entity that the government does not want to have those documents -- regardless of whether there is proof of criminality in those documents -- then do you believe that the government should have any authority to withhold any information from anyone? If not, that's fine. Again, we disagree. But don't paint anyone who believes that the government should be allowed to control dissemination of any document with your contemptuous catchphrase.
posted by Etrigan at 8:08 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


There can be no evidence, because any harm that has come from the leaks would also be classified

That's just rationalizing slime. You could stick any allegation you wanted on someone with that kind of rationale. Just provide some proof or be quiet. Give some proof or just stop parroting the government's unsubstantiated allegations.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:24 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


This kind of slime doesn't even make rational sense. You can't reveal someone's secret identity if it's no longer a secret. If someone's cover is blown, then their cover is already blown and there is, by definition, no further harm from releasing information about anything that specifically happened to them, as a result. So if Manning hurt anyone, then let's see some proof. For once.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:34 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Criminal recklessness has a long history of being punishable.

Unless perpetrated by the state. Prosecuting and punishing Manning has nothing to do with the rule of law...in fact it is exactly the opposite of the rule of law. To protect those who break our laws and try to hide their crimes behind walls of secrecy and classification we have crucified Manning. This is not acceptable in any consistent moral system that I am aware of.

You're the one who set the bar to "prove actual harm"

I set no bar. I responded to a claim which was not backed up by any evidence. So for example, if I claim that Barack Obama is guilty of harming and/or killing innocent children I need to back that claim up with evidence. Do you really not understand how this works or are you being willfully obtuse? Speaking of innocent children I was appalled to read the propaganda mouthpiece for the military claim that: Some Afghan kids aren't bystanders

do you believe that the government should have any authority to withhold any information from anyone?

Not when in your own words "stuff gets classified for barely any reason". Not when they engage in gross negligence which leads to illegal wars and atrocities and congress is failing(or succeeding depending on whose side one is on) in its oversight duties.

But don't paint anyone who believes that the government should be allowed to control dissemination of any document with your contemptuous catchphrase.

If you believe the government should be able to control the dissemination of information which illustrates a pattern of criminal and negligent activity then you are by definition part of the G.A.B. Whether one is conscious of this identity is another matter...

I hope you're as vocal about bullshit DUI laws or intellectually dishonest gun control measures.

It's not the same thing as the institutions enforcing these laws, unlike the military, are not led by a bunch of psychopaths....for the most part. These institutions have not went on a 12 year global rampage of terror. They are also not engaging in a program of willful deceit of the American people in the context of covering up war crimes and other atrocities through the overuse of the classification system.

I'm trying one last time: please address the inconsistency inherent in your position or point out to me in the thread where you or others have done so. I am really trying here to understand. You keep responding to incidental and subsidiary issues without actually engaging with the two main moral conundrums: how can the rule of law be served/enforced when we prosecute and imprison those who would give us the information necessary to do so? How can you be against war crimes, but support prosecuting and imprisoning those who expose those very same crimes?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:38 AM on August 23, 2013


So if Manning hurt anyone, then let's see some proof. For once.

Quit setting the bar so high blazecock.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:39 AM on August 23, 2013


No doubt Corb, but not all of us here are American, or otherwise feel that we need to massage the expectations of the beast that is American self interest.

But that really has nothing, at all, to do with the question of "should Chelsea Manning have been found guilty of the crimes for which she was indicted?" Those of you in the "Free Chelsea Manning" camp seem to think that the way a criminal trial ought to work is by asking "well, do we think the consequences of this person's actions were broadly harmful or not?" And if the answer is "broadly not" then the person should walk free. By this standard, a murder trial would ask "is the world basically better off with the murder victim dead or not? Is everyone here agreed that the victim was an asshole? Yes? Good--o.k., you can go free now! But remember, don't you go killing any of the nice people!"

The question of whether or not Chelsea Manning's leaks caused specific harms and how much harm they caused is relevant pretty much solely at the sentencing phase of the trial. The law Chelsea Manning broke is not a law against "leaking classified material that can be proven to cause concrete harm to the US" but a law against "leaking classified material." Had the prosecution been able to show specific harms (X many dead US agents, for example) Manning's sentence would no doubt have been closer to the 60 years asked for by the prosecution--or even to the 90 year maximum. Had the defense been able to prove that the leaks were completely harmless (had, say, all the material Manning leaked already been in the public domain), then no doubt the sentence would have been lower. But it is simply a childish misunderstanding of the nature of the laws and the responsibility of the courts to keep harping on this issue of proving the specific negative consequences of Manning's acts.
posted by yoink at 9:41 AM on August 23, 2013


How can you be against war crimes, but support prosecuting and imprisoning those who expose those very same crimes?

Had Chelsea Manning limited herself to "exposing war crimes" then I think we would be having a very different conversation now. I also do not think that Chelsea Manning would be serving prison time.
posted by yoink at 9:43 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


On preview, what yoink said. Manning was a hero for getting the Collateral Murder video out. That does not absolve her from punishment for leaking documents that she admits she did not know the contents of nor the possible effects of their release.

do you believe that the government should have any authority to withhold any information from anyone?

Not when in your own words "stuff gets classified for barely any reason".


There is a difference between "too much is classified" and "nothing should ever be classified." Your refusal to see this difference is not a failure of the other side to present an argument.
posted by Etrigan at 10:14 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


By this standard, a murder trial would ask "is the world basically better off with the murder victim dead or not? Is everyone here agreed that the victim was an asshole? Yes? Good--o.k., you can go free now! But remember, don't you go killing any of the nice people!"

"Your honor, those cables needed leakin'."
posted by dsfan at 10:40 AM on August 23, 2013


I've never claimed that nothing should be classified. If justice was truly being served Manning would have been given whistleblower status by congress and would have been a witness in hearings investigating the crimes revealed. Since no such hearings or prosecutions of the civilian and military leadership under whose watch these crimes and pattern of criminal activity was allowed to transpire has been forthcoming the government has no moral or legitimate legal authority to wipe their own ass let alone prosecute the one person with enough personal and moral courage to take a stand for what is right and just. If any institution, whether public or private, is illustrated to have committed gross negligence which result in the deaths of innocent people said institution kinda loses any claims to secrecy and/or operational security. So unless one can come up with some mechanism through which members of the military can report these abuses with a reasonable degree of certainty they will be addressed one is nothing more than an apologist for the status quo which as evidenced by the documents released is by definition corrupt and is directly responsible for the deaths of at least, the very least, a million innocent people. An institution such as this loses all claim to moral and or legal legitimacy and until these problems are addressed it would be immoral and negligent to allow them (as we currently are) to continue operating under the very same paradigm of secrecy and obfuscation that enabled the crimes Manning revealed to take place. By supporting the prosecution and imprisonment of Manning one is advocating for and indeed encouraging this illegitimate regime of secrecy and corruption to continue unabated. In fact not only does one encourage this criminal activity to continue, one is advocating for an illegitimate legal regime which creates an atmosphere of fear and distrust which severely limits the possibilities that any future individual may have the courage to step forward and inform the American public what is being done in its name.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:43 AM on August 23, 2013


If justice was truly being served Manning would have been given whistleblower status by congress and would have been a witness in hearings investigating the crimes revealed.

Manning had no evidence or testimony to add to the video that she released. She was not a witness to the events of that video or to any of the other material she leaked.

By supporting the prosecution and imprisonment of Manning one is advocating for and indeed encouraging this illegitimate regime of secrecy and corruption to continue unabated.


Just because someone did something that should be protected (publicizing what they defensibly believe to have been a war crime) does not mean they should be automatically granted immunity from prosecution for all other actions they might engage in. I'm sure that if I had the power to bug the telephones of, say, the world's mining corporations I would eventually discover some genuinely illegal actions that ought to be prosecuted. That does not mean I should be given the power to bug anybody's telephone based on my personal whims and prejudices. If I broke into your house and stole your diary and read through all your emails and turned over everything I found, there's a possibility I might uncover some action that merits police investigation--that would not, however, justify my actions. You can't bring a pure consequentialist framework to issues of legal punishment.

And, frankly, I doubt you even believe your own argument. By your logic, if the US govt. and military has lost the legitimacy to sit in judgment of others until it has atoned for any and all crimes performed in its name then it has no right, say, to sit in judgment on Robert Bales. Do you want to see Bales walk free?
posted by yoink at 11:01 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since I have called for high level investigations and prosecutions of all crimes committed by our military and government you seem to be trolling. But hey since you've already outright lied in this thread and failed to take responsibility for said lie this seems to fit the pattern. I'm willing to believe that you weren't consciously trying to deceive anyone with your false claims, but since you have failed to address these blatant falsehoods, and/or recanted, I am having a hard time doing so.

As i said, prosecuting Manning serves no other purpose than to smear Manning and cow future whistleblowers in an attempt to further the paradigm of criminality, obfuscation and negligence exhibited by our military and civilian leadership.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:21 AM on August 23, 2013


Do you want to see Bales walk free?

Just one name. That's all I ask. One. Name.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:22 AM on August 23, 2013


you've already outright lied in this thread

I'm sorry, but what was the "lie" in the comment to which you've linked?
posted by yoink at 11:41 AM on August 23, 2013


Just one name. That's all I ask. One. Name.

Just read one of the many, many comments that have patiently explained why it really doesn't matter a damn whether you can prove direct harms from Manning's actions. Just. One. Comment.
posted by yoink at 11:42 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


One. Name. You can't even do that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:43 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Guys, cut it out or take it private.
posted by cortex at 11:46 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


it really doesn't matter a damn whether you can prove direct harms from Manning's actions

Then why do you people keep harping on and on about it. Jesus fucking christ. If it doesn't matter and your argument hinges on some other logical or legal point then why do you keep mentioning this other than to paint Manning in as bad a light as possible?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:57 AM on August 23, 2013


Sorry cortex, on preview...mefimail me.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:57 AM on August 23, 2013


Amusing : AP Claims Copyright Over Manning's Request For Pardon
posted by jeffburdges at 5:07 PM on August 23, 2013


yoink: "Just read one of the many, many comments that have patiently explained why it really doesn't matter a damn whether you can prove direct harms from Manning's actions. Just. One. Comment."

It doesn't matter one whit to what the outcome of the trial should have been, but it does very much matter as to whether or not it was a morally defensible action that Manning took. I have a hard time believing that there was any direct harm from Manning's releases simply because it's not outside the government's usual MO to leak things for political purposes.

The actions don't match the rhetoric. Legally, that's irrelevant. Politically, it should make a difference.
posted by wierdo at 5:56 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


To clarify for posterity's sake, my comment in this thread was written before Manning came out as Chelsea, and I now plan to use the pronoun "she" in describing her. It's jarring to see my last comment here alongside my last comment in the most recent thread in Recent Activity.
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:12 PM on August 23, 2013


".. glad you at least see that 35 is insane. A guy trying to sell his 3yo daughter for sex on Craigslist last week got 30!"
posted by jeffburdges at 10:13 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bradley Manning in a World of Cheneys, Hadithas, and NSA Domestic Surveillance
posted by homunculus at 11:58 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time believing that there was any direct harm from Manning's releases simply because it's not outside the government's usual MO to leak things for political purposes.

That doesn't follow, though, as a simple matter of logic. The fact that some classified material can be leaked without harmful consequences does not imply that all classified material can be leaked without harmful consequences. Manning did not know what she was leaking and was, therefore, not in a position to offer the "but I knew this material would not harm the interests of the US" defence.
posted by yoink at 1:30 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


An Open Letter to President Obama
You Failed to Break the Spirit of Bradley Manning.
posted by adamvasco at 1:49 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


yoink: "Manning did not know what she was leaking and was, therefore, not in a position to offer the "but I knew this material would not harm the interests of the US" defence."

The penalty for attempted murder is less than the penalty for murder. It's a different charge, even. I'm not sure why you think the same framework ought not to apply here. Intent matters, which is why I think some jail time was appropriate, at least up until the point they tortured her, but so do results.

The real solution to all this, of course, is to simply keep fewer secrets. Not no secrets, so don't trot out that straw man, but fewer, defensibly sensitive secrets.
posted by wierdo at 5:40 PM on August 24, 2013


The penalty for attempted murder is less than the penalty for murder. It's a different charge, even.

Manning was found not guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy, recall. No one anywhere is arguing that she didn't actually do the things that she was convicted of, which do not require demonstration of harm.

I'm not sure why you think the same framework ought not to apply here. Intent matters, which is why I think some jail time was appropriate, at least up until the point they tortured her, but so do results.

Please note that yoink hasn't actually said anything either way about whether Manning's punishment is too much or too little.

The real solution to all this, of course, is to simply keep fewer secrets. Not no secrets, so don't trot out that straw man, but fewer, defensibly sensitive secrets.

Similarly, don't trot out the straw man that anyone who believes Manning should go to prison also believes that there's no need for reform of the classification system.
posted by Etrigan at 5:56 PM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Similarly, don't trot out the straw man that anyone who believes Manning should go to prison also believes that there's no need for reform of the classification system.

Again it would be nice if you could put forward a mechanism or scenario where we get to reform without Manning leaking documents? You think that the system needs to be reformed, but that we need to prosecute and imprison the one person who made said reform possible. This prosecution and imprisonment that you are advocating for will lead to a chill and a climate of fear for anyone thinking about whistle blowing in the future and informing the public thereby instigating reform. So your position is that you are for something "reform of the classification system," but you advocate for "prosecuting and imprisoning leakers;" the one thing that will make reform progressively more difficult if not impossible. This makes absolutely no sense...I mean unless you think that to accomplish a goal one should actively work against said goal.

This is like someone who supports equality in all sectors of life for the LGBT community, but argues that we should prosecute and imprison folks who decide to get married in state's which don't have a law making same sex marriage legal. You know, because it's the law. Would you believe that this individual really thinks the LGBT community should have full equality under the law?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:00 PM on August 24, 2013


In other news: Obama DOJ Asks Court to Grant Immunity to George W. Bush For Iraq War

Stay classy America.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:05 PM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


BARACK OBAMA: LOOKING FORWARDS NOT BACKWARDS
posted by anemone of the state at 7:20 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Again it would be nice if you could put forward a mechanism or scenario where we get to reform without Manning leaking documents?

Leaking any documents? No, probably not. But -- AGAIN -- I take issue with only some of Manning's actions, specifically the release of hundreds of thousands of unvetted documents to an organization that ended up releasing every word of them to the public. Manning herself admitted that that action was reckless, saying that she did not know at the time she committed it whether it would cause harm to the United States.

Why do you appear to believe that Manning was the critical node in time and space making classification reform possible? Given the hundreds of people who will have to make it happen, why is it that only Manning's actions could possibly lead to it?
posted by Etrigan at 7:31 PM on August 24, 2013


Why do you appear to believe that Manning was the critical node in time and space making classification reform possible? Given the hundreds of people who will have to make it happen, why is it that only Manning's actions could possibly lead to it?

The reason is that without Manning the American public doesn't know that reform needs to take place. How can the public call for the reformation of certain practices if we aren't informed of bad behavior in the first place? This is the mechanism I keep asking you to provide for us here and you refuse to do so. How do you propose the U.S. people pressure their elected officials to stop working with contractors who use underage girls for sexual slavery if we don't know that this is happening? How would you propose that we advocate for the humane treatment of prisoners at Bagram Detention facility if we don't even know who is being held there, how many, and under what conditions they are being held under?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:57 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify, I don't believe that Manning's actions are the singular path to reform, but it seems that at this point in time that's the path reality has taken...unless more good men and women of the armed forces and intelligence services start taking their oaths to uphold the constitution against all foes foreign and domestic as seriously as Manning did.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:23 PM on August 24, 2013


Just to clarify, I don't believe that Manning's actions are the singular path to reform

So we agree -- Manning's actions were not fudamentally critical in the fight toward greater transparency. That fight could have been waged without her releasing the diplomatic cables.

I'm glad we could come to a consensus.
posted by Etrigan at 8:26 PM on August 24, 2013


I'm glad we could come to a consensus.

At this point you seem to be throwing spaghetti at the wall.

Why did you leave out the second bit? You know, the part about the path reality actually took. The path that is "fundamentally critical" to where we are now? At least that's how causality worked last time I checked.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:35 PM on August 24, 2013


You asked me for "a mechanism or scenario where we get to reform without Manning leaking documents". You then said that you "don't believe that Manning's actions are the singular path to reform". Looks like you answered your own question. What more do you want from me besides to prolong this argument?
posted by Etrigan at 8:46 PM on August 24, 2013


Yes, but no alternative mechanism was proposed. Just because alternatives are possible don't mean that they are statistically probable or even realistic in given sociopolitical contexts.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:59 PM on August 24, 2013


The reason is that without Manning the American public doesn't know that reform needs to take place.

Oh yeah, no one was ever aware of the problem of the government classifying too many documents before Bradley Manning. It wasn't ever discussed before. (Each word is a link to a different NYT story on overclassification, with several from each decade from the 50s to 20-aughts. There's one in there from 1961 talking of "long-time objections to overclassification of Government documents"). Bradley Manning's actions were totally essential to make people aware of this issue.
posted by yoink at 9:13 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Etrigan: "So we agree -- Manning's actions were not fudamentally critical in the fight toward greater transparency."

Even granting that we would be having a significant discussion on overclassification regardless of Manning's leak, much wrongdoing was also exposed, so I'm not quite sure why you seem to think that the leak not being critical to greater transparency is the end all and be all of the discussion.
posted by wierdo at 10:03 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had a longish response, but on preview: what wierdo said; I am obviously not only referring to reform pertaining to overclassification.

Also, someone above claimed the diplomatic cables didn't need to be released. My only suggestion would be that one should first acquaint oneself with all of the things that were revealed by the diplomatic cables. Child prostitution, rape, murder, torture, strong arming of foreign judges investigating torture claims, the theft of biometric data from foreign dignitaries, ect. Just another day at the office at the U.S. Department of State I guess. I don't know why one would think that the diplomatic cables should not have been released, but be ok with the war logs being released.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:22 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


yoink, there have also been a plethora of articles about the growing stratification of society, about greenhouse gases, about rising health care costs, about the growing reliance of corporations on intern labor, about the decay of the middle class, and about outsourcing labor to China. The mountains of words spilled on each of these problems have not added up to a great deal of effort to solve them. If it takes a media circus to get public will mobilized towards changing something, well, it's not the way I would like to see it happen, but at least it might happen.
posted by JHarris at 10:44 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The US government closed every other path to reform. For instance, human rights activists lost their case against warrantless phone tapping because they couldn't show standing: they couldn't prove damage because they couldn't actually prove that their phones had been tapped. Manning's revelations have changed that, but it took an extra-legal action to break through the government's impasse.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:03 PM on August 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oops, that should be "Snowden's revelations"; I don't think Manning's revelations had much to do with the wiretapping case.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:13 AM on August 25, 2013


Actually, since it's the kind of thread where petty things get drawn out as if they were some kind of cosmic proof, I'll go ahead and critique my own comment --

When I say "not a great deal of effort," I mean positive political effort. Of course Obama tried hard to solve the medical costs thing, but his positive effort was matched by negative Republican effort. Effort measured in terms of effect. By the same token, there have been a good number of laws passed to limit greenhouse gases, but we still have huge quantities spewing into the atmosphere each day.

There. You can't harp on those things, because I've already harped on them!
posted by JHarris at 2:10 AM on August 25, 2013


Yes, but no alternative mechanism was proposed.

So now you've moved the goalposts to me proposing an alternative even after you admitted there are some.

Just because alternatives are possible don't mean that they are statistically probable or even realistic in given sociopolitical contexts.

And now you've moved the goalposts again to "statistically probable or even realistic" when the reform you've already given credit to Manning for hasn't remotely even happened yet. How am I supposed to believe that you're discussing this in good faith?
posted by Etrigan at 2:40 AM on August 25, 2013


Even granting that we would be having a significant discussion on overclassification regardless of Manning's leak, much wrongdoing was also exposed, so I'm not quite sure why you seem to think that the leak not being critical to greater transparency is the end all and be all of the discussion.

It's the point that the person I was attempting to engage was raising. As for the other things, AGAIN I take issue with the fact that Manning had no idea what was in the cables. If she had released only those cables that contained evidence of wrongdoing, I would agree that she was a whistleblower and should not be prosecuted. I don't believe she should have been prosecuted for the Collateral Murder leak. But her heroism on one occasion doesn't give her a free pass for a totally separate occasion of recklessness.

I agree that 35 years is too harsh a sentence. But zero is too lenient.
posted by Etrigan at 2:49 AM on August 25, 2013


Etrigan, are you being obtuse on purpose? It was obvious to me early on in this little back-and-forth between you that AElfwineEvenstar didn't explictly know of another way for reform to come about now, but was open to the possibility, if someone could offer it. He said basically that this is how it happened in our world; ideally, some other mechanism would have arisen, like meaningful oversight. That does not exist at this time, and probably would never exist without some kind of leak, but he doesn't want to say it's impossible, he's admitting a possible failure of imagination. He was trying to exercise good faith by giving you an opportunity to make a point by offering such an example; you're just playing word games with it.
posted by JHarris at 3:31 AM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm going to use my crystal ball to see how that would play out, JHarris:

Me: "Well, here's one possible scenario..."
AE: "No, that wouldn't happen, because X and Y and Z..."
or
Me: "Well, here's one possible scenario..."
AE: "Huh, I hadn't considered that. An excellent point. Thank you."

Honestly, does the latter strike you as remotely possible given AE's approach so far?

Joe in Australia raises the point that Edward Snowden actually did approach things in a whistle-blower way rather than randomly releasing documents he hadn't vetted. We have an example of how things could have worked happening right now. That's not a failure of imagination; that's a willful refusal.
posted by Etrigan at 3:46 AM on August 25, 2013


What? No. My point was that there was no means of reform without extra-legal activities, because the US Government was in the position of being able to deny all claimants at the very first stage, before they had a chance to present their case. Now that Snowden has released (some of?) his material they are able to point to the Government's misdeeds and at least start the legal process.

In any event, I don't think we can piously wring our hands and say "O! If only Manning had been a bit more careful when telling us about the government-organised atrocities! If he had carefully filtered out the material most relevant to the US-sponsored rapes! Then we might have paid him some attention. But as it is, our hands are tied! His revelations are tainted and we shall ignore the fact that, e.g., the USA has torturers on its payroll."
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:15 AM on August 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


What? No. My point was that there was no means of reform without extra-legal activities, because the US Government was in the position of being able to deny all claimants at the very first stage, before they had a chance to present their case. Now that Snowden has released (some of?) his material they are able to point to the Government's misdeeds and at least start the legal process.

And my point was that Snowden's actions are more arguably legal (and more morally defensible) under whistle-blower laws and ideas. Again, I am comparing this to the diplomatic cable dump, not everything Manning ever did to expose misdeeds.

In any event, I don't think we can piously wring our hands and say...

Oh, come on. Who in this thread or any other has said that Manning poisoned the well on this discussion?
posted by Etrigan at 5:30 AM on August 25, 2013


Lotta hair splitting going on here regarding what counts as whistleblowing. Despite all the heat and light there has been not a single jot of evidence to support the claim that Manning's leak have led to the potential adverse outcomes being suggested

Let's break this down some:

1) Case for invasion of Iraq based on at best massively overstated claims, and much more realistically fantasies. I'll note that those responsible are not serving 35 year sentences.

2) Actual war crimes with actual video footage. Of which the perpetrators were not punished. They are not going to sit in the brig for the next 35 years.

3) A system that completely failed Manning, in that it did not provide her the support she needed. Protip: If you find someone curled up in a storage space with a knife and they're giving you every indication they just might, your dogmatic insistence on the mission that needs to get done might just prove in the longer term to be counter-productive. Surprisingly. Shouting doesn't fix all problems.

4) And a system that failed so badly that low level NCOs could access State Department files? What reason would she need that as a theatre level intelligence analyst without oversight? She is copping it for a systemic failure and on behalf of a lot of senior officers who have massively fucked up. Lucky they have someone they can point to and throw to the wolves.

Frankly, if it hadn't had been Manning, it would have been some one else eventually.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:39 AM on August 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Me: "Well, here's one possible scenario..."
AE: "No, that wouldn't happen, because X and Y and Z..."
or
Me: "Well, here's one possible scenario..."
AE: "Huh, I hadn't considered that. An excellent point. Thank you."


But the thing is, if AElfwine Evenstar knew of a means by which he could be convinced, he would already be convinced. And your attempts to engage with him have been kind of circular, what with you taking his admission of a possibility of a scenario somehow as his arguing that such a scenario must exist.

He doesn't think that scenario exists, he's admitting he might be wrong, if the right evidence were presented. He doesn't know what that evidence would look like. I don't think you do, either. But he is watching for it. Because he's watching for it, and hasn't found it yet, then if it exists it had better be darn good and unforeseen evidence, to be effective.
posted by JHarris at 1:37 PM on August 25, 2013


Again, I am comparing this to the diplomatic cable dump, not everything Manning ever did to expose misdeeds.

Do you even know what was in the diplomatic cables?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:56 PM on August 25, 2013


He doesn't think that scenario exists, he's admitting he might be wrong, if the right evidence were presented. He doesn't know what that evidence would look like. I don't think you do, either. But he is watching for it.

The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.
posted by anemone of the state at 5:00 PM on August 25, 2013


Being full of doubt is why they're intelligent. They know the devil is in the details.
posted by JHarris at 5:26 PM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Manning Attorney in First Extended Interview After 35-Year Sentence

ALEXA O’BRIEN: What was the most damage done in this case?

DAVID COOMBS: I—personally, I think the most damage done in this case was the sentence that my client received. If you’re talking about damage from a standpoint of what he released, embarrassment. Embarrassment was the most damage. It’s not—when you look at the SIGACTs, when you look at the other charge documents, all that stuff is, as I said before, something that looks to past acts. It’s kind of an historical record. I don’t believe any of that gave away anything that was sensitive.
The diplomatic cables, on the other hand, I think the damage there was an embarrassment of having other people see that we don’t always do the right thing for the right reasons as the United States, which might come as a surprise to some people. You would think that when we deal with other countries, when we deal with people who are less fortunate than our country, that we’re doing so in a way that helps everybody, that’s in everyone’s best interest. But that’s not always the case. And, in fact, frequently we do things that are in our own national interests, and sometimes that is to the detriment of people who are struggling to have what we have here in America—a democracy, a free and open press. And that’s a little disheartening when you see that. And I think that’s probably the biggest damage, because if people actually look to these documents, they will see that we don’t always do what we should do, and we are not always the country that we should strive to be.

posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:35 AM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been corresponding with yoink on mefimail over the last few days, and I just want to publicly apologize for accusing him/her (?) of lying. There is nothing to suggest that yoink was purposefully misleading anyone but my own prejudices. It was childish and immature and isn't something I'm proud of doing. So for that I apologize.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:45 AM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thank you for the apology, AE; I will add that not only was there "nothing to suggest" that I was "purposefully misleading anyone"; we have thoroughly established in our mefimail discussion that everything I said about Wikileaks failing to provide the US Govt. with the option of redacting names on the "first tranche" of data that they released was factually correct. Wikileaks told the Govt. one day before that first tranche of 91,000 documents was released that they would hold back 15,000 documents and would be willing to entertain suggestions about what might be redacted from those (though they did not guarantee that they would redact anything the US Govt. asked to be redacted). They did not give the US Govt. the chance to redact anything from the first 70,000 odd documents that they released on July 25th 2010.
posted by yoink at 11:00 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


we have thoroughly established in our mefimail discussion that everything I said about Wikileaks failing to provide the US Govt. with the option of redacting names on the "first tranche" of data that they released was factually correct.

No we haven't. What you initially said was:

You appear to be "conveniently forgetting the fact" that this offer only came after they'd already released a fairly large tranche of the documents.

Which is false. As clearly proven by the interview given to the AP by the intermediary between the government and wikileaks:

Times reporter Eric Schmitt told the AP that on the night of July 23, at White House spokesman’s Robert Gibbs’ request, he relayed to Assange a White House request that WikiLeaks not publish information that could lead to people being physically harmed.

The next evening, Schmitt said, Assange replied in an e-mail that WikiLeaks was withholding 15,000 documents for review. Schmitt said Assange wrote that WikiLeaks would consider recommendations made by the International Security Assistance Force "on the identification of innocents for this material if it is willing to provide reviewers." Schmitt said he forwarded the e-mail to White House officials and Times editors


That being said there is the nuance that you pointed out which, besides feeling like an ass, is another reason I apologized. It is not clear from the available information if the initial offer was for all the documents or for just he 15,000 that they had identified using metadata tags. Wikileaks claims it was for all of them, the AP article seems to indicate it was only for the 15,000 but isn't clear, the government denied any contact had even taken place...which is clearly false.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:23 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Come on you guys.
posted by jessamyn at 6:39 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fox News Mocks Manning With ‘Dude (Looks Like A Lady)’ Song, Tom Kludt, TPM Livewire, 27 August 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 9:08 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Chelsea Manning and the Arab Spring: A Tribute to Chelsea Manning from Tunisia
posted by homunculus at 4:34 PM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


The WikiLeaks Server That Hosted Cablegate Is for Sale on eBay
posted by homunculus at 5:32 PM on September 3, 2013


Chelsea Manning Submits Request for Presidential Pardon
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:53 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, well. Good luck with that.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:43 AM on September 7, 2013


We'll win Chelsea Manning her pardon the same way we'll win back our own freedoms, by throwing wrenches into the works until the surveillance states grinds to a halt. Wrenches include :

- Advocate against American companies in favor of foreign companies. Convince all business, sales, etc. people that NSA BIZINT favors their competitors with better political connections. Consider leaving this U.S. if you're really exceptional at your job.

- Alter our cryptography goals, not to protect the ideal user, but to maximize the cost of surveillance against average clueless users. Initially this means writing extremely user-friendly cryptography software and get as many people as possible using it.

- Win the wars of ideas, inspiration, and personal impressions, thus creating more whistleblowers. Laud the real heros like Manning, Snowden, Brown, Binney, Swartz, Poitras, Greenwald, Applebaum, etc. as publicly as possible. Share the compelling video, such as Applebaum's speeches. Shame the NSA, CIA, DOD, DOJ, FBI, etc., their talking heads, their employees, etc.

- Punish the NSA's pet congress critters, like oh Fort Meade rep. Dutch Ruppersberger and Mike Rogers. Expose their corruption. Discredit them. Work against their reelection. etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:17 PM on September 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Watch out, criticizing Mike Rogers is defamation.
posted by homunculus at 3:58 PM on September 8, 2013


Feds Stalked Airline Passenger Lists to Catch Manning’s Friend, Documents Show
posted by homunculus at 11:53 AM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Related to homunculus' link : Documents Shed Light on Border Laptop Searches
posted by jeffburdges at 3:54 PM on September 14, 2013


How the US government inadvertently [inspired Assange to create] Wikileaks
posted by jeffburdges at 4:42 PM on September 14, 2013


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