Salvate il soldato Manning. E la soldatessa Kamm. Eroi come Ellsberg che svelò nel ’71 la sporca guerra in Vietnam

lunedì, 29 Novembre, 2010

Il primo a copiare documenti e a renderli pubblici è stato Daniel Ellsberg, l’analista dell’esercito americano che  nel 1971 fece scoppiare lo scandalo sul conflitto vietnamita rivelando la verità sulla sporca guerra con i “Pentagon papers”. Erano 14.000 documenti che Ellsberg  (a destra) fotocopiò uno ad uno con una fotocopiatrice Rank Xerox. La stizza dell’America di Nixon è nota: Ellsberg che aveva passato il tutto al New York Times (che ci mise tre mesi a decidersi di pubblicare le carte) rischiò una condanna a 115 anni. Alla fine fu assolto. In seguito Ellsberg ha ottenuto una sfilza di premi, il Ron Ridenhour Courage Prize, il Gandhi Peace Award e recentemente il Right Livelihood Award.

In Israele è invece ancora sotto processo un’altra soldatessa, israeliana, Anat Kamm (a destra sopra) che si è permessa di passare a un giornalista di Haaretz le carte segrete dei piani attuati dall’esercito contro le enclaves palestinesi, disubbidendo alle prescrizioni date dalla Corte Suprema di Gerusalemme. Il suo caso è poco seguito, eppure si tratta di un’emula di Ellsberg e di Manning. In sua difesa è inytervernuta varie volte Judith Miller del New York Times. Silenzio o quasi da noi.

Bradley Manning – l’attuale “eroe” legato a WikiLeaks (a sinistra lui con Assange di Wikileaks)  – è il terzo soldato che disubbidisce e rompe la cortina di silenzio, il segreto imposto dalle amministrazioni compresa quella Obama su faccende non proprio virtuose. Arrestato rischia una condanna a 52 anni. FRicordo che il suo pofrimo contrributo è stato mesi fa quello di aver riv delato come era stato ucciso un fotoreporter di reuters in Ifraq dall’equipaggio di un elicottero americano.

Questi due casi frecenti, Manning e Kamm, devono diventare casi di mobilitazione internazionale. Come fu, è giustamente, per Ellsberg. Si tratta infatti di chiedere la liberazione di questi  nuovi “eroi” che con la loro inventiva e a rischio della propria incolumità hanno deciso di lavorare per la trasparenza.

Qui di seguito alcune notizie sul soldato Manning, l’eroe della “pennetta” che ha passato a WikiLeaks le imbarazzanti carte di un’amministrazione che è impelagata a tutt’oggi in troppi oscuri snodi bellici. Aldilà dedi giudizi sui leader occidentali e sui despoti orientali, e delle note di colore sulle “voluttuose” infermiere di Gheddafi, ciò che emerge è una diffusa ingerenza americana negli affari interni di troppi stati. Un’abitudine inveterata e puntualmente confermata. Ed ora vediamo cosa si sa di Manning:

Private First Class Bradley E. Manning (born 1987) is a United States Army soldier who has been arrested and charged with the unauthorized use and disclosure of U.S. classified information.

Manning was an intelligence analyst assigned to a support battalion with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Contingency Operating Station Hammer, Iraq. Agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command arrested Manning based on information received from federal authorities provided by an American journalist informant, Adrian Lamo, in whom Manning had previously confided. Lamo stated he came forward as an act of conscience. Lamo said that Manning claimed, via instant messaging, to be the person who had leaked the “Collateral Murder” video of the July 12, 2007, Baghdad airstrike, in addition to a video of the Granai airstrike and around 260,000 diplomatic cables, to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. The AP has described Manning as an alleged whistleblower.

On July 5, 2010, Manning was charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with violations of Article 92 and Article 134, for “transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system,” and “communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source”. The maximum possible prison sentence for the charges is 52 years. An Army spokesman stated that an Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury, would be held to determine whether or not there was enough evidence to proceed to a court-martial.

According to The New York Times, Manning spent his early childhood in Oklahoma with his father and, while staying with his mother in southwest Wales as a teenager, “classmates made fun of him for being gay.” Former neighbors in Oklahoma described the young Manning as “opinionated beyond his years about politics, religion, and even about keeping religion out of politics.”

Manning enlisted in the United States Army to become an intelligence analyst and was deployed with a support battalion with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Contingency Operating Station Hammer, Iraq. In the Army, Manning’s “social life was defined by the need to conceal his sexuality under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell‘ “Sometime in 2008, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Manning became “part of a social circle that included politically motivated computer hackers and his boyfriend, a self-described drag queen. So when his military career seemed headed nowhere good, Private Manning, 22, turned increasingly to those friends for moral support.”

Before being arrested, Manning had been demoted from Specialist to Private First Class for assaulting another soldier and was to be discharged early.

Manning allegedly told journalist and former hacker Adrian Lamo via instant messaging that he had leaked the “Collateral Murder” video of the July 12, 2007, Baghdad airstrike in addition to a video of the Granai airstrike and around 260,000 diplomatic cables, to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. Lamo handed the purported instant messenger chat logs to U.S. investigators, who began searching for evidence to determine whether Manning’s apparent statements to Lamo were true. The “Collateral Murder” video showed a series of attacks by a U.S. helicopter crew, who had been assigned the task of protecting an infantry company by clearing out insurgents. In the first two attacks, two children were wounded, and several men were killed, including the father of the children and two men who were later identified as Reuters employees. The video showed a third strike in which the same helicopter crew destroyed a building, reportedly killing several people including children. Manning reportedly said that the diplomatic documents expose “almost criminal political back dealings”; that they explain “how the first world exploits the third, in detail”; and that he hoped the release of the videos and documents would lead to “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.” Manning reportedly wrote, “Everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed.” However, Wikileaks said “allegations in Wired that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect.”

Wired released apparent excerpts from the chat logs between Manning and Lamo on June 10, 2010. The order of events is not made clear from the excerpts, and significant material appears to be missing. On June 19, Boing Boing published what they called a “slightly less redacted version” of the chat logs. In the logs, Manning explains his growing disillusionment with the U.S. Army and foreign policy. He gives one example of being assigned the task of evaluating the arrest of Iraqis for allegedly publishing “anti Iraq” literature, only to discover that the writings were in fact scholarly critique of corruption in the cabinet of Iraq Prime Minister Al-Maliki titled “Where Did the Money Go?”. He reportedly said to Lamo, “I immediately took that information and ran to the officer to explain what was going on. He didn’t want to hear any of it. He told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding MORE detainees.” Manning reportedly characterized some of the allegedly leaked cables to Lamo as, “explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective.”

Manning apparently asked Lamo “if you had free reign [sic] over classified networks for long periods of time … say, 8–9 months … and you saw incredible things, awful things … things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC … what would you do? … say … a database of half a million events during the Iraq war … from 2004 to 2009 … with reports, date time groups, lat-lon locations, casualty figures … ? or 260,000 state department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world, explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective?” Manning apparently told of his discovery of the Collateral Murder video and his subsequent research into the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrikes: “at first glance … it was just a bunch of guys getting shot up by a helicopter … no big deal … about two dozen more where that came from right … but something struck me as odd with the van thing … and also the fact it was being stored in a JAG officer’s directory… so i looked into it … eventually tracked down the date, and then the exact GPS co-ord … and i was like … ok, so thats what happened.”

Manning wrote, “event occurs in 2007, i watch video in 2009 with no context, do research, forward information to group of FOI activists, more research occurs, video is released in 2010, those involved come forward to discuss event, i witness those involved coming forward.” In the logs Manning wrote, “lets just say *someone* i know intimately well, has been penetrating US classified networks, mining data like the ones described … and been transferring that data from the classified networks over the “air gap” onto a commercial network computer … sorting the data, compressing it, encrypting it, and uploading it to a crazy white haired aussie who can’t seem to stay in one country very long”. Manning explained to Lamo his motive for releasing the material: “I want people to see the truth … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” Lamo told Associated Press that he gave the chat logs to Army criminal investigators after consulting with a friend who had worked in Army counterintelligence. Lamo said that “it was a combination of an act of conscience and an act spurred by my understanding of the law,” Lamo said. “I did this because I thought what he was doing was very dangerous.”

Manning was arrested by agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command in May 2010 and held in pre-trial confinement in a military jail at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. On July 5, 2010, two misconduct charges were brought against him for “transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system” and “communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source”. The charges included unauthorized access to Secret Internet Protocol Routers network computers, download of more than 150,000 United States Department of State diplomatic cables, download of a secret PowerPoint presentation, and downloading a classified video of a military operation in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. Manning is also charged for forwarding the video and at least one of the cables to an unauthorized person. The maximum jail sentence is 52 years. Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bloom has said that “as part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the next step in proceedings would be an Article 32 Hearing, which is similar to a grand jury. An investigating officer will be appointed, and that officer looks into all facts of the matter, does an investigation, and upon conclusion, the findings will be presented to a convening court martial authority. The division commander will consider based on what is in that, what the next steps are. Either there is enough evidence or not enough evidence to proceed to a court-martial … A date has not yet been set. We haven’t even identified the investigating officer. We’re still in the early stages of this case”.

Wikileaks have said that they are unable as yet to confirm whether or not Manning was actually the source of the video, stating “we never collect personal information on our sources,” but saying also that “if Brad Manning [is the] whistleblower then, without doubt, he’s a national hero” and “we have taken steps to arrange for his protection and legal defense”. Manning’s official military attorney is Capt. Paul Bouchard.. On June 21, Julian Assange told The Guardian that WikiLeaks had hired three U.S. criminal lawyers to help defend Manning, but that they had been denied access to him. Boing Boing asked Lt. Col. Eric Bloom whether Manning was “represented by any civilian attorney” and Bloom responded, “I do not know of any rebuffing. I’ve been in the military for 26 years, and I’ve never heard of any party’s attempt to secure legal representation being denied. We don’t rebuff representation.” In late August Manning selected former military attorney David Coombs to lead his defense team. Coombs had previously defended US Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar who was convicted of killing two officers in an attack in 2003 while serving in Kuwait. A military spokesperson told CNN that Manning was processed at the Quantico detention facility on July 29. As of July 31, he remained in solitary confinement. The official told CNN that Manning could be taken to a military judge in Washington in August, but that it would likely be delayed.

Manning has been considered a “person of interest” in the leak of over 90,000 documents to Wikileaks pertaining to the War in Afghanistan, which were released to the public on July 25, 2010.


At the United States Department of State press briefing on June 11, 2010, Assistant Secretary Philip J Crowley said “we are doing a damage assessment. I think also today, Diplomatic Security is assisting in forensic analysis of the hard drives that – to just determine, to verify that, in fact, the leak took place, and also to see if we can identify which documents within the network were potentially compromised”. Crowley was then asked whether the documents were “of the nature of extremely sensitive information [or] more along the lines of diplomatic awkwardness that this information would get out?” to which Crowley responded:

“Well, Bob, at the time, and I’ll certainly repeat, that we are talking about classified cables. Classifications involve both the substance of cables and also sources and methods that can be revealed through the release, the unauthorized release of classified material. We take this seriously. Any release of classified material to those who are not entitled to have it is a serious breach of our security and can cause potential damage to our national security interests. There’s been a – kind of a report of a very large number of documents or pages. We’re obviously trying to verify exactly what might have exchanged hands here. And we are doing a damage assessment to verify the disclosure or the leak and to identify what documents of the State Department may have been potentially compromised. If you’re taking that large a number, it’s going to probably capture a wide range of different documents. We do cables that provide our analysis of ongoing events in the region, but obviously of greatest concern is sources and methods which we rely on when providing insight to decision makers on what’s happening around the world”.

The reporter then said to Crowley “you noted that this was DOD-led because it was a DOD employee, but you then also said that you haven’t reached out to WikiLeaks for fear of compromising an eventual prosecution”, and asked “does that mean that you feel that prosecuting the individual is more important than potentially preventing these tens of thousands of documents from being – becoming public?”, to which Crowley responded:

“That’s a hard – I understand the point you’re making, Arshad. It’s a hard question to respond to. At this point, first of all, by doing the forensic analysis on the – on hard drives will actually determine whether, in fact, we have evidence that documents that might have been downloaded actually were transmitted outside of a classified and closed network. So that’s the first step in this process, to actually verify that the rumors of a leak have actually taken place. As to steps that we’ll – we might take down the road, but – I think at this point, we have not yet reached out to anybody outside of the government. And whether we do or somebody else does will be a determination made down the road”.

FBI agents, accompanied by local police, appeared at the Welsh home of Manning’s British mother to question her and search Manning’s bedroom.

Regarding the WikiLeaks publishing of private diplomatic communications on November 28, 2010 an Obama administration called the release “reckless and dangerous” and stated that the information “put at risk not only the cause of human rights but the lives and work of these individuals.” The Obama administration expressed concern people who work with the U.S. overseas will be the victims of retaliation once WikiLeaks identifies them. Sen. John Kerry condemned the release as “a reckless action which jeopardizes lives” and Rep. Pete Hoekstra called the release an “embarrassment” for the Obama Administration.

Daniel Ellsberg along with others, including Coleen Rowley and Robert Parry, have compared Manning’s arrest with Ellsberg’s own trial after releasing the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. Ellsberg stated in an interview that “if [the alleged leaker, Bradley Manning] has done what he is alleged to have done, I congratulate him. He has used his opportunities very well. He has upheld his oath of office to support the Constitution. It so happens that enlisted men also take an oath to obey the orders of superiors. Officers don’t make that oath, only to the Constitution. But sometimes the oath to the Constitution and oath to superiors are in conflict” while Wikileaks “is serving our democracy and serving our rule of law precisely by challenging the secrecy regulations, which are not laws in most cases, in this country.” On the issue of national security considerations for the U.S., Ellsberg added that

“… any serious risk to that national security is extremely low. There may be 260,000 diplomatic cables. It’s very hard to think of any of that which could be plausibly described as a national security risk. Will it embarrass diplomatic relationships? Sure, very likely—all to the good of our democratic functioning … [Wikileaks] has not yet put out anything that hurt anybody’s national security.

“… having read a hell of a lot of diplomatic cables, I would confidently make the judgment that very little, less than one percent, one percent perhaps, can honestly be said to endanger national security. That’s distinct [from the percentage that could cause] embarrassment—very serious embarrassment, [if people] realize that we are aware of highly murderous and corrupt operations by people and that we are supporting them. It is very seriously embarrassing..If the choice is between putting none of them out, as the State Department would like, and putting all of them out, I definitely feel our national security would be improved if they were put out. Between those two choices, I would rather see them all of them out. It would help understand our own foreign policy and give us the chance to improve it democratically. I hope they are out, I hope we get to see them.

Glenn Greenwald of Salon magazine conducted an interview with Lamo, among others, for his article “The strange and consequential case of Bradley Manning, Adrian Lamo and WikiLeaks”, and made the audio recording of the interview available online.[Greenwald says that during the interview “Lamo claimed that all sorts of things took place in the discussion between him and Manning that are (a) extremely relevant to what happened, (b) have nothing to do with Manning’s personal issues or sensitive national security secrets, and yet (c) are nowhere to be found in the chat logs published by Wired. That means either that Lamo is lying about what was said or Wired is concealing highly relevant aspects of their discussions”. Lamo told Greenwald that Manning originally communicated with him by e-mail, but Lamo says he handed the e-mails to the FBI without ever reading them; “Thus,” Greenwald wrote, “the actual initial communications between Manning and Lamo — what preceded and led to their chat — are completely unknown. Lamo refuses to release the emails or chats other than the small chat snippets published by Wired”. On June 19, Boing Boing published what they called a “slightly less redacted version” of the chat logs.

Lamo had told Manning that he was a journalist,  but says that Manning never explicitly accepted his offer of confidentiality. Greenwald says,

“Lamo told me (though it doesn’t appear in the chat logs published by Wired) that he told Manning early on that he was a journalist and thus could offer him confidentiality for everything they discussed under California’s shield law. Lamo also said he told Manning that he was an ordained minister and could treat Manning’s talk as a confession, which would then compel Lamo under the law to keep their discussions confidential (early on in their chats, Manning said: “I can’t believe what I’m confessing to you”). In sum, Lamo explicitly led Manning to believe he could trust him and that their discussions would be confidential — perhaps legally required to be kept confidential — only to then report everything Manning said to the Government.

“Worse, Lamo breached his own confidentiality commitments and turned informant without having the slightest indication that Manning had done anything to harm national security. Indeed, Lamo acknowledged to me that he was incapable of identifying a single fact contained in any documents leaked by Manning that would harm national security”.

Before being arrested, Manning had been demoted for assaulting another soldier, and was to be discharged early. In the chats, Manning also told Lamo about his demotion and some of his personal problems — that he had been through a break-up and that he was feeling lonely and unsupported by his family – but whether these events occurred before or after his discovery of the material or his release of the material to Wikileaks, is not made clear from excerpts of the chat logs released by Wired. Greenwald criticised Kevin Poulsen and Wired for releasing only excerpts of the chat logs. Greenwald commented that “a definitive understanding of what really happened is virtually impossible to acquire, largely because almost everything that is known comes from a single, extremely untrustworthy source: Lamo himself. Compounding that is the fact that most of what came from Lamo has been filtered through a single journalist—Poulsen—who has a long and strange history with Lamo, who continues to possess but not disclose key evidence, and who has been only marginally transparent about what actually happened here”.

In 2008, Wikileaks released a classified report of the United States Army Counterintelligence Center discussing ways to destroy WikiLeaks’s reputation and efficacy. The report said “successful identification, prosecution, termination of employment, and exposure of persons leaking the information by the governments and businesses affected by information posted to would damage and potentially destroy this center of gravity and deter others from taking similar actions”. Greenwald wrote about this: “exactly what the U.S. Government wanted to happen in order to destroy WikiLeaks has happened here”.

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