Bradley Manning In Solitary Confinement, Push-Ups Forbidden

There is more to the story concerning Bradley Manning than meets the eye

There has to be.  There is no way that Bradley Manning would have committed what he is accused of without a bigger ‘backstory’ than what the public has so far been offered.  The DADT angle to this story is just not very believable.  That Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has used information that allegedly came from Manning is the common refrain.  But we all know it needs further illumination. WHY would Manning have done it?  That the United States government has kept very quiet on this matter seems typical, but not comforting for those of us interested in due process.

The harsh prison detention conditions endured by Bradley Manning – the US soldier who is alleged to have supplied classified government documents to WikiLeaks – have emerged. For the last seven months, Private Manning, 23, has been kept in a cell six feet wide and 12 feet long, in solitary confinement at a maximum security military jail at Quantico, Virginia.Lieutenant Colonel David Coombes, the lawyer defending him, pointed out that his client, who faces a 52-year sentence if convicted, is still being held on “Prevention of Injury Watch” for those deemed to be at risk of self-harm.

Friends of Private Manning say that this has become a means by the authorities to pressurise him into giving evidence against Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

A typical day for Private Manning begins with being woken at 5am in the cell, which has a drinking fountain and a toilet. He is then allowed to put on his clothes, which he surrendered on going to bed the night before.Under the rules, Private Manning is not allowed to sleep at any time between 5am and 8pm; if he does so, he is made to sit up or stand by the guards. He is allowed just one hour of exercise a day, even then not in the fresh air, but an empty room where he can walk in figures of eight. Any attempt by him to keep himself busy by, for example, doing press-ups, or sit-ups, is forbidden.

He is not allowed to associate with his fellow inmates and has never seen them, although he does occasionally hear their voices.Private Manning is allowed to watch local television channels, for up to three hours on weekdays; sometimes more at weekends. But he does not have access to wider news coverage. He is allowed one book and one magazine at a time, from an approved list of 15, and is allowed approved visitors at prescribed times. Lt Col Coombes said the guards have, at all times, behaved correctly towards Private Manning. But, under the regulations, their conversations with him must be minimal.

The guards have to check every five minutes that Private Manning is ok, and he has to verbally confirm that he is alright. The same checks are continued during the night, and, if the guards cannot see Private Manning because he has pulled a blanket over his head (he is allowed blankets but not sheets or pillows) then they wake him up.

Sarah And Todd Palin Personal Credit Card Accounts Hacked

Hmm….

The website and personal credit card information of former Gov. Sarah Palin were cyber-attacked today by Wikileaks supporters, the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate tells ABC News in an email.

Hackers in London apparently affiliated with “Operation Payback” – a group of supporters of Julian Assange and Wikileaks – have tried to shut down SarahPac and have disrupted Sarah and Todd Palin’s personal credit card accounts.

Russia Is A ‘Mafia State’

WikiLeaks continued…..

Not entirely new information…..but still an interesting read.

Among the most striking allegations contained in the cables, which were leaked to the whistleblowers’ website WikiLeaks, are:

Russian spies use senior mafia bosses to carry out criminal operations such as arms trafficking.

• Law enforcement agencies such as the police, spy agencies and the prosecutor’s office operate a de facto protection racket for criminal networks.

• Rampant bribery acts like a parallel tax system for the personal enrichment of police, officials and the KGB’s successor, the federal security service (FSB).

• Investigators looking into Russian mafia links to Spain have compiled a list of Russian prosecutors, military officers and politicians who have dealings with organised crime networks.

Putin is accused of amassing “illicit proceeds” from his time in office, which various sources allege are hidden overseas.

The allegations come hours before Putin was due to address Fifa’s executive committee in Zurich in support of Russia’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Putin last night abruptly cancelled his trip, complaining of a smear campaign to “discredit” Fifa members. In an angry interview with CNN’s Larry King Live, recorded before the latest disclosures, Putin also denounced the cables and warned the US not to stick its nose in Russia’s affairs.

Leaked State Department Cable: 14 Hour Horse Ride Over Mountain In Freezing-Cold

Movie waiting to be made.

It’s not all embarrassment and scandal in the WikiLeaks dump: Contained in the cables is the story of a 75-year-old American man who escaped Iran via horseback. Hossein Ghanbarzadeh Vahed visited Iran in May 2008; he flew in, but then was trapped there for seven months after the country confiscated his passport and refused to hear his appeals. So he staged a daring escape. He got on horseback, hired two guides, and rode a horse over a mountain for 14 hours on a freezing-cold night. He arrived in Turkey and took the bus to the U.S. embassy in Ankara, arriving in January 2009.

Newspapers Have Right To Publish Leaked State Department Cables

The New York Times had it right today when they wrote about why they went to press with the leaked State Department cables.  These cables were going to be made known one way or the other, so why not deal with the story in a professional journalistic method.

Of course, most of these documents will be made public regardless of what The Times decides. WikiLeaks has shared the entire archive of secret cables with at least four European publications, has promised country-specific documents to many other news outlets, and has said it plans to ultimately post its trove online. For The Times to ignore this material would be to deny its own readers the careful reporting and thoughtful analysis they expect when this kind of information becomes public.

While I think the stolen cables will make for troubles with crafting foreign policy, and working with international contacts, I also recognize the value in knowing what our government does in our name.  We all should care about that.

The New York Times addressed that matter today.  I have always stood by the press when reporting stories for these reasons, and do so again at this time.  There will be the usual remarks about the press, and The New York Times in particular. Those comments are now so often used they are beyond trite.  Those who scream the loudest are the ones least able to understand the need for a free press, or the role the press serves in our democracy.  For the rest of us the need is obvious.

But the more important reason to publish these articles is that the cables tell the unvarnished story of how the government makes its biggest decisions, the decisions that cost the country most heavily in lives and money. They shed light on the motivations — and, in some cases, duplicity — of allies on the receiving end of American courtship and foreign aid. They illuminate the diplomacy surrounding two current wars and several countries, like Pakistan and Yemen, where American military involvement is growing. As daunting as it is to publish such material over official objections, it would be presumptuous to conclude that Americans have no right to know what is being done in their name.

Other newspapers around the world had this state department cables story dominate their front pages.  The Guardian in an editorial comment made this statement. 

 Anything said or done in the name of a democracy is, prima facie, of public interest. When that democracy purports to be “world policeman” – an assumption that runs ghostlike through these cables – that interest is global.

The job of the media is not to protect power from embarrassment. If American spies are breaking United Nations rules by seeking the DNA biometrics of the UN director general, he is entitled to hear of it. British voters should know what Afghan leaders thought of British troops. American (and British) taxpayers might question, too, how most of the billions of dollars going in aid to Afghanistan simply exits the country at Kabul airport.

No harm is done by high-class chatter about President Nicolas Sarkozy’s vulgarity and lack of house-training, or about the British royal family. What the American embassy in London thinks about the coalition suggests not an alliance at risk but an embassy with a talent problem.

Some stars shine through the banality such as the heroic envoy in Islamabad, Anne Patterson. She pleads that Washington’s whole policy is counterproductive: it “risks destabilising the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and the military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis without finally achieving the goal”. Nor is any amount of money going to bribe the Taliban to our side. Patterson’s cables are like missives from the Titanic as it already heads for the bottom.

The money‑wasting is staggering. Aid payments are never followed, never audited, never evaluated. The impression is of the world’s superpower roaming helpless in a world in which nobody behaves as bidden. Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, the United Nations, are all perpetually off script. Washington reacts like a wounded bear, its instincts imperial but its power projection unproductive.

America’s foreign policy is revealed as a slave to rightwing drift, terrified of a bomb exploding abroad or of a pro-Israeli congressman at home. If the cables tell of the progress to war over Iran or Pakistan or Gaza or Yemen, their revelation might help debate the inanity of policies which, as Patterson says, seem to be leading in just that direction. Perhaps we can now see how catastrophe unfolds when there is time to avert it, rather than having to await a Chilcot report after the event. If that is not in the public’s interest, I fail to see what is.

Clearly, it is for governments, not journalists, to protect public secrets. Were there some overriding national jeopardy in revealing them, greater restraint might be in order. There is no such overriding jeopardy, except from the policies themselves as revealed. Where it is doing the right thing, a great power should be robust against embarrassment.

What this saga must do is alter the basis of diplomatic reporting. If WikiLeaks can gain access to secret material, by whatever means, so presumably can a foreign power. Words on paper can be made secure, electronic archives not. The leaks have blown a hole in the framework by which states guard their secrets. The Guardian material must be a breach of the official secrets acts. But coupled with the penetration already allowed under freedom of information, the walls round policy formation and documentation are all but gone. All barriers are permeable. In future the only secrets will be spoken ones. Whether that is a good thing should be a topic for public debate.