Over three years ago, State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley had to resign after he called Chelsea Manning’s treatment “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”
In a bizarre NYT story suggesting that Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland’s husband, Robert Kagan, had influenced Obama with a critique of his foreign policy, it quotes Nuland suggesting she agrees with her husband’s critique.
His wife and unofficial editor, Victoria Nuland, is an assistant secretary of state and one of the country’s toughest and most experienced diplomats, whose fervor for building democracy in Ukraine recently leaked out in an embarrassing audio clip.
Ms. Nuland declined to comment on her husband’s critique of her current boss’s foreign policy. “But suffice to say,” she said, “that nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.”
Nuland is not going to comment but she thoroughly agrees with Kagan’s attack on her boss’ foreign policy, I guess.
This dig probably won’t be noted, but it does seem remarkably aggressive, even if Nuland is only slamming Obama’s policies second-hand.
Nevertheless, she won’t pay a price for calling out her boss. That’s true, I’m guessing, because John Kerry seems to love being a NeoCon and he likely has some discretion over her role. And because the NeoCons don’t get held to account in DC for their dangerous provocations.
Still, it appears that it’s a firing offense to call out inhumane treatment inconsistent with our values, but not one for calling out insufficient imperial designs.
The other day, Marc Lynch wrote a piece posing these questions about the ISIS advance in Iraq.
The more interesting questions are about Iraq itself. Why are these cities falling virtually without a fight? Why are so many Iraqi Sunnis seemingly pleased to welcome the takeover from the Iraqi government by a truly extremist group with which they have a long, violent history? Why are Iraqi Sunni political factions and armed groups, which previously fought against al-Qaeda in Iraq, now seemingly cooperating with ISIS? Why is the Iraqi military dissolving rather than fighting to hold its territory? How can the United States help the Iraqi government fight ISIS without simply enabling Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s authoritarianism and sectarianism?
The most important answers lie inside Iraqi politics. Maliki lost Sunni Iraq through his sectarian and authoritarian policies. His repeated refusal over long years to strike an urgently needed political accord with the Sunni minority, his construction of corrupt, ineffective and sectarian state institutions, and his heavy-handed military repression in those areas are thekey factors in the long-developing disintegration of Iraq.
President Obama alluded similarly to Maliki’s failures in the comments he just made (will update when the transcript becomes available).
One challenge the US is facing as it tries to prevent the complete disintegration of the Middle East is that Nuri al-Maliki, long our (forced) partner in governing Iraq, has chosen the path of corruption and repression. Maliki largely enabled the assault in Iraq.
On February 28, 2013, Chelsea Manning made a statement before her providence inquiry. As part of that, she explained why she leaked details of the abusive crackdowns by the Iraqi Federal Police.
On 27 February 2010, a report was received from a subordinate battalion. The report described an event in which the FP detained fifteen (15) individuals for printing “anti-Iraqi literature.” By 2 March 2010, I received instructions from an S3 section officer in the 2-10BCT Tactical Operations Center to investigate the matter, and figure out who these “bad guys” were, and how significant this event was for the FP.
Over the course of my research, I found that none of the individuals had previous ties with anti-Iraqi actions or suspected terrorist or militia groups. A few hours later, I received several photos from the scene from the subordinate battalion.
I printed a blown up copy of the high-resolution photo, and laminated it for ease of storage and transfer. I then walked to the TOC and delivered the laminated copy to our category 2 interpreter. She reviewed the information and about a half-hour later delivered a rough written transcript in English to the S2 section.
I read the transcript, and followed up with her, asking for her take on its contents. She said it was easy for her to transcribe verbatim since I blew up the photograph and laminated it. She said the general nature of the document was benign. The documentation, as I assessed as well, was merely a scholarly critique of the then-current Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. It detailed corruption within the cabinet of al-Maliki’s government, and the financial impact of this corruption on the Iraqi people.
After discovering this discrepancy between FP’s report, and the interpreter’s transcript, I forwarded this discovery, in person to the TO OIC and Battle NCOIC.
The TOC OIC and, the overhearing Battlecaptain, informed me they didn’t need or want to know this information any more. They told me to “drop it” and to just assist them and the FP in finding out where more of these print shops creating “anti-Iraqi literature” might be. I couldn’t believe what I heard, (24-25)
Manning, we’ve been told over and over again, was not a whistleblower. Because, I guess, Maliki’s corruption and repression were not a problem in 2010?
Yesterday, The Register published what it claims is the story that led GCHQ to destroy the Guardian’s hard drives: the location of a key GCHQ base in the Middle East and its relationships with British Telecom and Vodaphone.
The secret British spy base is part of a programme codenamed “CIRCUIT” and also referred to as Overseas Processing Centre 1 (OPC-1). It is located at Seeb, on the northern coast of Oman, where it taps in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Seeb is one of a three site GCHQ network in Oman, at locations codenamed “TIMPANI”, “GUITAR” and “CLARINET”. TIMPANI, near the Strait of Hormuz, can monitor Iraqi communications. CLARINET, in the south of Oman, is strategically close to Yemen.
British national telco BT, referred to within GCHQ and the American NSA under the ultra-classified codename “REMEDY”, and Vodafone Cable (which owns the former Cable & Wireless company, aka “GERONTIC”) are the two top earners of secret GCHQ payments running into tens of millions of pounds annually.
The Brits would have you believe — and I have no reason to doubt them — that this cable landing in Oman is one of the key points in their surveillance infrastructure.
I raise this because of a cable listing the globe’s critical infrastructure — and fearmongering surrounding it — that Chelsea Manning leaked to Wikileaks. As I noted at the time, while the cable lists a slew of cable landings as critical infrastructure sites — including the Hibernia Atlantic undersea cable landing in Dublin, which gets mentioned in the Register story — it does not list a single cable landing site in the Middle East.
Bab al-Mendeb: Shipping lane is a critical supply chain node
‘Ayn Sukhnah-SuMEd Receiving Import Terminal
‘Sidi Kurayr-SuMed Offloading Export Terminal
Strait of Hormuz
Khark (Kharg) Island Sea Island Export Terminal
Khark Island T-Jetty
Al-Basrah Oil Terminal
Rafael Ordnance Systems Division, Haifa, Israel: Critical to Sensor Fused Weapons (SFW), Wind Corrected Munitions Dispensers (WCMD), Tail Kits, and batteries
Mina’ al Ahmadi Export Terminal
Strait of Gibraltar
Maghreb-Europe (GME) gas pipeline, Morocco
Strait of Hormuz
Ras Laffan Industrial Center: By 2012 Qatar will be the largest source of imported LNG to U.S.
Abqaiq Processing Center: Largest crude oil processing and stabilization plant in the world
Al Ju’aymah Export Terminal: Part of the Ras Tanura complex
As Saffaniyah Processing Center
Qatif Pipeline Junction
Ras at Tanaqib Processing Center
Ras Tanura Export Terminal
Shaybah Central Gas-oil Separation Plant
Trans-Med Gas Pipeline
United Arab Emirates (UAE):
Das Island Export Terminal
Jabal Zannah Export Terminal
Strait of Hormuz
Bab al-Mendeb: Shipping lane is a critical supply chain node
Note, Bahamas’ telecom, which recent reporting has also noted is critical to NSA’s spying, also gets no mention.
That’s not surprising in the least. The cable (and the list) is classified Secret. NSA and GCHQ’s prime collection points are (as the Register notes) classified several levels above Top Secret.
And while the list provided some indication of what sites were significant by their absence, it’s likely that the sites that were listed were the relatively unimportant sites.
At trial, Manning’s lawyers repeatedly point out that she had chosen not to leak stuff from JWICS, which would be classified at a higher level. The stuff she leaked, which she got on SIPRNET, was by definition less sensitive stuff.
I don’t mean to suggest this reflects on the relative value of what either Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning leaked. I think it is a good indication, though, of how unfounded a lot of the fear mongering surrounding this particular leaked cable was.
On Monday I laid out the dynamics that would be in play for the court in considering what sentence to give Bradley Manning in light of both the trial evidence and testimony, and that presented during the sentencing phase after the guilty verdict was rendered. Judge Lind has entered her decision, and Bradley Manning has been sentenced to a term of 35 years, had his rank reduced to E-1, had all pay & allowances forfeited, and been ordered dishonorably discharged. This post will describe the parole, appeal and incarceration implications of the sentence just imposed.
Initially, as previously stated, Pvt. Manning was credited with the 112 days of compensatory time awarded due to the finding that he was subjected to inappropriate pre-trial detention conditions while at Quantico. Pvt. Manning was credited with a total 1294 days of pre-trial incarceration credit for the compensatory time and time he has already served since the date of his arrest.
Most importantly at this point, Manning was sentenced today to a prison term of 35 years and the issue of what that sentence means – above and beyond the credit he was given both for compensatory time and time served – is what is critical going forward. The following is a look at the process, step by step, Bradley Manning will face.
The first thing that will happen now that Judge Lind has gaveled her proceedings to a close is the court will start assembling the record, in terms of complete transcript, exhibits and full docket, for transmission to the convening authority for review. It is not an understatement to say that this a huge task, as the Manning record may well be the largest ever produced in a military court martial. It will be a massive undertaking and transmission.
At the same time, the defense will start preparing their path forward in terms of issues they wish to argue. It is my understanding that Pvt. Manning has determined to continue with David Coombs as lead counsel for review and appeal, which makes sense as Coombs is fully up to speed and, at least in my opinion, has done a fantastic job. For both skill and continuity, this is a smart move.
The next step will be designation of issues to raise for review by the “convening authority”. In this case, the convening authority is Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, who heads, as Commanding General, the US Army’s Military District of Washington. This step is quite different than civilian courts, where a defendant proceeds directly to an appellate court.
The accused first has the opportunity to submit matters to the convening authority before the convening authority takes action – it’s not characterized as an “appeal,” but it’s an accused’s first opportunity to seek relief on the findings and/or the sentence. According to the Manual for Courts-Martial, Rule for Court-Martial 1105:
(a) In general. After a sentence is adjudged in any court-martial, the accused may submit matters to the convening authority in accordance with this rule.
(b) Matters which may be submitted.
(1) The accused may submit to the convening au thority any matters that may reasonably tend to af fect the convening authority’s decision whether to disapprove any findings of guilty or to approve the sentence. The convening authority is only required to consider written submissions.
(2) Submissions are not subject to the Military Rules of Evidence and may include:
(A) Allegations of errors affecting the legality of the findings or sentence;
(B) Portions or summaries of the record and copies of documentary evidence offered or intro duced at trial;
(C) Matters in mitigation which were not avail able for consideration at the court-martial; and
(D) Clemency recommendations by any member, the military judge, or any other person. The defense may ask any person for such a recommendation.
Once the convening authority has the full record and the defense has designated its matters for review, Buchanan will perform his review and determine whether any adjustments to the sentence are appropriate, and that will be considered the final sentence. At this point, the only further review is by a traditional appeal process.
Generally, the level of appellate review a case receives depends on the sentence as approved by the →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Last Friday, NSA’s Compliance Director John DeLong assured journalists the violations NSA reported in 2012 were “miniscule.” (I noted that the report showed some of the most sensitive violations primarily get found through audits and therefore their discovery depend in part on how many people are auditing.)
Today, as part of a story describing that NSA still doesn’t know what Edward Snowden took from NSA, MSNBC quotes a source saying NSA has stinky audit capabilities.
Another said that the NSA has a poor audit capability, which is frustrating efforts to complete a damage assessment.
For the past several months, various Intelligence officials have assured Congress and the public that it keeps US person data very carefully guarded, so only authorized people can access it.
Today, MSNBC reports NSA had (has?) poor data compartmentalization.
NSA had poor data compartmentalization, said the sources, allowing Snowden, who was a system administrator, to roam freely across wide areas.
Again, there have long been signs that non-analysts had untracked access to very sensitive data. Multiple sources agree — and possibly not just non-analysts.
While I’m really sympathetic for the people who are reportedly “overwhelmed” trying to figure out what Snowden took, we’re seeing precisely the same thing we saw with Bradley Manning: that it takes a giant black eye for intelligence agencies to even admit to gaping holes in their security and oversight.
And in NSA’s case, it proves most of their reassurances to be false.
U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning stands convicted of crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The convictions result from two events. The first was a voluntary plea of guilty by Pvt. Manning to ten lesser included charges in February, and the remainder from a verdict of guilty after trial entered by Judge Denise Lind on July 30.
The maximum possible combined sentence originally stood at 136 years for the guilty counts, but that was reduced to a maximum possible sentence of 90 years after the court entered findings of merger for several of the offenses on August 6. The “merger” resulted from the partial granting of a motion by Mr. Manning’s attorney arguing some of the offenses were effectively the same conduct and were therefore multiplicitous. The original verdict status, as well as the revised verdict status after the partial merger of offenses by the court, is contained in a very useful spreadsheet created by Alexa O’Brien (whose tireless coverage of the Manning trial has been nothing short of incredible).
Since the verdict and merger ruling, there have been two weeks of sentencing witnesses, testimony and evidence presented by both the government and defense to the court. It is not the purpose of this post to detail the testimony and evidence per se, but rather the mechanics of the sentencing process and how it will likely be carried out. For detailed coverage of the testimony and evidence, in addition to Alexa O’Brien, the reportage of Kevin Gosztola at FDL Dissenter, Julie Tate at Washington Post, Charlie Savage at New York Times and Nathan Fuller at the Bradley Manning Support Network has been outstanding.
All that is left are closing arguments and deliberation by Judge Lind on the final sentence she will hand down. So, what exactly does that portend for Bradley Manning, and how will it play out? Only Judge Lind can say what the actual sentence will be, but there is much guidance and procedural framework that is known and codified in rules, practice and procedure under the UCMJ.
It is “really important that the government respond well to this particular abuse,” he said of the Snowden and Manning cases.
Mr. Hayden said he does not endorse some forms of exemplary punishment, “what the French call ‘for the encouragement of others.’”
But if hackers “have this attachment to transparency, perhaps the intelligence community is not where they should be,” he said, adding that the government needs to use the Snowden case to show that it is “serious.”
The former director of both the NSA and CIA said it is “very appropriate” for the U.S. government to pursue Mr. Snowden relentlessly and make his fate an issue in its bilateral relations with any nation that harbors him.
“We need to recruit from this culture,” he said. “Members of this culture, when they embrace government service with its necessary requirements of secrecy, need to be shown the government is quite serious about those necessary requirements.”
To WT’s credit, they do acknowledge that Hayden currently works for the Chertoff Group, one of the most corrupt profiteers off the war on terror.
But it doesn’t mention that Hayden’s the guy who decided it’d be a good idea to outsource NSA’s IT to companies like Booz Allen Hamilton so as to get more people “from this culture” working on NSA’s programs in the first place.
More importantly, it doesn’t mention that the 2009 Draft NSA IG Report that Snowden leaked provided new details about how Hayden made the final decision to continue the illegal wiretapping program even after DOJ’s top lawyers judged it illegal in 2004.
Edward Snowden leaked new details of Michael Hayden’s crime. He leaked new details of how Hayden betrayed the public trust in probably more serious fashion than Edward Snowden has.
And yet somehow Michael Hayden continues to be the primary go-to guy to talk about how serious this leak is? Michael Hayden gets to opine about how Edward Snowden should be made an example of?
Now, perhaps applying Hayden’s own logic would have been valuable years ago. Perhaps if Hayden had been made an example of himself, after he betrayed the public trust and broke the law, we not only would have more trust in the NSA, but we have a better understanding of what NSA did then and is doing now.
But since we didn’t, Michael Hayden remains one primary exhibit about why Snowden’s leaks, however illegal, have a certain legitimacy.
Because so long as Michael Hayden runs free, we know the government refuses to police itself on these issues.
It’s all very rich for one criminal to call for another criminal to be made an example of. But the responsible press should at least point out how ironic it is that the criminal who escaped justice insists those who have exposed new details of his own crime get the full brunt of it.
Bradley Manning is innocent, according to Judge Colonel Denise Lind, of aiding the enemy.
With this verdict, truly horrible consequences for freedom of speech are averted.
Nevertheless, according to the invaluable Alexa O’Brien, Manning still faces a maximum 136 years for the 20 (out of 22) charges on which he was found guilty. [corrected total number of charges/guilty verdicts]
When Manning plead guilty in February to 10 lesser charges (Lind accepted 2 of those pleas), he said he hoped his leaks “could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.” For that, the government accused him of being a traitor.
Lind agreed with the government on almost every other issue but that one. And for his efforts, Manning may well spend the rest of his life in prison.
Update: Here’s my longer take at Salon. Note this bit:
There is one more significant detail in Lind’s ruling today. In addition to aiding the enemy, the one other charge she found Manning innocent of involved leaking a video of a civilian massacre in Garani, Afghanstan. While Manning admitted accessing the video, the government insisted he had leaked it months before Manning admitted to accessing the video (and before forensic evidence showed he had). This claim — one Lind said they did not prove — was key to their claims that Manning had planned to leak to WikiLeaks from the start of his deployment to Iraq.
Cora Currier describes the absurd response she got when she asked for a list of our enemies.
At a hearing in May, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked the Defense Department to provide him with a current list of Al Qaeda affiliates.
The Pentagon responded – but Levin’s office told ProPublica they aren’t allowed to share it. Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for Levin, would say only that the department’s “answer included the information requested.”
A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that revealing such a list could cause “serious damage to national security.”
“Because elements that might be considered ‘associated forces’ can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list,” said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Jim Gregory. “We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks.”
Thing is, this is not entirely new. At least until February, the government had been refusing to give Ron Wyden a list of every country in which we’ve used lethal force. And he’s on the Intelligence Committee!
Indeed, Currier suggests one reason this might be classified would be if Obama was fighting these enemies under Inherent Authority.
The AUMF isn’t the only thing the government relies on to take military action. In speeches and interviews Obama administration officials also bring up the president’s constitutional power to defend the country, even without congressional authorization.
But, as Jack Goldsmith notes, something else seems to be going on here, because the response Currier got suggests the list is classified Secret, not whatever Top Secret compartment the government maintained for a year Wyden couldn’t access.
The language of the DOD release suggests that at least a few more groups (or elements of groups), and maybe many more groups (or elements), are on the AUMF “list.” The existence of a “list” (which was unclear in the May 2013 AUMF hearing), and the fact that there may be at least a few groups (or elements of groups) on it, is itself news in the AUMF-watcher world. It is also consistent with suggestions and implications in reports, such as in Mark Mazzetti’s book, that the AUMF is being invoked in various ways by DOD Special Operations Forces for non-covert military activities in many countries around the globe.
Third, it is entirely unclear why the USG can acknowledge some groups without unduly “inflating” them, and not others. And this in turn makes me skeptical of the notion of “inflation.” To be sure, some groups that are AUMF-able (such as, perhaps, the Haqqani network, a known but not acknowledged U.S. target) perhaps cannot be named because the operations are covert actions and involve deals of non-acknowledgment with foreign governments (or elements of foreign governments). But that cannot be a comprehensive explanation for DOD’s secrecy. By stating that disclosure of groups on the list would “reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to the national security,” DOD has tipped off that the list is classified only at the secret (as opposed to top secret) level. (See Section 1.2 of E.O. 13,256.) Covert actions are typically classified at the top secret level. This implies (but does not prove) that some if not all of the AUMF-groups in question are not subjects of covert actions.
But remember: There are two other instances where the government has refused to clarify who is, and is not, an enemy.
When a bunch of people who have talked to, but not assisted, terrorists sued to stop the NSAA’s provisions allowing indefinite detention, the government refused (until it became convenient) to say whether they could be detained or not.
Then, as part of the Bradley Manning charges, the government kept one of the enemies it was going to prove he had aided classified (but ultimately didn’t argue he had aided that enemy in court).
Prosecutors accuse him of “aiding the enemy,” and three in particular: al-Qaida, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and a “classified enemy” referred to by a Bates number, which is a form of legal document identification.
Three professors of military law – Yale Law School’s Eugene Fidell, Duke University School of Law’s Scott Silliman and Texas Tech University School of Law’s Richard Rosen – told Courthouse News they had never heard of a case involving a “classified enemy.”
After being informed that the phrase stumped the professors, a military spokeswoman insisted that the confusion stemmed from a misunderstanding, because “who the enemy ‘is’ is not classified.”
“What ‘is’ classified is that our government has confirmed that this enemy is in receipt of certain compromised classified information, and that the means and methods of collection that the government has employed to make that determination are classified,” the spokeswoman said in an email.
One thing about all these instances — refusing to share a list of lethal force targeted countries with Ron Wyden, sharing a classified list with Carl Levin only on request, refusing to tell Americans (and one member of parliament from Iceland) whether they are counted as enemies, and refusing to tell Manning which enemy he supposed aided — is that they provide the executive maximum flexibility. That may not be the only thing this extreme secrecy about enemies does. But it is one thing it does do, along with hiding how broad the unilaterally declared war under Inherent Authority is.
It sure does make things confusing, though!
Eric Holder has written a letter to Russian Minister of Justice Alexander Valdimirovich Konovalov. In it, he claims to address the issues Edward Snowden raised in his application for asylum to Russia (I’m not sure he accurately represents the claim — in other asylum applications Snowden made a clear case he was charged with a political crime, which Holder doesn’t mention at all).
The letter assures Konovalov that the charges currently charged don’t carry the death penalty and the government wouldn’t seek the death penalty if he were charged with such crimes.
But it also offers this guarantee that Snowden won’t be tortured:
Second, Mr. Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States.
That’s it! The guy whose DOJ reviewed but chose not to charge a bunch of CIA torturers (and those who obstructed investigations into that torture) says torture is illegal here and therefore Snowden wouldn’t be tortured.
Assuming, of course, you believe the forced nudity and solitary confinement Bradley Manning was illegally (per the judge in his case) subjected to doesn’t amount to torture. I’m sure Vladimir Putin would agree, but much of the civilized world does not.
In other curious assurances, Holder promises that Snowden would have the right to counsel.
Any questioning of Mr. Snowden could be conducted only with his consent: his participation would be entirely voluntary, and his legal counsel would be present should he wish it.
I guess Holder ought to tell Dzhokhar Tsarnaev about this return to the good old days, because he asked for a lawyer several times under questioning before he got one.
These assurances are all very nice. But more and more, such assurances are easily disproven by our recent history. Again, I don’t think Vlad Putin gives a great shit about all that. But ultimately this increasingly shoddy recent history will hurt such claims in the international realm.