The Nation

Government Spying: Why You Can’t ‘Just Trust Us’

imagesOkay you Wheelhouse mopes, Marcy, Jim and I are all in San Jose at Netroots. Not sure the jail in this here town is big enough to hold us all. Marcy already put up two posts earlier today, but posting may be a bit spotty, we shall see. I have an important one that will probably go up tomorrow morning on the Aaron Swartz case.

At any rate, to give some extra fodder here, and because Ms. Wheeler is terminally lame at noticing our own blog when she writes articles elsewhere, I am hereby placing you on notice that she has a great article that went up late yesterday at The Nation titled:

Government Spying: Why You Can’t ‘Just Trust Us’

Go read it, you will be glad you did! Other than that, use this as an open thread for Trash Talk (GO SPURS!), and anything and everything else you want to yammer about.

On the Manning Art. 32, Court Secrecy & Nat. Sec. Cases

I somehow stumbled into an article for The Nation by Rainey Reitman entitled Access Blocked to Bradley Manning’s Hearing. To make a long story short, in a Twitter exchange today with Ms. Reitman and Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake (who has done yeoman’s work covering the Manning hearing), I questioned some of the statements and inferences made in Ms. Reitman’s report. She challenged me to write on the subject, so here I am.

First, Ms. Reitman glibly offered to let me use her work as “foundation” to work off of. Quite frankly, not only was my point not originally to particularly go further; my point, in fact, was that her foundation was deeply and materially flawed.

Reitman starts off with this statement:

The WikiLeaks saga is centered on issues of government transparency and accountability, but the public is being strategically denied access to the Manning hearing, one of the most important court cases in our lifetime.

While the “WikiLeaks saga” is indeed centered on transparency and accountability for many of us, that simply is not the case in regard to the US Military prosecution of Pvt. Bradley Manning. The second you make that statement about the UCMJ criminal prosecution of Manning, you have stepped off the tracks of reality and credibility in court reportage and analysis. The scope of Manning’s Article 32 hearing was/is were the crimes detailed in the charging document committed and is there reason to believe Manning committed them. Additionally, in an Article 32 hearing, distinct from a civilian preliminary hearing, there is limited opportunity for personal mitigating information to be adduced in order to argue for the Investigating Officer to recommend non-judicial punishment as opposed to court martial trial. That is it. There is no concern or consideration of “transparency and accountability”, within the ambit suggested by Ms. Reitman, in the least.

Calling the Manning Article 32 hearing “one of the most important court cases in our lifetime” is far beyond hyperbole. First off, it is, for all the breathless hype, a relatively straight forward probable cause determination legally and, to the particular military court jurisdiction it is proceeding under, it is nothing more than that. The burden of proof is light, and the issues narrow and confined to that which is described above. The grand hopes, dreams and principles of the Manning and WikiLeaks acolytes simply do not fit into this equation no matter how much they may want them to. Frankly, it would be a great thing to get those issues aired in this country; but this military UCMJ proceeding is not, and will not be, the forum where that happens.

Moving on, Reitman raises the specter of “the death penalty” for Manning. While the death penalty remains a technical possibility under one of the charges, the prosecution has repeatedly stated it will not be sought and, after all the statements on the record in that regard, there is simply no reason to embellish otherwise. Reitman next states:

This case will show much about the United States’s tolerance for whistleblowers who show the country in an unflattering light.

No, it most certainly will not. In fact, the Manning criminal military prosecution has nothing whatsoever to do with “whistleblowers”. Despite the loose and wild eyed use of the term “whistleblower” in popular culture, not to mention by supporters of Bradley Manning, the concept Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel RT @avilarenata: Theresa May in UK, using anti terrorism excuse, wants a requirement for ISPs to retain data on IPs to identify users. http…
1mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @stevenzzhou NSA only deleted the massive dragnet after 5 years, but has--and will--keep those chained indefinitely.
2mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JustADCohen @stltoday And half expected McCulloch would welch on that.
2mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @stevenzzhou Once someone is chained, they may be held indefinitely. USAF prolly would lead to MORE USPs being held like that, bc broader.
2mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JustADCohen @stltoday I guess, but it was a patently absurd statement. I never took his word for anything more than he would ask.
2mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel An excellent time to escalate a second war, right when GOPers famous for not paying their bills take over.
3mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @stevenzzhou Remember Section 215 is used for other things as well, notably financial records. They'd still be available in bulk.
8mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @stevenzzhou Yes, at the individual level, rather than the programmatic level (tho JUST for phone records). Definitely better on that front.
8mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @JustADCohen: Court's reaction to prosecutor here is telling, shows disconnect, presages huge fight over records. http://t.co/FmLcHFvb3v
12mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JustADCohen How could the court do that before the GJ concludes and challenges and protective motion time given? @stltoday
12mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @YousefMunayyer Dunno. This is going to be someone signing big contracts w/lots of contractors. Sounds like great way to get rich.
13mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz .@JustADCohen Why did anybody ever believe the court had already agreed to release of GJ material? @stltoday
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