Frontline Ignores Most Embarrassing “Cause” of WikiLeaks Leak

Greg Mitchell has a preview of the Frontline piece on Bradley Manning today. He points out that the big “scoop” of the story–that Manning’s stepmother called the cops in 2006 after Bradley pulled out a knife during a family fight (but then immediately asked if his dad was okay).

The entire story seems to look to Manning’s psychology to explain his alleged leak of classified information.

Frontline says it will continue its report in May in a one-hour program which will, again, focus on Manning’s personal life and how this “led” to his alleged leak; and his new outbursts, this time in the Army (all reported elsewhere)–and how the Army still gave him access to top-secret documents.


The overall tone of tonight’s report is sure to spark debate. Consider that MilitaryTimes opens its report today with this: “Could the global turmoil sparked by Wikileaks have started started with a son’s anger for his father?” NPR’s report is headlined: “Home Life Included a 911 Call.”

Such spin, in the absence of a larger examination of what “led to” the alleged leak, is irresponsible.

If Manning is found to have leaked the cables, he deserves the bulk of responsibility for the leak (though, as Mitchell points out, to explain it, it’d be well to look at his political views and, I’d add, the disclosure requirements for crimes like support for torture exposed in WikiLeaks as well).

But one entity that has thus far avoided all responsibility for the leak are the folks in charge of DOD’s IT. As I have pointed out, DOD’s network security was embarrassingly bad–worse than your average mid-sized corporation. But to make their negligent security even worse, they had already suffered a damaging compromise of their systems when, in 2008, malware was introduced into their system via removable media, the same means by which Manning is alleged to have downloaded the WikiLeaks cables.

The Defense Department’s geeks are spooked by a rapidly spreading worm crawling across their networks. So they’ve suspended the use of so-called thumb drives, CDs, flash media cards, and all other removable data storage devices from their nets, to try to keep the worm from multiplying any further.

The ban comes from the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, according to an internal Army e-mail. It applies to both the secret SIPR and unclassified NIPR nets. The suspension, which includes everything from external hard drives to “floppy disks,” is supposed to take effect “immediately.”


Servicemembers are supposed to “cease usage of all USB storage media until the USB devices are properly scanned and determined to be free of malware,” one e-mail notes.

Eventually, some government-approved drives will be allowed back under certain “mission-critical,” but unclassified, circumstances. “Personally owned or non-authorized devices” are “prohibited” from here on out.

Not only did DOD’s failure to do what it claimed it would in response to this malware attack expose DOD’s networks to the kind of leak Manning is alleged to have committed, but it also exposed DOD’s networks to more secret, but potentially more damaging, leaks of targeted information that our enemies would like. The failure to implement the very minimal response to the malware attack is inexcusable.

But, as far as I know, no one is asking anyone be held responsible for that negligence.

None of this excuses what Manning is alleged to have done in the least. But shouldn’t the press be asking why DOD persisted with completely inadequate security after having been attacked already?

Update: “Stepmother” fixed.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I heard that and felt that the interviewers context and commentary, while apparently objective, worked hard to editorialize against him, while downplaying the cruel and inhumane treatment meted out to him in prison.

  1. NMvoiceofreason says:

    Isn’t the real reason for the leak his failure to be complicit in crimes against humanity? Wasn’t he asked to help round up the “usual suspects” so that the Iraqi secret police would have somebody to torture, instead of being bored? Isn’t the Collateral Murder video the straw that broke the camel’s back?

    The cause is the bad things that were and the innocent man who had to witness them could not believe that it was being done. Just in case you thought it was over, let me have The Kill Team show you some of their vacation pics….

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As Mr. Manning “allegedly” pulled out a knife.

    And what competent parent encourages an openly gay son to enlist in today’s/yesterday’s US Army as a top career choice? That seems more of an expression of his loathing for his son’s sexual orientation (and himself) than it is informed career counseling. For someone like Mr. Manning, who was so talented so young with computers, there could only have been a hundred other jobs his father might have suggested.

    • Cellar47 says:


      There’s a lot of spin going on her — from his father. He claims his son’s coming out to him was no big deal –t hen suggests he go into the military.

      The truth is screamingly obvious. Manning came out to his father who then ORDERED him to join the army to “Make a man of him.”

      What Manning may or may not have did will be well-nigh impossible to learn as the military and the CIA wants to protect itself from inquiry or “attack.” At the same time they want to destroy Manning to ‘set an example” to anyone else who might try to cross them.

      IOW what “really” happened will never be known.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Could the global turmoil sparked by Wikileaks have started started with a son’s anger for his father?”

    A more accurate but still misleading weighting of the impact of Mr. Manning’s alleged leaks to WikiLeaks would ask whether Mr. Manning’s alleged conduct started with his father’s unceasing anger at his son – about an issue over which Mr. Manning has as much control as the weather.

    As you say, that spin is irresponsible in the extreme. It also infantalizes the issues. It deliberately focuses on an internal, Freudian family struggle. That becomes a shiny object that distracts from Mr. Manning’s rational turmoil as he came to the conclusion that he allegedly ought to blow the whistle on what he came to perceive as the high crimes and misdemeanors by those in power.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Duh, the shiny object of Freudian conflict also aids the false framing the question creates.

      The “global controversy” here isn’t that WikiLeaks helped major global newspapers to publish leaked government data. The world’s top news media do that every day, just not with WikiLeaks assistance. The controversy arose because of the government behavior that leaked data claims to reveal.

  4. Scarecrow says:

    the most embarrassing “cause” when bad information leaks out is the bad information itself and what it says about the institution trying to keep it secret.

  5. JClausen says:

    Frontline went down the tubes with Moyers retirement.

    NPR’s credibility went down the tubes when Bush stacked the board with “ideological apparatchiks” like Keith Tomlinson and “allowed” the Kochsuckers to buy social respectability.

    Add in the Juan Williams fiasco as well as the latest pseudoscandal and you have a recipe for irrelevence as the “hated liberal media”

    Defund them already so they can come after the real culprits , us progressive DFH’s and the Bradley Manning’s of the world.

  6. onitgoes says:

    THIS is why I stopped donating to NPR/PBS years ago. THIS is why I could care less if Congress defunds NPR/PBS. At this stage, let’s stop kidding around. NPR/PBS are yet another propoganda bully pulpit for the Oligarchs, the corporations & the MIC.

    Let’s stop pretending that NPR/PBS is “leftwing” or even “objective.” Public broadcasting “objectivity” flew out the window a long long time ago, and now is WORSE than Fox bc the “small fry” keep believing the hype that it’s “liberal” or “objective.” No, it’s not.

    • lysias says:

      What I will miss if NPR goes under is the classical music stations.

      So, I donate to my local NPR classical music station, but not to my local NPR public affairs station.

    • lysias says:

      Dr. Goebbels kept in business for several years after the Nazi takeover the Frankfurter Zeitung (minus the Jews and some of the politically unreliable people on its staff). It continued to be much better written than the rest of the press, and some of what it printed even seemed mildly heretical.

      Dr. Goebbels was clever enough to realize that made it more effective as propaganda.

      (It finally ceased publication in 1943, after its place as a prestige Nazi publication had been taken over by the weekly Das Reich, which also had very good writers.)

    • cheakamus says:

      My sentiments exactly, which is why I’d be extremely surprised if congress actually did set NPR adrift — they’re far too useful a propaganda tool to both sides of the aisle.

  7. Citizen92 says:

    Now I “get it.”

    Manning was one of the bad guys because he, as a DoD representative, leaked the State Department’s crown jewels to the press. Presumably all would have been fine and dandy had Manning “leaked” anything interesting to the Office of Special Plans, perhaps? Or maybe Doug Feith et al didn’t need Manning because they own the enterprise architecture and could reach in at will.

    Yes, my takeaway now is that DoD owns State’s mediuim of communication and can likely spy at will. Did they? Is that one of the ways Rummy ended up eating Powell’s lunch? Just like Dick Cheney had himself secretly bcc’d on NSC emails?

  8. lawguy says:

    Of course Manning had to be crazy to do whatever he is charged with, there is no other explanation.

  9. Deep Harm says:

    Who is investigation the childhood histories of the soldiers who shot down unarmed civilians? Who is investigation the mental status of senior officers and administration officials who failed to stop such abuses, and those who have authorized whistleblower retaliation? Only the whistleblowers have their entire lives opened up like a tin of sardines for the enemies of truth to feast upon.

  10. lysias says:

    What did they have to do to get access to a recording of the 911 call? Is it normal to keep recordings of such calls around for years?

  11. lettherebelight2011 says:

    Not sure why you folks are fighting this story so hard. Its pretty clear that your “hero” for open government was just a scared, young adult with some mental health issues who was, in part, motivated by concern over the military’s lack of honesty with the public . . . frankly, that doesn’t change the narrative that his defense will present at trial. Unfortunately for Manning, it doesn’t present much of a legal defense.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I’m unsure why you are fighting the recognition that the government is abusing a prisoner it has yet to try or convict, abusing him in a manner that would require giving military or government figures the sack were it to take place in Europe or Canada – even if Mr. Manning did what the government claims.

      Among other inconsistencies you seem to ignore is that the government has already claimed the data published by WikiLeaks that it supposedly obtained via Mr. Manning caused no actual harm. That admission came after scary tales from both ends of Penna. Avenue and from across the Potomac that the sky was about to fall because of them. Is the government lying now or was it lying then?

      Either way, it ought to prove its case or let Mr. Manning go, or even discharge him for being gay before it changed its Neanderthalish policies.

      Instead, it seems intent on making Mr. Manning an example of its claimed authority to keep citizens imprisoned indefinitely because it claims they are scary to someone inside the Beltway. Even more is it intent on making Mr. Manning an example that every other potential whistleblower will look upon and be afraid. That’s not justice or a system of justice. It’s Old Testament fire and brimstone. It is a quiet, notorious and open step toward tyranny.

  12. CassandraBearingWitness says:

    Upon first seeing the headline, I thought the author would point out that Bradley Manning had gone to his commanding officer to complain that his unit was rounding up Iraqis and turning them over to Iraqi authorities to be tortured with electric shocks and power drills, the same horrifying methods used under Saddam Hussain. He was told to shut up and go back to work.

    This is a violation of the Convention on Torture, which Obama has been violating all along; it contains an affirmative duty to prosecute torturers, but Obama has protected them and even bulled allies such as the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain to suppress investigation and prosecution. His much-ballyhooed ban on torture doesn’t cover torture by proxy–the US’s longstanding preferred method–or torture off the battlefield. It was certainly interesting that he was promoting Mubarak’s chief torturer as his successor. The irony may have been lost on the vast majority of Americans, but the Arabs got it right away.

    Obama and Gates are holding Manning under conditions deemed torture by all civilized countries, and in the teeth of strong condemnations by eminent mental health professionals, despite Gates’s own admission that there was no threat to national security and no danger to anyone. They have, of course, not stopped the practice of collusion with torturers or held anyone responsible for it.

    Ad hominem attacks on Manning and Assange are vindictive, petty and irrelevant, smokescreens to conceal real war crimes under our Nobel Peace Laureate president, and it’s appalling to find self-proclaimed progressives relentlessly defending Obama for doing the same things for which they condemned Bush.

  13. Jeff Kaye says:

    Isn’t the real reason for the leak his failure to be complicit in crimes against humanity? Wasn’t he asked to help round up the “usual suspects” so that the Iraqi secret police would have somebody to torture, instead of being bored?

    If we can believe the Lamo logs, that is what Manning said. If Manning is the actual leaker, then his motivation is clear: to bring to light crimes. All other causes are of a tertiary sort, or simply red herrings.

    Contrary to popular opinion, every action we undertake cannot be traced back to any particular moment in our youth. Motivation is complex, and choice is rooted in the state of the person and their environment at the time of their choice.

  14. regulararmyfool says:

    I love this hypocrisy on all of the comments above here. Manning has not been tried except in the court of public opinion and everyone assumes he’s guilty.

    I had a sixth grade teacher in 1958-1959 school year. He taught us the Constitution and the Amendments very very clearly. Even the most bone headed kid in class knew he had rights.

    Does anyone that reads this smart enough to know that this is totally illegal, totally unconstitutional (exactly why should, the shixs in the military, decide how to treat their fellow Americans?) and without a doubt will produce an outcome that is a total inimical for the 99 percent of Americans who are not rich or politically connected.

    • lettherebelight2011 says:

      “I love this hypocrisy on all of the comments above here. Manning has not been tried except in the court of public opinion and everyone assumes he’s guilty. . . .

      Does anyone that reads this smart enough to know that this is totally illegal, totally unconstitutional (exactly why should, the shixs in the military, decide how to treat their fellow Americans?)”

      I’m smart enough to see one of the most ridiculous arguments on a site with a history of ridiculous arguments . . . so you condemn people for assuming Mannings guilty, but then argue that the governments conduct is “totally illegal, totally unconstitutional.” I believe the term you use above is hypocrisy, correct?

  15. peacetruth says:

    The Frontline piece on Manning is a hit-piece.

    I just saw the 10 minute segment on his family life on youtube(tried to see it on Frontline website and it wouldn’t load properly). If what I saw on youtube is the entire segment offered on Frontline with no edits then it’s clearly a hit-piece.

    google:the private life of Bradley Manning on youtube

    Here’s why:

    On the 911 call audio recording that I listened to on Frontline’s website (not on the video)the full audio of the 911 call can be heard. I listened to that before I saw the video.

    The audio of the 911 call is edited on the video and leaves a different impression to the viewer than what one would get listening to the full tape. I suggest you listen to the full 911 audio and watch the whole segment of the 911 call.

    There are many changes in nuance that take place because of the editing/shortening of the audio one hears on the video.

    The differences I’m talking about are important. Subtle but important.

    The attitude/personality of the step-mother and how she comes across in the video vs. how she comes across in the full audio is different.

    The short video piece pertaining to the 911 call is fraught with subtle but telltale signs of being a hit-piece.

    It frames the altercation as being between both parents against Manning.

    A close listening to the dad’s statements and the 911 call points to the altercation most likely being between only the step-mother and Manning. And when the 911 operator asks why Manning is upset step-mom says”Because I have been telling him to get a job…..) not WE have been telling him…

    Dad corrects the interviewer and points to an event between step-mom and Manning.

    The way the video is edited sounds like an attack “in progress”.

    The Frontline video editorializes: “on the 911 recording the altercation was much more serious” (it should have said “on the 911 recording the altercation described by the step-mother…) Later the narrator says” the father admitted that the incident was much more serious than he led us to believe.

    The step mother’s accusation that Manning had a knife, and her accusation that the father “tried to protect” her are framed as absolute fact by the way the piece was crafted.

    Keep in mind they are what the step-mother claims. Dad says “it just reached a point where my wife felt vulnerable and she just was scared and she called 911” The Fronline piece doesn’t ask the dad if he saw Manning ever holding a knife. So we are left with the impression that Manning did in fact wield a knife.

    The narrator says “at one point, a SUDDENLY CONCERNED Bradley can be heard speaking to his father”. SUDDENLY CONCERNED? How does Frontline know what they just told us? That Manning was SUDDENLY CONCERNED? Do they know what Manning’s concerns were before and so now they can say he SUDDENLY changed his concerns? They are bolstering their narrative though that Manning was in fact attacking step-mom but then was SUDDENLY CONCERNED.

    Listen to Manning’s tone of voice here. No proof of anything but it is the only chance we get to hear his voice during the “event” being discussed.

    Dad was never asked if he was trying to protect the step-mother from Manning when he fell down. Mom says it on the audio, but dad doesn’t say it. That allegation is left out there as fact. It does ask Manning’s dad if Manning was threatening. His reply is interesting.

    What we do get told is that Manning wasn’t arrested or charged. We don’t get told why he wasn’t.

    Why didn’t the police arrest and charge Manning? Maybe no proof that what this lady claimed has any basis in fact? Or possibly that the police did actually determine that it didn’t happen the way she said from evidence or their questioning on the scene.

    Was the alleged “tossing” a can a violent throwing of a can? Or a tossing into the trash? Dad’s recollection and description is weird here. First he says “kind of tossed some stuff” then downgrades it to “I think he tossed a can or something. I don‘t……”.

    Dad doesn’t bring up a knife in the interview. Why? To protect Bradley? He forgot? Or because it didn’t happen?

    Dad clearly says Manning wasn’t approaching the step-mom. A strong ‘NO”.

    At one point the interviewer “acts out” an imitation of Manning while pointing his finger at Manning’s father and saying ” Don’t mess with me, don’t tell me what to do?”. How’s that for “leading the witness” and putting words in Manning’s mouth? And substituting himself so viewers get a visual of Manning being aggressive to his meek father. . The viewers actually did get to see an aggressive finger-point and aggressive demands. And they were thinking of Manning while it was being done by a “respectable” reporter “impersonating “ Manning. Framing accomplished.

    Bradley “claims” (Frontline got to speak with Bradley? Wow.) while the father “says”.

    “Claims” vs.“says” is a classic hit-piece technique. Who do you believe, the claimer or the sayer.

    Frontline states that Manning lost his job because he “became increasingly erratic and had a heated confrontation with the boss.” Did Frontline interview the ex-employer? Witnesses to the event? When they make this statement, it’s not clear if they were quoting what dad “says”. Or if they are telling us what they know to be fact.. But it sure frames a crazy wild dangerous type. Especially the way it is presented by the all-knowing reputable Frontline .

    There are more subtle things in this piece that I haven’t pointed out.

    It could be true that the entire segment that I just talked about is a 100% accurate portrayal of what really took place that day. That Frontline has corroborating information that they didn’t have time to air. So they used these techniques to accurately sum up what took place. That is possible. That the impression of an erratic, lost gay young man, threatened his step-mom with a knife while arguing with his parents. That he escalated the argument verbally and then with a knife. And that dad fell while trying to protect step-mom. And that the police decided not to arrest and charge Manning even though both parents told the police this story that Frontline just told us.

    Or maybe the above framing is a 100% accurate depiction of the event except that the parent’s told the police not to arrest Manining and the police chose not to.

    Maybe the whole story Frontline told us is 100% true but the parents decided not to tell the police the whole truth to protect Manning.

    Another possibility is that a bullying step-mom started aggressively laying down the law to Manning and decided to call the police and invent a knife threat. That dad fell because he was trying to stand and protect Manning from step-mom. Or just stand for whatever reason. That the police decided not to arrest or charge Manning for a very good reason. There is a possibility that the domineering step-mom has dad around her finger and dad “had” to change his story to Frontline when they re-interviewed him and “admit” that the situation was much more serious than he first stated. Because step-mom told him to. There is a possibility that dad would lie to Frontline but dad would not lie to the police.

    When you listen to the audio in full, and watch the video segment on the event there are few hard facts available. But what facts there are do not rule out the possibility that step-mom lied through her teeth and dad does what step-mom says.

    The piece is suspicious.

    The style uses a tried and true hit-piece format. Many many times. In just a few minutes. If it was responsible journalism it would be absent these techniques. Maybe it would accidentally have one or two of the elements but there are way too many. It was a conscious decision.

    The topic here is that this was a hit-piece to tarnish the reputation of Manning. It reeks of that to anyone who pays attention.

    All that said, let’s not loose sight that it doesn’t matter at all what Manning did or didn’t do years ago. His whole involvement in the current political event is not affected at all by these distracting stories.

    That’s exactly why hit pieces are used. To muck up the waters.

    That’s why hit pieces should be identified.

    Frontline you suck.

  16. Deep Harm says:

    Watched the piece. It was some one of the most bizarre
    investigative’ pieces I’ve ever seen. As Peacetruth noted, Frontline did not inquire about inconsistencies in stories provided by the parents. Also, Frontline did not provide the police report, which should have more easily obtained than the audio recording.

    The biggest problem with the piece is that it made no effort to tell Manning’s side of the story. Given that news media insist on letting the government or corporation have its say in any investigation involving them, this is a glaring oversight.

    Yes, Manning us in a military prison, as Frontline indicated at the end of its piece. But, Frontline made no mention of the reason they cannot talk to him there. They can’t talk to him because he’s being held in solitary confinement, denied public contact and subjected to abuses that collectively constitute torture by the U.S. government. Manning deserved AT LEAST a mention of that. He got nothing. Which is why the Frontline piece must be viewed as an orchestrated smear…a smear of an alleged whistleblower who has been denied the opportunity to present his case, either in a court of law or in the court of public opinion.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The rest of us are smart enough to know the difference between legitimate conflicting versions of a truth and spin-trolling willing to advocate only part of it – or none of it at all.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Anyone else mildly annoyed at those weeks of frequent radio commercials touting a bright, new, shiny “24 hour” pledge drive?

  19. Sticks says:

    “If Manning is found to have leaked the cables, he deserves the bulk of responsibility for the leak …”
    Manning deserves the bulk of the credit. We will forget for a moment a soldier’s affirmative obligation respecting war crimes (GIs know what these are, even if POTUS’s don’t). We will also forget the national sekurity state’s fetish for classifying information inappropriately. Let’s forget too that whistleblowing is so anti-institutional (read freedom of action for the man/woman of conscience)that, well, all state actors and most Ivy Leaguers can’t abide it. Let’s not forget, ever: Manning has been and is currently being tortured by your fucking government. Responsibility that.

  20. lettherebelight2011 says:

    “soldier’s affirmative obligation respecting war crimes” . . . If this was simply disclosure of say a videotape of the My Lia massacre I think a ton of folks in the government, military, legal community both on the left and right would speak out on behalf of Manning and he might have an affirmative defense to some or all of the charges. What Manning released was not covered-up, evidence of war crimes. You may not like the fact that we are in Afghanistan but those Apache pilots were not intentionally targeting civilians. To argue otherwise is intellectually dishonest.

    • Sticks says:

      The evidence suggests strongly the Apache pilots murdered unarmed and/or non-combatant civilians, including those obviously coming to the aid of the mortally wounded Rueters reporter. The DOD account was a coverup..check the facts. I do think the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is an atrocity, but that is irrelevant to my points supra. And I’ll make one more about the Collateral Murder video: the US soldier is conditioned by the U.S. imperial prerogatives. After all, we own the world and the majority of Iraqis are non-persons. Maybe the Apache killers could argue those points at the sentencing phase of their war crimes trial.

  21. lettherebelight2011 says:

    The reality is those Apache pilots were cleared of wrongdoing by the military and even the international community was not clamoring for indictment in the ICC. If you want to hold a war crimes trial in your basement fine. But while you sit in the US crying about “imperial prerogatives”, my taxdollars pay for billions in international and humanitarian aid, many to countries with no economic interest for the US. Travel to Venezuela or Cuba and see what your socialist dreams have become.