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Chelsea Manning

Obama Gave Manning “Verdict First, Trial Later.”

Edited excerpts of transcript from Keith Olbermann’s interview of Daniel Ellsberg on Current:

ELLSBERG: The commander-in-chief, President Obama, gave Manning ‘verdict first, trial later.’ He said Manning had broken the law, before even the prosecution case had been heard, let alone the defense case. He said he was guilty,

That alone is virtually a directed verdict. It’s unlawful command influence on the subordinate officers, who will be carrying out both this decision, and later in the trial. The court martial should be out for that reason alone.

Second, the way Manning has been treated at my old base at Quantico, was shameful, and amounted to torture. My own case, the first one ever brought on this, was dismissed for reasons of “gross governmental misconduct” by President Nixon. There has been gross governmental misconduct in this case, in the form of that 10-and-a-half months of isolation. The case should be dismissed, for that reason. But it won’t be.

Obama’s practically got a war going on here against whistleblowers. He’s setting precedents here for the use of the Espionage Act against whistleblowers, which is of very questionable constitutionality in this guise. It was meant for espionage, and has often been used against espionage successfully.

But he’s setting a precedent of using it against whistleblowers now–five times under Obama now, and only three times in all the years before Obama.

Ellsberg: Wikileaks Logs Show Clear US War Crimes in Iraq—Manning Was Reportedly Motivated By Conscience

Edited transcript of today’s Democracy Now interview with Daniel Ellsberg

ELLSBERG: The conditions under which Manning is being held clearly violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution against cruel and unusual punishment—even for someone being punished, having been convicted. Here we have someone who has not yet been tried, not yet convicted, being held in isolation, solitary confinement, for something over 9 months. This is something that is likely to drive a person mad, and may be the intent of what’s going on here.

The Wikileaks revelations that Manning is charged with having revealed, having to do with Iraq, show that in fact the US military in which Manning was a part, turns over suspect to the Iraqis with the knowledge that they will be and are being tortured. Turning these suspects over, with that knowledge, is a clear violation of our own laws and of international law. It makes us as much culpable for the torture as if we were doing it ourselves. Continue Reading

Ellsberg on Obama’s View that Manning’s Treatment is “Appropriate”

[This statement by Daniel Ellsberg was published in the Guardian (UK), two days before P.J. Crowley was fired.]

President Obama tells us that he’s asked the Pentagon whether the conditions of confinement of Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with leaking state secrets, “are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are.”

If Obama believes that, he’ll believe anything. I would hope he would know better than to ask the perpetrators whether they’ve been behaving appropriately. I can just hear President Nixon saying to a press conference the same thing: “I was assured by the the White House Plumbers that their burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s doctor in Los Angeles was appropriate and met basic standards.”

When that criminal behavior ordered from the Oval Office came out, Nixon faced impeachment and had to resign. Well, times have changed. But if President Obama really doesn’t yet know the actual conditions of Manning’s detention – if he really believes, as he’s said, that “some of this [nudity, isolation, harassment, sleep-deprivation] has to do with Private Manning’s wellbeing”, despite the contrary judgments of the prison psychologist – then he’s being lied to, and he needs to get a grip on his administration. Continue Reading

Ellsberg: “EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.”

[Below is a news release put out by the Institute for Public Accuracy, co-signed by Daniel Ellsberg]

Ex-Intelligence Officers, Others See Plusses in WikiLeaks Disclosures

WASHINGTON – December 7 – The following statement was released today, signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Frank Grevil, Katharine Gun, David MacMichael, Ray McGovern, Craig Murray, Coleen Rowley and Larry Wilkerson; all are associated with Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

WikiLeaks has teased the genie of transparency out of a very opaque bottle, and powerful forces in America, who thrive on secrecy, are trying desperately to stuff the genie back in. The people listed below this release would be pleased to shed light on these exciting new developments. Continue Reading

Daniel Ellsberg: “I’ve waited forty years for a release of documents on this scale.”

On the eve of the biggest leak of classified documents in US history, Daniel Ellsberg appeared on Democracy Now. Daniel is on his way to London to participate in a press conference with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Saturday to announce the release.

From the WikiLeaks website:

At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports (‘The Iraq War Logs’), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a ‘SIGACT’ or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.

The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 ‘civilians’; 23,984 ‘enemy’ (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 ‘host nation’ (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 ‘friendly’ (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the ‘Afghan War Diaries’, previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivallent population size.

Share your thoughts, comments, and discussion in the comments section below.

Ellsberg in LA Times: “There should be a Pentagon Papers out every year.”

Daniel Ellsberg was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times in anticipation of the premiere of The Most Dangerous Man in America tonight on PBS:

“Ellsberg was critical of George W. Bush’s administration for what he regards as its disdain for transparency, but also blames the Obama White House for continuing the cloaked practices in the war on terror. He’s heartened by the recent cache of documents released by WikiLeaks on the Afghan war, though he thinks newspapers are more credible places to publish than the Internet. But he applauds the site for offering a clearer look at what the U.S. government is up to: ‘There should be a Pentagon Papers out ever year,’ he says.”

Yes, there are risks in leaking 92,000 pages- but also great risks in overclassification and secrecy

Ellsberg was interviewed by USA Today on the Wikileaks documents here:

Even Daniel Ellsberg said releasing the documents to anyone with a computer connection raised questions beyond those that faced him when he turned over most of the Pentagon Papers to congressional committees and then The NewYork Times in 1971.

“I had read all of those, of course, and I did make the judgment that there was nothing in there that was going to harm national security or individuals,” Ellsberg, now 79, said in a telephone interview from Mexico. He was there to attend a screening of a documentary about himself called The Most Dangerous Man in America. “With a vast amount of information like this, it’s hard to imagine that there was a very considered decision in releasing all of it.”

Assange’s judgment would be “tested,” he said.

On balance, though, Ellsberg said he supported the decision to put the documents in the public realm.

“To think that all the risks are only on the side of releasing it would be mistaken,” he said. “Continued secrecy does put a lot of American and Afghan lives at risk.”

One Thing the 92,000 Pages Probably Doesn’t Contain: A Single Good Reason For the War

Daniel Ellsberg was interview for CNN’s Afghanistan blog here:

I think what the Pentagon Papers showed with 7,000 pages was that there was a lack of any good reason for doing what we were doing,” Ellsberg told CNN. “My strong expectation is these 92,000 pages will not convey any good reason for the dying and killing and the enormous money we’re spending over there in a time we cannot afford it. . . .

They’d be well-advised to postpone that vote until Congress has time to digest the gist of this story and hold hearings of the kind they never held on Afghanistan in nine years, and really challenge the administration to give any basis on why we’d do better than the Soviets in their 10 years, or the United States in the last nine years.

Ellsberg to Larry King: “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

Part 1:

ELLSBERG: There hasn’t been an unauthorized disclosure of this magnitude since the Pentagon Papers 39 years ago. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time.

There should have been the Pentagon Papers of Iraq and a lot of other places. And I wish there had been Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan earlier than this. But better late than never, the war is still on. Congress is just being challenged now to vote $33 billion more to a war that’s cost $300 billion so far, in a war where the opponent we’re fighting is stronger than it’s ever been before. So the analogy to the war I was helping to expose is very close.

KING: How do you respond to the White House assertion that this leak puts U.S. forces in danger?

ELLSBERG: You know, the people who put U.S. forces in harm’s way—100,000 men and women in Afghanistan—are the last two administrations, but particularly this one, with a decision to escalate the war. I think it takes a lot of –I don’t know what to say—chutzpah, effrontery, for people who made the reckless, foolish, and I would say irresponsible decisions to escalate a war that I’m sure they know internally is as hopeless as these new revelations reveal it to be.

And yet, they’re preferring to send men and women into harm’s way to die and to kill civilians and others in a war that I think they perceive is endless and hopeless, rather than to face the accusations of generals that they have, these politicians have lost a war that the generals claimed is winnable. They claimed that very foolishly.

I’d say that was exactly the same as the boss I served in 1965, Lyndon Johnson. He didn’t want the General Johnson, the chief of staff of the Army, and others to resign if he didn’t give them enough of what they were asking for. I think President Obama has made the same terrible error.

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