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Simpich writes: "If reporters like Sanchez would take a few minutes out to review the court record, they'd realize that Bradley Manning was very selective in choosing the documents that he released to Wikileaks."

Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. (photo: New Republic)
Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. (photo: New Republic)



Manning Chose Documents for Release as Selectively as Snowden

By Bill Simpich, Reader Supported News

12 June 13

 

RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning

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ournalists like Raf Sanchez of the Daily Telegraph claim that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was more selective in his releases than Pfc. Bradley Manning. With no evidence, Sanchez claims that Manning "at some point simply threw open the box and hoped for the best." Yes, Manning released 700,000 documents, but that was not simply a data dump. It is the quality and nature of the documents that has to be analyzed.

Snowden has revealed two highly secret NSA surveillance programs, with the promise of more to come. Ellsberg points out that Manning's documents were at a lower level of classification than the Pentagon Papers, which exposed Johnson administration policy decisions on Vietnam. Manning's documents focused on war crimes and corruption at the ground level. His revelations about the Tunisian government led to the Arab Spring. Ellsberg says that Manning's exposure of American war crimes led to the Iraqi government refusing to grant American troops immunity and ensuring the total withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq.

If reporters like Sanchez would take a few minutes out to review the court record, they'd realize that Bradley Manning was very selective in choosing the documents that he released to Wikileaks. Manning also knew that Wikileaks would exercise good judgment in catching anything he might have missed. Wikileaks was very careful in reviewing the documents again and redacting appropriate passages that might endanger individuals. Wikileaks asked the US government to go through the leaked documents to make sure that no innocent people were identified, but was rebuffed. No one has shown personal harm due to Manning's revelations. Even Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called the effect of WikiLeaks’ releases on U.S. foreign relations "fairly modest," as every government in the world knows that the American government "leaks like a sieve."

I remain stunned by how the traditional media has ignored the opening statement of Bradley Manning's defense counsel, David Coombs. A good lawyer doesn't say anything during opening statement that can't be proven. If you go out on a limb and can't make your case, you lose your credibility. Coombs is a very meticulous attorney. Coombs told Judge Denise Lind that Manning was highly selective in the documents he chose for release. "He had access to literally hundred of millions of documents as an all-source analyst, and these were the documents he released." Coombs stated that Manning selected information that he believed could not be used against the United States or by a foreign nation. (Transcript, 6/3/13, pp. 78, 87)

There is the "Collateral Murder" video, with its gunsight footage displaying civilian adults and children being attacked by men in an Apache helicopter who laughed as they committed cold-blooded murder. Manning knew that Reuters had lost two journalists in this incident and had made an FOIA request for a copy of the video, and that the United States had lied in its response two years later by indicating that no copy of the video was available. (Transcript, 6/3/13, at pp. 80-81).

There are the Afghan War logs/Iraq War logs, kept by the soldiers after clashes with enemy forces. These clashes were known to the other side and were hardly secret. Coombs said that the logs chosen by Manning never contained the names of intelligence sources, and that the information that he provided was all "stale" as it was more than 72 hours old. (Transcript, 6/3/13, pp. 78-79)

On the State Department cables known as "Cablegate," Manning knew that these cables could not contain intelligence sources and could not have key sensitive information. He also knew that the information in these cables tended to be unclassified. (Id., at p. 83)

On the Guantanamo Bay files of detainee interrogations, Manning knew that they contained no intelligence sources, but rather biographical information.

Yesterday I spoke with Nathan Fuller, one of the key journalists covering the Bradley Manning case over the last three years. Fuller agreed that Manning had been highly selective, and referred me to the June 10 edition of a blog written by "Tarzie". Fuller and Tarzie have done a great job teasing out this story, and deserve credit.  Tarzie's analysis is provided here:

In one of his chats with Adrian Lamo, the man who ratted him out to the government, Manning described the trove like this:
260,000 state department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world, explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective …
… there's so much … it affects everybody on earth … everywhere there’s a US post … there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed … Iceland, the Vatican, Spain, Brazil, Madagascar, if its a country, and its recognized by the US as a country, its got dirt on it. (Source: Wired)
Clearly Manning felt, correctly, that the whole trove was the story. As a whistleblower, he had the choice of selecting a handful of scandals and thereby telling only an arbitrary fraction of the story (with a commensurately smaller impact), or releasing the whole trove unedited so that journalists and others could crowd-source the big picture. In light of the trove’s size, telling the whole inside story of American imperialism was just not compatible with the kind of meticulousness with which Snowden credits himself. Manning’s documents also had a far lower secrecy classification than Snowden’s; most were not classified at all. In other words, it’s simply not fair or substantive to compare Manning to Snowden in this regard.
Nevertheless, comparisons are being made and, despite the particular challenges of the project Manning undertook, he still compares well. Listed below are all the items provided by Manning that Wikileaks published, along with remarks about their sensitivity. Where warranted, I have quoted Manning’s trial statements regarding his thinking at the time about the impact of each leak:
1. Reykjavik13 – a diplomatic cable suggesting that Iceland had sought the United States’ help in resolving a dispute with the United Kingdom over the UK’s use of anti-terrorism legislation to secure payment by Iceland of the guarantees for UK depositors. Since this is a matter that involved neither US intelligence nor military, Manning obviously had no reason to believe it put anyone at risk.
2. "Collateral Murder" – the military’s gunsight footage from a Baghdad air strike on a group of eleven mostly unarmed people, including two Reuters journalists whose cameras were allegedly mistaken for weapons. Eight people were killed, rescuers were fired upon and children were injured in the attack. There is no national security argument that can be credibly made against the leaking of a video that documents war crimes, particularly one documenting an incident that happened three years before Manning leaked it and which had already been covered in several news accounts.
3. Afghan War Logs/Iraq War Logs – a collection of SigActs, records created by US military regarding Significant Activities, including civilian deaths. Here is what Manning said in his court statement about their sensitivity:
In my perspective the information contained within a single SigAct or group of SigActs is not very sensitive. The events encapsulated within most SigActs involve either enemy engagements or causalities. Most of this information is publicly reported by the public affairs office or PAO, embedded media pools, or host nation (HN) media.
Although SigAct reporting is sensitive at the time of their creation, their sensitivity normally dissipates within 48 to 72 hours as the information is either publicly released or the unit involved is no longer in the area and not in danger.
4. "Cablegate" – leak of 251,287 State Department cables, written by 271 American embassies and consulates in 180 countries, dated December 1966 to February 2010. Manning’s remarks:
I thought these cables were a prime example of a need for a more open diplomacy. Given all of the Department of State information that I read, the fact that most of the cables were unclassified, and that all the cables have a SIPDIS caption [denotes a cable is appropriate for widely sharing within an interagency audience], I believe that the public release of these cables would not damage the United States.
5. Guantanamo Bay Files – a collection of Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs), memos giving basic and background information about a specific detainee held at some point by Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Manning’s trial statement indicates, once again, that he carefully considered intelligence and national security risk:
Reading through the Detainee Assessment Briefs, I noticed that they were not analytical products, instead they contained summaries of tear line versions of interim intelligence reports that were old or unclassified. None of the DABs contained the names of sources or quotes from tactical interrogation reports or TIR’s. Since the DABs were being sent to the US SOUTHCOM commander, I assessed that they were intended to provide a very general background information on each of the detainees and not a detailed assessment.
In addition to the manner in which the DAB’s were written, I recognized that they were at least several years old, and discussed detainees that were already released from Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Based on this, I determined that the DABs were not very important from either an intelligence or a national security standpoint.
Any discussion of the alleged recklessness of Manning’s leaks must also include the reminder that prior to the publication of the State Department cables, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State, inviting them to "privately nominate any specific instances (record numbers or names) where it considers the publication of information would put individual persons at significant risk of harm that has not already been addressed." Harold Koh, the State Department’s Legal Adviser, rejected the proposal, stating: "We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. Government classified materials." Despite the State Department’s apparent lack of urgency, Wikileaks redacted the names of sources and others in potentially vulnerable positions before publishing. Unredacted cables were only published after a security breach by a Guardian writer necessitated it. (Source: Wikipedia).
Similarly, Wikileaks offered to allow the Department of Defense to review the War Logs for potentially risky material, but this offer too was declined. (Source: Salon).
Considering the nature of the leaks themselves, the care with which Manning considered the military and intelligence risk of each document set, and the way both the US State Department and Department of Defense declined to review the leaks and thereby vindicated Manning’s risk assessment, it should come as no surprise that not a single injury to, or death of, U.S. military or intelligence personnel can be attributed to his extraordinary whistleblowing.
In other words, Manning’s alleged recklessness is pure legend, a lie told again and again to minimize the real significance of his disclosures, to foster fairy tales about his emotional instability, to justify both the hideous treatment he has received at the hands of the U.S. military and the disgusting extent to which he has been smeared and trivialized by the few reporters and pundits who even bother with his extremely consequential case.
It is unfortunate that the indoctrination to which we have all been subject with respect to Manning has apparently infected Snowden too, a remarkable whistleblower in his own right. One hopes Glenn Greenwald, who has been Manning’s most vocal high-profile advocate and who is now instrumental in making Snowden’s leaks public, will give him an opportunity to possibly reconsider or clarify his position.

We can and should rely on lawyers like David Coombs, journalists like Nathan Fuller, and bloggers like Tarzie, who have been following this story for years. We should challenge those who offer facile opinions in the Manning trial without having done the necessary preparation. Everything indicates that Bradley Manning – like Edward Snowden – did his homework.

 

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+44 # charsjcca 2013-06-12 22:38
There needs to be a perpetual support fund for the whistle blowers. Daniel Ellsberg had to go it pretty much alone. People who are serious about personal privacy and governmental snooping ought to join hands and make this deal work. Why should Progressives and Tea Baggers be isolated from each other when their cause is the same?

We should commit ourselves to a multi- billion dollar fund so that local efforts are also covered. We need to bring a halt to this invasion and rewriting of our Constitution by bureaucrats who claim to be the best and brightest. As was stated by Dwight David Eisenhower in his farewell address of January 17, 1961, and affirmed by the Unibomber, so-called UNIVERSITY SCHOLARS CAN NOT BE TRUSTED TO REMAIN ETHICAL. Many will do anything for a buck. My graduate institution had an incident several years ago with medical researchers fabricating medical research. That was the University of Oklahoma Medical Center and that was NOT about football players grade reports. Let us protect the whistle blowers. It was a corporate whistle blower named Sharon who exposed ENRON's fraud.
 
 
+36 # Douglas Jack 2013-06-12 23:04
Bill Simpich, Thank you for this assessment. Not only did Manning do his homework but his brilliance as an intelligence analyst is outstanding, top-notch considering volume of documents released but as well as the democratizing influence which he stategizes. Not only has Manning surpassed the 'intelligence' (Latin 'inter' = 'between' + 'legere' = 'to choose') ability of the whole military, industrial, & administrative complex for the past 250 years of colonial rule.

While I applaud Edward Snowden's release to inform the world about telephone & internet surveillance, Manning's information about ongoing illegal-war, war-crimes & illegal US infringement on the sovereignty of every government of the world, is strategic revelation of far higher import. Manning's equals that of Daniel Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers in bringing that illegal war to a halt. Hopefully these releases will inspire 1000s of present-day co-conspirators presently working for the illegal Finance-Media-M ilitary-Industr ial-Complex to release similar supporting documentation. It is possible now to release securely without self-identifica tion to Wiki-leaks as well as through other anonymous media. An avalanche of truth can not only set Manning, Assange & Snowden free but as well put our corporations & government back on track for the life & human support they are commissioned to do. Humanity's worldwide 'indigenous' (L 'self-generatin g') guides us in reconstruction. www.indigenecommunity.info
 
 
0 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-06-13 08:45
Great comment in principle, but, Oh dear, more misleading & despicable ignorance of Latin. /Intelligence/ derives from /intellegere/,t o perceive, distinguish by the senses or mentally, to understand. Roots in/ & /legere/, to collect, gather together. Your word fantasies are dangerously wrong, because they destroy meaning. & your description of /Indigenous/ is absolutely off the wall, but I’ll let someone else parse that again.
 
 
+2 # Douglas Jack 2013-06-13 13:09
Kootenay, For your 7th complaint upon etymology, we could open a discussion group devoted to your word interpretations . As a fully bilingual Canadian, I accept & find interesting your own sources & interpretations . From five decades of study, I take my word-histories from commonly used sources such as Etymology on line & Wikipedia. Here's Etymology on line for 'intelligence' which is also supported by the family heirloom dictionaries over 100 years old, which I have.

intelligence (n.)
late 14c., "faculty of understanding," from Old French intelligence (12c.), from Latin intelligentia, intellegentia "understanding, power of discerning; art, skill, taste," from intelligentem (nominative intelligens) "discerning," present participle of intelligere "to understand, comprehend," from inter- "between" (see inter-) + legere "choose, pick out, read" (see lecture (n.)).

'Indigenous' as 'generated-from -within' from all word-history sources or 'self-generatin g' is in deference the order of syllables as well as to 1st Nation friends who feel that it is time to bring the whole population back to understanding our world indigenous roots as well as 'self-generatio n' in everything we do as nations. As I've discovered words, I've also discovered my own indigenous roots from First Nations & European ancestors. Word histories help us understand our own family & world history as well as the nature of the language we use. What's your contribution to etymology & history?
 
 
+30 # PABLO DIABLO 2013-06-13 00:05
If we had enough whistleblowers we might be able to bring down the military/indust rial stranglehold over our government and finally take back our country from them.
 
 
+21 # Phlippinout 2013-06-13 07:06
Not enough backbone in the home of the brave. People have been shown the example of what happens when you speak out in the United States and only very brave and caring people are the ones to step up and do what they must. And for their courage they are seen by some as cowards and traitors, those are the ones that drink from the polluted main stream and want us to drink from it too! I guess Americans are too busy working long hours for less and eating processed food to really pay attention.
 
 
+30 # tigerlille 2013-06-13 00:31
Aren't the comparisons of these two young men interesting? Both highly intelligent, undereducated, underemployed and underestimated? Fascinating that the two men with the guts and moral judgement to blow the whistle on the most powerful government in the world were essentially self-made men. Are guys like them considered nerds or geeks? I am too old to understand the distinction, but we need more of them.
 
 
+24 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-06-13 00:41
A soldier is not a hero in "enemy" territory. I salute Manning!
 
 
+10 # Phlippinout 2013-06-13 07:06
Me too!
 
 
-49 # Joeconserve 2013-06-13 07:33
Manning and Snowden are both guilty of treason. They chose 15 minutes of fame in lieu of honoring their code of ethics. They agreed to confidentiality . They could have worked within the system but chose 15 minutes instead. I have no use for them or their ilk.
 
 
+28 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-06-13 09:01
TO JOECONSERVATIVE
The Republican Party will always be around. Why? Because they are negative non-thinkers. The Progressives will always be around. Why? Because they are positive thinkers. The Progressives have to do two things. 1.Clean up the mess the Conservatives make. 2. Move the country forward. A Progressive is neither a Republican or a Democrat, but often a Democrat, sometimes a Republican. A Progressive is a thinking individual who decides what is good for the country
as a whole and himself, works toward that end. By calling yourself a Conservative you then are a member of what the American College of Republicans learned from their recent survey of what the group of college students who did not vote for Romney said about the Republican Party. 1. Racist 2. Rigid 3. Old fashioned. 4. Close minded. As our youth become more science, economics and math educated, the country will move forward. The Conservatives will let their fellow Americans die in the street because of illegitimate or lack of national health insurance but say HOOOORAY for the Conservatives and their Socialism for the very wealthy, but refuse to share any part of their Socialism for the hard working American middle class. We had some great Republican Progressives in American politics such as Eisenhauer. They are long gone. Now, this is what we have. John Boehner, Speaker of the House:"climate change is due to COW FARTS>" Former president Reagon: "climate change is caused by trees." Total ignorance.
 
 
-8 # Joeconserve 2013-06-13 21:15
You missed points on the Progressive Talking Points list. The first is "truth is relative" and the second is "laws don't have to obeyed if you don't agree with them."
 
 
+14 # MJnevetS 2013-06-14 12:16
Joe, as a conservative you clutch the U.S. Constitution to your breast, ignorant of what you hold and loudly and proudly declare that ignorance. What it says is:

"... all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...Tha t whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." - U.S.Constitutio n. Thus, when government makes laws destructive of our inalienable rights "it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it". To put it another way "One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." - Martin Luther King, Jr. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice anyone observing a violation of law, or suspecting one has happened, has a positive legal obligation to report it to appropriate authorities. The Manning leaks detail illegal conduct that his superiors refused to take action upon, leaving him with a duty to make the crimes committed by our government known. The point is he was fulfilling his legal, as well as MORAL obligation!
 
 
-2 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-06-14 23:56
Ahh, To some people, "Fairy dust" takes precedence over facts. Ben Franklin: "How to steal a horse based on truth." Man needs a horse. Sees a good looking horse in a framer's pasture. Cases the farm. Figures out the best time to steal the horse-while the family is attending Sunday church services. Steals the horse. Gets away with it as his fear of getting caught, stealing the horse, is much less than the intense desire to steal the horse." OK, truth is relative. Alas, Progressives are not horse thieves. Now you, my friend may be a horse thief, but don't count the "rest of us" in.
 
 
+30 # Barkingcarpet 2013-06-13 09:08
Joeconserve, your ilk is the guiltiest there is. Hiding behind an ethic of dishonesty, waste dishonorable b.s, and obfuscation of decency.

It IS our duty, as humans, PERIOD, to stand up for "justice" for all. We are NOT the "good guys." We are more akin to thugs, and bullies.

How do you work "within" a corrupt system, which has little to do with integrity and honesty, and more to do with profits?

I salute and praise any who work in this world, despite personal costs, to leave a planet worth living on for anythings future.

Who WOULD Jesus Kill?

Quit professing..... ....
 
 
+22 # djnova50 2013-06-13 11:59
Joeconserve, treason is the act of betraying one's country. What Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden did was open our eyes to the activities that our country has done behind our backs. When you learn about all of what Bradley and Edward have done, don't you feel that the country has betrayed you?

Our country has not been harmed by the exposing of these things. If anything, the country is probably feeling embarrassed.
 
 
+14 # reiverpacific 2013-06-13 12:18
Quoting Joeconserve:
Manning and Snowden are both guilty of treason. They chose 15 minutes of fame in lieu of honoring their code of ethics. They agreed to confidentiality. They could have worked within the system but chose 15 minutes instead. I have no use for them or their ilk.

That's OK; a progressive world has no use for your blinkered, regressive, reactionary and uber-conformist ilk.
Can you say "Dinosaur", or "Fink" (Reagan was the number one during the McCarthy witch hunts)?
Look in the mirror!
 
 
-1 # hoosierinva 2013-07-03 10:26
Quoting Joeconserve:
Manning and Snowden are both guilty of treason. They chose 15 minutes of fame in lieu of honoring their code of ethics. They agreed to confidentiality. They could have worked within the system but chose 15 minutes instead. I have no use for them or their ilk.

"Working within the system." What a quaint notion. Maybe our Country would be much better off if everyone would try this; oh, including all the whiners in this discussion who want to tear down the system (our Government ) and make heroes out of traitors like Manning and Snowden.
 
 
+20 # tbcrawford8 2013-06-13 10:00
Thank you for doing what corporate media should do, explain rationally what information Brad Manning released, and what he didn't; his efforts to alert the government to atrocities done on our name, and to alert us all to the dangers of our downward path into brutality and corruption. As so many attest, this young soldier is a courageous American hero!
 
 
+13 # reiverpacific 2013-06-13 12:43
How about an airline for whistleblower a.k.a., truth-tellers (there will be more, mark my words) based on an off-shore island, or the Hawaiian Island which only natives and their invited guests can go to, called 'Truthair International', with destinations to Cuba, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia -a whole bunch of civilized and progressive countries who have booted the CIA and US military beyond the borders.
I know, I know---but I can dream can't I?!
 
 
+4 # bsimpich 2013-06-14 19:41
A couple final thoughts about the claim that Bradley Manning leaked documents “indiscriminate ly. This is from the Bradley Manning Support Network website, and I have personally heard Daniel Ellsberg address these issues as well.

PFC Bradley Manning held a Top Secret clearance while working as an army intelligence analyst in Iraq. Yet the vast majority of documents he leaked consisted of low-level classified documents—about half of the documents were even “unclassified”. Of those that were classified, most were simply “Confidential.” About 11,000 documents were “Secret.” None of the released documents were “Top Secret,” the highest classification. Bradley Manning clearly had access to a much larger number of documents than what was leaked.
 
 
+7 # bsimpich 2013-06-14 19:42
Also, President Obama encouraged the perception that Bradley Manning leaked documents indiscriminatel y when he declared in April, 2011 that Bradley Manning “dumped” information. He then went on to mistakenly declare that now widely-respecte d Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg was “different” than Bradley Manning because Ellsberg didn’t release information that was classified in the same way. The fact is that Ellsberg released “Top Secret” information when he gave information to The New York Times, while Manning has only released lower-level classified information. Daniel Ellsberg has also stated in interviews that alongside critical revelations the Pentagon Papers contained thousands of pages of information of little to no public significance. Like many other whistle-blowers , Ellsberg had to trust media organizations to do some of the sorting of an immense amount of data.
 
 
+6 # bsimpich 2013-06-14 20:17
Finally, see this item from CNN, October 2011:

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top brass have repeatedly said any deal to keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the withdrawal deadline would require a guarantee of legal protection for American soldiers.

But the Iraqis refused to agree to that, opening up the prospect of Americans being tried in Iraqi courts and subjected to Iraqi punishment.

The negotiations were strained following WikiLeaks’ release of a diplomatic cable that alleged Iraqi civilians, including children, were killed in a 2006 raid by American troops rather than in an airstrike as the U.S. military initially reported.
 
 
+3 # Douglas Jack 2013-06-16 22:35
Bill Simpich, Thanks for these precisions. While the court of Denise R. Lind is not properly processing these facts, it is up to the rest of us to circulate these facts as widely as possible to make what links we can.
 

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