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Benkler writes: "If Bradley Manning is convicted of aiding the enemy, the introduction of a capital offense into the mix would dramatically elevate the threat to whistleblowers. The consequences for the ability of the press to perform its critical watchdog function in the national security arena will be dire."

Professor Yochai Benkler made an impassioned defense of Wikileaks. (photo: Steal This Movie)
Professor Yochai Benkler made an impassioned defense of Wikileaks. (photo: Steal This Movie)


The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case

By Yochai Benkler, The New Republic

12 July 13

 

RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Professor Yochai Benkler was the star witness in the Bradley Manning case. His stirring defense of Wikileaks was the highlight of the lengthy trial. He wrote the following op/ed in March of this year. We are also providing you links to his compelling testimony and a link to piece he wrote with Floyd Abrams, also in March. SMG/RSN
Transcripts of Professor Yochai Benkler's Stirring Defense of Wikileaks:
(Part 1 https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/sites/default/files/07-10-13-AM-session.pdf)
(Part 2 https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/sites/default/files/07-10-13-pm-session.pdf)

fter 1,000 days in pretrial detention, Private Bradley Manning yesterday offered a modified guilty plea for passing classified materials to WikiLeaks. But his case is far from over - not for Manning, and not for the rest of the country. To understand what is still at stake, consider an exchange that took place in a military courtroom in Maryland in January.

The judge, Col. Denise Lind, asked the prosecutors a brief but revealing question: Would you have pressed the same charges if Manning had given the documents not to WikiLeaks but directly to the New York Times?

The prosecutor's answer was simple: "Yes Ma'am."

The question was crisp and meaningful, not courtroom banter. The answer, in turn, was dead serious. I should know. I was the expert witness whose prospective testimony they were debating. The judge will apparently allow my testimony, so if the prosecution decides to pursue the more serious charges to which Manning did not plead guilty, I will explain at trial why someone in Manning's shoes in 2010 would have thought of WikiLeaks as a small, hard-hitting, new media journalism outfit - a journalistic "Little Engine that Could" that, for purposes of press freedom, was no different from the New York Times. The prosecutor's "Yes Ma'am," essentially conceded that core point of my testimony in order to keep it out of the trial. That's not a concession any lawyer makes lightly.

But that "Yes Ma'am" does something else: It makes the Manning prosecution a clear and present danger to journalism in the national security arena. The guilty plea Manning offered could subject him to twenty years in prison - more than enough to deter future whistleblowers. But the prosecutors seem bent on using this case to push a novel and aggressive interpretation of the law that would arm the government with a much bigger stick to prosecute vaguely-defined national security leaks, a big stick that could threaten not just members of the military, but civilians too.

Acountry's constitutional culture is made up of the stories we tell each other about the kind of nation we are. When we tell ourselves how strong our commitment to free speech is, we grit our teeth and tell of Nazis marching through Skokie. And when we think of how much we value our watchdog press, we tell the story of Daniel Ellsberg. Decades later, we sometimes forget that Ellsberg was prosecuted, smeared, and harassed. Instead, we express pride in a man's willingness to brave the odds, a newspaper's willingness to take the risk of publishing, and a Supreme Court's ability to tell an overbearing White House that no, you cannot shut up your opponents.

Whistleblowers play a critical constitutional role in our system of government, particularly in the area of national security. And they do so at great personal cost. The executive branch has enormous powers over national security and the exercise of that power is not fully transparent. Judicial doctrines like the "state secrets" doctrine allow an administration to limit judicial oversight. Congress' oversight committees have also tended to leave the executive relatively free of constraints. Because the materials they see are classified, there remains little public oversight. Consider the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the interrogation torture practices during the immediate post 9/11 years: Its six thousand pages, according to Senator Dianne Feinstein, are "one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the United States Senate." But they are unavailable to the public.

Freedom of the press is anchored in our constitution because it reflects our fundamental belief that no institution can be its own watchdog. The government is full of well-intentioned and quite powerful inspectors general and similar internal accountability mechanisms. But like all big organizations, the national security branches of government include some people who aren't purely selfless public servants. Secrecy is necessary and justified in many cases. But as hard-earned experience has shown us time and again, it can be - and often is - used to cover up failure, avarice, or actions that simply will not survive that best of disinfectants, sunlight.

That's where whistleblowers come in. They offer a pressure valve, constrained by the personal risk whistleblowers take, and fueled by whatever moral courage they can muster. Manning's statement in court yesterday showed that, at least in his motives, he was part of that long-respected tradition. But that's also where the Manning prosecution comes in, too. The prosecution case seems designed, quite simply, to terrorize future national security whistleblowers. The charges against Manning are different from those that have been brought against other whistleblowers. "Aiding the enemy" is punishable by death. And although the prosecutors in this case are not seeking the death penalty against Manning, the precedent they are seeking to establish does not depend on the penalty. It establishes the act as a capital offense, regardless of whether prosecutors in their discretion decide to seek the death penalty in any particular case.

Hard cases, lawyers have long known, make bad law. The unusual nature of Manning's case has led some to argue that his leaks are different than those we now celebrate as a bedrock component of accountability journalism: Daniel Ellsberg leaked specific documents that showed massive public deception in the prosecution of the Vietnam War. Deep Throat leaked specific information about presidential corruption during the Watergate investigation. Manning, though, leaked hundreds of thousands of documents, many of which were humdrum affairs; perhaps, some have argued, the sheer scope raises the risks. But in the three years since the leaks began, there has still been no public evidence that they in fact caused significant damage. The prosecutors say they will introduce evidence of harm in secret sessions; one of these bits of evidence is reportedly going to be that they will show that several of the files published were found on Osama Bin Laden's computer. Does that mean that if the Viet Cong had made copies of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg would have been guilty of "aiding the enemy?"

It is also important to understand that although the number of leaked items was vast, it was not gratuitously so; some of the most important disclosures came precisely from sifting through the large number of items. Certainly, some of the important revelations from the leaks could have been achieved through a single "smoking gun" document, such as the chilling operational video from a U.S. helicopter attack that killed two Reuters' cameramen, and shot at a van trying to offer relief to the injured, wounding two children who were in the van. But many of the most important insights only arise from careful analysis of the small pieces of evidence. This type of accountability analysis showed that the military had substantially understated the scale of civilian casualties in Iraq; and that U.S. forces were silently complicit in abuses by allied Iraqi government forces; it uncovered repeated abuses by civilian contractors to the military. The war logs have become the most important spin-free source of historical evidence about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The reputation that WikiLeaks has been given by most media outlets over the past two and a half years, though, obscures much of this - it just feels less like "the press" than the New York Times. This is actually the point on which I am expected to testify at the trial, based on research I did over the months following the first WikiLeaks disclosure in April 2010. When you read the hundreds of news stories and other materials published about WikiLeaks before early 2010, what you see is a young, exciting new media organization. The darker stories about Julian Assange and the dangers that the site poses developed only in the latter half of 2010, as the steady release of leaks about the U.S. triggered ever-more hyperbolic denouncements from the Administration (such as Joe Biden's calling Assange a "high-tech terrorist"), and as relations between Assange and his traditional media partners soured.

In early 2010, when Manning did his leaking, none of that had happened yet. WikiLeaks was still a new media phenom, an outfit originally known for releasing things like a Somali rebel leader's decision to assassinate government officials in Somalia, or a major story exposing corruption in the government of Daniel Arap Moi in Kenya. Over the years WikiLeaks also exposed documents that shined a light on U.S. government practices, such as operating procedures in Camp Delta in Guantanamo or a draft of a secretly negotiated, highly controversial trade treaty called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. But that was not the primary focus. To name but a few examples, it published documents that sought to expose a Swiss Bank's use of Cayman accounts to help rich clients avoid paying taxes, oil related corruption in Peru, banking abuses in Iceland, pharmaceutical company influence peddling at the World Health Organization, and extra-judicial killings in Kenya. For its work, WikiLeaks won Amnesty International's New Media award in 2009 and the Freedom of Expression Award from the British magazine, Index of Censorship, in 2008.

No one would have thought at the time that WikiLeaks had the gravitas of the Times. But if you roll back to the relevant time frame, it is clear that any reasonable person would have seen WikiLeaks as being in the same universe as we today think of the range of new media organizations in the networked investigative journalism ecosystem, closer probably to ProPublica or the Bureau of Investigative Journalism than to Huffington Post or the Daily Beast. If leaking classified materials to a public media outlet can lead to prosecution for aiding the enemy, then it has to be under a rule that judges can apply evenhandedly to the New York Times or the Guardian no less than to ProPublica, the Daily Beast, or WikiLeaks. No court will welcome a rule where culpability for a capital offense like aiding the enemy depends on the judge's evaluation of the quality of the editorial practices, good faith, or loyalty of the media organization to which the information was leaked. Nor could a court develop such a rule without severely impinging on the freedom of the press. The implications of Manning's case go well beyond Wikileaks, to the very heart of accountability journalism in a networked age.

The prosecution will likely not accept Manning's guilty plea to lesser offenses as the final word. When the case goes to trial in June, they will try to prove that Manning is guilty of a raft of more serious offenses. Most aggressive and novel among these harsher offenses is the charge that by giving classified materials to WikiLeaks Manning was guilty of "aiding the enemy." That's when the judge will have to decide whether handing over classified materials to ProPublica or the New York Times, knowing that Al Qaeda can read these news outlets online, is indeed enough to constitute the capital offense of "aiding the enemy."

Aiding the enemy is a broad and vague offense. In the past, it was used in hard-core cases where somebody handed over information about troop movements directly to someone the collaborator believed to be "the enemy," to American POWs collaborating with North Korean captors, or to a German American citizen who was part of a German sabotage team during WWII. But the language of the statute is broad. It prohibits not only actually aiding the enemy, giving intelligence, or protecting the enemy, but also the broader crime of communicating - directly or indirectly - with the enemy without authorization. That's the prosecution's theory here: Manning knew that the materials would be made public, and he knew that Al Qaeda or its affiliates could read the publications in which the materials would be published. Therefore, the prosecution argues, by giving the materials to WikiLeaks, Manning was "indirectly" communicating with the enemy. Under this theory, there is no need to show that the defendant wanted or intended to aid the enemy. The prosecution must show only that he communicated the potentially harmful information, knowing that the enemy could read the publications to which he leaked the materials. This would be true whether Al Qaeda searched the WikiLeaks database or the New York Times'. Hence the prosecutor's "Yes Ma'am."

This theory is unprecedented in modern American history. The prosecution claims that there is, in fact precedent in Civil War cases, including one from 1863 where a Union officer gave a newspaper in occupied Alexandria rosters of Union units, and was convicted of aiding the enemy and sentenced to three months. But Manning's defense argues that the Civil War cases involved publishing coded messages in newspapers and personals, not leaking for reporting to the public at large. The other major source that the prosecution uses is a 1920 military law treatise. Even if the prosecutors are correct in their interpretations of these two sources, which is far from obvious, the fact that they need to rely on these old and obscure sources underscores how extreme their position is in the twenty-first century.

In fact, neither side disagrees with this central critique: That for 150 years, well before the rise of the modern First Amendment, the invention of muckraking journalism, or the modern development of the watchdog function of the press in democratic society, no one has been charged with aiding the enemy simply for leaking information to the press for general publication. Perhaps it was possible to bring such a charge before the first amendment developed as it did in the past hundred years, before the Pentagon Papers story had entered our national legend. But before Rosa Parks and Brown vs. Board of Education there was also a time when prosecutors could enforce the segregation laws of Jim Crow. Those times have passed. Read in the context of American constitutional history and the practice of at least a century and a half (if not more) of "aiding the enemy" prosecutions, we should hope and expect that the court will in fact reject the prosecution's novel and aggressive interpretation of that crime.

But as long as the charge remains live and the case undecided, the risk that a court will accept this expansive and destructive interpretation is very real.

That's especially true when you consider that "aiding the enemy" could be applied to civilians. Most provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice apply only to military personnel. But Section 104, the "aiding the enemy" section, applies simply to "any person." To some extent, this makes sense - a German-American civilian in WWII could be tried by military commission for aiding German saboteurs under this provision. There has been some back and forth in military legal handbooks, cases, and commentary about whether and to what extent Section 104 in fact applies to civilians. Most recently, Justice Stevens' opinion in the Supreme Court case of Hamdan implies that Section 104 may in fact apply to civilians and be tried by military commissions. But this is not completely settled. Because the authorities are unclear, any competent lawyer today would have to tell a prospective civilian whistleblower that she may well be prosecuted for the capital offense of aiding the enemy just for leaking to the press.

The past few years have seen a lot of attention to the Obama Administration's war on whistleblowing. In the first move, the Administration revived the World War I Espionage Act, an Act whose infamous origins included a 10-year prison term for a movie director who made a movie that showed British soldiers killing women and children during the Revolutionary War and was therefore thought to undermine our wartime alliance with Britain, and was used to jail Eugene V. Debs and other political activists. Barack Obama's Department of Justice has brought more Espionage Act prosecutions for leaks to the press than all prior administrations combined since then, using the law as what the New York Times called an "ad hoc Official Secrets Act."

If Bradley Manning is convicted of aiding the enemy, the introduction of a capital offense into the mix would dramatically elevate the threat to whistleblowers. The consequences for the ability of the press to perform its critical watchdog function in the national security arena will be dire. And then there is the principle of the thing. However technically defensible on the language of the statute, and however well-intentioned the individual prosecutors in this case may be, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror of this case and ask: Are we the America of Japanese Internment and Joseph McCarthy, or are we the America of Ida Tarbell and the Pentagon Papers? What kind of country makes communicating with the press for publication to the American public a death-eligible offense?

What a coup for Al Qaeda, to have maimed our constitutional spirit to the point where we might become that nation.

See Also: Death to Whistle Blowers?

 

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+46 # Milarepa 2013-07-12 07:00
The Manning trial isn't even a show trial in the Nazi or Soviet sense. The military has treated him precisely as they liked, there has been no outside insight or control. I'm not going to speculate on the verdict except to say it's unlikely Manning will be acquitted. However, that frail looking young man has already beaten the system by staying alive through years of deliberate torture. The very least he will be is a martyr. He and Snowden are American freedom fighters. That is their historic role!
 
 
+11 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-07-12 08:30
New logo for our real, true heroes:

UNCLE SAM = Snowden, Assange, Manning SAM
 
 
+2 # HowardMH 2013-07-12 08:56
The military has treated him precisely as they liked, there has been no outside insight or control.

Not the military I was in for 20 years in the 50s 60s and 70s. We would never treat one of our own like Manning was treated! This is all Obama the Wimp and his secret scare tactics for EVERYONE who says or does anything that makes the F****** Coward look bad. Obama is just a scared, very insecure Wimp!
 
 
0 # Walter J Smith 2013-07-12 20:47
That is exactly right, "Obama is just a scared, very insecure Wimp!"

And he cannot stop proving it!
 
 
+2 # NOMINAE 2013-07-12 23:16
Quoting Milarepa:
..... The military has treated [Manning] precisely as they liked, there has been no outside insight or control. I'm not going to speculate on the verdict except to say it's unlikely Manning will be acquitted.......


Precisely so. The military does not have to submit to any outside insight or control, even by law, except from the Commander-in-Ch ief, and there seems to be no such thing forthcoming from that direction.

And, observe this military strategy so far. Win, lose or draw this accusation of "abetting the enemy" is a "grand slam" for the Global Surveillance State.

Because, even in an alternate universe were the military does *not* always get the exact outcome it wants from almost every Courts Martial, this "abetting the enemy" charge is already out there "doing it's work" among the general military, and with the public at large.

The *concept* of dying for leaking has now been established.

The accusation alone is sufficient. One cannot "un-ring" the bell !

In Wonderland, if Manning were found not guilty on this count, only a small percentage of the general population will EVER hear about, or pay attention to, that verdict.

But millions more of them *WILL* remember that a death-penalty charge of "abetting the enemy" *had been* leveled to begin with, no matter which way the actual trial ends up.

Almost the same "fear factor" payoff as in an actual conviction.

Priceless - (if you are the military).
 
 
+41 # jwb110 2013-07-12 07:18
"What a coup for Al Qaeda, to have maimed our constitutional spirit to the point where we might become that nation."

The big win for Al Quaeda was the Patriot Act. Al Quaeda in limiting the freedom of the American People and putting them under a western version of Sharia Law And from that time forward the gov't has continued to play into the hands of the very enemies who "Hate us for Our Freedoms."
Jeez, how stupid can the Fed Gov't be!?!?!
 
 
+4 # mdhome 2013-07-12 14:31
The government played right into Ai Quaeda s hands, they could not have expected anything better!
 
 
+4 # Jack Gibson 2013-07-12 17:30
That's because "al CIAduh(!)" is behind it all, and is the one, along with the rest of the corporate-fasci st shadow government of the U.S., behind hating our freedoms and hating us for our freedoms; and that's why they are completely eradicating our freedoms. They don't want anybody to be free to do anything, except for the "privileged", the elitist globalists, who want to be able to do anything they damn well please, including mass- torturing and murdering people for business and political ends; i.e., the ends to turn the U.S. and the entire planet into a completely locked-down, enslaved and totally-control led world where they can then mass-murder most of population in the globalist name of "saving the planet"; when it is they, the corporate-fasci sts, who are destroying the planet, NOT most of the population of the globe. But they would have us believe, and they are fooling far too many people into falling for and believing, the complete LIE that it is most of the human population of the planet who are supposedly destroying the earth. So, as a result of their "totaliterroriz ing" and "totalitarianiz ing" the entire U.S. and the planet, the globalist, corporate-fasci st, totalitarian psychopaths and sociopaths who are in charge of it, and who are the real criminals who are responsible for the world's destruction, want to reap the "benefits" of inheriting the earth, and mass-murder the vast majority of the planet's population as falsely being responsible for it all. What a coup!
 
 
-23 # whywonder 2013-07-12 08:07
Another point of view might be lets separate "whistle blowing" from "Treason".
I do not believe any person that feels the time is right to blow the whistle on some activity that is wrong or against the interest of the country and most people but passing on any national security information that you as a person have been intrusted with to the media or anywhere is still treason. That what you sign up for with you take a position of trust in the any government organization. If we want to make treason ok then get ready for a country in captivity.
 
 
+19 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-07-12 09:56
So why, by your theory, isn't Cheney in prison?
 
 
+8 # whywonder 2013-07-12 14:18
Cheney should be in prison but not for treason or whistle blowing. He should be there for being a lackey to right wing and war profiteers. He and Bush should be accountable for the thousands of young men and woman who died for the oil industry.
 
 
+9 # Jack Gibson 2013-07-12 18:10
He's also guilty of TREASON, fool; and so are all of his partners-in-cri me, co-conspirators , fellow-mass-war -criminals, fellow-mass-mur derers and obstructors-of- justice! All of that is treason against the United States, its Constitution and MANY other laws! Completely wake up and face, not only ALL of the fascism, but ALL of the treason!
 
 
+12 # jimbeama 2013-07-12 15:15
Wow, the point is completely missed. Secret law. Secret courts. Secret evidence. Secret verdicts. This is what YOUR America has become because everything has been classified. We the People, by the logic above, should not know when the US government is violating our constitution. In fact various law suits have been stopped before they start because the government claims the evidence is classified. By definition we are no longer a government by the people.
 
 
+4 # NOMINAE 2013-07-13 14:17
Quoting jimbeama:
Wow, the point is completely missed. Secret law. Secret courts. Secret evidence. Secret verdicts......

By definition we are no longer a government by the people.


Unassailable logic, and excellent presentation.

We are indeed "no longer a government by the people", and, by extension, we are likewise no longer a Country of Laws, except those laws that can be used to bludgeon, intimidate, manipulate, oppress, rob, and incarcerate the common people.
 
 
+1 # Jack Gibson 2013-07-13 18:01
And don't forget assassinate without publicly-review ed, as in by a jury TRULY of their peers (what a joke, eh?), evidence that they allegedly "deserve" to be assassinated. "Just blindly trust us (the U.S. government); we know who 'best' to murder", without any TRUE due process of law, just a "jury" of tyrants and mass-murderers.
 
 
+5 # Jack Gibson 2013-07-12 18:04
You've got it exactly backwards. If we make all whistleblowing "treason", and "not okay", "THEN get ready for a country in (COMPLETE) captivity" (emphasis added by me)!
 
 
+1 # Texan 4 Peace 2013-07-14 21:25
When the govt. acts against its citizen, action on behalf of the citizenry becomes "treason."
 
 
+15 # MsAnnaNOLA 2013-07-12 08:41
Part of the problem is not with these leaks but the pervasiveness of government secrecy. It is a crime to classify information to cover up crimes like torture, murder, theft, illegal spying etc.

So while many articles are focusing on the fact the information was leaked and what punishment should be, part of what should be discussed is should much of this even have been classified in the first place. Are the things being revealed crimes? In many cases the things revealed to be done by our government in our name are crimes or illegal acts and plainly so.

The war on terror is a sham. We should not give up our rights for a sham. Stop the spying, stop the violence, stop the black box voting, stop the govt secrecy about the murder of Osama and JFK.
 
 
+3 # Jack Gibson 2013-07-12 18:13
ET CETERA!!!!! (That's a "vote" in favor of all that you just stated, and then some!)
 
 
+13 # Marxian 2013-07-12 10:16
All hail Franz Kafka and George Orwell; our government is prosecuting a citizen for "treason" because they claim his action is the equivalent of "spying" during the time of undeclared, illegitimate wars while the information revealed shows the government spying on its own citizens and allies! We are truly being governed by a bunch of psychopaths.
 
 
+7 # fredboy 2013-07-12 10:30
The current and past four presidents have done all in their power to destroy the American dream, the middle class, our rights and freedoms, and our news media. They have repeatedly and arrogantly promoted secrecy and opposed truth.

Unfortunately, our news media has also been compliant. Gone are the days of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. Now the news media is but a corporate and government shill.

Yes, this trial exposes one certain truth: without tips, whistleblowing and the like corruption and evil doing cannot be rooted out by the news media or law enforcement. This trial will make truthsharing a criminal offense. What follows is anyone's guess.
 
 
+4 # Bruce Gruber 2013-07-12 13:35
It is difficult to attribute informed or motivated 'leadership' to Reagan or 'W', Bill had a flair for glib, charismatic political astuteness but floundered on purpose and vision, failing to demonstrate by example that there was a future to seek beyond his own. Obama's expressed belief that incremental baby step 'progress' represents the heart of American political Machiavellianis m suggests he embraces a process but without commitment to any goal or technique of leadership. Nothing suggests HW was deeper than the 'spook' world of redacted misdirection and simplistic impolitic transgressions like "read my lips".
None had the stones to promote or exhibit 'power' - either for good or ill. The media are the message for the owner/brokers of wealth and power who are sustained and guided by the cleverness of today's Rasputins, the turd blossoms and Gerstners, number crunchers without morals or decency.
To learn ANY truth is to violate the principlelessne ss of cabal of greed that underlies our downhill slide into Empire

Are Warren, Sanders and Grayson JEDI of our future?
 
 
+2 # Jack Gibson 2013-07-12 18:19
There's no guessing about it. What follows is, as two people said above, including myself, "a country in (COMPLETE) captivity".
 
 
+4 # Kimberly999 2013-07-13 09:32
Your are right about the compliance of our news media. Now that they are corporately owned, the news (historically a money pit) has been transformed into more tabloid hogwash & at its worst, a tool for misinformation. It used to be taken for granted that investigative reporting was the civic duty of all FCC licensed players. Some days it seems that we are being led away from facts & serious inquiry & instead are told (ignore the man behind the curtain) and "vilify: the messenger to the point that the message is lost.
 
 
+4 # NOMINAE 2013-07-13 14:40
Quoting fredboy:
............Unfortunately, our news media has also been compliant. Gone are the days of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. Now the news media is but a corporate and government shill.


No question regarding your facts. Corporate shills indeed !

In 1970 there were over 1,500 independently owned media sources in this country. Now, the entire media - press, TV, and many internet sites are now owned by FIVE Giant corporations.

We know that Monsanto lately "legislated" themselves as being *above* all Laws. (Monsanto Protection Act). We know that AMEX quickly made a similar move in barring any possibility of being taken to court by anyone, in favor of forced arbitration.

I encountered a bit of a shock from data mentioned on Bill Maher's latest show, indicating that this latest Immigration Bill has little to do with immigration, and much to do with Military Contractors who are in need of a market now that our two wars are winding down.

Apparently this bill not only requires the Gov't to buy *specific* weapons systems (for the Border "Surge"), but actually spells out precisely *which* corporations from whom the Gov't is obliged to buy the Systems BY LAW - Northrup, et. al, ad infinitum.

When it has come to the point where these Corps. no longer make even the slightest attempt to conceal their ownership and control of the entire Gov't System, nice folks trying to change the corrupt system from within have an obvious uphill battle.
 
 
+3 # curmudgeon 2013-07-12 11:52
To have a single individual, no matter how qualified, decide the issue, is insane.

Look at the pressures to him and his family...with no privacy..what has he done that may make him susceptible to blackmail?

'The old 'we know where you live' threat against loved ones is possible and, given the current climate, quite thinkable.

Maybe we need a 'Judge protection program' ala the witness protection program run by U.S. Marshal's Service.

Think about it
 
 
+2 # Silverman 2013-07-12 11:53
fredboy
your comment is both accurate and on the mark.
thank you
 
 
+10 # ladymidath 2013-07-12 16:51
The only crime Bradley Manning committed was embarrassing the American government. They wanted everyone to believe that the people of Iraq were actually better off after America took over. Instead Manning showed us the truth. The wholesale slaughter of innocent people, including children by gun happy soldiers.
What the tapes showed was not war, but just cold blooded murder. The American Government did not want the world to see the truth so there fore their rage at Manning is simply because their war was exposed for what it really is. The same as Abu Grahib and Guantanamo.
America is fast becoming a totalitarian regime and their actions against Manning simply prove this.
 
 
+1 # Jack Gibson 2013-07-12 18:01
[Beginning of quote] "...Even if the prosecutors are correct in their interpretations of these two sources, which is far from obvious, the fact that they need to rely on these old and obscure sources underscores how extreme their position is in the twenty-first century..." [End of quote]

...And how desperate they are.

Look at all of the precedent that they've been, largely successfully, seeking to set into unconstitutiona l "law" for the past eleven, almost twelve years; and some of it, if not much of it, retroactively in order to protect themselves from accountability for violating the previous, sane and constitutional, law(s). They are seeking to establish into unconstitutiona l "law" the unconscionable and horrifying, criminalizing everyone who obeys, exercises, upholds and seeks to preserve liberty and freedom, and constitutional law, for anything they can, while making themselves immune from any and all accountability for their monstrousness; and they will not rest until they have unleashed all-hell-on- earth upon everyone but themselves (or so they believe).

- Continued -
 
 
+1 # Jack Gibson 2013-07-12 18:51
Mass- thieves and murderers are successfully seeking to walk away scot free, while destroying everyone who brings their monstrousness to light, and who truly stands for lawfulness, and freedom and liberty. And they are so desperate to successfully carry out this Machiavellian coup against all liberty and freedom, and the exercise of the duties and rights thereof, that they will stop at NOTHING in bringing it about. Their ends supposedly justify all means to those ends; and, as a result of their success in this coup, everyone but the minority of monstrous serial criminals and murderers who are bringing it to fruition, will suffer the horrific, unleashed, monstrous results of it, without limits.

- Continued -
 
 
+1 # Jack Gibson 2013-07-12 22:56
Anyhow, the article of this thread is pure genious; and the author of it, Yochai Benkler, is a True Patriotic Hero along the lines and in the heroic footsteps of Pastor Martin Niemöller! We need VASTLY MORE True Americans of this stature, NOT less of them! But, if the presently-const ituted U.S. government has its totalitarian (s)way, all such True American Heroes will be executed, or locked up in prison for life, simply for exercising the best principles of the Supreme Law(s) of this land, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights! So one need not ask anymore, "What are we coming to?!"; for, if this keeps up, and continues in the rapid trend that it is presently going, we will find ourselves, if we don't already, in a completely unrecognizable United States of America, where all True Freedom(s) and Liberty(ies) will be dead and buried, and long gone into an extensive line of the worst monstrosities of history.
 
 
+5 # angelfish 2013-07-12 18:11
We are becoming a Police State with more and MORE of our Civil Rights being slowly and sneakily eroded. For all their screaming about "taking back America" They are the ones who are ripping it out of the hands of the citizenry and criminalizing the most benign and innocuous behaviors. What Bradley Manning and Mr. Snowden did was to pull the wool from the eyes of the American people and show up the Nazis in our mist for what they are, NAZIS! God Save and Bless America! We need ALL the help we can get!
 
 
+4 # medusa 2013-07-12 19:20
Too much discussion of Bradley Manning. He revealed nothing more than what we ought to have known. In fact we would have known it, under the conditions that applied during the Vietnam war.
He has committed no crime and there is no reason he should be arrested or charged.
Is he guilty of murdering any innocent person? Why should he be punished before the murderers face any judgment at all?
 
 
+3 # Dr Peter Sloane 2013-07-13 00:47
"He who fights monsters should take care lest he too should become a monster" It does not appear that the American government has taken enough care and that "it too is becoming......"
 
 
+4 # khasidi 2013-07-13 02:22
This is just a thought, but what is the legal definition of "enemy?" If Congress has not declared war, and as far as I know Congress has not declared any war since WWII, then is an "enemy" any person or country declared to be an enemy by the President or the executive branch? The implications are frightening.
 
 
+3 # RMDC 2013-07-13 05:51
Thanks. Good article. You are right. The government's theory will make all of the press liable to criminal prosecution. If any paper publishes anything that an enemy can read, then it is liable for espionage. Suppose al queda wanted a new recipe for pizza and the food channel broadcast one. Then that could be espionage.

I'd say the prosecution has no case. Manning embarrassed the US regime. Embarrassing a government is not a crime. In fact, it is a perfectly normal thing to do. We all do it. The press always does it. The presecution should be told by the judge that it has simply failed to show that a crime was committed. They may not like what Manning did, but they need to go home and get used to it. That's how governments and people work.
 
 
+2 # NOMINAE 2013-07-13 14:54
Quoting RMDC:
The government's theory will make all of the press liable to criminal prosecution. If any paper publishes anything that an enemy can read, then it is liable for espionage. Suppose al queda wanted a new recipe for pizza and the food channel broadcast one. Then that could be espionage.


Suppose Al Qaida wanted a new recipe for pizza and the food channel broadcast one..... ? "Espionage" ?

My friend, that would be STRAIGHT UP "aiding and abetting the the 'enemy' " ! NOW you are talking about revealing *serious* hi-tech secrets, and giving the "enemy" some information from which they could *truly* and *immediately* benefit.

The entire staff of the food channel would become Federal Guests at Fort Leavenworth, and their "ringleaders" summarily hanged. Justice, after all, *IS* "justice" ! ;-)
 
 
+2 # barbaratodish 2013-07-13 17:34
The Professor says "No institution can be its own watchdog". Of course, because an institution, ANY institution, has ZERO consciousness. The issue is, though, that most of the worlds' citizens are likewize, lacking in any kind of consciousness either, but for, anti "consciousness" ! lol
 
 
+1 # John Escher 2013-07-18 08:07
Why has the prosecution been permitted to develop its "novel and aggressive interpretation" of the crime of "aiding the enemy?" I'm sorry to have to say this, but the prosecutors-- and that may include by implication the entire Obama administration- - seem like a bunch of crap-heads.
 

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