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March 13, 2011

In Obama's D.C. torture is fine, but complaining about torture gets you fired

Not even Rep. Kucinich can get in to see if PFC. Bradley Manning is okay. Crowley resigns as State Department spokesman – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs
WASHINGTON (CNN) - P.J. Crowley abruptly resigned Sunday as State Department spokesman over controversial comments he made about the Bradley Manning case. Sources close to the matter the resignation, first reported by CNN, came under pressure from the White House, where officials were furious about his suggestion that the Obama administration is mistreating Manning, the Army private who is being held in solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia, under suspicion that he leaked highly classified State Department cables to the website Wikileaks. Speaking to a small group at MIT last week, Crowley was asked about allegations that Manning is being tortured and kicked up a firestorm by answering that what is being done to Manning by Defense Department officials "is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid." Crowley did add that "nonetheless, Bradley Manning is in the right place" because of his alleged crimes, according to a blog post by BBC reporter Philippa Thomas, who was present at Crowley's talk.

March 10, 2011

The New York Times, "Waterboarding is only torture when other countries do it."

That is *literally* what they said. Tortured reasoning : Lawyers, Guns & Money
Glenn Greenwald points out a striking editorial inconsistency on the part of the New York Times, which has an official editorial policy of refusing to call waterboarding “torture” when it’s carried out by the U.S. government, while describing the same actions as torture when they are performed by other regimes. The Times’ justification for its treatment of the contemporary American practice of waterboarding is that, since there’s a political controversy in the United States right now about whether waterboarding is torture, it would be a form of inappropriate editorializing to call waterboarding torture in its news pages. (Apparently this controversy doesn’t cross geographical or historical borders, so according to the Times waterboarding is still torture when it’s carried out by Nazi Germany and the People’s Republic of China). All this raises the awkward issue of whether it’s sound journalism to automatically suspend the willingness to engage in moral judgment, or indeed to employ simple common sense, as long as sufficiently powerful political actors within our society are insisting that we do so. Ignoring for the moment its inconsistent editorial practices in regard to the matter, the Times is taking the position that since that, post-9/11, the Bush administration started claiming that waterboarding wasn’t torture, and since there hasn’t been a definitive ruling on the question by the federal courts since then, the paper is precluded by the canons of “objective” journalism from calling waterboarding torture.

March 03, 2011

PFC Bradley Manning could face the death penalty for whistle-blowing

Just a reminder, we are still torturing Manning and holding him in a dark box 23 hours a day without relief, despite every law to the contrary. Bradley Manning could face death: For what? - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
The U.S. Army yesterday announced that it has filed 22 additional charges against Bradley Manning, the Private accused of being the source for hundreds of thousands of documents (as well as this still-striking video) published over the last year by WikiLeaks. Most of the charges add little to the ones already filed, but the most serious new charge is for "aiding the enemy," a capital offense under Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Although military prosecutors stated that they intend to seek life imprisonment rather than the death penalty for this alleged crime, the military tribunal is still empowered to sentence Manning to death if convicted. Article 104 -- which, like all provisions of the UCMJ, applies only to members of the military -- is incredibly broad. Under 104(b) -- almost certainly the provision to be applied -- a person is guilty if he "gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly" (emphasis added), and, if convicted, "shall suffer death or such other punishment as a court-martial or military commission may direct." The charge sheet filed by the Army is quite vague and neither indicates what specifically Manning did to violate this provision nor the identity of the "enemy" to whom he is alleged to have given intelligence. There are, as international law professor Kevin Jon Heller notes, only two possibilities, and both are disturbing in their own way. . . . But does anyone actually believe that Manning's intent was to ensure receipt of this material by the Taliban, as opposed to exposing for the public what he believed to be serious American wrongdoing and to trigger reforms? Indeed, in the purported chat logs between Manning and government informant Adrian Lamo, Lamo asked Manning why he didn't sell this information to a foreign government and get rich off it, and this is how Manning replied: because it's public data. . . . it belongs in the public domain -information should be free - it belongs in the public domain - because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge - if its out in the open . . . it should be a public good . . .