Commentary: Classic Overcharging in Manning Case

manning-bradleyEven after being acquitted on the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, Bradley Manning still faces life in prison after being found guilty of numerous lesser charges, as the Obama administration works hard to make an example of him after he leaked classified reports that showed that the U.S. Government was lying to the American people as well as to its allies.

In reading the verdict, Col. Denise Lind ruled that the facts were insufficient to convict Mr. Manning of what would be the military equivalent of treason.  She found that, for instance, the video Collateral Murder did not qualify as “national defense” information.

Mr.  Manning was accused of 21 charges, with additional charges including violations of the Espionage Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and various military codes.

With convictions on the vast majority of these lesser charges, Mr. Manning now faces a maximum sentence of 136 years.

As George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley writes, “The acquittal is a victory for military justice. There was never any evidence of an intent to aid the enemy and the overcharging of the case was indicative of the excessive response of the Administration.”

As the New York Times noted, “Aiding the enemy is punishable by death. To convict under this law without requiring at least an intent to communicate with an enemy would have severely chilling implications for free speech, particularly in the age of the Internet.”

Making an example of Mr. Manning seems to serve only political purposes.  There has been no showing to this point that any of the release of information harmed the US, other than by embarrassing it.

That is a view shared by the ACLU, who released a statement indicating that leaks to the press should not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

“While we’re relieved that Mr. Manning was acquitted of the most dangerous charge, the ACLU has long held the view that leaks to the press in the public interest should not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act,” said Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “Since he already pleaded guilty to charges of leaking information – which carry significant punishment – it seems clear that the government was seeking to intimidate anyone who might consider revealing valuable information in the future.”

As the ACLU noted in 2012, “The key to the government’s case is this simple claim: that posting intelligence information to the internet aids Al Qaeda because Al Qaeda has access to the internet.  The implications of the government’s argument are breathtaking.”

In a thoughtful editorial, the New York Times, which was among several international organizations to publish extensive excerpts and articles based on the leaked documents, called Private Manning’s original leaks “careless in some ways, including names and details of American operations that The Times and other organizations did not publish.”

At the same time, they noted, “But there was also real value for the public in the documents about the conduct of the war in Iraq, including a video of a military helicopter shooting at two vans and killing civilians, including two Reuters journalists.”

We are left in a quandary here.  On the one hand, it seems logical that certain material, particularly strategic material, needs to have protections in times of war – whether we agree or disagree with the war in question.

However, as the Times notes, “When the government classifies more than 92 million documents in a year” we start to question the veracity of the what is classified, and where the US is simply trying to be overly-restrictive at best and, at worst, engaging in cover up of deceptive – if not outright dishonest – practices.

This starts to test our notions of transparency and open government, even in the face of war.  And yet, what Bradley Manning did moved beyond simple whistleblowing, as he became judge, jury and sole arbiter of what can and cannot be withheld from the public.

The larger issue here is the Obama administration’s over-the-top response to this.  In a case, where there has been no showing of harm, they have first, through the aiding the enemy charge, and then through the stacking of minor charges, effectively attempted to put Mr. Manning in prison for the rest of his life.

To what end does that serve?  Mr. Manning was a young man who made some mistakes.  In some case, he may have had worthy intentions, but he also broke the law.  He acknowledged that back in February, when he pled guilty to ten less serious charges that would have exposed him to 20 years in prison.  The US Government could have stopped there, but they did not.

Why?  They hope to deter this type of leak?  It did not work with Edward Snowden, who revealed the government’s surveillance of phone records last month.  As the New York Times notes, “There are 4.2 million people who have security clearance to view classified information,” and long prison sentences – even the prospect of exile or death – will not deter people who believe they are acting for the greater good.

As the New York Times writes, “In addition to the administration’s overuse of the Espionage Act and its overly aggressive leak investigations, the trust between the government and the public has been strained by the National Security Agency’s indiscriminate collection of all Americans’ telephone logs, based on a spurious reinterpretation of the Patriot Act.”

The US could have punished Mr. Manning appropriately and allowed him the chance for redemption.

As the Times writes, “Private Manning still faces the equivalent of several life sentences on the espionage counts regarding disclosure of classified information. The government should satisfy itself with a more moderate sentence and then do something about its addiction to secrecy.”

They note that when he entered the guilty plea, “Private Manning said he was trying to shed light on the ‘day-to-day reality’ of American war efforts. He hoped the information ‘could spark a debate about foreign policy in relation to Iraq and Afghanistan.’ These are not the words of a man intent on bringing down the government.”

On the contrary, the intentions of Mr. Manning were notable, and at least to this side of the fence, noble.  Unfortunately, he was young and misguided about how to approach this.  That the punishment will be life for his crimes says more about us than it does about him.

The most disappointing aspect of the Obama administration has been the continuing and expansion of Bush-era homeland security policies aimed to combat the war on terror, but which in actuality represent the biggest post-cold war incursion into privacy and civil liberties that we have seen.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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60 Comments

  1. Growth Izzue

    [quote]The most disappointing aspect of the Obama administration has been the continuing and expansion of Bush-era homeland security policies aimed to combat the war on terror[/quote]

    Oh, I can think of many more disappointing aspects than that. Shall I list them?

  2. medwoman

    GI

    I am in agreement with David’s assessment and would love to see a list of what is most disappointing to you.

    A brief compilation of my biggest disappointments including those that I do not feel we’re exclusively or even mostly his admins fault:
    1) Failure to achieve a balance between security and individual rights including privacy and speech
    2) Failure to enact true health care reform choosing to settle instead for health insurance reform
    3) Failure to deal optimally with immigration reform
    4) Failure to close Guantanamo ( arguably not his administrations fault) but still open
    5) Failure to make substantive reductions in gun related deaths and injuries

  3. Growth Izzue

    LOL, that’s why I asked. Next time maybe you shouldn’t open that door and instead write….One of the most disappointing aspects of the Obama administration….

  4. medwoman

    David

    “That the punishment will be life for his crimes, says more about us than it does about him.”

    I could not agree more. As a society we seem to be driven more by fear and desire for revenge and retribution more than we are by any sense of perspective on actual harm done. Maintaining secrecy over and beyond the point where transparency is actually detrimental erodes our individual rights to the point where our “protection”becomes that which most endangers the basic tenants of a free society.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    The main topic is the main topic. Within that framework there is some latitude, but this isn’t an invite to discuss ACA for the billionth time.

  6. David M. Greenwald

    “LOL, that’s why I asked. Next time maybe you shouldn’t open that door and instead write….One of the most disappointing aspects of the Obama administration…. “

    To me it’s the most disappointing aspect of the Obama administration. But that’s fine, your feelings on Obama are well known. I’m more interested in your opinions on the Manning trial.

  7. Frankly

    If you have a son or daughter or husband or wife – or other loved-one – in the military, you would want to eliminate the increased safety risks to them that come from soldiers like PFC Manning using his position to push a political agenda.

    There should be zero tolerance for the type of actions and behaviors he is guilty of.

    We are fighting two global wars at this point. Global Islamic-fundamentalist-based terrorism, and their confused liberal sympathizers and isolationists. We saw similar trends leading to WWII, but apparently liberal sympathizers and isolationists cannot learn.

    Manning should feel lucky he doesn’t life in a time where he would have faced the firing squad for his actions that harmed our nation and put other soldiers lives at risk.

  8. scooter

    What I find distressing is the number of people who seem to feel the Mannings’ and Snowdens’ are some kind of heros. These kids have no loyalties except to their own naive sense of right and wrong. They do not seem to understand the role of government in a free society. Their distorted interpretation of our Constitution displays at best an incomplete education and a lack of understand our political system. There is no “right” to expose the defensive measures of this country to those who would use that information to destroy it. There is no “right” to perform espionage against one’s fellow soldiers or the citizens of this country. These are not “young men who made a bad decision”. These men are traitors to the US, to it’s way of life, to it’s people and ideals. They should be treated as such. What do you who support these traitors think their fate would be in Bejing?

  9. scooter

    What I find distressing is the number of people who seem to feel the Mannings’ and Snowdens’ are some kind of heros. These kids have no loyalties except to their own naive sense of right and wrong. They do not seem to understand the role of government in a free society. Their distorted interpretation of our Constitution displays at best an incomplete education and a lack of understand our political system. There is no “right” to expose the defensive measures of this country to those who would use that information to destroy it. There is no “right” to perform espionage against one’s fellow soldiers or the citizens of this country. These are not “young men who made a bad decision”. These men are traitors to the US, to it’s way of life, to it’s people and ideals. They should be treated as such. What do you who support these traitors think their fate would be in Bejing?

  10. SouthofDavis

    It seems like David and medwoman feel that the “punishment does not fit the crime”

    I’m wondering if either of them will post what they feel is a good punishment (if any) for Manning.

    I’m also wondering what David feels the punishment should be for releasing all the private Davis police files (and if it would make a difference if an undercover cop got killed).

    I’m also wondering what medwoman feels the punishment should be for releasing all the private Kaiser medical records (and if it would make a difference some people with serious health problems “just happened” to get laid off by their employers and could not find new jobs).

    I’m fine if Manning spends the rest of his life in jail, but I am bummed that (as far as I know) he will not be joined (for at least a few years) with the people responsible for giving someone like him access to so many classified documents.

    I’m sad that only the “little guys” like Manning seem to take the fall for anything these days after stealing billions making mortgage backed securities that they knew were bad (and making even more by betting that the mortgages that they knew were bad would default) not a single high level exec at Goldman Sachs or any other big bank is in jail. Today I heard that San Diego paid a kid $4 million after they locked him in a cell and forgot about him (he almost died). The kid gets $4 million but no one takes the blame and no one gets fired (last week JP Morgan paid a half a BILLION fine but did not admit doing anything wrong and no one got fired)…

  11. Robb Davis

    Frankly: There is no evidence that what Manning did placed a single US soldier in harms way. Produce it if you have it. Your sense of history of where these wars started, who stoked them and who is responsible for prolonging them is distorted if you suggest that the US is a passive victim in all of this.

    Scooter: [quote]These kids have no loyalties except to their own naive sense of right and wrong.[/quote]

    It must be amazing to have the godlike ability to see into the motives of these men. Lots of people commenting on the Vanguard seem to have this godlike ability and I will add you to the list. I wish I had this ability but, sadly, I do not.

    [quote]They do not seem to understand the role of government in a free society. [/quote]

    It is precisely the failure of the US government and the threat that poses to a “free society” that drove these men to act. Frequently in the Vanguard I see comments decrying the danger of an invasive and all pervasive “state” but when it comes to the so-called GWOT there is little protest against these dangers. When a state deprives even its elected officials of transparency and truth about its own actions–its due-process-free assassinations of its own citizens, its war crimes against villagers, its warrantless spying into the lives of citizens, etc–then it is the responsibility of those with the ability to expose these abuses to come forward. You are correct–this has nothing to do with rights but it does have everything to do with responsibility.

    The real traitors are the men and women (many of whom hide in the shadows) who provide the legal cover to permit torture and to hold people (human beings whom the US constitution says have certain unalienable rights) without trial for decades, to bomb innocent villagers in undeclared war zones and to mine the data of our financial and personal dealings without authorization to do so.

    Seriously–these two guys pose a threat to the US way of life? You jest. The naiveté expressed here about how power–consolidated and unitary power–is deployed and used is breathtaking. I am not calling these men heroes. I am calling them citizens who do us a service by pulling back the curtain to reveal the truth about our so-called democratic regime.

  12. Don Shor

    Robb: anybody who has a security clearance depends, for his or her personal safety in many cases, on others with security clearances adhering to the rules that go with that clearance. Manning, for example, did not screen what he was stealing and releasing. He could have easily compromised secure operations in any number of places. He gave it to people who I do not trust to use their judgment about releasing it. So he could very well have endangered personnel, or compromised missions that could prevent terrorist actions that kill innocent civilians.

    It is necessary for those security clearances to be upheld by strict conduct codes, and stiff penalties for breaching them, in order to protect the thousands of military and civilian personnel who are protected by them. If you wish to call for greater civilian oversight of our security apparatus, that is reasonable. But Manning belongs in jail for a very long time, and Snowden should be arrested the minute he sets foot any place that can happen. It isn’t the job of misdirected low-level workers to “do us a service.”

  13. Frankly

    [i]There is no evidence that what Manning did placed a single US soldier in harms way.[/i]

    Robb, you are looking at this completely wrong. Of course this illegal disclosure of 700,000 government and military files to the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks is going to increase the risk for soldiers. There is no need for evidence of harm, and anyway, you would always argue that it can not be proved that the information released contributed to any future acts of harm. Information is a weapon. And our enemies have much more information now because of the acts of this traitor. That information would tend to serve them in many ways that would contribute to additional harm to our troops. And if you have a loved one already at risk, and the actions of this traitor put them in even the slightest bit of extra risk, he should receive the harshest of punishment.

    You might be against the wars and I have no problem with that, but defending Mr. Manning means you support illegal actions that cause more risk to our military personnel. That it inexcusable IMO.

  14. Robb Davis

    Don – Two points:

    1) What Manning and Snowden did broke the law. They committed acts of civil disobedience. Anyone who has contemplated such acts knows that they must be prepared to face the consequences. I am not going to say how much prison time or other form of punishment either should receive and I believe that Snowden should give himself and face the consequences. Doing so can only further his efforts to reveal the overreach and illegality of the actions of this government. So, I guess I fundamentally disagree with your last sentence. Anyone in a position to reveal the abuses of the state should do so. Otherwise we end up appealing to a “rule of law” that is capricious, unevenly applied and, therefore meaningless.

    2) You use words like “could” in relation to the outcome of Manning’s actions. All I was saying is that there is no evidence that the “could” ever took place. Which raises an interesting question about the types of things that get “classified”. A huge take home message from the Manning case is that too many things that we as a nation have a right to know are not released for our evaluation. Further the fact that 4.2 million (I have not verified this number but at the very least a large number) people have security clearance suggests that the system is broken.

    Look, I know that you will not agree with me about these issues but I am concerned about how we start challenging the unbridled power we have apparently blithely handed over the the state. If the Snowdens and Mannings of the world don’t act how will we even know the abuses done in the name of freedom and security?

  15. Frankly

    [i]What Manning and Snowden did broke the law.[/I]

    Yes

    [I]They committed acts of civil disobedience.[/i]

    No. They both committed treason. Big difference.

  16. Frankly

    [i]If the Snowdens and Mannings of the world don’t act how will we even know the abuses done in the name of freedom and security?[/i]

    Robb – it disturbs me that anyone of your intelligence and thoughtfulness would condone the acts of these two in the least. Basically you are supporting their dastardly deeds as a means to an end you desire.

    Exploiting a military security clearance for political purpose is a tactic that we cannot condone, and we have to stop. I don’t care how much you believe the state is out of control with unbridled power. Find another way to achieve your political goals. Because condoning this type of behavior means more of the same. And more of the same means more harmed soldiers. And as far as I am concerned, even just condoning traitorous acts that increase the risk of harm to even a single soldier is worthy of a heap of scorn.

    You and others wanting to reduce the state’s unbridled powers need to find ways of doing so that does not increase the risk to our soldiers.

    And by the way, a strong defense is in fact the ONLY clearly Constitutional power given to the state. So, if you have a problem with that you should be working on the politics for changing the Constitution.

  17. Robb Davis

    Frankly – I am sorry to disturb you viz: “It disturbs me that anyone of your intelligence and thoughtfulness…” I guess I am just not as intelligent and thoughtful as you believed me to be. Feel free to discount the following and all future writing/posting I offer here.

    If I saw these acts as you do then clearly you could question my intelligence. But I clearly do not see them as you do. But, heap scorn on me if you want. Discount my intelligence. Hell, call me a traitor by extension. I simply don’t share your view on the meaning of these acts.

    It is puzzling to me that we will put many thousands of soldiers lives in harms way on the basis of lies (Iraq War as Exhibit A) never challenging those who lied to us to put those soldiers in that position. These are not hypothetical harms but real ones. But, we will decry as traitors those who reveal those lies arguing that they put hypothetical lives at risk.

    A few other points:

    Officially, Manning is not a traitor though he broke the law (he was found not guilty of aiding the enemy). I suppose a court will (in person or in absentia) decide if what Snowden did was treason.

    What “political purpose” did Manning or Snowden have? I don’t understand how you are using this term. They saw abuse of power and said “here is what abuse of power looks like.” What “political” end does that serve?

    The US Constitution does not need to be changed–it needs to be upheld. And those in power who abuse it must be brought to account. Your anger is misplaced–it is those who lie to the American people, who fail to uphold the Constitution and those who abuse power to send innocent people (including Americans) to their death who should be held accountable. Instead we vilify those who reveal the truth about the abuses.

  18. Growth Izzue

    Rob Davis
    [quote]Anyone in a position to reveal the abuses of the state should do so. Otherwise we end up appealing to a “rule of law” that is capricious, unevenly applied and, therefore meaningless.
    [/quote]
    [quote]Look, I know that you will not agree with me about these issues but I am concerned about how we start challenging the unbridled power we have apparently blithely handed over the the state. [/quote]

    Robb, I hope you’re equally disturbed about the use of the IRS to single out conservative groups which is more and more looking like it originated from the White House.

  19. Don Shor

    [quote]It is puzzling to me that we will put many thousands of soldiers lives in harms way on the basis of lies (Iraq War as Exhibit A) never challenging those who lied to us to put those soldiers in that position.[/quote]
    What makes you assume that? I opposed the war. But once my kid was in it, I wanted my kid — who had a security clearance — as safe as possible. That means peers with security clearances need to uphold their security clearances.

    [quote]the use of the IRS to single out conservative groups which is more and more looking like it originated from the White House.[/quote]
    No it isn’t, nor did they exclusively target conservative groups, and this has proven to be a trumped-up issue. If you want to discuss it, take it to the Bulletin Board.

  20. Growth Izzue

    [quote]No it isn’t, nor did they exclusively target conservative groups, and this has proven to be a trumped-up issue. If you want to discuss it, take it to the Bulletin Board. [/quote]

    Proven by who, MSNBC? Obviously you haven’t heard about the latest testimony that puts it right on the doorstep of Obama’s own IRZS appointee.

  21. David M. Greenwald

    “What I find distressing is the number of people who seem to feel the Mannings’ and Snowdens’ are some kind of heros. These kids have no loyalties except to their own naive sense of right and wrong. They do not seem to understand the role of government in a free society. Their distorted interpretation of our Constitution displays at best an incomplete education and a lack of understand our political system. “

    I don’t get the sense that they have no loyalties and while they may be misguided, I think both felt they were doing the right thing.

  22. David M. Greenwald

    “I’m wondering if either of them will post what they feel is a good punishment (if any) for Manning.”

    I think a 10 to 20 year sentence with some sort of restorative approach would be better.

    “I’m also wondering what David feels the punishment should be for releasing all the private Davis police files (and if it would make a difference if an undercover cop got killed).”

    Not sure what the relevance is here. Part of my calculation is based on the nature of the information released.

  23. David M. Greenwald

    “Manning should feel lucky he doesn’t life in a time where he would have faced the firing squad for his actions that harmed our nation and put other soldiers lives at risk.”

    My understanding is that there is no evidence that his actions did either of those things other than proving politically embarrassing to the nation, which frankly we deserved. So you will have to explain how his actions both armed our nation and how it put other soldiers lives at risk?

  24. David M. Greenwald

    “He could have easily compromised secure operations in any number of places. He gave it to people who I do not trust to use their judgment about releasing it. So he could very well have endangered personnel, or compromised missions that could prevent terrorist actions that kill innocent civilians.”

    I agree he could very well have, but he didn’t. Just as firing a gun recklessly could very well harm someone, but if you didn’t harm someone your punishment is less than if you do harm them.

  25. David M. Greenwald

    “Of course this illegal disclosure of 700,000 government and military files to the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks is going to increase the risk for soldiers. There is no need for evidence of harm”

    What? Are you kidding? You can’t punish someone without evidence of harm.

  26. Frankly

    [i]What? Are you kidding? You can’t punish someone without evidence of harm.[/i]

    I am talking about specific harm. For example, you yell “fire” in a crowded room but nobody is hurt or killed from the stampede to the exit. Nobody is specifically harmed, but the person that yelled fire is still guilty and deserves punishment.

    I was responding to Robb’s point that releasing these documents had not resulted in any soldier being harmed. The point is that ALL soldiers have been harmed by it since it gives the enemy information that puts our soldiers at greater risk. Added risk IS harm. And any person that causes added risk that one of soldiers can be harmed is either a traitor, or an enemy, or someone that made a mistake in judgment that deserves harsh punishment.

  27. David M. Greenwald

    ” For example, you yell “fire” in a crowded room but nobody is hurt or killed from the stampede to the exit. Nobody is specifically harmed, but the person that yelled fire is still guilty and deserves punishment.”

    Correct, but the harm determines the punishment. So if no one is harmed, you end up with a slap on the wrist if you are arrested at all. People get hurt or killed, the penalties will go up.

    The same should be the case here.

  28. Frankly

    Well ok, but that refutes your previous point of “no harm no foul”.

    And, added risk is harm. And we can assess value to certain harm of risk.

    For example, what about drunk driving laws and penalties?

  29. Frankly

    David: [i]What? Are you kidding? You can’t punish someone without evidence of harm[/i]

    So then how am I to interpret this as only meaning “harm matters”?

    And how would I validate that challenge as it relates to drunk driving punishment, or illegal firearm possession punishment, etc., etc.?

    What about reckless endangerment… basically what Mr. Manning is guilty of at an extreme level?

    Do you see why I might be a bit confused as to your point?

  30. David M. Greenwald

    Fair enough, I misspoke, I wanted to say you can’t determine the appropriate punishment without know the harm.

    However, I will point out to your example that while drunk driving is punished regardless of outcome, the penalty goes up when there are injuries or fatalities.

    Same with illegal firearm possession.

    “Do you see why I might be a bit confused as to your point? “

    As I said, fair enough.

  31. Frankly

    Now that we have that cleared up, it should also clear the way for assessing harsh punishment to Mr. Manning’s actions even though there is not yet any specific example of material harm caused. His actions resulted in increased risk of harm for our American service people, and also for our allies in the war on terror. He also damaged the US in terms of being able to execute our foreign policy with other nations seeing us as being unable to prevent sensitive information from being leaked to a hostile media.

    Execution is too harsh, but life in prison would be the least he should get.

    Note that he could have petitioned the military for a discharge based on a consciences objection. It would have been a dishonorable discharge, but if he had that big of a problem with his role (not even asking then why the hell did he join in the first place?), he could have spent his effort getting out. However, he did not. What he did instead was use his military position and security clearance to achieve some political goal… to embarrass the country, or undermine US foreign policy, or military strategy. He is not a hero on any shape or form… he is a criminal and a coward. He is trash that should be swept into a cell to rot away… but while being grateful that he is allowed to live while REAL soldiers put their lives on the line to support our country.

  32. David M. Greenwald

    Here are a few thoughts:

    1. “His actions resulted in increased risk of harm for our American service people, and also for our allies in the war on terror. “

    I don’t really see that as the case. For the most part, the terror networks have been rendered unable to communicate and are left to plot small time operations.

    2. ” He also damaged the US in terms of being able to execute our foreign policy with other nations seeing us as being unable to prevent sensitive information from being leaked to a hostile media. “

    Except that Wikileaks has done the same to most countries.

    3. “Execution is too harsh, but life in prison would be the least he should get.”

    I don’t agree that life is an appropriate punishment be it appears it is what he will get.

    4. “Note that he could have petitioned the military for a discharge based on a consciences objection. “

    I’m not arguing that he handled his concerns appropriately only that the actual harm done does not rise to life.

  33. SouthofDavis

    I wrote:

    > I’m also wondering what David feels the punishment should
    > be for releasing all the private Davis police files (and
    > if it would make a difference if an undercover cop got
    > killed).”

    Then David wrote:

    > Not sure what the relevance is here. Part of my calculation
    > is based on the nature of the information released.

    I know people that feel that breaking in to a Democratic campaign office (say in the Watergate Apartments) should not be punished, but breaking in to a Republican campaign office should get 20 years.

    I wanted to see if you would have the same punishment for releasing private “government/military” documents as you would for releasing private documents here in Davis.

  34. civil discourse

    We should be thankful to both Snowden and Manning for showing what a horrible job those in power are doing at securing USA citizens.

    Manning showed that we are creating more enemies than we are defeating, and Snowden showed that our spying techniques are so inaccurate as to be useless.

  35. Frankly

    [i]We should be thankful to both Snowden and Manning [/i]

    Manning and Snowden and civil discourse should bend down and kiss the boots and shoes of every person working to protect their freedoms for spouting as much snarky and conspiratorial anti-military and anti-US drivel that that they make up.

    But then again, they probably believe they were magically born with these rights.

  36. Frankly

    [i]I know people that feel that breaking in to a Democratic campaign office (say in the Watergate Apartments) should not be punished, but breaking in to a Republican campaign office should get 20 years.[/i]

    SOD, what are you talking about here? Watergate resulted in a President resigning instead of being impeached. Other Nixon staffers did prison time.

    Now, compare that to the Obama IRS debacle. Let’s talk about damage and outrage comparisons now.

  37. David M. Greenwald

    Mr. Obvious:

    I don’t know. That’s kind of like asking why I ate salad at Round Table today rather than a sandwhich at Lamppost.

    I did state: “The defense attorneys, whose opinions I have read and trust, never believed that Mr. Zimmerman would be found guilty of second degree murder. I agreed. I didn’t see this as a murder case. For all of the mistakes that Mr. Zimmerman made – and he made a ton that night – I never saw the true intent to kill with malice that would be required for a murder conviction.”

    I thought other aspects of the case weere more important, but I think the murder charge by the DA’s office in that case was politically motivated.

  38. civil discourse

    Frankly wrote:

    “Manning and Snowden and civil discourse should bend down and kiss the boots and shoes of every person working to protect their freedoms”

    And Frankly should go back in time, say to before the Vietnam war, when we all lived under the false pretense that everything our government and military did was perfectly legal and A-OKAY.

    Frankly, why don’t you pull on those boots and tell me what time to come on over?

  39. Frankly

    CD – you don’t need to kiss my boots. I am not one of those heroes. Save it for the men and women in uniform.

    So, you are telling me that government does not do everything perfect? Surprise! Have you demonstrated as much indignation over Benghazi or IRS Gate?

  40. Davis Progressive

    i find it ironic that frankly lionizes the soldiers as heroes and yet one of the key leaks was the summary execution by us soldier of civilians and the systematic lies told by the administration and brass to cover it up. so in protecting his heroes, he is protecting those who disgrace the same heroes he purports to worship.

  41. Ginger

    This comment has been moved to our Bulletin Board: About the IRS targeting of tax-exempt groups. ([url]/index.php?option=com_kunena&func=view&catid=2&id=1449&Itemid=192#1449[/url])

  42. Don Shor

    Ginger: looks like the ‘move’ function isn’t working right, so your long comment disappeared between here and the Bulletin Board. Sorry. If you happened to save a copy, please post it over there.

  43. JustSaying

    “What? Are you kidding? You can’t punish someone without evidence of harm.”

    It’s interesting that so much of the insistence on the harshness of the penalty depends on the absolutely unverified and unprovable claim that Manning’s classified document dump causes no harm.

    Furthermore, penalties for law-breaking are established based on the potential damage that could be caused by any given crime. Attempted murder, for example, might not have bee a successful venture, but society still calls it a very bad thing to try to do.

    And. If the federal government’s primary responsibility is to protect its citizens, I suspect that the prescribed penalties for treason, espionage, and other crimes that get in the way of this major duty always and everywhere will be dealt with harshly.

    The saddest thing is the naivety of these two low-level ignoramuses is exceeded only by the incompetence of a government that gave them unfettered access to massive amounts of secret information for which they had no need.

    It was good to hear that Snowden’s father still notes that he’s proud of what his kid has done, at least that’s what he told a newspaper in Russia today.

    Both of these misguided (but now notorious) folks get a couple pats on the back for making obvious some misguided government actions. But, if one does the crime, he needs to do the time.

  44. medwoman

    Sorry to be so late in responding to questions. Yesterday’s schedule did not permit. Basically I concur with
    the comments of Robb Davis with a couple of additions. To explain how I arrive at my conclusions, I have to digress a little to the foundation of our freedoms, and what I really believe.

    [quote]We hold these truths to be self-evident, that 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.[/quote]

    This statement, I believe. Please note that the quote is “all men”. It is not all men who happen to be American citizens. I truly believe that all human life is of equal value. I do not believe that American lives are of greater value than the lives of the citizens of any other country. I believe that each human has the right to self defense.
    I do not believe in killing, be it individual or societal, for any other purpose than self defense. I am a pacifist.
    I believe that the very best way to protect those who serve in our military is not to send them off to war with the single exception of self protection. I do not view the war in Iraq as self protection. Therefore I consider any deaths that resulted from this act of American aggression to have been immoral. Immoral actions should be exposed and once exposed, those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.

    So, I realize that some of you are going to feel that this automatically makes me a “traitor”. I would disagree.
    I was a member of the non arms bearing military. I respect public service. However, I do not believe that the
    government , including the military, is or should be above the law. When our own officials and soldiers break our own laws, they should be subject to the same penalties that any other citizen would face. Those guilty of torture, either by committing the act, ordering the act, or defending the act should be punished accordingly. Those guilty of committing,allowing, condoning, or hiding summary execution should be punished accordingly. Those who release classified information should be willing to accept the legal consequences of their actions as should all of the others named. “War” cannot be used as a cover to allow breaking the very laws that we rely upon to guarantee our safety.

  45. medwoman

    [quote]Note that he could have petitioned the military for a discharge based on a consciences objection[/quote]

    Yes, he could have. And if I see that you are being held hostage at gun point and about to be shot, I have a couple of options.
    I could simply walk away since I have a conscientious objection to murdering innocent people. Or I could take action to prevent future illegal harm to you by dialing 911 to make your situation known. I suspect that you would rather that I publicized your situation. But how does one publicize the situation when the transgressor is your own government ?

  46. medwoman

    SOD

    [quote]I’m also wondering what medwoman feels the punishment should be for releasing all the private Kaiser medical records (and if it would make a difference some people with serious health problems “just happened” to get laid off by their employers and could not find new jobs).
    [/quote]

    Several thoughts on this issue.
    1. I do not believe that health care should be at all contingent on employment.
    2. I do not believe that employers should be able to fire any employee who is capable of performing the duties
    of their job regardless of their medical history
    3. I do not believe that private medical records, which affect only the individual involved, can be equated with
    governmental records which potentially affect many
    4. As for punishment, this is a much harder question. As a general rule, I do not believe in incarceration as
    appropriate punishment for anyone who is not a physical danger to society. I do believe that there should
    be some appropriate form of compensation for non physical, non sexual related crimes. So in the case of
    release of medical records, appropriate “punishment” might be financial contribution to anyone who lost
    wages as a result of the action, or perhaps volunteer service at a clinic or hospital. For releasing classified
    government information, perhaps some form of non security related service to the government.
    In our society, we have, erroneously in my opinion, decided that “punishment” should equate to
    “incarceration”. I believe that this is detrimental and costly to the individual involved but more importantly
    to the society as a whole both financially and morally.

  47. Frankly

    [I]Wow. How disappointing.

    I spent a very long time crafting it, finding the links, etc. Gone within moments. [/I]

    I hate that when that happens. I try to use Word to type anything lengthy so I have a copy.

  48. Frankly

    [i]I could simply walk away since I have a conscientious objection to murdering innocent people. Or I could take action to prevent future illegal harm to you by dialing 911 to make your situation known. I suspect that you would rather that I publicized your situation. But how does one publicize the situation when the transgressor is your own government?[/i]

    A complete non-sequitur. This was not calling 911. This was a 700,000-round machine gun fusillade into a crowd which includes a majority of innocent people.

    He was hired by the military and was paid by the military for a specific job. If he did not want to do the job, he could have “walked away”. He could have then joined any number of America-military-hating organizations and made his case. Instead he abused his power and position for political purpose… the same that the Democrats in Washington and the IRS did.

    Others have called your position on this related to the release of medical records. You attempted to distance yourself from the comparison with a nuanced argument that, frankly, does not hold up.

    There are many reasons why certain information is classified and kept private. We already provide access to much government information through the Freedom of Information Act. Yes, people in government are capable of mistakes and transgressions; but your silence and lack of outrage about the recent actions of the IRS compared to your absolute support of the actions of traitor Manning are completely predictable and just another bit of a long list of posting evidence that your opinions are largely based on a leftist ideology. If you want to blow steam at the lack of accountability in government, then do so at your fucked up media… you know the one that is provided special Constitutional projection as part of our design of governance because they provide counter to the tendency for politicians to resort to corruption and tyranny to enrich themselves.

    I find it quite outrageous that any American kept free by all our defenders of freedom would laud the illegal dumping of 700,000 pages of national security documents into a website owned by a renowned America hater and sex offender, but then wouldn’t care to comment on a powerful government agency totally abusing its power to harm many Americans for political reasons only.

    There is a very clear line between acts of patriotic civil disobedience, and acts of civil disobedience to gain or retain political power or to push a political agenda. I see many supporting traitor Manning’s acts as being on the latter side of the line… and that makes them almost as despicable as traitor Manning himself.

  49. Don Shor

    Unable to post it here, so here is Ginger’s comment. Thanks, David.
    —-

    Author: Ginger
    Link to content: http://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7507:commentary-classic-overcharge-in-manning-case&catid=81:civil-rights&Itemid=105&cpage=30

    Comment:
    [quote]nor did [the IRS] exclusively target conservative groups, and this has proven to be a trumped-up issue.[/quote] Politifact has rated such claims as “Pants on Fire.”

    In May the IRS apologized for singling out tax-exemption applications from conservative-sounding groups. They’ve done no such apologizing for progressive groups.

    President Obama stated, “I think one thing you’ve seen across the board is that everybody agrees what happened in as reported in the IG report is an outrage.” Here’s an excerpt from that report (LINK: http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2013reports/201310053fr.pdf)

    [quote][b]Criteria for Potential Political Cases[/b]
    *“Tea Party,” “Patriots” or “9/12 Project” is referenced in the case file
    *Issues include government spending, government debt or taxes
    *Education of the public by advocacy/lobbying to “make America a better place to live”
    *Statement in the case file criticize how the country is being run[/quote]

    And remember that acting IRS Commissioner Miller stated in hearings the same as above.

    I know we were told to take the IRS scandal to the forum, but this isn’t just a tangent, I promise. 🙂

    I’ve had many conversations with friends here in Davis and elsewhere who think that targeting conservatives is just fine. [i]They are against the government, of course the government should look at them twice! [/i] -or- [i]Why wouldn’t the IRS want to further investigate groups that want to limit the IRS? [/i] -or- [i]They are dangerous and probably racist, it would be negligent to not delve deeper into their applications. [/i]

    And on and on and on. I’m surprised how readily people spout off such things at sports games, kids birthday parties, BBQ’s, etc. In Davis someone who doesn’t agree with that is pretty much an anomaly, at least at my kids’ schools and the circles I’ve fallen into.

    Anyway. My point is that it’s pretty scary how fast intelligent, well educated, supposedly “sophisticated” people functioning on a “high level of understanding” are willing to cede power to the federal government to go after “the enemy.”

    Which is why I loved Candidate Obama’s promises of transparency and accountability and the like. Of course, what we got instead was this, with which I largely agree:

    [quote]“The most disappointing aspect of the Obama administration has been the continuing and expansion of Bush-era homeland security policies aimed to combat the war on terror, but which in actuality represent the biggest post-cold war incursion into privacy and civil liberties that we have seen.”[/quote]

    So much for No More Four More Years, huh? And despite the first executive order being the closing of Gitmo, and Obama riding an incredible popularity high and having a friendly congress, he still didn’t make good on that promise (and it’s still not his fault, go figure).

    And so because we have an ever expanding federal government, getting so big and bloated and unwieldy that it is used as an excuse for Obama not being aware of major issues like the IRS/Fast and Furious/AP reporter scandals. As Axelrod explained, “Part of being President is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast.”

    “(Jon Stewart does a good job of mocking that. (LINK: http://www.salon.com/2013/05/15/must_see_morning_clip_president_obama_heard_about_irs_doj_scandals_from_the_news/)

    So we can’t hold the President accountable for things that happen under his watch because the government is so vast.

    But we can hold someone like Manning who shouldn’t even have had clearance to this stuff, but did because government is so vast that clearance isn’t even special anymore.

    And we have plenty of highly educated, intelligent people in our City of Davis who think the government targeting those who want less government is a good idea…because they then by definition enemies of the government.

    I won’t speak to the Manning/Snowden cases specifically, because I don’t know enough about the actual facts, whether or not they did harm, etc. But I do know that I’m down with Candidate Obama’s promise of more transparency, and I totally get the frustration that not only do we NOT have that, we have less.

    Furthermore, I do think we need to be super careful giving away our liberties because our federal government is protecting us from “enemies.” (See? I promised I’d tie back in the IRS scandal).

  50. Frankly

    [i]And we have plenty of highly educated, intelligent people in our City of Davis who think the government targeting those who want less government is a good idea…because they then by definition enemies of the government. [/i]

    And they laud dumping of 700,000 pages of classified documents related to the job of preventing the very people that would kill many of them immediately if given the chance just because of who they are and what they believe in.

    Did you write that Davis is filled with intelligent people? I would say Davis is filled with ideologically-biased highly-educated people. But I see little evidence that there is an abundance of intelligence as it should be defined (e.g., critical thinking skills).

  51. medwoman

    Frankly

    [quote]your silence and lack of outrage about the recent actions of the IRS compared to your absolute support of the actions of traitor Manning are completely predictable and just another bit of a long list of posting evidence that your opinions are largely based on a leftist ideology.[/quote]

    I was not aware that the topic of this thread was the actions of the IRS. When David does an article on that subject, I will be happy to post my opinion. Until then I guess I will just have to remain “Despicable me”,

  52. Frankly

    meds, I just re-read my post and I have to apologize for my tone. The IRS debacle has me steamed, at it seems that steam leaked out in my comments about the traitor.

    You are correct that you have not commented on the IRS stuff. However, I doubt if the Vanguard will post anything on the IRS debacle. As another poster here just wrote, the media and those with left-leaning political views seem to justify the corruption of government when it benefits them monetarily and politically.

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