Another mainstream journalist deplores the fact that Manning gave us tons of information about how gov’t works

Israel/Palestine
on 14 Comments

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post describes Bradley Manning as a “misguided kid” who has done more harm than good to the principle of gov’t openness, and approvingly quotes Steven Aftergood, a “transparency expert” at the Federation for American Scientists:


“The approach of grabbing hundreds of thousands of documents and shoveling them into the public domain,” said Aftergood, “was needlessly provocative.” He added: “It was not exposing misconduct. It was sticking a thumb in the government’s eye.”

By contrast, here is Glenn Greenwald, debating Aftergood. If Milbank and Aftergood had been around for the Pentagon Papers, they would have instinctively sided with the war establishment then too, and dissed Daniel Ellsberg’s use of a xerox machine for nights on end as indiscriminate fire-hose journalism. When Ellsberg and Manning’s methods are analogous (and both Ellsberg and Manning are sources, not journalists). Milbank insults Manning’s character and motivation, which surely had a willful anti-war dimension, reflecting far more knowledge of the tragic war effort than Milbank wants to allow himself. And as to the claim that Manning has damaged gov’t openness, this is illogical. Whatever else he has done, Manning has thrown open the windows, with a huge effect, and even if the leaks have hurt some people– taking Milbank’s point– and made our public servants defensive, saying that he has struck a blow against openness is like saying that Ellsberg’s promiscuous xeroxing somehow retarded the introduction of the internet. This issue comes down to a simple question, how misguided is America’s policy in the Middle East?

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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14 Responses

  1. Oscar
    March 15, 2011, 9:30 am

    Dana Milquetoast is Judith Miller-lite. MSM “journalists” decry Wikileaks precisely because they have no aptitude/fortitude to conduct the investigative journalism that once made their profession so great. Wikileaks forced journalists to do a bit of hard reporting, when they were confronted with an ugly face of warfare and the underbelly of diplomacy. Dana could be devoting all of his columns over the next year to journalism on the particulars of the documents — instead, it’s the retreaded, facile, superficial story About Wikileaks itself.

    Glenn greenwald is a giant among lilliputians.

  2. Taxi
    March 15, 2011, 9:32 am

    Manning is the sacrificial lamb at the alter of truth.

    He single-handedly disarmed ALL politicians from their weapons of mass-deception.

    And they’re mad as hell about it.

    Obama two days ago said that he looked at the ‘procedure’ of Manning’s routine and found it “appropriate” – of course he gave no further details.

    Me I couldn’t believe that the same man who gave brilliant speeches about how ‘yes we can’ was standing there at the podium sounding like a weaker/less convincing version of Bush the moron.

    I’m really beginning to think that someone lobotomized Obama while he slept in the White House on his first night.

    Truth is, the ‘system’ didn’t catch Manning – he was snitched on by a so called ‘friend hacker’ who believed that releasing this kinda bone truthful information is a national security risk; while Manning leaked the files because he believed that the people had the right (because they pay the wages of politicians) to know how their business was being taken care of while they where sleeping or working or taking the kids out to little league. He believed that the depth of the deception and corruption in the political and industrial fields were endangering and fast degrading the quality of life of the ordinary hard working citizen.

    It’s clear who is in line with our forefather’s endeavors here and who is in line with the gestapo.

    Manning really needs more people with high profiles defending him, demanding his release from the hellish private Gitmo that Obama has set up for him.

    This is a huge scandal still in it’s incubation: a human-rights scandal that will one day explode in the face of President Obama, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Peace.

    • Pixel
      March 16, 2011, 3:46 am

      “Truth is, the ‘system’ didn’t catch Manning – he was snitched on by a so called ‘friend hacker’ who believed that releasing this kinda bone truthful information is a national security risk; …”

      Did I just hear someone, off to the side, say Adrian Lamo, government(s), Bradley Manning, and entrapment all in the same sentence?

      - segue – Definitely worth a close read:

      Dec 29, 2010 Glenn Greenwald
      “Wired’s refusal to release or comment on the Manning chat logs”

      link to salon.com

  3. Potsherd2
    March 15, 2011, 11:36 am

    Manning’s torture is clearly being used to send a signal to anyone else considering blowing the whistle on US war crimes.

    The Obama administration is only hardening the grip of tyranny on the throat of the US. Someone needs to redo that Obama morphing into Bush photoshop with Obama morphing into Cheney.

  4. Citizen
    March 15, 2011, 11:49 am

    Here is the oath Manning took:
    “I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

    Seems to me, based on his oath, it’s arguable Manning both did and did not live up to it. And the same goes for the person who snitched on him. As far as I know Private Manning did not ever wear a belt embossed with the slogan “My Honor Is My Loyalty.” And even if he did, disregarding the history of such buckles, the question of Manning’s honor and loyalty remain. If you had to apply Kant to this issue, I think Taxi’s description of Manning’s motive are more accurate than not for such application, to see where it goes multiplied, and where it does not go multiplied. If you were ever a grunt in the US Army you know what courage it took for Manning to do what he did. Mere venality is definitely not up to that task.

  5. fuster
    March 15, 2011, 12:09 pm

    Manning deserves a fair trial. If he released the info, he did it knowing it to be a crime and he’ll be able to do his time comforted by knowing his heart is pure.

    • Citizen
      March 15, 2011, 12:27 pm

      Here is Ellsberg (from Wiki):
      By 1969 Ellsberg began attending anti-war events while still remaining in his position at RAND. He experienced an epiphany attending a War Resisters League conference at Haverford College in August 1969, listening to a speech given by a draft resister named Randy Kehler, who said he was “very excited” that he would soon be able to join his friends in prison.[6]
      Ellsberg described his reaction:
      And he said this very calmly. I hadn’t known that he was about to be sentenced for draft resistance. It hit me as a total surprise and shock, because I heard his words in the midst of actually feeling proud of my country listening to him. And then I heard he was going to prison. It wasn’t what he said exactly that changed my worldview. It was the example he was setting with his life. How his words in general showed that he was a stellar American, and that he was going to jail as a very deliberate choice—because he thought it was the right thing to do. There was no question in my mind that my government was involved in an unjust war that was going to continue and get larger. Thousands of young men were dying each year. I left the auditorium and found a deserted men’s room. I sat on the floor and cried for over an hour, just sobbing. The only time in my life I’ve reacted to something like that.”

      When Ellsberg, a former officer in the US Marine Corp and highly educated, copied the documents later known as the Pentagon Papers he had a very high security clearance.

      Seems to me the MSM treated him as a hero at the time, and that nowadays he is regarded as a very patriotic American indeed. Compare the treatment of Private Manning.

    • Potsherd2
      March 15, 2011, 1:04 pm

      he’ll be able to do his time comforted by knowing his heart is pure.

      And the oppressed masses know his government is not.

  6. munro
    March 15, 2011, 12:54 pm

    ” If Milbank and Aftergood had been around for the Pentagon Papers, they would have instinctively sided with the war establishment then too”
    Doubt it. Nixon’s anti-Semitism and USC German cabinet – Haldeman, Erlichman, Dean – fueled much of the anti-Nixon crusade among Jewish journalists. Not unlike Milbanks smear of Walt and Mearsheimer as “two blue-eyed men with Germanic surnames.”
    link to washingtonpost.com

  7. fuster
    March 15, 2011, 1:11 pm

    —Seems to me the MSM treated him as a hero at the time, and that nowadays he is regarded as a very patriotic American indeed. Compare the treatment of Private Manning.—-

    not easily comparable. Ellsberg won sympathetic treatment in the press for a couple of reasons,
    the first one was because his was allied with the press, who were the targets of the Nixon administration effort to prevent publication of the papers.
    the muzzling of the press was the main fight and Ellsberg the smaller part.
    the press was obviously going to be in Ellsberg’s corner, everything dictated that stance.

    the second reason he was seen with sympathy was because the government committed even more serious crimes against Ellsberg (and associates) than Ellsberg committed in the first place.
    had the government not done so, Ellsberg probably would have been sentenced and imprisoned.

  8. Justice Please
    March 15, 2011, 3:26 pm

    “It was not exposing misconduct. It was sticking a thumb in the government’s eye.”

    Boohoo, poor government, cry me a fucking river! A government which lies its nation into wars should not be poked in the eye but punched in the face.

    • MRW
      March 15, 2011, 4:36 pm

      “A government which lies its nation into wars should not be poked in the eye but” kicked in the nuts and removed from the scene. A government is working in our stead because we’re busy earning the money to afford it.

      What is this thing with anthropomorphisizing countries like the USA and Israel, like we’re hurting its feelings and not loving it. What is it? The fact that we don’t teach civics in school anymore?

      • Justice Please
        March 20, 2011, 5:52 pm

        I don’t know about civics, but critical thought in general is not something todays public schools convey to the young ones. Why should they, the corporations and politicians and priests like their drones to be just that – drones.

        Besides that, the anthropomorphisizing (nice one :-) of countries is just like that thing where politicians are given some “regular guy” persona to appeal to the poor masses. It’s a standard public relations/communications tool, in this case not benefitting a particular politician but the whole government.

  9. Chespirito
    March 16, 2011, 10:42 am

    A few thoughts on Manning.

    Manning allegedly released these documents only after going up the chain of command to complain about the role he and many other military personnel were being asked to play in rounding up Iraqi civilians for torture by Iraqi authorities, a clear violation of US military law as well as the Geneva Convention. What he did is covered by the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, though the government will of course interpret this statute as narrowly as possible.

    And where is the damage? No one in or out of government has been able to find a specific instance of these leaks harming US national security. SecDef Gates himself has dismissed the overheated rhetoric, and the Pentagon’s own PR flack has denied any examples of Afghan informants being targeted for reprisals since the AfPak war logs were released.

    US security interests have indeed suffered over the past ten years thanks to the invasion of Iraq; the incoherence and failure of the Af-Pak campaign; ongoing support for Mubarak (“not a dictator” according to Joe Biden) and for Israel; a deliberate and consistent “fuck you” strategy in the soft power arena.

    Don’t try to blame any of this on some private.

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