Chelsea Manning’s leaked information made WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, a household name. It also made them permanent enemies of the US State. In 2010, Assange released a video that he called Collateral Murder. The video shows an airstrike in which Iraqi journalists are killed. Other releases based on Manning’s leak were known as the Afghan Diary and Iraq War Logs. The diplomatic cables exposed some of the silly machinations of the US State Department and the over classification of documents.
Meanwhile, mainstream media (MSM) outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post feasted on the leaks and gave them prominent coverage daily, even as they excoriated Assange and his merry band of leakers. The MSM believes that WikiLeaks is not “real” journalism even as they used the classified material Assange provided to bolster their subscription numbers. Aren’t they accessories to Assange’s crime? Apparently not.
Assange has been living for the past five years under diplomatic protection in the Embassy of Ecuador in the United Kingdom. He has been accused of rape in Sweden and, if he leaves the embassy, would be arrested by UK authorities and, ultimately, end up in the USA. To make matters worse, now he is a target of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director. Pompeo once praised WikiLeaks. Whatever data he has seen that made him go ballistic can’t be good for Assange, obviously. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions over at the Justice Department has hinted that an arrest warrant is in the works.
He will never get a get out of jail card and is trapped in Ecuador’s Embassy in London. The trip from the UK to Sweden to the USA would be swift if he capitulates. “It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state, hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” CIA director Mike Pompeo said at a May event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. “Assange is a narcissist who has created nothing of value and he relies on the dirty work of others to make himself famous: He’s a fraud.”
He continues to dig a hole for himself with the recent CIA Vault leaks even as he enlightens us all, apparently, about the machinations of governments around the world.
Manning: Trump’s traitor
Trans woman Army soldier Chelsea Manning was released today from the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, thanks to former President Barack Obama’s merciful commutation of Manning’s 35-year sentence.
“The sentence she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received,” Obama was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times during a press conference in January. “I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message [to those who would leak classified information] has still been sent.”
On January 26, President Donald Trump said that Manning was an ungrateful traitor and should have served out her prison sentence, according to Trump’s Twitter account.
Sometime in early 2010 Army soldier Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq, surreptitiously leaked to WikiLeaks scores of classified material. Included were US State Department diplomatic cables, videos of US Army operations and airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other sensitive Army reports some detailing activities at Guantanamo Bay.
Manning was arrested in July 2010 and subsequently imprisoned at a US Marine Corps brig in the state of Virginia. She was court-martialed and subsequently was convicted on 17 charges, including espionage, in legal proceedings known as the United States versus Manning. Manning had served seven years of her sentence when on January 17, 2017, Obama pardoned her.
The presiding judge in United States versus Manning reduced the 35-year sentence by 112 days because of the tortuous solitary confinement she underwent while at the Marine Corps jail. She attempted suicide twice while at the Fort Leavenworth prison.
Chelsea Manning’s court-martial verdict has been appealed by her lawyers, according to a published report on MSN.com. Until a military court makes a decision on her case, she will continue to receive health benefits after leaving prison. She will be an active duty, unpaid Army soldier with the rank of private.
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” Manning said in a May 9 statement released through the American Civil Liberties Union. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”
One of Manning’s income sources after her release will be speaking fees and a likely book deal and movie. She is registered with AllAmericanSpeakers.com and the website has a portfolio page of her.
Manning appears to be getting the best deal, at least so far. The physical and mental abuse she underwent was not dissimilar to that of the hapless Abu Ghraib, Iraq, inmates in 2003. At the moment, Assange and Snowden have been spared the atrocities that Manning endured.
Snowden: The damned
Snowden lives in Russia, thanks to the kindness of the government there. Or should we should say he serves at the pleasure of President Putin. It’s not hard to envision a deal between the Trump administration and Putin in which Snowden is sent back to the USA for some concessions to Russia. Maybe a few of the most pernicious sanctions lifted? Who knows?
John Young of Cryptome has found the slow pace of Snowden documents released thus far maddening. He is right. Indeed, the overlords of the Snowden information have made sure that the drip, drip, drip of National Security Agency material have ensured the snail’s pace for obvious reasons: Maintain MSM interest in Snowden; keep Snowden useful to Russian interests; and in appropriately mercenary fashion, keep readers interested in the journalists and publications that made their fame and fortune off of Snowden.
Snowden is “free” in a sense. But he is not “at home” and that obviously hurts him. If he leaves Russia he will be captured and returned to the USA to face prosecution. Like Assange, he has educated much of the public to the operations of the NSA and its counterparts. But how surprising were they, really? Intelligence and information are just two of the eight US instruments of national power.
There remains a cloud of suspicion over Snowden’s motives, particularly since the Russians were not likely to take the heat for storing Snowden in their country without some notable return on the investment in him. That’s just good business. But now the public relations gift of Snowden has started to slip dramatically for the Russians and they know it.
Manning and Snowden signed agreements with the US government not to reveal classified information. And Assange knew he would piss off the US military, intelligence and diplomatic communities by posting sensitive information. The US will find, fix, track, target and capture Snowden and Assange as soon as an opportunity arises. Trade deals have been and are being discussed with Ecuador and Russia.
Meanwhile in the USA, Trump’s press statements and his notorious Twitter messages are clearly damaging US government’s institutions and agencies. The FBI, the Environmental Protection Agency, healthcare systems, the Justice Department, the Departments of Education and State are just some that have been the target of Trump’s frothing at the mouth either himself or through many of his political appointees. Either that or have not been staffed and are not fully functioning.
Snowden, Assange, Manning and Trump: When judgment day comes, and it will, who will have done the most damage to the United States of America?
John Stanton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.