Attack on press
freedom in U.S.
The most famous whistleblower of all-time Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon papers in 1971, describes the WikiLeaks trial as an attack on the First Amendment. Click image to enlarge.
IN WHAT HAS BEEN DESCRIBED as a campaign against journalism and the first amendment, the prosecution rested its case Tuesday in the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking massive amounts of classified U.S. government data to Wikileaks.
Manning, 25, faces 22 counts, including a charge of aiding the enemy, which could get him a sentence of life in prison.
According to Al Jazeera, the Quatar-based global TV news network, Manning also faces nine charges dealing with his use of military computers, including circumventing security mechanisms and improper storage of classified information.
This is the most important current trial on the docket in the courts in America, and the U.S. media, in particular The New York Times (America’s “paper of record”), seems to be asleep at the switch. The NYT has had only one story in the past seven days, a search of its database reveals. The coverage has been abysmal.
VIDEO LINK BELOW THE FOLD
Protesters have rallied everywhere to support Pfc. Bradley Manning, who could face a life term if convicted of all 22 charges he is facing.
The most comprehensive, consistent and insightful reporting on the case has come from Al Jazeera.
It’s recent analysis, Bradley Manning trial: What is at stake? aired on June 4.
“The trial is expected to last three months,” reported Rosalyn Jordan from Washington.
Part of a series titled Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, the program is introduced with this text:
“In an hour-long opening statement at Manning’s court martial hearing, Captain Joe Morrow, the lawyer for the US government has accused Private Manning of leaking secrets into the “lap of the enemy” claiming Manning had been motivated by a desire to gain ‘notoriety’ that had led him to disregard his training in order to ‘aid our adversaries’.”
Watch the video here
The June 4 show features the most famous whistleblower of all time, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, and Chase Madar, author of the most extensively researched book on the accused leaker, The Passion of Bradley Manning.
“[The] prosecution has invested so much in the aiding the enemy charge they are not going to let it go,” Madar says.
In his segment, Ellseberg, an ardent Manning supporter, points out the exceptional ferocity with which the administration of President Barack Obama is prosecuting government whistleblowers.
“This is one of six trials that President Obama is carrying on to intimidate any whistleblowing …using the so-called Espionage Act as it was never intended,” Ellsberg says, “…to punish or prosecute people for giving information to the American public….rather than for espionage … giving information secretly to a foreign power.”
He points out that he was the first to be prosecuted that way, and there were only two after him under other presidents.
“President Obama has prosecuted six people now, including Bradley Manning for the offense of giving classified information to the American public,” Ellsberg says.
“So we have a campaign here by the Obama administration against leaking … I would say against journalism and the free press, the First Amendment.”
This in a nutshell is what it is all about.
One would think that the American press, under assault, would be paying more attention.
Ellsberg wraps it up by saying: “I am ashamed to say as an American and former military officer, that if [Manning] had committed atrocities as opposed to exposing them, he would by all odds be a free man today.”
Manning’s Defense Attorney David Coombs.
In a previous show focusing on Maydar and his book The passion of Bradley Manning which aired April 25, Al Jazeera examined the issues at stake in great depth.
Quoting extensively from segments of the chat-logs ascribed to Manning – which, in the words of Madar, reveal the young man’s “intent is conscious, coherent, historically informed and above all it is political” – the show concludes:
“In the chatlogs, Manning offers a variety of straightforward justifications for leaking government material: “[I] want people to see the truth… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
As Madar documents, however, “the possibility that a rational human being has made a decision in accordance with his own rational principles is categorically dismissed by media pundits who prefer to expound ad infinitum on the sexual, emotional, psychiatric and pharmacological reasons for Manning’s behaviour.”
This is nothing less than an indictment of the American press. It seems to be focusing on the trivial, the titillating, the tell-all aspects of the case, not its vital core.
This case represents an assault on the free press in America. The media can and should do a better job of informing the public.
FEEDBACK: Contact site admin directly (post a comment below)