Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hear Brad Manning

Brad Manning - the poster boy to blame for everything that's gone 'wrong' in America's little effort to recreate Iraq and the rest of the world, is getting his day in court after almost two years in military prisons. And things are taking a decidedly nasty turn for the powers that be, or at least the powers that were. For despite the 'image' of Manning as so far presented - a homosexual, loser, runt with mental issues and a hatred for everything America stands for, he's turning out to be surprisingly lucid, intelligent and more than reasonable.

One wondered when almost immediately he pled 'guilty' to the greater number of charges against him, illegally sharing classified information he was not authorized to divulge. He remains on trial on the charges to which he pled not guilty, ie the charges of treason, and aiding the enemy in time of war.

Along with that guilty plea, Manning has been able to offer the court an account of what he says he did, and why he did it. In that story is the proof of his pudding. And now someone has leaked the audio of his statement to the court. Unless the government can rebut this, or prove otherwise, Brad Manning might go free at last.

The audio record is available here.

What strikes one immediately is Manning's native intelligence and, apparently, his moral fortitude, he just doesn't sound like somebody who thinks, after two years of 'special handling' by the Marines, that he's done something wrong.

First of all, relating to how and why he came to have access to America's most secret information, it seems that his aptitudes and testing on intake to the military were of such a high order that his other obvious 'deficiencies' were  downplayed. He is not constitutionally fitted to America's standard 'vision' of  the 'warrior class'. Basic training - at least the physical part- was a challenging and notably protracted experience. He passed basic in twice the length of time prescribed - ie he should have 'washed out'. For some reason his superiors saw military value in him that allowed them to make a pass of a short, weak, deficient soldier. He pleads guilty to being a somewhat 'weak sister' sort of guy.

Having passed basic he was assigned to military intelligence where he soon learned his 'craft' - gleaning intelligence reports and synopsizing the same for upward transmission, sifting and combining pertinent reports to make note of trends or patterns that could be used for military purposes. He seems to have been good at his job and technically proficient in managing large data systems. His 'problems' started when he insisted on thinking about what he was reading. He claims to have become affected by a "helping" operation was  becoming a self-defeating one. That Iraqis were unappreciative of American sacrifice, but that America's counterinsurgency tactics were geared to do anything but 'win them over'. What he was reading in situation reports was glaringly at odds with the 'official narrative' put out for the information of American forces, and the American people.

He claims that he did what he could to undo what he considered to be incompetent work by military intelligence and was stopped by military bureaucracy and  hierarchy. He claims that personal problems at a time of furlough led to reflection turning into a perceived need to act. He had 'backed-up' his data in a way that would be accessible to him and he had that in his possession, not for nefarious reasons but only to preserve the continuity and integrity of his work. He sought advice from friends and what he thought to be  trustworthy others - including the man who would later turn him in, who was, then, claiming to be an "journalist" and "pastor".

The notion of sharing what he knew with the US media took form in his mind. He approached some media and was rebuffed. No media sources proved to be as interested in what he knew as he hoped they would be.  Eventually, however, he got somebody, who could appreciate its news value, to look at what he had  ... that was the Wikileaks organization. After that the media started to take notice.

Manning was careful to note that the information he transmitted was, according to its official coding, material that was widely-distributable within military and government circles.  He did not transmit any information that was classified or highly restricted.  He explained those 'official' codes to the court.

In short Bradley Manning is proving to be the Daniel Ellsberg of his time, leaking official documents that are at odds with what is being released as truth, or being done in reverse to what is being said. This is, simply, the 'Pentagon Papers' all over again, only this time from the State Department.

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