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Posts tagged ‘Bradley Manning’

Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama.


Image: Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama

By Melissa Clyne

Freedom of the press in the United States has plunged during the Obama administration, according to the 2014 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

“The U.S. under President Obama, who once promised to run the ‘most transparent’ administration in the country’s history, fell from 32nd to 46th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, a drop of 13 slots,” The Washington Times reports.

The report reviews the state of media freedoms in 180 countries. Major declines occurred in the United States, the Central African Republic, and Guatemala, while marked improvements took place in Ecuador, Bolivia, and South Africa, according to the index compiled by the press advocacy group.

Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway continue to lead the index for press freedoms and government openness, while Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea “continue to be the biggest information black holes, again occupying the last three positions.” Syria also ranked near the bottom.

The rating was based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure, according to Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.

“It makes governments face their responsibilities by providing civil society with an objective measure, and provides international bodies with a good governance indicator to guide their decisions,” Deloire said in a statement.

The report cited the handling of three events as major contributors to the declining rating for reporter freedoms the United States, according to The Washington Times.

• Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of top secret information related to U.S. spying programs;

• Army Pvt. Bradley Manning’s leak of classified documents to WikiLeaks;

• The Justice Department’s handling of a probe of The Associated Press and other media organizations suspected of receiving leaked data.

Freedom of the press is increasingly under siege as governments around the globe are targeting journalists — to get to their sources and those people who leak sensitive information, according to the report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Ron Paul: Assange ‘Fighting for the Cause of Liberty’.


Former Rep. Ron Paul on Thursday thanked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for “fighting to increase transparency in our government” and fighting “for the cause of liberty.”

Paul’s praise came during the third and final installment of an interview with Assange on the Ron Paul Channel — www.ronpaulchannel.com— the subscription-based Internet channel launched last month by the Texas Republican.

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Paul concluded the interview with Assange – confined in the Ecuadorean embassy in London — by directing viewers to the WikiLeaks site where they could donate to Assange’s cause.

The day after Assange told Paul in the second part of the interview that the United States was taking advantage of the humanitarian crisis in Syria to justify a military strike, Paul took a more personal approach in the final installment, asking about Assange’s personal philosophy.

The Australian described his political philosophy as a blend of “California libertarianism,” Greek political theory, along with thoughts from the Federalist Paper and some naturalist views.

“I freely admit to borrowing from parts of my political education from different schools of thought and one of those is, roughly speaking, Californian libertarianism and from your Federalist Papers,” Assange said.

His political and philosophical diversity is reflected in the political party he founded this year and on whose platform he is campaigning in this weekend’s Australian elections.

The WikiLeaks party “is already the fourth most popular party in Australia and we have a wide variety of people from what are classically known as the right and the left within the party. There are tensions about that and I have to try and resolve those tensions and explain the commonality,” Assange said.

Born in Australia to a mother who was the daughter of academics and a father who was the son of engineers, Assange says political philosophy was not something which his parents imposed on him.

“My mother was the daughter of academics. My grandfather left school at age 14 and worked his way up through the Christian education system and to become a very young military intelligence officer in World War II, but my mother was very careful not to bias me,” he told Paul. He acknowledged that his family environment was influential, including the divorce of his parents when he was 9.

According to Assange, he developed his feelings about the world during a “burst of maturity in adolescence” and by exposing himself to a myriad of political philosophies.

Assange said he is hesitant to assign a concrete definition to his beliefs.

“I have been very careful not to define my political philosophy because those terms tend to trap you into one camp and then opponents of that particular camp try to use it against you,” he said.

As a consequence of the recent NSA disclosures by Edward Snowden and during the Bradley Manning trial, Assange said that a unique political phenomenon is developing.

Assange sees an “extreme center” emerging in the establishment from both sides of the political spectrum that is comprised of people “more concerned about self-promotion, political networking, and creating political dynasties, doing favors for mates” than the issues.

“They are just working the system,” Assange said. “They don’t really have any ideas they believe in. The extreme center, which is pushing forward aggressively in a particular direction to promote itself, has led to others feeling like that is not what they want to be involved in. There is now a magnetic force between those on the right and those on the left,” Assange said.

What unites the two sides is the sense of injustice, he said, adding that the libertarian right views injustice in terms of a lack of freedom.

“Your liberty can’t be deprived from you unless someone else has more power, so there is a commonality between these two sides,” Assange said.

The WikiLeaks Party was registered in 2013 and is running in three of the five states in Australia. Their political chances in Saturday’s election are difficult to quantify due to the complicated nature of Australia’s electoral system, but Assange believes the party will garner between 2 percent and 6 percent of the vote. Australians will have 1,717 candidates and more than 50 parties to choose from when they vote on Saturday.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Jennifer G. Hickey

WikiLeaks Soldier Manning Seeks Presidential Pardon.


Image: WikiLeaks Soldier Manning Seeks Presidential Pardon

The U.S. soldier convicted of providing secret files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified materials in the nation’s history has asked for a presidential pardon, supporters said on Wednesday.The request for Chelsea, formerly known as Bradley, Manning, was filed by attorney David Coombs on Tuesday, according to a statement on the Pardon Private Manning website.

“I urge you to consider this matter closely and to take a positive step towards protecting whistleblowers who release information to the media for the public good by either reducing Private Manning’s sentence to time served, or by granting him a full pardon,” Coombs said in a letter to President Barack Obama via the Justice Department and to Army Secretary John McHugh carried on the website.

The application includes a supporting letter from Amnesty International.

Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said there was very little chance the Obama administration would grant a pardon, especially with its “full-bore approach” to prosecuting Manning.

“It would make them look quite schizoid if at this point a pardon was granted,” she said.

A court-martial convicted Manning, 25, in July of 20 charges, including espionage and theft, for providing more than 700,000 classified files, videos and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, a pro-transparency website.

GENDER DYSPHORIA

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Aug. 21. Although the soldier was found not guilty of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, the sentence was the longest ever handed down for turning over secrets to the media.

The day after sentencing, the soldier issued a statement that said Bradley Manning was a female who wanted to live as a woman named Chelsea.

A psychiatrist at Manning’s sentencing testified to having diagnosed the soldier as having gender dysphoria, or wanting to be the opposite sex. Manning’s statement said the soldier wanted to undergo female hormone treatment.

The White House has said that a pardon request from Manning would be considered “like any other application.”

Obama has issued far fewer pardons than the two previous presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, according to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney.

Obama has received 1,496 petitions for pardons and granted 2.6 percent of them. Bush granted 7.5 percent of 2,498 pardon petitions, and Clinton approved almost one in five of the 2,001 requests he received.

Although Manning had asked to be referred to by female pronouns, the soldier signed the pardon request “Bradley Manning” and Coombs’ letter referred to Manning as “Bradley” and used male pronouns.

Coombs said in a blog post last week that “Bradley Manning” and male pronouns would still be used in some cases. They include references to the trial, legal documents, communication with the government, the petition to the White House and the soldier’s mail. (Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and Andrew Hay)

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Assange Files Charges Claiming US Spied on Him in Germany.


Image: Assange Files Charges Claiming US Spied on Him in Germany

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has filed charges in Germany claiming a US Marines intelligence officer spied on him during a Berlin computer conference four years ago, media reports said Wednesday.

Assange said the spying at the Chaos Computer Club’s 2009 annual congress was made public when the ex-Marine gave witness testimony in June this year in the military trial of WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, who was later sentenced to 35 years’ jail.

The then Stuttgart-based Marine, identified in reports only as Matthew H., allegedly targeted Assange, who was speaking about the WikiLeaks platform, its German co-founder Daniel Domscheid-Berg and the French Internet activist Jeremie Zimmermann.

Assange argued that such intelligence activity is illegal in Germany, NDR public broadcaster and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily reported, citing his complaint to the federal prosecutor’s office in the city of Karlsruhe.

The office was not immediately available for comment.

The media reports also said Assange had offered to testify by video link from Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has been holed up since June 2012 to avoid deportation to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault charges.

The Australian anti-secrecy activist denies the charges and says he fears being extradited to the United States, which wants to try him for publishing online hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables and secret military communications from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

© AFP 2013

Source: NEWSmax.com

Snowden Suspected of Covering Electronic Tracks.


The U.S. government’s efforts to determine which highly classified materials leaker Edward Snowden took from the National Security Agency have been frustrated by Snowden’s sophisticated efforts to cover his digital trail by deleting or bypassing electronic logs, government officials told The Associated Press. Such logs would have showed what information Snowden viewed or downloaded.

The government’s forensic investigation is wrestling with Snowden’s apparent ability to defeat safeguards established to monitor and deter people looking at information without proper permission, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the sensitive developments publicly.

The disclosure undermines the Obama administration’s assurances to Congress and the public that the NSA surveillance programs can’t be abused because its spying systems are so aggressively monitored and audited for oversight purposes: If Snowden could defeat the NSA’s own tripwires and internal burglar alarms, how many other employees or contractors could do the same?

In July, nearly two months after Snowden’s earliest disclosures, NSA Director Keith Alexander declined to say whether he had a good idea of what Snowden had downloaded or how many NSA files Snowden had taken with him, noting an ongoing criminal investigation.

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines told the AP that Alexander “had a sense of what documents and information had been taken,” but “he did not say the comprehensive investigation had been completed.” Vines would not say whether Snowden had found a way to view and download the documents he took, without the NSA knowing.

In defending the NSA surveillance programs that Snowden revealed, Deputy Attorney General James Cole told Congress last month that the administration effectively monitors the activities of employees using them.

“This program goes under careful audit,” Cole said. “Everything that is done under it is documented and reviewed before the decision is made and reviewed again after these decisions are made to make sure that nobody has done the things that you’re concerned about happening.”

The disclosure of Snowden’s hacking prowess inside the NSA also could dramatically increase the perceived value of his knowledge to foreign governments, which would presumably be eager to learn any counter-detection techniques that could be exploited against U.S. government networks.

It also helps explain the recent seizure in Britain of digital files belonging to David Miranda — the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald — in an effort to help quantify Snowden’s leak of classified material to the Guardian newspaper. Authorities there stopped Miranda last weekend as he changed planes at Heathrow Airport while returning home to Brazil from Germany, where Miranda had met with Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker who has worked with Greenwald on the NSA story.

Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence contractor, was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii before leaking classified documents to the Guardian and The Washington Post. As a system administrator, Snowden had the ability to move around data and had access to thumb drives that would have allowed him to transfer information to computers outside the NSA’s secure system, Alexander has said.

In his job, Snowden purloined many files, including ones that detailed the U.S. government’s programs to collect the metadata of phone calls of U.S. citizens and copy Internet traffic as it enters and leaves the U.S., then routes it to the NSA for analysis.

Officials have said Snowden had access to many documents but didn’t know necessarily how the programs functioned. He dipped into compartmentalized files as systems administrator and took what he wanted. He managed to do so for months without getting caught. In May, he flew to Hong Kong and eventually made his way to Russia, where that government has granted him asylum.

NBC News reported Thursday that the NSA was “overwhelmed” in trying to figure what Snowden had stolen and didn’t know everything he had downloaded.

Insider threats have troubled the administration and Congress, particularly in the wake of Bradley Manning, a young soldier who decided to leak hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents in late 2009 and early 2010.

Congress had wanted to address the insider threat problem in the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act, but the White House asked for the language to be removed because of concerns about successfully meeting a deadline. In the 2013 version, Congress included language urging the creation of an automated, insider-threat detection program.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Army: No Gender Reassignment for Manning.


Image: Army: No Gender Reassignment for Manning

 

By Cathy Burke

 

The Army said Thursday it won’t provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for Pvt. Bradley E. Manning, who, a day after his sentencing for a massive leak of classified information to WikiLeaks, announced he’d serve out his 35-year-term as a woman.

Army spokesman George Wright told the Washington Times Manning will, however, have access to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.

“The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender-identity disorder,” he said.

Manning, who identified as gay when he joined the military prior to the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, was convicted late last month of leaking 700,000 classified documents from the U.S. military and State Department to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks.

His sentence Wednesday came more than three years after the 25-year-old Army private was arrested in May 2010 while serving in Iraq. On Thursday morning, Manning released a statement to NBC’s “Today” saying he wanted to lead the rest of his life as a woman.

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” he wrote. “Given the way I feel and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.

“I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun,” he said. “I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.”

But Wright said Manning will serve his sentence as a man.

The soldier’s lawyer, David Coombs, said if the Army won’t accommodate Manning’s desire to be a woman, he’ll “do everything in my power to force them to,” the Times reported.

A Fort Leavenworth spokeswoman told Courthouse News earlier this week transgender inmates get nothing in prison “beyond psychiatric care.” The prison keeps no demographics on their number of transgender inmates.

“All inmates are considered soldiers and are treated as such with access to mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers and behavioral science noncommissioned officers with experience in addressing the needs of military personnel in pre- and post-trial confinement,” Lewis told the news service in an email.

“The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder.”

Courthouse News noted, however, a number of federal judges have ruled that rejecting such treatment for transgender prisoners constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, citing a decision in Maryland in January that guaranteed the possibility of sex-reassignment surgery for all federal inmates in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North and South Carolina.

A Chicago court in 2011 ruled similarly, Courthouse News reported, striking down a Wisconsin law banning such medical care.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Daniel Ellsberg: US on Verge of Becoming Police State Under Obama.


Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, says the United States is on the verge of becoming a police state as evidenced by the National Security Agency’s data collection programs and the treatment of secret document leakers Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning.

“We have not only the capability of a police state, but certain beginnings of it right now,” Ellsberg told The Huffington Post Wednesday. “And I absolutely agree with Edward Snowden. It’s worth a person’s life, prospect of assassination, or life in prison or life in exile — it’s worth that to try to restore our liberties and make this a democratic country.”

He cited the NSA’s phone- and Internet data collection programs as evidence that the nation has reached the “capability” of becoming a police state.

“When people understand that their every conversation of every kind on phones, email, chat logs whatever, is being recorded and can be retrieved, that will certainly curtail people’s freedom of speech over any digital means,” Ellsberg continued in an interview carried on HuffPost Live.

“It gives the government blackmail capability over the population at large . . . With the digital stuff alone, we have a surveillance capability that outmatches any police state in the history of humanity.”

Ellsberg can claim many similarities to Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked information on government phone and Internet data collection programs, and Manning, who provided government files to WikiLeaks.

In 1969, Ellsberg was working as a military analyst with the RAND Corp. when he copied thousands of Defense Department documents on Vietnam War decisions that would later become known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1971, he gave the files to The New York Times and other newspapers. President Richard Nixon tried to stop the Times from publishing them, but the newspaper continued after a court cleared the way, citing First Amendment rights.

Like Snowden and Manning, Ellsberg was charged under the Espionage Act for leaking the papers. But the 12 felony counts against were dismissed in 1973 on grounds of gross governmental misconduct in the case.

According to Slate.com, whistleblowers like Ellsberg are being punished more than ever under the Obama administration. While running as a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama said whistleblowers perform “acts of courage and patriotism.” But according to Slate, his administration has gone on to charge eight people under the Espionage Act, more than double all previous presidents combined.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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