THE FIFTH ESTATE: A FILM DRAMATIZING THE WIKILEAKS SAGA AND JULIAN ASSANGE. A CRITICAL POINT OF VIEW OR A SMEAR? RATED C.

THE FIFTH ESTATE POSTER

This film starring Benedict Cumberbatch and directed by Bill Condon (Gods And Monsters, Kinsey) is a comment on the impact of the internet on traditional means of communication. It also paces itself as if to emulate the speed of communication in the internet age by narrative and jump cutting to reflect the  fast changing set of circumstances and relationships. It is shot in desaturated color giving it a nourish look. The film is based on two books critical of Assange by David Leigh of the Guardian and Daniel Domscheit-Berg,   Assanges one time second in command. The  fast moving film is shot in a semi-docudrama style with excellent performances by Cuberbatch (Assange), Daniel Bruhl (Domscheit-Berg), Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney (U.S. Diplomats), Alexander Siddig (Libyan informant) and others. The main conflict in the film is between Assange and Berg over what is Wikileaks moral responsibility to persons who may be killed or severely damaged as a result of the release of unredacted leaks without an assessment of the truth or falsity of the leak or the leakers motive.

The film labels Assange a megalomaniac who is indifferent to the consequences to innocent parties of the information distributed by his website.   It shows two informants assassinated in Africa over matters they leaked. Then it gets to the main crux of the film: the massive data release by the then Bradley Manning. It is in parts redacted and published in the Guardian, N.Y. Times, Der Spiegel and other newspapers as well as on the Wikileaks website which posts some parts unredacted.  Notably the candid diplomatic cables.

Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney play two American diplomatic officers who expereince the consequences of the cables  to themselves, American diplomacy and its undercover agents around the world whose lives are put in jeopardy. (To date no loss of life has been identified and the two African informants who are assassinated in the film appear to be fictional.)

One of Assange’s alleged core principles is not to edit the anonymous leaks received and to put them out there regardless of the consequences. Another is, truth is more important than the lives of those involved. He believes once you start to edit the leaks you become a censor and then  where will it stop. (Which raises the question is Wikileaks just a facilitator or a journalistic publisher with Constitutional rights. It is never raised properly or answered by the film.)

The narrative of the film loses its way when it says Assange was taken as a child into an Australian cult with severe disciplinary rules for children and the requirement that their hair be dyed white. It alleges he escaped with his mother and spent much of his childhood and youth running from the cult known as the Family. This, it is inferred, is the cause of his allegedly flawed persona.  Anyway whether the allegations are true or not it is a cheap character assasination and detracts from the main thrust of the film; that Assange is an idealistic ego maniac indifferent to the consequences of  Wikileaks posts. The other side of the coin is whether his acts are those of an idealist trying to expose criminal conduct by governments and large business entities. The film fatally dismisses the latter possibility with the personal attack. Apparently Assange believes untrue leaks will fail by themselves  if the film states the first two principles correctly.

Allegedly without the Manning leak, including the infamous Bagdad Apache helicopter attack, and the subsequent, simultaneous publication and validation by the Guardian and other main stream newspapers Wikileaks would be two relatively unknown guys with a server according to the film never rising to a serious problem for the great powers. This is hard to swallow since the helicopter attack was released with out the aid of the Guardian or others and achieved international notoriety very quickly

The Guardian journalists, one of whom is Leigh (who is  publishing a new book simultaneously with the film) tell Assange, after the publication of the Manning data,  intelligence agencies around the world will smear his reputation. The film doesn’t touch on the Swedish problem and ends with  Domscheit-Berg leaving Wiklileaks and disabling the reception platform for the anonymous leaks. All this leaves us with the impression that Assange is a lonely man imprisoned in the London Ecuadorian Embassy.  It is silent on Assange’s role  in the Snowden affair or the fact that apparently his support group was instrumental in securing Snowden’s asylum in Russia. It is also silent on the significance of the fact that Snowden went first to the Guardian for publication of his leak.

The film leaves one wondering if it is another smear against Assange and who benefits by it. It doesn’t appear to be a search for truth.

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BRADLEY MANNING SENTENCED TO 35 YEARS. WHAT ABOUT THE ARMY, NSA, CIA or FBI?

BRADLEY MANNING SENTENCED BUT ARMY WALKS.

 

Chelsea Manning A/K/A Breanna on Facebook

Bradley Manning, 25, who provided Wiki Leaks with more than  700,000 files, will be eligible for parole in about seven years. N. Y. Times.

 

Bradley Manning,  who now wishes to be known as Chelsea Manning  and desires hormone therapy and possibly sex change surgery while in jail, was sentenced on August 21, 2013. One wonders how he was accepted in Army Intelligence in the first place and given a secret clearance. No one else seems to have accepted him in life. He was not welcome in his fathers house and uncomfortable in his mothers house and apparently couldn’t hold a job.His boyfriend broke up with him.  He was not well received in his unit in Iraq possibly because he was effeminate small had a caustic personality and subject to outbursts of emotion.

 

About the only organization other than the Army that had a use for him was Wiki Leaks. There is some speculation as to whether he got direction as to what to download out the millions of documents available and how to get the files out of his camp with out detection. Allegedly he smuggled the data on a memory card in a camera. Then he transferred it to Wiki Leaks. Just how is unclear. One would have thought that such a massive transfer of data to an organization like Wiki Leaks located in foreign countries (England and Iceland) would have been detected and flagged by the venerable NSA program called  Prism or at least some one with authority would have noticed that all this data was downloaded and being sent from a war zone if that was where Manning made the transfer. Twelve to fifteen pages of communications between Manning and someone the Army believes to be Julian Assange were introduced at his trial.

 

Where was the Army counter intelligence when all this was happening?  Who was responsible for counter intelligence in his unit where he was turning over tables in fits of anger and complaining that he wanted to be a woman. He told Army counselors and psychologists that he was very unhappy and thought of himself as a female.  The persons who were charged from the unit level all the way up to the NSA other intelligence agencies were again asleep at the switch again.

 

The information available before 9/11 might have prevented the attack if it was shared by the government agencies charged with protecting the United States but it wasn’t. This brought about the policy that provided for a general exchange of classified material between government departments. This is how  an emotionally disturbed confused and naive person  like Manning came to have access.

 

Now that the Army has sentenced Bradley Manning it and the other agencies charged with the responsibility of preventing leaks like this  should look at themselves and their  procedures to insure the safety of classified documents. The Army and other government agencies usually discipline the supervisors of malefactors. In the Abu Ghraib matter it was handled  by relieving the general in charge of her command and  reducing her  to colonel. While this is a stern punishment it is not 35 years. The careers of the people in charge of Manning and security in general will be effected.

 

Suppose Manning had been someone like Major Nidal Hasan the psychologist Jihadist responsible for the Fort Hood massacre where would the documents have gone and would they have been ever detected as copied and transferred? One wonders if this has not already happened to other materials.

 

Seven Hundred Thousand files downloaded and then transferred to Wiki Leaks and no one knows about it until after the fact? 

POST SCRIPT; Manning by playing the transgender card may be eligible for parole in 6.5 years or clemency now. Also the Army may not have the facilities to accommodate people with transgender issues or may not want to deal with it and the publicity it will bring. See this Article in Slate.

Why Chelsea Manning May Get Out of Jail Much Sooner Than You Think http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2013/08/bradley_manning_sentenced_to_35_years_the_private_s_prosecution_has_nothing.html?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=sm&utm_campaign=button_chunky … via @slate

 

 

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EDWARD SNOWDEN AND BRADLEY MANNING: LEAKERS OR WHISTLEBLOWERS? IDEALISTS OR FANATICS? CRIMINALS OR SCAPEGOATS?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DO SNOWDEN AND MANNING BELONG IN THE SAME CATEGORY? SNOWDEN HAD A THOUGHTFUL PLAN OF LEAKING DOCUMENTS TO  INFORM THE PUBLIC.  MANNING’S ACTS APPEAR TO BE AN EMOTIONAL REACTION TO THE CARNAGE AND CYNICISM  OF THE GOVERNMENT IN ITS COMBAT REPORTS, VIDEOS AND DIPLOMATIC CABLES BECAUSE OF HIS CONFUSION AND IMMATURITY.

One has to wonder the impact of the video of the Apache Attack Helicopter attack and the death of the
http://youtu.be/25EWUUBjPMo   and the death of the men in a Bagdad street had on 22 year old Bradley Manning when he first saw the  gunship attack on unknown men dressed in mufti on a street via copies of the gunships video cameras which were in a classified file he had accessed.

The attack allegedly occurred when the crew of the helicopter was called in by ground troops because there was insurgent unrest in the area and troops had been fired on.  The crew thought the men were armed. It turned out it was Reuter’s newsmen with cameras with large lenses. Apparently another two of the eight or nine in the group allegedly were armed with an AK-47 and maybe an RPG launcher but they were not firing or holding the weapons in any confrontational manner.

The men were fired on and wounded or killed. A passerby in a van who stopped in a humanitarian attempt to help the wounded and dying was also attacked. There were two children ages 6 and 9 in this vehicle who were also injured. The attack helicopter circled around after the initial attack killing anyone who was wounded but appeared to be alive.  Usually the Geneva Conventions does not condone the killing of unarmed wounded men.

Bradley who was 5’2, 105 lbs and homosexual with gender identity problems was accepted into the Army’s 101st Mountain Division in 208 in 2008 and after training  deployed to Iraq as an intelligence specialist.

There he had access to the Apache Attack Helicopter videos, combat reports and diplomatic cables.  Approximately  700,000 items in all were copied by him. He managed to download this material on to a thumb drive and later to smuggle the material on a camera digital card out of his camp. At some point in late 2010 he gave the materials unredacted to Julian Assange of Wiki Leaks. Exactly where, when or how this transfer was made is unknown and the rest is history.

Now he has been tried and awaits sentencing. He previously pled guilty to 10 of the lesser charges against him in exchange of a sentence of 16 years. He was acquitted of the charge of aiding the enemy which could have carried a life sentence without parole. However the Judge who presided over the trial, Col. Denise Lind, found Manning guilty of 17 of the 22 charges in their entirety which included five counts of espionage and theft. His sentencing hearing is in progress

Edward Snowden, born June 21, 1983, was enraged enough to act when as  a computer infrastructure analyst expert for the NSA, CIA and later as an independent contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton a giant government contractor he determined that the NSA was not only collecting telephone call  meta data (time, numbers locations etc.) inside and outside  the United States but also capturing and storing the substance of the calls as well as all computer online activity including e-mails , web browsing and other activities.

Both men felt compelled to download and leak the data. Manning, to Wiki Leaks who shared it with the Guardian, N.Y. Times and the Washington Post in the United States and the equivalent foreign newspapers in Germany and Spain.

Snowden leaked to the Guardian which is slowly releasing the information he gave them on government spying activities.

Both men believed the government was engaged in illegal activities and concealing them from the public.

They saw themselves as whistleblowers although they did not avail themselves of The Whistleblower Statute and its procedures, perhaps because others had done so ineffectually and to their detriment.

Both men come from middleclass families whose fathers were careerists in the military. Manning’s father was an enlisted man in intelligence in the Navy and Snowden’s father was a career Coast Guard officer.

Both were computer literate neither was well educated formally.

Neither man acted for mercenary reasons but with great sacrifice to themselves. Manning probably will be subject to a long prison term. Snowden is in self exile in Russia right now.  A place without a clear definition or protection  of privacy rights.

Interestingly enough while the Justice Department and the Army has doggedly pursued these men on criminal violations no criminal charges has been brought against the actors on the government side.

For Example on March 12, 2013 before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence James Clapper, Director Of National Intelligence, said this about surveillance while under oath testifying to the Senate:

(Senator) Wyden asked Director Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Response: “No, sir.”

Wyden asked “It does not.” and Clapper said “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”

Another is the Apache helicopter incident when the wounded, unarmed man is machine-gunned to death while trying to crawl to safety, probably a war crime.

There seems to be a double standard in operation here. Leakers are punished severely probably as a warning to others while on the government side wrong doing even to the extent of killing a wounded unarmed man or a massive invasion of the public’s Fourth Amendment rights is overlooked or excused away as fog of war occurrences or necessary for protection against terrorism.

SNOWDEN POST SCRIPT

Today, August 8, 2013, on  the Washington Post’s Wonkblog  in a post by Ezra Klein, Edward Snowden was called a “patriot” in small case because of the measures President Obama said he was taking in regard to safeguarding American’s privacy which were a direct response to Snowden’s disclosures.

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