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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    […] These agencies may not always divulge the true nature and scope of their activities. Witness National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s misleading testimony before Congress on the nature of data […]

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