Tag Archives: Afghanistan War

Manning conviction under Espionage Act worries civil liberties campaigners

By Ed Pilkington, July 31, 2013. Source: The Guardian

Bradley Manning faces a maximum 60-year prison sentence. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

Bradley Manning faces a maximum 60-year prison sentence. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

Bradley Manning began his first day as a convict on Wednesday, after he was found guilty of 20 counts relating to the transmission of state secrets to WikiLeaks. Outside the courtroom, the consequences of what amounts to a major escalation in the US government’s war on whistleblowers are beginning to sink in.

Tuesday’s verdict was the first time under the Obama administration that any leaker of official secrets has been convicted under the 1917 Espionage Act – a criminal statute designed to ensnare actual spies and traitors working with foreign governments. The only other time in US history that an official has been found guilty at trial under the Act for passing classified information to the press involved a naval intelligence expert, Samuel Morison, in 1985.

Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, a former Department of Justice whistleblower herself, said the consequences of Manning being found guilty of six counts under the Espionage Act should not be underestimated. She compared it to the failed attempt by the US government to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg, source of the 1970s Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam war. “This is Obama’s first conviction against a non-spy under the act,” she said. “He has now managed to do what Nixon couldn’t.”
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Filed under Independent Media, Media, Political Repression, War

The cost of war includes at least 253,330 brain injuries and 1,700 amputations

By Spencer Ackerman, February 8, 2013.  Source: Wired

Neuroimaging techniques like this Siemens software display are used by Army doctors to examine and diagnose traumatic brain injuries. Photo: Siemens, via U.S. Army

Neuroimaging techniques like this Siemens software display are used by Army doctors to examine and diagnose traumatic brain injuries. Photo: Siemens, via U.S. Army

Here are indications of the lingering costs of 11 years of warfare. Nearly 130,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and vastly more have experienced brain injuries. Over 1,700 have undergone life-changing limb amputations. Over 50,000 have been wounded in action. As of Wednesday, 6,656 U.S. troops and Defense Department civilians have died.

That updated data (.pdf) comes from a new Congressional Research Service report into military casualty statistics that can sometimes be difficult to find — and even more difficult for American society to fully appreciate. It almost certainly understates the extent of the costs of war.

Start with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Counting since 2001 across the U.S. military services, 129,731 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with the disorder since 2001. The vast majority of those, nearly 104,000, have come from deployed personnel.

But that’s the tip of the PTSD iceberg, since not all — and perhaps not even most — PTSD cases are diagnosed. The former vice chief of staff of the Army, retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli, has proposed dropping the “D” from PTSD so as not to stigmatize those who suffer from it — and, perhaps, encourage more veterans to seek diagnosis and treatment for it. (Not all veterans advocates agreewith Chiarelli.)
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Filed under 9-11, Politics, Vietnam War, War

Michael Moore and Oliver Stone on Wikileaks and Free Speech

By Michael Moore and Oliver Stone, August 20, 2012.  Source: Other News and The New York Times

We have spent our careers as filmmakers making the case that the news media in the United States often fail to inform Americans about the uglier actions of our own government. We therefore have been deeply grateful for the accomplishments of WikiLeaks, and applaud Ecuador’s decision to grant diplomatic asylum to its founder, Julian Assange, who is now living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Ecuador has acted in accordance with important principles of international human rights. Indeed, nothing could demonstrate the appropriateness of Ecuador’s action more than the British government’s threat to violate a sacrosanct principle of diplomatic relations and invade the embassy to arrest Mr. Assange.

Since WikiLeaks’ founding, it has revealed the “Collateral Murder” footage that shows the seemingly indiscriminate killing of Baghdad civilians by a United States Apache attack helicopter; further fine-grained detail about the true face of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; United States collusion with Yemen’s dictatorship to conceal our responsibility for bombing strikes there; the Obama administration’s pressure on other nations not to prosecute Bush-era officials for torture; and much more.

Predictably, the response from those who would prefer that Americans remain in the dark has been ferocious. Top elected leaders from both parties have called Mr. Assange a “high-tech terrorist.” And Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has demanded that he be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Most Americans, Britons and Swedes are unaware that Sweden has not formally charged Mr. Assange with any crime. Rather, it has issued a warrant for his arrest to question him about allegations of sexual assault in 2010.
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