America Declines Into Fascism, A Revolutionary Tidal Wave Rises From A Sea Of Revealed Lies, Deception, Corruption, Repression And Economic Collapse.
This Is No Time To Be On The Wrong Side Of History!
Fascism is a word tossed around much by those of us on the left side of politics. Dr. Lawrence Britt examined the fascist regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and several Latin American regimes. Through his examination Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each regime. Does America have any of the characteristics Britt discovered? I believe elements of each characteristic can be found in America now, and I will cite examples of each characteristic.
14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
Ever since 9/11 there has been a plethora of American flags. Drive down any given street in suburban America, or small towns for that matter, and you will see flags flying from houses. There are flags on mailboxes, cars, and t-shirts. The Bush administration considers someone patriotic if they fly the flag, but not if they ask questions and dissent.
As folk singer David Rovics asks in one of his songs, “Is there a flag upon your house, and a flag upon your car? Is there a ribbon upon your mailbox with stars and bars? Do you support the president in his war for oil? Do you think your sons belong there on someone else’s soil? How far is to here from Nuremburg?”
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
The U.S. will not be present when the U.N. General Assembly meets mid-May to elect new members to the Human Rights Council (HRC). The Bush administration says it will not be attending because the HRC lost its “credibility.” Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, “The United States does not have a shred of moral authority left; its only authority is the big stick…It is the United States that has lost its credibility, and that is why it would never be elected.” When the U.S. ran for a seat on the HRC in 2001 it ended up being kicked out. Clearly the world believes the U.S. violates the human rights of detainees.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
During the run-up to invading Iraq Saddam Hussein was linked to al-Qaida by President Bush and members of his administration. In President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address he claimed Iraq and al-Qaida “have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. In a letter to Congress a few months later, Bush asserted that using force against Iraq “and other countries… including those nations, organizations or person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”
President Bush and his administration also claimed Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). During a 2002 speech in Cincinnati, Ohio Bush claimed that surveillance photos showed Saddam Hussein’s regime were rebuilding factories where it had once produced WMDs. Vice-President Dick Cheney appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” claiming Hussein was “out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons.”
4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
The US military budget for the year 2007 is 9.3 Billion, which is larger than the combined military budgets of the next fourteen largest spenders. It is eight times larger than China’s military budget. Meanwhile millions of Americans lack access to affordable healthcare. America is the only country in the ‘developed’ world that does not have a tax-payer funded healthcare system. Instead Americans pay for the military to invade and occupy sovereign nations.
5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion, and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
The Supreme Court banned an abortion method called “intact dilation and extraction” on April 18. Anti-reproductive rights critics refer to the procedure by the misnomer “partial-birth” abortion. It was used in only 0.17 percent of all U.S. abortions in 2000. “Not since Bush v. Gore has the Supreme Court made such a political decision, or one that so completely distorts and disregards the U.S. Constitution,” declared the National Organization for Women (NOW) President Kim Gandy.
President Bush recently warned Democratic leaders in Congress via letters not to attempt to weaken federal policies restricting abortion. When the Congress was controlled by Republicans federal funding of abortions was prohibited except to save the mother’s life, or cases of rape or incest. The religious fundamentalist James Dobson, founder and leader of Focus on the Family, declared with approval, “President Bush is not the first man to occupy the Oval Office who talked about valuing pre-born life, but no administration has backed up those words with as much consistent policy support as his has.”
6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
The main stream media is owned by a handful of corporations. Media critic Ben Bagdikian pointed out in his book The Media Monopoly in 1983 that only 50 corporations controlled the U.S. news media. With each new edition of the book the number shrinks. In 1992 less than two dozen corporations controlled the news media, and by 2000 only six. By 2004 the number shrunk to five.
Given the state of the MSM, it is not surprising that during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq the MSM kept repeating the lies of the Bush administration as if they were facts. For example:
• CBS Evening News, November 9, 2002: “But as U.N. weapons inspectors prepare to return to Iraq for the first time since Saddam kicked them out in 1998, the U.S. faces a delicate balancing act: transforming the international consensus for disarmament into a consensus for war.”
• The Washington Times, November 14, 2002: “Iraq kicked out U.N. inspectors four years ago.”
• Bob Woodward in the Washington Post, November 17, 2002: “The speech assailed the United Nations for not enforcing the weapons inspections in Iraq, specifically for the four years since they had kicked them out.”
7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer interviewed Condoleeza Rice on September 8, 2002. When he asked her about Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons capabilities, she replied, “We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon…And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought — maybe six months from a crude nuclear device…The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.
President Bush is a product of what I like to term “Bible-belting fundamentalism.” He invokes the name of God, co-opting Christian imagery and biblical text while ignoring the warnings against using violence which Jesus taught. For instance, during his 2002 address in Cincinnati he stated, “The time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end. Saddam Hussein must disarm himself — or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.” However, Bush failed to mention that the majority of the intelligence community did not believe Hussein possessed WMDs. Bush ended his Cincinnati speech with the words, “May God bless America.”
9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
Due to the state of campaign financing, and the huge cost it takes to run for a political office, corporate money plays a huge role in US congressional and presidential elections. The 2004 presidential and congressional elections cost billion. The 2000 presidential and congressional elections cost billion. The cost for television and radio ads, not to mention political consultants, is enormous. As a result, elected officials are in the proverbial back pockets of corporations.
General Electric (GE) is a good example. The CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt contributed to both Bush’s presidential campaigns, and gave donations to the Republican National Committee. In 2003 GE was awarded a ,600,007,101 no-bid contract in Iraq, and is ranked number seven in the list of 100 biggest defense contractors. During the 1990s the Pentagon created an investigations office for GE, which resulted in the company being indicted on 22 criminal counts.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
During the immigrant rights rally on May Day at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, the police tried to break up a peaceful demonstration. On the website la.indymedia.org an observer described what happened when the police began firing at the crowd and attacking them with batons. According to the article, police officers began to push a protestor, a crowd gathered around as a result, and “a protestor was shown the true force of a police baton in blunt force trauma to the head… LAPD was now fully mobilizing at this point getting riot gear ready and forming a defensive block. Bear in mind; this all started with LAPD attacking peaceful protestors.”
Members of the media were injured, including Fox TV Camerawoman Patti Ballaz, who sustained severe injuries after members of the LAPD struck her with batons. Ballaz filed a lawsuit against the LAPD. A Telemundo reporter was injured by the LAPD, as well a Los Angeles area television news reporter, four employees of a news station, a camerawoman, and a reporter for a radio station.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
A 46 page report compiled by over 60 scientists accused the Bush administration of censoring scientific reports for political purposes. The report accused the administration of “suppressing, distorting, or manipulating the work done by scientists at federal agencies.” The scientists claim the administration ordered “massive changes” about the findings on global warming in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2003 Report on the Environment. According to the report a fact sheet for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention was replaced with a warning on the failure rate of condoms.
An Inspector General report accused Julie MacDonald, deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, of altering scientific reports in order to limit the number of species classified as endangered, according to a March 29 Washington Post article bearing the title “Official Allegedly Tampered with Data.” The report found that MacDonald violated federal rules by sending internal agency documents to lobbyists, but did not accuse her of a crime.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
In 2002 the Congress authorized the Patriot Act. Under the Patriot Act law enforcement has an expanded ability to gain access to personal medical, financial, mental health, medical records. Law enforcement can conduct secret searches. The FBI can conduct criminal investigations on American citizens without probable cause if it is for “intelligence purposes.” Non-citizens can be arrested based on suspicion.
The Patriot Act was reauthorized in 2005. The best commentary on the Patriot Act occurred during an episode of the crime procedural Law & Order: Criminal Intent, when actor Christopher Noth’s character remarked, “I’ve read the Patriot Act in its original form: 1984.”
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
Private contractors are used more now than ever. According to a New York Times article the “most successful” contracts are given not to “those doing the best work” but to those who have the right connections within the Bush administration. The Bush administration has outsourced everything from the emergency preparation and evacuation of New Orleans to the maintenance of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and private contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Iraq alone there are 100,000 contractors, almost the number of U.S. forces, according to a military census.
14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
The 2000 presidential election came down to votes in Florida. Al Gore won the popular vote. The race in Florida was too close to call which triggered an automatic state-wide recount. Democrats wanted a hand count of votes in counties that used the “butterfly” ballot. The Bush campaign went to federal court to block the hand recounts. The court refused to block the recounts, but the Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, a Bush supporter, oversaw the certification process. State law required the election results to be certified within seven days, and Harris refused to extend the deadline, which would allow the manual recounts to be included.
The case ended up going before the Florida Supreme Court which granted a five-day extension. The Bush campaign asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in December. The recount process itself ended up being disputed as each county had a different way to evaluate the ballots. Republican protestors on November 22 pounded on the doors and windows of the building where Miami’s Dade county officials were counting the ballots. As a result the county canvassing board stopped the recount, although they denied the protests were responsible for their decision. Palm Beach County asked Harris to extend the deadline as they did not have enough time to recount all the ballots, but she refused, and that evening certified Bush the winner. The Supreme Court in December ruled recounts in Florida would stop.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights investigated allegations of voting fraud in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. The Commission found that approximately 54 percent of the 180,000 “spoiled ballots” in Florida were cast by African-Americans, who make up about 11 percent of Florida voters, and are largely registered as Democrats.
The New York Times has finally spoken!! Rupert Murdoch is a man on a mission: To turn this nation into a fascist state consistent with his political philosophy. He has his appointed propagandists in place, O’Reilly, Hannity and Beck, and he rewards them handsomely. It is time that we make him accountable for his actions.
New York Times editor Bill Keller said he thinks Rupert Murdoch has made American discourse more "cynical," "polarized" and "strident" because of Fox News.
Keller made his comments during an interview with veteran journalist Marvin Kalb at the National Press Club in Washington on Monday:
I think the effect of Fox News on American public life has been to create a level of cynicism about the news in general. It has contributed to the sense that they are all just out there with a political agenda, but Fox is just more overt about it. And I think that’s unhealthy. We have had a lot of talk since the Gabby Giffords attempted murder about civility in our national discourse, and I make no connection between the guy who shot those people in Tucson and the national discourse. But it is true that the national discourse is more polarized and strident than it has been in the past, and to some extent, I would lay that at the feet of Rupert Murdoch.
Al-Qaida is on the verge of producing radioactive weapons after sourcing nuclear material and recruiting rogue scientists to build “dirty” bombs, according to leaked diplomatic documents.
A leading atomic regulator has privately warned that the world stands on the brink of a “nuclear 9/11″.
Security briefings suggest that jihadi groups are also close to producing “workable and efficient” biological and chemical weapons that could kill thousands if unleashed in attacks on the West.
Thousands of classified American cables obtained by the WikiLeaks website and passed to The Daily Telegraph detail the international struggle to stop the spread of weapons-grade nuclear, chemical and biological material around the globe.
At a Nato meeting in January 2009, security chiefs briefed member states that al-Qaida was plotting a program of “dirty radioactive IEDs”, makeshift nuclear roadside bombs that could be used against British troops in Afghanistan.
As well as causing a large explosion, a “dirty bomb” attack would contaminate the area for many years.
The briefings also state that al-Qaida documents found in Afghanistan in 2007 revealed that “greater advances” had been made in bioterrorism than was previously realized. An Indian national security adviser told American security personnel in June 2008 that terrorists had made a “manifest attempt to get fissile material” and “have the technical competence to manufacture an explosive device beyond a mere dirty bomb”.
Alerts about the smuggling of nuclear material, sent to Washington from foreign U.S. embassies, document how criminal and terrorist gangs were trafficking large amounts of highly radioactive material across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
The alerts explain how customs guards at remote border crossings used radiation alarms to identify and seize cargoes of uranium and plutonium.
Freight trains were found to be carrying weapons-grade nuclear material across the Kazakhstan-Russia border, highly enriched uranium was transported across Uganda by bus, and a “small time hustler” in Lisbon offered to sell radioactive plates stolen from Chernobyl.
In one incident in September 2009, two employees at the Rossing Uranium Mine in Namibia smuggled almost half a ton of uranium concentrate powder – yellowcake – out of the compound in plastic bags.
“Acute safety and security concerns” were even raised in 2008 about the uranium and plutonium laboratory of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the nuclear safety watchdog.
Tomihiro Taniguchi, the deputy director general of the IAEA, has privately warned America that the world faces the threat of a “nuclear 9/11″ if stores of uranium and plutonium were not secured against terrorists.
But diplomats visiting the IAEA’s Austrian headquarters in April 2008 said that there was “no way to provide perimeter security” to its own laboratory because it has windows that leave it vulnerable to break-ins.
Senior British defence officials have raised “deep concerns” that a rogue scientist in the Pakistani nuclear program “could gradually smuggle enough material out to make a weapon”, according to a document detailing official talks in London in February 2009.
Agricultural stores of deadly biological pathogens in Pakistan are also vulnerable to “extremists” who could use supplies of anthrax, foot and mouth disease and avian flu to develop lethal biological weapons.
Anthrax and other biological agents including smallpox, and avian flu could be sprayed from a shop-bought aerosol can in a crowded area, leaked security briefings warn.
The security of the world’s only two declared smallpox stores in Atlanta, America, and Novosibirsk, Russia, has repeatedly been called into doubt by “a growing chorus of voices” at meetings of the World Health Assembly documented in the leaked cables.
The alarming disclosures come after Barack Obama, the U.S. president, last year declared nuclear terrorism “the single biggest threat” to international security with the potential to cause “extraordinary loss of life”.
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GregMitch: NYT editor Keller tells NPR: Yes, WikiLeaks did have a lot to do with revolt in Tunisia (and by extension, Egypt).
THE WIKILEAKS NEWS & VIEWS BLOG for Tuesday, Day 66 | The Nation –
THE WIKILEAKS NEWS & VIEWS BLOG for Tuesday, Day 66 | The Nation –
David EavesOver the weekend something profound happened. The Egyptian government, confronted with growing public unrest, attempted to disconnect itself. It shut down its cellular and telephone networks and unplugged from the Internet.
It was a startling recognition of this single most powerful force driving change in our world: connectivity. Our world is increasingly divided between the connected and the disconnected, between open and closed. This could be the dominant struggle of the 21st century and it forces us to face important questions about our principles and the world we want to live in.
Why does connectivity matter? Because it allows for free association and self-expression, both of which can allow powerful narratives to emerge in a society beyond the control of any elite.
In Egypt, the protests do not appear driven by some organized cabal. The Muslim Brotherhood — so long held up as the dangerous alternative to the regime — was caught flat-footed by the protests. The National Coalition for Change, headed by Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, seems to have emerged as the protesters’ leader, not their instigator.
Instead, Egypt may simply have reached a tipping point. Its citizens, having witnessed the events in Tunisia, came to realize they were no longer atomized and uncoordinated in the face of a police state. They could self-organize, connect with one another, share stories and videos, organize meetings and protests. In short, they could tell their own narratives to one another, outside the government’s control.
These stories can be powerful.
In Egypt, a video of an unknown protester being shot and carried away has generated a significant viewership. In Iran, the video of Neda Agha-Soltan dying from a gunshot wound transformed her into a symbol. In Tunisia, videos of protestors being shot also helped mobilize the public.
Indeed, as the family of Mohamed Bouazizi — the man who by setting himself on fire out of frustration with local authorities, triggering the Tunisian protests — noted to an Al Jazeera reporter, people are protesting with “a rock in one hand, a cellphone in the other.”
This is what makes movements like this so hard to fight. There is no opposition group to blame, no subversive leadership to decapitate, no central broadcast authority to shut down. The only way to stop the protests is to eliminate the participants’ capacity to self-organize. During the Green Revolution in Iran, that meant shutting down some key websites; in Egypt, it appears to mean shutting down all communication.
Of course, this state of affairs cannot continue indefinitely. Too much of the Egyptian economy depends on people being able to connect. The network that makes possible a modern economy also makes possible a popular uprising.
At some point Egypt will have to decide: disconnect forever like North Korea, or reconnect and confront the reality of the connected world.
For those of us who believe in freedom, individuality, self-expression and democracy, connectivity is among our most powerful tools because it makes possible alternative narratives.
From East Germany to the Philippines, Iran to Tunisia, connectivity has played a key role in helping people organize against governments that would deny them their rights. It’s a tool democracies have often used, from broadcasts like Radio Free Europe during the Cold War to the U.S. government’s request that Twitter not conduct a planned upgrade to its website that would have disrupted its service during the recent Iranian Green Revolution.
But if we believe in openness, we must accept its full consequences. Our own governments have a desire to disconnect us from one another when they deem the information to be too dangerous.
Today most U.S. government departments, and some Canadian ministries, still deny their employees access to WikiLeak documents, disconnecting them from information that is widely available to the general public.
More darkly, the government pressured companies such as Amazon and Paypal to not offer their services to WikiLeaks — much like the Iranian government tried to disrupt Twitter’s service and the Tunisian government attempted to hijack Facebook’s. Nor is connectivity a panacea. In Iran, the regime uses photos and videos from social networks and websites to track down protestors. Connectivity does not guarantee freedom; it is simply a necessary ingredient.
The events in Egypt are a testament to the opportunity of the times we live in. Connectivity is changing our world, making us more powerful individually and collectively. But ultimately, if we wish to champion freedom and openness abroad — to serve as the best possible example for countries like Egypt — we must be prepared to do so at home.
David Eaves is a Vancouver-based public policy entrepreneur and adviser on open government and open data. He blogs at eaves.ca
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that "dangerous" imbalances have emerged that threaten to derail global recovery and stoke tensions that may ultimately set off civil wars in deeply unequal countries.
Dominic Strauss-Kahn Believes The World Could See War Over High Unemployment
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard 8:22PM GMT 01 Feb 2011Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF's chief, said the economic rebound across the world is built on unstable foundations, with many rich nations still strapped in job slumps while the rising powers of China, India and Brazil already facing the threat of overheating. "It is not the recovery we wanted. It is a recovery beset by tensions and strain, which could even sow the seeds of the next crisis," he said.
"Global unemployment remains at record highs, with widening income inequality adding to social strains," he said, citing turmoil in North Africa as a prelude to what may happen as 400m youths join the workforce over the next decade. "We could see rising social and political instability within nations – even war," he said.
The IMF has published a paper entitled Inequality, Leverage and Crisis arguing that the extreme gap between rich and poor – with echoes of the US in the late 1920s – was an underlying cause of the Great Recession from 2008-2009.
The paper, by the Fund's modelling unit, warned of "disastrous consequences" for the world economy unless workers regain their "bargaining power" against rentiers. It suggests radical changes to the tax system and debt relief for workers.
Mr Strauss-Kahn said the toxic global imbalances that caused the financial crisis are re-emerging, naming China and Germany as the two arch-sinners that rely on export surpluses to power growth at the expense of the US and other deficit countries.
"The most important question is to deal with the recurrent problem of some countries' large external surpluses," he said, warning that failure to curb excesses will lead to global clashes and rising protectionism in trade and finance.
In a veiled warning to China and other countries holding down their currencies for commercial advantage, the IMF chief said "exchange-rate adjustment should not be resisted". Nor should capital controls be imposed to stop the inflow of funds.
The comments appear to align the IMF behind Washington in the simmering dispute over the declining dollar. China and Brazil have accused the US of covert currency warfare through quantitative easing, but the claim is slippery since the US has a huge structural trade deficit.
Mr Strauss-Kahn also hinted that parts of Asia are exceeding the safe speed limit for growth and needed to "tighten" further before inflation gets out of control. "There are risks of overheating, and even a hard landing," he said.
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Extracts from the Guardian book charting a unique collaboration with WikiLeaks trace the early life of imprisoned intelligence analyst, and how he came to have access to secret dispatches.
After the punishing heat of summer, Iraq in November is pleasantly warm. But for the men and women stationed in 2009 at Camp Hammer, in the middle of the Mada'in Qada desert, the air was forever thick with dust and dirt kicked up by convoys of lorries that supplied the capital – a constant reminder that they were very far from home.
One of those was Specialist Bradley Manning, who had been sent to Iraq with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division a few weeks earlier.
About to turn 22, he was the antithesis of the battle-hardened US soldier beloved of Hollywood. Blue-eyed, blond-haired, with a round face and boyish smile, he stood just 5ft 2in tall (1.57m) and weighed 105 pounds (48kg).
But he hadn't been sent to Iraq because of his bulk. He was there for his gift at manipulating computers. In the role of intelligence analyst Manning found himself spending long days in the base's computer room poring over top-secret information. For such a young and relatively inexperienced soldier, it was extremely sensitive work. Yet from his first day at Hammer he was puzzled by the lax security. The door was bolted with a five-digit cipher lock, but all you had to do was knock on it and you'd be let in.
His fellow intelligence workers seemed to have grown bored and disenchanted from the relentless grind of 14-hour days, seven days a week. They just sat at their workstations, watching music videos or footage of car chases. "People stopped caring after three weeks," Manning observed. It was a culture, as he later described it, that "fed opportunities".
For Manning, those opportunities are alleged to have presented themselves in the form of two dedicated military laptops which he was given, each with privileged access to US state secrets. The first laptop was connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet), used by the department of defence and the state department to securely share information.
The second gave him entry to the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS), which acts as a global funnel for top-secret dispatches.
That such a low-level serviceman could have had apparently unrestricted access to this vast source of confidential material should surely have raised eyebrows. That he could do so with virtually no supervision or safeguards inside the base was all the more astounding. Manning was about to embark on a journey that, it was subsequently claimed, would lead to the largest leak of military and diplomatic secrets in US history.
Born on 17 December 1987, Bradley Manning spent the first 13 years of his life in Crescent, a small town in the middle of a rural breadbasket, just north of Oklahoma City. Manning benefited from its small-town intimacy, but also suffered from the narrow-mindedness that went with it.
He lived outside town in a two-storey house with his American father, Brian, his Welsh mother, Susan, and his elder sister, Casey. His parents had met when Brian was serving in the US navy and stationed at the Cawdor Barracks in south-west Wales.
From his father, who spent five years in the navy working on computer systems, Bradley inherited two important qualities: a fascination for the latest technology, and a fervent patriotism. His father was by all accounts a strict parent. Neighbours reported that Brian's severity contributed to Bradley growing introverted and withdrawn. Such introversion deepened with puberty and Bradley's dawning realisation that he was gay. Aged 13, he confided his sexuality to a couple of his closest friends at Crescent school.
The entry to teenage years was a tumultuous time. In 2001, just as Manning was beginning to come to grips with his homosexuality, his father returned home one day and announced he was leaving his mother and the family home. Within months, Manning's life in Crescent had been uprooted, his friendships torn asunder, and his life transplanted 4,000 miles to Haverfordwest in south-west Wales, where his mother decided to return following the bitter break-up.
In Wales Manning had to acclimatise to his new secondary school, Tasker Milward, which, with about 1,200 pupils, was the size of his old home town. Perhaps as a means of reviving his self-esteem, he grew increasingly passionate about computers and geekery. He spent every lunchtime at the school computer club, where he built his own website.
"He was always doing something, always going somewhere, always with an action plan," says one former classmate, Tom Dyer. Manning would "come across as a little bit quirky and hyperactive". Dyer also notes that by the age of 15 Manning had begun to formulate a clear political outlook. When the invasion of Iraq happened in March 2003 they would have long conversations about it. "He would speak out and say it was all about oil and that George Bush had no right going in there." That political sensibility developed further when, at the age of 17 and having left school, he was packed off back to Oklahoma to live with his father.
Soon after his return, Brian Manning threw his son out of the house, having discovered he was homosexual. Homeless, jobless, Bradley rambled around for a few months, moving from place to place, odd job to odd job. After a few months of aimlessness the solution came to him: Bradley Manning would follow in his father's footsteps and volunteer for the US military. He enlisted in October 2007, and was put through specialist training for military intelligence work at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. Upon graduation in August 2008 he was posted to Fort Drum in upstate New York, awaiting dispatch to Iraq, armed with the security clearance that would give him access to those two top-secret databases.
His experience of life in uniform was at times disillusioning. On top of feeling like a menial, there was Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the unhappy compromise thrashed out by the Clinton administration in 1993 that allowed gay personnel to serve in the military but only if they remained in the closet.
Though Manning must have been aware of the restrictions when he enlisted, he quickly became infuriated and distressed by the policy. The motto he attached to his Facebook profile said it all: "Take me for who I am, or face the consequences."
In the seven months Manning spent at the Contingency Operating Station Hammer in Iraq, there was one seminal moment that appears to have ignited Manning's anger. A dispute had arisen concerning 15 Iraqi detainees held by the national Iraqi police force on the grounds that they had been printing "anti-Iraqi literature".
The police were refusing to work with the US forces over the matter, and Manning's job was to investigate and find out who the "bad guys" were. He got hold of the leaflet that the detained men were distributing and had it translated into English. He was astonished to find that it was in fact a scholarly critique against the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, that tracked the corruption rife within his cabinet.
"I immediately took that information and ran to the officer to explain what was going on," Manning later explained. "He didn't want to hear any of it … he told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the [Iraqi] police in finding MORE detainees." Thereafter, "everything started slipping … I saw things differently." According to what he said later, slowly, surely, Manning began edging his way towards a position that many have denounced as traitorous and abhorrent, and others have praised as courageous and heroic. He was starting to think about mining the secret databases to which he had access, and dumping them spectacularly into the public domain.
As he contemplated what route to use, his eye was caught, he says, by an exercise run by WikiLeaks on Thanksgiving 2009, about a month into his tour of duty in Iraq. Over a 24-hour period, WikiLeaks published a stream of more than 500,000 pager messages that had been intercepted on the day of the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington in the order in which they had been sent. It provided an extraordinary picture of an extraordinary day. Manning was even more impressed, because with his specialist knowledge he knew that WikiLeaks must have somehow obtained the messages anonymously from a National Security Agency database. And that, he said, made him feel comfortable that he, too, could come forward to WikiLeaks without fear of being identified.
On 21 May Manning started sending messages to Adrian Lamo, a notorious American hacker who himself had been sentenced to two years' probation for having hacked into computers in a range of enterprises including the New York Times. Manning made contact with him the day a piece appeared in Wired magazine sympathetically quoting Lamo on his own recent diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome, his depressions, and his experience of psychiatric hospitalisation.
According to Lamo's version, published in Wired, in that first chat Manning, who was using the pseudonym Bradass87, volunteered enough information to be easily traced. (The logs have been further edited here, for clarity.)
"I'm an army intelligence analyst, deployed to eastern Baghdad, pending discharge for 'adjustment disorder'," Manning began. "I'm sure you're pretty busy. If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day, seven days a week for eight-plus months, what would you do?"
The next day he started to blurt out confessions. "Hypothetical question: if you had free rein over classified networks for long periods of time, say, eight to nine months, and you saw incredible things, awful things, things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC, what would you do? Things that would have an impact on 6.7 billion people, say, a database of half a million events during the Iraq war from 2004 to 2009 … or 260,000 state department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world, explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective?"
Lamo prompted him: "How so?"
"Let's just say 'someone' I know intimately well has been penetrating US classified networks, mining data like the ones described, and been transferring that data from the classified networks over the 'air gap' onto a commercial network computer: sorting the data, compressing it, encrypting it, and uploading it to a crazy white-haired Aussie who can't seem to stay in one country very long."
He went on: "Crazy white-haired dude = Julian Assange. In other words, I've made a huge mess … Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public … it's beautiful, and horrifying, and it's important that it gets out. I feel for some bizarre reason it might actually change something."
Two days later, Lamo took the initiative in contacting Manning again. He did not tell the young soldier that he had already turned him in to the US military. Lamo subsequently said he thought it was his patriotic duty: "I wouldn't have done this, if lives weren't in danger. He was in a war zone, and basically trying to vacuum up as much classified information as he could, and just throwing it up into the air."
Lamo asked Manning how he managed to move the data across from the private server. "Funny thing is, we transferred so much data on unmarked CDs. Everyone did … videos, movies, music, all out in the open … I would come in with music on a CD-RW labelled with something like 'Lady Gaga', erase the music, then write a compressed split file. No one suspected a thing … listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga's Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history … weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter-intelligence, inattentive signal analysis – a perfect storm.
Right after Lamo denounced him, Manning was arrested, and flown out of Iraq to a military jail at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. A few weeks later he was charged with "transferring classified data on to his personal computer and adding unauthorised software to a classified computer system in connection with the leaking of a video of a helicopter attack in Iraq in 2007", and "communicating, transmitting and delivering national defence information to an unauthorised source and disclosing classified information concerning the national defence with reason to believe that the information could cause injury to the United States." Later, he was flown back to the US and has been imprisoned since at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.
Although he has not been tried or convicted, he is being made to suffer under harsh conditions. He spends 23 hours a day alone in a 6ft by 12 ft cell, with one hour's exercise in which he walks figures-of-eight in an empty room. According to his lawyer, Manning is not allowed to sleep after being wakened at 5am. He is allowed books, and late in 2010 asked to be sent Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.
Manning's friends say he is being subject to near-torture in an effort to break him and have him implicate Assange in a conspiracy charge. David House, one of only two people allowed to visit Manning, says he has witnessed the soldier's deterioration, both mental and physical, over the months of incarceration. "Each time I go, there seems to have been a remarkable decline … he has huge bags under his eyes and his muscles have turned to fat. The US army says it prods him every five minutes for Manning's own welfare. Because he is potentially suicidal, they say he has been placed under a prevention of injury order.
Manning may well be recalling what he told his interlocutor in the chat logs: "We're much more subtle, use a lot more words and legal techniques to legitimise everything. It's better than disappearing in the middle of the night, but just because something is more subtle, doesn't make it right."
Hacker cultureIt was through his first serious boyfriend that Manning became introduced to the world of Boston hackers. The boyfriend in question was Tyler Watkins, a self-styled classical musician, singer and drag queen. They met in the autumn of 2008 while Manning was still stationed at Fort Drum. Watkins was a student of neuroscience and psychology at Brandeis University outside Boston. Manning would regularly make the 300-mile journey from Fort Drum to see him, and in so doing became acquainted with Watkins' wide network of friends from Brandeis, Boston University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the birthplace of computer geekery that has been described as the "Mesopotamia of hacker culture".
For Manning, it was an introduction to a new way of thinking.
Typical of the new attitudes he was exploring was the "hackerspace" attached to Boston University that he visited in January 2010 while he was on leave back in the US and visiting Watkins. Known as Builds, it is a 21st-century techy version of a 1960s artists' collective. It is part-computer workshop, part-electronics laboratory, part-DIY clinic. What unites these activities is the hacker culture to which everyone subscribes. For Manning, it was an entrée into a way of thinking that was worlds apart from the small-town conservatism of Crescent or the buttoned-down rigidity of Fort Drum.
Even before three men of Middle Eastern appearance had told cleaners to stay out of their room, staff at a Los Angeles airport hotel had become increasingly suspicious of what they were up to.
8:55PM GMT 01 Feb 2011
Pilots’ uniforms, laptops, a smashed mobile phone and lists of air crew names were hardly typical holiday luggage, but nor did the hotel workers feel it was enough to merit calling the police.
But the day after the guests checked out of the hotel, their odd behaviour suddenly seemed to make sense, to the horror of those who had witnessed it.
On September 11, 2001, as it became clear that Islamic terrorists were responsible for hijacking and crashing four aircraft with the loss of almost 3,000 lives, the hotel staff no doubt feared that their guests were among those responsible.
In fact, as we now know, the three Qatari nationals were all still alive and keeping abreast of the world’s worst terrorist attack from the safety of a hideout in London.
They had left Los Angeles on Sept 10 and flown to Heathrow on an overnight British Airways flight, then laid low for two days before taking another BA plane to Doha, where they quickly disappeared.
The emergence of a secret US embassy dispatch, which detailed the three men’s extensive contact with a suspected fixer in the 9/11 attacks and visits to the eventual targets, raises the disturbing possibility that the US narrowly escaped further carnage because of a last-minute hitch.
Meshal Alhaji, 35, Fahad Abdulla, 36, and Ali Alfehaid, 35, had all been booked on a flight to Washington on Sept 10, 2001, but for some reason failed to board the aircraft. The following day, the same Boeing 757 crashed into the Pentagon.
Were the Qataris a fifth suicide team tasked with attacking another target, such as the White House or the Statue of Liberty, both of which they had visited?
The US embassy cable from Doha, which was obtained by the WikiLeaks website, makes it clear that the FBI would very much like to find the men, together with their alleged fixer, to ask them that question. The fact that the Qataris flew to and from America via London also throws the spotlight back on Britain’s role in the 9/11 attacks.
Three of the hijackers, including the ringleader, Mohammed Atta, had watched videos of speeches by the London-based cleric Abu Qatada, while Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker”, worshipped at the Finsbury Park Mosque when it was controlled by the notorious preacher Abu Hamza.
Exactly why the three Qatari men named in the Doha embassy document in February last year were not mentioned in the exhaustive 9/11 Commission report is unclear. But they did appear in an FBI list of more than 300 people investigators wanted to speak to in 2002, and the two-page embassy cable, typed in block capitals and sent in February 2010, leaves no doubt that US investigators believe they could have been part of the plot.
The Qataris, in their mid-twenties at the time, arrived in America on Aug 15, 2001, on a BA flight from Heathrow to Newark, New Jersey. Over the following nine days, they followed the tourist trail on the east coast, visiting the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty in New York, and then travelling on to Washington DC, where they went to the White House “and various areas in Virginia”.
How the FBI knows of the men’s movements is not disclosed in the cable, though one possibility is that photographs were discovered on laptops or mobile phones that the men might have left behind.
By the time the Qataris arrived in the US, the 19 men who went on to carry out the 9/11 attacks were already in America, where several of them had spent months at flight training schools so they could take the controls of the hijacked aircraft. There is no suggestion the Qatari men had any contact with any of the 19 hijackers.
On Aug 24, the Qataris flew to Los Angeles on American Airlines flight 143, where they checked into an unnamed airport hotel, paying cash for a three-bed room with a checkout date of Sept 10.
At first, they allowed hotel staff to clean their room as normal, and maids could not help but notice the unusual array of items they had brought with them.
As well as pilot-type uniforms, there were cardboard boxes addressed to Syria, Jerusalem, Afghanistan and Jordan; several laptop computers, one of which was attached to a mobile phone by a wire; a smashed mobile phone and pin-feed computer printouts with headers listing pilot names, airlines, flight numbers and flight times.
The fact that air crew routinely stayed at the hotel perhaps allayed the staff’s worst suspicions of the men, though their concerns were heightened when, during the last few days of their stay, the Qataris “requested that their room not be cleaned”.
Investigators later discovered that the three men had spent a week travelling around California with Mohamed Ali Mohamed al Mansoori, a 19-year-old from the United Arab Emirates.
Although he has never been named before in connection with the 9/11 attacks, the secret cable discloses that: “Mr Al Mansoori is currently under investigation by the FBI for his possible involvement in the 11 September 2001 attacks.
“He is suspected of aiding people who entered the US before the attacks to conduct surveillance of possible targets and providing other support to the hijackers.”
The document lists the current whereabouts of Mr al Mansoori — and, indeed, all four men — as “unknown”.
The cable also suggests the involvement of a fifth alleged conspirator, who is not named, as “a subsequent FBI investigation revealed that the men’s plane tickets were paid for and their hotel reservations in Los Angeles were made by a convicted terrorist”.
Among the tickets bought by the “convicted terrorist” were three seats on the American Airlines flight 144 from Los Angeles to Washington on Sept 10.
The three Qataris “failed to board” the flight, and instead took a direct British Airways flight to London later the same day, arriving at Heathrow on the afternoon of Sept 11.
In a sinister footnote, the cable states that: “The same plane used for AA flight #144 on 10 September 2001 was used for AA flight #77 on 11 September 2001. AA flight #77 was hijacked on route the next day and crashed into the Pentagon.”
Central to the “ongoing” FBI investigation will be the question of whether the three men were booked on to flight 144 in order to hijack either the same aircraft or another aircraft the next day.
They had visited the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the attacks, and the White House which, it has been suggested, was the target of the terrorists on board United Airlines flight 93, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers tackled the hijackers.
The fact that the men had also visited the Statue of Liberty and various locations in Virginia and California raises the possibility that if they were indeed a fifth team of hijackers, one of those locations could have been their target.
One other possibility that the FBI is likely to investigate is that the BA flight that the men boarded was intended as a target, to be crashed either in America or London. BA268 landed in London at 2.25pm, or 9.25am New York time. The 9/11 attacks happened between 8.46am and 10.05am.
Intriguingly, the 9/11 Commission report stated that two of the eventual hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, spent time in Los Angeles in 2000, and the report noted “suspicions about whether these two operatives had a support network of accomplices”, though the evidence of this was “thin”. During their stay in California, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar also spent time in San Diego with Anwar al-Awlaki, the imam blamed for several recent terrorist attacks launched from Yemen, where he now lives.
The US embassy cable detailing the FBI investigation was written by Mirembe Nantongo, the deputy chief of mission in Doha, marked “priority” and sent to the office of Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, together with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the CIA.
In The News
BreakingNews: WikiLeaks cables: FBI hunting for 3 Qatari men suspected of supporting 9/11 attackers - UK Telegraph
WikiLeaks: FBI hunts the 9/11 gang that got away - Telegraph - telegraph.co.uk
WikiLeaks: FBI hunts the 9/11 gang that got away - Telegraph - telegraph.co.uk
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MANILA, Philippines - The WikiLeaks website on Wednesday released a confidential cable from the United States embassy in London revealing the possible illicit smuggling of radioactive material in the Philippines in 2007.
The cable was dated November 21, 2007 and was marked as “sensitive”.
The cable revealed that an unidentified male called the US Foreign Service National Investigator (FSNI) unit on November 20, 2007 and revealed he had information about the "possible sale of uranium that formerly belonged to the US."
"The FSNI unit received a phone call from subject, xxxxxx, stating he had worked with divers in the Philippines previously and was recently contacted by them with information that they had found 5-6 Uranim 'bricks' at the sight (sic) of an underwater wreck," the cable said.
It said the caller's contacts expressed a desire to sell the radioactive material for profit.
On the same day, the Regional Security Office Investigation Unit received an unclassified e-mail with 9 photo attachments of the radioactive bricks.
Whistle-blower site WikiLeaks has been nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize by Norwegian politician Snorre Valen, who cited its role in freedom of speech.
"WikiLeaks is one of this century's most important contributors to freedom of speech and transparency," news agency NTB quoted Valen on Wednesday.
Valen cited WikiLeaks role in disclosing the assests of Tunisia's former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his nearest family, contributing to the protests that forced them into exile.
The member of parliament for the Socialist Left Party, part of Norway's ruling red-green coalition, also noted WikiLeaks publication of documents relating to corruption by authorities, governments and corporations as well as "illegal surveillance, war crimes and torture committed by a number of states".
The five-member Nobel Committee advises those making nominations not to reveal their proposals in advance.
However, there are no formal rules against doing so, allowing for plenty of speculation before the winner is announced, normally in early October.
The 2010 prize was awarded to imprisoned Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who was unable to collect his award.
Parliamentarians, academics, former peace prize laureates as well as current and former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee are among those who have the right to nominate candidates for the coveted award.
The Peace Prize is one of several prizes endowed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite Alfred Nobel.
A few days before the cables' release, two senior figures from the US embassy in Grosvenor Square called in to the Guardian's London offices for a chat. This discussion led to a surreal transatlantic telephone call on Friday 26 November – two days before launch.
Alan Rusbridger agreed to ring Washington. He made the conference call from the circular table in his office. On the line was PJ Crowley, the US assistant secretary of state for public affairs.
The conversation began: "OK, here's PJ Crowley. I just want you to know in this phone call we've got Secretary of State Clinton's private secretary, we have representatives of the DoD [department of defence], the intelligence communities, and the national security council." All Rusbridger could offer in reply was: "We have our managing editor here."
Crowley set out the view from the lofty heights of US power: "Obviously, from our perspective these are stolen documents. They reveal sensitive military secrets and addresses that expose people to security risks."
Crowley made his pitch. He said the US government was "willing to help" the Guardian if it was prepared to "share the documents" it had – in other words, tip off the state department which cables it intended to publish. Rusbridger was noncommittal.
Clinton's private secretary chipped in. She said: "I've got a very direct question for you, Mr Rusbridger. You journalists like asking direct questions and I know you expect direct answers. So I'm going to ask you a direct question. Are you going to give us the numbers of the cables or not?"
"No, we're not."
"Thank you very much."
Rusbridger did decide to tell the Americans the paper's broad publication schedule. Day one was to feature Iran, he said, day two North Korea and day three Pakistan. Then the conversation was over.
Guardian security: Tapped from The Wire
For Julian Assange – like Jason Bourne, the Hollywood secret agent on the run from the CIA – elaborate security precautions may have been second nature. But for journalists used to spilling secrets in the pub they were a new and tricky-to-master art form.
Guardian deputy editor Ian Katz and editor Alan Rusbridger borrowed inspiration from The Wire (above), the US drama series set amid the drug dealers of Baltimore. The show was popular among some Guardian staff; in it, the dealers relied on "burners", or pay-as-you-go phones, to outsmart the police.
Katz asked his assistant to buy 20 burner phones for key members of the cables team. The Guardian now had its own leak-proof network.
Unfortunately, nobody could remember their burner number. At one point Rusbridger sent a text from his burner to Katz's regular mobile phone – an elementary error that in The Wire would almost certainly have prompted the cops to swoop. The Guardian editor picked up another burner during a five-day trip to Australia. When he got back to London Katz called him on that number. The conversation – routed right round the world – fizzled out after just three minutes when Katz ran out of credit. "We were basically completely useless at any of the spooky stuff," Katz confesses.
by Ralph Lopez
Protesters, Mubarak Supporters Fight In Cairo Square