Bradley Manning Hearing: Government Foiled By Its Own Policies

by Jesselyn Radack on March 16, 2012 ( The Whistleblogger / 2012 )

Bradley Manning’s attorney (David Coombs) requested that charges against Manning be dismissed because the prosecution had so badly bungled discovery obligations.

Josh Gerstein of Politico reported in detail:

At a hearing last month, prosecutors in the case against Pfc. Bradley Manning noted that they didn’t receive the messages but could not explain why. Chief prosecutor Capt. Ashden Fein said at a hearing Thursday that the messages had been “blocked by a spam filter for security.” However, it fell to defense attorney David Coombs to explain precisely why the e-mails about evidence issues in the Manning case never made it.

“Apparently, they were blocked because the word ‘WikiLeaks’ was somewhere in the e-mail,” Coombs said.

The government’s own WikiLeaks policies are now hampering the prosecution’s work in the case against Manning. Yesterday’s Manning hearing also revealed that the U.S. claims that Manning aided al-Qaeda by allegedly giving documents to WikiLeaks. What about the New York Times, which also posted the WikiLeaks documents? Neo-con Gabe Schoenfeld, who suggested using the Espionage Act to target news sources, which the Obama administration had done in record numbers, also believes that news organizations should be held criminally liable for alleged leaks of classified information.

Speaking of absurd WikiLeaks policies, I blogged yesterday about the State Department’s attempt to fire whistleblower and author Peter Van Buren based on his linking – NOT leaking – to a Wikileaks document on his personal blog. Van Buren was on Democracy Now! this morning:

Van Buren discussed the State Department’s retaliatory actions on Channel 9 WUSA news:

“Nine months ago, I wrote a book about my experiences in Iraq called We Meant Well. It exposed tremendous waste and mismanagement in the reconstruction of Iraq. The State Department is very unhappy about that, embarrassed about that, and has taken retaliatory steps against me, trying to kick me out, throw me out of the State Department and make it all go away,” Van Buren told 9News Now.

“I came to Iraq and realized that the discrepancy between what we say we were doing and what we were doing at the risk of peoples lives, including my own, and billions of taxpayer dollars, was too wide to stand silent. The waste of lives, the waste of money was so extreme and the lies that were being told in Washington were so egregious that I decided to risk my career and speak out,” he said. . . . .

“Absolutely. I criticized the Secretary of State. I criticized the president and I’ve criticized other members of the State Department and the Administration, and I did that because when I signed up 24 years ago, my oath was to the constitution, not to Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or anyone else. I’ve served under Republicans and I’ve served under Democrats, but my oath has always been to the constitution, and therefore it shouldn’t matter,” Van Buren said.

The government has created its own monster with its abusive WikiLeaks policies, which serve only to further elevate Wikileaks and the information on the site. If the Obama administration is really interested in stopping WikiLeaks and not simply stopping dissent, the administration should spend more time encouraging whistleblowers and implementing strong protections for employees to use internal channels and less time prosecuting whistleblowers and clamping down on employees who expose waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement or illegality.

Jesselyn Radack is National Security & Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.

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