Alleged Wikileaks source, Bradley Manning, faces the death penalty

Bradley_manningAlleged Wikileaks source US Private Brad­ley Man­ning is now charged with “aid­ing the enemy”, amongst a bewil­der­ing array of 22 new charges.  This is appar­ently a cap­it­al offence, although the US mil­it­ary has cosily said that they would­n’t push for this bar­bar­ic sen­tence.

So just life without the hope of parole then.….

Put­ting aide the minor ques­tion of wheth­er the USA should even be entitled to call itself a mod­ern demo­cracy when it still has the death pen­alty on its books, let’s just remind ourselves of what Man­ning is alleged to have revealed: the “Col­lat­er­al Murder” mil­it­ary shoot-up, where inno­cent chil­dren, civil­ians and journ­al­ists were gunned down by US forces in a par­tic­u­larly nasty snuff video game that was then delib­er­ately covered up by the Pentagon for years; many oth­er hein­ous war crimes and records of daily bru­tal­ity in Afgh­anistan and Iraq; and an “embar­rass de richesses” of dip­lo­mat­ic cables.

I think “embar­rass” is the key word here, on so many levels, and goes a long way to explain­ing the USA’s des­per­a­tion to des­troy Wikileaks founder, Juli­an Assange, by any means neces­sary.

But the phrase from the list of charges against the hap­less Man­ning that leaps out at me is “aid­ing the enemy”.  If — and it’s still a big leg­al if — Man­ning was indeed the source of all this cru­cial inform­a­tion, whom was he actu­ally aid­ing?

Inform­a­tion that has appeared on Wikileaks over the last few years has been eclect­ic, inter­na­tion­al and very much in the pub­lic interest.  It’s covered such nas­ties as Trafigura, the BNP, Sci­ento­logy, Cli­mateg­ate, Guantanamo, the Aus­trali­an inter­net black­list, Sarah Pal­in, and much more.

It’s cer­tainly not just restric­ted to the inform­a­tion that hit the head­lines last year about the US hege­mony.  How­ever, there is no doubt that it was the release of the Afghan, Iraq and dip­lo­mat­ic files that stirred up this par­tic­u­larly unpleas­ant hor­nets’ nest.

As glob­al cit­izens I would sug­gest that we have every right to know what is done in our name. But, hav­ing said that, accord­ing to these new charges against poor Brad­ley Man­ning, the bene­fi­ciar­ies of Wikileaks — ie all of us —  have now become the enemy.

When did we, the people, the glob­al cit­izenry, become the enemy?  It seems that our esteemed rulers are at last show­ing their true col­ours.…

On that note, do have a look at this video of former MI6 chief, Sir Richard Dear­love, speak­ing recently at the Cam­bridge Uni­on Soci­ety.  An inter­est­ing per­spect­ive on the Brit­ish Estab­lish­ment’s line on Wikileaks and Juli­an Assange:

Cambridge Union Society Talk on PSTV, January 2011

Paradigm Shift TV (Sky 201 and 203)  pro­duced this film of my talk at the Cam­bridge Uni­on Soci­ety in Janu­ary 2011:


With thanks to Keith and Steve!

Cambridge Union Society, 28th January 2011

CUS_3Well I had a fab time revis­it­ing the old place last week to do a talk at the Uni­on Soci­ety — some­where I spent many happy hours, oh, aeons ago!

Many thanks to Rebecca and the rest of the team for organ­ising and host­ing the event, and to Silkie for set­ting the whole ball rolling.

It was a busy week­end.  The Fri­day even­ing began with an all-too-brief appear­ance at the first meet­ing of a new group, MI7 — can I say that, or is it a state secret? — organ­ised by Silkie and Charlie Veitch of the Love Police

CUS_1It was strange to go back to the Uni­on as a speak­er after so long and so many unusu­al exper­i­ences.  The audi­ence seemed to stay wide awake for my hour-long talk, and the ques­tions after­wards were inter­est­ing, lively and var­ied.  I was also encour­aged to see that ideas deemed to be “rad­ic­al” only a few years ago are now going main­stream.

The next day was taken up with inter­views for The Cam­bridge Stu­dent and Varsity stu­dent news­pa­pers, Sky 203 Chan­nel,  and a photo shoot with QH Pho­to­graphy for a gal­lery exhib­i­tion in Lon­don later this year.

The Cam­bridge Stu­dent journ­al­ists gamely allowed the inter­view to be film by Sky 203 — not the easi­est of scen­ari­os.

Varsity” news­pa­per did a col­our­ful and intel­li­gent inter­view — thanks Olivia! — which was rap­idly fol­lowed on the news­pa­per web­site today with this puff piece about MI6

I can only assume that this is merely bal­anced news report­ing, espe­cially as the Mas­ter of Pem­broke Col­lege, Chair of the Trust­ee Board of the Uni­on Soci­ety, and former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dear­love, will be speak­ing at the Uni­on in a couple of weeks.…. 

Cambridge_1Cer­tainly an inter­est­ing jux­ta­pos­i­tion!

The photo shoot was fun, and the res­ults will be appear­ing in Lon­don at the end of this year.  As you can see from the photo on the left, Huy takes a mean pic­ture.

I also ran into Ryan J‑W Smith, who is in the pro­cess of com­plet­ing his intriguing film, 2Plus2Makes4.  Lim­ited private and fest­iv­al screen­ings are expec­ted this sum­mer.

The film syn­op­sis asks some fun­da­ment­al ques­tions:

How close are we to slid­ing into Orwell’s total­it­ari­an night­mare, ‘1984’? Con­tro­ver­sial, shock­ing, power­ful and hon­est — star­ring Tony Benn, Gore Vid­al, former MI5, CIA, FBI agents, Sen­at­ors, Pres­id­en­tial Nom­in­ees, etc.  A ‘Must-See’ fea­ture doc­u­ment­ary from award-win­ning film­maker, Ryan J‑W Smith. Smith’s pre­vi­ous films have received 16 Inter­na­tion­al Film Fest­iv­al Selec­tions, 5 ‘Best Film’ Nom­in­a­tions, and 4 ‘Best Film’ wins.”

Cambridge Union Society Talk, 28th January 2011

Cus_logo I shall be return­ing to my alma mater next week to do a talk at the Cam­bridge Uni­on Soci­ety on 28th Janu­ary.  I’ll be dis­cuss­ing spies, civil liber­ites, whis­tleblowers, Wikileaks and much more.….