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How Wired missed the real Assange/Manning story

A couple of days ago, Bradley Manning celebrated his birthday behind bars for the second year in a row. He’s still awaiting trial, with no word on when it will begin. But the outcome of the trial looks to be a foregone conclusion already. Wired, which also broke the story about Adrian Lamo turning Bradley Manning in, today claims to have found the definitive link between Manning and the man who published all the shocking classified materials Manning gave him:

A government digital forensic examiner retrieved communications between accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning and an online chat user identified Manning’s computer as “Julian Assange,” the name of the founder of the secret-spilling site that published hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables.

Investigators also found an Icelandic phone number for Assange, and a chat with another hacker located in the U.S., in which Manning says he’s responsible for the leaking of the “Collateral Murder” Apache helicopter video released by WikiLeaks in spring 2010.

Until Monday’s revelation, there’s been no reports that the government had evidence linking the two men, other than chat logs provided to the FBI by hacker Adrian Lamo. Assange is being investigated by a federal grand jury, but has not been charged with any crime, as publishing classified information is not generally considered a crime in the U.S. But if prosecutors could show that Assange directed Manning, that could complicate Assange’s defense that WikiLeaks is simply a journalistic endeavor.

The news of the chat logs came on the fourth day of Manning’s Army hearing being held to determine whether he’ll face court martial on 22 charges of violating military law for allegedly abusing his position as an intelligence analyst in Iraq to feed a treasure trove of classified and sensitive documents to WikiLeaks.

Mark Johnson, a digital forensics contractor for ManTech International who works for the Army’s Computer Crime Investigative Unit, examined an image of Manning’s personal MacBook Pro and said he found 14 to 15 pages of chats in unallocated space on the hard drive that were discussions of unspecified government info, and specifically referred to re-sending info.

Pretty damning stuff, eh?

Yeah, I’ll admit it doesn’t look good for Bradley Manning, or Julian Assange either. If you believe that the two of them should be tried for espionage, this certainly seems to bolster that contention. But the real point of the story, which would blow the whole “espionage” theory out of the water, has been missed: It’s not how Manning got his hands on all that data (which we’ve already known about for quite some time), nor how he fed it to Julian Assange.

The real story, the part Wired isn’t reporting, is not the HOW, but the WHY.

And the WHY is no secret. It has already been reported elsewhere, but bears reiterating here. Bradley Manning saw what the US was really up to in its many overseas missions, diplomatic and military, and that it was all rotten. He hated what he saw, and he wanted to make sure everyone, no matter who or where they were, knew what he knew. He didn’t spy for any foreign government; he blew the whistle on his own. He wanted the whole world to know what was really going on in Iraq, because horrible, graphic footage like this…

…was obviously not going to make it onto any nightly newscast.

Mainstream media would only spin that video, at best; at worst, they would censor it altogether. The Internet is the only place that would disseminate a video as damaging to the US’s international reputation as Collateral Murder has turned out to be. And the Internet is the only place where such a video would be mirrored, as many times as needed, so that censorship could never take hold of it.

That’s why Bradley Manning leaked the classified materials to Julian Assange, and why Julian Assange posted it to Wikileaks.

It’s not that the two of them are spies. Spies, by definition, work for somebody else, an outside entity. An outside enemy. Neither Bradley Manning nor Julian Assange can be demonstrated in a court of law to be in the employ of an enemy, so espionage charges would make no sense (although I’m sure the US government is looking to press them anyhow). They were neither working for the enemy nor seeking to BE the enemy. Their only crime, if a crime indeed it was, was exposing the unattractive truth about US foreign policy. A truth which foreign nationals have long known, and which complicit media in the US and elsewhere have long covered up.

And for that awful truth, Bradley Manning may hang. Literally.

I don’t think he did anything wrong, myself. What is wrong with telling the truth, even when powerful interests don’t want it known?

NOTHING.

But there is plenty wrong with what we see in the Collateral Murder video. And if anyone in uniform should go on trial for anything, let it be the as-yet-unnamed helicopter pilots, “Bushmaster” and “Crazyhorse”, who deliberately and coldly killed the Iraqi journalist for Reuters, Namir Noor-Eldeen, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh. And who also fired on innocent Iraqi civilians, including some kids in a van, who stopped to try to help the two wounded men.

And while we’re at it, let’s send the entire Bush Administration to The Hague. After all, they are the ones who sent “Bushmaster” and “Crazyhorse” to Iraq to play real-life shooter games with innocent Iraqis as targets. The war is now officially over. How about prosecuting those who declared it, on a false pretext, and for greed?

Oh yeah, I forgot. High-ranking criminals can’t be prosecuted. And Barack Obama has already (shamefully) taken that option off the table. So unless someone stages a citizen’s arrest of any of those thugs while they’re visiting a foreign country, it’s unlikely that we’ll see any of THEM subjected to the abuses and indignities that have befallen Assange and Manning. Much less any legal prosecution.

The shameful complicity of the US government, corporations, and media in crimes against humanity just never seems to end. And that’s the real story that Wired, like other mainstream sources, will never print.

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