[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]
Today we’ll be talking to Kevin Gosztola, an FDL blogger, journalist and co-author (with Greg Mitchell of The Nation), about the fascinating, clearly explained and up to the minute book, Truth and Consequences: The U.S. vs. Bradley Manning. (I am a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights and a legal advisor to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.)
Bradley Manning is accused of the biggest leak of government documents in U.S. history and was allegedly a key source for WikiLeaks. Manning is in the midst of a court-martial proceeding at Ft. Meade in Maryland which could result in his execution or life imprisonment. Despite this, as Kevin documents in the book, press interest has waned, and to a certain extent Manning is a forgotten man by much of the major press. This, among other reasons, is why Kevin’s work is so important.
There is a lot that is special and important about Truth and Consequences. Most remarkable to me is Kevin’s explanation of the proceedings (pre-trial phase) currently talking place against Bradley Manning at Ft. Meade. Kevin has been to most of those hearings and this week attended all three days which concluded on Thursday when the judge refused to dismiss the most serious charge of “aiding the enemy.” Kevin describes the difficulty of getting to Ft. Meade, the mickey-mouse nature of the media coverage rules–including monitoring of the press tweets, the sloppy nature of the prosecution and its inability to receive defense and court documents mentioning WikiLeaks which are treated as spam, and what a reader can only conclude is an inflexible judge who cannot see beyond the strictest interpretation of the rules on the page–which leads to pro-prosecution rulings.
Many of us recall some of the names of the videos and documents at issue in the Manning court-martial: The Collateral Murder Video, the Granai airstrike video, the Afghanistan war logs, the Iraq war logs, and the State Department Cables. Most of us have likely forgotten their significance. This book gives us a clear explanation and even lists key cablegate revelations. This section of Truth and Consequences by Greg Mitchell reminds us of just how important getting the truth out was, is and remains–and reminds us of the punishment truth tellers often face. What drives the authors, as it does me, is the necessity of exposing the crimes and the chicanery of government. A well known federal judge once stated that “Democracy dies behind closed doors.” It does and those who would try to save it, by opening those doors and releasing the horrors for all to see, are the real heroes.
An important section of the book gives us information that permits readers to evaluate why Manning allegedly did what he did. Much of the focus of mainstream press has concerned personal issues, gender issues, his relationship with his family, and difficulty with the military. What was revealing to me was the transcript from a chat log with Adrian Lamo in which Manning discussed what he believed was the unlawful arrest of 15 Iraqis for free speech and the ignoring of his complaint about it by his superior officer. The published parts of the Lamo chat logs in the book also have this remarkable quote from Manning asking hypothetically if one had 8 or 9 months of access to classified networks and “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?”
Today it will be really exciting and important to speak with Kevin about his attendance at trial during this last week–material that will surely be in his book as he updates the e-book version. A lot went on during those three days including efforts by my office, the Center for Constitutional Rights, to gain access for the public to court orders and motions filed in court, motions by Manning’s counsel to dismiss all the charges, including what many of us believe is an utterly bogus “aiding the enemy charge” which carries a potential death penalty. I am anxious to ask Kevin about what seems to be an extraordinary unconstitutional stretch of the law.
Although I am an attorney, and have attended some of the hearings, I find them difficult to follow. That is one reason Kevin’s book is so special as will be this interview: he patiently listens and deciphers the court proceedings in a way the general public can understand.