The Crime of Making the Government Look Foolish

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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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  1. Avatar BlaiseP
    Ignored
    says:

    We are closed in, and the key is turned
    On our uncertainty; somewhere
    A man is killed, or a house burned.
    Yet no clear fact to be discerned:
    Come build in the empty house of the stare.

    A barricade of stone or of wood;
    Some fourteen days of civil war:
    Last night they trundled down the road
    That dead young soldier in his blood:
    Come build in the empty house of the stare.

    We had fed the heart on fantasies,
    The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,
    More substance in our enmities
    Than in our love…

    That’s Yeats. We can abuse the likes of Bradley Manning because we can abuse the likes of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Pul-e-Charki and the secret prisons of the CIA.

    When I was taught to interrogate prisoners, on the first day of training, we were given George Washington’s orders on the treatment of 1600 captured Hessians.

    “Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to Complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren…. Provide everything necessary for them on the road.”

    John Adams wrote to his wife in 1777:

    “I know of no policy, God is my witness, but this — Piety, Humanity and Honesty are the best Policy. Blasphemy, Cruelty and Villainy have prevailed and may again. But they won’t prevail against America, in this Contest, because I find the more of them are employed, the less they succeed.”

    It begins with the Hated Other. Then it proceeds to the treatment of our own.Report

  2. Avatar stillwater
    Ignored
    says:

    The other hypothesis is that they want to turn him against Assange as a co-conspirator. Good luck with that. But really, even if that were the case, carrots might be more appropriate than sticks. So Radley’s view still probably still stands.

    And is it too much to say that the government’s treatment of Manning ought to be viewed as a national disgrace? Is anything disgraceful anymore?Report

    • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to stillwater
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      says:

      I would be totally outraged if Bradley Manning were a civilian.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to tom van dyke
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        says:

        Same here.
        Their one concern is to maintain order.
        That means he’s going to be made into an example.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to tom van dyke
        Ignored
        says:

        So you were outraged at the treatment of Jose Padilla?

        I know I miss a lot, so pardon me if I didn’t see it.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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          says:

          It was Jose Padilla that made me wake up.

          I defended the idea, in theory, of long (but certainly not indefinite) detentions without the pressing of charges in the cases of really, really bad terrorism cases such as, in theory, the dirty bomb.

          Hey, look at it this way, I said. Imagine if Jose had succeeded in building a dirty bomb and having it go off in, oh, the Sears Tower. Dozens, maybe hundreds, would die in the panic and ensuing fallout, radiation sickness, so on and so forth. Additionally, there would be that backlash against Muslims that everybody has been waiting to have happen.

          You put both of these things on the scale, it’s obvious that the long (but surely not indefinite) detention of Jose Padilla without charges is the lesser evil!

          And then the day came that they charged him and it was chewing bubble gum on Sunday type charges.

          All of my “surely, in theory, we agree that you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater” rhetoric was used in defense of throwing a guy in jail for distributing pamphlets. Proverbially.

          Since then I’ve been a lot more humorless about this stuff.

          (Ironically, I’ve noticed a lot of Democrats gaining a sense of humor about this stuff in the wake of Obama’s election. “Well, to be sure, you have to understand…”)Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            You charge ’em for what you can make stick; it’s like getting Capone for tax evasion.

            Or those music-industry trials where someone is “only” charged with copyright infringement of six music tracks. It’s not that the person wasn’t copying and redistributing dozens or hundreds of music tracks; it’s that the industry lawyers didn’t feel it was necessary to submit the jury to repeated depositions (and defense challenges) about the rights status of more than that.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to stillwater
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      says:

      Here’s the really disgraceful part: back in the day, analysis and sitreps were highly compartmentalized. After 9/11, this was viewed to be an obstacle but there were plenty of agency liaisons in place to communicate information where it really needed to go.

      With the establishment of Homeland Security, everything got thrown into a big bucket. Anyone with access to any of it had access to all of it. Basic violation of the principles of OPSEC.

      The military really want to execute Bradley Manning, not because he was a traitor, but because he’ll live long enough to tell someone the truth, like Mordechai Vanunu.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        The military really want to execute Bradley Manning

        Keep him isolated, that is; there’s no sign they want him dead.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling
          Ignored
          says:

          The military have accused him of a death penalty crime under UCMJ, Article 104, Aiding the Enemy

          So, yes, there is a sign.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP
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            says:

            It’s also one that justifies a life sentence. If you’d like to make a small wager, my money is on life with no reasonable chance of parole.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling
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              says:

              I’d argue there are things worse than death. Given the fact that the military routinely strips Manning naked and showed him an Article 104 charge, he knows the score.

              Don’t try to attenuate the horror of what’s happening to this absurd little soldier. He’s dead already, inside.

              Solzhenitsyn once said the lie conceals violence and violence maintains the lie. Once you resort to violence as a methodology, by default you must become a liar as well.

              Trying to attenuate this mess with some bravado about a bet leaves me cold. We’re lying to ourselves about the maltreatment of prisoners.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                In other words, you now realize that what I said was correct.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                If there are other words, Herr Schilling, I will say them. I maintain the military wants Bradley Manning dead and will do everything in their power to silence him forever.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                And I disagree. Putting him away for good accomplishes their goal without creating the outcry an execution would cause. That’s what will happen. Mark my words.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                I wouldn’t count on much of an outcry, much as I hope you are correct in predicting one. Wikileaks is on the government’s Little Short Shit List and nobody more so than Bradley Manning.

                From what I’ve been able to work out, Manning should never have retained his clearance after he started to go nuts, and by all accounts he did. I’ve seen my fair share of soldiers gone crazy, both temporary and permanently: the first thing they lost was their clearance.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                “The military have accused him of a death penalty crime…”

                twenty minutes later

                “I’d argue there are things worse than death.”

                MAKE UP YOUR FUCKING MIND.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Poor old Duck. Someone on the Internet is wrong. But you’re here to correct that problem forthwith.

                There, there. You’ll be sober in the morning and I’ll be stupid for the rest of my life. Tragic, innit?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to DensityDuck
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                says:

                Seriously, this is a bit over the top, DD.

                There is nothing logically inconsistent in the least between these two statements. Prosecutors have signaled that Manning won’t get the death penalty, although the crime remains a capital one on the books, and they could always change their minds.

                Meanwhile, if I were in his shoes, I might just be hoping that they did so. He’s young and healthy, and if I were him I wouldn’t relish the prospect of 60 years’ solitary confinement, broken only by daily strip-searches.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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                says:

                “There is nothing logically inconsistent in the least between these two statements.”

                BlaiseP: “The military wants Bradley Manning dead.”
                Mike Schilling: “No, they’re going to put him in jail for life.”
                BlaiseP: “Oh YEAH, well, that’s WORSE than being dead!”

                *sigh*Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to stillwater
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      says:

      By “the truth” I don’t mean to invite conspiracy theories. What I mean by “the truth” is how trivial it was for him to copy everything to his thumb drive.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP
        Ignored
        says:

        CD-ROM. And he was seen doing it, and he said “it’s cool bro, this is my Lady Gaga mixtape”, and the people in charge decided to give him a break and not bust his ass over having brought a CD-ROM into a secure area.

        CD-ROMs being, in fact, about the second thing they tell you that you aren’t allowed to have in a secure area, right after “cell phone”.Report

  3. Avatar Steve S.
    Ignored
    says:

    As far as I can tell all the decisions about Manning’s treatment are being made by military personnel, and in American discourse the military is not “government”. In fact, the standard defense of his treatment that you hear in discourse is that once you sign on the dotted line for the military your rights just fly out the window. Manning didn’t make the “government” look foolish, he made the military look foolish. After all, it was not the government that gave some minor functionary access to all this material, it was the military. Remember, this is America; military good, government bad.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Steve S.
      Ignored
      says:

      If people are tempted in that direction, I would just remind them — our military isn’t permitted to use forced nudity when it interrogates the enemy. Manning is a citizen.

      And no, your rights don’t go out the window in the military. You’re held to account under military justice. It’s different, a bit more restrictive in some ways, but you still have recognized rights.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki
        Ignored
        says:

        Pretty much everything Balko say to minimize Manning’s offenses also apply to Jonathan Pollard. Pollard was extremely co-operative in revealing what he’d sold to the Israelis, in accordance with his plea-bargain. He didn’t give up anything to a hostile nation (directly, at least), and wasn’t responsible for any deaths. Still, Pollard’s wife was imprisoned, regardless of her ill-health. His plea bargain was ignored, resulting in a life sentence. And over twenty years later, long after any of the secrets he revealed have lost their relevance, the intelligence community still insists that Pollard was the worst of the worst and must be denied parole. This despite that fact that Pollard, like Manning, doesn’t approach being the classic traitor Ames is. (One of the reasons I’m certain Manning won’t be executed is that Ames wasn’t, even though Ames clearly deserved it.)

        I suspect that, in both cases, the overly harsh treatment is to set a specific example. It’s being made sledgehammer-clear that neither the spy who reveals secrets to an ally nor the one who spills them to a neutral clearinghouse is going to be granted any leniency compared to one who sells them to the enemy. Paradoxically, there was no need to make this point with Ames, because everyone already knew that what he did was unforgivable.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling
          Ignored
          says:

          Things are different now. We have fed our hearts on fantasies / The heart’s grown brutal from the fare. We now live in a world where we expect the government to lie. This was not always so.

          Once, despite the bombs falling around them, the British handled their German Luftwaffe prisoners with utmost respect. The Germans reciprocated: though many Allied airmen starved, they starved alongside their German captors. My old landlord in Kitzingen was once a POW. He remembers his captivity in Camp Stewart, Georgia with considerable fondness. He picked a lot of peaches, played sports, befriended several American girls and ate well. When he returned to Germany, he stood out in the crowd of gaunt fellow-countrymen, a healthy specimen of how America treated its prisoners.

          At the end of that war, the United States hanged Mary Surratt for her very minor role in the assassination of Lincoln, despite the court’s recommendation of life imprisonment. President Andrew Johnson said of her, “she kept the nest that hatched the egg.” Private Eddie Slovik was the only man executed for desertion in WW2, and was executed as an example, denied clemency by Eisenhower himself, for desertion was becoming a growing problem late in 1944.

          Some people are executed, pour les autres and I contend the prosecution will seek the death penalty for Bradley Manning for this reason.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Steve S.
      Ignored
      says:

      So the Eighth Amendment doesn’t apply when the defendant is in the military? I thought individual rights began at the point that government power ended. Therefore I contend that the government lacks the (legitimate) power to inflict cruel and unusual punishments.

      That means on anyone and by any organ of the government — it cannot be done by the Department of Justice, it cannot be done by the courts, it cannot be done by the military. It cannot be done to a convict nor to a detainee. It matters not whether the recipient of the treatment is a civilian, an enlisted military man, or even a captured terrorist.

      It’s not a question of liking the defendant; it’s a question of the Constitution depriving our government of the power to do this in the first place.Report

  4. Avatar forrest walters
    Ignored
    says:

    Only recently did I find out, by Googling “salt solutions in abortion”, that some abortions use a salt solution to slowly poison the baby, which takes up to 24 hours to die, meanwhile eroding the skin. Torture in the womb.

    To oppose torture, there is no need to debate when human life begins.

    Please, why can’t we all oppose all cruelty, whether to animals, to babies in the womb, to Manning, or to anyone?Report

  5. Avatar Bob
    Ignored
    says:

    “There is only one word to describe the treatment of this model prisoner: sadism.”

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2011/03/the-brutalization-of-bradley-manning.htmlReport

  6. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    “He leaked classified information to a website knowing that all of it would eventually be published.”

    Yeah, and before he was allowed to look at that information, he signed a paper saying “if I leak this then I go to jail FOREVER”.

    I thought you libertarians were big fans of binding contracts?Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      I don’t recall the cruel treatment being part of the binding contract. Prison, yes. Hours of nudity, no.

      Particularly not when he hasn’t even been tried yet.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Jason Kuznicki
        Ignored
        says:

        Jason:

        First, military prisons are somewhat different from civilian prisons and second, I’ve seen plenty of TV shows about life inside prisons where the prisoners are made to stand around nude while the guards conduct searches of them, their cells and other areas.

        On another note, I believe the military is more concerned with and conscious of charges of prisoner abuse after Abu Ghraib.

        The bottom line is that if Manning didn’t want the prison lifestyle, he really should have thought about the consequences of his actions.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jason Kuznicki
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh no, hours of nudity. Because Lord knows that nobody looking at life in prison has ever managed to hang themselves with their pants before.Report

  7. Avatar Michael Drew
    Ignored
    says:

    What is being done to Manning is clearly despicable, but the difference between his treatment and Ames’ or Hanssen’s is obviously made possible by the fact that he is in a military brig and the others were held in civilian facilities. It is possible that the treatment is driven by anger over embarrassment, but that assumes at least as much not in evidence about officials’ motivations as does any assumption that he is guilty of what he is accused of. It is speculation.Report

  8. Avatar Richard T
    Ignored
    says:

    It’s beyond monstrous that Bradley Manning is being treated as he is even as appears to be the case that his ‘crime’ has had relatively little impact on your country’s affairs and indeed has been beneficial in showing up what my country’s politicians have been up to. As a foreigner I can only assume that your military have taken their judicial process from Alice in Woderland – sentence first trial later.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to Richard T
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      says:

      Richard T:

      Do you really know how much impact the leaks have had or will have on this country’s affairs or are you just assuming that you do in order to help make your point?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Scott
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        says:

        The Italian Prime Minister’s philandering being made public?Report

        • Avatar Simon K in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          Starting the revolutions in North Africa?Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Simon K
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            says:

            Ah yes, we can’t allow Arabs to have democracy.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki
              Ignored
              says:

              Apropos to nothing but #38, I’ve been watching and worrying about what’s to become of Arab democracy. Most revolutions don’t end well. The Egyptian military is now baring its teeth: Mubarak may be out but the generals are not, and they do not take kindly to all this talk of openness. Egypt will, at best (imho) become an Arabic China. All they’ve got is a bunch of poorly educated people in need of jobs. Summing up the output of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Sudan, 10,500 scientific papers were produced in 2008, the last

              Oh, North Africa might get some more sweatshops, probably courtesy of Chinese firms, who are busily ravaging Africa. But democracy? Not a chance. Not yet. The old Strong Men stayed in power by controlling the military and ended up controlled by them. Egypt’s military became astronomically corrupt and it will take decades to sort all that out. Russia never did sort it out: ‘memba all those high hopes back in the days of the Fall of the Wall.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        You could always ask the State Department.Report

        • Avatar Scott in reply to Jason Kuznicki
          Ignored
          says:

          Jason:

          Do you really think the gov’t would tell the truth about the damage the leaks have done, assuming it even knows what all has been leaked and has had the time to analyze all the docs that have already been released?Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Scott
            Ignored
            says:

            They did with Pollard. He, almost immediately, had done more damage to US interests than any spy in history (or so we’ve been told.)

            And, Scott, do you think the guy that ordered Maniing be kept naked did that based on a thorough understanding of the damage the leaks have caused?Report

            • Avatar Scott in reply to Mike Schilling
              Ignored
              says:

              Mike:

              Given what Pollard did, could the gov’t really have said otherwise have anyone believe them? I think in this case it may be a lot harder to quantify the damage done and I think the Obama admin may want to downplay the damage for any number of reasons.

              If Manning was treated wrongly, I have no idea why it was done.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Scott
                Ignored
                says:

                You’re finding it obvious that in one case the damages needed to be exaggerated and obvious that in the other case they needed to be minimized. Neither is obvious to me.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike Schilling
              Ignored
              says:

              And, Scott, do you think the guy that ordered Manning be kept naked did that based on a thorough understanding of the damage the leaks have caused?

              I’m sure it has absolutely nothing to do with his being, shall we say, a rather fetching young gay man. Which he is.Report

              • You think his (Manning’s) treatment might be some form of sexual harassment?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Audrey the Liberal
                Ignored
                says:

                I know for a fact that gay men are singled out in prison for sexual harassment and rape. I don’t see any reason to rule out that suspicion here. Do you?Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Jason Kuznicki
                Ignored
                says:

                Jason:

                Straight men get raped in prison as well. All the more reason not to go to prison. The bottom line is that if Manning could have avoided the prison lifestyle.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Scott
                Ignored
                says:

                Straight men get raped in prison as well.

                Seriously, what is it with everyone affirming a disjunct around here lately? If I say “P,” it doesn’t mean “not-Q,” unless otherwise stated. This applies to you, to the other conservatives, to the liberals, to the progressives, and to everyone around here. I think it might just be the single most common formal logical fallacy committed at the League. It’s also a terribly cheap shot.

                If you would like some facts about prison rape, Just Detention International has them. I quote from their intro:

                While anyone can become the victim of sexual violence, the most marginalized members of society at large also tend to be the most vulnerable behind bars. In particular, inmates who are gay, transgender, young, mentally ill, or incarcerated for the first time and for non-violent offenses are at highest risk.

                Of course, that doesn’t mean heterosexual men don’t get raped. Hey, even women get raped in prison too — Scott, why were you denying that??? (Two can affirm a disjunct, you know!)

                All the more reason not to go to prison.

                No. All the more reason to fix our prisons.Report

              • Avatar stillwater in reply to Scott
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                says:

                No. All the more reason to fix our prisons.

                {{golf claps}}Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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                says:

                I think it’s because of Obama’s well-known anti-Semitism.Report

          • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott
            Ignored
            says:

            > Do you really think the gov’t would tell the truth about
            > the damage the leaks have done, assuming it even
            > knows what all has been leaked and has had the time
            > to analyze all the docs that have already been released?

            By this logic on either side, we can never make any sort of assessment about whether or not the leaks did any damage. If the government says “yes”, well, they’re just saying that because they don’t want anybody else to do what Manning did. If the government says “no”, well, they’re just saying that to limit damage.

            From my reading, the leaks are really no big deal. It was either information that had no strategic or tactical value, or if it did, it merely provided confirmation of what is or was already widely suspected to be true.Report

  9. Avatar Creon Critic
    Ignored
    says:

    I want to take issue with the mere embarrassment case, that somehow this leak was limited to making the US look foolish. In fact the leak harmed US sources and US interests. I wholly agree that cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment is abominable and the US ought not treat anyone that way whatever the accusation. But with regard to the claim the leaker merely made the US look foolish, when releasing so much secret material the leaker could not have known with confidence they were not committing an act as heinous as the crimes of the previous famed espionage cases.

    For a well documented case of a US source suffering harm from the diplomatic cable leaks take the revelation that the US government had access to German cabinet formation negotiation documents; one source was Helmut Metzner, the chief of staff for Germany’s foreign minister. The parties conducted an investigation and fired Metzner. Friedbert Pflüger being identified as a source is another similar example in Germany – Spiegel reported, “The words “please protect” are noted in parentheses after his name.” So the US will not have real-time German cabinet negotiation documents – not the worst case in the world, one might say. But transpose the German inquiry to a country without Spiegel to report on events, say Iran. One leaked document points to a source in Iranian intelligence providing a tip off regarding an assassination target (10London131 is the Cable). It stands to reason that Iran will be interested in finding out who inside Iranian intelligence passed along this information. Beyond Germany and Iran it is important to remember the leak need only provide one piece of an intelligence puzzle. For instance, where US embassies are under surveillance, the leaks can be used to narrow a field of possible sources – matching dates to comings and goings.

    While overall I agree with Def. Sec. Gates’ macro assessment, the US is still an indispensable nation (or thereabouts) and the leaks don’t damage that standing, on a micro scale the leaker has done more than merely embarrass or inconvenience the US government. The leaker has done provable harm to US informants (having well placed sources is clearly important to US interests). In contexts outside friendly powers like Germany, that harm could be very grave indeed (perhaps even comparable to Aldrich Ames or Robert Hanssen), we won’t know for sure for some time.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Creon Critic
      Ignored
      says:

      How would you differentiate Bradley Manning from Daniel Ellsberg?Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to BlaiseP
        Ignored
        says:

        With the diplomatic cables, we don’t know the full extent of the harm yet. With Ellsberg we have the benefit of decades worth of assessing the consequences of the Pentagon Papers’ release. Just on the facts though, there’s reason to be more concerned about the cables. I can say the obvious things, compared to the Pentagon Papers the cables are larger in volume, cover a longer period of time, address a larger geographic area, and cover a more recent period in time compared to the release date – all reasons for greater concern. (Wikipedia says, the Pentagon Papers were leaked in 1971 and covered the period 1945-67 while the diplomatic cables were leaked in 2010 and covered the period 1966-2010.)

        As an aside, I didn’t mention Manning once because the personality of the accused does not matter in terms of assessing damage to the US. In terms of Manning’s treatment, I just want to say again, I agree with those criticizing the government – were Manning on suicide watch and were there legitimate standardized procedures to justify his treatment, the government might have a reason for its conduct. As far as I’ve read, Manning is being treated poorly as a punishment and that is unconscionable.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Creon Critic
      Ignored
      says:

      > But transpose the German inquiry to a country without
      > Spiegel to report on events, say Iran. One leaked
      > document points to a source in Iranian intelligence
      > providing a tip off regarding an assassination target
      > (10London131 is the Cable). It stands to reason that
      > Iran will be interested in finding out who inside
      > Iranian intelligence passed along this information.

      Er… if you have a planned assassination and the target becomes unavailable, you’re probably already interested in finding out who inside your intelligence service leaked this information.

      Because you’re in the intelligence service. Checking for leaks when your opponent does something that seems to anticipate your actions is sort of par for the course.

      Anyway, read the cable (http://test.cablegatewiki.org/index.php?title=10LONDON131). There’s *nothing* in there that is actually revealing to the Iranian intelligence service.

      In fact, all it tells you is that **the FBI** tipped off a potential target on the basis of studying a suspect; not that somebody in Iranian intelligence tipped off the FBI.Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Pat Cahalan
        Ignored
        says:

        His suspicions were confirmed after he received a message from a well-placed friend who told Nourizadeh he had seen dozens of photos of him on the desk of Iranian Deputy Intelligence Minister Alavi. (10LONDON131)

        I’m guessing Iranian intelligence would want to know who had access to Alavi’s desk and when the photos were under review. But say this Iran example is totally wrong, they’ve redacted enough information to prevent such identifications – elsewhere, the US embassy surveillance issue still remains. And look, I’m not a professional intelligence officer, but even if having handwritten notes from German cabinet negotiations isn’t very valuable now, having a source at the level of Chief of Staff to the German Foreign Minister is a good thing. I mean, you don’t get much better well-placed sources than that. Also, if you have “please protect” next to your name in a US government document, you’re not going to be feeling so comfortable post-diplomatic cables leaks. That’s not just egg on one’s face embarrassing, that’s problematic for the US.Report

        • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Creon Critic
          Ignored
          says:

          > having a source at the level of Chief of Staff to the
          > German Foreign Minister is a good thing. I mean,
          > you don’t get much better well-placed sources
          > than that.

          And I really doubt that we’ve lost all access to the German Foreign Minister.

          > Also, if you have “please protect” next to your name
          > in a US government document, you’re not going to
          > be feeling so comfortable post-diplomatic cables
          > leaks.

          That’s a fair point, but it only goes so far.

          Intelligence sources are notoriously of dubious value, simply due to the nature of large state organizations. So losing a particular one of those sources (even supposing that you lose every source you currently have due to this leak, which is unlikely) is itself of dubious loss, from an operational standpoint. Top that with the loss itself has to be difficult to replace, which isn’t borne out by the reports I’ve been reading coming out of the State Dept itself.

          I really doubt that Manning’s actions had any net negative real long term or even mid-term effect on U.S. diplomacy; for every source that may have dried up, we very likely could also have advantages out the of the leaks (for example: all of the Middle East leaders now *know* that they all think Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is crazy, whereas before they all knew *they* thought he was a nut but didn’t necessarily know what the guy next door thought).

          This is *not* to argue that his actions are “okay”, particularly in light of his sworn responsibilities to his military commanders.

          Strip-searching the guy seems to violate the UCMJ, though (http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ucmj.htm#813.%20ART.%2013%20PUNISHMENT%20PROHIBITED%20BEFORE%20TRIAL).Report

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