FAIR TRIALS AND US PATRIOTS June 11, 2013Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
Using terms such as show trial, as Julian Assange has done, Chris Hedges refers to the trial process as “a judicial lynching”. in relation to the military trial of Bradley Manning could be understood as emotional thinking.
Chris Hedges, argues that the government has effectively denied Bradley Manning any defence in his trial. He writes in Truthdig:
The military trial of Bradley Manning is a judicial lynching. The government has effectively muzzled the defense team. The Army private first class is not permitted to argue that he had a moral and legal obligation under international law to make public the war crimes he uncovered. The documents that detail the crimes, torture and killing Manning revealed, because they are classified, have been barred from discussion in court, effectively removing the fundamental issue of war crimes from the trial. Manning is forbidden by the court to challenge the government’s unverified assertion that he harmed national security. Lead defense attorney David E. Coombs said during pretrial proceedings that the judge’s refusal to permit information on the lack of actual damage from the leaks would “eliminate a viable defense, and cut defense off at the knees.” And this is what has happened.
Manning is also barred from presenting to the court his motives for giving the website WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, and videos. The issues of his motives and potentially harming national security can be raised only at the time of sentencing, but by then it will be too late.
The draconian trial restrictions, familiar to many Muslim Americans tried in the so-called war on terror, presage a future of show trials and blind obedience. Our email and phone records, it is now confirmed, are swept up and stored in perpetuity on government computers. Those who attempt to disclose government crimes can be easily traced and prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Whistle-blowers have no privacy and no legal protection. This is why Edward Snowden—a former CIA technical assistant who worked for a defense contractor with ties to the National Security Agency and who leaked to Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian the information about the National Security Council’s top-secret program to collect Americans’ cellphone metadata, e-mail and other personal data—has fled the United States. The First Amendment is dead. There is no legal mechanism left to challenge the crimes of the power elite. We are bound and shackled. And those individuals who dare to resist face the prospect, if they remain in the country, of joining Manning in prison, perhaps the last refuge for the honest and the brave.
The latest whistleblower, Edward Snowden, now in Hong Kong has not as yet been frog marched before the tender mercies of the independent and impartial judicial process (Of course, I might be conflating the justice, including right of appeal, on offer in military and civil courts). Seemingly, those who, have the prerogatives to torture and imprison patriots who wish to save the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Daniel Ellsberg comments on developments as they unfold, most recently in The Guardian:
In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution.
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.”
For the president then to say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention, assassination by drones and death squads –they have shown themselves to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor. They are also black holes for information that the public needs to know.
The expectation has been muted, that Edward Snowden, as with others, most notably Osama Bin Laden, will now after needling the vaunted military industrial complex, will simply be disappeared. Habit and judicial process are more deeply entwined than might be recognized. It is the kind of judicial process that would have done Joe Stalin proud, in fact, he could claim to have established some precedents. Edward Snowden did not entirely place the prospect beyond the bounds of possibility. Furthermore, what are corporations, such as Booz Allen Hamilton doing acting on behalf of the NSA, and one presumes the CIA?
What then is “due process of law”? What constitutes a fair trail? These are questions that are embarrassing to ask. It surely cannot be what either the executive or legislature say it is? It surely does not involve anything that could be construed as torture, or other violations of human rights, or the presumption of innocence? Some have suggested, fatuously, that the American system was designed that way, and not been deliberately broken. So who is responsible? Office holders such as the presidents and members of Congress who take an oath to defend the Constitution?
By contrast Fox News got into the act, declaring that innocent Americans had nothing to fear, and that those who commit treason should be killed. Treason has been made cool.
(Is this actually an interview? Perhaps it is not intended to be.)
Juan Cole comments on the role of corporations, not simply as contractors as part of the military-industrial complex, but as subsuming the electoral agenda. He writes:
If US Federal agents swooped into Google’s headquarters in SWAT gear and raided Google’s file cabinets without a warrant, the Republicans in Congress and the anchors at Fox would all have brain aneurysms. But if Federal agents swoop into Google’s servers and read the email of ordinary people, that seems to be all right. Our Constitutional rights increasingly only extend to Corporate citizens; the rest of us are second class.
I don’t think you have to be a fourth amendment fundamentalist to find this government intrusion unconstitutional and creepy
I am genuinely puzzled as to why the Fourth Amendment is no longer taken seriously, much less literally, by any significant faction in American politics. My hypothesis is that whereas the gun manufacturers clearly make big bucks off their weird absolutist interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, there is no set of corporations that would lose billions of dollars if the government snoops into your phone records or email traffic. Oh, Google might suffer versus Yahoo among consumers if the former let the NSA have access to its servers but the latter did not, but the government has neutralized that issue by dragooning both of them. (They deny it, but they are forced to deny it by the terms of the PATRIOT Act, which disallows victims’ disclosure of government bullying).
Since what counts in American politics is campaign dollars, there’s no real pressure for the Fourth Amendment. There are no corporate coffers at stake, only harm done to everyday citizens like you and me, and the system no longer serves us.
Daniel Ellsberg appeared on CNN, where he suggests it is likely in his opinion that Edward Snowden will be put of trial:
Kieran Healy illustrates how metadata can be used.
Crickey’s editorial makes the straightforward case that Fox News somehow misses, even though one of its own journalists was caught up in the surveillance web:
Why do Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass internet and phone surveillance by America’s National Security Agency matter to you?
Say you don’t mind that every google search you do, every Facebook update you post, every gmail you send, every Skype call you make, is being sent through an NSA filter. You’re not a terrorist. You’re not an agitator or protester. You’re not a criminal. You’re just an ordinary citizen leading an ordinary life. Right?
Well, you have a right to privacy, and it’s a right that doesn’t need to be justified or explained. “You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide” is the thinking that leads to demanding defendants prove their innocence. Governments and companies must justify anything that breaches privacy. They rarely do.
How much do you trust agencies and governments when they operate entirely in secret? If it wasn’t for Edward Snowden, most of us would be unaware of the vast extent of NSA spying on Americans (and anyone else with an internet connection), because the US government shrouds its surveillance in secrecy.
How much do you trust agencies and governments when they use the information produced by surveillance not to chase terrorists, but to pursue journalists who have merely embarrassed them? That’s what the administration of Barack Obama has done.
When governments spy on their populations, and do so in secret, it is inevitable those actions will corrupt government and undermine a free media — as well as destroying the privacy to which citizens of democracies are entitled to.
Here is another video with Julian Assange and John Perry Barlow on UK Sky TV. The issues associated with the data mining systems, such as PRISM are set out:
It turns out that what Edward Snowden has done is confirm in detail what was known and flagged and available to the viewers of, for example, James Corbett’s Report at Boiling Frog. com:
ps: For whatever reason, perhaps experimentation or impatience, I deleted this post. This explains why there are two entries as Blogtariat.
- Bill Blum, Is The Surveillance State Constitutional? (Truthdig) – Catch 22.
- Robert Scheer, One American Who Isn’t for Sale (Truthdig)
- Steve Chapman, The Real Problem with the NSA’s Indiscriminate Syping (Reason.Com)
- Julian Assange praises Edward Snowden as a hero (guardian.co.uk)
- Hong Kong ‘not a safe harbour’ for U.S. surveillance whistleblower (cbc.ca)
- The Judicial Lynching of Bradley Manning by Chris Hedges (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Manning trial resumes as new leak scandal unfolds (cnsnews.com)
- Edward Snowden: more conscientious objector than common thief (guardian.co.uk)
- Edward Snowden leaked selectively, Bradley Manning did not (telegraph.co.uk)