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Mainstream media has, in a matter of hours, gone from calling former NSA intelligence worker Edward Snowden a whistle blower to a "spy on the run". He may be charged with espionage by the US administration but for us he remains a whistle blower. A man who blew the lid of corruption in high office. The information he leaked showed widespread deceit by politicians plus that they were spying on their own people and others around the world. Ironic then that Snowen is now called the spy.
Monday there are reports that Edward Snowden remains in Russia but may leave soon. His final destination could be Ecuador, as he has formally asked for asylum in that country but that is not certain.
Julian Assange holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London hopes that country will be his final destination too but that seems unlikely, at least for now. In recent days it appears that Assange and Snowden have been in some contact which has fuelled claims that Julian is merely jumping on the publicity wagon which is rolling along courtesy of Snowden's revelations. Again that is down to some in the mainstream media, the same characters who tried to blacken the name of Edward Snowden when he blew the whistle.
Ecuador could agree to offer Snowden asylum but that will depend if they want to have good relations with the US or not. At this moment in time the government of Ecuador has no such aims but that could change in the future. We are all well aware that CIA operatives from the US work undercover in many countries around the world which means that in truth there is no 100% safe-haven for Snowden.
According to BBC news "Reports suggest he [Snowden] will board an early afternoon flight out of Moscow, heading first to the Cuban capital Havana. Washington says it expects the Russian government to "look at all options available" to expel him to the US on spying charges- but Russia reportedly says it has "no grounds" to do so".
"The US state department says it is urging countries in the "Western Hemisphere" not to let him enter their territory" which leaves us wondering what they have to hide?
Hong Kong which was Snowden's first port-of-call, claimed that he left that country voluntarily but his legal team paint a slightly different picture. They claim that the HK government assured him he could leave freely but wanted him out of the country this weekend. That at least saved a diplomatic spat with the USA but relations between the two countries are precarious to say the least.
Snowden timeline courtesy of RT:
US-Hong Kong communications on Snowden (via Reuters)
June 5: First batch of leaks revealed by the Guardian.
June 9: Edward Snowden steps forward as the source of the leaks
June 10: US DOJ starts communicating with Hong Kong counterparts.
June 14: US authorities charge Snowden under the Espionage Act and issue a warrant for his arrest.
June 15: US requests Hong Kong to provisionally arrest Snowden.
June 17: Hong Kong authorities respond that the matter was under review.
June 19: US Attorney General Eric Holder calls Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen, stressing the importance of the case.
June 21: Hong Kong asks for more information about the charges and evidence in the case.
June 23: Hong Kong authorities notify the US that Snowden has left the country.
Bradley Manning has been treat in a deplorable fashion. You can argue about his 'crimes' until you are blue in the face but, he as been treat in a manner most decent people would not use on a dog.
People in the USA are divided over Mr Manning and what should be his fate. TEK published an op-ed in March 2012 comparing the treatment of Bradley with that of the so-called rogue US soldier who had recently killed 17 civilians in Afghanistan. It tried to address the lack of justice Mr Manning was afforded. It was an eye-opener to just how bigoted many people remain in the 21st Century. It showed that a fair trial in the West is a concept rather than a right. It is ironic that we, the west, want to push our rights and beliefs onto the ME but shy away from following them through at home.
So what was Bradley's crime? In March we wrote,
Bradley Manning was a 22-year-old US Army analyst when he allegedly passed sensitive information which was ultimately revealed to the World. Facing 22 charges of obtaining and distributing government secrets Manning is thought by some to be a Hero and by others to be a Traitor,
Bradley is in the news again as a pre-trial hearing makes a startling announcement. A US military judge has said that if Pfc Manning is convicted, his sentence could be reduced by 112 days. The reason for the possible reduction is that he 'suffered illegal punishment during his nine-month detention, following his arrest in 2010, reports the BBC. At that time he was held for 23 hours a day, in a windowless cell. Pfc Manning was shackled for the hour he was out of his cell, and his jailers have tried to say that the strict measures where as he had suicidal thoughts. I bet he had!.
Manning faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy. In the four-day pre-trial hearing a judge argued that Manning's treatment was "more rigorous than necessary" but she excused this saying it. "became excessive in relation to legitimate government interests".
So how does the 112 days stack up? 20 days credit in exchange for guards continuing to remove Pfc Manning's underwear at night and 10 days for denying him exercise, the Pentagon said. The defense request to reduce any sentence by 10 days for every day of his nearly nine months, of being held with excessive treatment, was refused. It would have reduced said sentence by seven years. Instead Judge Lind agreed to 112 days of the nine-month period.
Manning's offer to accept responsibility for over 250,000 lcables leaked to wikileaks has been denied. He will face the 22 charges, which will include aiding the enemy. Dismissal of all charges is listed as a possible remedy for an Article 13 violation, that is excessive abusive treatment. It will not be availble for Manning
The Court Marshall is scheduled for March 2012. The kangaroo court as that is what iot is proving to be will decide the fate of this young man. He may have been misguided or simply foolish but he will be the scapegoat. A way to set an example. Jail will be a way to silence him. After all as Bradley has already proved he knows tooo many wrongdoings by the US military and the authorities.
Good luck Bradley.
More at the Guardian
March 12, 2012. A new week begins but will it be more of the same in Afghanistan? The aftermath of Koran burnings by US military personnel has hardly settled and now reportedly a lone rogue US soldier has massacred at least 15 civilians. The dead include women and children. All were murdered as they slept in their homes.
Perhaps surprisingly for Westerners it is not known if the Afghan people will react as strongly to yesterday's tragedy as they did to the Koran burnings. The Koran has such a special significance to the Afghan people that it was an attack on the population. That said this weekend's murders could still result in an increase in terrorism. The Taliban have however vowed recriminations.
Many of the media reports that have been coming out of Afghanistan in recent years tell a terrible tale. The US and its propaganda team may try an ongoing damage limitations exercise but it is safe to say that this weekend's murders were not an isolated incident. US soldiers urinating on dead Afghans, Kill teams and more appear to be just the tip of the iceberg.
The US is due to leave Afghanistan in the coming years but it had hoped to leave behind a contingency force. What could prove to be a deal breaker on this though is immunity from prosecution for US troops. Yes the US likes to protect its military, or least it does sometimes. Apparently immunity from prosecution was a deal breaker in Iraq. In the end having fought hard for so long the US simply pulled out every single member of US forces. It may be that rogue US soldiers will face American justice but what will that entail?
For this blogger the case of Bradley Manning comes to mind. This young soldier was obviously a troubled soul. Accused of leaking secrets to Wikileaks he has endured years in jail without trial. He was kept in isolation and there have been accusations levied against his jailers, of torture. Manning showed the world a little oh what was really going on with some of the US military abroad. For some he will always be a traitor and for others a hero. Did his actions jeopardise the lives of others? Maybe. Did he reveal a little of what was really happening in Iraq? Definitely.
The US is often viewed from other countries as a "bunch of hypocrites" I say the US as it is successive US administrations not simply the Obama one.
Whether it turns out that this weekend's killings were by a lone soldier or not justice must be served. Until a full investigation is complete do not rule out any conclusion. It could still be a cover up for one of the US night raids that went wrong. Time will tell if the truth is eventually released.
If it was on lone soldier who had flipped will he still face prosecution? You could say Bradley Manning fitted that category but officials do not care about him. He however did not directly kill anyone.
A lone gunman in for example a school in America would feel the full brunt of the law, no matter what his mental status was. So what is the difference with these Afghan murders?
If you have not seen it before watch the attached video. It shows murder plain and simple called "engaging" the enemy or should that be a group of Afghan men..This blogger thanks Bradley Manning for his bravery in ensuring that such murder did not go unseen. Out of sight and out of mind.
Bradley Manning faced a possible life sentence in jail or even the death penalty. His fate is still not clear.
Final thoughts: The perpetrator of this crime may indeed be suffering from PTSD. He could however have carried out a revenge attack for the Koran burning US deaths. He could have been part of a night attack that went wrong. He could have wanted a way out of Afghanistan. He may have wanted to go out with a bang. He may have looked at previous lenient sentences which have been handed out to US troops, other than people like Bradley Manning, and thought I can do as I like and get away with it. That is what comes of a record of failed justice. Time to come clean, hold your hands up and mete out appropriate justice.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog