(on 2011-12-16)

Statement on Bradley Manning Case

15 December 2011, 21:18 GMT

Today is the 220th year anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Tomorrow, Private Bradley Manning will appear before a court for the first time in Fort Meade near Washington D.C after 570 days in prison. He is alleged to have submitted footage and documentation of war crimes to WikiLeaks. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) represents the WikiLeaks media organization and its publisher Julian Assange regarding access to the proceedings. It is nearly certain that allegations regarding Wikileaks and Julian Assange from the grand jury that has been meeting every month since September 2010 attempting to mount an espionage case will be disclosed in these proceedings.

If it is the case that he is indeed the source of this or other WikiLeaks materials, Manning would have singlehandedly changed hundreds of thousands of people's lives for the better. This material has contributed to ending dictatorships in the Middle East, it has exposed torture and wrongdoing in all the corners of the world and it has held diplomatic bodies and politicians accountable for the words, deals and pacts held behind close doors.

The Obama Administration's treatment of Bradley Manning has been inhumane and degrading. 64 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have signed an open letter to the US Government recalling the "abusive treatment tantamount to torture" that Manning has been subjected to, and the letter complains that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture had not been granted access to Bradley Manning privately in order to conduct an investigation of is treatment by US military authorities. 250 top legal scholars in the US have signed a letter to decry the violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against punishment without trial.

Barack Obama was voted in on a promise of change. As a former academic of constitutional law, the world expected that this administration would return the United States to the rule of law. Instead, while Hillary Clinton praises transparency abroad, she undermines the First Amendment and the free flow of information at home. The Obama Administration has charged more whistleblowers than all other previous administrations combined.

The political and economic attacks against WikiLeaks, its founder, its alleged sources, and its supporters have been vicious. In February this year, it was revealed in detail that the Bank of America had commissioned, through Washington lawyers Hunton & Williams, a consortium of three US intelligence contractors to propose a systematic US $2 million/month multi-pronged attack to hack and smear WikiLeaks. HB Gary was referred to the bank’s lawyers by contacts within the US Department of Justice. Republican senators incite violence against our people and practice hate-speech on FOX News. They have called for the execution of WikiLeaks staff or their internment as enemy combatants, a term invented specifically for Al-Qaeda terror suspects. The US Treasury seems to be the last bastion of the rule of law in present-day America. The Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, withstood pressures from Republican senators by stating that there were no lawful grounds to blacklist WikiLeaks. We are a media and publishing organisation and journalists who are protected by the First Amendment. The Obama administration has turned to outsourcing its retaliation against WikiLeaks to private companies, credit card companies and banks. It turns to the Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union to carry out the censorship that would be illegal for the government to do itself. They have been blocking donations to WikiLeaks since December 2010 in an attempt to financially strangle the organisation and its publishing activities.

Just six kilometres from the heart of Washington D.C., not far from Fort Meade, a Grand Jury is sitting in secret in Alexandria, Virginia. There is no judge. There is no defence counsel. The jury is picked from the dormitory of the national security establishment. This is the area with the highest density of government officials and civilian and military contractors in the country. Four prosecutors are attempting to bring the case of espionage against WikiLeaks and its founder. The investigation has issued subpoenas requesting the private information of WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and free speech activists Jacob Applebaum, Rop Gonggrijp, Brigitta Jonsdottir, among others, in a fishing expedition against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Some sources have suggested that there is already a sealed indictment for Julian Assange, ready to be unsealed as soon as the Swedish extradition case is resolved. This view was reinforced by the US ambassador to the UK, Louis Sussman earlier this year on Sky TV, and the US Ambassador to Australia in November, who said that, in relation to a return to Australia by Mr. Assange, Australia would have to "consider its extradition obligations".

Collateral Murder, The Iraq War Logs, the Afghanistan War Diaries, Cablegate, the GITMO Files, and the WikiLeaks Spy Files have dissected the anatomy of US power relations in the world. The Foreign Ministers of the EU released a statement on December 8, 2011 in support of WikiLeaks and freedom of speech. By contrast, in the United States the Obama administration is purposely intimidating citizens who use constitutional protections to support a pro-transparency, pro-accountability publishing organisation. The US investigation into WikiLeaks has been "unprecedented both in its scale and nature" according to the Australian embassy in Washington. Because knowledge will always rule ignorance, a people who mean to be their own governors, a people who mean to be free, must have the power that knowledge will bring. Madison's dream, of a free and politically educated people, holding the state to account through knowledge of state behavior, protected by the Bill of Rights, is in peril. Jefferson's "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" does not refer to the surveillance of the people by the state—it refers to the surveillance of the state by the people. The national security state has grown like a cancer. There are now 4.3 million people in the United States with security clearances. 1.2 million with top secret security clearances—half held by contractors like Blackwater. As the United Stated edges towards a national security dystopia, an information apartheid, it is time to exercise eternal vigilance. It has always been the price of liberty.

Julian Assange,
15 December 2011

Bradley Manning

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