Government budget cuts threaten Pakistan's climate change efforts

climateadaptation:

Climate scientists condemn the decision.

Reuters

10 September 2013 ·

thepoliticalfreakshow:

When Will It Be Enough? One-Year-Old Died After Being Shot In The Head In Brooklyn [TW: Infant Violence, Death]
A one-year-old was shot in the head and killed Sunday night after a gunman allegedly attempted to shoot the toddler’s father.
Antiq Hennis was in a stroller being pushed across the street by his parents in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, when a single bullet struck his head just a block from the family’s home. The child’s father began looking for help after the shots rang out.
“He was screaming ‘My baby got shot.’ He was going crazy,” Gina Gamboa, 22, told the Daily News. “The baby was breathing, but his eyes were closed. It’s crazy. They just will start shooting.”
Four shots were fired at around 7:30 P.M. Only Antiq was hit. He was pronounced dead at Brookdale University Hospital shortly before 9 P.M.

Antiq’s father, the intended target, has a record of more than 20 arrests. “They shot at him and ended up shooting the baby,” the child’s great-uncle, Chris Dobson said.
This follows another incident last week where a toddler was also shot in the head in Brooklyn. Luckily, that child survived.

thepoliticalfreakshow:

When Will It Be Enough? One-Year-Old Died After Being Shot In The Head In Brooklyn [TW: Infant Violence, Death]

A one-year-old was shot in the head and killed Sunday night after a gunman allegedly attempted to shoot the toddler’s father.

Antiq Hennis was in a stroller being pushed across the street by his parents in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, when a single bullet struck his head just a block from the family’s home. The child’s father began looking for help after the shots rang out.

“He was screaming ‘My baby got shot.’ He was going crazy,” Gina Gamboa, 22, told the Daily News. “The baby was breathing, but his eyes were closed. It’s crazy. They just will start shooting.”

Four shots were fired at around 7:30 P.M. Only Antiq was hit. He was pronounced dead at Brookdale University Hospital shortly before 9 P.M.

Antiq’s father, the intended target, has a record of more than 20 arrests. “They shot at him and ended up shooting the baby,” the child’s great-uncle, Chris Dobson said.

This follows another incident last week where a toddler was also shot in the head in Brooklyn. Luckily, that child survived.

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

2 September 2013 ·

Exclusive: Intercepted Calls Prove Syrian Army Used Nerve Gas, U.S. Spies Say

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services, The Cable has learned. And that is the major reason why American officials now say they’re certain that the attacks were the work of the Bashar al-Assad regime — and why the U.S. military is likely to attack that regime in a matter of days.

But the intercept raises questions about culpability for the chemical massacre, even as it answers others: Was the attack on Aug. 21 the work of a Syrian officer overstepping his bounds? Or was the strike explicitly directed by senior members of the Assad regime? “It’s unclear where control lies,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Cable. “Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?” 

Nor are U.S. analysts sure of the Syrian military’s rationale for launching the strike — if it had a rationale at all. Perhaps it was a lone general putting a long-standing battle plan in motion; perhaps it was a miscalculation by the Assad government. Whatever the reason, the attack has triggered worldwide outrage, and put the Obama administration on the brink of launching a strike of its own in Syria. “We don’t know exactly why it happened,” the intelligence official added. “We just know it was pretty fucking stupid.”

American intelligence analysts are certain that chemical weapons were used on Aug. 21 — the captured phone calls, combined with local doctors’ accounts and video documentation of the tragedy — are considered proof positive. That is why the U.S. government, from the president on down, has been unequivocal in its declarations that the Syrian military gassed thousands of civilians in the East Ghouta region. 

However, U.S. spy services still have not acquired the evidence traditionally considered to be the gold standard in chemical weapons cases: soil, blood, and other environmental samples that test positive for reactions with nerve agent. That’s the kind of proof that America and its allies processed from earlier, small-scale attacks that the White House described in equivocal tones, and declined to muster a military response to in retaliation.

There is an ongoing debate within the Obama administration about whether to strike Assad immediately — or whether to allow United Nations inspectors to try and collect that proof before the bombing begins. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called the work of that team “redundant … because it is clearly established already that chemical weapons have been used on a significant scale.” 

But within the intelligence community, at least, “there’s an interest in letting the U.N. piece run its course,” the official said. “It puts the period on the end of the sentence.”

When news about the Ghouta incident first trickled out, there were questions about whether or not a chemical agent was to blame for the massacre. But when weapons experts and U.S. intelligence analysts began reviewing the dozens of videos and pictures allegedly taken from the scene of the attacks, they quickly concluded that a nerve gas, such as sarin, had been used there. The videos showed young victims who were barely able to breathe and, in some cases, twitching. Close-up photos revealed that their pupils were severely constricted. Doctors and nurses who say they treated the victims reported that they later became short of breath as well. Eyewitnesses talk ofyoung children so confused, they couldn’t even indentify their own parents. All of these are classic signs of exposure to a nerve agent like sarin, the Assad regime’s chemical weapon of choice. 

Making the case even more conclusive were the images of the missiles that supposedly delivered the deadly attacks. If they were carrying conventional warheads, they would have likely been all but destroyed as they detonated. But several missiles in East Ghouta were found largely intact. “Why is there so much rocket left? There shouldn’t be so much rocket left,” the intelligence official told The Cable. The answer, the official and his colleagues concluded, was that the weapon was filled with nerve agent, not a conventional explosive.

In the days after the attacks, there was a great deal of public discussion about which side in Syria’s horrific civil war actually launched the strike. Allies of the Assad regime, like Iran and Russia, pointed the finger at the opposition. The intercepted communications told a different story — one in which the Syrian government was clearly to blame.

The official White House line is that the president is still considering his options for Syria. But all of Washington is talking about a punitive strike on the Assad government in terms of when, not if. Even some congressional doves have said they’re now at least open to the possibility of U.S. airstrikes in Syria. Images of dead children, neatly stacked in rows, have a way of changing minds.

"It’s horrible, it’s stupid," the intelligence official said about the East Ghouta attack by the Syrian military. "Whatever happens in the next few days — they get what they deserve."

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

27 August 2013 ·

Prison Attorneys Claim 14-Year-Old Inmate Wanted To Get Raped By Her 40-Year-Old Prison Guard [TW: Rape, Sexual Assault, Child Molestation, Rape Enablism, Rape Apologism, Rape Culture, Victim Blaming, Victim Shaming]

thepoliticalfreakshow:

A Louisiana parish is trying to get out of paying a 14-year-old who was repeatedly raped by her prison guard, with lawyers arguing last week that the girl wanted the sex.

The guard, Angelo Vickers, is serving a 7-year sentence after pleading guilty to molestation of a juvenile. The woman, known anonymously as Mary Doe, is now an emotionally traumatized 20-year-old. Mary Doe sued the Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government as well as her attacker, alleging the parish officials should have protected her from Vickers.

Rather than assume liability or try to shift the scrutiny solely on the guard, the parish’s defense strategy is simply to blame the victim. Court papers claim, “Vickers could not have engaged in sexual relations within the walls of the detention center with [the victim] without cooperation from her. Vickers did not use force, violence or intimidation when engaging in sexual relations.”

“These girls in the detention center are not Little Miss Muffin,” one official toldthe Tri-Parish Times.

Of course, the defense is flagrantly at odds with Louisiana law, which states no one under 17 years old can consent to sex. Moreover, the obvious power a guard wields over a prisoner makes any sexual relationship suspect, even without proof of physical force or overt threats.

The Terrebonne juvenile prison was exposed by a Department of Justice investigation in 2010 for arbitrarily putting children in isolation cells and leaving guards unsupervised. Several staffers were fired and even indicted for exchanging candy, fruit, time on the telephone, and other favors in return for sex with the underage inmates.

Still, prison employees all over the country often get away with rape, and few actually serve time. One Department of Justice study found that only 56 percent of staffers who were clearly caught sexually abusing inmates were referred for prosecution, while many are released on low bonds or given negligible sentences on the grounds that their victims were in prison.

More than 1,700 boys and girls reported being sexually assaulted, but the number is likely much higher given inmates’ reluctance to report rape. Prison guards usually begin their abuse by sharing personal stories and giving young inmates gifts to create a semblance of intimacy, according to another DOJ survey.

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

7 August 2013 ·

Pentagon fires 60 troops who were sexual assault counselors, recruiters or drill instructors after sex-assault review

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Sixty troops have been fired as sexual assault counselors, recruiters or drill instructors after the military investigators found they had committed violations ranging from alcohol-related offenses to child abuse and sexual assault, USA TODAY has learned.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered that the records of recruiters and sexual assault counselors be examined on May 17. That action came in light of the Pentagon’s report in May that estimated 26,000 troops had been sexually assaulted in 2012, a 35% increase since 2010, with offenses ranging from groping to rape. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called sexual assault in the military a crisis.

The records of at least 35,000 troops have been screened or are under review, according to the services.

Each of the services appears to have interpreted Hagel’s directive differently. The Marines screened recruiters, for example, against a public database, while the Army considered criminal records for sexual assault, child abuse and alcohol-related offenses.

The Army has suspended 55 soldiers, according to figures compiled through mid-July, said George Wright, an Army spokesman. In all, it is looking at 20,000 recruiters, sexual-assault counselors and drill instructors and expects to have completed its screening by Oct. 1. More suspensions could occur as the review continues.

It is unclear whether the suspended soldiers have been discharged, Wright said, or if they can be reassigned to other units.

"We only want the very best to be in these positions of special trust," Wright said. “The steps we are taking are in keeping with our commitment to maintaining the special bonds of trust and confidence between the leader and his or her soldiers."

The Navy disqualified three of 5,125 recruiters it reviewed, and two of 4,739 counselors. It reviewed records of 869 recruit instructors; none of them was disqualified.

"We are committed to this process and routinely screen personnel for any conduct that could warrant decertification," said Tammy O’Rourke, the Navy’s sexual assault prevention and response program manager.

The Air Force reported no airmen were disqualified but did not report an overall number. The Marines screened its recruiters against the National Sex Offenders Public website, according to a memo, and found no matches. About 6,000 Marine recruiters were screened.

Several high-profile sex scandals have rocked the military this year. The Air Force relieved the lieutenant colonel in charge of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office following his arrest in May after police said he drunkenly groped a woman outside a bar not far from the Pentagon.

Also in May: The Army announced that it was investigating a sergeant in charge of a battalion’s sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood for suspicion of sexual assault. He is suspected of running a small-scale prostitution ring there, according to sources briefed on the case.

Congress summoned the service chiefs to Capitol Hill to explain their response to sexual assault, and a number of measures to address the issue could become law. Among them is a proposal to enhance oversight of commanders who make decisions about prosecution and discipline in sex crimes.

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

2 August 2013 ·

brooklynmutt:

Gawker: Here’s The First Picture of Edward Snowden In Moscow

brooklynmutt:

Gawker: Here’s The First Picture of Edward Snowden In Moscow

2 August 2013 ·

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Do You Know Your Enemy? Congress Wanted A Verdict That Would Make The Next Bradley Manning Think Twice Before He/She Leaked Government Secrets

The verdict in the Pfc. Bradley Manning trial came down a little after 1 p.m., not an ideal time for members of the U.S. Senate. Democrats and Republicans were meeting for their weekly lunches, and when they exited, around 2 p.m., most of them pled ignorance of the WikiLeaks source’s fate—guilty of violating the Espionage Act, guilty of stealing government property, acquitted of “aiding the enemy.”


Only the disappointed senators seemed willing to dish. “I’m very surprised by the verdict,” said Maine Sen. Susan Collins, ranking member of the Homeland Security committee and one of the Republicans on the Select Committee on Intelligence. “I believe the information he disclosed was extremely harmful to our country. It is not in the same category as [Edward] Snowden’s betrayals, but it’s very serious nonetheless. I respect the judgment, even though I find it hard to believe.”


North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, another member of the intelligence committee, cheered himself with the guilty verdicts. “Clearly if you look at the other charges, many of which he pleaded guilty to, there’s a substantial amount of jail time that’s probably triggered—probably at least 20 years,” said Burr. “I’m more focused now on trying to find Snowden, and trying to get him in front of the judicial process, but I think this should discourage other leakers. I don’t think anybody wants to serve jail time.”


The dream of dissuading future leakers had been a goal all along—the executive branch’s goal, and the Senate’s. Convicting Manning of violating the Espionage Act was the sort of win Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein had wanted all along. “The Supreme Court has held that its protections of free speech and freedom of the press are not a green light to abandon the protection of our vital national interests,” she argued in 2010, at that time making the case for prosecuting Julian Assange, the man who took Manning’s information and spread it online. Assange called today’s verdict “the first ever espionage conviction against a whistleblower” and “a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism.”


But it wasn’t a new definition or precedent on “aiding the enemy.” The government had argued that Manning possessed an “evil intent” when he burned diplomatic cables onto CDs then handed the information to the Assange organization. It cited, for example, the case of Pvt. Henry Vanderwater, a treacherous soldier in the Union army who’d given a command roster to a Confederate newspaper. And had the government won, someone who revealed information later used by, say, al-Qaida, would have been as legally liable as someone who passed secrets directly to the terrorists.


The government didn’t win. The legislators and spymasters who insist that Manning was a traitor—and that Snowden is a traitor too—have a weaker case today. Feinstein insisted that Snowden “violated his oath,” and thus committed “treason.” Over in Fort Meade, Col. Denise Lind has declared that Manning didn’t truly intend to aid the enemy. That’s a major setback for intel hawks (or whatever you can call these people), because despite the outrage generated on the Hill, there’s no real momentum for legislation to further criminalize leaking. A brutal judgment from Lind was the best they could have hoped for, and this one wasn’t brutal enough.


So Manning’s critics gritted their teeth and praised the court. “I’m not saying WikiLeaks was the enemy,” said Collins today. “I’m saying that the information revealed was helpful to those who do not wish us well. “


Sen. Lindsey Graham, a former JAG lawyer, declined to second-guess the judgment from Fort Meade. “I think it’s a logical consequence that the enemy might pick up the information leaked here, but I think the statute is written that you have to intend that,” he said. “But I can understand why the judge ruled that way, and I think the process has been fair. I respect the court’s decision. I think he should have been tried for all the crimes, including aiding the enemy. The process worked, didn’t it?”


Graham headed out of the Capitol on a hopeful note. “This is one of the more serious things that I’ve seen a military member do in 30 years,” he said. “I hope people who say he’s a hero see they’re misguided in terms of what a hero might be.”

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Do You Know Your Enemy? Congress Wanted A Verdict That Would Make The Next Bradley Manning Think Twice Before He/She Leaked Government Secrets

The verdict in the Pfc. Bradley Manning trial came down a little after 1 p.m., not an ideal time for members of the U.S. Senate. Democrats and Republicans were meeting for their weekly lunches, and when they exited, around 2 p.m., most of them pled ignorance of the WikiLeaks source’s fate—guilty of violating the Espionage Act, guilty of stealing government property, acquitted of “aiding the enemy.”

Only the disappointed senators seemed willing to dish. “I’m very surprised by the verdict,” said Maine Sen. Susan Collins, ranking member of the Homeland Security committee and one of the Republicans on the Select Committee on Intelligence. “I believe the information he disclosed was extremely harmful to our country. It is not in the same category as [Edward] Snowden’s betrayals, but it’s very serious nonetheless. I respect the judgment, even though I find it hard to believe.”

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, another member of the intelligence committee, cheered himself with the guilty verdicts. “Clearly if you look at the other charges, many of which he pleaded guilty to, there’s a substantial amount of jail time that’s probably triggered—probably at least 20 years,” said Burr. “I’m more focused now on trying to find Snowden, and trying to get him in front of the judicial process, but I think this should discourage other leakers. I don’t think anybody wants to serve jail time.”

The dream of dissuading future leakers had been a goal all along—the executive branch’s goal, and the Senate’s. Convicting Manning of violating the Espionage Act was the sort of win Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein had wanted all along. “The Supreme Court has held that its protections of free speech and freedom of the press are not a green light to abandon the protection of our vital national interests,” she argued in 2010, at that time making the case for prosecuting Julian Assange, the man who took Manning’s information and spread it online. Assange called today’s verdict “the first ever espionage conviction against a whistleblower” and “a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism.”

But it wasn’t a new definition or precedent on “aiding the enemy.” The government had argued that Manning possessed an “evil intent” when he burned diplomatic cables onto CDs then handed the information to the Assange organization. It cited, for example, the case of Pvt. Henry Vanderwater, a treacherous soldier in the Union army who’d given a command roster to a Confederate newspaper. And had the government won, someone who revealed information later used by, say, al-Qaida, would have been as legally liable as someone who passed secrets directly to the terrorists.

The government didn’t win. The legislators and spymasters who insist that Manning was a traitor—and that Snowden is a traitor too—have a weaker case today. Feinstein insisted that Snowden “violated his oath,” and thus committed “treason.” Over in Fort Meade, Col. Denise Lind has declared that Manning didn’t truly intend to aid the enemy. That’s a major setback for intel hawks (or whatever you can call these people), because despite the outrage generated on the Hill, there’s no real momentum for legislation to further criminalize leaking. A brutal judgment from Lind was the best they could have hoped for, and this one wasn’t brutal enough.

So Manning’s critics gritted their teeth and praised the court. “I’m not saying WikiLeaks was the enemy,” said Collins today. “I’m saying that the information revealed was helpful to those who do not wish us well. “

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a former JAG lawyer, declined to second-guess the judgment from Fort Meade. “I think it’s a logical consequence that the enemy might pick up the information leaked here, but I think the statute is written that you have to intend that,” he said. “But I can understand why the judge ruled that way, and I think the process has been fair. I respect the court’s decision. I think he should have been tried for all the crimes, including aiding the enemy. The process worked, didn’t it?”

Graham headed out of the Capitol on a hopeful note. “This is one of the more serious things that I’ve seen a military member do in 30 years,” he said. “I hope people who say he’s a hero see they’re misguided in terms of what a hero might be.”

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

30 July 2013 ·

thepoliticalfreakshow:

A Moderate Verdict: The Bradley Manning Verdict and the Failure of Prosecutorial Overreach

Reporters and leakers all over Washington, D.C., are heaving a sigh of relief: On Tuesday, a military judge found Pvt. Bradley Manning not guilty of “aiding the enemy.”


Manning, whose sentencing begins tomorrow, will probably still be spending at least a couple of decades in prison for 19 other crimes, but his conviction on most of those charges had been expected; he’d already pled guilty to some of them. But “aiding the enemy” was the most serious accusation. It’s labeled a capital crime; although prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty in this instance. He would have been put behind bars for life. More broadly, a guilty verdict on the charge of aiding the enemy would have turned the climate for investigative journalism—already as tense as it has been for many years—into a toxic dust cloud.


Prosecutors had argued during the trial that the documents Manning supplied in 2010 to WikiLeaks—which, in turn, provided them to the New York Times and other publications—were read by Osama Bin Laden, who took comfort from them. Therefore, they contended, Manning had aided the enemy.


It was an explosive argument. Few officers or enlisted personnel had ever been tried for “aiding the enemy”—codified at Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice—and none had been convicted on that charge merely for leaking classified documents to a news agency (or, in WikiLeaks’ unusual case, an intermediary to news agencies).


Had the judge accepted the argument and found Manning guilty of the broad new charge, the implications would have been profound. By such a verdict’s logic, The New Yorker could have been accused of aiding the enemy for publishing Seymour Hersh’s article about the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib. Hersh’s intention may have been to call attention to war crimes being committed by U.S. officers in Iraq, but a prosecutor could certainly have argued that the story served al-Qaida’s interests; and it’s certainly true that the revelations over Abu Ghraib were used as recruitment tools by jihadists worldwide.


In fact, by this logic, any published criticism of an American war, or of U.S. foreign policy generally, could be interpreted as “aiding the enemy” if copies were found in enemy hands. For that matter, news reports of Southern racism in the 1950s could have been prosecuted on those grounds because the Soviet Union—the enemy in the era’s Cold War—cited those reports in its anti-American propaganda campaigns, especially in the developing world.


True, Manning was tried in a military court by military prosecutors and a military judge. A newspaper or magazine, in these hypothetical scenarios, would be tried in a federal court by Justice Department prosecutors and a civilian judge. The standards are different. Precedents from military trials are rarely cited—and have no legal standing—in civilian courts.


Still, judges and prosecutors are free to cite legal arguments from any type of court they wish. Steven Aftergood of the Secrecy News website notes that, in the indictment against Stephen Kim—the State Department official who recently leaked information about North Korean nuclear testing to a FoxNews reporter—the Justice Department prosecutors cite an argument used by Chief Judge Denise R. Lind; the military judge in the Manning case. Specifically, they quote Col. Lind as saying (on Pages 59–60) that the accused “had reason to believe the information he communicated could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.” They add that Lind said the actual damage done by the leak is irrelevant to the fact that he had “reason to believe” the information “could be used” to ill effect.


In the Manning verdict today, Judge Lind herself didn’t buy that argument. We don’t yet know why. Was it because she thought the prosecutors hadn’t made their case that Manning knew, or had reason to believe, that Osama Bin Laden would read the news reports based on his leaks? Or did she think the argument was absurdly broad on the face of it?


A federal judge in Virginia came to that latter conclusion in the 2006 case, United States of America vs. Lawrence Franklin, et al., in which a Pentagon official (Franklin) was indicted for leaking classified information to two executives of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee—and, more alarmingly, the two AIPAC executives were indicted for receivingthat information, a crime under the rarely invoked Espionage Act of 1917.


Initially, the presiding judge, T.S. Ellis, allowed the charge to stand, noting that the law “applies to academics, lawyers, journalists, professors, whatever.” He added that if there’s a problem with that, the law should be changed; but judges can only interpret and apply the law, not nullify it. In the end, though, Ellis went against his earlier pronouncement and dismissed the indictment against the AIPAC analysts, on the grounds that the statute was too vague, broad, inconsistently applied, and draconian. (Franklin, the Pentagon official, was convicted, however for violating his security oath.)


There is another possible reason for Manning’s acquittal on the charge of aiding the enemy: It’s possible the judge simply thought he wasn’t guilty. The charge was always a bit of a stretch for the prosecutors. Article 104 of the UCMJ states that the crime applies to any person who


“(1) aids, or attempts to aid, the enemy with arms, ammunition, supplies, money, or other things; or (2) without proper authority, knowingly harbors or protects or gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly. (Italics added.)”


For the judge to find Manning guilty under Article 104, she would have had to conclude that “other things” includes classified documents, and that giving intelligence to the enemy “indirectly” includes giving it to WikiLeaks, which gives it to a newspaper, which is read by the enemy. Such stretches wouldn’t have been unprecedented, in civilian or military courts, but, again, Judge Lind chose not to go there.


It may be that the prosecutor overreached. In his summary remarks, he lambasted Pvt. Manning as not only a leaker, a thief, a security threat, and all the rest, but also a “traitor.” Whatever one thinks of Manning and his motives, this went too far. Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution states: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” (Italics added.) One could make a stretch and claim that Manning’s actions gave aid and comfort to some enemies; but there’s no way that he could be seen as “adhering” to enemies or as “levying war” (which later Supreme Court decisions have interpreted to mean physically waging war against the United States).


Whether what Manning did was right or wrong in the broader book of morality, it did violate military law. He knew that; and, in his plea, he accepted responsibility for it, accepted his fate, but always insisted that he had no intention to aid the enemy. The military court’s assent on that point was wise, beneficial for free speech, and for the country.

thepoliticalfreakshow:

A Moderate Verdict: The Bradley Manning Verdict and the Failure of Prosecutorial Overreach

Reporters and leakers all over Washington, D.C., are heaving a sigh of relief: On Tuesday, a military judge found Pvt. Bradley Manning not guilty of “aiding the enemy.”

Manning, whose sentencing begins tomorrow, will probably still be spending at least a couple of decades in prison for 19 other crimes, but his conviction on most of those charges had been expected; he’d already pled guilty to some of them. But “aiding the enemy” was the most serious accusation. It’s labeled a capital crime; although prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty in this instance. He would have been put behind bars for life. More broadly, a guilty verdict on the charge of aiding the enemy would have turned the climate for investigative journalism—already as tense as it has been for many years—into a toxic dust cloud.

Prosecutors had argued during the trial that the documents Manning supplied in 2010 to WikiLeaks—which, in turn, provided them to the New York Times and other publications—were read by Osama Bin Laden, who took comfort from them. Therefore, they contended, Manning had aided the enemy.

It was an explosive argument. Few officers or enlisted personnel had ever been tried for “aiding the enemy”—codified at Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice—and none had been convicted on that charge merely for leaking classified documents to a news agency (or, in WikiLeaks’ unusual case, an intermediary to news agencies).

Had the judge accepted the argument and found Manning guilty of the broad new charge, the implications would have been profound. By such a verdict’s logic, The New Yorker could have been accused of aiding the enemy for publishing Seymour Hersh’s article about the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib. Hersh’s intention may have been to call attention to war crimes being committed by U.S. officers in Iraq, but a prosecutor could certainly have argued that the story served al-Qaida’s interests; and it’s certainly true that the revelations over Abu Ghraib were used as recruitment tools by jihadists worldwide.

In fact, by this logic, any published criticism of an American war, or of U.S. foreign policy generally, could be interpreted as “aiding the enemy” if copies were found in enemy hands. For that matter, news reports of Southern racism in the 1950s could have been prosecuted on those grounds because the Soviet Union—the enemy in the era’s Cold War—cited those reports in its anti-American propaganda campaigns, especially in the developing world.

True, Manning was tried in a military court by military prosecutors and a military judge. A newspaper or magazine, in these hypothetical scenarios, would be tried in a federal court by Justice Department prosecutors and a civilian judge. The standards are different. Precedents from military trials are rarely cited—and have no legal standing—in civilian courts.

Still, judges and prosecutors are free to cite legal arguments from any type of court they wish. Steven Aftergood of the Secrecy News website notes that, in the indictment against Stephen Kim—the State Department official who recently leaked information about North Korean nuclear testing to a FoxNews reporter—the Justice Department prosecutors cite an argument used by Chief Judge Denise R. Lind; the military judge in the Manning case. Specifically, they quote Col. Lind as saying (on Pages 59–60) that the accused “had reason to believe the information he communicated could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.” They add that Lind said the actual damage done by the leak is irrelevant to the fact that he had “reason to believe” the information “could be used” to ill effect.

In the Manning verdict today, Judge Lind herself didn’t buy that argument. We don’t yet know why. Was it because she thought the prosecutors hadn’t made their case that Manning knew, or had reason to believe, that Osama Bin Laden would read the news reports based on his leaks? Or did she think the argument was absurdly broad on the face of it?

A federal judge in Virginia came to that latter conclusion in the 2006 case, United States of America vs. Lawrence Franklin, et al., in which a Pentagon official (Franklin) was indicted for leaking classified information to two executives of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee—and, more alarmingly, the two AIPAC executives were indicted for receivingthat information, a crime under the rarely invoked Espionage Act of 1917.

Initially, the presiding judge, T.S. Ellis, allowed the charge to stand, noting that the law “applies to academics, lawyers, journalists, professors, whatever.” He added that if there’s a problem with that, the law should be changed; but judges can only interpret and apply the law, not nullify it. In the end, though, Ellis went against his earlier pronouncement and dismissed the indictment against the AIPAC analysts, on the grounds that the statute was too vague, broad, inconsistently applied, and draconian. (Franklin, the Pentagon official, was convicted, however for violating his security oath.)

There is another possible reason for Manning’s acquittal on the charge of aiding the enemy: It’s possible the judge simply thought he wasn’t guilty. The charge was always a bit of a stretch for the prosecutors. Article 104 of the UCMJ states that the crime applies to any person who

“(1) aids, or attempts to aid, the enemy with arms, ammunition, supplies, money, or other things; or (2) without proper authority, knowingly harbors or protects or gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly. (Italics added.)”

For the judge to find Manning guilty under Article 104, she would have had to conclude that “other things” includes classified documents, and that giving intelligence to the enemy “indirectly” includes giving it to WikiLeaks, which gives it to a newspaper, which is read by the enemy. Such stretches wouldn’t have been unprecedented, in civilian or military courts, but, again, Judge Lind chose not to go there.

It may be that the prosecutor overreached. In his summary remarks, he lambasted Pvt. Manning as not only a leaker, a thief, a security threat, and all the rest, but also a “traitor.” Whatever one thinks of Manning and his motives, this went too far. Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution states: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” (Italics added.) One could make a stretch and claim that Manning’s actions gave aid and comfort to some enemies; but there’s no way that he could be seen as “adhering” to enemies or as “levying war” (which later Supreme Court decisions have interpreted to mean physically waging war against the United States).

Whether what Manning did was right or wrong in the broader book of morality, it did violate military law. He knew that; and, in his plea, he accepted responsibility for it, accepted his fate, but always insisted that he had no intention to aid the enemy. The military court’s assent on that point was wise, beneficial for free speech, and for the country.

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

30 July 2013 ·

STUDY: Very Few Employers Have Actually Cut Workers’ Hours Because Of Obamacare

thepoliticalfreakshow:

With implementation of the Affordable Care Act inching closer by the day, there’s been a slow but steady stream of employers claiming that the law is forcing them to cut back workers’ hours and rely more heavily on part-time employees. But for all the talk, very few companies have actually cut hours because of Obamacare, according to a new analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

Obamacare requires firms that have 50 or more employees to provide a minimum level of health coverage to their full-time workers — defined as those who work 30 hours or more per week — or pay a $2,000 per employee fine after the first 30 workers. Since the overwhelming majority of companies that size already offer health care benefits, the provision only affects about 10,000 firms. Nonetheless, reform critics have latched onto the narrative that the requirement is a job-killer, citing the example of retail and service sector companies like Regal Theaters that are cutting back hours to avoid paying for workers’ health care benefits.

The CEPR report shows that to be a minority position among larger employers. Since 30 hours per week is the threshold for employees receiving benefits under the law, researchers expected companies that didn’t want to comply with Obamacare to roll back workers’ hours to just below that threshold. But only about 0.6 percent of the labor force worked between 26 and 29 hours per week in 2013. Since 2012, the number of part-time employees working that range of hours actually stayed statistically the same. Furthermore, less than a third of workers say they are working less than 30 hours because of an employers’ decision — most choose to work the limited number of hours. That led the authors to conclude that the trend “is in the wrong direction for the ACA as job-killer story.”

“While there may certainly be instances of individual employers carrying through with threats to reduce their employees’ hours to below 30 to avoid the sanctions in the ACA, the numbers are too small to show up in the data,” the CEPR researchers write. “It appears that in setting worker hours employers are responding to business considerations in much the same way as they did before the ACA took effect.”

Researchers also contend that the Obama administration’s recent decision to delay the employer coverage requirement by a year should have little effect on the numbers, since it was only announced earlier this month.

Companies had been shifting towards part-time workers and cutting those workers’ benefitslong before the health care law was around, and part-time employment has been propping up the economic recovery. But as this report shows, few firms are changing their workers’ hours in the way one would expect them to if they were really that worried about Obamacare.

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

25 July 2013 ·

Snowden's Dead Man's Switch

Edward Snowden has set up a dead man’s switch. He’s distributed encrypted copies of his document trove to various people, and has set up some sort of automatic system to distribute the key, should something happen to him.

(Source: azspot, via theamericanbear)

20 July 2013 ·

About Me

Steven Perez: observer, raconteur and all-around commie pinko socialist smartass. I reblog stuff. But don't ask about the bunnies. It's complicated.


Ask me something.
I like questions.


Member of The Internet Defense League


Find more about Weather in San Antonio, TX
Click for weather forecast



Instagram





silas216. Get yours at bighugelabs.com




silas216's Profile Page

XKit Extension for Tumblr!

Flickr Images