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ReSource 005: The Medium of Treason: The Bradley Manning Case

May 31st, 2013 by L'auteur · Keine Kommentare

Agency or Misconduct in a Digital Society?

On Mai 5th 2013, media activist Diani Barreto and transmediale currator Tatiana Bazzichelli have organized a panel discussion in the context of re:publica, to remember the US soldier and intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, the whistleblower who transfered the video “Collateral Murder” and 260.000 diplomat cables to Wikileaks. In Mai 2010, he was arrested because of violation of the US Espionage Act, and after detainment in sometimes horrible conditions, he is finally put on trial on the beginning of 2013. He’s accused in 22 points, from which he already confessed 10 in the motion hearings. The real trial “United States v. Bradley Manning” will start on the 3rd of june.
This case is at the same time polarizing and heavily symbolic, path breaking and symptomatic, and besides the personal destiny of Bradley Manning, it has many layers of meaning, that should be discussed with involved guests.

They invited Birgitta Jónsdóttir, an islandic politician and leader of the pirate party, who also was involved with the publication of Collateral Murder; the investigative journalist John Goetz, who works for the German TV network NDR and the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and who also did research in the case Bradley Manning in 2010/2011; as well as Andy Müller Maguhn, member of the Wau Holland Foundation, who advocate freedom of information and administer the donations for WikiLeaks.

While the opinions of the vast public differ from seeing Bradley Manning as a candidate for Nobel Peace Prize, as well as giving him death penalty, in this circle of the ReSource-Event, there should be no doubt that the publication of documents, which proof war crimes of the US army in the Middle East, was a historical deed. If there are war fought in the name of the citizens and democracy, then they have a right of information, especially about war crimes their governments commit. On this evening, it was also undisputable that the hard conditions of detainment of Bradley Manning, especially during his solitary confinement at Quantico, where against human rights, as Amnesty International and Avaaz have pointed out. That a democratic government is acting against its own principles in this harsh way, shows how this leak was hitting the core of power, and – analog to the exorbitant life imprisonment of Aaron Swartz, how powerless they are on this field.

The only controversy in this circle was about the role of the media in the case of Bradley Manning. Unfortunately, investigative journalist John Goetz, as only professional, was wrongly taken as a spokesperson for the “so-called mainstream media” and therefore berated. Instead, his inside comments were useful correctives to this generalized critic of “the media”. There is no doubt, that especially the focus on the gossip of personal details about Mannings private life by some US media totally missed the historical value of this case. And it is also correct, that after the scandal of his detainment conditions, the case did not make any major headlines. But it would be fatal, to think that this topic was hushed up in all newspapers. The fact that e.g. “Spiegel” (german newspaper) had a special team gathered around this topic, like Goetz told, is one of those time- and cost-expensive processes in professional journalism, that most readers are not aware of. This easily leads to the thought, that nothing is happen at all. The problem seems to lie at a simultaneous demand on rich analyses and free of cost information.

On the other hand, one could easily say that there where no actual “news” about Bradley Manning for some time. On the contrary, the political disaster is evident and unmodified. It is not enough to talk about it, something has to be done. Instead of a slippery slope discussion about “mainstream media”, the should be political and street action. One promising way is Birgitta Jónsdóttirs concern, to realize new rights of privacy protection and information freedom via IMMI. Another one are worldwide protests of the Free-Manning-Movement at the 1st of June, also on 3pm in Berlin at the Brandenburger Tor.

further reading
Bradley Manning Statement
Manning-Lamo Chat Logs
OPEN: Outlaws and Pioneers of the Electronic Frontier (Documentation)

Tags: @// · Berlin · hacktivism · network policy