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Transcript of Pentagon lies about Bradley Manning at 1/26 news briefing

January 26, 2011

(Source: http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4758)

Q:  Geoff, is it true that prosecutors have not been able to tie Private [Bradley] Manning to Julian Assange and essentially make a link between the two in the case?

MR. MORRELL:  Well, what I would say on this is, as much as I’d like to weigh into this, this is, as you know, an ongoing criminal investigation.  So it would be inappropriate for me to speak to any — with any specificity to these issues.

But I would avail myself of this opportunity to admonish or warn you all to be extraordinarily careful about how you report on this story, because one thing I can — I do feel comfortable in telling you is that this case is being taken extremely seriously by the investigators both here in the Defense Department and, of course, at the Department of Justice.  They are hard at work at on building a case here.

So any pronouncements about a connection or lack of connection, those that have been found or are yet to be found, are just premature at this point.  So I’d urge everybody to proceed with caution on this, and probably most stories, for that matter.

So I’m not in a position, unfortunately, to tackle that as directly as I’d like to.  But that’s my admonition to you all, including Mr. [Jim “Mik”] Miklaszewski in the front row.

Q:  Well, why is he being held in solitary confinement?

MR. MORRELL:  He’s not being held in solitary confinement.  That’s a misnomer, among many in the reporting of this case.  What I — let me describe how Private First Class Manning is being held.  He is not in solitary confinement.  He is not in isolation.  He is in max — he is a maximum-custody detainee in a prevention-of-injury status.  He is not on suicide watch.  He is being held in the same quarter section with other pretrial detainees.  He’s allowed to watch television.  He’s allowed to read newspapers.  He’s allowed one hour per day of exercise.

He is in a cell by himself, but that is like every single other pretrial detainee at the brig.  It just so happens that the configuration of the brig is that every individual is confined to his or her own cell.  He’s being provided well-balanced, nutritious meals three times a day.  He receives visitors and mail, and can write letters.  He routinely meets with doctors, as well as his attorney.  He’s allowed to make telephone calls.  And he is being treated just like every other detainee in the brig.

So assertions by liberal bloggers, or network reporters or others that he is being mistreated, or somehow treated differently than others, in isolation, are just not accurate.  And I’m glad you asked the question, so I had the opportunity, hopefully, to clear that matter up once and for all.

Yes.

Q:  Could I just follow up on that?  I mean, all of that being said, he still does spend 23 out of every 24 hours in that cell by himself.  He’s not allowed to exercise in the cell.  He’s not allowed to arbitrarily just write letters.  He has to specifically ask for anything more than, say, one book at a time.  Are — is there any concern that — because from what we’ve heard, even the forensic psychologist who spoke with him and examined him recommended that he not be on this protective order.  I think that there’s a — there’s a question out there as to exactly how the brig commander — what criteria is being used to keep him under this order for such a long period of time, considering he’s still in a pre-trial status.

MR. MORRELL:  Just as though he is not being treated any worse than any other detainee, he is not being treated any better than any other detainee.  He is not going to receive special privileges, which is essentially what you are asking him to receive.  He is being treated exactly like everyone else in the brig is being treated.  That’s what’s appropriate.  We treat them all equally.  And I don’t understand why there would be a need for an exception to those rules to be made for Private Manning — or anyone else, for that matter.

Q:  Well, are there other prisoners who have been under this protective order for the length of time that Private Manning has?

MR. MORRELL:  That’s probably a question that’s best addressed to my colleagues at Quantico, in terms of the population at the brig there, how long some have been there versus others.  I don’t believe that this is an unusually long period of time.  A case is being built to prosecute him on the charges that were — again, to correct another mis-report yesterday that — you know, there were cable news reports yesterday that somehow Private Manning was being held without charge — not just that he was being held in conditions that the media thought were inappropriate, but that he was being held without charge — and how un-American that is.

As you all know who work in this building, who received the charge sheet back in July, he most certainly has been charged.  And he has not only been charged with illegally downloading classified information, but he has been charged with disseminating classified information to people unauthorized to receive it.  So those are very serious charges levied against him, related to a very discrete incident involving mostly the downloading of Apache gunship video from Iraq, but also some cables as well were mentioned in the charging sheet back in July.  He is, as we mentioned a person of interest in the much larger leak by WikiLeaks of additional classified documents, cables and tactical field reports and so forth.  But I think the manner in which he is being held is completely appropriate and completely consistent with how any and all detainees at the brig are treated.

Q:  One last question —

MR. MORRELL:  Yeah, I’ll get — Mik, I promise you I will give you a chance.

Here.

Q:  The protective order is not designed to punish him for being charged with those crimes.  It’s supposed to protect him.  I guess we’re trying to —

MR. MORRELL:  The protective order — I would — I would imagine that one — when one is confined in the brig, it is not just for their protection that we are worried.  We are always worried about our protection.  He is charged with very serious crimes.  That’s why you isolate someone behind bars.  That’s why you confine someone, so that they cannot escape, cannot possibly commit the crimes that they are alleged to have done again.

So it’s not — he is — I think you have it a little backwards.  I think you have it that he is being held for his own protection in the manner which he’s being held.  That may be, that there — there are reasons that they think that it is for his own benefit that he be held so.  But it can also be that he’s being held behind bars because he is a — deemed a threat, that he has been alleged to have committed a very serious crime that potentially undermines our nation’s security, and therefore he needs to be confined during the course of a trial.

But I would just — what I come back to time and time again, Chris, is the notion that the manner of his confinement is not in the least different from the manner in which anyone else at the brig is being held.

Q:  But not everybody’s under that protective order.

MR. MORRELL:  I’m — I — you keep coming back to this protective order.  I’m not so sure I know what you’re talking about.  I described conditions to you, the manner in which he’s being held.  And my understanding is that is consistent with how every other person in the brig is being held.

Now, the one exception to that could be this suicide-watch issue.  He was placed on suicide watch, as I understand it, for two days.  So that can be a difference between how others in the brig are being held.  But my understanding is that the manner in which he is being held is not punishment for any behavior, but this is the standard protocol for how people at the brig are held, especially people with the gravity of the charges he is facing.

Mik.

Q:  Well, since you mentioned me by name and, through implication, tied me to incorrect reporting, which would be incorrect, I do have a couple of questions.

MR. MORRELL:  Fire away.

Q:  Was the brig commander at Quantico in error in putting Private Manning on suicide watch for two days last week?  Did he violate protocol?

MR. MORRELL:  My understanding is that he did not and that, despite your reporting, which suggests that only doctors at the facility can make a call of that nature, what I’ve been told is that the brig commander is ultimately responsible for the well-being and confinement of everyone in his charge.  And so he has the wherewithal to make decisions based upon input from others, including doctors, about how it is best to treat people given the current circumstances.

He made a judgment call.  It sounds like that he put him under suicide watch for a period of two days.  But as I understand it, he was well within his rights to do so as the commander of the brig.

Q:  And is it within his authority to put somebody on suicide watch for a disciplinary purpose?

MR. MORRELL:  I frankly am not aware of all the regulations that he operates under.  But I would imagine that, as the brig commander, he has extraordinary discretion in terms of how best to run that facility, how best to protect the well-being of the people he — who he’s charged with safekeeping.  And I don’t know all that goes into, frankly, Mik, making a decision about one — about when one needs to be watched more carefully in the event they may be considering doing harm to themselves.

Q:  And was Manning taken off suicide watch at the urging of Army lawyers?

MR. MORRELL:  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  But even if it were at the urging of Army lawyers, it would ultimately have to be a — the judgment of the brig commander that that was the appropriate course of action.  And he would not have done it unless he thought that was the best way to proceed, both for his facility and the well-being of people there and, of course, for Private Manning’s well-being.

Okay?  What else?

Q:  Yeah — no, I wanted to —

MR. MORRELL:  Okay.

Q:  Can you tell us today if, in fact, there is evidence that Private Manning was ever in direct contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange?

MR. MORRELL:  I think I’ve answered this question when it was put to me by Jennifer.  And I’m happy to repeat it if you like.  But as much as I would like to answer that more directly, I’m not in a position to.

And I’m not going to elaborate on why I’m not in a position to other than to say that it would be inappropriate, given the fact that this is an ongoing investigation, for me to answer that with the specificity that I’d like to.

And I’d once again urge you and all to be very careful, given the fact that this is an ongoing investigation.  It’s being — you know, this has — this has received the highest-level attention in this department, in the Department of Justice.  There are many, many resources devoted to investigating this and also bringing a case against those responsible for this breach of national security.  So I think it is way too soon to make pronouncements with the kind of definitiveness that I’ve seen in some of the reporting, given where we still are in this investigation.

Q:  Are you implying that you have information that, in fact, Manning was in direct contact with Julian Assange?  Because —

MR. MORRELL:  I am not — Mik, Mik, I am not implying — Mik, I’m not —

Q:  (Inaudible) — you don’t want to reveal the specifics?

MR. MORRELL:  I’m not implying —

Q:  That’s the — that’s the implication you made.

MR. MORRELL:  You can infer what you — Mik —

Q:  You said you’d like to respond with the specificity.

MR. MORRELL:  Mik, you can infer what you like, but I am not implying anything other than what I said, which was very clear.  I’m not going to wade into the ongoing investigation.  But I urge you all to be very careful, because it is still very much in progress.  And it would be premature to draw any definitive conclusions about where we are vis-à-visdirect connections, a web of connections, found, not found, any of that.  We’re not and you are not — no one is in a position yet to draw those conclusions.

Q:  Are there third-parties being investigated?

MR. MORRELL:  This investigation is broad.  I think the best — the best question — it’s best directed at the Justice Department.  But my understanding is that this is a very broad, very robust investigation that will look any and every place to find all those who may or may not have been involved in the leak of this classified information.

Q:  A follow up, Geoff?

MR. MORRELL:  Are you on this?

Q:  (Inaudible)

MR. MORRELL:  Okay.  Let me — let me finish this up, and then we’ll come over to you.

Q:  All right.  Thank you.  First of all, we’re meeting first time:  Happy New Year.

MR. MORRELL:  Happy New Year.

Q:  My question is that because of WikiLeaks, as far as this connection and he is behind bars, one, many high-level Indian military officials are under investigation but they are in jail now because of WikiLeaks.  And now what my question is, as far as WikiLeaks is concerned, this man is behind bars here.  Have you stopped, as far as WikiLeaks is concerned, for the future?  What have you done?  Because many other countries also involved as far as WikiLeaks and U.S. defense and —

MR. MORRELL:  For the future of what?

Q:  Have you stopped the WikiLeaks in the — for the future?  And no more WikiLeaks are coming?  Or have you done something —

MR. MORRELL:  Listen, you’d have to — you’d have to talk to Mr. Assange and his cronies.  I don’t know what they have still up their sleeve.  You’d have to — you’d have to talk to them.

Q:  (Inaudible) — really, as far as U.S. and international, global military-to-military relations are concerned, especially with India now because of this WikiLeaks, many high-level military officers are in — behind bars or under investigation.  Do you have any — if anybody has approached this building in connection with WikiLeaks with the U.S. and India, military to military?

MR. MORRELL:  I am — I am not aware of any specific engagements with regards to or conversations with regards to fallout from anything that’s been disclosed by WikiLeaks in the U.S.-India military-to-military relationship.  We have gone to great lengths in all of our bilateral relationships to give advanced warning to our friends and allies around the world about what were potentially in these documents.  I know our colleagues at State have done the same thing on a diplomatic basis.  So we’ve been very forthright about this, and obviously it’s been an embarrassing — and I think — I think people have lost sight a little bit about how damaging this has been in terms of diplomatic relations, in terms of potential harm to those named in these documents and in terms of the fallout in terms of intelligence-sharing relationships.  These are very real consequences that have not received probably as much attention as they deserve to receive.

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Sarah Palin is an asshole. End of Story.

January 16, 2011
by

Can we please stop giving Sarah Palin ANY credit for ANYTHING?  She is a former beauty queen who quit her one real job after half of her term.  Sure, she’s a good-looking MILF who likes to shoot off a few rounds for sport.  Sure, she was thrown into the public eye by a John McCain, who never bothered to vet her to see if she had damaging personal issues in her family before they grabbed her up.  Sure, she is a best selling “author” and a reality tv show star.  But that’s IT.  She has no other credentials that would make her an expert or even remotely powerful in any way.

This asshole should not determine the National debate.

Can we please stop giving her the publicity she so obviously craves and get back to talking about the real issues?

P.I.L.F. (Politicians I’d Like to F**k)

January 6, 2011
by

Are there incoming Congressmen (or women) who are worth shagging? Are there any fresh new political faces you’d hook up with to get universal healthcare put back on the table? THe Huffington Post asks these questions and more.

VOTE HERE

Art, lies, and existence.

December 19, 2010

For those who haven’t heard, the Smithsonian Institution has a controversy on its hands. The subject of which is the privately funded exhibit “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture”. The exhibit showcases “a survey of portrait art by and about lesbian and gay artists”. Basically, this is an historic exhibit that examines art from 1891–2003 in light of homosexual and lesbian representation. It’s ironic then that an exhibit giving voice to these men and women has been compromised by the Smithsonian itself. At the objection of no-one but the Cyber News Service (and later reiterated by John Boehner and Glenn Beck, who were praised for this opposition by the Family Research Council), a video piece by David Wojnarowicz called “A Fire In My Belly” was removed from the exhibit. Now, I say ironic because this exhibit is about the representation of gay artists. Removing Wojnarowicz’s piece disrupts the reason for the exhibit. As a matter of fact, it even more selectively indicates who and what deserves representation. For all intents and purposes, David Wojnarowicz does not exist here. Coming from the Smithsonian, this is a chilling and dangerous notion.

Again, opposition to this art exhibit came from no-one until the Cyber News Service decided to weigh in with an article written by Penny Starr. Seeing an opportunity for demagoguery and bullshit, many Republicans joined the fray. For the people who saw the exhibit, the artwork is not an issue. For the people who didn’t see the artwork (and most likely never will), the “message” is the issue. Of course, many will say that this exhibit was federally funded – the building is federally funded but the exhibit was not – therefore a cause for debate on tax spending. I see the issue differently, however. This is a matter of free speech. Again, the irony of this fracas is that people are shocked that sexuality is representing gay artists. Granted, sexuality also gets used to represent straight artists, but we all know the key difference is that those gay artists are really just a bunch of perverts. Perversion is incredibly unAmerican so these people aren’t actually Americans, either. They probably aren’t even humans, either. Why on earth should they be given a right to free speech? Well, because many Americans insist that our fellow Americans don’t deserve it. They are unduly being told to shut up.

Even if the issue isn’t homosexuality per se, the larger issue of free speech remains. The Smithsonian caved in when they removed “A Fire In My Belly” – an action just as cowardly and pathetic as the one Yale University Press faced in response to one of their books about the Danish Mohammed cartoons – and set a precedent that there is acceptable and unacceptable speech. All of us with minority views are in danger here. Not everyone expresses their thoughts with photographs or paintings, but many of us do so by other means. Means of which that may or may not meet the approval of society. Peaceful means that harm no-one, but hopefully win us friends and allies. The response of the Smithsonian indicates that even if they have the high ground, they can still decide against it. As Wojnarowicz once wrote, “Do not doubt the dangerousness of the 12-inch-tall politician.” We see them on television all the time – and they want our museums, again.

See Wojnarowicz’s video here.

The “tax deal” and other bad ideas

December 9, 2010
by

If you haven’t seen the President’s response to the accusation that this deal was (to put it nicely) a bad idea, you should check out this video, then meet be below:

I am not some “sanctimonious” politician who is coming at this from a position of privilige and I am not someone who chooses ideals over practicality. I am a member of what would likely be defined as “The Working Poor” who lost my full time job during the recession and I am now working a part-time job that offers no benefits. My “husband” (we aren’t married but there is really no good word for it) was in construction but found that the work is more consistent and he makes a slightly better living as a self-employed general contractor. We have a small child and no health insurance. My family lives paycheck to paycheck and we fight about money a lot.

That being said, I want to explan now how all the details of why the majority of middle class people are upset have been completely misread by the White house.

First off, Mr. President, YOU DID NOT GIVE ALL AMERICANS HEALTH COVERAGE. You gave them a mandate to purchase their own insurance and that is not the same thing. Most people will purchase catastrophic coverage only because it is not as outrageously expensive as a basic health plan, and will then be less able to afford simple preventive checkups and treatment because they will now have an additional bill to pay each month. I do not belive that anyone would argue that making sure children with pre-existing conditions can get treatment is a victory.

HOWEVER, to claim that what was passed is “comprehensive healthcare reform” that in the end will benefit the citizens of the country more than it will benefit your sponsors in the health insurance industry is a joke. Remember, McCain ran on reforming the health insurance industry too…No one was against it. What we voted for in 2008 when we elected you and a super-majority into Congress was UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE FOR ALL AMERICANS. When the media began proclaiming that the American people DID NOT support the passage of the healthcare bill, you have to realize that it is because NO ONE wanted the bullshit, half-assed bill that was being offered. In negotiations for this bill, Republicans had one position (a windfall for insurance companies and “Tort Reform”) and Democrats had the opposite position (a universal, single payer sytem). But the Democrats were SURE they couldn’t win, so before even entering the negotiation phase of the process, they dropped the single-payer idea. It is NEVER a good idea to walk into a negotiation believing you cannot get MOST of what you want. The idea is not to meet in the middle. The idea is to get most of what you want while compromising as little as possible. The Republicans understand this definition of negotiate and that is exactly what they did.

All of the multiple concessions were in an attempt to win a few Republican votes in the interest of “bipartisanship” but I am pretty sure that the country was far beyond the desire for partisanship or else the election of 2008 would have been far less lopsided in favor of the Democrats. The “negotiation process” was basically a process of the White House and Congress giving and giving and giving, until the Republicans agreed that they would support the Bill. But lo and behold, when the bill went to vote, they laughed and changed their position. Then they accused the Dems of “ramming through” the bill based on the fact that NO ONE supported the Bill. THIS WAS NOT INCORRECT. It got such a small percentage of what either side actually wanted that it was not a true victory for anyone except the insurance companies who saw their stocks go up immediately.

To compare the reaction or the “TAX CUT DEAL” to the healthcare debate is correct and perfectly accurate. But you are missing one important detail. In both cases, the President did the easy thing. He gave in before a real fight and because of this is viewed as weak by his political opponents. In both cases, I believe that HE THINKS that he is doing what is best for the American people but it is blatantly obvious to anyone who is watching including Republicans, the poor, the middle class, the rich, the patriarchs of billionaire families, the tea partiers and ______ (just fill in the blank with any group outside of the White House) that he threw us a few crumbs when he could have provided us with a feast, had he been willing to fight (even a little) for our interests like he promised before he was elected.

I have yet to see a single expert who believes that the tax cut to the wealty will create a single job. Jobs creation is based on demand. If there is no demand for services and products because people cannot afford them, the jobs will not exist. PERIOD. And that $500 a year average that the middle class received with the Bush tax cuts (which amounts to about $41 a month) is not going to spur spending. In addition, I cannot comprehend why the President isn’t going on the offensive and using the (pretend?) passion for reducing the deficiet as ammunition for why the Republicans are simply WRONG on this one. Does he know that he is the President of registered Republicans and tea partiers and libertarians too? I think perhaps someone should tell him. He can make the case and win their support too.

In addition to this, the Democrats in Congress have expressed that they do not believe that ANYONE who wants to continue his or her political career would actually allow unemployment benefits to expire. I agree with this. It would be political suicide because it would be akin to starving people and that would be blatantly immoral. HOWEVER, as a political strategy to test the meddle of a sitting President, it is a fantastic tactic. And guess what? Barack Obama failed the test. And one by one, because of political alliances, the Democratic congressmen and senators will fail as well.

The idea that the Republicans will not repeatedly hold the best interests of the American people hostage is not only naive, but batshit crazy. And the most amazing part of their entire strategy is that they will do this continually for about 18 months until another Congressional election season, then they will deny having done it, change the subject, or blame it on the Democrats. And the Democrats will not even disagree.

The way to elicit support from the American people is not to capitulate. It is to fight. President Obama does not understand that this is NOT simply a fight over political popularity. This is a fight for the American people. The American people DO NOT want to accept the bare minimum. We thought we elected a hero, not a director of the status quo. When the minority party manages to negotiate the bare minimum, THAT is a victory. When the sitting president with a super majority in Congress does it, it is disgraceful.

The President is obviously being misled by his advisors and perhaps needs to get back out there and talk to the people like he did during his campaign. Because although at the time it seemed impossible to have a president who was less popular that W., Obama is quickly becoming the kind of laughing stock that W was, but with the added problem of being smart enough to realize that it’s happening.

Why do Politics Suck?

December 8, 2010
by

Hello and welcome to the first post on what will eventually be a Blog and Podcast about the amazingly absurd and painfully counterproductive world of politics in the 21st Century.

I have always been tuned in to the current state of the Nation and have always had plenty of commetary on the stupidity of those our citizens elect to “lead” us. During the Bush Jr. days, I had a small personal blog where I would vent my frustrations with the system and found that occasionally I got a few laughs and more than a few “right-on’s”. With the gigantic 2008 election, I thought for sure that the United States had finally swept in a Congress who would act on behalf of the kinds of people I knew and not the rich, and perhaps put the country back on the road to its lost stature of a place where the American Dream was within the reach of everyone. Barack Obama had run on a platform of “hope” and “change” (I have no doubt that you know why I put those words in “quotes”) and the vast majority of middle-class and even poorer-class Americans were sure that we’d finally found our Superman.

Obama was going to shut down Gitmo, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, look into the crimes of Bush and Cheney, give us all universal health care, rebuild our infrastructure, boost the economy, hold the rich accountable for their share of the burden, and basically give us all the ice cream we wanted, paint the nation in rainbows and declare unicorns our national symbol.

2 years later, Congress has basically taken the mandate to work for the middle class that got them a super-majority and somehow interpreted it as a mandate to cower and cry and give in before anything actually was accomplished. The President has fallen off that mile-high pedestal and took much of the country along with him. The Republicans have made it their mission to de-throne him in 2012, and he seemingly does not have the courage or the desire to fight the good fight for the rest of us.

Add to this the circus that was the 2010 midterm elections with the insane “tea baggers”, an unemployment rate hovering just below 10%, record profits for bankers and investors, an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico perpetrated by a multi-national oil company and the total paralysis of the President and indeed the entire Democratic Party, and it would seem that the time is right for someone to make sense of HOW and WHY the situation is as dire as it is.

With the help of some contributor friends, I hope to create a review of the issues from the point of view of some regular, average, working people. We are not journalists or academics. We are not affiliated with any media outlet. We are not extremists or “Beckkies” or socialists. We are simply here to look at the news and how we and the rest of the “middle” in America will be effected.

I hope you enjoy this and I look forward to reading your comments!

Selena

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