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Italian Food, Bradley Manning, Living Wills, Hacktivism

This time we'll be going back to L'Allegria, a fine Italian restaurant a few blocks from Times Square, at the corner of 44th St & 9th Avenue, the menu is here . You can get a vegetarian pasta dish for $13, or meat pasta for $15. They also have a Prix Fixe dinner for $26.95.

Please don't show up without RSVP'ing.  A $5 deposit is required to RSVP, which will be refunded in cash when you show up at the event.  It will also be refunded electronically if you cancel more than 24 hours before the event.  A failure to show will result in forfeiture of your deposit.

 

 

Bradley Manning: Throw Away the Key?  Bradley Manning is an American soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks.  The prosecution has presented evidence in the form of Al-Qaeda releases that prove that specific materials he has leaked have been useful to Al-Qaeda.


Is it necessary to find specific ways in which the releases have helped Al-Qaeda?  One concern that I have is that a lot of our counter terrorism efforts require the use of spies, but who is going to spy for the US government if they have to fear that their identities can be leaked with impunity?  Thus Manning's actions have greatly harmed the security of the United States and indeed all of Western civilization, especially if he winds up not being severely punished.  Furthermore, Manning leaked over 300,000 documents.  Clearly he didn't have time to read them all and make sure no loss of life would entail their publication, so he is guilty of reckless endangerment to say the least.

In defense of Bradley, a point is made by many that no one has traced any specific loss of life to Bradley's action.  This is hardly a defense -- I am amazed that anyone is seriously arguing that something is not a crime unless specific loss of life can be traced to it.  (If you believe that is the case, I have something to confess -- I go to Central Park on weekends, and rape and torture children there, and throw acid in their faces.  But none of them have died, therefore I, like Bradley Manning, am above reproach).

Part of the defense his lawyers are making is that Bradley was obviously such a flake and nutjob that the military shouldn't have entrusted him with all that classified information, so the leaks really weren't Bradley's fault.  If that holds up, I can see muggers putting forward the defense that their victims should have known better than to walk down dark alleys, therefore the muggers are "innocent".

If you google "Bradley Manning", you find that most of the stories about him are making him out to be a hero.  Here is one from Al-Jazeerah.  One should bear in mind that were the US to lose the war on terror -- that is, suffer over a long period of time over a dozen successful terrorist attacks per month, each killing hundreds of American civilians, rendering American society barely able to cope, there would be few tears shed at Al-Jazeerah.  Also, the story makes no mention of the fact that he leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents that he couldn't possibly have read -- it makes it sound like he leaked nothing but evidence of war crimes.


For reasons I don't understand, the prosecution is not seeking the death penalty, though, according to military law, they could.  Clearly the military must make an example of Manning to the fullest extent they can.



Living Wills: some people are writing living wills to specify, for example, that they don't want to be kept alive by machine if they are brain dead.  It would be a good thing if more people did this.  But writing any sort of will takes effort, one has to hire a lawyer and the legal expenses are not insignificant.  Perhaps we should have an opt-out system, where if someone doesn't have a legal will, doctors are to assume they would want the plug pulled if they were pronounced brain dead.



The role of Hacktivism in politics: this article discusses Hacktivism.  A lot of politics is influenced by the internet.  A large share of political donations are gathered via credit card from websites -- those could be hacked.

In 2003, someone, probably the US government, hacked the English-language version of Al-Jazeerah, to prevent Americans from hearing an unsympathetic view of the invasion of Iraq.  The Arabic-language version of the website mostly featured photos of civilian casualties.

Then, there is the action of the hackers who broke into an institute of climate science and exposed a lot of their private emails, which climate change deniers gleefully read out of context.  This action by itself put progress toward action on climate change back a couple of years.

There was recently a similar break-in to Stratfor, a right-wing, pro-military American news organization, and their private emails were provided to Wikileaks, who made them available to the public.  I don't know if the confidentiality of any news sources were compromised.

And then, there is the ever-present fear that all the new computerized voting machines could be hacked, significantly skewing election results.  The Association for Computing Machinery, the country's largest association of software engineers, was vehemently opposed to the imposition of computer-based voting machines.

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  • Dorothy K.

    Bill has a winning formula, always a lively discussion.

    April 16, 2012

  • Sheryl

    Great as always - interesting topics, Bill is a great moderator. Hard to hear people at this particular restaurant, though food was good.

    April 16, 2012

  • Bill

    Manning''s personality *IS* relevant. Motives for a crime are legally significant. If you punch someone because he insulted your wife, it is treated very differently than if you punched him because you did not like his race. Killing someone in self-defense is different from killing someone because they were a witness to a crime you committed.
    Leaking to blow the whistle on specific wrongdoing is different from leaking because you are a difficult person and a disgruntled employee.

    April 15, 2012

  • Bill

    The US government was publicly claiming credit for attacks on terrorists in Yemen for years before that cable was leaked. It is not significant news.
    When the Pentagon Papers came out, it was a game changer. There were long editorials in the press about what this meant for our war policy. I follow the press on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan very closely, and Manning's disclosures have not resulted in such editorials. Obama has not been significantly misleading the public about our wars.

    April 15, 2012

  • Bill

    Nemo2, it is unreasonable to demand 100% transparency from the government, particularly the military and the state department. To function, the military must keep secrets from the enemy. And in the state department, diplomats must be able to communicate in private. One diplomat might say to another "The royal fmaily of Slobovia are infantile retards. You must pander to their egos to get any cooperation whatsoever.". Such communications are necessary, and must be kept private.

    April 15, 2012

  • Nemo2

    Manning's personality is completely irrelevant to the discussion

    April 14, 2012

  • Nemo2

    The local dictator offered to take responsibility in return for vast amounts of 'aid'. After his ouster during the Arab spring, he is now 'surprise surprise, enjoying a well deserved medical retirement in the US.

    http://www.salon.com/2010/11/29/wikileaks_yemen_revelations/

    April 14, 2012

  • Nemo2

    Firstly, we need to distinguish between private organizations and the United States government. The US government acts in our name and with our tax contribution so we do have a right to know what our government is doing in our name and we don't for private organizations.
    With regard to the government lying, see link for US military bombing Yemen in and undeclared war, the first time the US has bombed a country in secret since we started bombing Cambodia.

    April 14, 2012

  • Bill

    Nemo2' I heard, as you did, that the Pentagon papers exposed lies the American public had been told about Vietnam. What specific government lies did Manning's leaks expose?

    April 14, 2012

  • Bill

    Suppose Manning had been an employee of a gay-rights organization, wasn't getting along with his co-workers, so he leaked all the organization's private emails to Fox News and the Christian Coalition, some of which, read out of context, proved to be very damaging to he organization's prestige and resulting in prosecution that succeeded in revoking the organization's tax-exempt 501(3)c status. Would you be on Manning's side then?

    April 14, 2012

  • Bill

    The Pentagon Papers were a bit before my time, but Manning does not strike me as someone who was blowing the whistle on specific policy. To do that, one would leak specific documents related to that policy. Manning leaked everything he could get his hands on, obviously without reading it all. He was a disgruntled, difficult to get along with person trying to do as much harm as he could to his employer.

    April 14, 2012

  • Nemo2

    ...are critical to our understanding of what is being done in our name, else we risk becoming bystanding sheep to our own history as it continues to repeat itself. See link on Eisenberg who is a strong supporter of Manning.
    http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/09/16/movies/16dangerous.html

    April 14, 2012

  • Nemo2

    Wish I could attend this discussion if only to counter the extraordinary harshness of the tone introducing the Bradley Manning discussion. Bradley Manning played a similar role to Daniel Eisenberg, the Pentagon official who leaked the "Pentagon papers' that revealed that almost everything that Americans had been told about the Vietnam war was a LIE. At a time when governments (especially our own) lie and cover up activity in the name of national security, people like Manning......

    April 14, 2012

9 went

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