Daniel Ellsberg Reflects on Bradley Manning Trial Verdict and Current U.S. Crackdown on Whistleblowers and Journalists

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Posted Aug. 21, 2013

Interview with Daniel Ellsberg, former military analyst, conducted by Scott Harris

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[Editor's note: This interview was recorded two days before a military judge, on Aug. 21, sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for providing more than 700,000 government files to WikiLeaks. The leak uncovered a shroud of secrecy surrounding military and diplomatic activities around the world.]

In the final phase of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning’s military trial at Ford Meade in Maryland, government prosecutors are urging the judge in the case, Army Col. Denise Lind, to sentence the young whistleblower to 60 years in prison. Manning was convicted on 20 of 22 charges of violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property for his leak in 2010 of more than 700,000 classified military and State Department documents related to U.S. wars and foreign policy in 2010. Manning issued an apology during the sentencing portion of the proceeding when he told the court, “I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I am sorry that it hurt the United States.” In asking Judge Lind to sentence Manning to spend the majority of his remaining life in jail, prosecutor Capt. Joe Morrow argued that a long prison sentence would dissuade other soldiers from following in Manning's footsteps.

While working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, Manning gained access to the documents he later released to the anti-secrecy WikiLeaks website. Among the most disturbing material released was a video recording of U.S. helicopter pilots attacking people on the ground in Baghdad, that resulted in the deaths of at least nine people, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Daniel Ellsberg, a former government military analyst who in 1971 leaked the now-famous Vietnam war-era "Pentagon Papers" to the press. The documents chronicled the lies and deceit employed by the government to justify U.S. military intervention in Southeast Asian wars. Here he reflects on the recent verdict in the Bradley Manning trial, as well as issues involving massive government surveillance, revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and the current government campaign to silence whistleblowers and chill investigative journalism.

For more commentary by Daniel Ellsberg, visit ellsberg.net/. For more analysis on the Bradley Manning trial and challenges to the “national surveillance state,” visit the Bradley Manning Support Network bradleymanning.org.

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