Summary: Yesterday, Bradley Manning spoke publicly for the first time since his arrest in 2010. At his pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade in Maryland, Manning, the soldier accused of giving classified information to WikiLeaks, largely testified about his treatment while in holding at Quantico, the Marine Corps base.
According to Manning, he was allowed only 20 minutes of “sunshine call” each day, and was kept under suicide watch despite military psychiatrists saying he didn’t require such surveillance. While under suicide watch, he was not allowed any articles of clothing, and only one specific blanket for his bed. On a couple days, he even had to stand naked during the morning inmate count.
According to reporters, Manning’s demeanor was “focused and polite,” which contrasted with the “deeply troubled and emotionally volatile” picture that had been painted in earlier hearings. Manning faces a full court martial in February and could face life in prison if convicted of all charges. His lawyers are seeking a significantly reduced sentence, arguing that his holding at Quantico amounted to pretrial punishment.
Summary: This New York Times editorial praises the recent passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which will improve protections for federal employees who expose government waste, fraud and abuse.
Related Article: Washington Examiner
Summary: In this extended interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, he talks about the threats to Internet freedom, as well as the rise of mass surveillance. Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for nearly six months to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning regarding sexual assault allegations. He was granted political asylum by Ecuador, but has not been able to leave the embassy.
Summary: The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that would require law enforcement officials to get a search warrant before they could review a person’s emails or other electronic communications. Currently, a warrant is only needed for emails less than six months old. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill when it reconvenes in January.
This bill is only a small effort to protect Americans’ privacy from the massive surveillance tools at the disposal of intelligence agencies. ThisTruthdig column highlights the disclosures from NSA whistleblowers and GAP clients Bill Binney and Kirk Wiebe that the agency is intercepting and storing millions of private domestic communications, violating the privacy of US citizens.
Key Quote: A year after the World Trade Center had been attacked, Wiebe, Loomis and other NSA employees, including William Binney and Thomas Drake, filed complaints to Congress and the Department of Defense Inspector General. In the complaints, they charged that the agency failed to prevent the attacks because of internal mismanagement and wasteful spending on flawed intelligence systems.
“The idea of intelligence is to prevent disaster, not to analyze it after the fact,” Wiebe said. The corruption, he said, was directly tied to the loss of life on 9/11.
Summary: GAP has done an extensive review of the newly-revised whistleblower policy from the Inter-American Development Bank, finding that the policy “violates all best practice cornerstones.” GAP International Officer Shelley Walden elaborates in this blog post.
Summary: This column praises the rising aggressiveness of the SEC in pursuing financial wrongdoing. Leading up to the Madoff Ponzi scheme, the agency “couldn’t be bothered to conduct a thorough and proper investigation,” according to one of the Madoff whistleblowers. Now, the agency is acting like the watchdog it is supposed to be, taking on fraud and abuse on Wall Street.
Not everyone things the SEC is doing such a great job, however. This article in the Huffington Post comes from an SEC Whistleblower complainant, whose case is yet to be investigated, more than eight months after he first submitted his complaint. The author blames this partially on the cuts to the SEC budget, even while its duties have increased, and urges Congress not to continue to overlook the agency.
Hannah Johnson is Communications Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.