“The need for a public interest defense to the Espionage Act and other laws.”
We should amend the Espionage Act to allow for a public interest defense.
Lawyers for Chelsea Manning appealed her conviction on Thursday, calling it “grossly unfair and unprecedented” and arguing that “no whistleblower in American history has been sentenced this harshly.” Manning was convicted of six counts of espionage by a military court in 2013, and is currently serving a 35-year sentence in military prison. In January 2010, while serving as an Army intelligence analyst overseas, Manning – then known as Bradley — sent hundreds of thousands of documents about the Iraq and Afghan wars to Wikileaks. The documents revealed dramatically higher numbers of civilian casualties than were publicly reported, and featured a video of Apache attack helicopters in Baghdad gunning down two Reuters journalists. Manning’s treatment in military court came under fire from journalists and free speech advocates. Because she was indicted under the espionage act, she was not allowed to raise the public interest value of her disclosures as a defense. In the 209-page legal brief made public on Thursday, lawyers for Manning questioned the testimony of military officials at her trial, arguing that their claims of harm were “speculative” and “provided no indication” of actual harm, which they said had a “highly prejudicial” effect on the trial. The American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief, arguing that applying the Espionage Act to whistleblowers is unconstitutional, and “furnishes the government with a tool for selective prosecution.” The ACLU brief cites the example of Gen. David Petraeus, a former army general and CIA director, who gave eight notebooks filled with classified information to his biographer, who he was sleeping with. Petraeus was not charged under the Espionage Act, and accepted a plea deal for two years probation, and $100,000 fine, and kept his security clearance. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has cited Manning’s treatment and trial as a key reason for not returning to the United States. Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.The post Chelsea Manning Appeals “Unprecedented” Conviction appeared first on The Intercept.
The anonymous source responsible for leaking the vast document trove known as the Panama Papers said in a manifesto published on Friday that she or he “would be willing to cooperate with law enforcement” to ensure the prosecution of wrongdoing revealed by the paper trail — but only once “governments codify legal protections for whistleblowers into law.” The source wrote that the leaked files on offshore business dealings and shell companies organized by Mossack Fonseca, a law firm based in Panama, revealed “the scandal of what is legal and allowed.” But the source, who took the name “John Doe,” argued that since “the law firm, its founders, and employees actually did knowingly violate myriad laws worldwide, repeatedly,” the wrongdoers there should now be prosecuted. Doe added that prosecutors require access to the original documents, noting that media outlets “have rightly stated that they will not provide them to law enforcement agencies. I, however, would be willing to cooperate with law enforcement to the extent that I am able.” “That being said,” Doe continued, “I have watched as one after another, whistleblowers and activists in the United States and Europe have had their lives destroyed by the circumstances they find themselves in after shining a light on obvious wrongdoing.” Doe explained: Edward Snowden is stranded in Moscow, exiled due to the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute him under the Espionage Act. For his revelations about the NSA, he deserves a hero’s welcome and a substantial prize, not banishment. Bradley Birkenfeld was awarded millions for his information concerning Swiss bank UBS—and was still given a prison sentence by the Justice Department. Antoine Deltour is presently on trial for providing journalists with information about how Luxembourg granted secret “sweetheart” tax deals to multi-national corporations, effectively stealing billions in tax revenues from its neighbour countries. And there are plenty more examples. Legitimate whistleblowers who expose unquestionable wrongdoing, whether insiders or outsiders, deserve immunity from government retribution, full stop. Until governments codify legal protections for whistleblowers into law, enforcement agencies will simply have to depend on their own resources or on-going global media coverage for documents. Beyond providing some clues for the global guessing game as to the source’s identity — the use of “full stop” rather than “period” is common to British usage, but not American, and the barely contained outrage at the way corruption on a vast scale is facilitated by members of the legal profession — the manifesto also includes a blanket denial of the theory floated in Russia, that the leaker is a member of a Western intelligence agency working to damage President Vladimir Putin, by providing evidence of corruption in his inner circle. “For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have,” Doe wrote. The decision to leak the documents, the source added, was made “not for any specific political purpose, but simply because I understood enough about their contents to realize the scale of the injustices they described.” The leaker also answered the question of why the documents were provided to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung — which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other outlets — rather than a news organization with a larger global profile. According to Doe, “several major media outlets did have editors review documents from the Panama Papers” and decided against pursuing the leak. “The sad truth is that among the most prominent and capable media organizations in the world there was not a single one interested in reporting on the story,” Doe wrote. “Even Wikileaks didn’t answer its tip line repeatedly.” The manifesto expresses the leaker’s outrage over income inequality. “It affects all of us, the world over,” Doe wrote at the start. The debate over its sudden acceleration has raged for years, with politicians, academics and activists alike helpless to stop its steady growth despite countless speeches, statistical analyses, a few meagre protests, and the occasional documentary. Still, questions remain: why? And why now?” The Panama Papers provide a compelling answer to these questions: massive, pervasive corruption. The source hailed what he called “a new global debate,” noting: “Unlike the polite rhetoric of yesteryear that carefully omitted any suggestion of wrongdoing by the elite, this debate focuses directly on what matters.” But toward the end of the manifesto, after faulting the media for being less interested by the day in the unprofitable business of holding wrongdoers accountable Doe wrote: The collective impact of these failures has been a complete erosion of ethical standards, ultimately leading to a novel system we still call Capitalism, but which is tantamount to economic slavery. In this system—our system—the slaves are unaware both of their status and of their masters, who exist in a world apart where the intangible shackles are carefully hidden amongst reams of unreachable legalese. The horrific magnitude of detriment to the world should shock us all awake. But when it takes a whistleblower to sound the alarm, it is cause for even greater concern. It signals that democracy’s checks and balances have all failed, that the breakdown is systemic, and that severe instability could be just around the corner. So now is the time for real action, and that starts with asking questions. Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.The post Panama Papers Source Wants Whistleblower Immunity to Aid Law Enforcement appeared first on The Intercept.
Mr. Duncan, who died in obscurity in 2009, wrote in 1966 of witnessing atrocities by American troops and helped organize antiwar protests.