Friday, April 22, 2011

Fail Quote: Obama’s obtuseness about Bradley Manning

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Alleged WikiLeaks source US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning
Pfc. Bradley Manning

During yesterday’s San Francisco presidential fundraiser, which was spectacularly interrupted by a group of singing protesters decrying the wretched detainment conditions of alleged WikiLeaks source Pfc. Bradley Manning, President Obama actually spoke with one of the protesters and revealed that the concept of due process and “innocent until proven guilty” don’t really seem to matter to him. Here’s a rough transcript of the nearly undecipherable exchange, courtesy of Emptywheel at Firedoglake:

OBAMA: So people can have philosophical views [about Bradley Manning] but I can’t conduct diplomacy on an open source [basis]… That’s not how the world works.

And if you’re in the military… And I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren’t allowed to, I’d be breaking the law.

We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.

[Q: Didn't he release evidence of war crimes?]

OBAMA: What he did was he dumped…

[Q: Isn't that just the same thing as what Daniel Ellsberg did?]

OBAMA: No it wasn’t the same thing. Ellsberg’s material wasn’t classified in the same way.

We’re a nation of laws! Just not one that applies those laws fairly and equally, or who even follows them when they prove annoying and cumbersome to our zeal at crushing those who reveal how full of it we are. But, still, laws!

And he’s right about Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg’s material not being “classified in the same way”. Those were rated Top Secret, whereas Pfc. Manning only released Secret material, which, given the absurd ease with which Manning was (allegedly) able to find and disseminate it, is roughly one step up from leaving it on bulletin boards with little “please don’t read this if you shouldn’t” post-it notes on them. And yet, Manning is being prosecuted (and persecuted) ten times worse than Ellsberg ever was, even though his crime is objectively (by the Pentagon’s own rules) lesser by comparison.

Rationalize that one, Mr. President.

(via @ggreenwald)