Moral Muppets At Harvard Cave In To The CIA; Rescind Chelsea Manning's Fellowship

from the fucking-cowards dept

Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world (and its graduates often feel the need to remind you of that). But apparently Harvard is more worried about protecting its reputation from the elite than actually fulfilling its stated mission of “educating the citizens and citizen-leaders for our society.” In an act of utter cowardice, it withdrew a Visiting Fellowship that it gave to Chelsea Manning just a couple days after announcing it — all because the CIA and its friends got upset. Harvard caving in to the CIA is not a good look.

Two days ago, Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School announced that Chelsea Manning would be a “Visiting Fellow” for the 2017-2018 school year. She was joining others — including former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook. The Visiting Fellows program is basically a high falutin’ way of saying that these people would come give some talks at the school. But the point of the program — in theory — is to expose people to a variety of ideas from a variety of different perspectives. Personally, I think honoring Spicer, Lewandowski and Mook is fairly ridiculous, but I respect and support Harvard wishing to bring them — or anyone — in to talk about their experience

But, of course, anything having to do with Manning is controversial to some — mostly those who have bought into a misleading line of tripe from cable news. And thus people freaked out that Harvard was including her. Among those most triggered by Harvard planning to have Manning come talk to students was the CIA. On Thursday, former CIA depute director (and former acting director) Michael Morell resigned from his own fellowship (in a different program) at the Kennedy School in protest. His letter is full of debunked bullshit.

Unfortunately, I cannot be part of an organization — The Kennedy School — that honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information, Ms. Chelsea Manning, by inviting her to be a Visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. Ms. Manning was found guilty of 17 serious crimes, including six counts of espionage, for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, an entity that CIA Director Mike Pompeo says operates like an adversarial foreign intelligence service.

Senior leaders in our military have stated publicly that the leaks by Ms. Manning put the lives of US soldiers at risk. Upon her conviction, then Rep. Mike Rogers and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee at the time, praised the verdict, saying “Justice has been served today.” They added “Pfc. Manning harmed our national security, violated the public’s trust, and now stands convicted of multiple serious crimes.”

This statement is hogwash. Yes, she was convicted of various crimes including espionage, but only because the Espionage Act is a complete unconstitutional joke that makes no distinction between leaking to the press and spying for a foreign government — and under which you’re not allowed to share your motives for leaking information. Saying she was “convicted of espionage” without context is misleading bullshit and Morell, of all people, knows that and is exploiting it.

The claim that Pompeo now says that Wikileaks is acting like an “adversarial foreign intelligence service” is bullshit and misleading in two ways. First, Pompeo is not exactly an unbiased observer. He’s long been a massive surveillance state cheerleader — who was one of the biggest supporters of having the NSA illegally spy on nearly every American, and who has a long history of grandstanding against those with the courage to blow the whistle on the unconstitutional activities Pompeo himself has championed (more on him in a moment).

Separately, even if you accept Pompeo’s recent statements about how Wikileaks acts today, anyone with any knowledge of the history (which Morell certainly has) knows that Wikileaks was a very different kind of operation back when Manning first leaked the documents to the site. Manning’s leaks to Wikileaks were really its first big “government” leak. Earlier leaks had been more targeted at corporate malfeasance, and the site’s reputation at the time was as a general home for hosting whistleblowing documents of all kind.

As for Ruppersberger and Rogers’ statements, they are in the Pompeo camp as long time defenders of the surveillance state. Ruppersberger’s district was where many NSA employees lived, and Rogers’ reputation was largely built around acting like a tough guy on “law and order” and surveillance. So, big whoop.

The really obnoxious and bullshit part of Morell’s letter, though, is the claim that “our military have stated publicly that the leaks by Ms. Manning put the lives of US soldiers at risk.” Note Morell’s careful choice of words. He didn’t say that she put people’s lives at risk. Or that anyone was harmed by Manning’s whistleblowing. He says that some in the military publicly stated that lives were put at risk. His careful choice of words is because he knows full well that at Manning’s sentencing hearing, those same military officials admitted there was no evidence of any lives harmed as a result of the leaks. It was also admitted that the earlier claims of harm were misleading, in that some of the names that the military had claimed had died… had actually died before the Wikileaks disclosures.

Back to Pompeo. Soon after Morell’s letter became public, CIA director Pompeo refused to give a planned speech at Harvard, giving a similarly bullshit statement:

“My conscience and duty to the men and women of the [CIA] will not permit me to betray their trust by appearing to support Harvard’s decision with my appearance at tonight’s event,” Pompeo wrote, referring to the Thursday engagement. “Ms. Manning betrayed her country and was found guilty of 17 serious crimes for leaking classified information to Wikileaks.”

“Leaders from both political parties denounced Ms. Manning’s actions as traitorous and many intelligence and military officials believe those leaks put the lives of the patriotic men and women at the CIA in danger,” Pompeo continued. “And those military and intelligence officials are right.”

Again, this is bullshit for all the same reasons that Morell’s letter was bullshit.

But Harvard, as an academic institution that supports differences of opinion and free speech, stood up to these CIA spooks, right? Nope, they immediately caved and withdrew the fellowship, but tried to appease people by saying she could still come to speak.

We are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow ? and the perceived honor that it implies to some people ? while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum.

I apologize to her and to the many concerned people from whom I have heard today for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation.

What a bullshit, cowardly statement in response to concern trolling from surveillance state supporters with actual blood on their hands. Mike Morell, among his many claims to fame, defended torture, and droning innocent civilians.

Here’s something else: Morell has accepted responsibility and apologized for playing a large role in providing incorrect intelligence that led the US to attack Iraq, leading to the actual deaths of thousands of US soldiers. For Havard to rescind its offer to Manning, over false claims of putting US soldiers at risk from a guy who has admitted his own decisions lead to the deaths of thousands of US soldiers, is a total travesty.

What’s more, this comes just a day after it came out that Harvard administrators deliberately overruled a decision to admit a woman who was about to be released from prison for killing her child. The story is heartbreaking in many ways — but it reminds us that prison is supposed to be a place of redemption, but the cowards at Harvard overruled what some said was “one of the strongest candidates in the country last year, period,” over fears of how it would look. One of the quotes from a Harvard professor in the article is quite incredible:

But frankly, we knew that anyone could just punch her crime into Google, and Fox News would probably say that P.C. liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer, who also happened to be a minority. I mean, c?mon.

It takes courage to stand up for what’s right. It takes courage to stand up for redemption after one has served their time for crime. Harvard has no courage. Harvard is made up of cowards.

As an aside: last night was the EFF’s Pioneer Awards, in which I had the honor and privilege of standing with Chelsea Manning, who gave a truly inspirational speech about redemption and the ability to face adversity with dignity, just minutes before Harvard showed that it had no dignity at all.

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Comments on “Moral Muppets At Harvard Cave In To The CIA; Rescind Chelsea Manning's Fellowship”

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Maybe they realized virtue signalling isn’t a good look for what’s supposed to be a prestigious university.

What do you think rescinding the offer was, if not "virtue signalling" to the CIA and surveillance state supporters?

Frankly "virtue signalling" is a bullshit term used by people who can’t make a real argument, and who are too feeble-minded to explain their reasons for not liking someone or something. Either deal with an argument on the merits or fuck off.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

‘Virtue signalling’ was a good term to refer to certain types of meaningless gestures that accomplish nothing other than to show other people how good or thoughtful you are, like posting ‘thoughts and prayers’ on Facebook, or ‘Every like supports fixing child cancer’.

I use the word ‘was’ though, because with a certain subgroup of people, it’s going the way of the word cuckold to mean ‘something I politically disagree with’.

Steve Swafford (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Yep, it applies to everyone and grocery stores and hospitals. They deserve nothing. Letting someone into your program is exactly like standing next to them and saying your proud enough of them to let them into your ultra exclusive program regardless of your child murdering background that they wanted to just ignore. Are you somehow saying that a child murderer is just fine as long as they spent some time in jail?

Daniel Scheinhaus says:

Re: Re: Re: A person who has served 20 years for a crime and, hopefully, showed he/she was rehabilitated.

You talk as though mental illness and extenuating circumstances don’t exist. You seem to have little life experience plus little understanding of trauma resulting from harsh life experiences. In addition you seem unaware that some people are emotionally stronger than others.

Steve Swafford (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A person who has served 20 years for a crime and, hopefully, showed he/she was rehabilitated.

That is quite possibly the dumbest thing I have read all week. You can give as many excuses as you want to justify a person killing a kid, but there is no justification or excuse. You kill a kids, for any reason, you should be shunned and removed from society at all costs. Why is it you are trying to stand on the side of the child murderer and making them sound like some kind of victim? Why don’t you stand next to the innocent kid who was murdered? You clearly seem unaware of what you’re talking about and I’m old enough to have half a century of life experience what about you?

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 A person who has served 20 years for a crime and, hopefully, showed he/she was rehabilitated.

Does your stance include “Allowing a child to be killed?”

Do adults count?

If either of the above is the case I’d be interested to know whether or not you’ve contacted your representatives to complain about the droning of civilians, supplying weapons to terrorists on the grounds that they’re enemies with the enemy du jour, and propping up murderous regimes, etc., on the grounds that “at least they’re not G-d commies!”

I’d also be interested to learn about your stance on Single Payer, the pardon of Joe Arpaio, and your opinion of Sheriff David Clarke.

This is not about partisan politics, it’s about morality. Behaviours are either harmful or not harmful and if they are harmful I think we can agree that they are bad. If people who engage in harmful behaviours are “bad people,” that should apply as much to right-wing people as to those championed by the liberal/progressives and libertarians.

Chaizelda says:

Re: Re: The two child victims and the photographers and other civilians who were shot.

Your reference “only wounded” makes clear that you have difficulty understanding that “wounded” covers a variety of possibilities — slight flesh wound, loss of an arm, leg or eye, loss of brain function, etc. There is no such thing as “only wounded”. The S.O.B.’s who knowingly committed that crime represent a group of soldiers who should be punished severely. Manning did the right thing in disclosing the crime. That soldier’s superiors should be punished as well for shirking their duty.

HegemonicDistortion says:

Re: Re:

The problen w.r.t. what Harvard did in her case, though, is to have rescinded her acceptance because of what Fox News, etc. might say. They should have done so because she killed the child, which seems like a reasonable reason to reject an applicant to me. IMO, though she’s been released from prison, she’s not entitled to redemption from others.

Manning’s case is different. What she has to offer the people of the Kennedy School of Government has nothing to do with her prison term, or her pardon, per se. It’s about truth, citizenship, the Constitution, the rights of the people in a democratic society to know what their government and military are doing, etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The problen w.r.t. what Harvard did in her case, though, is to have rescinded her acceptance because of what Fox News, etc. might say. They should have done so because she killed the child, which seems like a reasonable reason to reject an applicant to me.

From the Times article:

In the personal statement, which was not required, she did not detail her involvement in the crime, but wrote that as a teenager she left Brandon at home alone, that he died, and that she has grieved for him deeply and daily since.

It sounds like when they accepted her, some of the people in the admissions process might not have known the full circumstances of the son’s death, and might only have learned after the Fox News story.

Which isn’t to say that you’re wrong: if they were going to reject her for killing her son, they should have done the research before Fox News did and never should have accepted her in the first place

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There are five basic reasons for imprisoning a criminal.

The ones most people agree on are removal, deterrence, and retribution. That is: putting criminals somewhere that they can’t hurt the general public, offering disincentives to committing crimes in the first place, and giving a sense that the person has been given a punishment that has fit the crime.

There aren’t many people who’d disagree with serial killers being deprived of people to kill, or that some sort of punishment is needed to keep people from flouting the law with impunity, or that something must be done to provide a sense of justice and closure after a crime is committed.

There are two other basic reasons behind imprisonment, though, and very different philosophies about their place in criminal justice.

Scandinavian systems tend to focus on rehabilitation. That is, removing a person who commits a crime from the general public, and making it so that when they are allowed to rejoin society, that they’re unlikely to commit any further crimes. The point is to make it that the person who comes out isn’t the same person who went in: they’re not a criminal anymore. And, if preventing recidivism is the goal, it seems to work: in Norway, a released criminal has a 20% chance of re-offending within five years; in the U.S., it’s over 75%.

This seems to be because the U.S. system prioritizes retaliation over rehabilitation. That is, not imposing the best solution onto the problem, but rather inflicting as much pain as possible on the person who dared to flout the law.

That kind of stance just plain isn’t healthy: not for the person wanting the punishment, nor for the person dealing out the punishment, nor for the person receiving the punishment, and especially not for the society in general.

Michelle Jones did a horrible thing. No one is denying that.

She needed to be removed from society, to provide justice for her child’s death, to protect other children, to show other people who might be tempted to resort to violence against children that it will be punished. No one is denying that.

Do the twenty-plus years that she’s spent in prison make it right that she killed her child? Of course not. But, even given my own unremarkable life, I’m a much different person than I was twenty years ago.

Ms. Jones has lived a longer time since killing her son than she had before committing that atrocious deed, the vast majority of that time in prison. She’s been given the punishment that society dictated for her, and now wants to start her life over as a better person. And yet you want to keep punishing her.

If the U.S. ever wants to solve its crime problem — and especially its recidivism problem — you’re going to have to get away from the idea that punishment must continue after the prison sentence is over. Because, even though I wouldn’t say that I’ve done anything worthy of imprisonment, I know that if I was imprisoned, paroled, and released, and the stigma of my crime left me with no job, no friends, no support network, and, in short, no ties to the community at all… If I had no way to support myself, and no one whose good opinion I cared to maintain… If the only thing that stood between me and reoffending was my moral strength and willpower, and those slowly started to get eaten away as I starved and was looked down upon from every angle…

Well, I’m not going to say that I’d turn to a life of crime, because my currently well-fed, well-regarded, gainfully-employed, and generally-quite-comfortable self is in a good position to say that a life of crime isn’t something he would ever consider turning to. But I do have to wonder how many of my reasons to not steal would have to be taken away before I did seriously start making that consideration. And, judging by the American recidivism rate (once again, 76.6% of released prisoners in the U.S. are re-arrested within five years), I’d be naïve to think I’m the special person who wouldn’t bow to that pressure.

No amount of punishment is going to bring Ms. Jones’ son back to life, and the criminal justice system has declined to punish her further for killing him. So, if child killers shouldn’t be going to college to try to contribute to society, to try to make the world a better place after paying for their horrible deeds, what should they be doing when they get out of prison?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m going off of the Illustrated Guide to Law (which I highly recommend reading all the way through) here, and the two are definitely presented as related topics, but not quite the same thing.

[Retribution] is your classic "eye for an eye" purpose of punishment, and it’s what most people are thinking of when they’re talking about getting "justice." Justice is not about making people nicer, or deterring potential acts in the future, or even about taking you off the streets… It’s about you getting what you deserved.

You hurt someone – or society – so you have to be hurt about the same amount to make everything even, to restore balance, to satisfy a sense of fairness. […] If the punishment fits the crime, then everyone feels that justice is done. There’s an inherent sense of injustice when someone’s sentence is too harsh for what he did (or too light).


Retaliation is not about balance or fairness. We’re talking vengeance, here. Little more than the emotional drive to hurt those who have hurt us. All that matters is that you hurt someone, you hurt society, and so society is going to hurt you right back. It’s an animal instinct, protective and immediate. We don’t like to talk about it. And nobody ever brings it up as a factor at sentencing. But it would be dishonest to ignore it.

Source: Pages 1 2 3 4

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Wonderfully insightful comment. 11/10.

And let me add that the recidivism rate as measured doesn’t reflect the actual recidivism rate. One of the things that people incarcerated for long periods of time learn is how to better at crime. They generally come out with a much better skillset than they went in — having had a chance to learn from a diverse population of experienced criminals.

So when — at some point after their eventual release — they have no money, no friends, no housing, no job, no opportunities and no way out, and finally succumb to depression and despair and loneliness by turning back to crime, they’re quite often much better at it. And they don’t caught as easily.

This outcome serves nobody well: not them, not society.

Well, that’s not quite true: it serves the prison-industrial complex nicely. Because if they DO get caught, that’s another arrest, another conviction, and another inmate to fill the cells that are operated for profit.

And that is why it’s not just a possible outcome: it’s the DESIRED outcome.

Monkey's Uncle says:


Geez… I know Techdirt leans left, but seriously? You’re defending a TRAITOR? Someone convicted of espionage and not PARDONED, but whose sentence was commuted by a far left President?

This guy wasn’t a whistle blower like Snowden, he STOLE top secret documents indiscriminately and threw them out for the world to see… why?! Because he wanted attention. He wanted to be a Jason Bourne, only he had no actual moral conviction.

And yes, I say HE… because at the time, he was HE.

Harvard made the right call after the fact, but the wrong one up front. They should NEVER have offered him a visiting position.

HegemonicDistortion says:

Re: Re: Really?

Well, no, neither of them threw them out for the world to see. Snowden handed them off to journalists, and Manning to Wikileaks, which in turn collaborated with journalistic outlets to write the stories. Wikileaks even warned the State Department when they became aware that the cables were about to be published. (Video of that is in Laura Poitras’s film Risk )

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Really?

It’s not clear that the public interest was served by either Snowden’s or Manning’s decisions. Perhaps it would have been better to publish everything unredacted. Perhaps not. The problem is that we can’t tell because we don’t know what the “everything” is.

However, I’m willing to give each the benefit of doubt on this particular point.

HOWEVER, since then, it’s become painfully obvious that Wikileaks is merely another arm of the Russian propaganda machine and that Julian Assange is a rapist. At this point, anyone collaborating with either is a complete asshole.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Really?

This guy wasn’t a whistle blower like Snowden

Yes, she was.

he STOLE top secret documents indiscriminately and threw them out for the world to see…

No, she did not. She gave them to an organization who then worked with multiple news organizations and selectively released documents with redactions. So you’re just factually wrong.

why?! Because he wanted attention.

I’m amazed that you know Chelsea’s internal motivations, when all of her statements and actions directly contradict what you claim her intentions were. That’s imnpressive.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Really?

The Greens? Yeah, in order to fulfill their election promises they’d have to seize the means of production, ergo they are far left.

Even so, giving them a seat or two in Congress could only be a good thing as it would move political discourse back towards the middle.

We need a middle. Absent an effective left wing all we’ve got is Right and Further Right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Really?

It is telling that your comment has been removed from regular display when all you have done is express your opinion, one shared by many who view the subject of the article as a traitor to the US. I am starting to believe that “Techdirt” is on a path where it openly advocates disrespect for our legal systems and laws.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Iraq killed way more than a few thousand Americans

For Havard to rescind its offer to Manning, over false claims of putting US soldiers at risk from a guy who has admitted his own decisions lead to the deaths of thousands of US soldiers, is a total travesty.

Why must we be too American focused on this?

The deaths of American soldiers are frankly peanuts compared to all the other hundreds of thousands of deaths the war caused in Iraq, mainly among the Iraqi’s.

Here’s a link with information about the deaths caused by the Iraq War, and the different estimates of casualties.

The most relevant section about the deaths here.

Various scientific surveys of Iraqi deaths resulting from the first four years of the Iraq War estimated up to one million Iraqis died as a result of conflict during this time.[1] A later study, published in 2011, estimated that approximately 500,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the conflict since the invasion.[2] Counts of deaths reported in newspapers collated by projects like the Iraq Body Count project found 174,000 Iraqis reported killed between 2003 and 2013, with between 112,000-123,000 of those killed being civilian noncombatants. Updated estimates from the Iraq Body Count Project report an estimated 173,766 – 194,058 civilian deaths from 2003-2017. For troops in the U.S.-led multinational coalition, the death toll is carefully tracked and updated daily, and the names and photographs of those killed in action as well as in accidents have been published widely. A total of 4,491 U.S. service members were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2014.[3] Regarding the Iraqis (see Tables section below), however, information on both military and civilian casualties is both less precise and less consistent. Estimates of casualty levels are available from reporters on the scene, from officials of involved organizations, and from groups that summarize information on incidents reported in the news media.

So at best only a mere 174,000 Iraqi’s (the vast majority of them non-combatant citizens) were killed in the Iraq war. Likely the number is closer to over 200,000 when counting all deaths, not just Iraqi’s. And if the worst case estimates are right and the vast majority of estimates are heavily under-counting the deaths, over a million people died as a result of the war.

And that’s just deaths, it doesn’t count all the other many costs of the war.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Iraq killed way more than a few thousand Americans

Why must we be too American focused on this?

You’re entirely correct — and I debated including that fact in my post too. But I was just showing the direct equivalence, since he specifically said that she had put US soldiers at risk, which is extra ridiculous given his own actions.

Matthew M Bennett (profile) says:

Manning is not Snowden

Manning is not Snowden. Snowden exposed real law breaking and was actually a whistleblower. All Manning did was expose a bunch sensitive military communications and diplomatic wires, she committed treason and furthered the public good not at all.

She should still be prison. The outrage was not because of the CIA, it was because she’s awful.

Pardon Snowden, though.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Manning is not Snowden

You’re dealing with two sets of leaks from Manning:

  • The military leak, including the "Collateral Murder" video. This was indeed whistleblowing.
  • The State Department cables. Which, given that three million government workers and soldiers had access – and in some cases foreign government officials – with no tracking of their access and distribution – were marked "secret" only ironically.

The official government assessment of both sets of leaks is that no real damage was done.

BJC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Manning is not Snowden

I read that Buzzfeed link, and I can’t see what the assessment was of the diplomatic (not military/national security) cost of the release was regarding the State Department cables, because those were redacted.

I know a guy who ended up in the Wikileaks dump because he did democracy promotion in east Africa, and he felt that, while no one was going to get killed because his name or what he was doing was out there, things the United States was trying to do to make the world a better place, was made more difficult because it became harder for the U.S. to do it without scrutiny. Now the government knows that so-and-so of the opposition is getting visited by some proxy for the U.S. government, so his house arrest will be adjusted, or more U.S. employees will be watched, so folks who aren’t already on the government’s radar won’t meet with them.

From a DoD standpoint, that’s “no damage,” because frankly an autocratic government in a country tends to be just as good if not better for helping kill threats to the U.S. than a democracy. But for values promotion, for the stuff that the U.S. does that’s actually laudatory and doesn’t just help our bottom line, it’s a problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Manning is not Snowden

things the United States was trying to do to make the world a better place, was made more difficult because it became harder for the U.S. to do it without scrutiny

If what you are trying to do becomes more difficult when subject to scrutiny, then you are serving your own interests and not that of those who are claiming to help.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Manning is not Snowden

Not necessarily.

Say you’re helping someone do something that the local authorities don’t like. The local authorities know you want to do that thing, but don’t know the person you’re helping also wants to do it.

If the local authorities find out that you’re working with that person, they will become suspicious that the person is also wanting to do that thing, and that person will have a harder time of doing that thing.

No matter why you are trying to help that person, this is still equally true.

Eric says:

Isn't it ironic

You’ve got to love the irony that when a far right speaker comes to a liberal university and are prevented from speaking at all due to protests, you hear Fox News complain about freedom of speech, but here the conservative government is attempting to block harvards speach by pressuring them to remove this assignment they gave to Chelsea!

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Isn't it ironic

Similarly, I have not heard any of them come out in defense of ESPN personality Jemele Hill in spite of the White House(!) saying ESPN should fire her for expressing legally-protected opinions about Donald Trump. You would think that hearing the federal government ask a privately-owned company to punish someone for expressing criticism of said government would be the kind of thing that “protect free speech” conservatives would jump all over.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Isn't it ironic

The problem begins with allowing Trump to be labelled conservative. He’s not. He’s an alt-right loon.

Conservatives need to disavow their lunatic wing instead of kow-towing to them. ‘Nuff sensible, middle-ground types would flock to the Republican Party if they’d just move away from the loons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Isn't it ironic

This is actually very false Wendy.

Did you know Trump used to be a democrat? He donated to Hillary in the past. The Clintons attended his wedding. He isn’t a conservative. He isn’t really a republican. He is what he is. He was elected because he is not part of the party politics. He pisses of republicans as much as he pisses off dems.

He, and many members of congress, were elected for two reasons. 1 to improve immigration security. 2 to improve healthcare. Trump’s biggest contribution so far is to highlight how fucked up the Republicans are. Under Obama, they voted to repeal the ACA over 50 times. Once they became the majority, they refuse to repeal it.

DACA should only be the start. Getting illegal immigration under control has to happen.

If these two things don’t happen, Trump will be in a lot of trouble.

tom (profile) says:

Manning, whatever you think of the espionage laws, was convicted, sentenced and jailed. When he joined the military, he gave up some of his rights as part of the deal. One of the rights limited is the right to disclose information to the press. When he disclosed the information in question, he violated both Military law and Federal Law. Don’t like the law, bug your Congress critter to change it.

If Harvard wants to invite Ms Manning to speak, that is their right as a private organization. I would like to hear her justifications for breaking the laws she did. If the high mucky mucks at Harvard thought offering her a Fellowship, limited or not, wasn’t going to cause controversy, they probably need to consider other lines of employment.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Manning, whatever you think of the espionage laws, was convicted, sentenced and jailed.

What someone thinks of those laws is highly important actually, and directly impacts the conviction and whether or not someone believes it to be valid.

When the law prevents motive as a defense, and limits the defendant to ‘Did you, or did you not do X?’, contrary to any other trial, then that trial becomes a sham, something you’d expect to see in say Star Trek as opposed to the real world.

(Imagine for example if motive were prohibited from being raised in a trial for murder. ‘Self-defense’ would no longer be a legal defense, the only question would be ‘did the accused kill the victim?’)

Motive matters. Why someone did something matters. We recognize this is pretty much every other case, such that verdics can and are impacted by motive and context, it’s only here that that’s thrown out the window such that the only thing that matters is ‘what‘, rather than ‘what and why.’

BJC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

We do not recognize "motive" in most other cases at criminal law.

The element of "intent" is whether someone did the criminal act on purpose, not as an accident or mistake. To the extent that some intentions are defended at law, they’re specific exceptions like insanity or self-defense. There is no general "meant well" defense to intent.

If I’m a dealer in illegal contraband, be it drugs, arms, products made from endangered species, etc., it doesn’t matter to the guilty verdict whether I’m using the money to pay for an orphanage full of chemotherapy patients. Or if every endangered animal product I sell for a Third World warlord means that he lets 100 political prisoners seek refuge in a neighboring country. These are not defenses to whether I did the crime because they’re not on the list.

They should matter to sentencing, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about conviction.

Anonymous Coward says:

Chelsea Manning is trash who bragged about punching his ‘dyke’ supervisor’s face in chats with Lamo and leaked documents over a grudge then got lucky that they contained something that let him pretend it was about the public interest.

Sure motive matters, but there is an infinite difference in what it is convenient to claim post-hoc versus what every scintilla of evidence suggests was the actual case.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The current sitting president of the United States once bragged about grabbing women by the genitals—an admission which was not shocking enough to keep him from winning the election.

What does that have to do with anything? Nothing, really. But if you want to throw around politically-charged insults and offer no real substantive argument, I will not let you hog all the fun.

Anonymous Coward says:

Glad I do not have children I need to explain this nonsense to. I accept my life for what it is, and would never maim myself in an attempt to make it otherwise. I am thankful for the wisdom to know the difference.
Remember E. Snowden? He is in asylum in Russia while this person is giving lectures at Harvard? I guess Reverend Wright was right, “God Damn America”. How sad for those who sacrificed everything.
In saving yourselves from a lawsuit you surrendered your soul. FTD, and FTCIA too.

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