NYT Former Exec Editor Misrepresents Bradley Manning

from the wow dept

A few days ago, the former executive editor of the NY Times, Bill Keller wrote about the Bradley Manning situation, in which he discusses Manning's revelation that he originally tried to go directly to the NY Times and the Washington Post, but was ignored, leading to the decision to approach Wikileaks. Keller's piece is basically an attempt by the NY Times to rewrite history to make Keller and the NY Times feel better. I wouldn't say that Keller lies necessarily, because he might just be very, very ignorant, but there is no doubt that he blatantly misrepresents what Manning said and did.

Specifically, Keller argues first, that Manning was trying to dump all of the information he had, indiscriminately, and the wise reporters at the NY Times would have figured out what was really important: "If Manning had connected with The Times, we would have found ourselves in a relationship with a nervous, troubled, angry young Army private who was offering not so much documentation of a particular government outrage as a chance to fish in a sea of secrets." Furthermore, he argues that Manning's motivations in making his speech to the court last week somehow contradict the only other clear statement into Manning's motivations: his 2010 chat logs with Adrian Lamo that Lamo turned over to the government, leading to Manning's arrest. Those chat logs were leaked to the press, and Keller argues that Manning's reasoning for leaking the material is not clear, summarizing it as:
His political views come across as inchoate. When asked, he has trouble recalling any specific outrages that needed exposing. His cause was "open diplomacy" or — perhaps in jest — "worldwide anarchy."
Furthermore, Keller insults the many people who have supported Manning by suggesting that Manning has created his current views based on what his supporters have told him.

However, as multiple people shot back, this is simply untrue. Author Greg Mitchell points out that Keller is flat out "wrong" and that if he actually read the chat logs, Manning lays out his reasoning, which is entirely consistent with his statement in court. He points out that contrary to Manning "having trouble recalling any specific outrages," Manning has no problem doing so, pointing to examples of corruption in favor of Iraqi prime minister Maliki (rounding up dissidents who were just exercising basic free speech rights), along with the now famous Collateral Murder video. Mitchell points out that for Keller to claim that Manning had not mentioned anything specific, is simply wrong:
More from the Lamo chat log: It virtually opens with Manning saying he had seen evidence of "awful things" such as at Gitmo and Bagram. Then he mentions "criminal political dealings" and cites the "buildup to the Iraq war." He details what he saw on the "Collateral Murder" video and why he wanted it released ("I want people to see the truth"). He wants to get this and much else out (he IDs more) because it might "actually change something." As for the State Dept. cables, he hopes they will spark "worldwide discussion, debates and reforms." Yet Keller claims this was all "vague."
When Nathan Fuller, a supporter of Manning, emailed Keller about all of this, Keller doubled down and stood by his original assessment, saying nothing more than that he believed his characterization is "fair." When pressed, Keller reveals his general attitude towards Manning's supporters, claiming that they have "assembled a coherent political motivation by fishing here and there in the Lamo file." As opposed to Keller who quoted five whole words from the transcripts and took even those out of context?

Meanwhile, Daniel Ellsberg, who probably identifies with Manning more than anyone else in the world, having famously given the Pentagon Papers to the NY Times decades ago, has responded angrily to Keller (video) stating that: "It shows him as an arrogant, ignorant, condescending person. A very smart person who manages to be stupid in certain ways.... What we've heard are people like the NY Times who have consistently slandered [Bradly Manning]."
Ellsberg goes on to point out that there was a ton of material that Manning had access to, but which he chose not to disclose. He first mocks Keller's description of Manning as a "boy" who was "indiscriminately dumping" files, and notes that the evidence shows otherwise:
He, personally, had access to material higher than top secret, higher than Bill Keller has ever seen.... He chose not to put out the top secret communications intelligence, to which he clearly had access. He put out only material that he felt would be embarrassing [rather than harmful], and which, three years later we can say, only was embarrassing.

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  1. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 13 Mar 2013 @ 7:04am

    Re: "chance to fish in a sea of secrets"

    "Or that the entire Iraq war was ginned up out of nothing as has been proven by the total lack of WMD."

    Wait...what? There wasn't a total lack of WMD. There was a total lack of nuclear weapons (though there was evidence that Saddam in fact DID have a nuke program several years before the invasion and he buried it in the sand once he knew the inspectors were on their way in). If you want to say the government scare mongered the public to whip up support for the war, I won't disagree with you, but let's not pretend that the Saddam regime both wasn't in possession of chemical and biological weapons programs (in fact, he'd used them against the Kurds in his own land) or that he didn't absolutely have to go....

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