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 @ 10:20am

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

    "Forgive me for placing more weight upon a recognized institution such as FactCheck.org than you, but in my opinion you are clearly wrong. Iraq gave up the WMD program in 1995. Any WMD that was there was already declared and was in the process of being disposed and/or was already incapable of military usage."

    That's both incorrect and short-sighted. First, in 2006 hundreds of weapons munitions were found that contained mustard gas or sarin nerve gas. While you're correct that that ammunition was degraded, the agents inside them were not, and could be exploited by terrorist or the Saddam regime. Per Army Colonel John Chu: "These are chemical weapons as defined under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and yes ... they do constitute weapons of mass destruction."

    "As far as Iraq having lost its sovereignty, using those same standards, Israel has also lost its sovereignty."

    Interesting theory. I wasn't aware they broke all four standards. What ethnic group have they attempted to genocide? What WMDs have they used? How have they repeatedly invaded AS THE AGGRESSOR other nations around them? What international gangsters or terrorists are they actively involved with?

    "The fact is the UN never approved the invasion of Iraq, as the US did not wait for Iraq to be found in violation of UNSC Resolution 1441."

    That the UN doesn't have the balls to enforce their own resolutions isn't an argument not to do the right thing ourselves. That's a non-starter.

    "And for the record, fuck you for saying I doomed anyone to genocide (for the record, he gassed one village, not the entire race, so your claims of genocide are a stretch)."

    Get mad all you want, I'm right. If we left Saddam alone, he'd have finished off the Kurds. And, btw, you might want to educate yourself on how EVERYONE, including the Iraqi government, says what Saddam did was genocide. You can turn your nose up at the gassing of 10k civilians. I'm not going to.

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2010/03/08/1988-Kurdish-massacre-labeled-genocide/UPI-934 71268062566/

    "Innocent people never deserve to die, and there's a lot of killing going on all over the world, and we don't do fuck all about it."

    Not being able to save the entire world isn't a reason not to save part of it. That's not an argument, it's an excuse not to do the difficult thing and go to war.

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