Wikileaks: Manning Sentence Commuted to 7 years

I’m elated! Chelsea Manning is finally going to be released. Obama signed the commutation today.

Wikileaks, the anti-secrecy organisation which published the diplomatic cables, has previously said its founder Julian Assange would agree to be extradited to the US if Mr Obama granted clemency to Manning.

The White House said the Manning commutation was not influenced in any way by Mr Assange’s extradition offer.

Mr Assange, who has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, did not immediately comment on whether he plans to surrender.

But he did tweet: “Thank you to everyone who campaigned for Chelsea Manning’s clemency. Your courage & determination made the impossible possible.”

I think if the decision Obama made was not a prisoner exchange, then Assange doesn’t have to surrender. He’s already being illegally detained by the US extradition order they funneled through Sweden. Or, if he is sentenced to a day in prison, he’d keep his promise if he serves that time. I think a day in jail is too much for the person who stood up to the US intelligence machine and exposed some of their worst crimes.

ADDED: It’s only a shame that Edward Snowden and Jeremy Hammond can’t also be set free from their political prisons.


I’d wondered why the USA wasn’t chasing after draft dodgers still.

My respect for Carter went up when I learned this.

Obama could redeem some of his failing popularity if he stood up to the NSA spy machine and pardoned Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, among other whistle blowers of illegal American spying programs aimed at American citizens.

PRISM: NSA Watching the Innocent

Technology and civil liberty experts knew PRISM was a very real possibility. I knew, and wrote about it last August. The National Security Agency (NSA) (star bad guy org. in the Will Smith movie Enemy of the State) has been collecting domestic Americans’ phone and Internet records since at least 2007. This activity is a clear violation of the American Constitution, and was overseen by Bush II, Obama, Al Franken, and other high level leaders who’ve betrayed the trust of Americans and broken the law.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who also serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Bloomberg that the “[the] idea that a 29-year-old individual with so little experience” had access to the material Snowden did is “absolutely shocking.”

What’s shocking is Senator Collins, who is ignorant as sin. Seven years younger, and a year from a computer science degree, I had similar security clearance to Snowden (in Canada). Of course, I never saw the sort of gross violations of law observed by Snowden, and Canada at that time had an effective Commissioner designed to protect Canadians from secretive surveillance programs that ended up collecting intel from out-of-bounds citizens.

So what can you and I do? Give up Facebook and Skype? Don’t use a Verizon phone at either end of a conversation? Vote Republican? Vote Democrat? Vote Liberal? None of those options will protect you or enhance your life, so what can we do? The party system in the US, and Canada, is not protecting citizens from overbearing governments. The US surveillance state convinced supposed good-guys like Obama and Franken that the illegal spy scheme they inherited wasn’t worth exposing or even shutting down.

We first of all have to defend the people who leak evidence of crimes to responsible media like Glenn Greenwald who helped break this story into the international press.

People like Bradley Manning, and Ed Snowden are people who’ve done heroic things to uphold the highest laws of their country, while people more powerful than them try to use lesser laws to punish their actions.
Continue reading

WikiLeaks: Snowden to Greenwald to Guardian

The Verizon phone taps, to Yahoo, Google, Skype, and more all owned by the US Government. These were things suspected by many (thanks to WikiLeaks), and now confirmed by the intentional whistle-blowing leak from the NSA. The man who told on his criminally misbehaving government? A 29 year old who didn’t want to live in such a fake society that says it’s all about protection of civil liberty, while violating that trust as a fact of daily business.

Remember there were illegal attacks on WikiLeaks’ infrastructure, with the top suspect being the US State Department.


Note that you should be following everyone on Twitter listed here, if you aren’t already (and use Twitter). (At least with Twitter, you understand already that your postings are all public broadcasts and thus subject to monitoring.)

Preston Manning in Moose Jaw – Deadblogging

This was recorded in front of a live conference hall audience. The presentation now is a little something I call “deadblogging” since it’s live-blogging in a non-live format, dumped for your reading pleasure.
Preston Manning, Palmer's finger, Saskboy
J. Palmer’s account of tonight.

7:05 introduction underway
Manning served from ’93 to ’01 in Parliament. Vianne Timmons giving intro now.
Western Canadian Democracy A Backward and Forward Look? (Actually a backward look and forward look, on poster, which isn’t as easy to make fun of.)
“Thanks for the fine intervention… Er introduction,” Manning started.
First job was as a manure spreader, which he noted prepared him for roles later in life, to laughter from the crowd.

7:10 Manning talks of Lloyd.

Democratic heritage in Western Canada.
Unlike the HoC, answers will be given in the question period after talk he promises.

Democratic reform is at the centre of each western party movement, SC, CCF, Reform.
Democratic passion is wired into our Jeans/genes. Writer asked him which spelling he preferred.
Typical Canadian answer “both” if tough choice exists.

Absence of formal authority, and 3 other points (which I missed recording) are important to the development of democratic passion.

Constition debate in Indian Head 1901, 1000 people attended.

Haultain argued for one big province. Roblin took other side. (I spelled Haultain right, without spell check!)
Haultain won the debate, but lost the issue.

On Prairies, people were involved earlier in organization of govt in west.
CTV’s Mantyka is here, as is CBC TV.
Manning doesn’t think there is a hall in Indian Head today that could host a reenactment.

7:21 p.m. -Creation of new political parties. One is Quebec, other is the West. Riel was first western reformer, but got hung. Reform distanced themselves to sell memberships; getting hung not a perk. har har.
Feeling of being isolated and misunderstood tends to create new parties.
No one is worried the police will be after them for attending this talk tonight. Freedom to associate and gather.
1930s resources became provincial jurisdiction, greatest development since Confederation.
SC and CCF, both knew capitalism wasn’t working; born of “desperate times”
Both a respect and concern for the common man were central themes. Same people attracted: farmers, teachers, and almost all had a religious connection. Riel wanted church reform too, it’s just not mentioned much.
Social justice theme in common among reformers, but traditional view was more vertical-up to authority then God.

Now looking to the future:

People don’t believe politics can fix anything, is a growing thought.
“I’m in favour of political parties, I started two of them.”
They are basically a way to win elections now.
They don’t develop intellectual capital.
“They don’t train people”
“we need to be more involved in development” would bring a higher level of debate to politics. Better calibre people.

His Manning Centre is to this aim, he claims. (I was thinking, Grad School is expensive, and would build a political aristocracy. What about the Conservative heckles against Iggy now, that he’s too educated and out of touch with common people?)

Mentions Tom Flanagan and him traveling to developing country to watch election. Soviets, I think?

-If there’s a democracy outbreak in the Middle East, have to build a system behind parties.
-Half the MPs don’t realize lawmaking is part of the job!
They aren’t trained, they don’t even have job descriptions to fill when chosen (other than smile and win). Rink operators at least have a job description posted.

Many politicians come to the role after being a staffer. Carleton U offering 25 grad student positions to study to be better politicians or participants in democratic system.

Get elected and you get 2 days of training?! Some MPs, they think they know everything, & are unteachable.

“Graceful exiting could be a course.”

Why don’t they experiment with Legislature process or formality? The risk is too high and cooperation too low. Try circle or bench not desks? Two swords away from the other side is old fashioned. Crack a whip?
Find something that works in a model parliament.

Where will model parliament be built? Wherever the legacy donor is from, probably – to laughter from crowd.
“Enter Prepared”, but if we tell people that, we need schools to do it.

7:47 Greece.
Absence of fixed institutions. War, tyranny, and indifference are insidious enemies.
Gives a story of democracy as it spread into new frontiers.
Democracy fights back now against the Kaiser, to Islamic Fascism, and Baltic ethnic cleansing.
There is no greater story of which to be a part.


More about Haultain?
A lawyer from Fort McLeod
Greatest Premier of West.

How do we protect ourselves from a political aristocracy with training?
-“Weeds in the grassroots”?
Elect those who care about people, who listen and don’t just glad-hand.

I ask, “What do you feel about the rhetoric coming from the Prime minister’s party regarding coalitions being anti-democratic, when the UK has a coalition government right now?”

-No coalitions of expediency to gain power, free votes allow real coalitions of thought.
Any coalition in Canada would be with the Bloc (he claims incorrectly), which is dedicated to the breakup of the country. (Guy near me in crowd said coalition would destroy Canada, and several murmurs in the room seemed to agree with this reasoning, that I disagree with.) I didn’t bother retorting that Harper wanted a coalition WITH the Bloc, and thanked him for his response instead. Manning had pointed out that that would have been a coalition of expediency to gain power, after all.

Prorogue hurts democracy? brought up before my question.
Manning said closure happens even in majority, getting in the way of debate.

Manning needed police escort at UofO, Concordia and elsewhere. Extremists even show up.
Manning handles racists asking questions, by saying Our friend obviously has a problem with X, but surely that’s not the feeling of the rest of the people in the room. The other people start clapping and apply social pressure.

Guy asks what’s the big deal about the deficit Harper ran up when he had to.
(check when it rose, was higher before 2008 too!)

Manning has candidate stand behind desk in HoC and tests them. Do you represent you, your party, or constituents?
All three! But what do you do with conflicts?
Figure it out before you get there. He’ll side with constituents, but maybe give up being rep. Tell voters before you are elected, your views.

Glenn Hagel asks three questions:
In Canada we’re odd ones out. FPTP, hard to get majorities.
Comment on coalitions?
Municipal govt none partisan mostly. Train municipal politicians?
Mannng: municipal is first level of democracy, is closest to people.
PR, Reform’s position was new parties have vested interest in a new system so have referendum on election types. PR doesn’t make it easy to get majority, so
“We’ve got to learn the skill of coalition building ”
Crossover voting ridiculed in Canada, but is common elsewhere. The media has a role to play in changing attitudes about coalition building.

8:19 Ideas to increase voter turnout? Lottery in conjunction with voting? But then there’d be a skill testing question…

Provoke or persuade people to participate.
Group of men and Heckler told him nothing he could do to convince them to get involved with federal politics. Manning retorted:
I could institute conscription, after a referendum.
Governments can reach into your lives and screw with them. Using my PM power, you’ll serve on Baffin Island in the military.

Heckler replied after the meeting, “If somebody did that, I’d probably get involved, for a while.”

Standing ovation to close.
About 200 people in crowd at Heritage Inn (formerly Best Western in the 1980s)

After, I asked Manning if he had heard of Stephen Taylor, and he had. I mentioned we talked sometimes on blogs. Manning invited me to participate in Ottawa in something that was for Conservatives, or tire-kickers.