Archive for the Julian Assange Category

WikiLeaks, Assange targets of active FBI probe [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Afghan War Diary, Afghanistan, Corporate Media Critique, FBI, Iraq, Julian Assange, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, Obama, Pentagon, War crimes, Wikileaks on May 28, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Bill Van Auken
21 May 2014

Court documents released this week confirm that the FBI and US Justice Department are continuing an active “criminal/national security” investigation against WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

The documents were provided to the US District Court in Washington, DC in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by the US-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). They prove that the Obama administration’s political persecution of Assange and WikiLeaks continues, more than four years after the media organization first provoked Washington’s ire with the publication of the “Collateral Murder” video, a US attack helicopter’s gunsight footage from a 2007 Baghdad airstrike in which Iraqi children, journalists and other civilians were shot and killed.

The “Collateral Murder” posting was followed by the publication of thousands of documents detailing US war crimes in Afghanistan and then of diplomatic cables exposing Washington’s machinations around the globe.

EPIC filed the suit in November 2011 after the US government opened its criminal investigation against WikiLeaks and pressured web hosts and payment processors into severing all relations with the organization. It also become public that the government was attempting to identify those who accessed the documents and was issuing direct orders to US military and civilian government employees not to do so.

The US investigation was initiated following the May 2010 arrest of Private First Class Chelsea Bradley Manning, who was tried on charges of espionage and “aiding the enemy.” Manning was subsequently sentenced to 35 years in prison, the most draconian punishment ever for a government whistleblower.

The FOIL suit sought all records regarding “individuals targeted for surveillance” in connection with WikiLeaks, all lists of names compiled of individuals who had supported or indicated interest in the media organization and all records of communications between the government and social media companies, such as Facebook and Google, as well as financial service companies, including Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal, regarding WikiLeaks.

Since the suit was filed, revelations by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden established that the NSA was spying on everyone, US citizens included, who visited the WikiLeaks web site.

In a document filed with the Washington, DC court on Monday, US prosecutors said that making public the requested documents would cause “articulable harm” to the Justice Department’s and FBI’s ongoing investigation and should remain secret “pending prosecution.”

The document gives the lie to the story leaked by Justice Department officials last November to the Washington Post that there was no intention of prosecuting Assange, because trying him would raise the question of why other major newspapers and news organizations that published stories based on the WikiLeaks documents were not also in the dock…

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/21/wiki-m21.html

The firing of the New York Times’ Jill Abramson [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-China media bias, Anti-China propaganda exposure, Black propaganda, China, China-bashing, CIA, Fascism, George W. Bush, Julian Assange, National Security Agency / NSA, Nazism, New York Times lie, NSA, Obama, Pentagon, Psychological warfare, State Department, Syria, Ukraine, US drone strikes, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Wall Street, War crimes, Wikileaks on May 28, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By David Walsh
21 May 2014

The firing of Jill Abramson as executive editor of the New York Times May 14 lifted the lid on the US media establishment. Displayed for all to see was the money-grubbing, careerism and egotism that dominates this filthy little world.

The New York Times is a principal mouthpiece of the American corporate elite. It has become one of the most dishonest publications on earth, since its editors and reporters are assigned an impossible task: framing the interests of a predatory, crisis-ridden elite in the vestiges of traditional liberal terminology.

One makes sense of many articles in the Times these days either by reading between the lines and calculating what has been deliberately omitted, or through a process of deciphering that involves reading backward from the obvious ideological slant and a priori conclusions of the author to the details and arguments offered as “unbiased” facts. The unsubtle hand of the State Department, the Pentagon or the CIA — or some combination thereof — can often be perceived in the Times’ news gathering and commentary.

Over the past decade, the Times has defended the neo-colonial operations of the Bush and Obama administrations, while firmly backing the onslaught against constitutional and elementary democratic rights carried out by the American state, with an inevitable degree of handwringing and the occasional caveats. All the time it has cheered on the stock market boom, the parasitism and swindling of the financial aristocracy and the resulting immiseration of wide layers of the US population.

The newspaper’s leading personnel, including Jill Abramson, her predecessor and her successor at the helm of the Times, have all emerged out of these profoundly reactionary social and economic processes.

Controversy surrounds the immediate circumstances of Abramson’s dismissal. Her defenders claim that Abramson recently discovered she was receiving less in pay and benefits than Bill Keller, the executive editor before her, and had “pushed” to remedy that situation. In this scenario, Abramson is a martyr to the cause of equal pay for women.

The Times ’ publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., insisted in an email on May 15 that, in fact, in 2013, Abramson’s “total compensation package was more than 10 percent higher than that of her predecessor, Bill Keller, in his last full year as Executive Editor, which was 2010. It was also higher than his total compensation in any previous year.”

The pay in question, equal or otherwise, put Abramson (and Keller) in the top fraction of income earners in the US. According to Ken Auletta of the New Yorker: “As executive editor, Abramson’s starting salary in 2011 was $475,000, compared to Keller’s salary that year, $559,000. Her salary was raised to $503,000, and—only after she protested—was raised again to $525,000.” In addition to her salary, Abramson was eligible for “bonuses, stock grants, and other long-term incentives.”

Sulzberger, in a statement, asserted that Abramson’s departure had “nothing to do with pay or gender.” Rather, he insisted, the firing resulted from “a series of issues, including arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues.”

According to Auletta’s account, the final straw involved Abramson’s offering a position to Janine Gibson of Britain’s Guardian newspaper as a second managing editor of digital operations at the Times without consulting Dean Baquet, the first managing editor and now Abramson’s successor.

Whatever the circumstances, Abramson’s firing instantly became an immense and powerfully felt issue for certain small circles in the US.

Her dismissal was followed by much lamentation and gnashing of teeth by feminist and left-liberal critics of the move. Was she fired “because she was a woman?” The “ugliness of being a woman boss” or “a woman leader” was on certain minds. “We’re back to square one” as far as women in the upper echelons of journalism are concerned, suggested another commentator.

Frida Ghitis, writing at CNN.com, observed, “You can draw your own conclusions about why Jill Abramson was fired, but as we look at the history of her tenure as executive editor of The New York Times, the world’s most prestigious and influential newspaper, and learn details about how it came to an end, women everywhere are shaking their heads.”

Really? Women everywhere were shaking their heads?

“The departure of Jill Abramson,” commented Rebecca Traister of the New Republic, “is a bigger and far grimmer story about a uniquely powerful woman, whose rise and whose firing will now become another depressingly representative chapter in the story of women’s terribly slow march toward social, professional and economic parity.”

Michelle Goldberg, of the Nation, headlined her comment, “Jill Abramson was right,” although the reader discovers that Abramson was “right,” according to Goldberg, about relatively trivial internal issues at the Times. The Nation columnist takes note of the claim that Abramson was fired for being “pushy,” and goes on: “The Times denies this, but unless it’s disproven, women across the country have reason to find it chilling.”

Again, which women?

At the Progressive, Ruth Conniff assured us in the headline of her comment that the “NY Times Firing of Abramson Hurts Women.” She concluded the piece by arguing that the manner of Abramson’s firing by the Times is “not good for women as a group.”

How so? Is there the slightest proof that the employment of a female executive editor by the New York Times, for somewhere between $525,000 and one million dollars a year (or more), had the slightest impact on the conditions of women “as a group”?

On the contrary, there is considerable evidence that the gap between the Abramsons and others in her income group, on the one hand, and the vast majority of women, on the other, is growing ever wider…

…According to a review in the New York Review of Books, Alison Wolf in The Women at the Top, a study of upper middle class “professional women” across the globe, argues that “couples at the top lead very different lives, not only from the lower classes, but from previous generations. Within the households, husbands and wives are virtually interchangeable. Both tend to be high earners, and both tend to be equally competent at childcare and household tasks. … They now have more in common with each other than either has with members of their own sex in the lower classes.”

Of course, upper middle class members of both sexes have always had “more in common” with each other than with anyone in the “lower classes,” but the exacerbation of this situation is clearly a noteworthy social phenomenon, with definite political and ideological implications.

In the comments from many of Abramson’s defenders, one hears the angry collective voice of this layer of well-heeled women whose considerable gains have only made it more selfish, more rapacious and more envious of the male-dominated corporate and financial aristocracy to whose exalted realm it aspires. For this social grouping, the Times ’ executive editor was “a role model and beacon of hope,” in the words of Barbara Cochran, the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism.

This stratum of well-paid professional women is also one of the key constituencies of the pseudo-left, and helps explain the obsession of groups such as the International Socialist Organization (ISO) with gender and identity politics. A great deal of wealth and privilege is at stake in the struggle for “gender parity” in journalism, academia, unions, business and government.

Even a scoundrel, of course, can be the victim of an undemocratic attack and worthy of defense. But there is nothing progressive that attaches itself to Abramson’s case, nothing that elicits sympathy. Nor is there anything exceptional in her entire career — she has not been identified even by her defenders with any exposé or journalistic coup. To be blunt, she is a journalistic and intellectual zero.

The entire sordid affair at the Times is about money, with perhaps the added element of ferocious personal ambition and ego. Abramson is the product of right-wing feminism, the fitting progeny of Gloria Steinem and Margaret Thatcher…

As for the editorial content and reporting of the New York Times, Abramson’s reign marked the further integration of the newspaper into the misinformation apparatus of the White House, Defense Department and various intelligence agencies.

What was the record of the Times during her two years and eight months as executive editor? A brief recapitulation would have to include the newspaper’s vociferous backing for economic and military aggression against Iran, Syria and China; its defense of drone murder and the military lockdown of Boston; its contributions to the smear campaigns against Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden; its support for the privatization of Medicare, defense of Obamacare and continued campaign against “overtesting” (i.e., its indefatigable support for reducing health care costs at the expense of the working class population); and, most recently, the Times ’ especially vile cover-up of the fascist-led coup in Ukraine, its publication of fake photos supposedly claiming to prove Russian intervention in the eastern part of the country and its suppression of ultra-right atrocities in Odessa and elsewhere.

A record to be proud of … ! Of course Abramson wasn’t fired for any of this, no portion of which will hinder her from finding a new lucrative source of income.

She belongs to the wealthy, anti-democratic media and political establishment in the US, which has swung dramatically to the right in recent decades. The distasteful and unseemly squabble between Abramson, Baquet, Sulzberger and the rest will serve a useful purpose to the extent that it further discredits the state-run propaganda organ that the Times has become.

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/21/abra-m21.html

US collecting all cell phone calls in Afghanistan [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Julian Assange, Kenya, Mexico, National Security Agency / NSA, NATO invasion, NSA, Obama, Pakistan, Pentagon, Philippines, Somalia, US drone strikes, US foreign occupation, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, War crimes, Wikileaks, Yemen on May 24, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Thomas Gaist
24 May 2014

WikiLeaks on Friday revealed that the US has been surveilling all cell phone conversations in Afghanistan as part of its SOMALGET mass data collection program. SOMALGET is one component of a broader NSA effort, including a program called MYSTIC, which collect communications data in Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, Iraq and elsewhere.

Millions of voice clips and reams of telephone metadata are collected and stored as part of the SOMALGET/MYSTIC program, which taps into entire national cellular networks. Three days ago, Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept, revealed that SOMALGET was being used to collect phone calls made from the Bahamas and an unknown country, now revealed to be Afghanistan.

Greenwald said at the time that revealing the second country would “lead to deaths,” and complied with demands from top US security officials that he not publicize the information. The Washington Post also chose to preserve the secrecy of the surveillance against Afghanistan.

In a “statement on the mass recording of Afghan telephone calls by the NSA” published Friday, WikiLeaks rejected the “national security” rationale for concealing the country’s identity. A statement from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stated, “The Intercept stated that the US government asserted that the publication of this name might lead to a ‘rise in violence’. Such claims were also used by the administration of Barack Obama to refuse to release further photos of torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq… WikiLeaks has years of experience with such false or overstated claims made by US officials in their attempts to delay or deny publication.”

“WikiLeaks has confirmed that the identity of the victim state is Afghanistan. This can also be independently verified through forensic scrutiny of imperfectly applied censorship on related documents released to date and correlations with other NSA programs,” the statement said.

The mass spying against Afghanistan underscores that a primary function of the spying apparatus is to identify and target opponents of the neocolonial agenda being pursued by the US ruling elite, while terrorizing the civilian population into submission. As noted by the WikiLeaks statement, the US government’s targeted drone program relies heavily on information gathered from NSA surveillance operations.

“We know from previous reporting that the National Security Agency’s mass interception system is a key component in the United States’ drone targeting program. The US drone targeting program has killed thousands of people and hundreds of women and children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia in violation of international law. The censorship of a victim state’s identity directly assists the killing of innocent people,” the WikiLeaks statement said…

Julian Assange tells SXSW audience: ‘NSA has grown to be a rogue agency’ [Guardian]

Posted in CIA, Ecuador, Glenn Greenwald @ Salon, Julian Assange, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, Obama, Pentagon, US imperialism, USA, Wikileaks on March 16, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

• Wikileaks founder: ‘All of us have to do something’
• Interview conducted from Ecuador’s London embassy
• Snowden and Greenwald also set to appear at SXSW

by Stuart Dredge

8 March 2014

The Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Saturday told an audience in Texas that people power is the key to rolling back the power of the National Security Agency and other surveillance agencies…

Full article link: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/mar/08/julian-assange-wikileaks-nsa-sxsw

(c) Guardian News & Media Ltd

Leaked documents detail NSA surveillance operations against WikiLeaks [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Australia, Canada, Internet Global Hegemony, Julian Assange, National Security Agency / NSA, New Zealand, NSA, Obama, U.K., US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Wikileaks on February 23, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Thomas Gaist
19 February 2014

Documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the US National Security Agency and British GCHQ have carried out political surveillance operations targeting WikiLeaks, its founder Julian Assange and readers of the whistle-blowing web site. In addition to the US and Britain, the operations also involved the other members “of the “Five Eyes” allied countries (New Zealand, Australia and Canada).

The documents were posted by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher on the Intercept in an extensive expose titled “Snowden Documents Reveal Covert Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Supporters.” Among other things, they show that the agency has collected IP addresses of computers visiting the WikiLeaks site, considered classifying WikiLeaks as “a malicious foreign actor,” and placed Assange on an NSA “manhunting” list that included alleged Al Qaeda terrorists.

The leaked documents have further exposed as lies the claims of the Obama administration that the NSA police-state apparatus is directed against “terrorists.” In reality, the NSA is using its illegal and secret access to the internet backbone to monitor the internet activity of its political adversaries and anyone considered a threat to the interests of the American ruling class.

The government of the UK has played a major role in the targeting of the web site. The leaked documents contained information about a GCHQ program called ANTICRISIS GIRL. The program is revealed in a Power Point slide prepared by the British spy agency for the 2012 SIGDEV Conference, an annual symposium held by the surveillance bureaucracies of the major powers. Under ANTICRISIS GIRL, GCHQ has been collecting IP addresses of individual computers that visit the WikiLeaks site, allowing them to identify and surveil individuals who access WikiLeaks.

As the Intercept wrote, “GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly monitor visitors to a WikiLeaks site. By exploiting its ability to tap into the fiber-optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet, the agency confided to allies in 2012, it was able to collect the IP addresses of visitors in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines like Google.”

“Illustrating how far afield the NSA deviates from its self-proclaimed focus on terrorism and national security,” the Intercept wrote, “the documents reveal that the agency considered using its sweeping surveillance system against Pirate Bay, which has been accused of facilitating copyright violations. The agency also approved surveillance of the foreign ‘branches’ of hacktivist groups, mentioning Anonymous by name…”

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/02/19/wiki-f19.html

Julian Assange: The May 2011 RT Interview – “Facebook is the most appalling spying machine” [RT / Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives]]

Posted in Corporate Media Critique, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Julian Assange, Obama, Oligarchy, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Wikileaks on August 2, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Posted in light of the Snowden NSA revelations. – Zuo Shou

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Facebook ain’t your friend. From the facile and shallow way it connects people to the awesome power it gives authorities to monitor and surveille, Facebook is a technology born not in the hallways of emancipation and freedom but in the byways of power and control. Or at least, that’s what Julian Assange founder of WikiLeaks thinks and frankly, I tend to agree. Never before in this history of this planet have so many been monitored by so few with so little responsible oversight.” – Dr. Michael Sosteric, “Facebook is a Spy Machine” [http://www.sociology.org/lead/facebook-spy-machine]

“WikiLeaks revelations only tip of iceberg – Assange”

May 2, 2011

([Apparent] transcript of video interview by Laura Emmett)

The man behind WikiLeaks says his website’s revelations are just the tip of the iceberg. In an exclusive interview with RT, Julian Assange said it is only a matter of time before more damaging information becomes known.

he publication of confidential cables proved deeply embarrassing for the US and other countries.

“If we look at our work over the last 12 moths, think about that. All these stories that have come out actually happened in the world, before 2010, but people didn’t know about it. So what is it that we don’t know about now? There’s an enormous hidden world out there that we don’t know about. It exists there right now.”

Assange claims the data released by WikiLeaks is not even the most important and calls on people not to believe that the information they receive from the media is all that is happening.

“We only released secret, classified, confidential material. We didn’t have any top secret cables. The really embarrassing stuff, the really serious stuff wasn’t in our collection to release. But it is still out there.”

RT: Julian, thank you for talking to RT…social networking, what role, do you think, sites like Facebook and Twitter, have played in the revolutions [sic] in the Middle East? How easy, would you say, is it to manipulate media like that?

JA: Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo – all these major US organizations have built-in interfaces for US intelligence. It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena. They have an interface that they have developed for US intelligence to use.

Now, is it the case that Facebook is actually run by US intelligence? No, it’s not like that. It’s simply that US intelligence is able to bring to bear legal and political pressure on them. And it’s costly for them to hand out records one by one, so they have automated the process. Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them.

RT: OK, let’s talk about other latest WikiLeaks cables that have been released. They show the UK as a haven for extremism, with at least 35 Guantanamo detainees having at least passed through the UK. Is the UK still a haven for terrorists?

JA: You know it has been a haven for terrorists, and it is certainly a haven for oligarchs and former regime dictators that have come here. I mean, remember the famous Pinochet trial for the extradition of Pinochet from the UK, which Thatcher resisted – incredibly, using a lawyer that is involved in trying to extradite me from the United Kingdom. Now, part of that is, perhaps, good. It’s an example of true liberalism in the United Kingdom: everyone come here, and we’ll protect you. On the other hand, there does seem to be a disconnect. Is it really supporting free-speech activists like me who come to the UK?…

RT: The Guantanamo information… why has WikiLeaks released it now? I mean it seems sort of to be after the fact. Is it because Obama has recently announced his re-election campaign and obviously closing Guantanamo was one of his main election promises?

JA: There is a number of reasons why we released it now. The primary one is that we are a small organization, although a very committed one. Last year we came under extraordinary attack. All these things continue to go on. And so they’ve really dampened down our ability to move quickly and publish quickly.

The timing is good. Obama has given up on closing Guantanamo and has decided to re-open the trial process. And we now have a situation where even the Obama administration says that 48 of those people still in Guantanamo are completely innocent and they should be sent somewhere, and they are not being sent anywhere. So, completely innocent people are incarcerated for years and years and years with no trial and no hope of relief. No country would agree to house them, including the United States. But the United States has made them its problem.

The United States was involved in rounding up these innocent people, setting up a process that was from the very beginning corrupt. There is a reason why they are in Guantanamo and not on the US mainland and not in an allied country. And that reason was to hide them and to keep them outside of the law. Just like you have Caribbean islands engaged in money laundering, the United States is engaged in people laundering.

RT:Let me talk about your media partners, one of which is The Guardian, with whom you’re now involved in a dispute. But you chose them as your primary English-language partner for distributing the WikiLeaks cables. And now Guardian journalists have published this book on WikiLeaks, which you say is an attack on you. How would you describe, following that, The Guardian’s stance on whistleblowing and media freedom in general?

JA: They are a publishing organization, and so, of course, they want as much rights over publishing them as possible, that’s a natural self-interest. What they have done with this cable-cooking in this incredible over-redaction of cables is they have pushed the right of the people to know to the very, very edge. And what they are concerned about is any possible attack on them.

But we have seen this sort of abuse of the material that we have provided several times. The Guardian is the worst offender, but we saw it also by The New York Times…

…What happens in the West is that there is no border between state interest and commercial interest. The edges of the state, as a result of privatization, are fuzzed and blurred out into the edges of companies. So, when you look at how The Guardian behaves, or how The New York Times behaves, it is part of that mesh of corporate and state interests seamlessly blurring into each other. The Guardian is concerned predominantly about being criticized by these powerful interests, about lawsuits against it driven by oligarchs, driven by people powerful enough to push a court case forward…

…RT: And finally, Julian, who do you consider to be your No. 1 enemy?

JA: Our No. 1 enemy is ignorance. And I believe that is the No. 1 enemy for everyone – it’s not understanding what actually is going on in the world. It’s only when you start to understand that you can make effective decisions and effective plans. Now, the question is, who is promoting ignorance? Well, those organizations that try to keep things secret, and those organizations which distort true information to make it false or misrepresentative. In this latter category, it is bad media.

It really is my opinion that media in general are so bad that we have to question whether the world wouldn’t be better off without them altogether. They are so distortive to how the world actually is that the result is… we see wars, and we see corrupt governments continue on.

One of the hopeful things that I’ve discovered is that nearly every war that has started in the past 50 years has been a result of media lies. The media could’ve stopped it if they had searched deep enough; if they hadn’t reprinted government propaganda they could’ve stopped it. But what does that mean? Well, that means that basically populations don’t like wars, and populations have to be fooled into wars. Populations don’t willingly, with open eyes, go into a war. So if we have a good media environment, then we also have a peaceful environment.

RT: Thank you very much.

Excerpted; full interview/article link: http://rt.com/news/wikileaks-revelations-assange-interview/

On the prescience of perceiving Facebook as “Big Brother’s” spying tool, see also the Feb. 2012 article “Facebook is a surveillance engine, not friend: Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation” [The Economic Times] – http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-02-07/news/31034052_1_facebook-users-mark-zuckerberg-richard-stallman

Bradley Manning Is Not a Royal Baby [FAIR]

Posted in Corporate Media Critique, Julian Assange, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, U.K., US Government Cover-up, USA, Wikileaks on July 23, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

July 17, 2013

by Peter Hart

“With a Royal Baby Due, News Outlets Are on High Alert” reported the New York Times (7/14/13) in a piece detailing the extensive planning that TV networks have done in order to cover the any-day-now arrival of the child of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The Times said it “will be a spectacle unlike any other in the modern media age”; the ABC website has a special section (“sponsored by Nestlé”), while “NBC News has a site called RoyalBabyGuess.com, asking for predictions about name, birth time and weight. To make it more fun, the people whose guesses come closest might be mentioned on the Today show.” Both networks are sending anchors to cover the big event.

You can compare this treatment to an array of other, legitimately more important events in the world, of course. It’s not hard to come up with a list of things that are of greater consequence.

How about the trial of Bradley Manning? It only requires a trip to a military courtroom in Ft. Meade, Maryland. No corporations are likely to sponsor the Official Bradley Manning Trial website, but it’s impossible to argue that Manning isn’t news.

But network TV news has made that decision already.

As I noted before (FAIR Blog, 6/4/13) the evening newscasts briefly mentioned the start of the trial– with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams calling it the “court martial of the man who may have put U.S. military secrets in the hands of Osama bin Laden.”

Inflammatory, sure– and also apparently the last time the trial was mentioned on NBC Nightly News. A similar brief summary aired on NBC’s Today.

The other networks were hardly any better. On ABC’s Good Morning America (6/4/13), viewers were told that Manning was an “Army private charged with the biggest leak of classified information in US history.” But apparently the biggest leak ever wasn’t big enough to merit much additional coverage; the only other mention of the trial on ABC came because WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange brought it up during an interview on the Sunday show This Week (6/30/13).

CBS Evening News briefly mentioned the Manning trial on June 3, but has never talked about it since then. The day before the CBS show Sunday Morning reported (6/2/13) this:

There is a look at the week ahead on our Sunday Morning calendar. Monday, the court-martial begins on remaining charges against Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, accused of passing government secrets to the WikiLeaks website. On Tuesday, Doctor Ruth Westheimer celebrates her eighty-fifth birthday. After fleeing Nazi Germany in her youth, Westheimer found success as a media sex expert.

Judging by the word count, the trial is slightly less important than Dr. Ruth’s birthday.

CBS This Morning had an interview with WikiLeaks’ Assange on June 7– which including this question from host Charlie Rose:

You know, let’s talk about the Bradley Manning case because everyday all of us who are in journalism believe that it’s the responsibility for the journalist to hold government accountable and that is the responsibility. But also there is a sense that you do not do things that threaten national security and endanger the lives of innocent Americans. That doesn’t seem to be a concern for you and Mister Manning.

Assange called that charge “completely false,” pointing out that U.S. government is not even making the case that individuals were harmed by the disclosures.

So that is the state of network television coverage of a whistleblower, held without trial for 3 years, who revealed information that made headlines in the most powerful news outlets around the world for months. That is how U.S. television networks are covering a trial where the U.S. government is attempting to argue that publishing information that finds its way into the hands of U.S. enemies is in fact “aiding the enemy”– a stunning legal strategy that holds the potential to criminalize investigative journalism.

No, all of that is apparently just barely newsworthy. But a baby born to the British royal family is news– and has already been the subject of more substantive network TV coverage (NBC Nightly News, 7/14/13).

And the same could be said for a cheesy, little-watched TV movie Sharknado, which was the subject of an NBC Nightly News report on July 12. Or the NBC reports about a new flavor of Hamburger Helper or a new hardwood floor cleaning tool.

Kevin Gosztola, one of the independent journalists covering the Manning trial, recently told Democracy Now! (7/16/13) that the trial “really is only being covered when the outlets in the U.S. media feel they have an obligation to cover something.”

Which, for the major TV networks, would seem to be basically never.

Article link: http://www.fair.org/blog/2013/07/17/bradley-manning-is-not-a-royal-baby/