Transcript: Remarks by Jesselyn Radack and Tom Drake on Bradley Manning and the media on June 2, 2013

Partial transcript of remarks by Jesselyn Radack, Director at the Government Accountability Project and Justice Department whistleblower, and Tom Drake, a National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower, at the “Manning and the Media” panel held at All Soul’s Church Unitarian in Washington, D.C. on Sunday June 2, 2013:

Jesselyn Radack:
…When Tom Drake in the front row was indicted in 2010 through the Espionage Act for supposedly mishandling classified information, he became the first person in 40 years since Dan Ellsberg for that to happen. I knew we had crossed the Rubicon. Tom’s case ended up collapsing in spectacular fashion but that did not deter the Obama administration from bringing 5 more Espionage Act cases against so-called “leakers” who are really whistleblowers – Bradley Manning being one of them.

The war on whistleblower, I have always said, is a backdoor way to create a war on the media.

The media, however, has not paid attention until it ended up in their laps over the last few weeks with the AP subpoena and [Fox News reporter] James Rosen getting a search warrant and [New York Times reporter] Jim Risen, of course, has been subpoenaed 3 times.

But now that this is affecting the media, maybe they will pay more attention.

In terms of covering the Manning case, it has been very difficult, I think, for the media, and I give all praise due to people like Alexa O’Brien, Kevin Gosztola, and Nathan Fuller, who have been there day in and day out.

The paper of record – The New York Times – did not go until it was chastised twice by its own public editor and then only sporadically.

The problem is that the theory of the Manning case is so incredibly dangerous that every journalist in this country and every potential source and anyone who cares about freedom of information should pay good attention.

The theory of the government is that because news media ended up, supposedly, in the hands of Osama bin Laden that’s what proves that Manning aided the enemy.

Therefore, if you’re unlucky where Osama bin Laden or some other bad guy to have read anything you wrote or posted on the Internet or Facebook or wherever, you could be charged with aiding the enemy. It is an absurd, dangerous, yet serious theory that the judge is allowing to go forward.

The whole world should be watching this trial.

Half the time, I’m the only human rights lawyer in the court room. I know it’s hard to get there. I know people have jobs. I know there are a lot of other things. But there’s any way you could come to part or some of it or any of it, that would be appreciated.

I want to cede the remainder of my time to Tom Drake because he has a few words to say and he’s also been attending the trial as much as he can.

Tom Drake:
We’re on the eve of the most important political trial – show trial – that we have faced in quite some time. It strikes at the heart of who we are as Americans, and yet we’re seeing the distinct possibility that the government wants to sacrifice the rest of Bradley Manning’s life on the altar of national security.

I stand as a fellow whistleblower and truth-teller with Bradley Manning. He saw war crimes. He saw all kinds of wrongdoing. He brought his concerns to the chain of command; they told him not to bother. He saw all kinds of evidence of indiscriminate killings and atrocities, torture, and conduct on the part of the United States that raises serious questions about our strategy, intent in the countries overseas.

So what does it say – what does it really say?

And when exposed to all these truths, he put his conscience above his career, despite the risks. So we need to listen. We really need to listen to what he had to say – what I call the real message of Manning.

“I want people to see the truth regardless of who they are because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public”. [Quote attributed to Bradley Manning]

As a public cannot make informed decisions. An informed citizenry is the bedrock of our constitutional republic. It is the heart of our democracy. And absent transparency and absent openness, the executive branch of this government is increasingly ruling through secrecy and propaganda and shielding its very conduct from the press and public accountability.

Manning exposed the dark shadow of our national security regime and our foreign policy follies. And as our government increasingly opts out of liberty and severely erodes the very basis of democracy both at home and abroad, those who would dare condemn and vilify Bradley only serve to promote and preserve the projection of secret, unbridled power while personally pathologizing onto Bradley Manning misplaced threats and fears, attacking the messenger and displacing the message.

And so I say his acts of civil disobedience, given by the courage of his character and conviction of his conscience, strike at the heart and core of the critical issues surrounding our national security, our public and foreign policy, openness and transparency, as well as the unprecedented and relentless campaign by this administration to snuff out and silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers and the deliberate and premeditated assault on the First Amendment.

Jesselyn Radack:
There is a war on information going on in this country. It’s a war on whistleblowers. It’s a war on hacktivists. And now it’s turning into a war on journalists.

As a whistleblower myself and someone who represents whistleblowers like Tom Drake and like Peter van Buren and all of you who I can’t mention, you used to have to choose your conscience over your career. Right now, you have to choose it over your very freedom and it should not be that way.

Tom Drake:
Truth is on trial. The truth is on trial. Bradley put his future on the line and exposed the dark truths he saw and those truths revealed are really what’s on trial. So what will the verdict of history bring? We need to look into the mirror of Manning’s message. Now is the time to stand with Manning because we are Bradley Manning.


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