Entries in Wikileaks (56)


Pentagon Disputes Bradley Manning Mistreatment Allegations

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell Wednesday disputed characterizations that Army Private Bradley Manning, charged with leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, is receiving harsher treatment at the Marine brigade where he is being detained.

Morrell told reporters at a Pentagon briefing that Manning’s detention is consistent with what other maximum security detainees at the brigade in Quantico, Virginia, would receive.

Manning supporters have alleged that he is being held in solitary confinement at the facility and facing tighter restrictions than other prisoners.   “Assertions by liberal bloggers or network reporters or others that he is being mistreated, or somehow treated differently than others, in isolation, are just not accurate,” said Morrell.

 “'He is in a cell by himself, but that is like every single other pretrial detainee at the brig,” said Morrell. “It just so happens that the configuration of the brig is that every individual is confined to his or her own cell.”

He added that Manning “is being held in the same quarters section with other pretrial detainees. He's allowed to watch television. He's allowed to read newspapers. He's allowed one hour per day of exercise,” Morrell said.  Defense officials say Manning is allowed to exercise in an exercise room, but not in his cell -- a rule consistent with the detention practices for all maximum security detainees at the facility.

Morrell said Manning was placed under two days of suicide watch last week, a decision that was made at the brigade commander’s discretion.  The brigade received a new commander this week as part of a scheduled rotation not related to that decision.

Manning  is being detained under charges filed last summer that he leaked to WikiLeaks a video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed several civilians.  But Manning is also suspected of having been behind the leak of thousands of U.S. military documents from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as hundreds of thousands of State Department cables.  Morrell said today that Manning is a “person of interest” in those leaks.

Manning had access to the documents while serving in Baghdad as an intelligence analyst.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Government Issues Subpoena for WikiLeaks' Twitter Info

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The U.S. government has issued subpoenas seeking details on WikiLeaks' Twitter activity, as well as on founder Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks figures' accounts.

The U.S. District Court in Virginia is looking for account information such as names, addresses, phone records, internet connection and payment details.

Twitter's position has always been that it complies with all "local laws" but also sees itself in a position to protect freedom of expression. While the San Francisco-based website has not commented on the subpoenas, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reportedly condemned the U.S. government on Saturday, saying that the court order amounts to "harassment." Social networking experts wonder how much of a chill such an order might have on freedom of expression on sites like Twitter or Facebook.

The U.S. Justice Department is apparently seeking the information as it moves forward in efforts to prosecute Assange and U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who helped Assange obtain and release more than a quarter million pages of secret U.S. government documents.

Assange remains in Great Britain, where he is free on bail in another matter, fighting extradition to Sweden.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bank of America Cuts Off Funding to WikiLeaks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Bank of America is no longer processing transactions that it believes are intended for the controversial website WikiLeaks.

In a statement, the company says its decision was “based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.”

WikiLeaks responded to Bank of America by calling on “people who love freedom” to close their accounts.

“Does your business do business with Bank of America?” the website wrote on its Twitter page. “Our advise is to place your funds somewhere safer.”

Bank of America is the latest in a group of financial institutions to cut funding to WikiLeaks. MasterCard, PayPal and Visa Europe have said they would also cut transactions to the site.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


'WikiLeaks: The Video Game' Stars Assange and Obama

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A new video game called WikiLeaks: The Game allows gamers and those who can't get enough of the WikiLeaks saga to play their own fictional role in the drama.

Downloading classified files off the president's actual computer would land you in jail. But in the gaming world, it makes you a winner.

"After all the serious news, it crossed my mind that people would be ready or enjoy something lighthearted about the subject," Sebastiaan Moeys, who created the game, told ABC News. Moeys runs a network of web sites that include several other video games.

The 21-year-old Moeys said it took him about a week to develop the game. He launched it Dec. 10, and since then, it's been played by more than a million people.

A glance at Facebook and Twitter shows thousands linking to the game.

"The reaction overall has been positive. People think it's fun to play, it's a good laugh, a few minutes of fun," Moeys said.

In recent days, the U.S. Air Force clamped down on media organizations that posted the classified information released by WikiLeaks, and the Defense Department banned USB drives from military computers. But Moeys said that, so far, he hasn't been asked to shut down WikiLeaks: The Game.

"Some people are asking me, 'Aren't you getting into trouble by using Obama?' I respond by saying I think he would find it funny too," Moeys said.

He said he has no current plans to make a sequel to WikiLeaks: The Game, but he hasn't ruled it out.

"There has to be something new, something interesting, some new development," he said. "I would want it to be original and to really add something."

With the way the WikiLeaks drama continues to unfold, a sequel might be right around the corner.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Poll: Americans Think WikiLeaks Document Dump Went Too Far

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- More than two-thirds of Americans say WikiLeaks has harmed the public interest by releasing classified U.S diplomatic documents -- a sharp negative turn in views of the website's actions.  And nearly six in 10 say its founder, Julian Assange, should face criminal charges as a result.

On Tuesday, the same day Assange is scheduled to appear in a London courtroom on unrelated charges, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll indicated he’s gone a document dump too far, alienating many Americans who held a more benign view of last summer’s WikiLeaks release of U.S. military field reports from Afghanistan.

Moreover, a recent Pew Research Center poll found the public more or less divided, 42 percent to 47 percent, on whether that release served or hurt the public interest.  Last week, in a Pew poll on the diplomatic documents, it was 29-53 percent negative.  And in this poll it’s even more so, with just 20 percent saying the release served the public interest, while 68 percent call it harmful.

Assange's lawyer was quoted Sunday as saying Swedish authorities had told him a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia was considering possible criminal charges against Assange stemming from WikiLeaks’ release of classified documents.  In accordance with that reported investigation, 59 percent of Americans say that in their view Assange should be charged with a crime for releasing the U.S. diplomatic cables.  Far fewer, 29 percent, said it’s not a criminal matter, with the rest undecided.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Espionage Act Presents Challenges for WikiLeaks Indictment

Photo Courtesy - Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the U.S. Justice Department crafts a legal case against WikiLeaks' Julian Assange for the publication of thousands of secret government cables, legal experts are warning that any indictment under the Espionage Act may also implicate the news media -- and Americans who've read the cables or shared them with their friends.

The World War I-era law is broadly written and criminalizes anyone who possesses or transmits any "information relating to the national defense" which an individual has "reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation."

If WikiLeaks, which allegedly did not steal the documents, is guilty of espionage for printing them, so too might be the New York Times, U.K.'s The Guardian, and Germany's Der Spiegel, which have replicated and disseminated the materials worldwide, some experts say.

Individual users of Twitter and Facebook and other social media who spread links to the documents far and wide, or even discussed the contents in public, could also technically be liable.

"One of the flaws in the Espionage Act is that it draws no distinction between the leaker or the spy and the recipient of the information, no matter how far downstream the recipient is," said American University law professor Stephen Vladeck, an expert in national security law.

"There's no difference in the statute between Assange and someone at home who opens up something that Assange has posted on his website knowing that it's classified," he said.

The sweeping and vague nature of the law may explain why the federal government recently warned all employees not to read WikiLeaks' cables or any news reports pertaining to them because the information is still classified.  Several universities around the country have also warned students who might seek careers with the federal government not to post links to WikiLeaks content or discuss the cables publicly through social media.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


More White House Tapes, Documents and Oral Histories Made Public

President Richard M. Nixon visits US troops in Vietnam in 1970. Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The long, slow release of audio tapes from the Nixon administration continued Thursday with hundreds of new hours and thousands of pages of new documents.

“The North Vietnamese put us in an impossible situation,” Nixon said in a taped Oval Office conversation, referring to the publicly unpopular Christmas bombings -- the sweeping air strikes that took place over North Vietnam in mid-December of 1972.

“I think it was important to just whack ‘em, and say nothing, and that silence spoke louder than words,” he added.

The conversation took place on February 13, 1973, just months before the Senate Watergate committee would even learn of the existence of the White House recordings. The December air strikes had already become a cause célèbre for North Vietnam and American peace activists, sending Nixon hunting for support elsewhere.

The Nixon Library, run by the National Archives, posted 265 hours of White House tape recordings online Thursday and opened 2,500 pages of documents in its latest release of material from his administration.

Relative to WikiLeaks’ instant unveiling of secret U.S. state department cables, the release of Nixon’s tapes and documents are moving at a snail’s pace. It is now more than 40 years after the fact, and less than half of the reported 3,700 hours of White House conversations have been made public.

But the Nixon’s administration is still a treasure trove, and not just for the Watergate scandal. Unlike the documents meted out by WikiLeaks -- which basically show that private conversations of government officials are pretty much the same as public ones -- Nixon’s secret recordings document a government that was at times racist, insecure, and confident of its impunity.

The tapes and a smattering of the documents are available online at the Nixon Library website.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Rep. Pete Hoekstra Says Administration Blocking Full Scope of WikiLeaks Breach from Intel Committee

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told reporters Thursday afternoon that the WikiLeaks data breach is the result of “a system that provided too many points of access” created in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and that the Obama administration is working to keep the full scope of the breach from congressional oversight by the intelligence committee.

“Massive quantities of data should never have been made available in one place at one system, and it should never have been available to as many people as what it was available to. It was an accident waiting to happen. The accident did happen,” Hoekstra, R-Mich., said. “The Executive Branch ought to be spending its time focus and energy on fixing that problem, assessing the damage, and not trying to figure out how to make sure that this information will not get to the Intelligence Committee.”

Hoekstra said that in past national security breaches, the intelligence committee is historically the first panel in Congress informed about the contents of a breach. But so far, according to Hoekstra, the State Department and the Executive Branch have not provided the committee with the answers to questions and information they have pursued.

Hoekstra, who is retiring from Congress at the end of the session later this month, said that if the intelligence committee is unable to fully access the leaked contents, it “continues to be difficult for us to assess the exact damage that has been done to national security, been done to the intelligence community, defense, or foreign policy.”

Hoekstra also told reporters that he’s not confident that only one source provided all the leaked secret documents.

“I look at this from a systems design standpoint,” Hoekstra said. “The amount of information that was in one place, the number of people that had access to that, the content of that information. No, I’m not at all confident that there was only one source for this information going out.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


After WikiLeaks, Other Countries Less Cooperative, According to US Official

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Without providing any details, Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said Tuesday the U.S. government gets the sense that individuals and/or governments are pulling back in how they cooperate with the U.S. in the wake of the WikiLeaks episode.

“Generally, there’s been a retrenchment, “ said Lapan.

Admitting that it’s hard to quantify, "we have gotten indications that there is at least some change in how individuals and governments cooperate with us, and share information,"  said Lapan.  He noted having those secrets out there “changed things.”

He indicated that maybe some informants-to-be or intelligence sources might not be stepping forward to provide information out of concerns they could be exposed, or that governments might become more "circumspect with the information they share with us because of the perception that we can’t protect those secrets or that information. "

Without getting into details, he said spoke of a vague “sense that there has been some pulling back because of these revelations.”

As for the information posted on the WikiLeaks site, Lapan spoke broadly that America’s enemies have used them to their advantage. "We have knowledge that our adversaries are out there using this information, but how they are exactly changing their tactics is hard to quantify," he said.  

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Fed to Government Employees: Don't Read Secret Cables

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration and the Department of Defense has ordered federal employees not to view the classified documents posted by WikiLeaks, arguing the leak does not change their secret or confidential status.

A notice sent out Friday -- almost a week after the cables were released -- by the Office of Management and Budget said, "Classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media remains classified."

WikiLeaks responded by posting Twitter messages that compare the mandate to McCarthyism.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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