Smash Walls Radio Podcast Episode 3-11: PFC Manning Trial, Part One

Hello and welcome to today’s podcast episode post! In this blog you’ll find an audio file (currently hosted by Soundcloud) and a full annotated transcript of today’s show below the jump.

Hello and welcome to Smash Walls Radio, the only news podcast that rinses and repeats. I’m your host, Trevor Hultner, it is Tuesday, June 4, 2013, and today on the show, we talk about the trial of Private First Class B. Manning, the soldier who blew the whistle on multiple US wrongdoings worldwide. Day one of proceedings concluded yesterday and day two is ongoing as we record. We’ll give you the latest on what we know. Also, headlines and how we scooped NPR by two months. Stay tuned.

Welcome to today’s show. We had an interesting weekend, I hope yours was better. I missed Thursday’s podcast, which I’m sorry for, but I had to get some written work done on deadline and had to prioritize. Friday was just absolutely surreal – starting at around three in the afternoon these just absolutely massive storms started developing and by five thirty we had tornadoes and flooding and it was pretty hellish. One storm out to the west, by El Reno, went north, then east, then veered to the south towards Moore. The tornado it produced killed three veteran storm chasers, crushed the Weather Channel’s storm chasing SUV and almost took out one of the local NBC affiliate’s meteorologists.

A lot of criticism was levied at the NBC affiliate, NewsChannel4 and their weatherman, Mike Morgan, because allegedly he was the one who told people to get out on the freeways and try to get out of Dodge. Many businesses closed early on the day the storm hit so there technically shouldn’t have been anyone out on the roads near six pm, but there was one helicopter shot of Highway 77 near Moore-Norman completely packed with cars. Of course, when a tornado of unknown strength is bearing down on you, being stuck in traffic is no bueno.

So yeah. Friday was not a good day.

On Saturday, I downloaded the new episode of NPR’s Planet Money podcast, and to my surprise and enjoyment, I saw that they had done an episode on patent trolls. If you remember, back in March I did an hour-long program on patent trolls. I interviewed Stephan Kinsella, an IP attorney in Houston, Adi Kamdar, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Richard Baker, the Vice President for patents at Personal Audio, LLC, the company that claims to have a patent on podcasts.

On Planet Money, they interviewed Baker and Jim Logan, the CEO of the company, as well as Marc Maron, host of WTF with Marc Maron (who received a threatening letter from Personal Audio), and the person in charge of combating “stupid patents” at the EFF, Julie Samuels. The show aired the day after the EFF announced that it was looking for prior art – that is, it was looking for examples of something approximating podcasting that was posted before October 2, 1996, when the podcast patent was first filed. Already over 30 examples of prior art, or possible prior art, have been posted at the EFF’s request page at Ask Patents (I’ll put a link in the video description and show notes). Many were posted to Usenet, some companies have responded saying they had something similar to podcasts, and as we speak, it seems that Personal Audio’s claim to the patent on podcasting is becoming weaker.

In addition to the Planet Money podcast, This American Life did an episode devoted to the new developments on Sunday, called “When Patents Attack Part Two.” So there’s lots of coverage going around on patent trolling, and that’s a good thing.

But enough about that. I think it’s time for some headlines.

So, remember how I said the tornado outbreak on Friday produced a twister of unknown strength? Well, we know how strong it was. According to the AP, the National Weather Service classified it as an F5. A very strong F5. In fact, possibly the largest F5 ever recorded. At its peak, wind speeds clocked out at nearly 300 miles per hour, and the base of the twister was about two and a half miles wide.

AP reporter Sean Murphy writes:

The weather service initially rated the tornado that hit El Reno on Friday as an EF3. But the agency upgraded the ranking after surveying damage, and determined the storm packed winds reaching 295 mph. Eighteen people died in the storm, including three storm chasers, and its subsequent flooding.

Deep in the heart of Tornado Alley, the Oklahoma City area also saw an EF5 tornado on May 20. That one raked Moore, a suburb that’s 25 miles away from El Reno, and killed 24 people. In 1999, Moore was hit by another EF5 with the strongest winds ever measured on earth: 302 mph.

Friday’s massive tornado avoided highly populated metro areas, a fact forecasters said likely saved lives. Winds were at their most powerful in areas devoid of structures, said Rick Smith, chief warning coordination meteorologist for the weather service’s office in Norman.

This season has seen incredibly powerful storms.

During the second day of a huge antitrust lawsuit against Apple involving ebooks and price manipulation, lawyers for the multinational tech corporation used Winnie the Pooh as an aesthetic defense.

According to the AP:

Attorney Orin Snyder enlisted the popular children’s title as he questioned the top executive at publisher Penguin Group USA on Tuesday. It was the second day of an anti-trust civil trial resulting from a lawsuit brought last year by the Justice Department.

Penguin CEO David Shanks conceded that the Winnie-the-Pooh book looks “beautiful” in color on Apple products and not as good in black and white on others. He says “irrational enthusiasm” about the potential for 80 million to 100 million new Apple customers led the company to meet many of Apple’s demands in 2010.

In Department of Justice versus the AP news, the DOJ said they acted completely in concert with the law regarding the subpoena of AP phone records. According to AP NewsNow:

At the same time, Attorney General Eric Holder held a fourth round of meetings with news organizations on possible improvements to procedures that currently allow the department to secretly gather phone records of news organizations without prior notification.

The discussions were ordered last week by President Barack Obama, who gave Holder until July 12 to recommend the improvements.

A video game that has been consistently ranked as one of the worst of all time – ET, the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 console – might be unearthed – literally. Canadian game developer Fuel Industries won a permit from the Alamogordo city council to dig up the mythic “Atari Graveyard” in search of this game and other not-so-good Atari goodies. As Fuel seems to be mostly in the business of mobile or advertising-based games, here’s hoping they don’t bring a port of ET to mobile stores. As the Alamogordo News reported, “District 1 Commissioner Jason Baldwin earlier this month admitted to having played the game and said that, indeed, it was horrible.”

A replacement to the much-maligned No Child Left Behind program implemented during the Bush administration was introduced in Congress today, designed to give more control over curriculum standards to the states. According to the AP:

The state-by-state approach to education standards is already largely in place in the 37 states that received waivers to the requirements in exchange for customized school improvement plans. The 1,150-page proposal from Senate education committee chairman Tom Harkin would require some of those states to tinker with their improvement plans and force the other remaining states to develop their own reform efforts. Education Secretary Arne Duncan would still have final say over those improvement plans, and schools would still have to measure students’ achievements.

Buried on page 694 of the legislation, the proposal also includes protections for gay students. Schools that don’t take stern measures against bullying or discrimination against gays or lesbians would see their federal funding cut. Democrats likened the measure to Title IX, which forced schools to provide equal opportunities for female athletes under threat of penalty.

And that’s been headlines! When we come back, we’ll talk about the first two days of the PFC Manning trial, as transcribed by the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Song: COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS, by Witch Hunt

Welcome back to the show. Today’s main segment will be dealing with the latest from the PFC Manning trial. Right now, there are four transcripts available from yesterday’s proceedings, thanks to the Freedom of the Press Foundation. Kevin Gosztola from FireDogLake has information from today on his blog and Twitter Feed. We’ll take a look at all of that.

First, for those unfamiliar with the case, here’s the lowdown: in 2010, PFC Manning, an Army intelligence analyst from Crescent, Okla., was arrested in an FBI raid and accused with handing classified information to Wikileaks. Manning was informed on by hacker Adrian Lamo, who engaged in numerous and long chats with the soldier. Those chat logs were published by Wired Magazine.

During the first eleven months of Manning’s imprisonment, they were held in solitary confinement, had their clothes taken away and were even at one point forced to sleep standing up. This resulted in the UN Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, to release a report in early 2012 condemning the United States’ treatment of Manning and calling it torture.

During pretrial proceedings, the prosecution tried to paint Manning as a traitor; the State made assertions that the release of documents Manning allegedly gave to Wikileaks resulted in the deaths of soldiers and CIA agents undercover in the Middle East; these assertions later proved to be false. Manning was portrayed in the media as not only a suspect, innocent until proven guilty, but as a bona fide traitor; on some cable networks, anchors and guest analysts straight up called for Manning’s death or life imprisonment.

To say that this has colored the current trial is an understatement; to say that the media hasn’t given Manning their fair shake is to give the media far too much credit. To compare the style of “reporting” and punditry done during pretrial to the coverage of Manning’s official statement where they pleaded guilty on the several smaller charges in exchange for not potentially receiving maximum sentencing, barely any mainstream news organization gave Manning or their words the time of day. In the eyes of the media, Manning was a traitor, and they should either be put to death or locked up forever, and nothing would change that. Of course, this was not a view Manning held.

Here’s a part of what Manning said at their pretrial hearing a few months ago, regarding the first video Wikileaks released, Collateral Murder:

I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the aerial weapons team crew members. I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare. After the release I was encouraged by the response in the media and general public, who observed the aerial weapons team video. As I hoped, others were just as troubled– if not more troubled that me by what they saw.

Which brings us to the trial proceedings from Monday and today. The Freedom of the Press Foundation has transcripts of proceedings as they happen; they publish the morning’s transcript at 9:00 PM same day and the afternoon transcript twelve hours later.

Here’s what the government, led by Joe Morrow, had to say during Monday morning’s opening statements, before laying out the evidence the prosecution had:

This is not a case about an accidental spill of classified information. This is not a case about a few documents left in a barracks with you. This is not a case about a government official who made discrete targeted disclosures of classified information based on content. This, Your Honor, this is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of documents from classified databases and then literally dumped that information on to the Internet and into the hands of the enemy. Material he knew, based on his training and experience, could put the lives and welfare of his fellow soldiers at risk.

This is a case about what happens when arrogance meets access to sensitive information. The evidence will show that beginning in November 2009, less than two weeks after starting work in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility at Bagram, Iraq, PFC Manning disregarded the judgment of senior officials, the rules governing the protection of classified information, and his own acknowledged principles to safeguard our nation’s secrets. The evidence will show that PFC Manning violated the orders of his superiors to the detriment of the soldiers he served with and to the aid of our adversaries.

The defense, led by David Coombs, said, in partial response:

[...] You see, PFC Manning is not a typical soldier. The evidence will show that when he deployed to Iraq he had custom dog tags, ID tags that he had made, and on the back of those tags read humans.

THE COURT: Read?

MR. COOMBS: Humans. He was a humanist, and a humanist was the religious belief that he ascribed to, and those values are placing people first, placing value on human life. That was his mindset leading into the deployment. But after that 24 December 2009 incident, things started to change for him. And he started to struggle. And the evidence will show the reason why he started to struggle was no longer could he read SigActs or human reports and just see a name or number and not think about that family on Christmas Eve who had just pulled over their car to let the convoy go by.

And his struggles were public. He was struggling not only with the feeling of obligation and duty to people, but also with the struggle and internal struggle, a very private struggle with his gender. And this was public for his unit to see.

And his struggles led him to feel that he needed to do something, that he needed to do something to make a difference in this world. He needed to do something to help improve what he was seeing. And so from that moment forward, and that was January of 2010, he started selecting information that he believed the public should hear and should see. Information that he believed that if the public saw would make the world a better place. But importantly, information that he specifically selected that he believed could not be used against the United States. And information that he believed, if public, and everyone knew it, could not be used by a foreign nation.

The evidence dealt with both by the State and Manning’s lawyers is primarily information: chat logs, hard drive data both recovered and extant, caches, surveillance from SIPRNET and other databases Manning had access to. But they also had witnesses. On Thursday’s show, we’ll look at some of the statements from these witnesses starting from Monday afternoon to Wednesday, where, according to Kevin Gosztola at Twitter, they will be taking an early recess from proceedings due to being ahead of schedule.

Today’s show was made possible due to the amazing work of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. They have crowdsourced enough funding for an unofficial court stenographer to be present in the media room covering the trial. Depending on how long the trial goes on, it will cost the organization upwards of a hundred and twenty thousand dollars to keep the stenographer there. You can read the current day’s transcripts and find out how to help here.

A note about nomenclature. A while ago, it was made public that Private First Class B. Manning had gender dysphoria and was hoping to undergo hormone replacement therapy in order to match their true gender. Many believe that the media should refer to Manning using female pronouns and call them by the name they desired: Breanna. However, attorney David Coombs made a statement a short time ago saying that Manning did not wish to identify publicly as a woman until after their trial. Knowing, therefore, that this is a controversial subject, I have endeavored to avoid gendered pronouns where possible.

That has been another episode of Smash Walls Radio Podcast. Visit our new website at Smash Walls Radio dot WordPress dot com for past episodes of the show – they’re not up right this moment but over the next couple of days I will be publishing them with correct dates – a full transcript of today’s show with links, news and commentary and more. Follow us on Twitter at Smashwalls, all one word, and like us on Facebook at Smash Walls Radio Podcast. Today’s show was produced by me Trevor Hultner. I will be covering the DeadCENTER Film Festival from Thursday evening to Monday for Edmond Active, and I will be covering a talk at OU by scott crow, one of the founding members of the Common Ground Relief collective on Sunday for the podcast. Thanks for listening and I will see you next time.

Outro: David Rovics – SONG FOR BRADLEY MANNING

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