‘Chelsea Manning’s example of courage paved the way for Snowden & Assange’

'Chelsea Manning's example of courage paved the way for Snowden & Assange'
By revealing confidential documents to the public, Chelsea Manning set an example to future whistleblowers. She went ahead without fear of severe punishment, including the death penalty, Annie Machon, former MI5 intelligence officer, told RT.

After serving seven years of a 35-year sentence for leaking classified documents Chelsea Manning has been freed.

RT:  Was it worth it, in your opinion, for Chelsea Manning to make all these revelations and then be kept in prison for such a long period?

Annie Machon: I think that Chelsea Manning knew the risks that she was taking. She was prepared to pay the legal price for exposing this. But she followed her conscience and thought it was worth taking that risk. I think she would stand by this today, despite the inhuman treatment she has received at the hands of the military police and the military legal system in the USA.

I also think there were two other perhaps unforeseen outcomes by her courage by going public and following her conscience. First of all, was the fact that it was the stories that WikiLeaks acquired unknowingly from her that took that organization global back in 2010. Now that’s had legal repercussions for Julian Assange and the rest of the WikiLeaks team. But that what propelled them to the global public consciousness, and they have continued fearlessly to do their job to continue to release information that is very much in the public interest.

CIA is world’s most dangerously incompetent spy agency – Assange https://on.rt.com/8bub 

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CIA is world’s most dangerously incompetent spy agency – Assange — RT News

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has described the CIA as “dangerously incompetent,” in response to the US agency branding him a “friend of terrorists.” The war of words started after RT asked the…

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Most recently the Vault 7 files about CIA spy interception capabilities, which can hack into all our day-to-day equipment around our homes. That was one perhaps one unforeseen outcome of what Chelsea Manning did. I would suggest the second one as well: she provided a wonderful example to future young, brave whistleblowers, not least Edward Snowden. His disclosure started at the end of May 2013. He went public just as Manning’s trial was beginning, where she was facing up to potentially the death penalty, and of course, she got 35 years in prison in the end. So for Snowden to go public – despite that threat to a previous whistleblower – shows that the concept that governments use to crush whistleblowers, to destroy them, to deter future whistleblowers does not work.

Also then Snowden was trapped in transit between China and Ecuador, where he had been granted asylum in 2013. He ended up stuck in a Moscow airport and then given asylum by Moscow for a number of years. If WikiLeaks had not been in that global position to go in and help Snowden… from China to get to his political asylum in Ecuador then he might be in a very different situation too. So I think these are two very, very important points which we should remember from the unforeseen outcomes from the bravery of Chelsea Manning.

RTYou’re a whistleblower yourself. What can you tell us about your personal experience? Is it a tough job?

AM: Yes, I am a whistleblower from the old school from the 1990s, the analog-era effectively. But I worked for MI5 for six years as an intelligence officer, and it was there that I met my former partner and colleague, a man called David Shayler. We saw so many things going wrong at that time – only within six years – that we decided to resign and to go public. We tried to raise our concerns on the inside, and we were just told to ‘follow orders.’ So they had no will to reform or will to correct mistakes that were committing crimes in secret.

So we went public. And under the laws of the UK, we also faced automatic arrest and imprisonment for speaking out about the crimes of the spies. So we fled the country, we went on the run for a month around Europe; we went and lived in hiding for a year in France, and we lived in exile for another two years. I was arrested; many of our friends, family, supporters, and journalists involved in the case were arrested. Shayler himself went to prison twice. First of all, when the British failed to extradite him from France in 1998 to stand trial under the Official Secrets Act of 1989, and then after he returned voluntarily to face trial in 2000. Of course, he was convicted, because there was no legal defense under the Official Secrets Act, and he went to prison again. So we both paid a very high price… to expose the crimes of the spies.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.


Russia threatened to use nukes? US commission produces wildest claims in push for military buildup

The Helsinki Commission has gotten creative on the notorious “Russian threat,” pinning the blame for the death of an OSCE observer in Ukraine on Moscow and claiming it threatened to use “tactical nuclear weapons” – all while calling for more arms and troops on the Russian border.

Members of the US government commission, officially known as the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), on Wednesday sat down in Washington, DC for a hearing aptly named “The Growing Russian Military Threat in Europe: Assessing and Addressing the Challenge.”

The hearing focused around claims that Moscow “flagrantly violated commitments enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act relating to refraining from the threat or use of force against other states; refraining from violating other states’ sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence; and respecting the right of every state to choose its own security alliances.”

While statements on the “Russian aggression” are often uttered by US politicians, the veracity of some of the claims put forward at the hearing would not disappoint even the staunchest anti-Russian hawks.

Death of OSCE monitor

Alleging that Moscow “deliberately undermined its OSCE commitments” and security in Europe in general, some claimed Russia bears full responsibility for the death of an American OSCE monitor, Joseph Stone, who was killed on April 23 after the vehicle he was in struck a landmine in eastern Ukraine.

READ MORE: OSCE patrol car blast ‘likely a provocation’ to undermine peace process in E. Ukraine – Moscow

“If it was not for Russia’s aggression and a plethora of challenges that they face from the very beginning of that deployment, there would have been no death of that wonderful young man and so many others,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), co-chairman of the commission.

The investigative team has not yet come forward with any conclusions concerning Stone’s death, but the death of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) member has already been used to fuel anti-Russia rhetoric in western media. The breakaway Lugansk People’s Republic said that the vehicle “deviated from the main route and moved along side roads, which is prohibited by the mandate of the OSCE SMM.”

‘Tactical nukes threat’

However, speaking of how Russia has grown into a formidable force, threatening the entire OSCE region and “recklessly endangering the lives of millions,” Smith then added an even more bizarre claim: that Moscow “threatens to use tactical nuclear weapons against other countries.”

The New Jersey representative fell short of specifying what countries exactly are facing such threats and who has ever voiced them.

Several testimonies at the hearing specifically focused on Russia’s alleged sabotaging of the Open Skies Treaty, related to military transparency and non-proliferation agreements, by allegedly introducing “nuisance restrictions” that make it inconvenient for NATO jets to monitor such places as Moscow or Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad.

Stephen Rademaker, from the Podesta Group, admitted that Russian continues to implement the treaty but claimed that it “does so in a way to minimize the benefits of the treaty to other parties,” including the US.

The Open Skies Treaty was struck in 1992 and came into force in 2002 with 34 signatories, including Russia, US and most of its NATO allies. Moscow continues to heed its obligations under the treaty, with a joint US-Czech Republic mission conducting an intelligence flight over Russian territory as recently as April 21.

The latest series of flights over US territory are scheduled to be carried out by Russian Tu-154M LK-1 aircraft between May 15 and May 20, according to the head of Russia’s National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, Sergei Ryzhkov.

‘Create new missile, send arms to Ukraine’

Meanwhile, in the view of Michael Carpenter, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and senior director at Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, Russia also violated its commitments under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

READ MORE: Russia increases nuclear sub fleet, combat patrols reach Soviet-era levels

Carpenter has called for the US to “immediately begin research…into the development of an intermediate-range missile that would match Russian new capability” following his claim.

With that, he argued, that US should relieve itself of the obligations it undertook under the NATO-Russia founding act and aim to dispatch “an additional US brigade combat team to Eastern Europe as a deterrent force.”

Carpenter said the US should start more actively arming Ukraine by scrapping what he described as a “de-facto arms embargo,” supplying Kiev with air defense and anti-tank systems.

Stephen Pifer, director of the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative and a senior fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution, went even further, suggesting that such arms supplies to Ukraine should involve not only defensive weaponry but also “certain types of lethal assistance,” including MANPADS and anti-armor weapons.

READ MORE: Russia ‘full-scope cyber actor’ that will remain ‘major threat’ to US ‒ intel director

‘No interest in European security’

New security agreements between Washington and Moscow should not be a part of the agenda in the foreseeable future, Carpenter said.

“Russia is no longer interested in cooperation to strengthen European security. Just the opposite,” he said.

Contrary to the claim, Moscow has repeatedly voiced its readiness to boost security cooperation in Europe and its dialogue with NATO.

READ MORE: ‘Focus of any discussion in Washington is on demonizing Russia’

In March, Russia’s Defense Ministry invited representatives of all NATO member countries along with its leadership and the EU to take part in the Moscow Conference on International Security.

“If someone holds a different point of view, let him outline it and we’ll take it into account in our further work. In a word, we count on open and interested discussions,” Aleksandr Fomin, Deputy Defense Minister, said at the time.

‘Kremlin policy must change’

However, talking on equal terms may not be the favored option in Washington, with Pifer arguing that Moscow must take unilateral steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine.

“What is needed to bring peace, however, is a change in the Kremlin’s policy,” Pifer said, adding that “the US and the West should support Kiev politically.”

The apparent suggestion that Russia must change its foreign policy course ironically comes as Washington is accusing Russia of interfering into the November 2016 presidential elections, with media campaign and investigations into the alleged interference currently in full swing.

Speaking alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia “never interferes, either in political life or in the political processes of other countries,” and would like to see other countries following suit.

“Unfortunately, what we see is precisely the opposite. We have seen attempts to interfere in internal political processes in Russia for a very long time,” Putin said.

READ MORE: Putin ready to provide records of Trump-Lavrov talks to prove no secrets were leaked


‘Nazi slut’: German court rules ‘satirical’ insult of AfD leader is acceptable

‘Nazi slut’: German court rules ‘satirical’ insult of AfD leader is acceptable
Calling a far-right politician a “Nazi slut” on television is perfectly acceptable, according to a German court, which ruled that a TV presenter was being satirical when he said those very words about an Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician last month.

When AfD leader Alice Weidel said during a Cologne party conference that political correctness belongs in the dustbin of history, comedian Christian Ehring responded by putting her words to the test.

“Alright then, political correctness is over – let’s all be incorrect to each other. The Nazi slut is right there,” Ehring said while hosting his ‘Extra 3’ program.

Failing to see the ‘comedic value’ in Ehring’s joke, Weidel took legal action against the presenter, saying his words were defamatory and put her in danger.

However, a Hamburg court disagreed with Weidel on Wednesday, ruling that the phrase was clearly a joke about the politician’s reference to political correctness.

It ruled that the word ‘Nazi’ referenced the fact that “within large sections of the public, the AfD is viewed as right-wing or even far right-wing,” according to the Local and DPA.

It went on to state that while the word ‘slut’ has a sexual connotation, it is clear to the viewer that “the description was used because the complainant is a woman, and that the comment in no way is truthful.”

The judgement also stated that satirical exaggeration is protected by German laws on freedom of speech, and that Weidel, as a public figure, must accept being the target of exaggerated satire.

Weidel has announced she will appeal the decision.

“This ruling shows how far you can go under the cover of satire in Germany. That such aggressive defamation also poses a threat to Ms Weidel’s safety doesn’t seem to bother the court,” AfD spokesman Christian Luth said.

The ruling comes less than one week after Weidel made headlines for accusing German Chancellor Angela Merkel of being “insane.”

“Donald Trump said that Merkel is insane and I absolutely agree with that. It is a completely nonsensical form of politics that is being followed here,” she told the Local.

The AfD is known for its anti-Islam, anti-EU, and anti-immigration views. While it experienced a boost in support during the European refugee crisis, this has dwindled as the number of asylum seekers coming to Germany has decreased.

Although the party is hoping to enter Germany’s national parliament for the first time in its four-year history in September, all of the country’s mainstream parties have ruled out working with the AfD in a coalition, should it be successful in winning seats.

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