Bradley Manning has been charged but not heard. The word “alleged” is traditionally used in real journalism to describe charges laid but unproven. Under American law, that means that Bradley Manning is innocent– it’s called “The Presumption of Innocence.”
As a fiction author, when I am writing a script or a novel, I can ascribe emotions and feelings to the characters I write because they are my creations.
When I write a news article, however, I stick to recounting only what is factually known.
It is not appropriate to describe emotions and feelings and exact actions of others as facts, particularly respecting events at which I have not been present, when writing a news piece, or even an opinion piece.
The sum of the case against Bradley Manning seems based on an alleged confession to a potentially unreliable witness. No evidence has been proven in a court of law. The case has not been heard. Allegations and hearsay are not facts.
The same actually holds true for the Swedish charges brought against Mr. Assange. There the facts of that case are equally unproven. He has not been convicted of anything, yet like Private Manning, Assange has been deprived of his liberty. [Although there is a world of difference between the two, deprivation of liberty is serious business.
perhaps a career change is in order?
Haaretz’ writer Yossi Melman should consider writing novels where flights of fancy are acceptable, even admirable. Writing fictional accounts in the guise of reportage is certainly not admirable, and in fact is generally considered unacceptable. Fraudulent, even. The point to remember is that the news is generally about real people. What one says or writes can have real repercussions.
I recommend reading Cynthia Bazinet’s more in depth look at this dreadful excuse for ‘journalism’ here. This goes well beyond the watch dog press being dead.
I do not know Tom Flanagan, but he comments regularly on CBC and Evan Solomon clearly took Tom Flanagan’s statements seriously, in fact giving Flanagan an opportunity to back down by making it a joke. That an astute political player like Flanagan did not strongly indicates how serious he was.
Evan Solomon was not soliciting a man-in-the-street opinion from a computer programmer or a supermarket cashier or a priest, he was conducting an expert interview with one of his “regular cast of star panelists“. Tom Flanagan was on the program to provide credible expert commentary.
Tom Flanagan’s commentary is credible BECAUSE he is a professor of Political Science, employed to teach some of the best and brightest Canadian students, at the University of Calgary.
Tom Flanagan’s commentary is credible BECAUSE of his strong ties to the sitting government.
THIS is what qualifies him as an expert, and this is WHY he must be charged for this crime.
ethics & reputation
The only response offered by the University administration has been this weak statement made December 7:
“The University of Calgary’s position remains that the opinions expressed by Dr. Tom Flanagan on CBC news last week were made as an individual. Dr. Flanagan spoke on a matter unrelated to the university, and his comments, for which Dr. Flanagan has expressed regret, do not represent the view of the University of Calgary. “
Yet the University of Calgary has declined to administer even a slap on the wrist to Tom Flanagan for his unacceptable behavior. The University’s position of refusing to make the barest of reprimands to Flanagan implies University support of Flanagan’s crime. A school that unquestioningly supports an educator who blatantly commits a crime television is simply not qualified to speak about “ethics.”
My child will not attend a school that condones assassination.
What does Tom Flanagan teach at the University of Calgary: Assassinate the opposition?
His words have certainly assassinated the University’s reputation internationally.
Left unchallenged, Canada’s reputation both at home and abroad is seriously damaged. As a citizen, I am furious.
If you have any doubt about whether there has been damage to our national reputation as a result of Flanagan’s crime, all you need do is watch the animated video titled Wikileaks Keeps Publishing despite arrest” published on YouTube December 7th, 2010. I first saw it on a Dutch web page. Two weeks later the video has had nearly 300,000 page views. That doesn’t count the web pages like this one that have embedded it. That’s a lot of of page views, particularly considering that it doesn’t top the WikiLeaks list:
Reading the comments on the YouTube page, and all over the Internet, citizens around the world have expressed dismay and outrage over this reprehensible incident.
U of C Community Outrage
Clearly, the University of Calgary community is not happy with the current state of affairs. 60 U of C alumni along with 25 others (current U of C students/staff/supporters across Canada & abroad) sent an open letter asking the University to address the situation. To date there has been none.
There is also an online Petition that anyone can sign here:
To: University of calgary
Dr. Elizabeth Cannon
University of Calgary
The last time there was a live televised order to assassinate someone was the religious edict issued by Ayatollah Khomeini to kill Salman Rushdie, the Author of Satanic Verses. Unfortunately in November 2010, Dr. Tom Flanagan called for the assassination of Mr. Julian Assange, the Founder of the Wikileaks website. Based on Canada’s criminal code incitement to commit murder is a crime, not to mention a gross unethical and immoral act.
We, signatories of this petition, demand Dr. Flanagan’s immediate expulsion from University of Calgary. We hope that University of Calgary does not squander its reputation by associating with someone who condones murder in the name of politics.
People feel strongly about the issue because the University’s implied support casts a pall on the reputations of staff, students and alumni. The institution’s inexplicable silence is only making things worse.
Because Tom Flanagan said these things on CBC, and because of who he is, his remarks have been heard around the world.
Canada used to have a reputation for being a good world citizen. Allowing these remarks to go unchecked makes us all look bad.
Tom Flanagan didn’t just make an empty threat on CBC, he didn’t just encourage the assassination of someone he disagrees with, he also threatened a woman who sent him an email he didn’t like. One may have been a mistake. Two makes it a whole different ballgame. I have to wonder, what other things has Tom Flanagan said or done that went away because of his powerful friends and allies?
Tom Flanagan’s “joke defense” goes up in smoke when you add the threatening email into the mix.
This is world class bullying.
Either Flanagan doesn’t get the point, or else is confident he may act as he pleases with impunity.
Apparently he’s right.
All he had to do is say “I’m sorry” and all is well with the world. Why do we waste money on a criminal justice system if all that’s necessary to get out of criminal charges is an apology? The Toronto Star reports that the Toronto Woman Gets Apology from former Harper Aid
So all is well, right? Except it is not.
The Pirate Party of Canada is planning a “Rally To Support Wikileaks” Saturday, January 15, 2011 · 2:00pm – 5:00pm Location University of Calgary, outside the social sciences building. Calgary, AB “Join with the Pirate Party of Canada and Pirate Parties around the world in peaceful assembly to support WikiLeaks, open government, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. Take a stand against calls to assassinate journalists and whistleblowers.” For more information contact email@example.com https://www.pirateparty.ca/
implications of not charging Tom Flanagan
The law is written clearly and specifically to provide for prosecution whether or not the counseled indictable offence is ever carried out. Counseling assassination breaks the law as much as actually carrying out an assassination.
The media is downplaying Flanagan’s crime as a joke.
And perhaps his friends in our government don’t want him inconvenienced.
Was this “joke” was made with the blessing of our government. Was this a way to publicly threaten WikiLeaks with political deniability?
No one should be above the law.
Since politicians are the usual targets of assassination, I would have thought our governments would be very careful about allowing such cavalier advocacy.
Tom Flanagan has broken the law. That’s clear enough. Tom Flanagan should NOT be able to break the law on National Television with impunity.
Tom Flanagan must be charged. If he’s not, it makes a mockery of Canada’s criminal justice system.
A court of law must decide.
“Something has to be done to let the people who have received his message know that assassination is murder, and a crime in every country of the world,”
* All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Ordinary people may be able to make such comments as calling on Presidents to assassinate people as a “joke,” but people with strong ties to a sitting government should not be making such statements on news magazine programs that are being broadcast across Canadian’s national television broadcaster, CBC.
No doubt Mr. Flanagan was on the program in question because of his strong ties to the Canadian government.
For a political scientist employed at a Canadian University professor teaching young Canadians it was an unconscionable thing to say.
This reflects badly on all Canadians. I do not want my government either condoning (if serious) or trivializing (if not) something as heinous as assassination. If nothing is done about it, the implication left with the world is that this is how Canada is run. Not my Canada.
But it’s an unusual case, so no one really seems to know how to proceed with it. And it was couched as a “joke”, so some people don’t take it seriously.
Yet the man whose assassination Tom Flanagan has called for is under attack from all sides right now. Other threats to his life and liberty and his family have been leveled at him. I doubt he finds it a laughing matter. I am horrified at the thought that my country would condone such a thing.
Yet nothing is being done about it. No one seems to want to do anything about it.
464 Except where otherwise expressly provided by law, the following provisions apply in respect of persons who counsel other persons to commit offences, namely,
(a) every one who counsels another person to commit an indictable offence is, if the offence is not committed, guilty of an indictable offence and liable to the same punishment to which a person who attempts to commit that offence is liable; and
(b) every one who counsels another person to commit an offence punishable on summary conviction is, if the offence is not committed, guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Gail Davidson has since learned that the Calgary Police Department (Tom Flanagan’s current location) has opened a file. From the RCMP, to the Vancouver Police Department to The Calgary Police Department, no one seems to want to do something. Is it because they don’t know how to proceed? Or is it that there is no law to cover it?
equal before the law
Yet the authorities managed to arrest and charge Canadian businessman Byron Sonne on the basis of Twitter remarks protesting the G20.
Byron Sonne is currently being held without bail, and may remain so incarcerated,
deprived of his liberty maybe for years pending trial.
Without having been convicted of anything.
The question then becomes: is it that there is no will to proceed because Mr. Flanagan has strong ties to our government? Charges are not even brought against one man, while another man without such ties is deprived of his liberty.
Maybe a court would find one or both guilty. Maybe not. I don’t know. The point is this issue is serious enough that a court must try.
How does it look to the world?
Canadians engaging in peaceful protest are arrested and brutalized during the G20. Citizens expressing dissent like Byron Sonne are punitively incarcerated.
While a University Professor calling for the assassination of Julian Assange – on National television – in an infamous clip seen around the world, is given a free pass.
Canada looks very very bad indeed.
Making it even worse:
According to this CTV article a Toronto woman received threatening email from Mr. Flanagan, but the police in Calgary will not do anything about it unless she makes a complaint in person:
I’m pleased to report that Tom Flanagan has been charged for calling for the assassination of Julian Assange on CBC. Apologies. All manner of threats have been leveled at Julian Assange, including a threat to kidnap his son.
#freejulian – WikiLeaks
I am not happy to report that Julian Assange has today been arrested and is being held without bail in London. Julian Assange will be remanded in custody till 14 December, charged on behalf of the Swedish authorities with of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape. He denies the charges.
The charges against Julian Assange were originally brought in August of this year and then withdrawn.
Considering the vast array of government and corporate attacks being leveled at both Assange and WikiLeaks since the beginning of the release of the Cablegate cables, it is difficult to view these charges with anything beyond skepticism. I am working on an article examining that issue for my personal blog.
Byron’s not as famous as Julian Assange, but he’s just as much a political prisoner. I don’t believe Byron’s name even came up yesterday when Canada had the last day of our mini G8/G20 inquiry, probably because Byron was arrested and charged before the G20 summit even began.
Byron hasn’t been convicted of anything, and it is unlikely that he will be after he has his day in court. The problem is, that he has been denied bail, and it may be years before his case comes to trial. That is an awfully long time for a citizen to be stripped of his liberty in answer to an unproven accusation. The traditional reasons for denying bail are danger and risk of flight, neither of which applied in this middle aged businessman’s case.
Byron Sonne’s bail was denied as a punitive measure.
This an unacceptable abuse of power in a democracy. Stifling dissent is a giant step toward the loss of democracy.
Neither of these men have had their day in court, but both have been deprived of their liberty. It’s hard to say whose situation is worse.
Julian Assange is under concerted attack from governments and corporations. If he lives through the incarceration, he’ll come out the other side at least a hero.
What about Byron Sonne? In many ways Byron is all but forgotten by everyone but his family and community. I only learned of his situation by accident. After two years of punitive incarceration, even assuming full exoneration, I guess there will be little or no chance that his life will still be intact.
I believe that both of these men were working for the good of society. To make the world a better place than it was.
Both cases represent a serious miscarriage of justice.
“We live in a democratic state, we do not live in a police state. We live in a country that’s supposed to be governed by the rule of law, not the rule of force,” Davies said. “(A public inquiry) is about getting at the truth, holding people accountable and defending our constitutional rights. They are worth fighting for.”
Yesterday marked the last day of the woefully underfunded committee looking into the G20. The conclusion drawn by the committee investigating G20 security malfeasance is that a Public Inquiry is necessary.
I can’t get over the fact that Tom Flanagan didn’t understand suggesting assassination was inappropriate.
Tom Flanagan thought assassinating Julian Assange was reasonable.
Canadians are becoming angry at the arrogance of our elected officials and their unelected advisors.
Democracies around the world are facing calls for electoral reform. Coincidence?
Like Wikipedia, democracy can be altered in a heartbeat.
If we don’t protect our democracies, we’ll lose them.
The other night I stayed up far too late because I wanted to know that WikiLeaks was alright. Because I think WikiLeaks is important,
WikiLeaks shines a light on important issues– issues that the powerful and the self important want to keep dark.
Which is why powerful forces are arrayed against WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange is facing charges that I think even the most naïve schoolchild would realize are trumped up, along with both cyber and economic attacks, topped off with death threats. Wonder if that’s enough jeopardy for Malcolm Gladwell, who made the argument that real activism requires jeopardy in his New Yorker “Small Change” article, which prompted my rebuttal Tie Theory.
WikiLeaks is kind of a hybrid activist/news media. It is a truly international organization. Its only country is the Internet. That was the other fault Gladwell had with Internet activism: he thinks that activism requires people to be closely tied. WikiLeaks depends on being a “loose tie” network. You don’t get much looser than total strangers. Total strangers opt to host or mirror WikiLeaks on their computers. Because the more copies there are, the more spread out the network is, the looser the ties, the more difficult it is to shut it down.
In my post yesterday I called on the Pirate Party of Canada to be a Canadian host of WikiLeaks. I don’t know if they’ll do it or not, all I know is what I’ll do.
I am Hosting #cablegate
[Disclaimer: No, I don’t actually know how to set up something like this myself; I had help. 🙂 ]
That’s how “loose tie” networks work. And it’s also why loose tie networks can be superior.
We all do what we can
You can just read the WikiLeaks Cablegate cables online. A new batch is released daily.
Or, you can add your computer power to help, by seeding the WikiLeaks material that you have yourself downloaded via torrents.
Or, last but not least, you can jump into the WikiLeaks network with both feet. Because the more spread out the network is, the more difficult it is to wipe out. This option is a bit more risky, particularly as it is lawmakers who want this stopped. Consider it carefully; remember you may wake up one morning to discover they have made this illegal.
The German Pirate Party stepped up to help: http://wikileaks.piratenpartei.de/
(Pssst… hey You, Pirate Party of Canada… yeah you guys….
howsabout you step up and offer to host WikiLeaks North America…?)
And if anyone managed to hang onto any doubt about the fact that both WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, personally, are actually under attack, just look at the frequency of attacks on his Wikipedia biography: Wikipedia: Revision history of Julian Assange
“The department fears accessing the site could expose government computers to “malicious search engine poisoning attacks” and that third parties might “collect and exploit visitor data or deliver malicious software through downloaded files.”
Because the WikiLeaks downloads aren’t in Adobe PDF format they aren’t susceptible to the security vulnerabilities that come with the popular Adobe Reader and software.
Which makes downloading from WikiLeaks safer than downloading from many websites on the Internet.
But isn’t the Department of Defense at risk for:
“malicious search engine poisoning attacks” ?
Ahem…. what is that exactly?
“SEO Poisoning” or “Search Engine Optimization Poisoning” may sound scary but what it means is tricking search engines into ranking your website more highly than it deserves.
This is done by inserting words or phrases that would get high ranking from a search engine. An example of “SEO Poisoning” might be when a webpage selling grass seed gratuitously using phrases like “Justin Bieber.”
Sometimes this dastardly deed is accomplished by including high ranking words and phrases in the same color as the background, making the text invisible to visitors and fooling Search Engines that do see these words and are fooled. This “poisons” the search results.
The thing is, every time you search the Internet, using Google or Scroogle or Bing, any search engine is going to bring you results that are not what you are looking for. That’s why you get more than one answer to a search: it is far from an exact science. Poisoning is a serious problem for Google, say. But for the Department of Defense?
What WikiLeaks has done is to make classified material public. Which means that looking at some of this material will very likely violate Defense Department policy.
see no evil, hear no evil
This memo sounds rather like the equivalent of the “close your eyes” method of security. The only way to ensure Defense Department employees do not see any of this material online would be to disconnect from the Internet.
I would expect the Federal Government computer security staff to be aware of this. Perhaps the Department of Defense needs a little refresher course on computer security.