Tag Archives: WikiLeaks

FOIA update: USDB releases Manual for the Guidance of Inmates (USDB Regulation 600-1, Nov. 2013)

WASHINGTON — On Monday, the United States Disciplinary Barracks’ Directorate of Inmate Administration released “USDB Regulation 600-1, Nov. 2013” entitled “Manual for the Guidance of Inmates” to the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative in response to an April 17 Freedom of Information Act request.

The 141-page document serves as the official rulebook for the treatment and behavior of inmates held at the military prison (including WikiLeaks firestarter Chelsea Manning) and addresses everything from media contact with inmates to rules regarding their appearance and hygiene.

The FOIA request was intended to increase transparency regarding the U.S. Army’s regulation of USDB inmates held at Fort Leavenworth, to better inform the press about rules regarding their contact with prisoners and to shed light on the status of civil liberties within the prison’s walls.

You can view the entire document below:

Planning a Twitter break: How WikiLeaks’ Chelsea Manning tweets from behind bars


Screenshot of Chelsea Manning’s Twitter page, captured on April 16, 2015.


WASHINGTON — WikiLeaks firestarter Chelsea Manning has found a way to communicate using Twitter from inside the United States Disciplinary Barracks’ maximum-security military prison.

She is currently serving a 35-year sentence for her espionage conviction at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Manning, who was Pvt. Bradley Manning at the time, was convicted of divulging classified emails to Wikileaks. In the case, Manning was also accused of transferring classified DoD video, State Department cables and a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation onto a non-work computer and subsequent dissemination, as well as giving intelligence to enemies of the state.  You can view the charge sheets, published by cryptome.org, here and here.

Manning, who has been tweeting since April 3, 2015, issued a handwritten statement (which she mailed to FitzGibbon Media for subsequent posting to her Twitter account) explaining the setup on April 16.

As per the statement, Manning “reserved” the Twitter account (with the handle @xychelsea) in 2013, but only asked FitzGibbon Media President and founder Trevor FitzGibbon to build it out a few weeks back.

With help from the organization, a human-rights and entertainment strategic communications firm that also counts WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and rock band System of a Down among its clientele, Manning has begun to maintain an active Twitter presence.

“This is a temporary arrangement until I can find a way to either access my account more easily, or find someone else willing to put in the labor of managing the account, like Courage to Resist or another volunteer,” the April 16 tweeted statement reads.

A senior media strategist with FitzGibbon Media, who provided details about the partnership on background, confirmed its collaboration with Manning and said that the goal is to get Manning’s account “Verified” status.

This status, signified by a small blue check mark on the right side of one’s name as displayed on a Twitter profile page, is a much-coveted badge of social media legitimacy. It essentially says that Twitter has endorsed the user as being the person who she claims to be.

Here is how Chelsea Manning managed to plan a Twitter break:  

Untitled Infographic The U.S. Army’s Take On the Situation

“What third parties do, the Army has no control over,” said Army spokesman Wayne V. Hall.

According to Hall, “it is inappropriate to release information concerning individual inmates.” However, he confirmed that “inmates in the USDB do not have access to Twitter or the Internet.”

Still, Hall was able to provide insight as to some of the regulations placed upon USDB prisoners.

“Inmates are informed of acceptable methods of communication through the Manual for the Guidance of Inmates (USDB Regulation 600-1, Nov 2013),” he wrote in an email.  “This document provides specific guidance on proper use of the telephone system, contact with news media representatives, written correspondence and visitation policies and procedures. The standards described apply to all inmates confined within the USDB.”

[Editor’s Note: The Medill NSJI filed a FOIA request to obtain a copy of the Manual for the Guidance of Inmates (USDB Regulation 600-1, Nov 2013) on April 17.  If obtained, we will publish the document publicly via Document Cloud.]

According to Hall, USDB inmates have access to a phone system inside prison housing units.  They each get a PIN number and are allowed to add 20 phone numbers to their account — kind of like an in-calling cellphone plan.  He said inmates’ calls have a 30-minute time limit, but that they can make them as frequently as they want as long as they have enough money to cover the cost.

There are some caveats, though:

1. Not everyone gets approved to be on the OK-to-call list.

“Each request submitted by the inmate for telephonic contact is individually evaluated,” Hall explained via email. “However, unless expressly authorized, inmates are not allowed to talk on the telephone with the following: physicians (except those who are part of their legal defense team), Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) sponsors/contacts, college or university staff, commercial sources, halfway houses, congressmen, toll free numbers, former inmates, or friends/family of current or former inmates, and current or former 15th Military Police (MP) Brigade (BDE) staff members.”

2. Phone-call privacy is nearly nonexistent.

According to Hall, the only calls that aren’t monitored are those made between inmates and their lawyers.

3. When it comes to a journalist trying to hear an inmate’s voice, all bets are off.

“Per Army Regulation 190-47, face-to-face and telephonic communications between inmates and members of the news media are not authorized,” he wrote in the email. “Written communications are permitted.”  

View Manning’s entire Twitter feed below, or view it on the site @xychelsea.

On WikiLeaks and Pakistan

Some Obama administration officials and congressional lawmakers in recent days
 have sought to downplay the significance of the massive leak of secret U.S.
military files by the organization WikiLeaks by saying it’s “old news,’’ or a 
rehash of what is already well known about the prolonged war.
 But why would they think such a dismissive characterization of the remarkable 
trove of documents makes things better, not worse?

If anything, what they are conceding is that top U.S. intelligence and 
policy-making officials know full well that at least some of the billions of dollars that they have given to Pakistan in recent years has gone to funding the very insurgency that they are trying to wipe out in Afghanistan – with little, if
 any success.

It’s true that Washington has long known that Pakistan has been playing such a
 double game, especially its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. The 
ISI essentially created the militant groups that became the Taliban to act as
their proxy fighting forces against India and, later, in Afghanistan. 
But the front-line troop reports and other documents posted online by WikiLeaks
 provide chilling and authoritative details about how U.S.-funded allied forces are
 literally at war with our own troops.

And they do so with the kind of specificity 
that the Obama administration and congressional lawmakers will find hard to 
 The really smart counterterrorism officials in Washington – who don’t dare speak 
publicly because it could end their careers – are hoping the new disclosures will 
finally force those in charge of Pakistan policy to do something that they
 have been unwilling to do in the past.
 They’re hoping the White House and Congress tie the billions in aid money flowing 
to Pakistan to verifiable efforts by the Islamabad government to slash the ties
 between its intelligence and military services and the Taliban and other militant
 organizations that they are in collusion with.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, some of them acknowledge that such
 “tough love’’ could be risky. When Washington cut off some aid to Pakistan after 
it clandestinely developed nuclear weapons capability, the Islamabad government 
intensified its ties to jihadi organizations. 
But given the intensity of the Taliban insurgency, they say, that is a risk that 
Washington can’t afford not to take.

Trust issues with WikiLeaks

CHICAGO — WikiLeaks, a Web site that publishes confidential information from government and private businesses received from anonymous sources, has been creating waves since it started in 2006.

Last week, the site grabbed front pages in The New York Times, the Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor for releasing a video of a U.S. Army attack in Iraq that left 12 people dead, including two journalists.

By Friday night, six days after its release, the video had received 5.2 million views on YouTube.

Much of the media attention surrounded the mysterious nature of the site. Its sources are anonymous and its server is based in Sweden, where journalists do not have to disclose their sources. The founder of the site doesn’t give out his age and has been described as nomadic.

According to media sources, the site isn’t picky in what it publishes. It has posted everything from “Sarah Palin’s hacked emails and Wesley Snipes’ tax returns,” to “fraternity initiation manuals and a trove of secret Scientology manuals,” according to a Mother Jones article.

“It raises a whole series of ethical and legal issues of use of information when you don’t know where it came from,” said Don Craven, general counsel to the Illinois Press Association.

In the case of the Iraq assault video, U.S. military officials have confirmed its authenticity. But the military organization could still consider the information stolen, Craven said.

That legal issue wouldn’t burden WikiLeaks, however, because the recipient of the material is not responsible for the leak, said University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey R. Stone.

The government’s only defense is to show that publishing the material will present the public with “clear and eminent danger of grave harm,” Stone said.

“There’s never been a case” where that defense has worked, he said.

“That doesn’t mean in theory there couldn’t be one,” he added.

The U.S. military certainly thinks the potential is there.

WikiLeaks released an Army Counterintelligence Center special report: “Wikileaks.org—An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?”

“Wikileaks.org … represents a potential force protection, counterintelligence, operational security, and information security threat to the US Army,” the report states. “Such information could be of value to foreign intelligence and security services, foreign military forces, foreign insurgents, and foreign terrorist groups for collecting information or for planning attacks against US force, both within the United States and abroad.”

Stone said the closest thus far that federal courts have come to censoring information was The Progressive magazine’s 1979 article on how to build a Hydrogen bomb. The government dropped its case within a year; the information had spread so widely, the protection issue was moot.

When The Progressive did publish the article it said this about its decision to fight the government’s concerns of national security:

“In a time when military policy is closely linked with technological capabilities, debate about military policy that uses technical information is part of a vigorous system of freedom of expression under the First Amendment. The Government’s tendency to hide widely known technical processes under a mantle of secrecy in the national interest and prevent press commentary on these matters can only result in stifling debate, not in protecting the physical security of Americans.”

The government could probably argue that information which identified by name current government agents doing counterintelligence in Iran would pose a valid threat to both operations and American lives, Stone said.

But something like a report on the vulnerabilities of nuclear power plants holds some value to the public, he said.

Government officials could argue that the information could invite terrorist attacks by exposing weaknesses, Stone said. However, people also have the right to know that they are living near a vulnerable sight and could petition their leaders to fix the problems, he added.

Ultimately, what information makes it onto sites like WikiLeaks is up to the government, Stone said.

“In one sense, we give government more power than it could have, as long as it keeps it secret,” he said.

The government’s failure to keep their secrets to itself is no excuse to allow it to come back and suppress leaked information.

“You can use the fact of the leak to prove that it’s not such a big deal,” Stone said.