Highlighted Selections from:

The Case of Bradley Manning: State Victimization, Realpolitik and WikiLeaks


DOI: 10.1080/10282580.2013.798694

Rothe, Dawn L, and Kevin F Steinmetz. “The Case of Bradley Manning: State Victimization, Realpolitik and WikiLeaks.” Contemporary Justice Review 16.2 (2013): 280–292. Web.

p.282: While the case of WikiLeaks release of classified documents and its founder, Julian Assange, has garnered much popular attention, the formal social control reactions to the alleged involvement of Private First Class Bradley Manning has remained, relatively glaringly absent from the media, public and political discussions. Moreover, while scant criminological attention has been given to the extradition of Assange on sexual charges and the situation of WikiLeaks, there has been no analysis of the control mechanisms that were placed on Manning in an effort to cease the release of US documents and his activity as a whistleblower. This examination fills this void by adding to the literature on states’ responses to whistle-blowers by highlighting states’ mechanisms including retaliation and redirection to obscure its criminality as well the theoretical framework of realpolitik. While realpolitik has been used previously to explain motivations for state crime, it has not been applied as an explanation for the implementation of controls. Not only is the preservation of state legitimacy and practices of realpolitik central to the reactions of the government to this case of whistleblowing, but that the responses denied a presumption of innocence and have violated basic human rights tenants, the Uniform Code of Justice, the US Constitution, thus making this a case of state victimization. -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.283: In many of these situations, governments often respond harshly to whistleblowers. In general, the process of control can be interpreted as a reaction to a threat to an agency’s, organization’s, or country’ power, survival, and autonomy. Thus, exposure of state criminality is rarely welcomed by those in power and is often countered through a variety of legal or illegal mechanisms at the state’s disposal (Ross & Rothe, 2008). -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.283: Churchill and Wall (1990) also reviewed seven major outcomes to individuals and organizations that confronted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Chicago Police Department in their extralegal actions against the American Indian Movement and Black Panther Party activities. State agency’s responses included: eavesdropping, bogus mail, black propaganda operations, disinformation or gray propaganda, harassment arrests, use of infiltrators and agents provocateurs, pseudo-gangs, black jacketing, fabrication of evidence, and even assassinations. -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.284: On 30 December 2005, authorities undertook an additional criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disclosed information exposing the National Security Agency’s secret eavesdropping program. This case is highly controversial, as it tested the contradiction between the media’s ability to report on national security issues of public interest, improperly classified material, and as a constraint against unwarranted government secrecy and/or illegal activities against governmental claims of national defense and issues of security. In the case at hand, the US government’s responses to the WikiLeaks disclosures and the detention of the suspected leaker, Private First Class (PFC) Bradley Manning, is an example of state victimization as a result of employing control mechanisms to address the whistle-blowers. -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.284: Rothe (2010) expands the discussion, suggesting that politics, economics, and ideology operating at the state and international levels can serve as motivating forces for state criminality. However, within this integrated theory, the discussion of or direct implementation of realpolitik is not incorporated – a glaring oversight the current effort seeks to begin to resolve. Incorporating philosophical modes of governance – like realpolitik – provide useful mechanisms for understanding state motivations and actions that can bolster theories of state criminality and victimization. -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.284-285: Simply, it is ‘a framework that serves as a guide for policymaking’ and ‘is associated with the school of realism as a political theory of power and neo-realism as an interest-based theory’ (Rothe, 2010, p. 113). -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.285: As Maogoto (2004) states, ‘The post-Westphalian era reinforced the government’s duty to maximize the assets of their states (through militarism and conquest) without regard to the consequences (real or hypothetical) to society’ -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.285: Realism and realpolitik are underpinned by the work of philosophers such as Machiavelli and Hobbes who advocated an ‘ends justify the means’ approach of the state (Strauss, 1936, 1958). In a very strict sense, this tradition emphasizes that the state pursues the goals of national security and stability regardless of the ethical or moral dubiousness of the means because the benefits of a stable and powerful country are of the upmost importance. -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.285: It has not been used to explain the application of control mechanisms, especially in the case of those that threaten the basic tenets of a state’s legitimacy and ability to maintain its interests internationally without exposure. This is even more significant when the exposure highlights foreign policies that are dictated by realpolitik rather than a government’s espoused reasons (e.g., rule of law, humanitarian interventions, human rights development). It is here we draw on the importance of realpolitik with the need to maintain state legitimacy and power. In essence, understanding the intersection between: (1) the philosophical mode of governance upholding political, economic, and military interests, and (2) state efforts to maintain power, legitimacy, and control can work to not only explain state motivations to commit social harms but also the way in which persons become victims of the state. -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.287: Manning’s intent and motivations do not detract from or justify the fact that he continues to serve time nearly three years after his arrest without having been brought to trial (set to occur February 2013) which violates the statute requiring the military to arraign and bring him to trial an accused soldier within 120 days. More importantly, his actual guilt or innocence is not relevant to the treatment by US officials since his arrest which is tantamount to violations of due process, the UCMJ, the US Constitution’s Fifth and Eighth Amendment’s human rights and, some suggest, torture (Coombs, 2010; Greenwald, 2010; Holland, 2010). -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.289: The process of control by a state has been interpreted as a reaction to a threat of loss of a country’s power and legitimacy. We suggest this also includes any threat to its global political, economic, and military interests (realpolitik). Leaking of documentation of states’s illegal or at best embarrassing behaviors presents a threat to the state’s public image and, vicariously, its power and legitimacy (Steinmetz, 2012). After all, any framework of power, especially a state’s regime, needs legitimacy to insulate itself from critical questions regarding its utility (Hurd, 1999). The international political realm is a central aspect to the case at hand and to why the United States reacted to Manning as it has. -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.289: The exposure from the disclosure of the cables could potentially undermine foreign relations which are vital for a functioning body of international jurisprudence. As Leigh and Harding (2011) describe them: The cables discussed human rights abuses, corruption, and dubious financial ties between G8 leaders. They spoke of corporate espionage, dirty tricks and hidden bank accounts. In their private exchanges, US diplomats dispense with the platitudes that characterize much of their public job; they give relatively frank, unmediated assessments, offering a window into the mental processes at the top of US power. (p. 212)

The cables illuminated how, in many situations, the United States is largely not concerned with maintaining foreign relations for ethical or moral reasons. Rather, the relationships were manipulated and maintained for the state’s own interests. Thus, revealing this information threatened not only current relationships, but the means in which future actions might be received.

The specific treatment and conditions of confinement of Manning are related to the military culture as well as where he was viewed as violating a basic principle of loyalty, making him a target for abuse derived from a desire for retribution. After all, within the military culture, loyalty is considered to be a lynchpin to duty and honor which are considered fundamental characteristics. In the case of whistleblowing, releasing sensitive documents, regardless of intent, would be viewed as dishonorable and a derelict of duty. This of course is part of the culture of control within the organizational culture. -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.291: Breaking Manning down through what amounts to inhumane conditions and cruel punishment thus serves several purposes: as a means to show what could happen to other individuals if they serve as whistleblowers (deterrent), retribution and punishment for the disgrace to the United States, and as a tool to get his cooperation to charge Assange and dismantle WikiLeaks. -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.291: as Kober (1990) and Iadicoloa (2010) have noted, the US has become an intensely realpolitik-oriented state during and after the Cold-War period where realpolitik’s emphasis on balancing powers was prominent and maintaining its status as superpower. -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014

p.292: Given the trends of the State’s policies related toward secrecy and its treatment of whistle-blowers, as evidenced here, there should be a growing concern over the ability of individuals and organizations to expose any information perceived to embarrass or threaten the state’s legitimacy and/or policies that remain wedded to the practice of realpolitik. -- Highlighted apr 6, 2014