Given his treatment while in confinement, as well as the list of new charges against him, Bradley Manning has gained another set of champions to his dilemma. Anonymous has promised to avenge Manning, and wage a media war with the U.S. military.
The Tech Herald has spoken to one of those involved for a rundown of current events.
"Manning is an absolute hero. If this means me going to fucking prison, then that's fine," said Barrett Brown earlier today in an interview.
Brown, best described as a self-styled spokesperson for Anonymous, who enjoys some support from the loosely associative group, but some detraction as well, is well-known to us in the media.
He comes from a military family, and has a deep respect for the fighting troops he said. Yet, Manning’s treatment while in custody at the Quantico Brig has Brown and others working with him outraged.
Earlier today, Brown said that Manning must be given clothes, sheets, blankets, and access to books within the week, adding that Anonymous’ plans for those responsible for his conditions will play out in the public soon.
On the evenings of March 2 and March 3, Bradley Manning was forced to strip naked, remaining under observation in this condition within his cell for seven hours each night. The following mornings, still without any clothing, Manning was forced to stand at attention outside his cell as the Duty Brig Supervisor (DBS) arrived. Manning was later given his clothes.
“This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification. It is an embarrassment to our military justice system and should not be tolerated…No other detainee at the Brig is forced to endure this type of isolation and humiliation,” commented David Coombs, the lawyer representing Manning, who was once a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army.
The type of treatment given Manning is something that is a bit of an open secret. It’s used to break the will of the detainee and make them dependent on the interrogator, or the persons holding them. While an effective means of non-lethal coercion, it is frowned upon due to the damaging impact on a detainee’s mental health.
Such acts of isolation and embarrassment, or personal humiliation, have led to suicide attempts and extreme depression. Examples of this type of treatment were well established, as events at Guantanamo Bay prison were made public.
Anonymous’ outrage started after it was learned that Manning was to be charged with 22 additional counts, one of which could carry the death penalty. However, the military has said that the death penalty is off the table.
Manning was initially charged with 12 counts of illegally downloading and sharing a military operations video, as well as diplomatic documents and cables.
The new charges against him, added this week, include aiding the enemy, theft of public property or records, computer fraud, transmitting defense information in violation of the Espionage Act, and wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing it would be accessible to the enemy.
As part of their plans, Anonymous will wage a media war with those responsible for Manning’s conditions. Not only will those at the Brig be singled out, but those who reported Manning to the authorities will find themselves in the crosshairs as well. While the actions will be non-violent, the repercussions could be severe for those caught up in the fight.
Brown said that he and those working with him, which include active-duty sources inside the military system, will start by doxing those involved.
Doxing is a process that includes gathering as much information on a target as possible, and releasing it to the public. In some cases, it is kept out of the public and used for other reasons. Given the sheer mass of information available on the Internet, there is very little a person could hide. However, doxing also includes information gathering offline as well.
"The Internet is a weapon. It’s already weaponized, and those of us who know how to use this weapon have the advantage. I know who else was involved in turning [Manning] in. I'm not sure what to do on that yet, but we're speaking among ourselves abut that."
At this point, Brown says he wants the feds and other top people in the U.S. Intel community to talk to him, “...so we can explain the situation.”
"We have some of their former employees on our side, and those guys are getting angrier the more they see how right Anon was," he added.
When it comes to reaction from the government, Brown knows what he is doing could lead to his arrest, and he isn’t bothered by it. In fact, he has a plan.
"When I am arrested, a certain U.S. Congressman's brother will go down with me. If I'm not arrested, then he'll be fine."
According to Brown, his laptop has plenty of incriminating evidence, including recordings, on the Congressman’s brother and several others. Assuming he is arrested, if the authorities act on the evidence discovered, then several others will find themselves in the same boat as he is.
At the same time, if the alleged evidence on the laptop is ignored, but Brown ends up used as an example, then it will show what crimes are of interest to the government, and what is not. In that case, the entire process that is playing out with Manning will repeat itself, only without Brown to help.
Planning and coordination for Operation Bradley involves those that are directly associating themselves with Anonymous. At the same time, it includes those who support Anonymous’ goals, but do not associate themselves with the title of Anon.
Operation Bradley is an example of how Anonymous as a whole has the ability to take on several things at once, and to do so while working with others who are not necessarily one of their own. It’s a thin gray line, given what Anonymous is, but just another example of how titles and descriptions for Anonymous will never be truly exact.
We’ll keep tabs on this proposed media war, and report new developments as they happen.