hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Arthur Silber - ONCE UPON A TIME...

Free Marissa Now

Susie Madrak (Suburban Guerilla) - Eviction

Ta-Nehisi Coates (Atlantic) - Eviction

Alice Walker’s letter of support for Chelsea Manning

Peter Van Buren’s letter supporting clemency for Chelsea Manning

David Coombs speaks: Transcript and video from West Coast events

(Democracy Now) Interview conducted by independent journalist Alexa O’Brien with Chelsea Manning’s attorney, David Coombs

Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) - A young Yemeni writer on the impact and morality of drone-bombing his country

Hakim Almasmari (CNN) - Drone strikes must end, Yemen's parliament says

Peter Hart (FAIR) - Drones, the Media and Malala's Message

Jack Mirkinson (Huff Po) - Someone (Norah O'Donnell) Finally Asked Malala About Drones

Heather Linebaugh (Guardian) - "I worked on the US drone program. The public should know what really goes on"

digby (Hullabaloo) - Making an example of them

I start from the premise that Al-Qaeda is not 1/10 as evil or 1/100 as dangerous as the Nazis. So I'm deeply offended by the notion that tactics, techniques and a perpetual state of war not necessary to defeat the Nazis, are somehow deemed necessary to defeat Al-Qaeda. I don't know what premises the American national security establishment is operating under, unless they intend for this war to never end.

I also believe that when a true history of the war on terror is written, kill/capture missions, of which drone strikes are a subset, will have proven themselves to be almost entirely useless and counterproductive. In fact, a reliable heuristic for which American military missions have been the worst failures in the last 30 years is the extent to which kill/capture missions have been carried out. Bin Laden's killing may have been the exception that proves the rule, though even there, in hindsight, it would have served long-term interests better to have the Pakistanis capture Bin Laden, as they did KSM.

Private Manning Support Network

Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan

Commanding General, US Army Military District of Washington

September 21, 2013

Dear Maj. Gen. Buchanan,

I believe Chelsea Manning has been punished enough for violating military regulations in the course of being true to her conscience. I urge you to use your authority as Convening Authority to reduce Chelsea Manning's sentence to time served.

When Chelsea Manning was sent to Iraq, she was idealistic about using her skills and training to fight terrorism and help the Iraqi people.  Her first assignment in Iraq was to find Shiite terrorists. In the course of her work, she found that 15 men she was investigating were not terrorists, yet were in Iraqi prison for publishing budget analyses critical of the Iraqi government. When she ran to her supervisor with this information, she was dismissed and told that it was not her business. Rightly or wrongly, Chelsea Manning came to believe that if the American people had access to the same information that she had, the results would overwhelmingly serve the public interest.

I do not know whether Manning, if she had been older, or had had more experience or training, might have pursued her concerns through official channels, instead of leaking documents to the American public. But in light of her youth, her idealism, and the difficult situation she was placed in, I believe she has been treated too harshly, and to some extent has been made a scapegoat for the failure of Army IT to use sensible technology safeguards. I believe if Chelsea Manning is treated too harshly, it will harm national security, as young people serving will be too afraid to speak up and suggest improvements, even if they have good ideas, good research, or helpful experience.

I urge you to use your authority as Convening Authority to reduce Chelsea Manning's sentence to less than that of a rapist, less than that of a domestic abuser, less than that of a torturer.

Krishna Rangarajan

(Vice) Barrett Brown in jail

I guess I'm also offended by the American establishment's attempt to equate "cyber-crime" and "cyber-terrorism" with actual crime and actual terrorism.

Free Jeremy Hammond

Honorable Loretta A. Preska
Chief Judge
Southern District of New York
500 Pearl Street
New York, NY 10007

October 10, 2013

Dear Judge Preska:

I am an ordinary citizen, writing to plead mercy for Jeremy Hammond. I am aware that Jeremy has pled guilty to a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. I believe Jeremy should be treated with compassion, and that the public interest would be served by leniency.

Jeremy's co-defendants in Ireland will not be prosecuted and in the United Kingdom, those who are already convicted will not spend more than a few months in prison.

I’m not opposed to corporations like STRATFOR, and I believe in sensible measures to protect corporate data, but I believe the sentences associated with the CFAA are disproportionate, unnecessary to safeguard data, and unjust. To safeguard data, I believe mild sanctions applied reliably and consistently are more effective than harsh sentences which ruin some individual’s lives, without affecting the underlying the culture of a company, which is the only thing that can safeguard data.

Jeremy’s actions were not motivated by financial gain or his personal benefit. I am writing to plead for leniency on Jeremy’s behalf.

Krishna Rangarajan

next post: 3/01/2014