From Jeremy Hammond to Bradley Manning and the AP, Obama’s ‘assault on journalism’ is a threat to our democracy
One cyberactivist’s federal case wrapped up this week, and another’s is set to begin. Although these two young men, Jeremy Hammond and Bradley Manning, are the two who were charged, it is the growing menace of government and corporate secrecy that should be on trial.
Hammond was facing more than 30 years in prison, charged with hacking into the computers of a private security and intelligence firm called Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, when he agreed to a plea agreement of one count of computer hacking. Stratfor traffics in “geopolitical intelligence, economic, political and military forecasting,” according to its website. Yet, after Hammond and others released 5m emails from Stratfor’s servers to WikiLeaks, it became clear that the firm engages in widespread spying on activists on behalf of corporations. Coca-Cola hired Stratfor to spy on the group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Dow Chemical hired Stratfor to spy on the activists who were exposing Dow’s role in the cyanide chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, in 1984 that killed an estimated 8,000 and injured thousands more.
Hammond is scheduled to be sentenced 6 September. His lawyers have asked for time served – 15 months, some of which was in solitary confinement. He faces 10 years.
Bradley Manning, meanwhile, will finally have his day in military court at Fort Meade, Maryland. He faces a slew of charges related to the largest leak of classified information in US history. Manning pled guilty to mishandling the information, and acknowledged uploading hundreds of thousands of documents to the WikiLeaks website. But he denies the most serious charge, still pending, of “aiding the enemy.” Prosecutors are seeking life in prison; however, if Manning is found guilty, the judge could still impose the death penalty.