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Wednesday Roundup: Bradley Manning Rebuffed, Eyes On Europe, Questions For John Brennan

01/09/2013 12:04 pm ET | Updated Mar 11, 2013

Hello Wednesday. Here's what's happening in the world of civil liberties, civil rights and more.

Bradley Manning gets four months "credit," but loses dismissal motion
Judge Col. Denise Lind ruled on Tuesday that Bradley Manning will get 112 days off of any eventual sentencing because of the "excessive" conditions he was held under (read: being forced to sleep naked every night and held in near-solitary confinement conditions). But she also found there was "no intent to punish" Manning on the part of the Marines who held him.

It's a ruling that Manning supporters are reacting to with some disappointment, given that Lind could have given Manning 10-for-1 credit or even dismissed the charges altogether.

Josh Gerstein has a look at one of the central questions in the case: whether Manning's motive in allegedly handing over sensitive documents to WikiLeaks matters.

Europeans decry "mass surveillance," but who's going to stop us?
Ryan Gallagher over at Slate has the details on a new report produced for the European Parliament about cloud computing. The United States, it seems, has the ability to conduct "mass surveillance" on European citizens via our friendly cloud computing providers like Google.

I think the actual mechanics of what this report covers (cloud computing accessed via FISA court orders) are not so interesting -- given that we're talking about data created or sent by non-US persons, usually off of American soil, very few Fourth Amendment protections apply. The NSA or CIA presumably have ways of accessing a European's email that don't involve politely asking Sergey Brin.

But the report does highlight the small but growing movement among some in Europe like Dutch politician Sophia in 't Veld, quoted by Gallagher, to push back against US surveillance: "It's very clear that the European Commission [the EU's executive body] is turning a blind eye," she said. "So are the national governments -- partly because they don't grasp the issue and partly because they are afraid to stand up to U.S. authority." If that changes, it could spell embarrassment or headaches for American spooks looking abroad, and maybe it could shed a little light on whether Americans are getting swept up in the search.

John Brennan, get ready for your closeup
Few of the human rights groups I talked to for my piece about the Brennan nomination on Monday seemed to think they could stop his move to the CIA (or that there would be much point in trying to do so). Even Stephen Soldz, the psychologist who organized that letter opposing Brennan's nomination in November 2008, told, me "to be honest, with the Congress as it is, likelihood of success is very slight."

But they do see the Brennan nomination as an opening to talk about torture, and more specifically push for the release of Senate Intel's report on the CIA interrogation program. The Los Angeles Times publishes an editorial with that theme today. And Adam Serwer for Mother Jones has more on what Dianne Feinstein and John McCain are saying, and on how Zero Dark Thirty could pop up during the confirmation hearings.

Other links:

  • My colleague Jason Cherkis on a FBI FOIA mystery: how come that Occupy Cleveland informant didn't show up in any of the files the bureau recently released?
  • Judge rules one part of stop-and-frisk program in New York unconstitutional
  • Queens advocates, pols rally against anti-Muslim, anti-South Asian "climate of hostility" after subway pushing death

Wednesday follow:

  • Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola), tweeting nearly-live from today's continued pre-trial hearing in the Manning case.