I took over the responsibility of following civil liberties, digital freedom and, to some extent, national security stories here at Firedoglake exactly one year ago when I began to publish posts to The Dissenter. And seeing how it is an anniversary, it is worth celebrating some of the successes so far that FDL members and readers helped make possible:
—Covered the inception of the Occupy Movement: On September 17, I began to live blog Occupy Wall Street. This expanded into live blogging the Occupy movement as hundreds of encampments sprung up around the country. The Dissenter was one of the few news blogs that had coverage of Occupy Wall Street’s attempt to start a movement. Live blogging happened every day until 2012 started then coverage shifted into regular reports on the movement. (And, coverage inevitably inspired others to regularly report on Occupy action in their communities regularly.)
—Toured Occupy camps in the United States & helped with the launch of Occupy Supply: Beginning in October, I started to tour Occupy encampments. I did a tour in the Midwest in the final weeks of October. I did a tour of encampments in the New England states in the days right before Thanksgiving. At each of these encampments, Firedoglake made donations through an Occupy Supply campaign that was launched to ensure the Occupy movement survived winter. (Occupy Supply is now helping the movement stay cool in the hot, hot, hot summer.)
—Earned respect of some notable whistleblowers for coverage of “leaks” and the War on Whistleblowing: In the past year, I have had the privilege of interacting with NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, and DoJ whistleblower Jesselyn Radack. They helped me realize that the postings on whistleblowing have a nonpartisan (or even trans-partisan) quality that those who have engaged in whistleblowing respect. I also realized—through my reporting—the fact that this blog gives coverage to important issues related to whistleblowing, which the media often twists or ignores, is critically important.
—Transformed this blog into the go-to place for the latest and most in-depth coverage of the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning: I was credentialed to cover Manning’s Article 32 hearing in December. Since then, I have been regularly traveling to Fort Meade in Maryland to cover each pre-trial hearing. My coverage led to invitations to appear on “Democracy Now!”, Free Speech Radio News, WBAI’s “Out-FM,” “The Young Turks” on Current TV, and RT‘s “The Alyona Show.” I co-authored a book with The Nation‘s Greg Mitchell titled Truth & Consequences: The US vs. Bradley Manning. I even had the privilege of participating in a panel event with Chase Madar, author of The Passion of Bradley Manning, and artists Ted Hearne and Mark Doten that aired on CSPAN2′s “Book TV.”
The inaugural post at The Dissenter, the welcome post I wrote, foreshadowed how this blog would gain its notoriety over the next year. The photo I included was of a Manning supporter holding a sign. The kinds of stories I said this blog would cover included the US government’s ongoing war on WikiLeaks and the current and historic repression of dissent. However, I did not know The Dissenter would become a respectable source for the latest on whistleblowing issues.
There are some things I intended to do that were discontinued or never happened. I started to do a regular “Notes on Civil Liberties” post that appeared here every day with links to news items on civil liberties/digital freedom issues. That fell by the wayside as I focused on putting out stories each day. I did not publish many guest posts (which is something I would like to change). There was no weekly podcast with the latest news and updates on WikiLeaks. Though I had produced such a podcast throughout Spring 2011, I focused on writing to The Dissenter. (At the moment, I would like to start up some kind of regular podcast, but I am not sure what it would cover and how regularly it would be produced.)
What I wrote on Day 1 remains true today:
…The government is going after Palestinian and Colombia solidarity activists, raiding the homes of people who helped to organize a massive antiwar march at the 2008 Republican National Convention and subpoenaing activists to appear before a grand jury. The government is harassing and intimidating activists who organize in support of accused whistleblower to WikiLeaks, Pfc. Bradley Manning. And, they are allowing agencies like the FBI, an agency that has grown into a massive domestic spy agency, to exercise more and more intrusive surveillance powers each and every day.
This blog has a great burden and responsibility. In the aftermath of 9/11, a bipartisan consensus has formed among mainstream politicians and once again presented the nation with a calculated assault on civil liberties in the name of national security. All people who write, publish and comment here at this blog will be part of challenging this continued attack that did not end when President George W. Bush left office at all.
Thank you to all who regularly read this blog, commented, followed, tracked and shared daily postings. Not only do I appreciate those who have engaged with me in my reporting, but I also appreciate those who made contributions to Firedoglake to support my coverage of Bradley Manning and the Occupy movement in the past year.
Also, when I began here at FDL, I believe I had around 2,000 to 2,500 followers on Twitter. I now have over 8,000 so I must acknowledge the people on Twitter who regularly follow what I do and give me great support each and every day.
I encourage you to leave any comments or suggestions on what you would like to see covered or produced by The Dissenter during the blog’s second year in the comments thread below. And I will be at Fort Meade tomorrow reporting on the latest motion hearing in Manning’s court martial.