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   St. Clair County seems to have it's own version of wiki-leaks.  

   Information that hasn't been released by the county board is being posted on the anonymous website CountyBoardInfo.com.  Material posted to the site include minutes from a July 29 executive session at which board members and State's Attorney Brendan Kelly discussed drug testing county employees.

   The unidentified web publisher says the site "is designed to enhance government transparency."  The site isn't affiliated with county government, but promises to keep posting county board meeting agendas, audit reports and meeting minutes.  

   The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the county hasn't posted such material on its website since June.  

Published in Local News

   WASHINGTON (AP) — By asking to be known as a woman named Chelsea, Bradley Manning has created a host of possible challenges for the military as the soldier began serving a 35-year prison sentence for giving secrets to WikiLeaks.

   Manning's gender-identity struggle — a sense of being a woman in a man's body — was brought up by the defense at the court-martial, and a photo of the soldier in a blond wig and lipstick was submitted as evidence.

   But the latest twist, announced Thursday, surprised many and confronted the Pentagon with questions about where and how the Army private is to be imprisoned.

   The former Army intelligence analyst disclosed the decision in a statement provided to NBC's "Today" show.

   "As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible," the statement read.

   The statement asked people to use the feminine pronoun when referring to Manning. It was signed "Chelsea E. Manning" and included a handwritten signature.

   The soldier's attorney, David Coombs, told "Today" he hopes officials at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., accommodate Manning's request for hormone treatment, which typically involves high doses of estrogen to promote breast development and other female characteristics.

   However, George Wright, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said the Army does not provide such treatment or sex-reassignment surgery. He said soldiers behind bars are given access to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.

   A lawsuit could be in the offing. Coombs said he will do "everything in my power" to make sure Manning gets his way. And the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign and other advocates for gays, bisexuals and transgender people said Manning deserves the treatment.

   "In the United States, it is illegal to deny health care to prisoners. That is fairly settled law," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Now the Army can claim this isn't health care, but they have the weight of the medical profession and science against them."

   With Manning in custody and unavailable to comment, the AP is seeking additional information about the statement from Coombs, who did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages. For the time being, AP stories will use gender neutral references to Manning and provide the pertinent background on the transgender issue.

   A Federal Bureau of Prisons policy implemented last year requires federal prisons to develop treatment plans, including hormone treatment if necessary, for inmates diagnosed with gender-identity disorder. But the bureau oversees only civilian prisons.

   Manning's case appeared to be the first time the therapy had come up for a military prisoner.

   Manning, 25, was convicted of Espionage Act violations and other crimes for turning more than 700,000 classified military and diplomatic documents over to the secrets-spilling website WikiLeaks. Coombs said the soldier could be paroled from prison in as little as seven years.

   After sentencing, Manning was returned Thursday to Fort Leavenworth.

   Fort Leavenworth is an all-male prison. But the staff has some leeway to separate soldiers from the other inmates based on the risk to themselves and others, prison spokesman George Marcec said.

   Manning would not be allowed to wear a wig or bra, and would have to meet the military standard for hair, Marcec said. In addition, Marcec said if Manning wants to go by Chelsea in the prison, a name change would have to be approved in court and then a petition submitted with the Army to change its records.

   Advocates said gays and transgender people are more susceptible to sexual assault and other violence in prison.

   "She most likely will need to be placed with a female prison population because she identifies as female," said Jeffrey Parsons, a psychology professor at Hunter College in New York.

   Under a special agreement, the Army sends its female prisoners to a Navy women's jail in Miramar, Calif. It also has an agreement under which it can send soldiers to federal civilian prisons.

   Greg Rinckey, a former Army prosecutor and now a lawyer in Albany, N.Y., said Manning's statement could be a ploy to get transferred to a civilian prison.

   "He might be angling to go there because he believes life at a federal prison could be easier than life at the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth," Rinckey said.

   He also said the military is adamant about not providing hormone treatment: "You enlisted as a male, you're a male, you're going to be incarcerated as a male."

Published in National News

  MOSCOW (AP) - A Russian lawyer for Edward Snowden says the National Security Agency leaker has received asylum in Russia for one year and left the transit zone of Moscow' airport.

   Anatoly Kucherena said he handed over the papers to Snowden on Thursday. He said Snowden left Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport where he was stuck since his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23.

   Kucherena said that Snowden's whereabouts will be kept secret for security reasons.

   The U.S. has demanded that Russia send Snowden home to face prosecution for espionage, but President Vladimir Putin has dismissed the request.

   Putin had said that Snowden could receive asylum in Russia on condition he stops leaking U.S. secrets. Kucherena has said Snowden accepted the condition.

   

Published in National News
WASHINGTON (AP) - An Army private charged in the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history is set to tell a military judge today how he did it and why.

Pfc. Bradley Manning will answer questions from the judge who is considering whether to accept his offer to plead guilty to some charges.

Manning's only public explanation for giving classified material to WikiLeaks can be found in logs of an online chat with a confidant-turned-government informant. In those chats, Manning wrote that he engineered the leak because "information should be free" and he wanted "people to see the truth."

Even if a judge accepts his guilty plea, prosecutors can still pursue more serious charges against Manning. One charge is aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence.
Published in National News

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