Monday, December 03, 2012

Bradley Manning's crime

By Frank Moraes

There are things that make me so angry that I tend not even to write about them. I suspect that some readers will find this amusing, because I seem to be angry much of the time. And that's true, so what I just said should be given the proper amount of weight. One of those things is the pretend Benghazi scandal. I have to give the Republicans high marks for tenacity, but this is simply an outrage. There is no scandal in this matter and people like McCain are losing much of their unearned credibility.

An issue that makes me even more angry is almost everything about the Bradley Manning case. The worst that any reasonable person can say about this young man is that he should have done a better job of being a whistleblower. And I agree. But he's a kid. And he is a classic whistle blower: a disillusioned true believer. Perhaps he should be punished, but surely he has already been punished enough.

The more we know about the military justice system's treatment of this kid, the more disgusting it is. There is no doubt that the military are trying to send a strong message to any other potential whistle blower: we will torture you long before we prove that you've done anything wrong. For that is what has been going on: the military has been torturing Bradley Manning. Of course, it isn't just to send a message; they have also been hoping that he would roll over on Julian Assange.

Glenn Greenwald published an article in The Guardian Friday, "Bradley Manning: a Tale of Liberty Lost in America." In it, he gives a really good overview of the case in a very short article. But he makes a really stark contrast between how the current administration has chosen to dispense justice:

Compare this aggressive prosecution of Manning to the Obama administration's vigorous efforts to shield Bush-era war crimes and massive Wall Street fraud from all forms of legal accountability. Not a single perpetrator of those genuine crimes has faced court under Obama, a comparison that reflects the priorities and values of US justice.

I'm actually quite used to the United States government meting out injustice. The biggest thing that bothers me here -- the core of why I find this subject hard to even talk about -- is the triviality of the information leaked. This is the information that we classify?! How exactly does a democratic government justify keeping stuff like this from the people?

Many have tortured and killed innocent people while working for the government. But these people must not only be forgiven, we must pretend they never did anything wrong. No Truth and Reconciliation Commission for America! That would be wrong. But a kid releases a bunch of documents that embarrass a few people and document what we already knew that the Afghanistan War was going poorly? Well, that's treason!

This kind of bullshit that makes me ashamed of our government.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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