Saturday, March 09, 2013

Who Do You Love?

For it may be said of men in general that they are
ungrateful, voluble, dissemblers,
anxious to avoid danger and covetous of gain 
--The Prince, Machiavelli 

Got no privacy, got no liberty
Cos the twentieth century people
Took it all away from me
--20th Century Man, the Kinks

 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
--Isaiah 5:20 (KJV) 

Bradley Manning is finally getting his day in court, after 1,000 days of confinement, often solitary, without any charges. Manning's case reminds Ranger of that of Lt. William Calley, in an inverse sort of way.

On March 16, 1968, during the Vietnam War (that quaint, post-colonial dust-up), the My Lai Massacre was carried out by United States troops under the command of Lt. William L. Calley Jr. Lt. Calley was indicted for his role in the murder of 109 Vietnamese civilians and convicted in the murder of 22, but he was revered at home and considered something of a folk hero for many. He was placed under simple house arrest in advance of his trial, and it was well known that his female guests were many, and they came and went in file during his time in house detention. 

Calley was sentenced to time in Leavenworth doing hard labor, but his life sentence was shortened considerably, and he never saw a day in jail; ultimately, he spent 3 1/2 years in house arrest in his quarters in Ft. Benning, Georgia. (Democratic President-to-be and sometime World Humanitarian Jimmy Carter was one of Calley's champions.) Compare the treatment of murderer Calley to that of Manning, who could be described as a whistleblower, and who will take Calley's place in Leavenworth.

Bradley Manning did not pull a trigger or commit any act of violence. Manning did not sell the documents he accused of trafficking, but instead approached The Washington Post and The New York Times; when these newspapers rejected him, he sent the material anonymously to WikiLeaks. He has been charged with aiding the enemy, but the charge is rather Kafkaesque as we cannot define our enemy, nor have we met them on a major battlefield.  Assuming al-Qaeda is the enemy, how can Manning be said to aid the enemy if there is no battlefield?

Just as with Kelly's fellows, the service members shooting civilians from the gunships in Manning's leaked video have never been court-martialed for their actions.  Who aids the enemy more: Manning's Wikileaks or the actions of soldiers in rogue gunships, a President who calls for lethal drone strikes and secret renditions of surmised enemies to foreign prisons for torture, and the whole lot of extrajudicial behavior which has become institutionalized in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©)? 

The recruitment value of torture and illegal policies is high, and they are a better fundraiser for the terrorist's cause than any reasoned response might have been.  Calley's inhumane actions hastened the end of the Vietnam War as Americans were repulsed by the killings of civilians.

Chris Hedges take on Manning's trial is worth a view (here).  In his conclusion, Hedges states:

Manning has done what anyone with a conscience should have done. In the courtroom he exhibited—especially given the prolonged abuse he suffered during his thousand days inside the military prison system—poise, intelligence and dignity. He appealed to the best within us. And this is why the government fears him. America still produces heroes, some in uniform. But now we lock them up.

Today, a mere 45 years later, The U.S. does not seem to care.

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Anonymous Moe said...

Bradley Manning is simply the first white American non-Muslim to be put through the process perfected by the American government on Brown, Muslim suspects known as the Other. A process that White America would never have thought could have happen to them. Rendition, torture, black sites, disappearing people, the government has learnt well.


Incidentally Manning is not the first soldier to be brutalized horribly by the US detention practices. Army Sgt 1st Class Sean Baker was doing a drill with the Guantanamo Immediate Reaction Force known as the Repression Force for their brutality. Omar Deghayes a British-Libyan now released back in Britain was blinded when one member put his finger through his eye in a regular beating: they also simulated drowning, put feces in his mouth and sexually molested him- and they aren't interrogators, just prison guards

Sgt. Baker was dressed up as a detainee and given a code word to say. The thugs in the Immediate Reaction Force continued beating him and gave him brain damage after he said the code word "red" and even after he said he was an American soldier.

One need only read the 'liberal'NYT comment section to see an empathy gap and all sorts of justifications given to US violence by clueless readers to actions undertaken abroad. I say clueless because the standards of journalism are very low and also the commenters seem to relish in their arm chair patriotism. The only thing they don't seem to do is say "haji."

Such an empathy gap is all that is needed for the slope that is currently embraced and occurring before our very eyes. Eventually the Chickens always come home to roost.

Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 11:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am more impressed with how Julian Assange is lionized and how Bradley Manning just doesn't exist.

Jay in N.C.

Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 2:22:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Nikolay Levin said...

Then, if you are a whistleblower on torture, you have to fear for your life .

God forbid if you actually refuse the order to fire on women and children, then you are assassinated.

I'm sorry I have nothing more positive to add to the topic.

Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 6:13:00 PM GMT-5  

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