The military trial and conviction of Pvt. Bradley Manning, for revealing classified information about the U.S. intelligence and armed forces to the public, marks one of the darkest moments in the history of democratic dissent and freedom of the press in this country. His verdict and sentencing today to a possible maximum of 136 years in jail, have shaken all progressive forces fighting for individual rights in the world, and chipped even further the U.S.’s already tarnished image of the land of the free and home of the brave.
Even before being convicted of 19 offenses, including five counts of the WWI relic Espionage Act, Manning had already spent three years in solitary and brutal confinement, and had the grand total of just one chance for speaking his version of the facts to the public.
Despite having been justly acquitted of the unfounded charge of aiding the enemy, the trial most certainly ended the 25-year old’s hopes of ever regaining the right to tell the American people what he saw in Iraq, apart from the shocking videos and cables he’s passed along to WikiLeaks.
But as we grieve over the personal sacrifice that this young idealist was willing to go through, in order to reveal some of the behind-the-scenes actions of the corporation he once joined out of pride and honor, we’re also sure his courage will outlast the secretive establishment that now is sending him to the gallows.
We may not hear again his voice for a long time, even if that was never his intention to begin with. But someday his example will be honored just as many a fine American has in the past, who like him, sacrificed everything but in the end, were vindicated by history.
Bradley Manning is not a traitor, neither he lied or risked his freedom for personal gain. Unlike many of his accusers, his actions will be remembered perhaps as the first steps of a great turnaround of hearts and minds in this country, to put an end of this endless cycle of wars and intimidation of those who oppose them.
The trial of Pvt. Manning is a complete denial of everything that the U.S. has stood for over two centuries, as a nation of laws and still the inspiration for millions of oppressed and unjustly persecuted people around the world. And as such, it will never represent the real aspirations of the American people.
______________ Read Also: * Shooting the Messengers
When Church & the State Play the Whistleblowers’ Swan Song
Two recent reports making the rounds beyond the 24-news cycle share a disturbing trait, usually associated with authoritarian regimes: The Obama administration’s prosecutions against government employees accused of leaking classified information to the media; and the Catholic Church’s use of the court system to intimidate a group representing victims of sexual abuse by priests. The combined decisions send chilling waves down the spines of advocates for press freedom and human rights, two pillar institutions of any democratic society. And may embody an unduly attempt by the government at preventing accountability before its citizens, as well as an unacceptable bullying by the church of those who seek to bring to justice clergy members who committed criminal acts.
That this is happening in a country whose constitution is a tenet of moral standards and a manifest for the rule of the law, and at a time when its presidency is occupied by a member of a historically oppressed racial minority is not just startling: it’s outrageous.
And it’s occurring now, when the U.S.’s military presence in Afghanistan is faltering, while the economic recovery is lagging and an extremist minority of religious zealots is gaining traction. It should be, otherwise, the ideal moment to show resolve about this nation’s secular principles and commitment to individual freedom and separation of church and state.
Instead, we’re getting lost in this quagmire of whether to support a president that has restored a lot of our national pride, out of the sheer power of his personal charisma and persuasion, and at the same time, demand transparency from its law enforcement agencies, that seem eager to trample individual rights in the name of vague concepts of national security and the war on terror rhetoric. THE RAPE OF PVT. MANNING
Perhaps the case that ignited the current cycle of ‘persecute the messenger, forget about the message’ is the still ongoing, extremely painful public excoriation of Army Private Bradley Manning, who has been under arrest since May 2010, and who only in February was Continue reading →
———————— The Earth Shook & Burn But The World Only Moved Sideways ————————
A year of extremes but no breakthroughs. Records of the wrong kind (U.S.’s longest armed conflict in Afghanistan and worst environmental disaster ever, highest temperature indexes in several regions of the world, increased infection diseases mortality rates in the Caribbean and Africa, and staggering drug trafficking casualties in Latin America) plagued the world, with the additional bonus of a certified freak: a snowstorm in the middle of the Australian summer.
But there was no progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; no curbs on Iranian and North Korean authoritarian antics or scary nuclear ambitions; no meaningful proposals to solve political impasses in the Ivory Coast, Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria or Zimbabwe.
Disturbing tactics did get deployed, though, by the world’s superpowers but with the only intention of curbing whistle blowers and freedom of information acts such as WikiLeaks. It gave civil rights activists of every stripe a chilling pause to see Continue reading →