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.
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The Deaths of Two Pablos & the Latin American Sept. 11
Just as the exhumation of Pablo Neruda’s remains got under way in Chile, Wikileaks has released another trove of U.S. documents. This time, they relate to the same period of the poet’s death, days after the Sept. 11, 1973 coup that ousted democratic president Salvador Allende. As for the other Pablo, April 8 was the 40-year anniversary of Picasso’s death, who was also targeted by a dictatorship, that of Francisco Franco, but managed to outlive its reign of terror. Thus what took place decades ago remains relevant even to these indifferent times.
The 1970s was a dark period for most of Latin and Central America, with widespread military coups and disregard for human rights. It was a time when blood-thirsty rulers, under the banner of fighting a mostly fabricated Communist threat, were let loose to persecute and assassinate political opponents.
What’s disturbing is the fact that they may have had help from Washington and the Vatican, as the Wikileaks papers attest. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Pope Paul VI, both central to events of the period, are shown to be aware of what was taking place down South. They just chose to do nothing to prevent it.
Kissinger’s role has long been discussed, as there’s an overall consensus that the generals who disrupted by force so many democracies in the region could not have remained in power for as long as they did without political support and funding from Western powers. Despite all claims to the contrary, he’s staunchly denied any role in the Chilean coup.
But the papers also show that the Vatican had downright dismissed mounting allegations and evidence of almost indiscriminate murders and serious violations 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 →
and What We May Need to Awake From in the New Year.
THE TOPS 1) July 26, December 19. The biggest story of the year, the two-punch WikiLeaks revelations about our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the startlingly dispirited diplomacy used to achieve them, had all the limitations of an attack led by drones: all fire, no eyesight.
What was far more revealing was the swift counter punch by the U.S. and its allies in reaction to them. Within days, a case of free speech was turned into a terrorist witch-hunt of the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, the Interpol was brought in and a personal misdeed in Sweden was quickly rolled in for good measure.
The effort to punish the messenger was enough to temporarily derail the essence of the allegations, force Assange to fight expatriation and jail term threats, and land Pvt Bradley Manning, his supposedly source, into an insalubrious location Continue reading →