Bradley Manning Up

Excerpted from Chase Madar on huffingpost.com
“Our government secrecy fetishists invest their security clearances (held by an elite coterie of4.8 million people) and the information security (InfoSec) regime they continue to elaborate with all sorts of protective powers over life and limb.  But what gets people killed, no matter how much our pols and pundits strain to deny it, aren’t InfoSec breaches or media leaks, but foolish and clueless strategic choices. Putting the blame on leaks is a nice way to pass the buck, but at the risk of stating the obvious, what has killed 1,605 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan since 2009 is the war in Afghanistan — not Bradley Manning or any of the other five leakers whom Obama has prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917.  Leaks and whistleblowers should not be made scapegoats for bad strategic choices, which would have been a whole lot less bad had they been informed by all the relevant facts.

Pardon my utopian extremism, but knowing what your government is doing really isn’t such a bad thing and it has to do with aiding the (American) public, not the enemy.  Knowing what your government is doing is not some special privilege that the government generously bestows on us when we’re good and obedient citizens, it’s an obligation that goes to the heart of the matter in a free country.  After all, it should be ordinary citizens like us who make the ultimate decision about whether war X is worth fighting or not, worth escalating or not, worth ending or not.

When such momentous public decisions are made and the public doesn’t have — isn’t allowed to have — a clue, you end up in a fantasy land of aggressive actions that, over the past dozen years, have gotten hundreds of thousands killed and left us in a far more dangerous world. These are the wages of dystopian government secrecy.

Despite endless panic and hysteria on the subject from both major parties, the White House, and Congress, leaks have been good for us.  They’re how we came to learn much about the Vietnam War, much about the Watergate scandal, and most recently, far more about state surveillance of our phone calls and email.  Bradley Manning’s leaks in particular have already yielded real, tangible benefits, most vividly their small but significant role in sparking the rebellion that ejected a dictator in Tunisia and the way they indirectly expedited our military exit from Iraq.  Manning’s leaked reports of U.S. atrocities in Iraq, displayed in newspapers globally, made it politically impossible for the Iraqi authorities to perpetuate domestic legal immunity for America troops, Washington’s bedrock condition for a much-desired continuing presence there.  If it weren’t for Manning’s leaks, the U.S. might still be in Iraq, killing and being killed for no legitimate reason, and that is the very opposite of national security.

Thanks to Bradley Manning, our disaster-prone elites have gotten a dose of the adult supervision they so clearly require.  Instead of charging him with aiding the enemy, the Obama administration ought to send him a get-out-of-jail-free card and a basket of fruit.  If we’re going to stop the self-inflicted wars that continue to hemorrhage blood and money, we need to get a clue, fast.  Should we ever bother to learn from the uncensored truth of our foreign policy failures, which have destroyed so many more lives than the late bin Laden could ever have hoped, we at least stand a chance of not repeating them.

I am not trying to soft-peddle or sanitize Manning’s magnificent act of civil disobedience.  The young private humiliated the U.S. Army by displaying for all to see their complete lack of real information security. Manning has revealed the diplomatic corps to be hard at workshilling for garment manufacturers in Haiti, for Big Pharma in Europe, and under signed orders from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to collect biometric data and credit card numbers from their foreign counterparts.  Most important, Manning brought us face to face with two disastrous wars, forcing Americans to share a burden of knowledge previously shouldered only by our soldiers, whom we love to call heroes from a very safe distance.

Did Manning violate provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice?  He certainly did, and a crushing sentence of possibly decades in military prison is surely on its way. Military law is marvelously elastic when it comes to rape and sexual assault and perfectly easygoing about the slaughter of foreign civilians, but it puts on a stern face for the unspeakable act of declassifying documents. But the young private’s act of civil defiance was in fact a first step in reversing the pathologies that have made our foreign policy a string of self-inflicted homicidal disasters. By letting us in on more than a half million “secrets,” Bradley Manning has done far more for American national security than SEAL Team 6 ever did.”

 

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About elroyjones

Married, no children, responsibly self-directed, living happily.
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16 Responses to Bradley Manning Up

  1. That is all true. On the other hand, a leak like the one done by Snowden is not quite the same thing. Because he gave information that does give everybody a clear insight into the intelligence gathering capabilities of the U. S. And everybody includes those who wish to harm us. And that just might make them more careful. Which could make them harder to stop. We do need to know when our government is doing the wrong thing. But information on how well they can do the wrong thing is dangerous to spread around.

  2. I read the Chomsky piece you linked to a while back…our governments don’t do what we want them to do; they do whatever they want and justify it by saying we voted for them…we wouldn’t have the enemies we do if we didn’t take part in such spurious activities to begin with. “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about” INFURIATES me!

    • elroyjones says:

      It’s not a matter of being innocent and blameless, of having done nothing “wrong”. The definition of wrong is abstract and subject to change especially under a fascist regime. The US gov’t professes having done nothing “wrong” in having bugged EU embassies because “as a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”
      It is not so much what I am communicating or who I am communicating with as it is the principal of being able to transmit my thoughts and opinions privately to the recipient for whom they were intended.
      In the meantime, inspired by Old Jules, I am searching for an NSA email address so I can copy them on all my correspondence. As I am sure you know, this situation really frosts my arse!

      • I do know! It’s the acceptance people have of it, like you can’t challenge someone in authority – we had a situation at the hotel where the tills were down, I think it was a genuine mistake by someone who didn’t know the system, but instead of management checking, rumours just flew round about whose fault it was. In the end the assistant general manager told one of the employees that he wanted to search his car for missing money! And the employee said yes! On a good day I would have laughed in his face…
        A little of topic but it’s the blind acceptance of authority that people go in for.
        And I like the idea of copying in the NSA on your emails! Feel free to email me anything pointless in order to annoy them.

      • elroyjones says:

        That would be the day that I allowed someone to search anything without a search warrant. People do not questions authority nearly enough. I am an adult and since I have yet to maim or kill anyone there isn’t another human being on the planet who usurps my innate sovereignty. Why did the employee let the AGM search the car? That’s private property. There are huge problems with the masses and their submissive attitudes. We are doomed!

      • Because he didn’t think he could say no; because he knew the missing money wasn’t in his car; because saying no to something like that somehow suggests that you’re guilty! It’s horrendous.

      • elroyjones says:

        It is horrendous. Nothing separates us from the societies we scorn. We ARE them. Authority should be questioned, it keeps the bastards on their toes even if it doesn’t keep them honest.
        The US will be tumbling down before long. Where I am there is an enclave of 1% elitist wealthy people. We actually do a lot of work for them. Every summer I am increasingly appalled at the working class who wants to be like them and hopes to ingratiate themselves as though the association somehow makes them better. Not me, I am as pleasant to them as they are to me and I NEVER forget my place. There are people with 10,000 square foot summer homes that they use a fortnight out of an entire year, the waste is sickening. The other day we contracted work for someone who is too important to communicate with us. It’s perplexing because none of it matters, when you die you leave a pile of stuff behind and you’re pretty well forgotten in a generation or two.

      • Arseholes are arseholes no matter how much they earn, but there are lots and lots and lots of people who think that more money equals better person; more money means you work harder; more money means you deserve more things for free! – one of the most bizarre theories I’ve ever come across.
        And I find it very hard to automatically respect someone just because they’re a ‘boss’…I find it very strange how so many people bow/curtsy when they meet the queen!

      • elroyjones says:

        People get my respect the old fashioned way, they earn it. I am polite but not deferential. I’m really thinking hard now to see if I can recall a boss I’ve respected-one comes immediately to mind but the rest were a bunch of simpering ninnies intent on impressing the simpering ninny ahead of them on the food chain. Which brings us back to the geopolitical situation- none of those people (well, most, Mandela is an exception) has better character or stronger will than you or I but they do have much larger egos.
        Do you work night audit?

      • Every time I hear on the radio, about the banks or any of the big business that get tax beaks, the reasons that they get them being the fact that they’ll leave and take their business elsewhere, I shout at the radio, ‘Well let them fucking leave then you gutless shit!!!’ I genuinely see no difference in the reverse psychology I use on my boys (granted the language is different…) There are companies who pay their tax and there would be others that would do the same replacing the ones that left…but cameron would rather toe the line; I genuinely thought the coalition would shake things up for the better…it was a fleeting thought, granted.
        I work nights in a hotel, and funnily enough I have just done the night audit! What time is it with you?

      • elroyjones says:

        It is nearly midnight and I have spent the past couple of hours chasing $5300 around trying to balance the books for quarter end. We are far behind last year and we have worked much harder. Fuel prices have increased about 35%.
        I agree with you, if they don’t want to pay taxes let them leave but they must move out completely, take the kiddies and the cat and shut the door behind them.
        We have a small business, 7 people, and we pay a living wage but the costs of doing business are sky high. Sometimes I don’t take a check so that we can afford to keep working. It’s ridiculous!
        I used to work for Omni Hotels when Aer Lingus owned them. I didn’t work night audit but some of my friends did and they saw some pretty interesting sights!
        Did your wife find a job?

      • What is your business? If you don’t mind me asking. My last bosses used to pay one of the artists out of their own pockets occasionally…but they certainly weren’t struggling; it was a strange industry.
        As far as interesting sights go I feel I have been utterly short-changed! And on the short-change front i.e. tips!
        She didn’t get the job but she is head of a pre-school committee – unpaid – which will look very good on the cv; it’s getting better by the day, but they are having trouble with one of the staff members who wants holiday during term time and has threatened to quit if she doesn’t get it! They will accept her resignation…

      • elroyjones says:

        We have a disaster restoration business, floods, fire, water damage, power outages, pipe breaks, mold remediation. It’s busy but not especially interesting.
        Oh good! I hope she gives notice and they accept her resignation and your wife gets the job! It will be good for your daughter’s school schedule too because their holidays will be the same.

      • I have boys 🙂 There’s a new manager starting as well (my wife considered the position but doesn’t have the experience) and she’ll only have been there two days before the requested holiday would start…it’s not even a cost issue…it’s all a bit odd.
        That’s an odd business to be in I can imagine…most of us would like the disasters to stop…

      • elroyjones says:

        I too would like the disasters to stop. Mostly we manage small disasters, spring floods, winter ice, property damage.
        I thought you had an older boy from a previous marriage and a little girl, did I get any of it right? Is the little girl really a toddler boy?

      • I have an older boy from a previous relationship, and two little boys (3 and 2) – although the three year old does often pretend to be a mummy animal (usually a bird but they can range from otters through to leopards), and both like wearing makeup and nail polish – the makeup is done themselves and can look really rather gruesome!

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