Friday, 23 December 2011

Bradley Manning & the above-ground railroad

The Manning ballet now being performed in a military court with a pre-determined outcome is not a legal case but a political one. It is a public spectacle demonstrating for all to see which people in our two-tiered country are to be subjected to punishment and which are to get off scot-free.

Manning is accused of spilling government secrets just as Daniel Ellsberg was once long ago. Ellsberg and Manning acted against the United States government’s pursuit of aggressive war unjustified by any conceivable notion of self-defense.

This is the crime for which the accused at the Nuremberg trials were condemned to death or lengthy prison terms. The prosecutor, U.S. Attorney General Robert Jackson, said that aggressive war was the fundamental cause of all the other crimes against humanity that occurred in the 1940s—including the Holocaust.

So did Ellsberg and Manning violent a statute in releasing classified documents? Maybe, but that’s not why they were put on trial. Let’s look no further than Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby’s outing of an active-duty CIA agent who refused to go along with their plans for war in Iraq. They’re off the hook while Manning faces life in prison.

His real crime is whistle-blowing.

Did W’s lawyers violate treaties and our own laws by providing cover for torture? Who cares? Did Donald Rumsfeld and W himself openly admit to authorizing these heinous practices, condemned by civilized nations for decades? No problem. Under the Obama Doctrine, powerful members of the insider club are not to be bothered with legal action or even investigations of their deeds. Only defenseless 20-year-olds who can first be tortured for months in solitary to soften them up must face trial. And given the powers contained in Obama’s recent defense spending bill, he can keep them there indefinitely if he so chooses, without judicial review.

It’s ironic but entirely appropriate that Manning should be facing this kangaroo court just as the U.S. attempt to conquer and occupy Iraq (‘Operation Iraq Freedom’) has ended in failure. While the appalling costs are totted up--$1 trillion of treasure, tens of thousands of deaths, a society ripped to shreds, ongoing death squad actions and terrorist bombing campaigns so relentless and terrifying (such as yesterday’s) that many yearn for the order and relative safety of Saddam Hussein’s era—American military and civilian officials dare to praise this criminal debacle as a ‘liberation’.

And not only are these statements accepted at face value by a society that has utterly lost its moral compass, new war-mongering campaigns are pushed forward at full throttle—a direct result of Obama’s refusal to hold his predecessors legally and politically responsible for their actions.

Here is a Foreign Affairs trial balloon insisting that yet another country (Iran) has really skeery Weapons of Mass Destruction or soon will and that we therefore must get ready to drop bombs on them. Condi Rice’s ‘mushroom cloud’ was effective propaganda, which turned out to be a lie. Rice never paid a price for her perfidy, so we get another round from another unconcerned advocate of unprovoked war. Now, we are asked to swallow more falsehoods and prepare another bellicose enterprise against a country whose annual military budget is one-seventieth ($10 billion) of ours.

Stephen Walt says:

And let's be crystal clear about what [the warmonger du jour] is advocating here. He is openly calling for preventive war against Iran, even though the United States has no authorization from the U.N. Security Council, it is not clear that Iran is actively developing nuclear weapons, and Iran has not attacked us or any of our allies—ever. He is therefore openly calling for his country to violate international law. He is calmly advocating a course of action that will inevitably kill a significant number of people, including civilians.

But so what? Israel’s increasingly demented leadership is very eager for this attack to take place, which is what really matters. The Israeli tail is wagging the dog in Washington more successfully than ever, so much so that even mainstream mouthpieces like Thomas L. Friedman have become alarmed. It’s ironic that the very country that emerged from the Holocaust is now frantically pushing the United States to violate the core principle of the Nuremberg verdict. And it is a testament to the gullibility, ignorance and moral obtuseness of the American people that a huge sector will go along with it a mere eight years after they were bamboozled into the Iraq disaster in exactly the same way.

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