Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Burial of Bradley Manning no surprise

When the president publicly told his subordinates in the armed forces what the verdict was to be in the Bradley Manning trial, it was clear that the security state had taken yet another step in the slow-moving coup that began in 2001 and has accelerated under the Democrats. Obama, we may recall, announced that Manning was guilty of breaking the law (not that that seems to matter when dealing with torture, snooping, robbing people’s homes through bank fraud, etc. But I digress.) Given that the trial is occurring in a military court, those in charge of the proceedings thereby were informed that they had better come through with the proper verdict.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with Pinochet’s former Justice Minister, Mónica Madariaga, in her Providencia apartment about 25 years ago in which she described her frustrations during her years as a private lawyer after serving in the Chilean dictator’s cabinet. She said she might have the facts on her side but not the all-important connections to power that she once enjoyed. ‘I present a tightly argued 50-page brief with overwhelming evidence to buttress my client’s case’, she related, ‘and then a call comes from the junta to the judge saying, “We need this one.” And that’s that, a one-line statement: Reversed. No reasons’.

Tut-tut, many will say, we’re not living under a military regime, it’s not a fair comparison. No, we’re not, and we do not have a secret police entity making a habit of snatching people out of their beds at 2 a.m., never to be seen again. (Out of airports, yes.) Governors and presidents don’t phone the country’s top lawyers to tell them how to rule. Correct again, but why should they when the message can be relayed in other ways?

One of the things I heard repeatedly in Chile upon arriving in the 10th year of military rule (it was to last 17) was how surprised the country’s citizens were to witness their solid, stable democracy, with its multiple political parties and regular transfers of power between elected governments, suddenly and quite literally go up in smoke, to be replaced by one of the most scientifically brutal and perverse regimes in the memory of a continent that is no stranger to violence. What staggered their imaginations was the depth of the hatred of the entrenched elites for the poor and their middle-class allies who dared to demand a fairer share of the nation’s wealth and a chance for a decent life. Well-to-do Chileans, including my interlocutors’ own family members, crowed for blood and cheered the slaughter of the leftist party cadres and their union allies. I myself witnessed two elegant ladies strolling through Parque Forrestal after an anti-Pinochet demonstration screaming for the police to ‘kill the Indians!’

So the decision to lock up Bradley Manning for most of his adult life should not shock us any more than the security state’s targeting of Glenn Greenwald’s boyfriend/spouse in a London airport. These people are not playing by any known rules, and their boss, Barack Obama, is not an honorable man. One of our few remaining defenses is to anticipate and prepare for their predictably bad behavior.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But then, how could we prepare? I knew Chile was coming and all I could do was be somewhere else...where else could we be now?