Many people have worried about the fate of Bradley Manning, a lone soldier who informed the world of war crimes being committed by the War Machine that has devoured the American republic and turned its ravaging, profit-reaping fury on the world. As we all know, Manning is now in the iron grip of that Machine, facing the prospect of life in prison for his truth-telling, having already endured a long incarceration marked by episodes of relentless psychological torture. Many people quite reasonably dread what awaits Manning when the Military Court hands down its inevitable verdict against him.
But wait — perhaps all is not lost after all. In the long dark night of our military imperium, a shaft of light, of hope, has suddenly appeared. And it comes from — of all places — the very pinnacle of the military justice system that is bearing down on Manning: the Court of Appeal of the Armed Forces of the United States.
For it turns out that if a military prisoner has faced the least mistreatment during incarceration, even a temporary abuse of due process, then all charges against him will be dropped and he can walk free. And since Manning has manifestly faced any number of abuses of due process and egregious mistreatment, then we can be supremely confident that the military Court of Appeal — which enshrined this Solomonic principle in a recent case — will act with perfect consistency and release Bradley Manning in good time, whatever the eventual outcome of his current trial.
After all, that’s what the Court has done for poor Lawrence Hutchins III, the good Marine who has been persecuted for years merely for carrying out his duty during America’s “extraordinary achievement” — as Barack Obama so aptly termed it — in ousting the dictator Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. (It seems there were some other reasons adduced for the invasion back in the day — something sort of dubious? even spurious? — but thankfully, these have long been forgotten as America has put aside the petty squabbles of the past and returned once more to implacable sense of righteousness that wraps the nation’s every action in a golden, godly glow.)
All Sgt. Hutchins did was lead his team on a night raid against a private home in the Iraqi town of Hamdania. All he and his team did was break into the house, grab an innocent retired policeman named Hashim Ibrahim Awad, drag him down the road to the site of a IED attack, tie him up, shoot him dead in cold blood, then dump his body in the IED hole, remove the plastic restraints, and leave a stolen AK-47 rifle next to the corpse to pretend Awad was a terrorist who had been killed in a firefight. That’s all Hutchins did. Oh yes, that, and have his men shoot Awad repeatedly in the face, in the hope of obliterating his identity. But family members recognized the body and demanded justice from their American military occupiers.
Then came the real crime, the misdeed that would later lead the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces of the United States to carry out its humanitarian intervention and set Hutchins free. As AP reports, Hutchins was arrested by the military brass and held “in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for seven days during his 2006 interrogation in Iraq.” Thus Hutchins — who was facing a term of 11 whole years for kidnapping an innocent man, shooting him in the face then covering up the crime — was released from custody last month by the Court of Appeals, which cited the six-day spell in solitary as the basis for overturning his conviction.
Who knew that the American military justice system was so fiercely adherent to due process that it would even let a killer go free on a “technicality,” like a bunch of wimpy ACLU lawyers? Who knew they would act with such exemplary exactitude in applying letter of the law down to the last jot and tittle? Yet this is the principle they have firmly established with their ruling on Hutchins: the failure to safeguard a military prisoner’s full panoply of legal rights in every respect must result in the overturning of any subsequent verdict against that prisoner, and his release from captivity.
I think we can all rest easier knowing that this principle will now be guiding the decisions of the U.S. military justice system from now on. For surely it will be applied universally, not only to Bradley Manning but also to, say, the captives in Guantanamo Bay, who are subject to the same military justice system. Surely, it cannot be that this strict adherence to the legal niceties will only be applied in cases where an American soldier has brutally murdered some worthless towelhead in some piece-of-sh*t foreign hellhole we had to invade for some reason or another a long time ago, so who cares anyway.
No, surely, that cannot be. For as our recent history clearly shows, the operators of our War Machine always adhere strictly and consistently to the highest and most noble principles, applying them to all equally, the great and the low, without fear or favor, or the slightest hypocrisy.
So Bradley Manning has nothing to worry about!
In the wake of recent leaks that have revealed to the world the extent of American snooping, from collecting the phone records of its citizens en masse to keeping track of every single click of your mouse you make on the internet, the security establishment has been remarkably lame in its response.
Manning, who leaked the classified information on civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, and who is largely credited for inspiring the Arab Spring uprising in response to corrupt governments, is rotting in a prison cell facing a life sentence.
Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, unable to leave for fear he will be snatched and deported to America to share the same fate as Manning.
This time it’s different.
The soft-spoken young man Edward J. Snowden, who has leaked the top-secret documents we have seen so far is viewed as a controversial figure.
By definition, a controversy has two sides. This means some people actually support him as opposed to the near-unanimous condemnation of Manning and Assange.
I think that’s because this actually affects us folks at home. Maybe people are finally starting to get a little uncomfortable with just how cozy big brother is in cuddling up to them in their personal lives.
The trite response to surveillance has always been, “if you’re not doing anything wrong, why should you be worried.” Well now the thinking is starting to change to, “I’m not doing anything wrong, so why do you need to know what I am doing.” The eminently credible Dick Cheney claimed if these measures had been in place before they would have prevented 9/11. Of course, this is the same man who told America that Saddam Hussein “absolutely has weapons of mass destruction” and started one of the most costly and disastrous wars in American history.
Interestingly, this second iteration of tricky Dick didn’t mention that these measures were in place before the Boston bombings and even after being warned about the two brothers beforehand by the Russians, they still failed to prevent the attack.
Then there’s the security state’s other BFF, Donald Trump. He claimed he “didn’t like” Edward Snowden because he thought he was trying to bring attention to himself and was a grandstander. Such comments seem awfully rich coming from that hair.
Just for fun, last night I took note of how many times I was watched in just the few hours it took me to go for a workout.
I was filmed when I went to the drug store for bus tickets. I was filmed and listened to when I got on the bus. I was filmed in the downtown core, in the library, in the mall, and again everywhere I went in the gym.
That is pretty much 100% total surveillance of my every move.
And how much crime does this prevent? None, so far as the experts can tell.
Studies done in England where cameras are ubiquitous have shown the crime rate to be essentially unchanged as a result of having cameras everywhere.
When Edward Snowden was asked what he expected to happen to him as a result of his actions, he replied, “nothing good.” But then added he was not trying to avoid responsibility for what he did, he was trying to be a patriot. He said the worst thing that could possibly happen would be that nothing would change.
That is entirely possibly. The security state is well entrenched.
But I have a feeling that between the time I write this and the time you read it, a lot more will have happened. There is every suggestion that there is more on the way. Hopefully that will be the case, anyway.
And hopefully a real controversy will mean debate, and debate will mean awareness.
Most importantly in my mind, hopefully Edward Snowden is the first whistleblower in recent times not to be destroyed for the courageous act of telling the truth.
Scientists have finally pinpointed the exact location of Hell thanks to help from the Dalai Lama.
Despite years of searching for its location by theologians and scientists alike, Hell had never been found until the Dalai Lama today described his Tibetan homeland as, “Hell on earth.”
Though scientists are excited by the find, many theologians have expressed concern over the lack of fiery brimstone and tortured sinners which had previously acted as a deterrent for would-be wrong-doers.
“I am a bit disappointed to be honest, yes.” said the Bishop of Caldecott.
The discovery has shocked many of Tibet’s recent visitors.
“I was in Tibet a couple of months ago and didn’t see any dead evil people,” said Shane McDonagh, a backpacker from Australia.
With Hell now safely marked on the world’s maps, the hunt is now on to find Heaven, with persistent rumours of it being on the Girls Aloud tour bus still unfounded.
The last seven days in Baghdad – The cycle of bombs, deaths and burials appears to be never ending. It begins to look like the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein has become little more than a grand farce. The price of liberation has led to nothing more than an increased risk of death. How ironic the war that was meant to have ended continues. To convey the feeling of what is happening no written word is necessary. Just examine the pictures and you will quickly understand the misery
Over the last several years I have watched the rise of an important new intellect on the American scene. Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative, has demonstrated time and again the extraordinary ability to reexamine settled issues and show that the accepted conclusion was incorrect.
One of his early achievements was to dispose of the myth of immigrant crime by demonstrating that “Hispanics have approximately the same crime rates as whites of the same age and gender.” You can imagine the uproar, but Unz won the debate.
Unz provoked and prevailed in another controversy when he concluded that Mexican-Americans have approximately the same innate intelligence as whites, with their lower IQs being due to transitory socio-economic deprivation.
He next surprised by showing the connection between the declining real value of the minimum wage (about one-third less than in the 1960s) and immigration. Americans cannot survive on one-third less minimum income than four decades ago, and the unfilled jobs are taken by Hispanics who live many to the room. A higher minimum wage, Unz pointed out, would cure the illegal immigration problem as American citizens would fill the jobs.
I wrote about some of Unz’s remarkable findings. One of my favorites is his comparison of the responsiveness of the Chinese and US governments to their publics. I found his conclusion convincing that the authoritarian one-party Chinese government was more responsive to the Chinese people than democratic two-party Washington is to the American people.
The person is rare who can take on such controversial issues in such a professional way that he wins the admiration even of his critics. In my opinion, Ron Unz is a national resource. He has established online libraries of important periodicals and magazines from the pre-Internet era, information that otherwise essentially would be lost.
Unz’s latest article, “Our American Pravda,” is a striking account of the failure of media, regulatory, and national security organizations and subsequent coverups that leave the public deceived. Unz uses the Iraq war as one example:
The circumstances surrounding our Iraq War demonstrate this, certainly ranking it among the strangest military conflicts of modern times. The 2001 attacks in America were quickly ascribed to the radical Islamists of al-Qaeda, whose bitterest enemy in the Middle East had always been Saddam Hussein’s secular Baathist regime in Iraq. Yet through misleading public statements, false press leaks, and even forged evidence such as the ‘yellowcake’ documents, the Bush administration and its neoconservative allies utilized the compliant American media to persuade our citizens that Iraq’s nonexistent WMDs posed a deadly national threat and required elimination by war and invasion. Indeed, for several years national polls showed that a large majority of conservatives and Republicans actually believed that Saddam was the mastermind behind 9/11 and the Iraq War was being fought as retribution. Consider how bizarre the history of the 1940s would seem if America had attacked China in retaliation for Pearl Harbor.
“True facts were easily available to anyone paying attention in the years after 2001, but most Americans do not bother and simply draw their understanding of the world from what they are told by the major media, which overwhelmingly–almost uniformly–backed the case for war with Iraq; the talking heads on TV created our reality. Prominent journalists across the liberal and conservative spectrum eagerly published the most ridiculous lies and distortions passed on to them by anonymous sources, and stampeded Congress down the path to war.
“The result was what my late friend Lt. Gen. Bill Odom rightly called the ‘greatest strategic disaster in United States history.’ American forces suffered tens of thousands of needless deaths and injuries, while our country took a huge step toward national bankruptcy [and a police state]. Economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and others have estimated that with interest the total long-term cost of our two recent wars may reach as high as $5 or $6 trillion, or as much as $50,000 per American household, mostly still unpaid. Meanwhile, economist Edward Wolff has calculated that the Great Recession and its aftermath cut the personal net worth of the median American household to $57,000 in 2010 from a figure nearly twice as high three years earlier. Comparing these assets and liabilities, we see that the American middle class now hovers on the brink of insolvency, with the cost of our foreign wars being a leading cause.
“But no one involved in the debacle ultimately suffered any serious consequences, and most of the same prominent politicians and highly paid media figures who were responsible remain just as prominent and highly paid today. For most Americans, reality is whatever our media organs tell us, and since these have largely ignored the facts and adverse consequences of our wars in recent years, the American people have similarly forgotten. Recent polls show that only half the public today believes that the Iraq War was a mistake.”
Unz covers a number of cases of criminality, treason, and coverups at high levels of government and points out that “these dramatic, well-documented accounts have been ignored by our national media.” One reason for “this wall of uninterest” is that both parties are complicit and thus equally eager to bury the facts.
Unz is raising the question of the efficacy of democracy. Does the way democracy works in America provide any more self-rule than in undemocratic regimes? He offers this example:
“Most of the Americans who elected Barack Obama in 2008 intended their vote as a total repudiation of the policies and personnel of the preceding George W. Bush administration. Yet once in office, Obama’s crucial selections –Robert Gates at Defense, Timothy Geither at Treasury, and Ben Bernake at the Federal Reserve — were all top Bush officials, and they seamlessly continued the unpopular financial bailouts and foreign wars begun by his predecessor, producing what amounted to a third Bush term.”
In an article not long ago, I raised the issue whether Americans live in The Matrix with their perceptions and thoughts controlled by disinformation as in George Orwell’s 1984. Unz adds to this perspective. He tells the story of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky‘s plan to transform Russia into a make-believe two-party state complete with heated battles fought on divisive and symbolic issues. Behind the scenes the political elites would orchestrate the political battles between the parties with the purpose of keeping the population divided and funneling popular dissatisfaction into meaningless dead-end issues. In such a system, self-serving power prevails. After describing Berezovsky’s plot, Unz asks if Berezovsky got his idea from observing the American political scene.
Thinking further about the propagandistic nature of the US media, Unz writes:
“Individuals from less trusting societies are often surprised at the extent to which so many educated Americans tend to believe whatever the media tells them and ignore whatever it does not, placing few constraints on even the most ridiculous propaganda. For example, a commentator on my article described the East German media propaganda he had experienced prior to Reunification as being in many respects more factual and less totally ridiculous than what he now saw on American cable news shows. One obvious difference was that Western media was so globally dominant during that era that the inhabitants of the German Democratic Republic inevitably had reasonable access to a contrasting second source of information, forcing their media to be much more cautious in its dishonesty, while today almost any nonsense uniformly supported by the MSNBC-to-FoxNews spectrum of acceptable opinion remains almost totally unquestioned by most Americans.”
Unz’s view of the US media as propagandists for power is consistent with that of John Pilger, one of the last remaining real journalists who refuses to serve power, and with Gerald Celente, who sums up the sordid American media in one word–“presstitutes.” I know from my own media experience that an independent print and TV media no longer exists in the West. The American media is a tightly controlled disinformation ministry.
Those few Americans who are free of the constraints imposed by dogmas on their ability to think and to process information have a huge responsibility for their small number. The assault on the rule of law began in the last years of the Clinton regime, but the real destruction of the US Constitution, the basis for the United States, was achieved by the neoconservative George W. Bush and Obama regimes. Wars without declarations by Congress, torture in violation of both US and international law, war crimes in violation of the Nuremberg standard, indefinite detention and assassination of US citizens without due process of law, universal spying on US citizens without warrants, federalization of state and local police now armed with military weapons and uniforms, detention centers, “your papers, please” (without the Gestapo “please”) not only at airports but also on highways, streets, bus terminals, train stations, and at sporting events.
On May 5 Obama gave the commencement address at Ohio State University. No doubt that the graduates thought that they were being honored by being addressed by the world’s greatest tyrant.
Obama told the graduating class, to applause, that their obligation as citizens is to trust the government. Outdoing George Orwell’s Big Brother, Obama said in public to a graduating class of a great university without shame: “You have grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as … some sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”
Listen to my propaganda, not to those constitutional experts, legal authorities, and critics of me, the First Black President, who tell you to beware of unaccountable government. Due process is decided by the demands of the war on terror. If there is a war on terror, do you want a fair trial or do you want to be safe? I am going to make you safe by not giving defendants accused of terrorism, who some liberal-pinko-commie judge would set free, a fair trial.
Making you safe by enveloping you in a police state is a nonpartisan undertaking. Just listen to Lindsay Graham and Peter King and John McCain. These Republican leaders are demanding the police state that I am providing.
As my own legal department, The US Department Of Justice, decided, the Dictator, I mean, elected president, has the power to save the country from domestic and foreign terrorists by abrogating the US Constitution, an out-of-date document that binds our hands and prevents us from keeping you, our serfs and minions, I mean our cherished citizens, safe.
Trust me. That is your obligation as a US citizen. Trust me and I will make you free, happy, employed sometime later in this century when the Amerikan Empire controls the world.
The US Constitution was written by people who opposed Empire. These people were misguided, just like the Roman Republicans who did not understand the need for a Caesar. The American Empire, as the neoconservatives have made clear, is what keeps you free from terrorism. We have to kill them over there before they come over here. And those who are over here will be killed too. We tolerate no dissent. That part of the Constitution is gone, along with the rest of it.
Now give me my honorary doctorate, another sign of approval of my usurpation.
Hola mi amigos!
Buenvenidos and Ding Dong, for the Dictator Hugo Chavez is dead! God struck Hugo Chavez dead with his awesome power! Let this be a message to all dictators! If God’s President Obama called you out into the Axis of Evil, your days are numbered!
For years Hugo Chavez broke the greatest commands of the Bible, refusing to bow before America’s glory and freely share all the oil in his country with the nation drafted to protect the Western hemisphere from communist East Bloc tyranny.
Chavez always bad-mouthed President George W. Bush and even made friends with mean spirited dictators like Saddam Hussein and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It is rumored that Adolph Hitler may have been hiding in Argentina as well.
Most famously, Hugo Chavez threatened to not share our oil in Venezuela and Argentina with us. America automatically owns the Western hemisphere by virtue of the Monroe Doctrine, so his actions were criminal and unjust.
ith Chavez out of the way, South America is in chaos and it is the perfect chance for America to muscle in and coerce a governor over the people, to kindly rule them toward democracy and setup some Halliburton drilling. Hopefully you fools invested in that company because the fields will be a-flowing with the beautiful crude oil!
How appropriate that the Wizard of Oz is coming back to theaters soon, because the wicked dictator is dead. Bye-bye.