Similar to Daniel Ellsberg in my generation, these men have put their idealism ahead of their personal fate. Certainly “they” tried to “get Ellsberg” but failed. This week, “they” forced down an aircraft that they thought might be carrying Snowden so it had to be rerouted. “They” will stop at nothing to assure that such a release of information never occurs in the future and we are kept in the dark.
Again the public has been “brainwashed” to believe that the ”truth” of these matters is not as they clearly are — like the weapons of mass destruction that were not! But no one appears to care, and the killing and the destruction go on.
Why should families here and in Afghanistan suffer so much? Why should our infrastructure suffer because the assets are used elsewhere to try to maintain the “empire” that we have created?
Anyone who knows history knows how this all will end if we do not change our goals and methods of operation — absolutely similar to the Roman Empire and many others.
Eddie Adams (1933-2004) who documented thirteen wars, shot one of the most iconic, memorable and gritty images of the Vietnam War on February 1, 1968 which you see above. This image is forever etched into the minds and history books of both past and future generations, to the effect that one simply cannot lookup information on the Vietnam War without coming across this photograph. This image won Adams a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 and despite the fact that he truly, desperately wanted to win a Pulitzer, he lamented the fact that he won for this image.
When asked about the reaction of this photo has had on the world, Eddie would become quite serious in his mannerisms and often change the topic to something else. In a discussion about General Nguyen Ngoc Loan He was quoted saying:
“The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. … What the photograph didn’t say was, ‘What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?“
Eddie personally felt that the photo did a massive injustice to the General and ultimately ruined his life, he did seek him out to personally apologize for the irreparable damage to his honor and reputation.
Regardless of how you may feel about the image, there is no denying the power behind it, it is uncommon in most media outlets to share an image portraying the exact moment of someone’s death, but this surely is one that will live on forever, and while Eddie Adams did not want recognition for the image, it was clear that it resonated with the world when he received the Pulitzer Prize. That single image changed his entire career, he would occasionally face criticisms from colleagues for not trying to stop the execution, and the image itself was so haunting to him that he couldn’t even look at it for two years after taking it. He felt conflicted to be getting paid for photographing one man killing another.
Personally, I have an immense level of respect for Photojournalists that have to document warzones as so many of them are put into dangerous or controversial situations, and as a Documentary Photographer you try to remain invisible and let the scene unfold without influencing it. I cannot imagine what that must be like to experience. In closing, I will leave you with the image sequence leading up to the execution and the moment afterwards, and I ask you to realize and understand the important cultural role we play as Photographers, and to think about the power behind your images. What message are you sending with the images you capture and share with the world?
Leading up to the fateful moment
Shortly before the execution
The moment General Loan fired his gun.
The moment after execution
Is there a Left in America today?
There is, of course, a Left ideology, a Left of the mind, a Left of theory and critique. But is there a Left movement?
Does the Left exist as an oppositional political, cultural or economic force? Is anyone intimidated or restrained by the Left? Is there a counterforce to the grinding machinery neoliberal capitalism and its political managers?
We can and do at CounterPunch and in similar publications, such as Monthly Review and the New Left Review, publish analyses of capitalism and its inherent vulnerabilities, catalogue its predations and wars of military conquest and imperial exploitation. But where is our capacity to confront the daily horrors of drone strikes, kill lists, mass layoffs, pension raids and the looming nightmare of climate change?
It is a bitter reality, brought into vivid focus by five years of Obama, that the Left is an immobilized and politically impotent force at the very moment when the economic inequalities engineered by our overlords at Goldman Sachs who manage the global economy, should have recharged a long-moribund resistance movement back to life.
Instead the Left seems powerless to co
alesce, to translate critique into practice, to mobilize against wars, to resist incursions against basic civil liberties, powerless to confront rule by the bondholders and hedgefunders, unable to meaningfully obstruct the cutting edge of a parasitical economic system that glorifies greed while preying on the weakest and most destitute, and incapable of confronting the true legacy of the man they put their trust in.
This is the politics of exhaustion. We have become a generation of leftovers. We have reached a moment of historical failure that would make even Nietzsche shudder.
We stand on the margins, political exiles in our own country, in a kind of mute darkness, a political occlusion, increasingly obsessed, as the radical art historian Tim Clark put it a few years ago in a disturbing essay in New Left Review, with the tragedy of our own defeat.
Consider this. Two-thirds of the American electorate oppose the ongoing war in Afghanistan. An equal amount objected to intervention in Libya. Even more recoil at the grim prospect of entering the Syrian theater.
Yet there is no antiwar movement to translate that seething disillusionment into action. There are no mass demonstrations. No systematic efforts to obstruct military recruiting. No nationwide strikes. No campus walkouts. No serious divestment campaigns against companies involved in drone technology.
Similar popular disgust is evident regarding the imposition of stern austerity measures during a prolonged and enervating recession. But once again this smoldering outrage has no political outlet in the current political climate, where both parties have fully embraced the savage bottom line math of neoliberalism.
Homelessness, rampant across America, is a verboten topic, unmentioned in the press, absent from political discourse. Hunger, a deepening crisis in rural and urban America, is a taboo subject, something left to religious pray-to-eat charities or the fickle whims of corporate write-offs.
What do they offer us, instead? Pious homilies about the work ethic, the sanctity of the family unit, the self-correcting laxative of market forces.
The economic immiseration of black America, brutal and unrelenting, is simply elided, erased from the political dialogue, even at jam sessions of the Congressional Black Caucus. Instead, whenever
Obama mentions the plight of black Americans (about once every two years by my count), as he did in his patronizing commencement addresses this spring, it is to chide blacks about cleaning up their acts, admonishing them to stop complaining about their circumstances and work harder at adopting the flight plan of white corporate culture.
The self-evident need for large-scale public works projects to green the economy and put people to work goes unmentioned, while the press and the politicians engage in a faux debate over the minutia of sequestration and sharpen each others knives to begin slashing Social Security and Medicare. Where’s the collective outrage? Where are the marches on the Capitol? The sit-ins in congressional offices?
A few weeks ago I wrote an essay on the Obama administration’s infamous memo justifying drone strikes inside countries like Pakistan and Yemen that the US is not officially at war against. In one revealing paragraph, a Justice Department lawyer cited Richard Nixon’s illegal bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War as a precedent for Obama’s killer drone strikes. Let’s recall that the bombing of Cambodia prompted several high-ranking officials in the Nixon cabinet to resign, including CounterPunch writer Roger Morris. It also sparked the student uprising at Kent State, which lead the Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes to declare a state of emergency, ordering the National Guard to rush the campus. The Guard troops promptly began firing at the protesters, killing four and wounding nine. The war had come home.
Where are those protests today?
The environment is unraveling, thread by thread, right before our eyes. Each day brings more dire news. Amphibians are in stark decline across North America. Storms of unimaginable ferocity are strafing the Great Plains week after week. The Arctic will soon be ice-free. The water table is plummeting in the world’s greatest aquifer. The air is carcinogenic in dozens of California cities. The spotted owl is still going extinct. Wolves are beginning gunned down by the hundreds across the Rocky Mountains. Bees, the great pollinators, are disappearing coast-to-coast, wiped out by chemical agriculture. Hurricane season now lasts from May to December. And about all the environmental movement can offer in resistance are a few designer protests against a pipeline which is already a fait accompli.
Our politics has gone sociopathic and liberals in America have been pliant to every abuse, marinated in the toxic silt of Obama’s mordant rhetoric. They eagerly swallow every placebo policy Obama serves them, dutifully defending every incursion against fundamental rights. And each betrayal only serves to make his adoring retinue crave his smile; his occasional glance and nod all the more urgently. Still others on the dogmatic Left circle endlessly, like characters consigned to their eternal roles by Dante, in the ideological cul-de-sac of identity politics.
How much will we stomach before rising up? A fabricated war, a looted economy, a scalded atmosphere, a despoiled gulf, the loss of habeas corpus, the assassination of American citizens…
One looks in vain across this vast landscape of despair for even the dimmest flickers of real rebellion and popular mutiny, as if surveying a nation of somnambulists.
We remain strangely impassive in the face of our own extinction.
US soldier Bradley Manning is due to go on trial on Monday (03.06.2013) for leaking thousands of secret documents to Wikileaks, some of which allegedly revealed war crimes. But is he a hero or a traitor to the US army?
“If you’re a 22-year-old kid from Oklahoma, and you find yourself in a dark room in Iraq, watching grainy videos of possible war crimes and actually sharing your concerns with your supervisors, and they’re telling you to look the other way, shut up, your life will become miserable if you keep talking about this stuff, it’s easy to see how somebody could actually look at the big picture and think maybe I could, in some small way, change the world for the better.”
This is how Jeff Paterson, a member of the grass roots group Courage to Resist, described the situation of US soldier Bradley Manning during his eight-month deployment in Iraq in 2009 – 2010. He is due to go on trial next Monday, accused of leaking thousands of secret government documents, diplomatic cables, and military videos to Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.
Whatever the court in Fort Meade, Maryland decides, Manning has already touched the lives of many people, despite the fact that the trial has gotten little coverage from the mainstream US media. But the case has a sizable and passionate following, a coalition of older people who opposed the war in Vietnam and a new generation wedded to Wikileaks.
‘Amounting to torture’
Manning was ‘incredibly smart, understood where he was’ during pre-trial hearings, one witness said
Manning was kept in a military prison in Quantico, Virginia since shortly after his arrest in May 2010, and spent much of that time on Prevention of Injury (POI) status, which entailed checks by guards every five minutes.
He was forced to sleep facing a bright light, was not allowed to lean against the wall during waking hours and had his clothes and glasses taken away for speaking angrily to his guards.
After an international outcry over his treatment, he was transferred to a medium-security prison in Ft. Leavenworth in 2011.
In March 2012, UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Manning after completing a 14-month investigation, and nearly a million people signed a petition demanding Manning be released from the solitary cell.
Emotional pre-trial testimony
Manning has won thousands of supporters, even though the case has been covered little in the US
Michael Ratner, president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin, attended Manning’s pre-trial hearings. The 69-year-old lawyer, who represented Guantanamo prisoners before the US Supreme Court and served as US attorney for Assange, told DW about hearing Manning’s testimony.
“It was for me, watching it, the most devastating day I’ve spent in a courtroom,” he said. “I was in tears from beginning to end, watching this young man, having faced some of the most punitive punishment by our government and yet be able to testify with incredible dignity. He was incredibly smart, understood where he was, what was happening to him.”
Manning has won thousands of supporters, even though the case has been covered little in the US
Daniel Ellsberg, a former US Marine who gained fame when he leaked the Pentagon Papers, an inside history of the Vietnam War, was also a regular observer in the courtroom. He praised Manning for releasing a video that shows US servicemen shooting civilians and journalists from a helicopter.
“Helicopter gunners hunting down and shooting an unarmed man in civilian clothes, clearly wounded, in an area where a squad of American soldiers was about to appear – as the helicopter gunners knew – to take custody of anyone remaining living – that shooting was murder. It was a war crime,” he said.
But apart from these occasional glimpses in court, Bradley Manning remains a mystery, not least because his lawyer has refused to do interviews.
But critics have been quite vocal, in contrast, casting Manning as mentally unstable and reckless. “He apparently grew up in a dysfunctional home and he was very short – five-foot one or two, 100 pounds, and was bullied and so forth, and I feel sorry for him for all those things,” said Robert Turner, co-founder and director of the National Center for Security Law at the University of Virginia. “But that’s no excuse for giving away hundreds of thousands of secrets. To me that’s the equivalent of walking through a military base and just tossing grenades through windows.”
But there is another source that offers a different view. While stationed in Iraq, Manning chatted online with Adrian Lamo, a celebrated computer hacker who had broken into networks at the New York Times, Yahoo and Microsoft. When he learned the FBI was investigating him, Lamo turned himself in, and some critics suspect he then went to work covertly for the federal government – a claim Lamo has denied, though he was the one who reported Manning to federal officials.
Vietnam whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg attended Manning’s hearings
Manning and Lamo corresponded for some time during Manning eight-month deployment near Baghdad, and their chat-logs provide virtually the only personal testimonies from Manning himself to be made public. In them, he describes himself as a sensitive, intelligent, physically small child who initially suffered under an abusive, alcoholic father, before moving to Wales with his mother.
He says he joined the army in order to earn enough money to go to college, and that his computer skills were initially valued. But he felt alienated when he was stationed in Iraq, and struggled with gender identity issues.
“I’m very isolated – lost all of my emotional support channel – family, boyfriend, trusting colleagues. I’m a mess,” he wrote to Lamo. “I’m in the desert, with a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger happy ignorant rednecks as neighbors, and the only safe place I seem to have is this satellite Internet connection.”
Conscience and confession
He then went on to confide his crisis of conscience and his security breaches to Lamo. “If you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time… say, 8-9 months… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain … Or 260,000 state department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world, explaining how the first world exploits the third, … what would you do?”
The helicopter video of a group of men being fired on in Baghdad sent shockwaves across the world
Paterson, a former marine, can relate to what Manning went through in the military. “I didn’t believe what other Marines believed,” he told DW. “I was the only person in the regiment certified with our battlefield tactical nuclear warheads. If anything went wrong in Iraq, it would be my job to nuke them all.”
Paterson responded by becoming the first US soldier to refuse to fight in the Iraq War, was jailed and eventually discharged. Manning faces a much tougher legal battle. He has told his lawyer that he’d like to get a college degree and go into public service – to make a difference. Regardless of how his trial pans out, he may already have done so.
“It’s important that it gets out,” Manning wrote to Lamo. “I feel for some bizarre reason it might actually change something.”
Bradley Manning by Julian Assange
If truth is treason, then those that claim the treason are criminals. I understand that Bradley Manning betrayed the trust that he was given by his country. I have been thinking about this for a long time. Let me tell you a story;
When I was in the Army in 1969, I was against the Vietnam War. I was a thorn in the side of my commander, a captain of a battery of Nike-Hercules unit. We were about 200 soldiers isolated some 50 miles from our headquarters on a mountaintop in rural Korea.
I wrote a letter to a mother from my hometown that had lost a son in Vietnam. The letter was given to the newspapers. I received mail back from that mother and from others that supported my stance against the war. I talked to other people in my unit and gradually became a focal point for dissent against the war in my unit. Needless to say, I was singled out for harassment.
I was busted from E-4 to E-3 a month after going to a promotion board for E-5. The charge was that I had left my duty station on top of the mountain to attend a party in the Administration Area at the bottom of the mountain (I was guilty). I accepted the demotion.
The next Friday at Reveille (the lowering of the colors), I was told to attend the formation. I was on duty at the top of the mountain cleaning space-heaters and was covered in soot. I protested, but was sent down to formation, looking like a chimney sweep.
At the formation, the First Sergeant bellowed, “Persons to be promoted, front and center!” The section chief of the other crew pushed me and said “Get up there Gatto!” I went up front hesitantly. I was wondering if the Captain was going to publically bust me in front of the unit.
To my surprise, he walked up to me as I was standing at attention, covered in soot, and pinned Sergeant Stripes on my collar. I was, needless to say, astonished. When this was done, he whispered in my ear, “I’ll get those Stripes back, Gatto,” Then I realized that I really WAS getting promoted.
After the Colors were lowered and the formation was over, I was told to go to the Orderly Room. I went over and was told to report to the Commander. I walked into the Commanders office and saw the Battalion Commander sitting at the Captains desk. I reported, saluting and standing at attention, black faced in soot. He told me to take a seat.
The Colonel explained that I was promoted to Sergeant the day before I was busted to E-3. Since a Captain can’t bust a Sergeant, the Article 15 was thrown out. The Army is a stickler for regulations.
He then went on to tell me that he knew about my activities against the Vietnam War. He then told me that there was a difference between living in a democratic society and being in the Army. In the Army he told me, I no longer had constitutional rights. I was under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He said there was a difference between a democratic government and a democratic army. He told me about the Soviet army in the 1930’s that tried to establish a democratic army.
They elected their leaders on a regular basis. The experiment was a disaster. He told me that the Soviet Army was so disorganized that Finland kicked their ass. He also told me that he didn’t really support the war in Vietnam either, but that as an officer in the Army he was expected to be apolitical. He said that the people of the United States should dictate what the Army does and that right now they are saying we should fight in Vietnam. When the will of the people changes, we will stop the war. Still he said, we took an oath and that means as long as we wear the uniform, we do as we are told. He also told me that I shouldn’t stop thinking; I should just stop talking in uniform.
I told him that I understood. It made sense. I knew about how the Japanese Army dictated policy to the government that led to war with the United States. I thought long and hard about the military and its role. From that point on, I decided that I would only do my protesting when off-duty and out of uniform, and that’s what I did. (Except when I went to the Stop the War Rally in Washington DC in my fatigues and John Kerry and his boys picked up my firebird and got me out minutes before the Federal Marshalls on horseback arrived, but that’s another story).
Which leads me to Bradley Manning., he was a PFC in the Army with a security clearance. He too had taken an oath. This is the Oath that we took:
“I, XXXXXXXXXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
So in reality, Bradley Manning violated his oath. Remember, this is coming from someone that also violated his oath, and not only that, I fully support what Bradley manning did. I expect that PFC Manning knew exactly what he was doing, and exactly what the consequences would be. This does not mean that I believe he should be exonerated. In fact, I believe he should be charged for leaking classified information because that is exactly what he did. The facts are the facts.
I don’t think that the information that was leaked was harmful to our national security. In fact, I think that the information that Manning leaked actually enhanced our national security. The truth is something that needs to be told. Manning, I believe, is ready to accept whatever punishment is doled out, but I believe that the punishment should be measured. The truth is that Manning put his personal security at risk to tell the public what the truth really was. This is an exceptional person. I don’t believe he is a traitor, rather I think of him as a patriot.
“It hurts especially when the weather changes”, Kim, today a 43-year-old woman, says.