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View Diary: On Bradley Manning and Heroism (124 comments)

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  •  Fundamentally on target (5+ / 0-)

    Bradley Manning should be court martialed under the due process of the UMCJ and given proportional punishment.

    Assange was a medium, just like the consortium of newspapers that have be vetting the cables that are being published.

    The deeper issue is this.  You don't classify something secret and give 2 million individuals clearances to see it.  Either it was not secret at all, or secret only within a brief time span, or it was secret enough to protect without interfering in the functioning of the government.  And most of what has come out should have been declassified even before Manning leaked it.  And some major parts of what has been released has already been leaked "on background" to US and other media.

    We have a fundamental structural problem with our national security apparatus.  It was designed 63 years ago and has not changed much since.  It was designed to handle a continuing Cold War, which ended 21 years ago.  It has too many people involved, requiring too many clearances, gumming up the analysis of too much raw data, and providing too many opportunities for the leaking or espionage of information that truly affects US national security.

    That must be dealt with quickly or another person acting like Bradley Manning could very well have access to something substantial and not have the good sense to leak it to someone like Assange, who in turn would not have the good sense to let members of the world press in countries sympathetic to the US publish it.

    In reading the released cables, there are some diplomats I am proud of, who seem to be delivering straightforward information to others in the State Department.  There are others who seem to be grinding out an agenda (the cables about Bolivia from the Bush administration were, er, interesting).  There is a lot of peer-to-peer contacts with embassies of other countries in the same city.  And there are issues that I was not aware of that now are critical to look at; the latest is the concern that Africa is becoming the location of drug networks marketing to Europe (and possibly the US) and that those networks are rapidly developing with indigenous drug lords.  As the formal economy continues in crisis, the underground economy grows; people try to survive.

    There has been a lot of value in the information in the published cables.  Go browse what the Guardian has released thus far to understand a lot more about the world we live in.

    But this diary fundamentally gets the issue of Assange and Manning right.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 06:07:22 PM PST

    •  fundamental problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, worldlotus

      You write, "We have a fundamental structural problem with our national security apparatus."

      True, but it's not the one you describe. The fundamental structural problem we have is that we have a secretive apparatus with no respect for human rights or the sovereignty of other countries. We have a national security apparatus that is a metastatic military cancer not only on the world but also on our own body politic.

      It needs to be cleansed with the disinfectant of exposure.

      •  The fundamental structural problem (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vcmvo2, worldlotus

        ...are the unintended consequences of creating large secret apparatus with less and less real Congressional oversight.  And giving that apparatus the authority to act contrary to international law in matters of human rights.  The issue of sovereignty is a less simple one; intelligence by its nature, and even when Franklin was ambassador to Paris for example, infringes on sovereignty to a certain degree.  And so does asking other countries to observe their commitments to human rights agreements (even if our own record were spotless, this would still be the case).

        There have been two books that I have found helpful in thinking about these issues:

        Jackson Lears, Rebirth of a Nation: the Making of Modern American, 1877-1920, which deals with the rise of American imperial militarism (the external frontier) as opposed to Manifest Destiny (the internal frontier).

        James Carroll, House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power, in which the son of the first director of the Defense Intelligence Agency describes how he, his dad, and the Pentagon all grew up together and how the mindset of the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex developed.  Carroll, currently a writer for the Boston Globe, opposed the Vietnam War even as his dad was gathering intelligence related to that war and was an ordained priest as a result of the witness of Daniel and Phillip Berrigan in the antiwar movement.  He dissects the history of the Pentagon in a way I have not seen done before.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 06:37:15 PM PST

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        •  Response (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          worldlotus

          This seems somewhat different from the way you initially framed the fundamental problem. And I obviously am in far more agreement with this framing.

          I also realize that my negative reaction to how I construed your initial framing caused me to pass over somewhat your subsequent paragraphs with which I have significant agreement.

          I still significantly disagree with your contention that this diary fundamentally gets the issues of Assange and Manning right. While we would always want purity of background and purity of intent in those who take on the Leviathan, we know that we are all human. My understanding is that Manning, after having joined the military, saw that things weren't as he had believed. This appears to be a true act of conscience, however messy it may be.

          Daniel Ellsberg said on a recent Colbert Report:

          If Bradley Manning did what he’s accused of, then he’s a hero if mine and I think he did a great service to this country. We’re not in the mess we’re in, in the world, because of too many leaks. . . . I say there should be some secrets. But I also say we invaded Iraq illegally because of a lackof a Bradley Manning at that time.

          •  Acts of conscience (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            vcmvo2, worldlotus

            ...sometimes require that they go to jail for the law they intentionally broke and witness to their conscience from jail.  The classic example is Martin Luther King, or Phillip Berrigan.  Manning most likely is being charged for what he actually did.  And it is most likely a violation of the UMCJ.  The legal procedure that as a soldier he was obliged to follow is the one BBB outlined.

            Assange on the other hand has not been charged with anything related to the transmission of the documents to the consortium of newspaper.  Nor have the newspapers been charged yet.  In these cases, venue is everything.  Being charged for releasing UK secrets is a much different situation than being charged in the US.  The UK has a legislatively passed State Secrets Law.  The US executive has been asserting state secrets as a principle in responses to the US courts, no doubt with the hope of getting it blessed by the courts.

            And Ellsberg is correct.  And Ellsberg could have gone to jail if the prosecution had wanted him to and been competent.  And if there was a jury in the US who would have convicted him.

            50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

            by TarheelDem on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 07:27:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Jail & acts of conscience (0+ / 0-)

              But you don't believe that Martin Luther king, Jr. and Phillip Berrigan believed they deserved to be in jail for what they done, right?

              The point—or at least an important point—of such acts is to highlight the failings of the justice system. The risk is taken to make a larger, moral point.

              When the Wobblies launched their free speech fights in the early part of the 20th century and filled the jails, it wasn't because they felt they deserved to be put in jail for exercising their rights. It was to shame and burden the government that would deny them their rights.

              And while Ellsberg no doubt recognized that his actions might have put him at legal risk, I'm sure he would argue that any crime he committed in his effort to unveil the truth paled next to the massive crime that was the Vietnam War.

              Now, if your point is that different legal issues are raised by the what Manning and Assange did, then of course that is true.

              I'm not making a legal point. I'm saying that a system that allows the architects of torture and leaders who launched illegal wars to escape accountability has no moral standing to then bring the hammer of the law down on Bradley Manning for revealing its secrets.

              •  Sure they did (0+ / 0-)

                They understood that the law is the law and that the moral act aims to change the law by showing that it is immoral.  And sometimes that happens through legislation, and sometimes that happens through direct action that lands you in jail.  Read their writings.

                I'm not sure what "deserve" means in this context.

                What it does require is self-consciousness and a sympathetic organization that can provide support and with whom one is a colleague -- that is, a nucleus for a movement.

                I don't see that happening with Manning.  I already see it happening with Assange.

                Your point about leaders who launched illegal wars and escape accountability is in itself on point, but we have not yet seen the movement or the individual stand up to challenge that.  Persistently challenge it like the Madres of the disappeared in Argentina, or like Daniel Choi with Don't Ask Don't Tell.

                WikiLeaks could be a medium for whistleblowers who have incriminating evidence, but we lack a movement that will go ten years if need be calling for accountability.  There hasn't been that consensus or passion or dedication yet on that issue.  But maybe we are at a logistical disadvantage compared to the movements I used as examples.  They did not have to contend with exercising democratic rights in a homeland security state.  With a media designed to black out the existence of dissent.  And vigilantes ready to punish dissent in a way not seen since the civil rights era.  This is all new, slightly disorienting to folks used to gentler times.

                50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

                by TarheelDem on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 09:24:46 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

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