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

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  •  Response (1+ / 0-)
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    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-)
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      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

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      •  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

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