Today has been crazy busy, so no posting except for my column this week, which should piss a few people off.
It’s about Pfc Bradley Manning, the former Army intelligence officer who leaked some things (actually many thing) to Wikileaks that were very bad or very good, depending on your outlook. I side with the latter viewpoint.
Manning is the U.S. Army Pfc who was arrested in May 2010 for allegedly passing classified secrets to Wikileaks, which published many of them. Manning, who was unhappy with his life in the military, was accused by prosecutors of being motivated primarily by this unhappiness. Manning and his supporters argue that he motivated by the very things I mentioned at the beginning of this piece: a desire to expose the hypocrisy of a military system that professed to be using troops to defend truth, freedom and the American way, but which instead was wasting untold military lives to wage wars which would, as we all know now, end up being next to pointless.
But Manning exposed more than just a government and military willing to kill its own for ephemeral gains. He also exposed needless deaths of Iraqi and Afghani civilians, including the May, 4, 2009 Garanal massacre, a B-1 bombing raid which is said to have killed between 86-147 Afghan civilians. This was a war crime, pure and simple.
American government and military officials say that Manning put American military lives in danger because of the anger these kinds of leaks engendered in local populations. A more critical reading of these incidents brings up more important questions, including the most important one of all: Aren’t we supposed to be the good guys? All it takes is a few mass murders by our military, and the sheen of righteousness in which they cloak themselves washed away.
Manning had issues and we may never know how pure his motivations were. But that is not relevant. The information he released showed an American government and military, which were telling the U.S. public one thing, while committing war crimes in the Middle East. The Manning leaks also show a military effort that was often haphazard and at odd with its stated goals. If you cannot work up a tear or two over civilian casualties in war, how about working some up over dead soldiers who were fighting and dying for little more than window dressing meant to sell the war to a skeptical public at home?
Sound familiar? It should if you know recent American history at all, because of a psychiatrist and private contractor with the Rand Corporation named Daniel Ellsberg who, in 1971, released the Pentagon Papers showing that the U.S. government basically had no idea what it was doing in the Vietnam War. Those papers were published by no less than the New York Times, and the incident is considered a seminal moment in free speech and newspaper publishing in America.
You can read the rest here.