Thursday, August 1, 2013

THE NATION on Bradley Manning.

Excerpt from Chase Madar's article in THE NATION "The Trials of Bradley Manning:
There is a proper response to the hypocritical and dysfunctional inconsistency of our secrecy laws, and that would be the swift declassification of some 99 percent of our state secrets (government documents are classified at the rate of about 1.83 million per week), with real security for the tiny remainder of legitimate secrets (nuclear launch codes, for example). And for the record, neither Julian Assange nor Bradley Manning has ever called for “total transparency,” a straw-man position often attributed to them by the self-important guardians of extreme government secrecy.

Instead of more open government, we are getting more secrecy, more prosecutions of whistleblowers and the altogether creepy “insider threat” program, which requires officials to report on the infosec failings of colleagues or face prosecution. (This institutionalization of mutual suspicion is not limited to national security organs but extends to agencies like the Education Department and the Social Security Administration.) Progressives who na├»vely believe the solution is more congressional oversight should note that many in Congress have been pushing for even more leak probes and harsher prosecutions than the president.

Obama has launched eight prosecutions based on the Espionage Act of 1917—more than all previous presidents combined, who together have managed only three such trials. Maybe he feels he has nothing to lose, since this clampdown placates the national security apparatus and wimp-proofs his right flank, while those who care about civil liberties were probably not going to vote Republican anyway. As a result, the former constitutional law professor who ran as the whistleblowers’ best friend in 2008 is now their scourge.

It would take great powers of imagination to blame any part of our recent military debacles on leaks and whistleblowers. If someone had leaked the full National Intelligence Estimate on Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, would more people have decided—like then-Senator Bob Graham, who voted against the invasion after reading the unredacted report—to oppose the war before it began? If the Afghan War logs had somehow come out during Obama’s months of deliberation before escalating that conflict, would he have made the same decision—one that has yielded only thousands more civilian and military casualties?

But it is Bradley Manning we have put on trial, not the impresarios of war, not the CIA torturers or their lawyers. The Iraq War, which began with a lurid overture of secrecy and lies, is now getting its dissonant coda: a private court-martialed for telling the truth, a trial unfolding behind a thick wall of official secrecy, in which the court’s media center was, on the day of the prosecution’s closing statement, patrolled by armed soldiers peering over the shoulders of typing reporters. “Pfc. Manning was not a humanist. He was a hacker,” said prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein. “He was not a whistleblower. He was a traitor.” The past decade has witnessed the carnage unleashed by militarized cluelessness. In the story of Bradley Manning, who has been the ethical citizen and who the rampaging criminals?

The full article can be read at http://www.thenation.com/article/175512/trials-bradley-manning?page=0,0#axzz2akyLbxf1

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