Only people who love totalitarian government could approve of what’s happening to Bradley Manning

I want to ask two questions of those who support what’s being done to Bradley Manning: are there any limits to what you think government should be able to use its sovereign power to get away with; and if so, how – short of whistleblowers like Manning – do you think those limits can ever be enforced? If those who know what’s going on are too scared to reveal it because they know they’ll be utterly crushed, how can you have any faith in what you’re being told? Does patriotism really require covering up for politicians and their lackeys no matter what they do?

How does it not bother you that this man is in the hands of people who think the closing chapters of 1984, the sections where the State breaks Winston Smith, are akin to an instruction manual?

ELSEWHERE: ABC’s Four Corners did a reasonably detailed program on Bradley Manning last month. It’s worth a watch.

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33 responses to “Only people who love totalitarian government could approve of what’s happening to Bradley Manning

  1. Its a friggin’ joke. Bradley manning is a hero. And he’s being fucked over big time.

    Hey did you ever see that FORA TV talk I linked to on my blog a month ago? It has a panel including Daniel Ellesberg, Clay Shirkey and Peter Thiel (who helped found Pay Pal among other things). Ellsberg made some excellent points about manning and compared his case to manning’s saying there was very little difference between them, and if the US military had got its hands on him he would have copped something similar.

    Meanwhile Thiel is on there squirming uncomfortably. Less than a month later one of the companies involved in a series of astro turf campaigns (HBGary Federal) got is arse handed to it on a platter. HBGary Fed was part of a group called Team Themis along with Palantir Technologies, which Thiel set up. (There is a chance Thiel also helped organise Team Themis tho as of yet I don’t know.)

    Palantir was in the process of presenting strategies to harass certain individuals, among them David House, one of Bradley Manning’s strongest supporters.

    And there he was on a panel discussion about Manning, wikileaks and the implications of it all.

    Unreal.

    But yeah manning deserves a fair go.

    I bet he never gets one.

    And since the Obama DoJ has turned even more fascist and anti whistleblower. Thats Change you can believe in.

  2. Splatterbottom

    The more interesting questions are:

    1. Whether and in what circumstance a state should be allowed to keep information confidential?
    2. Are there exceptional circumstances which abrogate such a rule?
    3. How can an indiscriminate data dump fit into any such rules?
    4. Is there any obligation to filter information required of those who choose to publish confidential information?
    5. What sort of treatment should captured traitors be afforded?
    6. What legal recourse does a captured traitor have regarding the circumstances of his detention?
    7. Is getting a in a snit over your drag queen boyfriend sufficient reason to betray your country’s secrets to the world?
    8. If a country has laws limiting disclosure of confidential information, and if you have accepted employment with specific confidentiality requirements do you have any basis for complaint when those laws and requirements are enforced?
    9. Should ordinary citizens of a country whose interests are threatened by such disclosure give shit provided the the traitor is dealt with in accordance with relevant law and is provided with legal representation?

  3. Splatterbottom

    Oh and one more:

    10 Shouldn’t advocates of euthanasia be campaigning for Bradley to be given the appropriate means if he wants to end his life? Surely they should be campaigning for more deaths in custody where that is what the prisoner chooses – this could be a win-win situation for all concerned in Manning’s case!

  4. You make me laugh SB cheers.

  5. jordanrastrick

    1. Whether and in what circumstance a state should be allowed to keep information confidential?
    2. Are there exceptional circumstances which abrogate such a rule?
    3. How can an indiscriminate data dump fit into any such rules?

    Yes, some, yes, interesting because we don’t really have any precedents for “indiscriminate” leaking.

    4. Is there any obligation to filter information required of those who choose to publish confidential information?

    Morally, yes I think such an obligation exists, although that doesn’t necessarily change any view of the morality of others aspects of a case like this, such as the approriate response of the government.

    5. What sort of treatment should captured traitors be afforded?

    Like any other prisoner, they should be treated justly and humanely, with respect for their basic human rights and dignities, regardless from any question regarding their guilt, the morality of their actions or the laws that prohibit them, and the merited punishment if any. It is certainly possible to question whether current incarceration methods, both in general and in a case specifically like this, achieve these aims.

    6. What legal recourse does a captured traitor have regarding the circumstances of his detention?

    Did you mean “does” or “should”?

    The short answer is “the same as any other alleged criminal – see point 5”.

    7. is too troll-y to engage seriously with… 8. is “Yes, depending on the circumstances.”

    9. Should ordinary citizens of a country whose interests are threatened by such disclosure give shit provided the the traitor is dealt with in accordance with relevant law and is provided with legal representation?

    Being dealt with in accordance to the law and being provided with legal representation are necessary but not sufficient conditions for justice. Again, see 5.

    10. Shouldn’t advocates of euthanasia be campaigning for Bradley to be given the appropriate means if he wants to end his life? Surely they should be campaigning for more deaths in custody where that is what the prisoner chooses – this could be a win-win situation for all concerned in Manning’s case!

    Funnily enough, I tried to start a genunine discussion here once about whether the depressed should have just as much right to euthanasia as cancer patients. But no one really seemed to want to take the bait.

  6. Splatterbottom

    Cheers Jules. It was not an entirely serious comment. I am glad that some people around here have a sense of humour.

  7. Splatterbottom wrote:
    Cheers Jules. It was not an entirely serious comment. I am glad that some people around here have a sense of humour.
    My dear Splatter,
    Could you give us a heads-up when you’re being intentionally foolish and unintentionally foolish. :-/

  8. The only question I’m interested in is whether the USA should be allowed to brutally torture one of their own servicemen as an extra-judicial punishment/interrogation method.

    As fascinating as SB’s academic ponderings above may be, I think the fact that a 23 year-old US whistleblower is currently being routinely tortured by the Obama Administration is the somewhat more pressing issue.

    Authoritarian brutality by the US government towards one of its own citizens tends to pique my interest more than meandereing discussions of the underlying philosophies of national security. I’m just weird like that.

  9. Honestly the cables show so many things that cynical people like myself assumed were the case. However there is plenty in there to catch people’s attention, and the only stuff that really does is actually relevant to an open society.

    The argument about leaks being dangerous for sources and protected people is garbage. If the Obama admin was serious about that it’d be making examples of everyone involved in the Valerie Plame affair. That was far worse than the any of the War Diaries or the Cable leaks.

    And it was done with petty political interests in mind, not a concern about the direction of the US foreign policy.

    “The only question I’m interested in is whether the USA should be allowed to brutally torture one of their own servicemen as an extra-judicial punishment/interrogation method. ”

    That does seem the major issue. Manning is in custody awaiting trial, so his custodians have certain responsibilities as representatives of a free “democratic” nation and its legal processes, even the US Courts martial are subject to certain oversight.

  10. “Patriotism the last refuge of a scoundrel”

    No body should be under any illusion what they will do to Manning if convicted of anything. The same right wing paranoia that convicted Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and sent them to the electric chair in the fifties, is still alive and well. You see it from time to time on this ere very blog.

    Manning should receive the Nobel peace prize, but if they’re going to bin him, Bush, Blair, Howard, and Bush’s pet dog and butler should be in the same cell. The attitude of our righteous right wing friends to Manning’s actions revealing what most of us suspected all along, is breath taking. I can only conclude that conservatives, as long as they can have their daily mammon, will turn a blind eye to anything. But I guess being blind is their stock in trade. And blind is forever.

  11. 5. What sort of treatment should captured traitors be afforded?
    6. What legal recourse does a captured traitor have regarding the circumstances of his detention?

    Innocent until SB says so.

  12. Splatterbottom

    Jules: “If the Obama admin was serious about that it’d be making examples of everyone involved in the Valerie Plame affair. “

    Yes, especially Wilson for lying about what he found on his trip, Plame for getting her husband the gig in the first place, Richard Armitage for outing Plame, and Fitzgerald for going on with the investigation long after he knew that Armitage was the source.

  13. Splatterbottom

    Lynot, do you seriously think the Rosenbergs were not guilty?

  14. the fact that a 23 year-old US whistleblower is currently being routinely tortured by the Obama Administration is the somewhat more pressing issue

    This is interesting. When you read about stuff like this report on Manning and the shit that’s going down in Wisconsin and the killing of innocent children in Afghanistan, you have to remind yourself that it’s not Bush in power any more; it’s Obama. Who, when he took office just over two years ago, promised so much change and, dare we say it; hope.

    Makes you wonder who’s really in charge does it not?

  15. The complacency displayed by the US public as a whole is the worst aspect of this episode.

    That’s what makes Obama so dangerous to American liberty – He’s mainstreamed utter servitude to the US Secuirty State as bipartisan policy. Objecting to torture is seen as a totally fringe position in the US now that successive Republican and Democratic administrations have embraced it wholeheartedly.

  16. He’s mainstreamed utter servitude to the US Secuirty State as bipartisan policy
    I used to think it wasn’t Obama pushing this particular agenda, but I’m not so sure anymore. Increasingly in Western politics, it’s becoming difficult to distinguish between parties.

  17. The answer to your two questions, Jeremy, is yes and no respectively. Although I do think the proliferation of citizen journalism will make it more difficult to maintain the secrecy necessary for the latter to occur out of the public view.

    While I admire Manning’s courage I do feel a tad uncomfortable about turning him into a patriot or hero. The release of highly classified information has the capacity to do enormous damage to a nation should there be a subversive motive behind the release. Freedom of expression isn’t absolute and I’m not sure where the line is. Not that I’m suggesting anything subversive in the Manning case.

    The treatment of Manning by the US is Guantanamo like and a disgrace. All the rhetoric from Obama pre the election on torture has amounted to nothing. A piece last year from Salon.com on this matter is worth a read.

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/14/manning/index.html

    Wired have a list of the charges Manning faces:

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/03/bradley-manning-more-charge/

  18. “Lynot, do you seriously think the Rosenberg’s were not guilty?”

    I don’t know and neither do you. The facts of the case, have been lost in the mists of time. Even if they were guilty, they didn’t deserve to die in the electric chair. Confessions in hindsight, death bed, or what ever means nothing. I have been around long enough to know, people will say and do anything if the reasons fit the objective.

    The U.S. like you is paranoid about the “Reds under the bed” bogey man. The Rosenberg’s are no more or less guilty than politicians who have sent innocent patriotic saps to wars based on a pack of lies.

    You really don’t get it do you SB? Our whole history is based on a litany of lies and deceit, but you, really do think it’s only the left that has a mortgage on it. Please feel free to insult my intelligence at any time, by telling me Gary Powers who flew spy missions over the U.S.S.R. was innocent and was just doing his job. The principle remains the same, something impossible for you to grasp.

  19. Splatterbottom

    Lynot there is no doubt that the idiot left tried to pretend that communist traitors weren’t really traitors. There is no need for that now. Give up mate. Communism was an unmitigated evil supported by an army of depraved leftists who should have known better. The lesson to be drawn is to avoid being duped by ideologies. Here’s a little ditty for you:

    “Lefists slither on a slippery slope
    To a Neverland of change and hope,
    That stinking sewer of unreasoned dreams,
    Of fine intentions and failed schemes”

    I’m not doubting your sincerity, just your judgment. You should free your mind of its ideological shackles.

    Also, I don’t think I could possibly insult your intelligence Lynot, but what does Gary Powers have to do with anything? He wasn’t betraying his country. He served it.

  20. The Rosenbergs can’t be compared to Bradley manning tho, Ellsberg is a far better comparison.

  21. ” The lesson to be drawn is to avoid being duped by ideologies. ”

    Says the paranoid right wing zealot.

    Jesus wept SB if you are going to throw shit like that you have to be pure yourself. You are as far to the right as you perceive me to be to the left.
    You are not in any position to make any judgement calls, for that, you have to be a centrist, which you are clearly not.

    Sincerity.
    Many a time I have made a comparison between nobility of sacrifice and happiness of rebellion to find out which one is nobler and more beautiful; but until now I have distilled only one truth out of the whole matter, and this truth is sincerity, which makes all our deeds beautiful and honorable.

    KAHIL GIBRAN.

    The paranoid right who rule with force
    Pillage and plunder and show no remorse
    They will lie and cheat to get their evil way
    But that was then but not today.

    Lynot.

  22. “The Rosenberg’s can’t be compared to Bradley manning tho, Ellsberg is a far better comparison.”

    Of course they can and I did. From my own personal point of view, Manning is worse than the Rosenberg’s, he did it for money. The only point being missed is as far as I am concerned is, if you castigate Manning for whistle blowing you must be in agreement with what governments are doing to us in our own names. Simple really no in depth analysis is required.

  23. Splatterbottom

    Jules, Ellsberg was acquitted on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct. Also the stuff he leaked was four years old. I suspect the court thought he was a worthy citizen and found a way to let him off. I doubt Manning will get the benefit of any leeway of choice.

    Lynot there is no “right”, only the left and the rest. Its the difference between “leftist thought” and normal thought. Of course the fact that I criticise the left as well as everybody else will upset those monochrome minds lost in lefty la-la land.

    Khalil Gibran! Really? I get that his puerile platitudes appeal to immature idealists and lovestruck 15 year-olds. What’s your excuse? Tell me lynot, does the sincerity of the suicide bomber make her actions beautiful and honourable?

    “if you castigate Manning for whistle blowing you must be in agreement with what governments are doing to us in our own names. Simple really no in depth analysis is required.”

    And no logic apparently. See my questions above, turn your brain on and think. The issue are a little more complex than that.

  24. “And no logic apparently. See my questions above, turn your brain on and think. The issue are a little more complex than that.”

    At least my logic is based on a bit of pathos, feeling, sprinkled with a bit of common dog. Unlike you of course, who only sees what most uber conservative’s see through rose coloured glasses.

    You have as usual turned the whole debate into one of the communist hate fests you are famous for. The sorry part is, you don’t even know what a communist is. Sad for you I know, your opinion on Manning is in the minority, just as well. SB the world has moved on, the communists are all gone. Also sad is the governments, banks, and big business you have been defending for so long, and found to be rotten to their foundation, have been exposed. Deal with it.

  25. there is no “right”, only the left and the rest. Its the difference between “leftist thought” and normal thought

    Where do you get this rubbish? Non-leftist thought is only “normal” to you because it coincides with what you believe. You’ve self-servingly designated “leftist thought” as non-normal based on nothing more than that you don’t tend to think the way leftists do.

    By definition, according to your statement above, “leftist” thought is not normal. It can’t be a coincidence that you come down on the opposite side of the fence to leftists on almost everything, can it? You certainly couldn’t be seen to agree with them if their thought isn’t “normal”, could you? Sounds like you’ve got your own ideological blinkers to worry about then, so quit complaining that others are blinded by ideology.

    It would be just as arrogant, idiotic and unprovable for leftists to proclaim that there is only leftist thought and “abnormal” thought. It’s just completely moronic and the absolute pinnacle of egotism to say “I believe X to be reasonable. Ergo, anyone who doesn’t can’t be normal.” I’m sure we’re all happy to leave you to your delusions about precisely how “normal” your thought is, but don’t expect us to subscribe to them.

  26. Splatterbottom

    Lynot: “the world has moved on, the communists are all gone.”

    No, they have just re-branded in an effort to mask the stench that accompanies that name. These days they and their running dogs call themselves “progressives”. Now even that name is tainted. But underneath is the same foundational flaw – a misunderstanding of human nature.

    Buns, “leftist thought” is a term most commonly applied by leftists to their intellectual excrescences presumably to distinguish their wittering drivel from normal or logical thought that the rest of the world gets by with. Just google the term and you will see that it is generally a badge worn with pride. That doesn’t mean that leftist thought is entirely pathological. There are many issues it manages to get right in spite of its inherent defects.

    “It can’t be a coincidence that you come down on the opposite side of the fence to leftists on almost everything, can it? “

    The fact is that leftists often get things right and, at least broadly, I agree with them. Here are some non-trivial examples:

    Treatment of Refugees.
    Gay marriage.
    Uranium mining.
    Regulation of anti-competitive behaviour.
    Going to war with Iraq.

    Also, some differences are a matter of degree, such as welfare, public health and education.

    The real distinction is not between left and right but between tyranny and anarchy. In between their is a place where free speech, representative government and the rule of law co-exist and that is something many leftists and others can agree upon. A lot of the hotly contested issues are in fact within that sphere and the perceived differences are really not that great. In that spirit I listed some of the good things leftists have done for Australia. A balanced view needs to recognise these benefits as well as the defects that come with the territory.

  27. Yes, fine. But there are just as many folks out there who identify as “conservative” and/or “right wing”, your denials notwithstanding, and those folks are every bit as capable of groupthink as leftists. And no one group has got a monopoly on “normal”.

  28. “No, they have just re-branded in an effort to mask the stench that accompanies that name. These days they and their running dogs call themselves “progressives”. Now even that name is tainted. But underneath is the same foundational flaw – a misunderstanding of human nature.”

    Bollocks! I could say the same about rancid right wing fascists. Some of whom, now call themselves conservatives. Who by their very nature if, they thought they could get away with it, would be no different than the communists you have a fixation about. The fact is, the “Progressives”are the only thing standing in the way of giving your mob carte blanche to destroy the planet.

  29. narcoticmusing

    Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. – Thoreau

  30. Splatterbottom

    Too transcendental for me, Narcotics.

    In that case we would all be in jail all of the time.

  31. narcoticmusing

    I’m pretty sure that was Thoreau’s point… ie you aren’t free if you can be unjustly imprisoned…

  32. Splatterbottom

    Thoreau was exaggerating to make a point. Freedom is a question of fact and degree. If there is a regular practice of arbitrary imprisonment then your freedom is limited. A person’s imprisonment may be unjust if they are imprisoned pending trial where there is a strong prima facie case against them and they are a flight risk, even though they are later acquitted. That doesn’t mean everyone else is not “free”. Freedom is not an absolute concept. There are degrees of freedom. Your freedom is always limited to some extent, and to that extent you are not free.

  33. narcoticmusing

    Agreed – although I don’t think Thoreau was referring to procedural issues (eg bailments) within the justice system, more the concept of political prisoners etc.

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