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writing for godot

Dirty Little Secrets

Written by Richard Raznikov   
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 20:59

Today’s one-sided discussion begins with three questions. You may consider them hypothetical. You may consider them anything you want. You’re probably in the privacy of your own home, just you and your computer, and the FBI’s ‘carnivore’ spy system for reading your mail.

One, if a person is detained for nineteen months, most of it in solitary confinement in a tiny concrete cell, stripped and made to standing naked for hours at a time, subjected to temperature extremes, awakened in the middle of the night, bombarded with loud music, and held in conditions of almost constant light such that it becomes impossible to know whether it is day or night –– under those conditions, it that person likely to be emotionally and mentally able to assist in his own defense?

Two, if such a person is repeatedly attacked in the mass media by commentators and by the highest officials in the land as a traitor who deserves to be executed for treason –– is that person likely to be given a fair and impartial trial?

Three, multiple choice. In the situation just described, we are talking about: (a) Lori Berenson in Peru; (b) Nelson Mandela in apartheid South Africa; (c) anyone in Pinochet’s Chile; (d) Bradley Manning in the U.S.; (e) all of the above.

Need more time? The rest of us will wait while you undergo a strip search.

The military trial of Bradley Manning has begun, the Obama government having decided it had had enough fun screwing with his head to destroy his ability to defend himself, much less function on any meaningful level. His treatment while in custody brought rebuke from the U.N. Human Rights Commission, which described it as torture but, then, the U.S. is special and those rules don’t actually apply to us.

America has changed a little over the past forty years. Once we were a nation with values and a sense of perspective. When soldiers blew the whistle on then perpetrators of the massacre at My Lai, the military prosecuted the killers, not the informants.

Bradley Manning, assuming he’s done what, according to most accounts, he’s admitted to doing, released thousands of ‘classified’ documents. The very first may have been the video shot from a helicopter gunship as U.S. troops gleefully murdered a dozen peaceful, unarmed civilians, including a couple of Reuters journalists and a man who had stopped his vehicle to assist the wounded.

The U.S. government was not interested in prosecuting the killers, however. Just as it had in sweeping the shocking revelations of Abu Ghraib torture under the carpet, the authorities were more upset by the leaks than they were by the perps.

It is doubtful that anything Manning disclosed to Wikileaks jeopardized any American lives, although the government certainly says it has. The real ‘national security’ placed in danger is that of the government from its own people. Barack Obama, no more than George Bush, does not want you to know what our ‘enemies’ already know.

Most of the documents leaked by Manning were marked ‘Secret’. This is the lowest grade of secrecy given. The critical nature of it was underscored by that fact that documents so marked are available to more than 30,000 army personnel. Not exactly Joint Chiefs ‘eyes only’ material.

That’s not the point, of course. In an age when secrecy of any kind, especially government secrecy, is no longer realistic, an empire’s backstage manipulations are bound to be disclosed and diplomatic duplicity, long the hallmark of departments of state in every nation, is now a very different and far more dangerous breed than it has been in the industrial age.

The U.S. government’s torture and trial of Bradley Manning is designed not to remediate a wrong but to frighten anyone else who might be tempted to disclose dirty little secrets. It’s fruitless. Murder will out, as Shakespeare observed, and it is more true now than ever before.

Whether the American people will learn anything and take appropriate action to reclaim their country remains to be seen, but the rest of the world now knows America for what it has become. your social media marketing partner
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