Friday, August 23, 2013

Chris Hedges and Chris Floyd on the Manning sentence

Chris Hedges on the 35 year sentence handed down to Chelsea (Bradley) Manning:
Although it was less than I thought the judge was going to throw at him, my gut reaction was quite emotional. I was quite upset. I think that that’s because this is part of a larger process by which any attempt to shine a light on the inner workings of power is not only being shut down, but those with a conscience who attempt to inform the wider public of, in the case of Manning, crimes that have been committed—war crimes—have become, in this society, criminals. The whole moral and legal system has been inverted. … We are seeing all of the traditional checks by which we are able to thwart government tyranny ripped down. So I look at what happened today as a kind of process, and a very depressing process, whereby not only civil liberties are shredded, but any capacity for the investigation and uncovering of the abuse of power is effectively thwarted.
On his blog Empire Burlesque Chris Floyd  points out that Manning has been given a far harsher sentence for revealing war crimes than Lt. William Calley and his My Lai massacrers were given for actually committing war crimes.  Floyd writes:
35 years for leaking documents -- while the mass murderers, drone bombers and death-squadding assassins of the Potamac Empire live free in pomp and privilege.
In an earlier piece Chris Floyd writes:
Reality in such systems -- systems that have openly demonstrated their willingness to torture people, lock them up for years without trial or kill them outright at the arbitrary order of the leader and his minions -- is not a TV show, not a movie with well-marked 'character arcs' ending in triumph for the bruised but unbowed hero. It's a dirty, ugly, degrading business, an uneven fight, pitting unarmed truth against vast, implacable, dehumanizing forces of violent domination. It is a war with many bitter defeats, both outwardly and in the souls of those caught up in it. It involves loss, destruction, humiliation, torment, ruin and doubt. There are no "heroes" in it, only human beings: some of them fighting to hang on to their humanity as best they can -- and others who have surrendered their humanity to the forces of domination.

Bradley Manning doesn't have to be a "hero." He doesn't have to make a stirring speech to give people a vicarious thrill for a moment before they click over to check their Facebook page or pop in another box set. He has shown clearly that he stands on the side of humanity -- and now he is paying the price for it. The very fact of his case has revealed the true nature of the system arrayed against him, and again.
In a  longer piece in Truthdig Chris Hedges writes:
Wednesday’s sentencing marks one of the most important watersheds in U.S. history. It marks the day when the state formally declared that all who name and expose its crimes will become political prisoners or be forced, like Edward Snowden, and perhaps Glenn Greenwald, to spend the rest of their lives in exile. It marks the day when the country dropped all pretense of democracy, obliterated checks and balances under the separation of powers and rejected the rule of law. It marks the removal of the mask of democracy, already a fiction, and its replacement with the ugly, naked visage of corporate totalitarianism. State power is to be, from now on, unchecked, unfettered and unregulated. And those who do not accept unlimited state power, always the road to tyranny, will be ruthlessly persecuted.

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