Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. The Army private who passed classified documents to WikiLeaks, which revealed behind-the-scenes details of U.S. diplomatic policy and involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - and whose "extreme solitary confinement" in prison was condemned by human rights groups worldwide - will be eligible for parole in eight years.
Meanwhile, the people who started a war of aggression against a country that had not attacked us, resulting in over 36,000 American casualties and the deaths or relocation of over 2 million Iraqis - and who vigorously implemented and defended a policy of detainee abuse and torture that turned our once-respected country into an international pariah and used 9/11 as an excuse to turn the Land of the Free into an intelligence security state - are walking the streets as free people. Those folks include former president George W. Bush, former vice-president Dick Cheney and former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, at the very least. Not one member of this elite club, consisting of what even a generous reading of international law would consider war criminals, has ever been prosecuted, other than in toothless, symbolic "trials" in a few foreign countries.
It is the Obama administration, of course, that prosecuted Bradley Manning, not Bush. That's the same Obama administration that put heavy pressure on Spain to quash an impending war crimes trial against Bush administration members in early 2009. The Obama team was helped in its campaign to suppress the trial by several Republican members of Congress (seems that bipartisanship comes easier when the subject is empire and future defense spending). And it was Obama who, two years ago, nearly bungled the case against Manning by announcing that the army private "broke the law" (before a trial date had even been set). The president also incorrectly told a reporter that Manning was prosecuted, while Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, was not because, "What Ellsberg released wasn't classified in the same way." In fact, reports Birgitta Jonsdottir in The Guardian, the classification for the Pentagon Papers was higher than those leaked by Manning. And yet Manning gets 35 years. It's hard for an old progressive like me to ponder, never mind admit, but Obama now makes Nixon's infamous ruthlessness toward political enemies seem like a mere snit.
It's not just here, either. This week in England, government threats forced The Guardian to destroy hard drives containing information it had received from NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Their crimes, whether you like Manning and Snowden, hate them or don't care, consisted of exposing citizens of a democracy to the truth of how their government is operating. Manning's ordeal and, now his sentence, are insults to democracy that fly in the face of this nation's better instincts. American citizens deserve a hell of a lot better.
The same "gridlock" that confirmed Anthony Foxx 100-0? A non-lazy writer would have examined Watt's…
The things you find on flickr...!
Wow, that graphic of the toy soldier and the red Christmas ball is fantastic. Thanks!