Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Impartial Majesty

Here's the thing: by UCMJ, the guy is guilty as hell of the charges he was convicted of.

And the news, as it has always been, has been and is going to be about this one guy, himself, and all his little quirks and tics and the "inside baseball" of the trial and the implications of the not-guilty verdict on the charge of "aiding the enemy". All sorts of people in the U.S. are going to have little hissy fits because this joker is going to jail for being guilty of the crimes that...well, that he did knowing they WERE crimes under the UCMJ.

But here's the other thing; focusing on Manning the man and his trial, is part of the whole damn problem that Manning's acts and his trial throw a damning light on.

Manning uncovered tens, maybe hundreds, maybe even thousands of cases of every sort of problem and trouble in our country's doings both here and abroad ranging from individual and official malfeasance all the way up to arguable war crimes, doings that had been kept from us, doings that We the People as the putative sovereigns of the United States might have been well advised to be knowledgeable of.

We the People responded to that knowledge with a massive collective yawn and a fucking shrug.

The problem we're facing in this country isn't that PVT Manning is going to lose the rest of his life at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks. Hopefully he knew what he was doing and did it anyway, knowing that he was going to take the fall for the rest of us.

The problem - and hopefully Manning himself would be the first to agree - is that nobody else, nobody named in all those documents he stole, nobody in the ginormous chain of liars, thieves, grifters, thugs, and butchers that got us into Iraq ten years ago, not a goddamn one of the people responsible for all those deaths, all that loss, all that pain and suffering and misery is going to lose so much as a fucking lunch break over their actions.

And I don't know which is more infuriating; that that pissed me the hell off, or that the rest of my country doesn't seem to give a damn.


Lisa said...

Yes, Chief, you've said it like it is -- materially, Manning is guilty, and we all get stuck on the technicalities, and "boo-hoo" that fact of his necessary sentencing.

The depth of this story IS the depth, and we won't go into THAT Sargasso Sea, right?

Podunk Paul said...

ot The poor, stupid kid has suffered enough. “Stupid” because of his faith in the collective conscience of humanity to set things right, because of the trust he put in another hacker (who promptly snitched), and his abject surrender. The kid revealed all that he had pilfered, rather than kept a few embarrassing secrets as bargaining chips in the way that Snowden has apparently done.
At the same time, an “eye for an eye” legal code is necessary to control large and potentially dangerous organizations. Maybe Obama could do what Lincoln did in similar situations. That is, grease machinery will a dollop of human kindness by pardoning the offender.

basilbeast said...

So a Prez Podunk would hand out a pardon?

So would a Prez bb.

We can't comment upon Manning's level of stupidity, but from the outside he seems to have a dollop of morality.

Or conscience, whatever it is that urged him to tell the rest of us, "Hey, the Emperor's nekkid as a Jaybird!"

Emperors do not as a rule appreciate that type of comment.

I'll betcha though, somebody's making some good money out of this sorry business of the NSA. A journalist in New Zealand thinks, with good reason, that the NZ military, who's got it in for him, got his emails from Uncle Guess Who.


Syrbal/Labrys said...

There will be no Presidential pardon for him. Our government is at the "accept no argument or impediment" phase now. They consider lying to the populace part of the prerequisites of being the government, so any and all who dare play Prometheus offering a spark of truth will be chained to a rock and the eagles (or buzzards) summoned.

I fear the average American doesn't react any more to injustice unless it is happening to them personally. By then, of course, as several hundreds of thousands could tell you, it is too damned late.

Podunk Paul said...

Actually, bb, there is precedent for a presidential pardon of soldiers who get into trouble. I roomed with Gene Owen during a cold, hungry winter in Austin. We survived by scrounging Coke bottles for the deposit and on the charity of Gene’s many girlfriends. Gene had been on the cover of Time magazine as the leader of a protest movement at Ft. Polk. Kennedy had called up the reserves and left them sitting with nothing to do for six months or more. Gene was court marshaled and sentenced to the stockade where he was subjected to the sort of treatment Manning received. One of the last things the President did before his assassination was to pardon Gene.

Several years later Gene and his wife, with a little baby in tow, stopped by our house in Huntsville. They were headed to a creative writing school in Idaho. I have since tried to find out what happened to Gene, how his life worked out. But he seems to have vanished.

Barry said...

And Calley basically walked for mass murder, due to President Nixon.

FDChief said...

Lisa: actually, my point is that we get stuck on HIM and his trial and fate, rather than what he brought before us. We've chosen to shoot the messenger and then huddle around discussing the twitchings of his death-throes while his awful message lies scattered all about us, ignored.

Paul: "Suffered" is a relative term; his imprisonment seems to have been punitive but I'm not sure he or we could or should have expected anything else. But, again, the real obscenity here is the degree to which the man's doings and fate have completely overwhelmed what SHOULD have been the elephant in the room; the sordid and (in some cases) simply criminal goings-on his disclosures revealed.

FDChief said...

Barry: Worse; Calley was just the triggerman. His superiors, all the way up to his brigade commander, had guilty knowledge of the crimes and had either failed to act or actively aided in covering them up. The Peers investigation recommended UCMJ action against a total of 28 officers including COL Henderson and LTC Barker, the battalion TF commander.

None of the senior officers were ever convicted. MG Koster, the Americal division commander, was initially charged but was never even read his Article 31; the charges were dropped before initial hearings.

I might add that not a single U.S. troop above the rank of SSG was actually convicted under the UCMJ for the Abu Ghraib tortures in Iraq. No one was even charged for the Reuters journalist shootings, any of the checkpoint shootings.

A 1SG named Hatley was convicted of murdering two POWs in 2007 and a SGT along with several other soldiers of the 502nd PIR for murder/rape. SSG Bales pled guilty to multiple murders in Afghanistan. So far as I know there has not been consequences for any of these troops' commanders.

I get that bad shit happens in war. But when you're trying to do rebellion suppression the Western way, the CNN Era way, not making a speedy and public "example" of your own soldiers who commit crimes as well as the commanders responsible for the soldiers is worse than a crime; it's a mistake. It fires the anger of every local in the region you're trying to pacify. I know that's not just, or right, or fair, but, then, suppressing rebellions isn't about being just, fair, or right.

Podunk Paul said...

This is really off the point – a personal reminisce. But there is no other place to record it, and it seems important.

This afternoon, Mica, her daughter (who was congratulated by the Secretary of Education for the scores on her university exams), Ramon, a grand kid who often outdoes me in his understanding of machines, and I went to visit Clemente. I met the old man several years ago, when he worked for a neighbor clearing land with a machete. Eight or ten hours a day, Clement swung that blade.

Now he had gone blind, totally without light. The doctor says it was due to the sun, but quien sabe?, who knows?

He was sitting in the shade with his wife who is dying of diabetes. She has been reduced to the thinness of a feather. And Clemente laughed with generosity, so glad to see us and me, who can only understand a word of ten in his dialect. Perhaps it was the kind of laughter that Yeats talked about, the laughter of Irish warriors.

And experiencing that, I wonder why we argue among ourselves about who is right and who is wrong.

Lisa said...

Yes Chief, that's it: his awful message lies scattered all about us, ignored.

To Podunk Paul: thank you for sharing Clemente with us; that's it, too. How petty and misguided we are. None so blind as those who will not see, eh?

Today we passed a cemetery off of the beach, and I thought "what a waste of space", and more about our distractions and illusions. The motel had USAToday for the proles, The WSJ for the rest, and again I think: "Auburn's #1" fronts (you guess); economic and national news fronts Mr. Murdoch's paper.

Who's getting ahead and who's falling behind? Again, you guess.