One phase of Bradley Manning’s torture is coming to an end and another is beginning. PFC Bradley Manning did this country and the world a great service when he leaked footage of the carnage carried out by the United States in Iraq. Manning’s video showed Iraqi journalists and a family with small children under fire from an apache helicopter. The audio of the footage featured the servicemen who we are told to worship laughing about the fate of the people they had killed.
The only remarkable thing about this footage is that we were able to see it. Occupation always brings with it atrocities and the occupation of Iraq was no different in that regard. What is different and much worse about the United States is that lawlessness has now become perfected and normalized under the Obama administration.
George W. Bush began the process of destroying the rule of law as it relates to the executive branch. As he said, he was “the decider” and his administration worked tirelessly to make the presidency unaccountable to any other branch of government or to the American people. Beginning in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks he claimed that executive privilege gave him the right to declare anyone an enemy combatant who immediately lost the right to due process. He invented the “black sites” in nearly every part of the globe where enemy combatants were subjected to torture. These actions were counter to all moral norms, international law and the Geneva Conventions. Before the Bush era, these standards kept even the worst American intentions in check.
“Barack Obama has done more damage to civil liberties than any other president in American history.”
Bush committed these crimes with the help of craven Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, who were informed of torture and rendition and gave full approval. Not only did they prove themselves to be as evil as Bush but their incompetence deprived them of the ability to even exact political advantage when the time was ripe.
The worst aspects of the Bush administration were not undone by Barack Obama and they were perfected and made a permanent part of United States government policy. Simply put, Barack Obama has done more damage to civil liberties than any other president in American history.
Bradley Manning is but one victim of the Obama regime. The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistle blowers than any other president. Bush claimed the right to capture and torture but he didn’t claim the right to kill at will like his predecessor. Even Dick Cheney didn’t have a Tuesday kill list meeting.
Manning was held for nearly three years without being charged, and in solitary confinement. He was forced to sleep without clothing or blankets, and was denied visits, even from members of Congress. This treatment has always been considered torture and the fact that it was meted out by Obama shouldn’t change the definition.
“He only revealed what his country was doing.”
Manning’s torture, from being charged with aiding and abetting the enemy to solitary confinement, can be laid at the feet of Barack Obama. Bradley Manning did not kill anyone, he didn’t lie to the people or the media. He only revealed what his country was doing. In his words, he wanted to “spark a domestic debate of the role of the military and foreign policy in general and cause society to reevaluate the need and even desire to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore their effect on people who live in that environment every day.”
Those words are not particularly noteworthy. They describe a rather pedestrian and sensible desire to do what any citizen of a democracy should want to do. Yet in this era of ever expanding imperialism and the crushing of people here and abroad those words are dangerous.
The Obama administration decided to crush Bradley Manning’s spirit and to make an example of him. They still hope to find some way of prosecuting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and post his head on a spike alongside Manning’s. After PFC Manning spends the rest of his life in jail, no one is likely to consider revealing even the most innocuous information to the public.
As Barack Obama makes good on the fantasies of Reagan and the Bushes, it would be important to know that his crimes might be revealed. Instead he has made certain that they will remain secret forever. Manning and Assange are not only the best heroes but they will be the last too.