08 Jul 2010

Manning Didn’t Understand the Rules of the Game

Big Brother, Foreign Policy 6 Comments

Glenn Greenwald comments on the government’s formal charges against accused WikiLeaks informant Bradley Manning:

The 22-year-old whistle-blower faces 52 years in prison….I just wanted to review the contemporary rules governing the Rule of Law in the U.S.:

* If you torture people or eavesdrop on Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law, you receive Look-Forward Imperial Immunity.

* If you shoot and kill unarmed rescuers of the wounded while occupying their country and severely wound their unarmed children sitting in a van — or if you authorize that conduct — your actions are commended.

* If you help wreck the world economy with fraud and cause hundreds of millions of people untold suffering, you collect tens of millions of dollars in bonuses.

* If you disclose to the world evidence of war crimes, government lawbreaking, or serious corruption, or otherwise embarrass the U.S., you will be swiftly prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and face decades in prison.

I hope those rules are clear because, as this all shows, Justice is Blind and We’re All Equal Before the Law.  In America — clearly — these are not mere slogans….Perhaps Manning should have tortured people or criminally eavesdropped on Americans as he leaked these documents; then he could have availed himself of that sweet Presidential protective shield.

6 Responses to “Manning Didn’t Understand the Rules of the Game”

  1. Jeremy says:

    Greenwald is just about the only honest progressive in the media. I thoroughly enjoy reading his writings, and enjoy even more reading the sycophants try to take him down but to no avail. He skewers the propaganda and those that peddle it. Hardly any of us agree with his economic views, but we should all agree on the civil liberties aspects of his writings. And he knocks those out of the park with regularity.

  2. JimS says:

    According to this logic, McChrystal was within his rights to say what he and his subordinates said about the administration and the operations in Afghanistan. I don’t disagree with what was said, but it is inappropriate for a general and his staff to do so, just as it is inappropriate for a PFC to direct policy.

    I realize that most here are pacifists, anti-military or anti government. I would say I’m not a big gov fan either, but most haven’t an inkling about how the military operates. Manning was under contract. Manning is not in a position to critique policy or actions. He could have sought redress through his chain of command and left the servoce or had his role minimized or changed, or if he found his servcice so objectionable, he could have served the remainder of his contract in prison (That certainly would have been less than 52 years). All of these are viable options, as far as I am concerned.

    According to his general orders, he could have refused to obey any unlawful order. In fact, he is obligated to do so. Manning was not directly involved in any of the incidences Greenwald cites. He essentially stole, and I believe the evidence will bear out that he did so for profit, that is, he sold the acquired material. That is not the action of a whistle blower just a thief trying to make a buck.

    If Manning is a hero, why not the Ft. Hood shooter?

    • Jeremy says:

      I agree that if he did indeed make a profit on this information then it really raises some questions.

      Ignoring that for the moment, how would you suggest the secret working of elites reach the light of day? Someone like Manning has to commit a crime.

      I don’t think that’s the point of Glenn’s post though. The point is someone in Manning’s position is revealing information that is damaging to the power structure, therefore he has to be punished. As documented relentlessly by Glenn if you are in a position of power and your crime furthers the agenda of the powered elite then you get immunity.

      • JimS says:

        Good question and a real toughie. As my response will show, I do not have an answer. In fact, I do not believe there is an answer. Essentially the whistle blower wants it both ways. That CANNOT be if you wish to combat something. Wanting it both ways is avoidance.

        From my view, many of the things that Manning did, could or did endanger US service personnel. Outside of Manning’s case, such activity could easily endanger US lives. Yes, this is nationalistic to view “our lives” as more valuable than “theirs,” but when you engage in some of these activities you are dangerously bordering on activities that may be considered treason, espionage, or out right combatant. Again, I do not really have a problem with any of this. Should one choose to engage in treason, spying, or combative action against their own country, if their convictions are truly that strong, I can understand that, heck, our founding fathers may fit that category, but don’t kid yourself about the consequences. Those guys clearly understood and pledged their lives and fortunes.

        That said, if you are comfortable with the consequences, then his manner of doing things is probably ok, but it has its costs. I do not know what Greenwald or those sympathetic toward Manning want. He cannot and should not walk away from this. Benedict Arnold, whom I do have an admiration for, followed his heart’s conviction when the administration and army he served under proved inept. Arnold, however, understood and accepted the consequences quite admirably, Manning needs to do the same.

        The issues that Manning tried to “blow the whistle” on may not technically be crimes. Yes, they are crimes in most of our minds, but according to the letter of the law, they may not be violations. Think of it this way, Tyco, years ago, was in trouble for mistating earnings. They were losing money and claiming profit. An investigation revealed they had simply used favorable accounting techniques and that no crime was in fact committed. Had someone revealed Tyco’s books, they simply would have been guilty of misappropriations.

        Some of the combatants that these service men are really bad people, many down right evil, I understand the harsh treatment, it is why the law is vague here. Friendly fire incidences are not always criminal either, and trust me, there is little else in the world that can make you feel worse than a friendly fire incident.

        Manning, I sense, was unhappy or disgruntled. I have seen service members do amazingly stupid things because they were unhappy. I sadly do not believe he is a man of conviction.

        One final note; I understand many on this site are pacifists and anti-military. That’s great. I do believe that the vast majority of our foreign relation problems are our own doing. We essentiially created the mess that we are dealing with now and the way we deal with things is incredibly muddied. I do know however, that everything has its costs, whether an action or a material possession. Being a pacifist has certain costs as well. I mention this because many pacifist sites are supportive of Manning. Many pacifists believe that pacifism will spare you violence. That is hardly true. Sadly, such people are often subject to those that have no compunction about engaging in violent acts. I do believe that non-violence is a better way, but I will not give over to it totally, I cannot be someone’s punching bag. You can gain much more by treating people kindly, that is treat them as you would want to be treated. Avoiding a fight is most often a good thing. Sun Tzu noted that a battle not fought is a battle won. As strange as it sounds, a good military leader is somewhat a pacifist at heart and seeks the least confrontational way of winning. Invertly, pacifists would do well to understand that which they resist. To me, pacifism is battle in a different form.

        Sun Tzu also noted that “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” What Manning and his supporters are engaging in lacks strategy. Blowing the whistle will change nothing. A better battle plan is needed, and when I say battle I am not referring to armed conflict. Claiming “whistle blower ” status is wimping out. If Manning said, “Yeah. I did it! Technically it was illegal, but morally it was right and to be morally right I need to accept the consequences.” That would say a lot, and yes, that would change his status. Think of Ghandi and King. Anything else is just weaseling.

        Thanks for your response.


        • bobmurphy says:

          Jim, how do you know that Benedict Arnold would have faced the music like a bigger man than Manning? According to Wikipedia:

          Arnold received a commission as a brigadier general in the British Army, an annual pension of £360, and a lump sum of over £6,000.[4] He led British forces on raids in Virginia, and against New London and Groton, Connecticut, before the war effectively ended with the American victory at Yorktown. In the winter of 1782, Arnold moved to London with his second wife, Margaret “Peggy” Shippen Arnold. He was well received by King George III and the Tories but frowned upon by the Whigs. In 1787, he entered into mercantile business with his sons Richard and Henry in Saint John, New Brunswick, but returned to London to settle permanently in 1791, where he died ten years later.

          I think Manning would prefer that outcome to 50 years in prison.

          • JimS says:

            I totally messed up. Thanks for the catch. I had melded Nathan Hale and Arnold into one bizarre character. You should see the Barbra Streisand Gen McChrystal character I have in my mind. I’ve been doctoring calves and digging fence post holes all day and posted at lunch. I always knew I was allergic to work. I’m worse than you after one of your parties.

            At any rate, I think if one engages n such activities, bad consequences may ensue. Manning and others like him need a different tact if they wish to be effective

            Still, now that the characters are somewhat sorted out, Arnold became disenchanted with the politics of armies and war. He was most displeased with congress and Gen Gates political alliances. He felt the colonies would fall and jumped ship. He probably was a better general than Gates and even Washington. His problem was he confused his position as serving congress instead of the country. While possesing ability, he lacked a certain professionalism.

            By the way, it can sometimes be a toss up between prison and being married to someone 20 years your junior as Arnold was.