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Bradley Manning Is Guilty of “Aiding the Enemy”—If the Enemy Is Democracy
David Swanson   Jun 5, 2013   War Is A Crime .org  

Of all the charges against Bradley Manning, the most pernicious—and revealing—is “aiding the enemy.” The forces that top U.S. officials routinely denounce as “the enemy” will never threaten the power of the USA’s dominant corporate-military elites. But the unnamed “enemy” aided by Bradley Manning’s courageous actions—the people at the grassroots who can bring democracy to life beyond rhetoric—are a real potential threat to that power.

A blogger at The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, raised a pair of big questions that now loom over the courtroom at Fort Meade and over the entire country:

*  “Would it aid the enemy, for example, to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government?”

*  “In that case, who is aiding the enemy -- the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”

When the deceptive operation of the warfare state can’t stand the light of day, truth-tellers are a constant hazard. And culpability must stay turned on its head.

That’s why accountability was upside-down when the U.S. Army prosecutor laid out the government’s case against Bradley Manning in an opening statement: “This is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of classified documents and dumped them onto the Internet, into the hands of the enemy -- material he knew, based on his training, would put the lives of fellow soldiers at risk.”

If so, those fellow soldiers have all been notably lucky; the Pentagon has admitted that none died as a result of Manning’s leaks in 2010. But many of his fellow soldiers lost their limbs or their lives in U.S. warfare made possible by the kind of lies that the U.S. government is now prosecuting Bradley Manning for exposing.

In the real world, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, prosecution for leaks is extremely slanted. “Let’s apply the government's theory in the Manning case to one of the most revered journalists in Washington: Bob Woodward, who has become one of America’s richest reporters, if not the richest, by obtaining and publishing classified information far more sensitive than anything WikiLeaks has ever published,” Greenwald wrote in January.

He noted that “one of Woodward's most enthusiastic readers was Osama bin Laden,” as a 2011 video from al-Qaeda made clear. And Greenwald added that “the same Bob Woodward book [Obama’s Wars] that Osama bin Laden obviously read and urged everyone else to read disclosed numerous vital national security secrets far more sensitive than anything Bradley Manning is accused of leaking. Doesn't that necessarily mean that top-level government officials who served as Woodward’s sources, and the author himself, aided and abetted al-Qaida?”

But the prosecution of Manning is about carefully limiting the information that reaches the governed. Officials who run U.S. foreign policy choose exactly what classified info to dole out to the public. They leak like self-serving sieves to mainline journalists such as Woodward, who has divulged plenty of “Top Secret” information -- a category of classification higher than anything Bradley Manning is accused of leaking.  

While pick-and-choose secrecy is serving Washington’s top war-makers, the treatment of U.S. citizens is akin to the classic description of how to propagate mushrooms: keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit.

In effect, for top managers of the warfare state, “the enemy” is democracy.

Let’s pursue the inquiry put forward by columnist Amy Davidson early this year. If it is aiding the enemy “to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government,” then in reality “who is aiding the enemy -- the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”

Candid answers to such questions are not only inadmissible in the military courtroom where Bradley Manning is on trial. Candor is also excluded from the national venues where the warfare state preens itself as virtue’s paragon.

Yet ongoing actions of the U.S. government have hugely boosted the propaganda impact and recruiting momentum of forces that Washington publicly describes as “the enemy.” Policies under the Bush and Obama administrations -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and beyond, with hovering drones, missile strikes and night raids, at prisons such as Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo and secret rendition torture sites -- have “aided the enemy” on a scale so enormous that it makes the alleged (and fictitious) aid to named enemies from Manning’s leaks infinitesimal in comparison.

Blaming the humanist PFC messenger for “aiding the enemy” is an exercise in self-exculpation by an administration that cannot face up to its own vast war crimes.

While prosecuting Bradley Manning, the prosecution may name al-Qaeda, indigenous Iraqi forces, the Taliban or whoever. But the unnamed “enemy” -- the real adversary that the Pentagon and the Obama White House are so eager to quash -- is the incessant striving for democracy that requires informed consent of the governed.

The forces that top U.S. officials routinely denounce as “the enemy” will never threaten the power of the USA’s dominant corporate-military elites. But the unnamed “enemy” aided by Bradley Manning’s courageous actions -- the people at the grassroots who can bring democracy to life beyond rhetoric -- are a real potential threat to that power.

Accusations of aid and comfort to the enemy were profuse after Martin Luther King Jr. moved forward to expose the Johnson administration’s deceptions and the U.S. military’s atrocities. Most profoundly, with his courageous stand against the war in Vietnam, King earned his Nobel Peace Prize during the years after he won it in 1964.

Bradley Manning may never win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he surely deserves it. Close to 60,000 people have already signed a petition urging the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the prize to Manning. To become a signer, click here.

Also, you can preview a kindred project on the "I Am Bradley Manning" site, where a just-released short video -- the first stage of a longer film due out soon -- features Daniel Ellsberg, Oliver Stone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Phil Donahue, Alice Walker, Peter Sarsgaard, Wallace Shawn, Russell Brand, Moby, Tom Morello, Michael Ratner, Molly Crabapple, Davey D, Tim DeChristopher, Josh Stieber, Lt. Dan Choi, Hakim Green, Matt Taibbi, Chris Hedges, Allan Nairn, Leslie Cagan, Ahdaf Soueif and Jeff Madrick.

From many walks of life, our messages will become louder and clearer as Bradley Manning’s trial continues. He is guilty of “aiding the enemy” only if the enemy is democracy.

Reprinted from War Is A Crime .org by Norman Solomon

David Swanson contributed a chapter to "Why Peace" edited by Marc Guttman, January 2012. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.


“Policies under the Bush and Obama administrations—in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and beyond, with hovering drones, missile strikes and night raids, at prisons such as Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo and secret rendition torture sites—have ‘aided the enemy’ on a scale so enormous that it makes the alleged (and fictitious) aid to named enemies from Manning’s leaks infinitesimal in comparison.”

Not what you write, it’s what you leave out of the equation: difference between Bush and Obama adiministrations is the Bush admin. subscribed to a Victor Davis Hanson worldview: that war is “the father of all things”.
Obama, in contrast to Bush, is Lincolnian; it is absolutely unfair to claim Obama wants war, imperialism, racism, classism—such would be comparable to deeming Lincoln an imperialist and warmonger because his govt invaded the South and waged war. Obama must temporise- as Lincoln did.
One can’t put a cigarette paper between pigheaded imperialists and certain gullible progressives. Dave, you do know imperialism has existed for hundreds of years, racism for millions? Do you realise with given conditions in America, the alternative for Obama to what he is doing is for him to resign.. letting someone of lesser ability take his place?

@Intomorrow: I can’t understand why you are such a relentless cheerleader for the prison of the good cop, bad cop two-party scam. Accepting and being an apologist for monstrous evil just because the “feasible” alternative is even worse only encourages more monstrous evil. The unprecedented enthusiasm with which Obama has pursued whistleblowers (or ramping up the drug war, or defending Wall Street, or…) has nothing to do with Republicans, and your framing it as such lends credence to the lie that he is a decent progressive merely caught in an unfortunate situation that’s really the other guys’ fault. It’s not. He is a corporate centrist whose assumedly-existent heart beats for empire.

Though we can agree on his Lincolnian nature. He, too, enjoys an unearned reputation for being a principled progressive - let’s not forget that Lincoln was a defender of railroad plutocracy and was clear that if he could retain the institution of slavery, he would.

Reason the Right of center dislike Obama to such a degree is because they know he has no interest in empire but he has to go along to get along.

Lincoln listened to Frederick Douglass, had him to visit at the White House- but couldn’t go any further than preserving the Union without alienating too many supporters—that way he could put off being assassinated until 1865!:
Douglass believed that no compromise could be made on the question of slavery and pushed for the recognition that the bondage of millions had to end. Arguing that “the Union cause would never prosper till the war assumed an anti-slavery attitude, and the Negro was enlisted on the loyal side,” Douglass worked fervently to organize black troops for the war effort even before Lincoln had accepted the employment of black troops. Douglass believed that Lincoln would move toward his view that slavery had to end in order to preserve the Union. As the war effort dragged on, Lincoln reluctantly moved to accept the organization of black troops for the Union cause. However, the black troops were not treated equally. Paid less than white soldiers, and assigned only to do tedious physical labor or used as cannon fodder, white commanders stigmatized the black soldiers within their ranks. Black soldiers also faced extraordinarily grave danger; if they were captured by Confederate soldiers they were brutalized and killed with no consideration for their status as prisoners of war. In the face of such profound inequities, Douglass stopped his efforts at recruiting black soldiers for the Union cause.
These were the dire circumstances that Douglass addressed in his first meeting with Lincoln at the White House in 1862. Douglass would be the first black American to be granted an audience with the president of the United States. The abolitionist statesmen later wrote that he was dreaded being the one to break this barrier; he did not know how he would be received, given the racial mores of the day. In fact many political observers were critical of the visit, including a man waiting to talk to the president who slurred Douglass because he called to speak to the president ahead of white visitors.
In their meeting, Douglass spoke frankly with Lincoln demanding better pay for black soldiers, opportunities for advancement, and the equalization of rights for black prisoners of war. Although Douglass was critical of Lincoln’s approach to the questions of race and slavery, he was impressed with the man. He wrote years later that he was immediately “put at ease” in the presence of the president. Although Lincoln argued that he could not meet all of Douglass’ demands, he did hear him out, promising that a longer record of valiant service would prove to a reluctant white public that black soldiers were deserving of equal pay and opportunities for advancement.
Lincoln viewed his 1863 decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation as a practical means of weakening the Confederate cause, but Douglass saw the move as “a grand moral necessity.”
Douglass foresaw that the proclamation would mark the beginning of the end of slavery on American soil. Although Douglass was critical of a policy that sought to reward loyalist slave owners by only targeting slave owners who had sided with the Confederacy, he found a middle ground during his second meeting with the president.
In the closed door meeting where Lincoln and Douglass created plans to encourage southern slaves to run away to Union lines, Douglass saw that behind the cautious public statements of moderation on the question of slavery, Lincoln “showed a deeper moral conviction against slavery than [he] had ever seen before.” Douglass came to believe that the Emancipation Proclamation “was not affected merely as a ‘necessity’ but was instead a reflection of Lincoln’s sincere anti-slavery sentiment. Douglass saw past the practical questions of policy and saw what was possible. And as adviser, he saw Lincoln moving gradually in his direction.
In the end, Douglass was impressed most by the manner in which Lincoln engaged with him as a man. Douglass wrote, “in his company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular color.”
Although Douglass was a fiery abolitionist, Lincoln’s willingness to engage allowed him to hear the voices to the voiceless through their greatest advocate. Through Douglass, Lincoln learned to consider the questions of war from the point of view of the enslaved. It would be conversation between two great leaders that would help bend the arch of the moral universe toward justice and freedom.

NSA collecting phone records of
millions of Verizon customers daily

A black/mulatto in America has to lick Massa’s boots. The following link is to a piece by an author crying crocodile tears—paying lip service to privacy:

American Rightists want surveillance, save for many, but not all, Rightist libertarians, etc. I’ve always thought America (because it possesses so much liberty sans virtue) was the greatest collection of liars in one place.. Nixon only did what everyone else did. Again: IMO only anti-imperialist option for Obama is resignation.

More news in today..

NSA taps in to user data of Facebook, Apple, Google and others, secret files reveal

No argument. The disagreement is you and Mr. Swanson holding Obama culpable when he is doing the best he can with a bad post- 9/11 situation. The evidence for peace is positive: war has leveled out since ‘45. On the other hand, economic warfare continues unabated—re peace and justice: the former is reason for optimism; the latter is not.

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