Tag Archives: War
Note: While I don’t agree with all of the sentiment expressed in the following. The main point is certainly in line with my perception of the current national attitude. This seems especially true among the believers I run across with only a few notable exceptions like Ron Paul and some close friends. (E)
Warning: Some Foul Language
From an Article on the site: Fred On Everything Scurrilous Commentary by Fred Reed
Smiting the In-fiddle
And Malt Does More than Milton Can, to Justify God’s Ways to Man
June 6, 2011
Cyberg, Tennessee—The Reverend McBilly Osfeiser strode to the rostrum of of the Full Bible Perfect Word Baptist Church, a frame building reeking of plainess and Protestantism. He was a tall man, with the sharp facial planes and hard visage of a desert patriarch about to kill something. The congregation shrank in their pews. He was a man who brooked no sin, and no sinners, whom he consigned to eternal damnation, and thought they were getting off light. He looked fiercely about, and spoke:
“Brethren, I come before you to preach the word of God, for these be evil times, and the children of Israel, and yea the parents and grandparents, even unto their heirs and assigns, are sore beset by the tribe of Mohammed, and Beelzebulb, and Luciferin and Luciferase. In the name of God we must gird our loins, whatever exactly gird means, and smite the followers of Allah, and suffer them not to live, neither child nor mother with child nor suckling babe. Their lands shall be accursed and nothing there shall prosper, neither tares nor the wild ass; thus saith the Lord God, the God of Israel , the god of love and mercy.
“Today we shall begin our sermon with the story of Samsung and Delilah, in the book of Hezechiah, chapter fourteen, verses nine through twenty-seven, in the reign of Herod Agrippa. In that time Israel was sore beset by the Malachites and the Catamites, even the Stalactites and Stalagmites, and the Assyrians of Kng Areopagitica with many chariots threatened the city of Solomon. But Samsung spent three days and three nights fasting and praying, and sacrificed a sheep, and it was good in the eyes of the Lord. In the morning he went forth and slew them all, cutting through them with sling and samothrace as one scything wheat until not a Stalagmite was left standing. saving the city.
“Today, brethren, we of Christ face the same test of our faith. In Afghanistan, as we speak, the Mohammedan Taliban build mighty forces which they will use to conquer all of Christendom and enslave us, having gotten here mysteriously.
“The powers of the darkness are many and patient, and the Mohammedan awaits to make our wives and daughters into harem slaves. It is well said that if we do not slew them there, or perhaps slay them, they will slew us here, or a slew of them will slay a slew of us there, maybe here, or they will…whatever. Remember the second book of Malthusians, when Chay-suss expelled the Gadarene Swine from the woman afflicted with leprosy, “Rebus sic stantibus,” he said. “Carthago delenda est,” which is the Latin for “Get the back whence thou camest, and thy towel.”
“I urge you, brethren, to support our Christian troops who with magnificent courage are killing the heathen with drones strikes from thousands of feet while sitting in Colorado. To those weak in faith, who say that we are killing innocent women and children, I say unto ye, women are the source of all Taliban and thus must be military targets. If we destroy arms factories, should we not destroy Taliban factories? As the mighty warrior Jay-suss would want, we will smite them, and leave them bleeding and dying, and wailing over their broken children, blinded and crushed and burned, that they might learn to walk in the ways of righteousness.
“And now, brethren, I want to introduce you to one of our own warriors for Christ, Willy Bill Bedford, who is just back from the heathen land of Afghanistan, and wounded—wounded, brethren!–smiting the in-fiddle for Jay-suss. Willy Bill, will you come up and testify?”
Willy Bill was a big, chunky kid with a sloping forehead you could have used to bank a turn in a motorcycle race, and about every other tooth was missing so he looked like a piano keyboard. His left arm was in a cast. “Willy Bill,” shouted Reverend Osfeiser, “Tell your brothers and sisters in Jay-suss how you been doing the Lord’s work.”
Willy Bill seemed uncomfortable but he sort of scrunched up his courage and said, “Yeah, well. OK, Reverend. Well, we was out in Litani Province and there was twelve of us in a Humvee with ’bout a thousand rounds each of seven-six-two and a sack full of Bibles an’…”
The reverend roared, “And tell the brethren why you had Bibles, the inerrant perfect word of God, with you!”
“Oh, yeah. We belong to Bible Spreaders, we try to bring Moslems to know Jesus, you know. BS is real important to us, so we always….”
“You hear that? Bringing souls to God!”
“Well, we came to Awali, that’s this village, maybe three hundred sand-nig—Taliban and their kids, all dirty and livin’ in mud huts because they don’t love Jesus and the kids there beg for something to eat because they don’t know that beggin’ ain’t right. Well, we told them to get away and smacked them around a little because they might be suicide bombers, you know, and you could just tell the grown-ups hated us for our religion and our freedoms and all, and then we heard a rifle go off. Well, they ain’t supposed to have rifles. So the lieutenant called in a air strike and a couple of sixteens came in, and whoom, they just smacked the livin’ dog-snot out of those fuckers and…..”
“Now, Willy Bill, don’t be using language like that. Do you think Jay-suss talked that way? It’s a sin.”
“I’m sorry, Reverend. I won’t do it again. I don’t want to commit no sin. Anyway, it was a good strike, killed almost everybody although a few was left screamin’ and makin’ a fuss and women was huggin’ kids or what was left, I mean, how much sense does that make? I guess they learned their lesson. So we went through and left Bibles on top of some of the dead ones so whoever found them would come to Jesus and then I fell off the Humvee and broke my arm.”
At which the Reverend McBilly Osfeiser shouted, “Hosannah! Praise the Lord! While we have sat here, living a life of ease, Willy Bill, Cyburg’s own Willy Bill, has smote the in-fiddles, and saved our precious daughters from being in harems, though perhaps not in back seats, and saved our holy Tennessee, where we are free and snakes have handles and the God of Wrath rules as he did with Noah in the Sinai!”
I need a drink.
- 19 true things generals can’t say in public about the Afghan war: A helpful primer (basicrulesoflife.wordpress.com)
- Nuke em in Je$u (gbwendorf.com)
name – Chapter 26 excerpt (gbwendorf.com)
This war needs to end! Warning-some Language
US soldiers come clean about atrocities in Iraq
American soldier “I killed innocent people”
If I receive permission I will post this later. In the meantime, You really need to Read this: http://fredoneverything.net/Oo-rah.shtml
August 12, 2009 update – Kimberly Rivera wins another temporary stay in Canadian court!
By Courage to Resist. Posted July 13, 2009
Courage to Resist and supporters delivered 6,000 signatures in support of Kimberly Rivera and all war resisters seeking refuge in Canada on July 8th. After a vigil in front of the Canadian Consulate in downtown San Francisco, the gathering made their way upstairs to make their case directly to a representative of the consulate. Watch Bill Carpenter’s 6:30 min. video below.
The following day in Toronto, Canada, the federal judge in Kimberly Rivera’s appeal to remain in Canada "reserved his decision." Following the hearing, Kimberly stated, "I shouldn’t have to destroy my family for deciding not to destroy somebody else’s family."
I want to stay in Canada, with my family, because the Iraq War is immoral, illegal and I couldn’t in good conscience go back. The amount of support I’m getting from Canadians is amazing. The parents of my kids’ friends, MPs and even strangers on the street keep telling me that they can’t believe the votes in Parliament aren’t being respected.
–Kimberly Rivera, Iraq War resister
Kimberly Rivera is the first outspoken female Iraq War resister to publicly and legally seek refuge in Canada. Kimberly, along with her partner Mario, son Christian (7 years old) and daughter Rebecca (4 years old), fled to Canada in January 2007 when Kimberly refused redeployment. In late November 2008 Kimberly gave birth to her Canadian daughter Katie (8 months old). She served in Iraq in 2006 and experienced, firsthand, the reality of this ongoing illegal war and occupation.
The conservative Harper government has been trying to deport Kimberly for months, defying Canada’s longstanding tradition of providing sanctuary to U.S. war resisters. On July 8th, Kimberly went to Canadian federal court, to appeal the decision in her Pre-Removal Risk Assessment. If her appeal fails, she will be asked to leave Canada, or be forcibly removed – and delivered into the custody and jurisdiction of the United States Army where Kimberly will face charges that could carry up to a four month sentence in the stockade. So far, three Iraq War resisters have been deported from Canada.
By Susan Lindauer, 9/11 Whistleblower indicted on the Patriot Act
I confess that since November I’ve been holding my breath, watching the clock for how long Tea Party newcomers could hold out against the entrenched Republican elite on Capitol Hill. Collapse was inevitable, however I admit to feeling bitterly surprised at how rapidly they have thrown in the towel.
For the record, most of the Tea Party quit their principles of liberty on February 14, 2011—20 days into the new Congress—when Tea Party leaders abruptly abandoned their opposition to the Patriot Act and voted to extend intrusive domestic surveillance, wire tapping and warrantless searches of American citizens. In so doing, they exposed the fraud of their soaring campaign promises to defend the liberty of ordinary Americans, and fight government intrusions on freedom. All those wide eyed speeches that flowed with such thrilling devotions, all of it proved to be self-aggrandizing lies.
The Tea Party didn’t even put up a fight. Briefly they rejected a sneak attack to renew three surveillance clauses of the Patriot Act on a suspension vote. That filled my heart with hope. One push from the Republican elite, however and they went down with a loud thud.
My disappointment is particularly acute. Rather notoriously, I am distinguished as the second non-Arab American to face indictment on the Patriot Act, after Jose Padilla.
My status was pretty close to an enemy non-combatant. One would presume that I must have joined some terrorist conspiracy? Or engaged in some brutal act of sedition, such as stock piling weapons and munitions to overthrow those crooks in Congress?
You would be wrong. I got indicted for protesting the War in Iraq. My crime was delivering a warm-hearted letter to my second cousin White House Chief of Staff, Andy Card, which correctly outlined the consequences of War. Suspiciously, I had been one of the very few Assets covering the Iraqi Embassy at the United Nations for seven years. Thus, I was personally acquainted with the truth about Pre-War Intelligence, which differs remarkably from the story invented by GOP leaders on Capitol Hill.
More dangerously still, my team gave advance warnings about the 9/11 attack and solicited Iraq’s cooperation after 9/11. In August 2001, at the urging of my CIA handler, I phoned Attorney General John Ashcroft’s private staff and the Office of Counter-Terrorism to ask for an “emergency broadcast alert” across all federal agencies, seeking any fragment of intelligence on airplane hijackings. My warning cited the World Trade Center as the identified target. Highly credible independent sources have confirmed that in August, 2001 I described the strike on the World Trade Center as “imminent,” with the potential for “mass casualties, possibly using a miniature thermonuclear device.”
Thanks to the Patriot Act, Americans have zero knowledge of those truths, though the 9/11 Community has zoomed close for years. Republican leaders invoked the Patriot Act to take me down 30 days after I approached the offices of Senator John McCain and Trent Lott, requesting to testify about Iraq’s cooperation with the 9/11 investigation and a comprehensive peace framework that would have achieved every U.S. and British objective without firing a shot. Ironically, because of the Patriot Act, my conversations with Senator Trent Lott‘s staff got captured on wire taps, proving my story.
You see, contrary to rhetoric on Capitol Hill, the Patriot Act is first and foremost a weapon to bludgeon whistleblowers and political dissidents. Indeed, it has been singularly crafted for that purpose.
The American people are not nearly as frightened as they should be. Many Americans expect the Patriot Act to limit its surveillance to overseas communications. Yet while I was under indictment, Maryland State Police invoked the Patriot Act to wire tap activists tied to the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, an environmental group dedicated to wind power, solar energy and recycling. The DC Anti-War Network was targeted as a “white supremacist group.” Amnesty International and anti-death penalty activists got targeted for alleged “civil rights violations.”
All of these are American activists engaged in lawful disputes of government policy. All of them got victimized by the surveillance techniques approved by Tea Party leaders, because they pursued a policy agenda that contradicted current government policies. The Tea Party swore to defend the freedom of independent thinking in Congressional campaigns. One presumes those promises are now forgotten until the next election.
I cannot forget. I cannot forget how I was subjected to secret charges, secret evidence and secret grand jury testimony that denied my right to face my accusers or their accusations in open court, throughout five years of indictment. I cannot forget my imprisonment on a Texas military base for a year without a trial or evidentiary hearing.
I cannot forget how the FBI, the US Attorneys Office, the Bureau of Prisons and the main Justice office in Washington — independently and collectively verified my story— then falsified testimony to Chief Justice Michael Mukasey, denying our 9/11 warnings and my long-time status as a U.S. intelligence Asset, though my witnesses had aggressively confronted them. Apparently the Patriot Act allows the Justice
Department to withhold corroborating evidence and testimony from the Court, if it is deemed “classified.”
I cannot forget threats of forcible drugging and indefinite detention up to 10 years, until I could be “cured” of believing what everybody wanted to deny— because it was damn inconvenient to politicians in Washington anxious to hold onto power.
Some things are unforgivable in a democracy. The Patriot Act would be right at the top of that list. Nobody who has supported that wretched law should ever be allowed to brag of defending liberty again. That goes for the Tea Party. By voting to extend surveillance of American citizens, they have abandoned the principles of freedom that brought about their rise to power. They have shown their true face.
It is a face that we, the people, will remember. I, for one, have no intention of allowing them to forget.
Susan Lindauer is the author of Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq | Audio interview | Book review
- Connie Mack: The Tea Party Failed on the Promised Patriot Act PushBack (yourdaddy.net)
- Tea Party Caucus Leader Bachmann Votes for PATRIOT Act (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Patriot Act Measures Extended For 90 Days By Congress (huffingtonpost.com)
- Rand Paul urges colleagues against Patriot Act reauthorization (thehill.com)
Copyright © 2011 The People’s Voice
By Kevin Zeese
The case of Private Bradley Manning raises legal issues about his pre-trial detention, freedom of speech and the press, as well as proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Putting aside Manning’s guilt or innocence, if Bradley Manning saw the Afghan and Iraq war diaries as well as the diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks what should he have done? And, what should be the proper response of government to their publication?
A high point in the application of the rule of law to war came in the Nuremberg trials where leaders in Germany were held accountable for World War II atrocities. Justice Robert Jackson, who served as the chief prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials while on leave from the U.S. Supreme Court, said “If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”
One of the key outcomes of the Nuremberg trials was that people who commit war crimes or crimes against humanity will be held accountable even if they were following orders. This is known as Nuremberg Principle IV which states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.” The Nuremberg principles were enshrined in a series of treaties.
How do the Nuremberg Principles and other laws of war apply to Bradley Manning?
What is a person who does not want to participate in war crimes or hiding war crimes supposed to do when he sees evidence of them? If Manning hid the evidence would he not be complicit in the crimes he was covering up and potentially liable as a co-conspirator? These were questions that Bradley Manning allegedly wrestled with. According to unverified chat logs Manning, talking with Adrian Lamo on email, asks: “Hypothetical question, if you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time… say, 8-9 months… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?” . . .
In Iraq, Manning was ordered “to round up and hand over Iraqi civilians to America’s new Iraqi allies, who he could see were then torturing them with electrical drills and other implements.” Manning questioned the orders he was being given to help round up Iraqis and brought his concerns to the chain of command. He pointed to a specific instance where 15 detainees were arrested and tortured for printing “anti-Iraqi literature” he found that the paper in question was merely a scholarly critique of corruption in the government asking “Where did the money go?” He brought this to his commander, who told him to “shut up” and keep working to find more detainees. Manning realized he “was actively involved in something that i was completely against…”
He wrestled with the question of what to do. According to the unverified chat logs with Lamo Manning told Lamo that he hoped the publication of the documents and videos would spur “worldwide discussion, debates, and reform.” He went on to say, “I want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” The command structure would not listen, so Manning went beyond them to the people who are supposed to control the military in our democratic republic. He wanted Americans to know the truth.
In the chat logs, Lamo asked Manning why he did not sell the documents to a foreign power. Manning realized he could have made a lot of money doing so, but he did not take that path. He explained: “it belongs in the public domain – information should be free – it belongs in the public domain – because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge – if its out in the open… it should be a public good.” These are not the words of a traitor, of someone out to hurt the United States, these are the words of someone trying to improve the United States, trying to get the country to live up to its highest ideals.
Manning is charged so far with three counts of unlawfully transferring confidential material to a non-secure computer, i.e. leaking state secrets. Manning faces up to 52 years if convicted of these crimes and it is likely that he will be charged with additional offenses. The charges against Manning end stating that Manning’s “conduct being prejudicial to good order and discipline in the armed forces and being of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”
Well, what exactly did the materials Manning allegedly leak show?
The video that is the focus of these initial charges is known as the Collateral Murder video. The video shows American soldiers in an Apache helicopter gunning down a group of innocent men, including two Reuters employees, a photojournalist and his driver, killing 16 and sending two children to the hospital. The video, which has been viewed by millions, shows initial blasts at the group killing and wounding people. U.S. forces watch as a van pulls up to evacuate the wounded. The soldiers again open fire from the helicopter, killing more people. A crew member is heard saying, “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards.” But, that was not the end, journalist Rick Rowley reported that the man who they drove over had crawled out of the van and was still alive when the tank drove over him, cutting him in half.
Marjorie Cohn, who teaches criminal law and procedure, evidence, and international human rights law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, describes multiple war crimes from this single video. First, targeting and killing civilians who do not pose a threat violated the Geneva Conventions. Second, when soldiers attacked the van attempting to rescue the wounded they violate the Geneva Conventions which allows the rescue of wounded. Third, the tank rolling over the wounded man, splitting him in two, is a war crime and even if he were already dead disrespecting a body violates the Geneva Conventions.
The Collateral Murder video documents war crimes according to this legal expert on human rights law. When Manning saw these war crimes, what should he have done? Should he have covered up the evidence of potential war crimes? Should he try to go up the chain of command – a strategy that he had already unsuccessfully tried? If Manning did what he is accused of, he did the only thing that could stop these crimes from continuing.
Other documents Manning allegedly provided to WikiLeaks showed the 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan, in which as many as 140 civilians, including women and children, were killed in a U.S. attack. The Australianreported that the airstrike resulted in “one of the highest civilian death tolls from Western military action since foreign forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001.” The Afghan government has said that around 140 civilians were killed, of which 93 were children – the youngest 8 days old – 25 were women and 22 were adult males. The U.S. military had said that 20-30 civilians were killed along with 60-65 insurgents.
Allegedly, Manning released hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks who, working with traditional media outlets has released a small percentage of them. He left it to journalists to decide what was appropriate for release. The small percentage of documents released show widespread and systemic abuses in U.S. foreign policy and in the conduct of wars. WikiLeaks documents including the Iraq andAfghanistan War Logs and the diplomatic cables show:
- The Pakistan military and intelligence agencies aid Al Qaeda and the Taliban;
- The diplomatic cables also show that beyond the war fronts that Hillary Clinton has turned State Department Foreign Service officers into a nest of spies who violate laws to spy on diplomats all with marching orders drawn up by the CIA;
These are a few examples among many. The documents published by WikiLeaks, allegedly provided to them by Manning, are of critical importance to understanding that U.S. foreign and military policy is not what Americans are told. No doubt historians, human rights lawyers, academics and others will be reviewing these documents and reporting in greater detail the systemic nature of the unethical and often illegal behavior of U.S. foreign policy. This already has the world looking at the United States with new eyes.
Experience inside the U.S. military turned a young man from Oklahoma who believed in America into someone who doubted it. Manning believed in American freedom, especially economic freedom and believed the United States played a positive role in the world. He wanted to serve his country. In doing so he became someone who questioned the leadership of the nation, its foreign policy and its conduct of wars. He saw war crimes, violations of law and constant deception. After much soul searching he decided that the quest for a more perfect union required him to share this information.
Justice Robert Jackson, during his Opening Address at the Nuremberg Trials, said: “If we can cultivate in the world the idea that aggressive war-making is the way to the prisoner’s dock rather than the way to honors, we will have accomplished something toward making the peace more secure.” Bradley Manning joins in this enlightened viewpoint and is working to make peace more secure and the United States a better nation.
A mature American leadership, rather than prosecuting Manning, would encourage an honest debate about U.S. foreign policy. Thomas Jefferson warned that “oppressions are many” and that for the people to govern we should “leave open . . . all the avenues to truth.” Manning has provided an avenue to truth where we can look honestly at our government and dramatically change direction. Enlightened leadership would renounce blackmail, threats and spying of foreign officials, as well as torture and war.
Instead Manning is suffering a fate Thomas Jefferson warned about: “Most codes extend their definitions of treason to acts not really against one’s country. They do not distinguish between acts against the government and acts against the oppressions of the government.” Manning has been sitting in solitary confinement for seven months awaiting trial. He is suffering this fate for the betterment of the nation. People who care about the United States and our impact on the world should stand with Bradley and work to transform American foreign policy away from militarism and toward one where we work cooperatively with nations for the advancement of all.
To stand with Bradley visit: Stand With Brad.
To prevent prosecution of WikiLeaks visit: WikiLeaksIsDemocracy.org
by Ron Paul
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.
Last week the National Bureau of Economic Research published a report on the effect of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq that confirmed what critics of our foreign policy have been saying for years: the killing of civilians, although unintentional, angers other civilians and prompts them to seek revenge. This should be self-evident.
The Central Intelligence Agency has long acknowledged and analyzed the concept of blowback in our foreign policy. It still amazes me that so many think that attacks against our soldiers occupying hostile foreign lands are motivated by hatred toward our system of government at home or by the religion of the attackers. In fact, most of the anger towards us is rooted in reactions towards seeing their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and other loved ones being killed by a foreign army. No matter our intentions, the violence of our militarism in foreign lands causes those residents to seek revenge if innocents are killed. One does not have to be Muslim to react this way, just human.
Our battle in Afghanistan resembles the battle against the many-headed Hydra monster in Greek mythology. According to Former General Stanley McChrystal’s so-called insurgent math, for every insurgent killed, 10 more insurgents are created by the collateral damage to civilians. Every coalition attack leads to 6 retaliatory attacks against our troops within the following six weeks, according to the NBER report. These retaliatory attacks must then be acted on by our troops, leading to still more attacks, and so it goes. Violence begets more violence. Eventually more and more Afghanis will view American troops with hostility and seek revenge for the death of a loved one. Meanwhile, we are bleeding ourselves dry, militarily and economically.
Some say if we leave, the Taliban will be strengthened. However, those who make that claim ignore the numerous ways our interventionist foreign policy has strengthened groups like the Taliban over the years. I’ve already pointed out how we serve as excellent recruiters for them by killing civilians. Last week I pointed out how our foreign aid, to Pakistan specifically, makes it into Taliban coffers. And of course we provided the Taliban with aid and resources in the 1980s, when they were our strategic allies against the Soviet Union. For example – our CIA supplied them with Stinger missiles to use against the Soviets, which are strikingly similar to the ones now allegedly used against us on the same battlefield, according to those WikiLeaks documents. As usual, our friends have a funny way of turning against us. Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein are also prime examples. Yet Congress never seems to acknowledge the blowback that results from our interventionism of the past.
Our war against the Taliban is going about as well as our war on drugs, or our war on poverty, or any of our government’s wars – they all tend to create more of the thing they purport to eradicate, thereby dodging any excuse to draw down and come to an end. It is hard to imagine ever “winning” anything this way.
We have done enough damage in Afghanistan, both to the Afghan people, and to ourselves. It’s time to re-evaluate the situation. It’s time to come home.
and the world was shocked at what it saw. The boldness of Wikileaks to expose this evil was commendable, and their mission to tell the truth about the war continues. Early last week, Wikileaks revealed 91,371 classified military records about American aggression in Afghanistan, including many detailed reports of civilian deaths. This is the biggest military intelligence leak in history. It brings the war lost in time back to the forefront of the world public.
Now, before someone objects to the revelation of this “classified” information, you need to know that none of this stuff puts soldiers immediately at risk in their current operations. Wikileaks made sure of this. All of it is history, records of the past actions of the military. That is to say, in this case everything kept “classified” is simply stuff they don’t want you to know, and why might they not want you to know? Because the government knows you won’t like it. Because it reveals the side of the war they don’t want you to see. Because it might cause you to change your mind and stop romanticizing a senseless, barbaric, immoral war. Hence, the Pentagon and the White House immediately condemned this revelation as criminal and threatening to the security of the US and its allies.” Well yeah, it does threaten them. If your already unpopular gets even more unpopular, then your power is threatened. Good. Following suit, the mainstream media seems more interested in debating whether or not the information should have been leaked rather than the content of the leak itself. Typical.
Wikileaks has published all of this in what they are calling the Afghan War Diary. Even before going public, they released all the documents to three prominent newspapers: Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and the New York Times, on the condition that all three waited until July 25th, 2010 to write about them.
These war logs provide the most revealing inside look at the war that we mere citizens have been able to see, showing the true nature of this war. They tell of hundreds of civilian deaths, shadowy special forces operations, and even information about how Pakistan’s spy service, which receives over $1 billion from Washington to help combat militants, was assisting the Afghan insurgents. Talk about blowback…
From the BBC:
After being asked repeatedly by reporters whether he believed some of the incidents described in the documents constituted war crimes, Mr Assange said: “It is up to a court to decide, clearly, whether something is, in the end, a crime.”
“That said, prima facie, there does appear to be evidence of war crimes in this material,” he added.
He cited as an example an attack in June 2007 by a secret US special forces unit, Task Force 373, which used a Himars (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) to begin a raid on a compound where a senior al-Qaeda leader, Abu-Laith al-Libi, was thought to be hiding. Seven children died.
Wikileaks front man Julian Assange is now a target for the US Federal Government. He has been advised by his friends not to enter the US after another prominent Wikileaker, Jacob Applebaum, was detained by US customs and had his computer and phones seized. It’s possible that Wikileaks is concerned for Julian’s life, considering they have now published an encrypted file on the War Diary page labeled simply “Insurance.”
Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com said it well:
Whatever else is true, WikiLeaks has yet again proven itself to be one of the most valuable and important organizations in the world. Just as was true for the video of the Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad, there is no valid justification for having kept most of these documents a secret. But that’s what our National Security State does reflexively: it hides itself behind an essentially absolute wall of secrecy to ensure that the citizenry remains largely ignorant of what it is really doing. WikiLeaks is one of the few entities successfully blowing holes in at least parts of that wall, enabling modest glimpses into what The Washington Post spent last week describing as Top Secret America. The war on WikiLeaks — which was already in full swing, including, strangely, from some who claim a commitment to transparency — will only intensify now. Anyone who believes that the Government abuses its secrecy powers in order to keep the citizenry in the dark and manipulate public opinion — and who, at this point, doesn’t believe that? — should be squarely on the side of the greater transparency which Wikileaks and its sources, sometimes single-handedly, are providing.
And as Julian aptly noted in his recent interview with Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio, the real heroes here aren’t even the people at Wikileaks but rather the brave sources who, by leaking this information, put their livelihood and perhaps even their lives at risk. God bless you, wherever you are.
I entitled this post “everything you need to know…” but in truth my own words could never be enough to capture the awfulness of the war nor the importance of the Wikileaks contribution to peace. However, perhaps with all the links I have provided you can become ever more educated about these important world events.
But here’s what you really need to know: This revelation is an incredible moment in the history of journalism and of the wars of the last decade, and hopefully will persuade many that interventions in the Middle East must be stopped. We continue to need Wikileaks more than ever.
Recently by Karen Kwiatkowski: Contempt of State – An Indispensable Virtue
U.S. Secretary Robert Gates has stated that WikiLeaks has “moral culpability” for potentially deadly repercussions in Afghanistan and presumably Iraq. Gates said, “The Taliban can glean a lot about U.S. tactics and sources from the documents.”
I’m delighted that Gates has brought up the topic of morality. He, son of the Midwest, an Eagle Scout, a trusted CIA operative, and … oops. I should have stopped at Boy Scout.
We easily recognize corruption and immorality in our elected officials – we lap up stories of seat haggling by glossy-haired pols in Chicago, we thrill at the sexcapades of prosecutors and presidents. We marvel at the sheer criminality of Congressional members and their staffs, even as we shudder fearfully at its mighty collective lawlessness.
As constituents, we can look at their crimes early and often. We can check to see if they vote with or against the Constitution, be it state or federal. We can contact them and even speak to them about what we care about, and when that has no effect, we can campaign against them, put in a different criminal, or step away from electoral politics altogether. But we will not be confused as to what is lacking in our elected representatives. They have a law to follow – the Constitutions of various states and of the federal government – and these public documents guide them regardless of creed or party. With rare exceptions, elected officials will fail to follow the basic rules they swore to uphold. We are informed, and entertained.
On the other hand, civil servants, particularly at the federal level, have been given a full pass in the ethics and morality department. We have been told basically that a professional government workforce was created from the void and that it is very good. We hear this even of the CIA, an organization with which Gates is quite familiar. We hear it of the Pentagon, Gates’ current area of responsibility.
Since its inception, much has been written on the extra-legal activities of the CIA. This history exists – and is ongoing, as the more recent role of the CIA in rendition and torture is public knowledge. I’m sorry. Rendition is kidnapping people, including Americans, and holding them for years without charges, without evidence, and without legal representation – and lying about it. Torture, as you may have heard, is something the United States government does not do, even as its agents systematically drug, deprive, waterboard, psychologically abuse, physically rough up, maim, wound, rape, threaten and lie to those we have rendered.
Bob Gates, as a career government civil servant knows all of this, and far, far more. He shares responsibility for the evolution of the CIA even as he escaped the heaviest stench of Iran-Contra. A senior CIA official as the Cold War ended and a new mission needed to be found, under George Herbert Walker Bush, Gates was an indispensable servant. The demonization and manipulation of former CIA asset and Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein fit the bill, and it simply boggles the mind the decisions and actions that Bob Gates was knowledgeable of and involved in between 1986 and 1993. The Iran-Contra Independent Counsel, with a little help from grand Jury secrecy rules, predictably found that prosecution of Gates was not warranted. His role in creating storylines to sell the first Persian Gulf War, in hiding or adjusting evidence to play the world, and in managing state secrets is undeniable, and largely unexamined. He was the ultimate trusted agent – the first CIA career civil servant to ever rise to Director.
There is a heavily promoted myth that professional civil servants, whether in uniform or in dress suits, are somehow more bound to the constitution and law and ethics than are politicians, and insultingly, more ethical than the average doctor, lawyer or car mechanic. But of course, they are not. Practically speaking, why would they be? Civil servants are extraordinarily hard to get rid of. Poor performance, lack of ethics, incompetence, immorality – none of these will generally get a civil servant fired, and often, these behaviors produce promotions. Now, these tolerated behaviors may be used to remove a civil servant – but only as needed to make a point of loyalty, as in the case of Rumsfeld’s persecution of Air Force Lt General Fiscus, who had the audacity to suggest that the law must limit Rumsfeld’s desires to detain and torture.
Civil servants – including members of the military – are part of a loyalty-based crime family, led largely by the executive level and his appointees, controlled by executive sponsors, backers and funders, and loyalty is demanded no less seriously than it is demanded by the dons of any crime syndicate. In this environment, just following orders is not only an acceptable excuse, it is all that the bosses ever wish to hear.
Professional civil servants and military members know this. They embrace doublespeak, as Orwell defined it:
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.
The small minority of civil servants and military who cannot take the doublespeak, or over time, find that it is becoming harder to take, self-eliminate. Sometimes they do so by finding another job where the doublespeak is less offensive, and sometimes they leave the institution entirely. Sometimes they self-medicate, or morally or functionally degenerate to the point where the institution is forced to isolate or expel them. Sometimes they talk it out, debate, argue and actually try to change things from within the institution. As the great Daniel Ellsberg discovered, and many before and after him, introducing ethics and honesty in a system that runs on carefully constructed lies is quite a challenge. In spite of the fact that this will predictably destroy your career, possibly your ability to get a job anywhere, and subject you to scurrilous attacks and storytelling, the only honest and workable thing to do is to try and expose the lies to the light of day.
Creating this light of day is the mission of WikiLeaks, and the basic goal of independent media everywhere. But as Daniel Ellsberg experienced, and as whistleblowers in the 21st century from Sibel Edmonds, to Joe Darby, Jim Massey, and Sam Provance, from Joe Wilson and many more who sacrificed careers to speak morally and honestly have all found that the institution is like an angry grizzly, insulted that one man or one woman has the audacity to be sane. How dare they?
The institutionalized barbarism we see in the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” was made possible because a 22-year-old soldier could not lie. He was unable to effectively doublethink, and for some reason of upbringing, character, intelligence or basic goodness, could not bear the evilness he saw all around him – in American military behavior, in the institution’s lawlessness, in the immorality of war.
For his innocence and lack of ethical “sophistication,” Brad Manning is held in isolation, under a 24-hour suicide watch. For providing a ray of hot light on the carefully constructed lies of our government, those associated with WikiLeaks are being monitored and harassed, and even threatened by various agents of the federal government, and its allies. Bob Gates suggests that Brad Manning is a traitor and that WikiLeaks is morally culpable in sharing information with Afghans that they can use against us.
As made clear by Julian Assange and others, the Afghans – while certainly victims of Washington, DC imperialism – are not victims of our institutional doublethink. They see what we do, how we do it, and they have relatively accurate theories as to why we are doing it. And unlike our generals, Afghans and their neighbors and friends, have developed and are developing a wide variety of effective strategies to get us to go away.
Instead of keeping us safe, prosperous and free, our government demands that we stay uninformed and obedient, and keeps its professional servants in a strict and constant state of doublethink. Gates and Obama and Petraeus are nervous, with their curious doublespeaking mantra that “The leaks are deadly dangerous, but not all that serious.” Perhaps they know an open secret: Regular Americans – newly aware, sharply analytical, financially pragmatic and deeply moral – are nearing their potential to become the most fearsome enemy of American empire on the planet.
August 3, 2010
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty and Power and The Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here or join her Facebook page.
Copyright © 2010 Karen Kwiatkowski