In the trial of Bradley Manning, Judge Colonel Denise Lind has ruled that the most series charge of aiding the enemy cannot be dropped. She said, “He was knowingly providing intelligence to the enemy.” That statement shocks me on two levels. First, she seems to have already convicted him. Second, really?! If we are talking about Osama Bin Laden, then this is clearly not true. If we are talking about the press, then okay. In modern America, the government has defined its enemies so broadly and the concept of damage so vast that no one can say anything without risking indictment.
But the government apparently now knows that some of Manning’s leaked information was found on Bin Laden’s computer. When the government killed him, you were probably like me in thinking, “I’ll bet there is some good information that the government can use to fight terrorists.” But apparently not. There was good information there for the government to use to oppress its citizens. James Madison would be so proud!
In general, I’ve always seen military courts as little more than well catered drumhead court-martials. So I’ve never expected that Bradley Manning would get justice. The only question in my mind is whether he will die in prison. Judge Lind’s ruling is yet another step in that eventuality. There is still some hope, but I’m not optimistic.
The fundamental problem with the military is that it stands against everything that is supposed to make America great: our individual spirit. I’ve increasingly found the Nuremberg trials hard to accept. Certainly, I strongly believe that it is no excuse to say, “I was just following orders.” But there is a bait and switch that has gone on—a clear demonstration that the winners write the history. What we are told is that one should push against authority if that authority will go on to lose. But here in the United States where our military is as big as the next 11 countries combined, one should always follow orders. If you try to shed some light on the misbehavior of our government, we will hunt you down to the end of the earth. And as in Manning’s case: we will deprive you of basic human rights and charge you with outrageous offenses.
I hate to say this, but it’s true. The only way one can be really proud of this country right now is to live in delusion. The more you know, the worse it is. Whether for our own citizens or others, we don’t stand for what is right. Like all countries that get big enough, we stand for might. And God help those who forget that.
Update (20 July 2013 1:32 pm)
I have not seen any information indicating that leaked documents were found on Bin Laden’s computer. The case the government is making is weaker even than that. The idea is that if Manning leaked any information that Bin Laden might have found interesting, then Manning is a traitor. I’ll keep you updated.