Posted on 18-03-2011
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

“C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute”

(It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder) – Comment by a Napoleonic official on the judicial murder of the Duc d’Enghien.

“What’s being done to Bradley Manning by my colleagues at the Department of Defense is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” – Soon to be sacked State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley.

By sacking P. J. Crowley shortly after he committed the gaffe above (i.e. spoke the truth), Barack Obama has endorsed the sadistic jollies that Bradley Manning’s jailers receive from torturing him.  Previous winks at torture could somewhat be justified by the need to obtain information.  There is no such excuse here.  Bradley Manning is being subjected to a regimen that appears intended to drive him insane, allegedly because he is a suicide risk.  Then there is the ritualized humiliation of forced nudity and sleep deprivation he is being subjected to.   The media outrage at the treatment of a man not yet convicted of passing classified information to WikiLeaks is growing – see here, here, here, here, here, and here – but will probably have no effect on our ruling class.  At some point this should not be surprising.  On human rights, after the decree to close Guantanamo (which is still open), Obama has been a colossal disappointment and has been unwilling to stand up to the excesses of the national security apparatus.  His administration seems to pursue whistle-blowers more aggressively than the abuses they uncover.

Unlike some of my friends I do not condone Bradley Manning’s alleged leaking.  But he has not yet been convicted of his crime.  And even if he were, his treatment would still be unjustified.  The last decade has seen the Executive and Judicial branches wink at the abuse of prisoners.  Congress, which is particularly prone to jingoistic populism, is also useless.  Large sections of the Fourth Estate have also condoned torture because of the unsympathetic nature of people being tortured and the fears of terrorism.  This is a disgrace, as is Obama’s reaction to the news of Manning’s treatment:

“With respect to Private Manning, you know, I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assured me that they are.”

Gee..the alleged abusers have assured him that the treatment is appropriate.  End of inquiry.  How heartwarming.

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Via Joshua Green of the Atlantic: so spoke the only President of the United States to ever lead a union. The reference is to the Solidarity Trade Union that challenged the communist regime in Poland.

This is yet another piece of evidence that the mythology created by the Bircher, Birther and Know-Nothing rump of the Republican Party today does not comport to the reality of their hallowed President.  (Note: In the interest of being fair and balanced one must note that Reagan broke the air-traffic controllers union when they went on strike on the obvious public safety grounds, but as a man who drew his support from blue-collar Democrats did not actively attack the Unions).  The man was no bleeding heart liberal but had the pragmatism to raise taxes when needed, bailed out GM and Chrysler (sound familiar), refused to demonize gays, was willing to cut his losses and withdraw from Lebanon without trying to avenge the dead Marines, was willing to deal with the evil Empire and even Iran, and was willing to genuinely compromise with the Democrats instead of taking a position of “my way or the highway.”  Frankly none of the Republican Presidents since World War II would satisfy the purity test imposed on today’s Republican candidates.

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