—Government label for Daniel Ellsberg after he released Pentagon Papers, revealing U.S. lies and deceptions during the Vietnam War.
America’s government under President Obama has become a Surveillance State with its National Security Agency spying at home and abroad.
Before whistleblower Edward Snowden was recently granted asylum in Russia, Attorney General Eric Holder declared that Russian President Putin should turn him over to the United States because fears of torture and execution were groundless.
It’s a sad reflection that America has to tell the world that it is a decent nation, not like those torturers and executioners in other countries.
Obama was so incensed by Putin’s decision that he canceled Moscow talks. But many Americans and much of the world were thankful for Snowden’s disclosures.
The New York Times pointed out “the national security apparatus has metastasized into a vast and unchecked exercise in government secrecy and the overzealous prosecution of those who breach it.”
Snowden released the documents because he refused to allow “the U.S. government to destroy privacy and basic liberties.” His view got scant support in the corporate media.
David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press” considered Snowden a criminal for leaking classified national security material. (Leaking is a crime only to the secrecy-obsessed government that classifies 92 million documents a year.) Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker columnist, blasted Snowden as “a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.”
Washington politicians weighed in, declaring that Snowden committed the ultimate crime by revealing how broadly the government is collecting phone and Internet records of Americans. The huffing was non-partisan. Republican House Speaker John Boehner said: “He’s a traitor.” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said: “it’s an act of treason.”
Meanwhile, another whistleblower, Private First Class Bradley Manning, faces a lifetime in prison.
A military court pronounced him guilty of violating the Espionage Act, a World War I law that President Nixon resurrected for his vendetta against Ellsberg. It called Manning’s release of 700,000 documents one of the greatest betrayals in U.S. history. In other words, a Benedict Arnold!
The truth is Manning, who revealed the extent of spying on the American people and even worldwide diplomats, is a scapegoat for illegal U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As media observer Noam Chomsky put it: “Manning is a hero. He is letting people know what their government is doing in secret. “
A U.N. special report on torture noted that U.S treatment of Manning was “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” The San Francisco Chronicle said: “The military treatment of Manning has been shocking, the Obama administration’s prosecution odious.”
It was indeed. After his arrest in 2010 Manning was isolated in the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia, awakened every five minutes during the day and made to stand at attention naked at night.
Yet Obama, the nation’s peerless leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, assured Americans that such treatment was for Manning’s own good. It’s shameful when the nation has a president with bestial values.
The fact is that military “justice” is injustice. Manning endured a show trial.
He was morally right to expose war crimes. Under international law he had an obligation to do so. The Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Charter support him.
Manning is an honest, earnest young man. His dog tag proclaims his cause: “humanity.”
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.