Barack Obama’s are screwed.
Bradley Manning was sentenced today; she got 35 years† for the release of classified documents. In way that’s cheering. The Prosecution charged her with offenses which could have ended up with her in prison* for the rest of his life. That charge was not sustained by the judge (though I think it ought never have been entertained by her; that it was is disturbing), and they asked for 60 years on the charges for which convictions were handed down.
In one regard, she’s lucky. If she moves to someplace like Michigan when the sentence expires she will get most of his civil rights restored, Florida, not so much The Penal Barracks have pretty good policies regarding parole/time off for good behavior. With the (inadequate**) amount of credit for time served, she is eligible for parole in about 10 years. The gov’t is likely to oppose her release. Hard call what the board will decide. I don’t think she will be there for the entire 31 years, and change, remaining in her sentence.
On the one hand this is a minor loss to the gov’t/Obama adminstration. they wanted to put her away for life, “pour encourager les autres“. Certainly the people baying for other people involved with leaks in the public interest to be killed outright are working to make it more dangerous to try and reveal secret gov’t policies. And the harassment of people who are near to them is right up there with other totalitarian ideas of guilt by association, and collective punishment.§
So that’s one priority. Someone who released information to inform the public of what the gov’t was doing in their name, is being locked up. Charged with “aiding the enemy” because (after the press refused to look at the documents) she went to Wikileaks, which put it on the Web where “bad guys” could see it. That’s a pretty fucked up interpretation of the law. Speak out in a public forum = aiding the enemy.
Flip side: We have torturers among us. Some have been sanctioned. Graner and Englund went to jail. Gen. Karpinski was relieved of command. Graner, was sentenced to 10 years. He’s already out on parole. On Christmas, 2014, his sentence ends. He was the last of those convicted to be released, which is fitting because his 10 year sentence was the harshest punishment handed down. For all the abuses, and torture, which took place at Abu Ghraib, only 10 people were charged, and only nine convicted of anything. No one was charged with torture, nor any form of homicide; though some of the prisoners in their custody died.
The people who wrote, and approved the Bybee Memos suffered not a single harm (one of them, John Yoo, is teaching law at Berkeley). The president who asked for those memos… no one really cares. The vice president who defends them still, no one really cares. The general who was brought in to “Gitmo-ize Abu Ghraib, no one really cares. War Crimes, committed for years, and we “are looking forward”. Which is bullshit. One can’t look forward to find justice. Justice means looking back and examining what was done in the past.
No, this is a case of priorities. Obama, Pelosi, Reid, none of them give a shit about torture. It’s a shame that it happened. It will be a shame if we find out it’s still happening; but the bigger problem is the people who tell us what’s going on; the sort of person who would reveal to the world that our government is committing crimes; even when those crimes are likely to undermine the system which is committing them. Torture is bad. It’s arguable that spying on the citizenry is worse; not least because it makes it easier to cover up things like torture. Edward Snowden fled the US to China, and then to Russia. There may have been (probably was) a cynical attempt to exploit some realpolitik, and he was counting on one of them to want more to find out what he had than to give him up (and/or that what he had was going to make them upset enough with the US to think sticking a finger in our eye was a useful thing).
Think about that; he decided the safest course of action was to defect to China, because he knew (from watching Bradley Manning’s treatment; and perhaps the people saying Tsarnaev ought to be tried as, “an enemy combatant”, never mind that he’s a US citizen, and the crime he committed took place in the US), that being a whistleblower means becoming a high-value target for the government: moreso than it was under Bush fils.
Obama’s priorities are fucked up.
*I am not going into the question of Manning’s gender; so far he has not asked for the use of other pronouns, so I am using those which seem to be comfortable for him (not that I think he will ever see this). If that changes, I will edit this post to reflect it. (Edit: As of now Manning has said she is a woman, and so wishes to be referred to with female pronouns/referents. I made some changes to reflect that).
†Being at Ft. Leavenworth is almost certainly a large step up from being in a non-military prison. There is, so I have heard, a certain sense of not-quite camaraderie which comes of having shared a common ethos; and the regimentation is, while tedious (the amount of outside access is quite limited; no internet, no email, and books/magazines have to be deemed acceptable; mail is read, etc. But the level of interpersonal violence is a lot less. (Edit: I don’t know what policies/procedures are in place at Ft. Leavenworth to cope with Manning’s status as a transgendered female; so some of these speculations are now less clear to me.
**In that the DoD tortured her, and kept her in cruel and unusual conditions.
§It’s not that I think the US Gov’t wouldn’t do some of that; just that they’d use the FBI, and an NSA, so that the press in question would be (in theory) unable to talk about it. If they thought they could be that high-handed, they would.
ø Confession time: I know many of the people involved in the DIlawar Case. Including all the Intel People who were convicted. I served with them in Iraq, before some of them went on to Abu Ghraib.
ΨThe punishment options were open-ended. I don’t know what the prosecution asked for but this is the text of the most serious of the three charges she faced.
928. Art. 128. Assault
(a) Any person subject to this chapter who attempts or offers with unlawful force or violence to do bodily harm to another person, whether or not the attempt or offer is consummated, is guilty of assault and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. (b) Any person subject to this chapter who-