Military Madness and PFC Manning

Webs of blinding irony reminiscent of the superspider’s in The Lord of the Rings are being spun around Private First Class Manning, obscuring the military’s methodical denial of Manning’s constitutionally guaranteed right to a fair trial.

The first was woven by the Commander in Chief himself, with a public declaration that Manning was guilty of committing a crime, when PFC Manning was still in prison awaiting legal proceedings. Allowing that declaration to appear in the media unchallenged. Barack Obama prejudiced all subsequent works of the legal machinery with regard to the whistleblower’s case, and forecasted their outcome.

Obama is the Chief Justice, as it were, of the military. Had he any concern for authentic justice in the case of PFC Manning, the charges against Manning would be dismissed forthwith on that basis alone. Instead, his comment is gone but not forgotten, subliminal, a musty cobweb.

Tangled with that is the irony of Obama’s promise to the people of the United States that, when he succeeded to the office of president, he would do precisely what PFC Manning has had the courage to do: Manning increased government and military transparency; highlighted the destructive potential of what Eisenhower termed the military industrial government complex; and proved the crucial and constructive role of whistleblowers in society. Meanwhile Obama’s administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any of his predecessors, using the mothballed Espionage Act of 1917 … a tool of J. Edgar Hoover, a master spider.

Overlay that sickening irony with the employment of various psychologists and pundits to “assassinate” Manning’s character by bringing the complexity of Manning’s gender identity to the attention of the public in an effort to push the transphobia button. (In a chat log published by Wired, Manning came out as transgender to former hacker Adrian Lamo, indicating a preference for the name Breanna rather than Bradley, and a desire to transition to a female identity.)

One of the pundits using transphobia to smear Manning is Joy Reid, who labels Manning “a guy seeking anarchy as a salve for his own personal, psychological torment.” Perhaps Reid can’t handle PFC Manning’s honest and refreshingly youthful, ingenuous questionings of identity. Maybe she’s got herself wrapped up so tight, anything that might undo her ideas has to be tagged “anarchy.”

How else could Reid miss Manning’s guilelessness, care for the world and its people, and conscious desire to come to the rescue in a dark hour?

Manning hoped that “explaining how the First world exploits the Third world, in detail from the inside … might actually change something (Manning’s chatlogs).” Note the irony of the word “change” … evoking something we longed for, and have been denied. Manning believed in deep, systemic change and sought to embody it.

The rest is spun and tightened to strangle the remaining outrage and protest in the body politic. The show trial wherein most of the defense’s witnesses have not been permitted to testify. The secrecy of the trial proceedings themselves. Michael Ratner, attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, has described them:

As a …. legal advisor to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, I continue to attend Manning’s hearings and can only describe them as theater of the absurd: the trial involves numerous and lengthy off-the-record conferences, out of sight of press and the public, after which the judge provides an in-court summary that hardly satisfies standards of “open and public.” Perhaps more remarkable is the refusal even to provide the defense with a pre-trial publicity order signed by the judge—an order that details what lawyers can and cannot reveal about the case. Yes, even the degree to which proceedings should be kept in secret is a secret, leaving the public and media in a Plato’s Cave, able only to glimpse the shadows of reality.

Manning was familiar with a very stark reality. That was another of the reasons Manning cited in the chatlogs as a reason for becoming a whistleblower, writing “I think I’ve been traumatized too much by reality, to care about consequences of shattering the fantasy.”

And even while feeling that trauma, PFC Manning had the discernment to allow only secret or unclassified materials into the release of the 260,000 State Department cables … whereas Daniel Ellsberg of the infamous Pentagon Papers released top secret information and is now respected as a patriot.

We the body politic, sensing our government and our military preying not only on PFC Manning but on us, on our freedom of thought, on our rights to information and to justice, can resist the venom, even in the face of this juggernaught of stifling irony and injustice.

We are alive, and so is PFC Manning, who has offered us the gift of consciousness and truth and thus drawn a connection between us. “I feel connected to everyone … like they were distant family,” Manning wrote in the chatlogs. “We’re killing ourselves … and no one seems to see that … and it bothers me.”

We see it, PFC Manning. We are still breathing, still thinking, and we want you to know that you really did “change something,” as you wished to do. The life in your truth, in your gift to us, is still quite vital. You are keeping us all alive.

May we obtain your freedom.

Lynn Feinerman is a writer and media maker, and has been an active member of the Jewish Renewal community for twenty-five years. She’s written for Tikkun on other subjects.
 
tags: Gender & Sexuality, Justice & Prisons, US Politics, War & Peace   
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3 Responses to Military Madness and PFC Manning

  1. PatG June 14, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Thank you Lynn Feinerman for your exquisite article detailing the vast web of injustice that envelops Bradley and threatens to further choke the lifeblood of our nation. Thank you for your passionate support of what we hold dear.

  2. David Alman July 2, 2012 at 8:31 am

    I too would like to thank Lynn Feinerman for her moving and insightful article on Manning. As someone who has been involved in the unraveling of the government’s case against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg ever since their trial in 1951, what has struck me the most about the Manning case is that virtually every violation of the Rosenberg’s legal rights have, in the intervening 61 years, been written into law or legitimized by Presidential Orders. When you add in the unprecedented “legal assassination” law, our trial laws are now a little worse than those prevailing in colonial days. Thus, the efforts to obtain justice for Manning resonate with the need to overcome the erasure of at least 3 centuries of progress in defendants’ rights.

    David Alman

  3. MajWillaimMartin July 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I thank the one who directed me to this site.

    I often wonder when we read headlines such as…
    US Arms for Al Qaeda in Syria seized in Lebanon.
    US and Al Qaeda in full agreement on Syria.
    US say’s it can use Al Qaeda in Syria temporarily.
    CIA sending Arms to Al Qaeda rebels in Syria.

    Then we have the US State Department trying to de-list the Mujaheddin (MEK) from the list of known Terrorist’s organizations.

    Or how V.P. Joe Biden say’s, “The Taliban aren’t enemies of the US. This confirmed by the White House and Welcomed by the Taliban. Yet the Taliban continues to attack NATO bases, US Embassy’s, Kill the Seal Team 6 + and now releasing top Taliban leaders from Bagram Prison and soon GITMO.

    So (WHO) is this Enemy that Manning was alleged to have offered any aid to?

    Is the “Other Enemy” perhaps one of the above groups that the US Government is in violation of [section #45 of the NDAA] for supporting them with Arms, Communications equipment and Intel to continue these Regime Changes?

    What happened to the Geneva Convention and where those before were HUNG for their WAR CRIMES. What of the Million Iraqi’s MURDERED for defending themselves against an Illegal Invasion all based on a lie. (Oh I am sorry, We had bad intel) Forgive us all for killing your whole family.

    It is a sad time when our Leaders (Like Bankers) can exempt themselves from actions taken under the premise of lies.

    I wanted to ask Dick Cheney if he ever asked one of the 4,801 American Soldiers if they liked being treated as Liberators.. Oh wait. They are Dead. In the USA if we were attacked we would be called Patriot’s for defending our Country. In other countries Your called an Insurgent for doing the same thing against US Aggression War Fare.
    FAIL!

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