TRANSCRIPT, OBAMA IN VIDEO: So people can have philosophical views [about Bradley Manning] but I can’t conduct diplomacy on an open source [basis]… That’s not how the world works. And if you’re in the military… And I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren’t allowed to, I’d be breaking? the law….We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.
Now watch this drive.
Caught on video, after the fundraiser in San Francisco last week when Bradley Manning supporters at a $5,000-a-plate dinner broke out in a song in support of Bradley, then were duly escorted out before dessert. Overlooking entirely the kind of prosecutorial misconduct known as “prejudicial statements,” which includes public statements assuming the guilt of an accused which makes it impossible for him to get a fair trial, President Obama makes the interesting claim that we are “a nation of laws.” But I don't see Dick Cheney doing time after his office's leak of the identity of a covert agent, Valerie Plame, which really was a crime specifically prohibited by the Covert Agents Identity Act which did real national security damage.
Special Forces Colonel Pat Lang testified before Congress that as a result of leaks like Plame, the “possibility of penetrating these [Jihadi] groups, the possibility of knowing that they're going to carry 10-pound bags of explosive in the subway stations, will go right down the drain.” Walter Pincus reported a former diplomat saying that:
“every foreign intelligence service would run Plame's name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities.”
“Every foreign intelligence service” would include the Pakistani ISI, which leaks like a sieve to Al Qaeda.
In this “nation of laws” I also don't see the Apache gunner being prosecuted who fired upon wounded, and those attempting to evacuate them, in Baghdad in 2007. It was on videotape that any prosecutor would dream of for an open and shut case, an action contrary to one of the oldest laws of war:
Article 12 of the Geneva Conventions: “…wounded or sick, shall be respected and protected in all circumstances. They shall be treated humanely and cared for by the Party to the conflict … Any attempts upon their lives, or violence to their persons, shall be strictly prohibited; in particular, they shall not be murdered or exterminated …”
The prohibition against killing wounded goes back to the Napoleonic Wars. Once the battle was over, soldiers often felt pity, even for the other side. The prohibition was a first step in the struggle back to humanity amidst the barbarism of war, which many hoped would someday itself become part of the past.
I also don't see any generals in isolation at Quantico for telling the very serious lie to their chain of command, revealed by Wikileaks, that the Taliban does not have SAMs (surface to air missiles) or that they had already shot down helicopters and killed many soldiers with them. The families of the fallen were told that their loved ones' deaths were due to “mechanical failure,” thus robbing them of the honor of falling in action.
If we are a nation of laws then why does Obama persist in pressuring Spain to not prosecute Bush, Rumsfeld, and Alberto Gonzalez for torture of its nationals? Oh yes, they are rich and powerful and one used to be president. But you bet if Cynthia McKinney were president, she wouldn't be standing in the way. And let's get it out of our heads that this is just about waterboarding, which Hannity/Limbaugh quickly jump to, on script, whenever torture is mentioned. If waterboarding were the worst of it, this would have died by now. The Justice Jackson Center is preparing a criminal complaint against Bush officials which alleges:
– Savage Beatings. Prisoners were severely and regularly beaten with clubs, rifles and fists. They were beaten to the point that bones were broken, ribs were fractured, and prisoners sometimes were killed.
– Peroneal Strikes. Peroneal strikes are a specific form of savage beating, consisting of blows to the soft tissue and nerves just above the knee. The falsely accused prisoner beaten to death at Bagram had been given so many peroneal strikes that a coroner testified that his leg tissue had '”basically been pulpified.'”
– Hanging By The Arms. A highly excruciating “stress position” torture used on many prisoners, sometimes every day for two to three months, is hanging them by their arms, often or usually on tiptoe.
– Slamming A Prisoner's Head Into Concrete Walls. In this torture a towel is wrapped around a prisoner's neck and is then used to propel the prisoner head first into a concrete wall. This torture was so fraught with risk of serious injury to or death of a prisoner that the CIA kept a doctor on hand at all times to guard against death or crippling injury.
– Additional “Stress Positions” And Electric Shocks. “Palestinian hangings,” they were hung by the arms with their feet on a drum through which electric shocks were applied to their feet; the shocks would cause the feet to “dance.”
And remember Dilawar, innocent, died at Bagram. Wiki:
Dilawar was a 22-year-old taxi driver and farmer from the small village of Yakubi, who was 5 ft 9 in. tall, and weighed only 122 pounds. Dilawar was transporting 3 passengers in his taxi, when he and his passengers were arrested at a checkpoint on a US base. The four men were detained and turned over to American soldiers…At Bagram, Dilawar was chained to the ceiling of his cell, suspended by his wrists for four days. His arms were dislocated from their sockets, and flapped around limply, whenever guards collected him for interrogation. During his detention, Dilawar's legs were beaten to a pulp and an amputation would have been necessary.
A nation of laws, Mr. Obama?
Finally, I don't see laws being applied to commanders in Iraq for allowing, and even helping, the Maliki government to round up, torture, and kill Iraqi dissidents who were passing out “anti-Iraqi literature,” which in essence asked “where did the money go?” for things like clean water, trash pick-up, and working sewers. This was Bradley's first assignment when he arrived in Iraq in 2009, to get to the bottom of what was going on. He found out that dissidents and journalists who were pointing out corruption in the Maliki government were being arrested, detained, tortured, and sometimes killed. In the words of writer Chase Madar, the US military had “a multitude of credible accounts of Iraqi police and soldiers shooting prisoners, beating them to death, pulling out fingernails or teeth, cutting off fingers, burning with acid, torturing with electric shocks or the use of suffocation, and various kinds of sexual abuse including sodomization with gun barrels and forcing prisoners to perform sexual acts on guards and each other.”
What did Bradley do? He ran to his superiors to report these crimes. He was told to “shut up” and go out and help find more dissidents.
These crimes are not abstractions in war zones. The U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, Chapter 5 Article 338 states on the subject of “internees,” meaning prisoners, during an occupation:
“Every death or serious injury of an internee, caused or suspected to have been caused by a sentry, another internee or any other person…shall be immediately followed by an official inquiry by the Detaining Power. A communication on this subject shall be sent immediately to the Protecting Power…the Detaining Power shall take all necessary steps to ensure the prosecution of the person or persons responsible.”
The “Detaining Power” would be the Iraqi government. The “Protecting Power” is the United States. Bradley was obeying the law.
Mr. Obama is in a ticklish position because the problem is, Bradley broke no laws. In America , whistleblowing is still not a crime, and causing political embarrassment is still not tantamount to treason. The US government presently classifies around 6 million documents, and the Pentagon has affirmed that no “informants” have been killed that it knows of as a result of the Wikileaks disclosures attributed to Bradley. Defense Secretary Bob-Predator-Drone Gates saying Wikileaks has “blood on its hands” is worse than a bad joke. It's sick.
“We have some very narrowly defined official secrets act that proscribe giving out, for example, nuclear weapons data or communications intelligence or the identities of intelligence agents, covert agents, like Valerie Plame—that was wrongly and unlawfully leaked…”
Do what you're going to do, Mr. President. You know you have enough Wall Street money, defense contractor money, trial lawyer money etc. to put you over the top in almost any Democratic primary challenge. You're a smart dude, smart enough to know that these prejudicial statements are contrary to prosecutorial ethics (and as Commander-in-Chief, you are the prosecutor here) and make it nearly impossible for Bradley to get a fair trial.
But whatever you do, please, please, don't be telling me this is a “nation of laws.”
This story, “Obama Pronounces Bradley Manning Guilty Before Trial, Affirms “Nation of Laws” as Bush Walks” first appeared on Daily Kos.