By John Amaruso
“The phrase that continuously runs through my mind is ‘To be silent is to be complicit.’” – Dr. Margaret Flowers
The Bradley Manning Case:
I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation by a man named Robert Shetterley. Shetterley, an activist and artist, was invited to present his new series of artwork entitled “Americans Who Tell The Truth“, a collection of portraits of citizens who spoke to authority, engaged actively in prompting positive social and political change, and enlightening people to injustices committed around the world. As noted in AWTT’s mission statement, “AWTT teaches the courage to act for the common good.” His artwork includes such figures as Dwight Eisenhower, Martin Luther King Jr., Mark Twain, Jane Addams, and Muhammad Ali. His paintings exhibit a deep appreciation for the work these individuals did in responding to their civic duties. It was one painting in general that caught my attention though. It was that of Bradley Manning.
Bradley Manning, a United States soldier was arrested in 2010 for having smuggled classified material out of the Pentagon to the infamous whistle blower organization Wikileaks. Manning uncovered thousands of pages of evidence purporting that the U.S. government along with its allies committed war crimes, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians, corruption of resources, and the inner workings of the now infamous drone program. His portrait is one of the latest pieces of work completed by Shetterley.
Shetterleys insight into Mannings alleged crimes and the connections he made to various other institutionalized operations of the U.S. government was jarring. Shetterley began by asserting that the U.S. governments new military tactic was an updated form of President Bush’s “Shock and Awe” campaign of the 2003 Baghdad bombing. The campaign which consisted of literally blowing away cities and villages is a psychological war technique which was implemented heavily in Vietnam. It’s used to ward off not only terrorists from the area, but entire swaths of civilization, leaving the area clear for exploitation and occupation for the conquerors.
The forced relocation of thousands of people resulting from the terrorizing of local populaces has left in its wake ravaged economies, plundered villages, and the deaths of hundreds of innocent people.
This tactic of terror is not only a military strategy, but a full blown industry. The United States largest industrial export is weapons, an estimated $10 Billion a year industry (some estimates are much larger). The manufacturing of tanks, military grade assault weapons, aerial defense weapons and weaponized naval ships sell like hot cakes to willing countries. A large majority of these weapons end up in the hands of rogue militias and terrorist organizations that perpetuate violence and conflict around the world.
It was the New York Times that published the famous Pentagon Papers, also known as the Vietnam Relations (1945-1967) that broke open the story of military corruption and widespread war crimes committed during the Vietnam War. Front and center, the front page of the New York Times exposed the Vietnam war for what it really was: a bottomless war based on a fruitless ideology for the exploitation of a region of the world haplessly set on its own course. The military’s reputation and its mission was shortly thereafter undermined when troops were pulled out in 1973.
The moral outrage in America was astounding. Millions took to the streets in anti-war movements, appalled at the live feed being transmitted into their homes of war torn cities, soldiers having limbs amputated, villages burnt to the ground, helicopters spraying agent orange and napalm to decimate forests and tribes, and politicians in the meanwhile passing the buck. The solidarity in the anti Vietnam war movement only escalated after the publishing of the New York Times article (SEE image).
Only 30 years later, a completely different political culture has arisen. One marked by secrecy and corruption. It began after Bradley Manning was able to download classified documents and files on a CD cleverly labeled “Lady Gaga”. His mission was to share this information with the world. What he had in his hands was clear evidence, both written and visual, of heinous crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bearing the responsibility of being one of a select few individuals privy to such essential knowledge, he felt obliged to report the war crimes, as is his duty as an American citizen and military officer.
What he discovered shocked him. Nobody would touch it. CNN, MSNBC, FOX, BBC, even the New York Times, not one of them would go near it. Not one media outlet would touch the facts he had in his possession. Quite possibly the biggest news story in the 21st century to date, and not a single journalist had the guts to take on the challenge.
There was one organization though that was willing to accept and publish this information; Wikileaks. The infamous media organization had no qualms with publishing the information, as transparency and truth is a key tenant in their mission to dissolve the world of crimes perpetrated by governments, corporations and rogue militia groups. Between April and November of 2010, Wikileaks published over 500,000 army reports, videos of the 2007 Baghdad airstrike and 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan and over 250,000 diplomatic cables. It was the largest amount of restricted information to ever be released.
His subsequent arrest was portrayed by the media as a case of espionage, a man who sought to destroy the United States from within. A rogue military soldier who exposed classified information vital to national security, threatening the lives of Americans abroad, and hurting Americas military mission in Afghanistan and Iraq. The military has kept a lock and key on Bradley Manning since his arrest, keeping him under 24 hour video surveillance and solitary confinement for over three years. His mental and physical state has been reported as deteriorating as he is set to stand trial in front of a military tribunal later this year.
What this story was meant to show was that ‘The Bradley Manning Case’ actions were not ill intentioned. It was not some sort of dubious maneuver to subversively undermine the U.S. government, selling secrets to ‘the enemy’ as the charges of espionage would imply.
The ‘secrets’ Bradley Manning was ‘selling’ were for you. And for me. And for anyone who is a citizen of the U.S. government and for that matter any democratic government of the world. This particular democratic government has committed acts you would only imagine a country the likes of Iran or North Korea would have the perverse moral standing to commit. It’s in the shining beacon of democracy and freedom where voices are silenced, the military is omnipotent, and the press is manipulated. It’s here as I write these words that we find a government willing to circumvent democratic mechanisms to further another hapless military mission in a far off land that is only benefiting the shareholders of a few large industries like Arms manufacturers and crude oil producers.
Why am I writing this? Because I believe in democracy, human rights, and freedom. Everything that the United States government has done in regards to foreign policy has opposed the fundamental beliefs which are sold to us daily as unchangeable tenants in U.S. democracy.
I’m sorry but in the face of these facts, I just can’t afford to buy it anymore.