Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bradley Manning's Sentence: 35 Years

Details here.

Particulars aside, the Obama administration may have succeeded in finding what many White House residents have long desired: a way to shut down whistleblowers. And our nation is the worse for it, again putting aside the particulars of Bradley Manning's case.

I spent some time thinking about how social and political change has been accomplished in my adult lifetime, and how Manning fits into the pattern. Very little has been accomplished to the benefit of our nation without premeditated civil disobedience on the part of determined citizens who refuse to be intimidated. Coward that I am, I have never "been to jail for justice" (the closest I've come is having been "escorted" by police away from the scene of a nonviolent Iraq War protest in the middle of Main Street), but most of my friends and political allies have been jailed at some point in their activist lives. For decades now, arguably much longer than that, civil disobedience has been part of our system, without which essential change would not happen. Likewise, leaks of information about illegal government actions, information held secret for the worst of purposes, have been utterly essential to the improvement of the worst aspects of our government. Civil disobedience and leaks are crucial to the improvement of the government in any free society; we can't do without them.

And yet Obama & Co. along with his DoJ wielding the antiquated Espionage Act, not to mention the police departments of many if not most large cities, not to mention other agents of government and a growing involvement of the military, are making their very best attempt to render the consequences of civil disobedience and leaks so unpleasant, so disruptive of a citizen's life, that few citizens will undertake it, in fear of those very consequences.

Believe me: whatever Obama and his henchmen may think, the nation is the worse for the loss of whistleblowers and nonviolent demonstrators. To turn the ACLU's "safe and free" saying on its head, we are now less safe... AND less free. Go ahead and chant "U-S-A... U-S-A..." all you want; the nation has suffered a devastating loss of all the elements that many of us treasured in the U-S-A. And this presidential administration, like the previous one, is very much to blame.

Freedom of speech as a corrective to governmental malfeasance may someday return to America. But it's going to be a long, hard road back...

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