Little by little, day by day, the present and immediate past presidents of these United States have been scraping away the last remaining vestiges of democracy. It hasn't been a single-handed operation, of course. Inept or ill-intentioned aides, cabinet members and advisers are complicit; so is a corrupt and cowardly Congress; so, too, a wayward and enfeebled press and a politicized judiciary.
Today in Maryland, the U.S. Military began a new and shameful exercise in contempt for human rights, the Bill of Rights and and other quaint aspects of democracy: Pfc. Bradley Manning's sham trial began in a military court. The prosecution has named his alleged crimes 32 different ways, but ultimately they come down to this: he made the Truth public. For this our governors want him to pay with his life, either by killing him or stuffing him into the hellhole of prison without parole. He is 25 years old.
He will be judged in secret under something called the Universal Code of Military Justice, which is neither universal nor just. The code is designed to enable an elite and amoral leadership to enforce discipline upon a brainwashed legion of trained killers. Compassion, human rights -- even thinking, much less expressing forbidden thoughts -- have no place in this code.
But Bradley Manning is a compassionate and thoughtful man, one who finally acted on his beflief that murder and other high crimes must be reported to the public on whose behalf they are being committed. When he looked at video proof of a United States helicopter team laughingly assassinating innocent men, women and children, he acted. He gave this and thousands of other suppressed documents to WikiLeaks, the rogue journalists led by Julian Assange, an Australian, to publicize.
Now, like Daniel Ellsberg before him, he faces the wrath of our ever more secretive government. Ellsberg risked life and career to leak to the press a secret study of the Vietnam war, an act that arguably led to U.S. disengagement there. Manning said he believed "that if the public, especially the American public, had access to this information, this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general, as well, as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan."
Debate . . . on policy! I am old enough to remember when there were those in government who actually believed that that is exactly what government is supposed to do.
But that was long, long ago and, it seems, far, far away. This is now, this is today, and and today the Chief Executioner in this sham, Army Col. Denise Lind, has ruled that the 24 principal witnesses against Pvt. Manning may testify in secret.
The mere 70 (out of nearly 400 applicants) journalists who were credentialed to watch and report this farce won't even be able to tell the public who said, or showed, what, even though it may well send Pvt. Manning to face a firing squad.
I consider Ellsberg, Manning and Sy Hersh to be heroes for showing the American public the truth about Vietnam, Iraq/Afghanistan and My Lai. I decry as the ultimate treason our government's violent efforts to silence them and others like them.
You cannot, fellow Citizens, shrug this off as "not my business," or, worse, support your government in the name of "national security." If you allow the government to take away any citizen's rights, you forfeit your own, and there is no security.