As we hear the disturbing news that whistleblower Bradley Manning has been sentenced to thirty-five years for revealing war crimes, I’d like to recommend our readers check out Christopher Yates’ article “The Whistleblower’s mad moral courage” in the Guardian.
Excerpt (spoiler alert): The final irony lies in the whistleblower’s faith in normal people, the assumption that they will welcome being less deceived, and use the revelations to press for reform in their governments and institutions.
For these delusions, whistleblowers have been punished, again and again, throughout history. But for whatever reasons, still they do it. In a ghastly way, those Soviet pseudo-scientists might have been right: viewed from the perspective of a normal person, such an individual would have to be a little sick in the head.
Yates’ article, and Manning’s plight, brought to mind one of the greatest poems of the last century:
i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or
his wellbelovéd colonel (trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but—though an host of overjoyed
noncoms (first knocking on the head
him) do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments—
Olaf (being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds, without getting annoyed
“I will not kiss your f.ing flag”
straightaway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)
but-though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation’s blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skillfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat—
Olaf (upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
“there is some s. I will not eat”
our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died
Christ (of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you
Quinn Norton has written an interesting piece on “Bradley Manning and the Two Americas” which points to the differences between the America Bradley Manning represents – a country based on the idea of the people governing on the basis of correct information, and the hierarchical Empire of power represented by Obama.
The irony is, for all his supposed power, pomp and circumstance, despite the sentence his kangaroo court has doled out, in the fullness of time it will be Obama (who as a candidate told us whistle-blowers are essential to democracy and must be protected from reprisal) who will be remembered for betraying the American people, and Bradley Manning as a moral being who did the right thing.
Bradley Manning is now destined to be the world’s most famous political prisoner and how long he actually spends in prison depends on the support he receives from around the world.
HRI condemns the sentence and calls for Bradley Manning’s immediate release.
(Updated after sentencing)