December 1, 2012

Notes: Bradley Manning

Sam Smith - What happened to Bradley Manning was not excessive punishment, misguided retention nor other amoral self-protective verbiage of Washington's politicians and journalists. It was torture, a violation of US and international law.

The Eighth Amendment, for example, bars "cruel and unusual punishment, a term that first appeared in the British Bill of Rights in 1689. In 1972, Justice Brennan described it as

In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan wrote, "There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is 'cruel and unusual'."
  • The "essential predicate" is "that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity," especially torture.
  • "A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion."
  • "A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society."
  • "A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary."
As America has moved to the right, its major media has increasingly adopted the self-protecting language of the government it is supposed to be  reporting and exposing and so torture just becomes one more procedural error, if that.

One of the things that impresses me about organizations that help whistleblowers is that their staff needs not only to be attuned to the law, the politics and the media of the situation, they also need to be extremely good therapists. For most whistleblowers, like Bradley Manning who will be 25 on December 17, this is a first time experience and they have little understanding of the full implications of what they have done. This hardly ever get mentioned. Instead, the media complains that they didn't follow bureaucratically correct whistleblowing procedures. This is like blaming the victim of a bad crash for not calling their insurance agency soon enough.

There are five million people who already had access to the information that Bradley Manning revealed. That's not a secret; that's class privilege.




2 comments:

Anonymous said...

For most whistleblowers, like Bradley Manning who will be 25 on December 17, this is a first time experience and they have little understanding of the full implications of what they have done. This hardly ever get mentioned. Instead, the media complains that they didn't follow bureaucratically correct whistleblowing procedures.

That's not unique to this situation.

I couldn't tell you the number of times I've had some clerk or other bureaucrat chastise me for not knowing their procedures.

When I ask them why I should be expected to know them, they seem nonplussed, as though I'd asked them why I should be expected to know if rain were falling on me.

To them, their procedures are the most important things in their world, and everyone of any consequence knows them. That we're not among that group is a sign of our unimportance and even moral failing.

Anonymous said...

5 million's a bit of an exaggeration isn't it..? I mean I get where you're coming from, but, do you have any sources for that number?