Springing a leak
Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Even as the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico seems to be coming under control, and clean up appears to be on-going and responsible, new leaks in a different sphere of our national identity threatens to call national policies and actions into further question. &bsp;
On Friday July 30, 2010 Private Bradley Manning (formerly Specialist Manning) was removed to Quantico Marine Base in Virginia from a base in Kuwait. He is accused of leaking a video of a helicopter attack in a suburb of Baghdad, Iraq that killed two journalists, unarmed civilians and perhaps one or more insurgents. This very graphic video can be seen at CollateralMurder.com. Manning is also accused of handing over some 90,000+ secret documents containing raw data (according to the U.S. State Department) which could prove dangerous to both American and allied personnel. The claim is that the documents have been given to the notorious webmaster Julian Assange of Wikileaks.
A friend of Mannings has said that Manning wanted the perpetrators of the helicopter incident to be investigated so that similar situations could be prevented. The video shows a sinister side of U.S. combatants that is probably shocking to the average American who has no combat experience. Many combat vets will view it quite differently. The friend also portrays Manning as someone who wants policy to be more transparent than it really is. On the world stage, this may be a nave perspective.
One of the consequences our government fears is that behavior against American interests by our supposed ally Pakistan is exposed in some cable communications. Another is that so many details are revealed that might make it possible for intelligence sources to be identified.
Currently the airwaves and internet are abuzz with claims that Bradley is either a hero or a traitor. A case can be made for each side of that argument depending on ones view of the validity of this, or any other, war.
As I sifted through the reports on this event from various sources, I couldnt help remembering a similar hubbub that occurred in the early 1970s when Daniel Ellsberg leaked around 7,000 pages of classified documents that detailed the history of the U.S. governments involvement in the Republic of Vietnam from 1945 through 1967. Those papers revealed a multitude of lies and disinformation that the government had foisted upon the American public as the true nature of our involvement in Southeast Asia and around the world (especially Latin America) became known.
A similar hue and cry took place in those days, although it occurred without the benefit of the internet. At that time, the U.S. press was active and worked harder than todays press does to present the truth to the public. Ellsberg was brought to trial and, though not acquitted, the charges were dropped after the prosecutors played loose with the rules of the court. Ellsberg stated all along that he leaked the papers because he believed that the American public should know the truth about the attitudes and beliefs that governmental officials had about the conduct and likely outcomes of the war.
The motives of Ellsberg and Manning appear to be essentially the same each wanted to intervene in a war that he believed had no merit (Ellsbergs assessment was that Vietnam was a wrongful war). Both men worked in positions that required high level clearances. And both risked imprisonment or worse in order to present information that
they deemed important to the public.
Having read through numerous entries from the documents, I can see that there is some cause for concern from the release of this information Pakistani forces (ostensibly our allies) are shown to be actively involved in ambushes of American and Afghani troops; there is detailed information concerning intelligence that could lead the Taliban to sources for retaliation. However, the context of the overall situation needs to be considered as well. Having our personnel engaged in this futile struggle at the price of American lives and treasure, costs far more than the leaking of these documents ever could.
The major difference between the Pentagon Papers and the recently released documents is that the Pentagon Papers outlined policy attitudes and purposes that uncovered massive duping of the public as to the true motives of our leadership. The current documents portray the day to day activity of the progress of the war that is not reported by our lax media. Both sides of the posture of waging war deserve close examination.
Perhaps this latest development will provide the public with enough information to awaken the ire of the nation regarding the continuation of a war that can not be won and that wastes more than we could ever hope to gain. Maybe some good will come from this leak that will mediate against the harm that may come as well it really depends on whether the American public really wants to live up to the values it represents to the world at large.&bsp; &bsp;
Don Weathington is a retired psychotherapist and business owner who lives in Gillette Woods at a place called Birdland.