Wandering the chaos of the internet today, I came across this other declaration, with which I totally concur. While it didn’t really begin with 9/11, but had been in the works for some time before, with that event (yet to be meaningfully investigated by genuinely impartial parties), our government commenced a series of serious attacks on the Constitution, with perhaps “The Patriot Act” signalling the first step. Since then in one “legal” ruling after another the Bill of Rights has been stripped of meaning. As famously said by Mr Obama’s predecessor, “it’s just a goddamn piece of paper.”
While the circus of the Republican nominee selection process travels the country putting on its dog and pony show, back in DC, in the furious rush to wrap up “business” before the Christmas break, our wonderful Congressmen and women have hobbled together a fantastic new bill, the annual National Defense Authorization Act – to say “law” – which Barack Obama, our erstwhile scholar of the Constitution, and our erstwhile “liberal” President, had promised to veto if it retained a certain element that had been tacked on in the devious manner of our politicians, a “rider” having to do with giving the Executive the (unconstitutional) right to declare someone “a terrorist” or even someone as being vaguely in some way connected to a claimed “terrorist” and to arrest them, lock them up, hide them, and throw away the key. American or not, where ever they are. However, as is his way, Mr Obama did his feint to the left, and now is ready to sign this new bill/law. And bye-bye to what is left of the Constitution’s “Bill of Rights.”
Thus goes America’s political world, which, like our financial world, basically engages in a constant shell game, shuffling the cards like the hustler down on the corner. Just keep ‘em movin’ and no one will notice. So in short order, with a signature on this piece of typical Nazi-style “law” we will have all the trappings of a real genuine dictatorship. We have already had the practice, now we just need to formalize it in our “laws.”
In the same week as this dubious item, Bradley Manning surfaced from the Federal military detention system where he has been held the last year and a half, often naked, in what might reasonably be called less than “humane” conditions. He was taken, dressed, before a military tribunal to face whatever music they might wish to inflict for having released reams of governmental “secret” documents, many of which essentially described crimes committed by America’s military, along with many revealing views of those in government. While complying with the Nuremberg laws which require a citizen to report war crimes and crimes against humanity, which the American government purports to support and follow, Manning ran afoul of higher ups within our governmental system who regarded this a dire threat (which in fact it – the truth – is). Mr Manning will undergo this kangaroo court “trial” and be put away for decades, no doubt. In the same week, in Iraq, America did a military about face, at least in theatrical terms, and allegedly ended the war in said country, folding flags and driving military vehicles to next door Kuwait. The corporate news doesn’t see fit to inform our public how many “private contractors” receiving Federal funds remain in Iraq. The recipient of Mr Manning’s alleged leak, Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks, is in detention in the UK awaiting a British court’s decision whether he should be extradited to Sweden where two women, who admit to consensual sex with him, filed charges of subsequent rape for having had morning- after sex with them, allegedly without consent or condom. In the interim, while this wound its way through the UK’s legal system, American corporations – PayPal and others – commenced to refuse to service WikiLeaks’ fund-raising system, drying up its financial capacity to function.
And in yet this same week, a reporter, American, found a trove of US military documents in Iraq, which had been tossed in the garbage as the troops left. An Iraqi man was using them as a heating source, burning them. Some of the documents – 40,000 pages – the reporter obtained detailed “secret” testimony within the US military regarding the Haditha massacre of November 19, 2005. These documents reveal clear knowledge within the US military of what are certain “war crimes” but which were covered up as well as possible by American authorities.
While Pvt Manning is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison for releasing documents which reveal American war crimes, as well as other useful information regarding American practices, the soldiers who committed the Haditha murders have had charges dropped, been acquitted or been left alone. Sargeant Wuterich, the platoon commander, had his trial postponed until 2012. Apparently the papers discovered in Iraq last week will be pertinent – they clearly show a perfectly normal attempt by the military to cover up this war crime – one among thousands committed in the name of the United States, commencing with the lies which were used to initiate this war of choice upon a country which had nothing to do with 9/11. Naturally the perpetrators of those lies will never be prosecuted by America’s courts.
While beautiful, the above image, of a lake in Alaska, is less than lovely in other respects. By coincidence it was published in the NY Times within the same day as another report, from Russia. In both cases the substance of the articles was on the scientifically predicted surge of methane gasses which are coming from the warming of the arctic tundra and from undersea sources. The essential story is that biomass which has been frozen for hundreds of thousands of years is now warming, in effect fermenting, and releasing methane gasses into the atmosphere. Methane is a potent “greenhouse” gas, functioning to trap solar heat 20 times more effectively than does CO2. As predicted by many ecological scientists the warming of the arctic region will result in a feed-back loop in which the warming induced by industrial releases of carbon based gasses, will provoke the production of methane, which will hasten global warming, ad infinitum. The NY Times Andrew Revkin has a less apocalyptic view here.
In today’s emails came one from Michael Moore, which I think warrants as much exposure as it can get, so in case you did not get it, I print it below:
It’s Saturday night and I didn’t want the day to end before I sent out this note to you.
One year ago today (December 17th), Mohamed Bouazizi, a man who had a simple produce stand in Tunisia, set himself on fire to protest his government’s repression. His singular sacrifice ignited a revolution that toppled Tunisia’s dictator and launched revolts in regimes across the Middle East.
Three months ago today, Occupy Wall Street began with a takeover of New York’s Zuccotti Park. This movement against the greed of corporate America and its banks — and the money that now controls most of our democratic institutions — has quickly spread to hundreds of towns and cities across America. The majority of Americans now agree that a nation where 400 billionaires have more wealth than 160 million Americans combined is not the country they want America to be. The 99% are rising up against the 1% — and now there is no turning back.
Twenty-four years ago today, U.S. Army Spc. Bradley Manning was born. He has now spent 570 days in a military prison without a trial — simply because he allegedly blew the whistle on the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. He exposed what the Pentagon and the Bush administration did in creating this evil and he did so by allegedly leaking documents and footage to Wikileaks. Many of these documents dealt not only with Iraq but with how we prop up dictators around the world and how our corporations exploit the poor on this planet. (There were even cables with crazy stuff on them, like one detailing Bush’s State Department trying to stop a government minister in another country from holding a screening of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.’)
The Wikileaks trove was a fascinating look into how the United States conducts its business — and clearly those who don’t want the world to know how we do things in places like, say, Tunisia, were not happy with Bradley Manning.
Mohamed Bouazizi was being treated poorly by government officials because all he wanted to do was set up a cart and sell fruit and vegetables on the street. But local police kept harassing him and trying to stop him. He, like most Tunisians, knew how corrupt their government was. But when Wikileaks published cables from the U.S. ambassador in Tunis confirming the corruption — cables that were published just a week or so before Mohamed set himself on fire — well, that was it for the Tunisian people, and all hell broke loose.
People across the world devoured the information Bradley Manning revealed, and it was used by movements in Egypt, Spain, and eventually Occupy Wall Street to bolster what we already thought was true. Except here were the goods — the evidence that was needed to prove it all true. And then a democracy movement spread around the globe so fast and so deep — and in just a year’s time! When anyone asks me, “Who started Occupy Wall Street?” sometimes I say “Goldman Sachs” or “Chase” but mostly I just say, “Bradley Manning.” It was his courageous action that was the tipping point — and it was not surprising when the dictator of Tunisia censored all news of the Wikileaks documents Manning had allegedly supplied. But the internet took Manning’s gift and spread it throughout Tunisia, a young man set himself on fire and the Arab Spring that led eventually to Zuccotti Park has a young, gay soldier in the United States Army to thank.
And that is why I want to honor Bradley Manning on this, his 24th birthday, and ask the millions of you reading this to join with me in demanding his immediate release. He does not deserve the un-American treatment, including cruel solitary confinement, he’s received in over eighteen months of imprisonment. If anything, this young man deserves a friggin’ medal. He did what great Americans have always done — he took a bold stand against injustice and he did it without stopping for a minute to consider the consequences for himself.
The Pentagon and the national security apparatus are hell-bent on setting an example with Bradley Manning. But we as Americans have a right to know what is being done in our name and with our tax dollars. If the government tries to cover up its malfeasance, then it is the duty of each and every one of us, should the situation arise, to drag the truth, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the light of day.
The American flag was lowered in Iraq this past Thursday as our war on them officially came to an end. If anyone should be on trial or in the brig right now, it should be those men who lied to the nation in order to start this war — and in doing so sent nearly 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to their deaths.
But it is not Bush or Rumsfeld or Cheney or Wolfowitz who sit in prison tonight. It is the hero who exposed them. It is Bradley Manning who has lost his freedom and that, in turn, becomes just one more crime being committed in our name.
I know, I know, c’mon Mike — it’s the holiday season, there’s presents to buy and parties to go to! And yes, this really is one of my favorite weeks of the year. But in the spirit of the man whose birth will be celebrated next Sunday, please do something, anything, to help this young man who spends his birthday tonight behind bars. I say, enough. Let him go home and spend Christmas with his family. We’ve done enough violence to the world this decade while claiming to be a country that admires the Prince of Peace. The war is over. And a whole new movement has a lot to thank Bradley Manning for.