Something refreshing happened this week. A government spokesman told the truth as he saw it. And today he was pressured to resign for it. As Huffington Post reports, blogger Philippa Thomas heard PJ Crowley speaking to a small group at MIT, and here is what she reported:
And then, inevitably, one young man said he wanted to address “the elephant in the room”. What did Crowley think, he asked, about Wikileaks? About the United States, in his words, “torturing a prisoner in a military brig”? Crowley didn’t stop to think. What’s being done to Bradley Manning by my colleagues at the Department of Defense “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” He paused. “None the less Bradley Manning is in the right place”. And he went on lengthening his answer, explaining why in Washington’s view, “there is sometimes a need for secrets… for diplomatic progress to be made”.
Ridiculous, counter-productive and stupid. The truth. He then supported the need for diplomatic secrecy. Far and wide the so-called MSM reported that this, telling the truth, was “controversial.” And then we learn:
Sec. of State Hillary Clinton said:
“It is with regret that I have accepted the resignation of Philip J. Crowley as assistant secretary of state for public affairs,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a statement Sunday. “P.J. has served our nation with distinction for more than three decades, in uniform and as a civilian. His service to country is motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy, and I wish him the very best.” (Source: HuffingtonPost.com)
Crowley’s statement upon his departure was as follows:
“The unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a serious crime under U.S. law,” he said. “My recent comments regarding the conditions of the pre-trial detention of Private First Class Bradley Manning were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership,” Crowley said. “The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values.”
Let it be noted that I do not defend lawbreaking or advocate breaking the law in any way. Yet Bradley Manning stands accused of a major crime, which could lead to his execution. So, many issues about this case could and should be raised. Can we just talk rationally about some of them?
–He is an alleged criminal, not a convicted one.
–GWB’s extreme injustice department notwithstanding, we are a nation of laws, or are supposed to be..
–We are bound by the Geneva Accords.
–The tragedy of 9-11, or the national nervous breakdown it caused, do not justify an endless list of overreaches.
–Though it has been badly trampled, there is a presumption of innocence in our country.
Beneath the surface of this case, there are so many other points to consider if we are ever to address secrecy as it has evolved in 21st Century America. Yet they are not likely to be examined because of the hysterical way we always discuss such cases in our country. The FAUX-led verbal lynch mob is full-throated, pit-bull-activated over everything. And yet our “justice system” requires us to consider the complexities in a less emotional way, however difficult that may be. Today, I shall examine the obvious one about the “elephant in the room” and its relationship to the treatment of Private Manning.
What happened to our country’s aim to be a shining example for other governments to follow? It is not too much to expect that our country’s leaders and its government follow the rule of law as surely as it expects its citizens to? We have laws for the treatment of prisoners. We have protocols, though they have been trampled upon by both the the Bush, and now the Obama, administrations. We heard the campaign promises. There was to be no torture under an Obama administration. Guantanamo will be closed…someday. Even as we wanted that prison closed and our treatment of prisoners made more systematically humane, we did not expect that Quantaco would import the deplored tactics stateside.
And now the promises ring hollow. PJ Crowely, at least seems to think there is torture going on at Quantico, as do any number of others. Is that why the administration went off on him? Embarrassment, again? Despite the government reaction, we are only as good as we treat the least of our compatriots, our enemies, and those who have trespassed against us, which in the wake of Guantanamo, and, especially, Abu Grahib, is not saying much. So here we are.
And I must ask: Are we ever to get it right again? Are we to put the accused on trial in a fair one? Or will we go the way of the crazed folks of a prior era who executed the Rosenbergs, who we now learn were probably innocent of the charges against them. Shall we learn the lessons of history? It must be said, however, that even if Manning is found guilty, the government treatment of him is still deplorable.
I can’t help but be concerned about whether Bradley Manning is guilty of the crimes he’s been accused of or whether he is a fall-guy for bigger fish. It never struck me as legit that this individual could have or would have passed on so much data. Call me skeptical. In that context, it gives me pause when our own government violates the Geneva Conventions against any prisoner. In this case, the solitary confinement pre-trial, the shake-downs, the abuse to force a (possibly false) confession, and the stripping naked of this prisoner for long periods of time are dehumanizing, disgusting, and appalling. I am disappointed beyond measure that our president, who condemned torture, would condone this treatment of Manning other prisoners. When confronted in a press conference last Friday, he demurred to the Dept of Defense, which tells him everything is A-OK.
Yes, my disappointment is with the President, the Secretary of State, but not PJ Crowley, the latest victim in our government’s ongoing mishandling of everything to do with our Iraqi and Afghanistan actions. We are also better than the horrendous way pols and talking heads lust for blood and the death of those they hate. We are better than the abuse of prisoners in our name. And we are better than jumping to conclusions first and thinking later. Not long ago, I jumped to conclusions about someone (on a policy matter) by not reading an article carefully enough. The VA legislator I wrongly criticized did not deserve my hasty judgment. I will strive to never let that happen again. And I hope he forgives me. This may not seem relevant, but we all do this. And we especially are quick to judgment in criminal cases playing out on the pages of our newspapers and web services.
When life or death is at stake how much more we owe our careful judgment! But just recently we in SW Virginia read in the “news” pages of the local paper of record that caring about innocence in not considered worth it by some, from an economic stand-point.
More than this callous disregard is needed to assure justice for all. How can we be ready to convey the necessary careful judgment if we are too quick to it? Whatever he has or has not done, Bradley Manning deserves that much. Let us not cower in the face of bullies who force a lynch-mob mentality upon this nation. One nation –supposedly with liberty and justice for all. Please, Mr. President, we are better than this. Please remember what you promised that day in 2008 when those of us in Southwest Virginia turned out to see our future president with so much hope for principled (not splitting-the-difference) leadership. Please, fellow citizens, let us reflect upon what we have and are becoming. And may our better “angels” be set free.
[The above is a portion of what I wrote on the subject. The remainder will be blogged as a followup in a day or two.]