workers freedom

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Free Bradley Manning

There is no horror, no cruelty, sacrilege, or perjury, no imposture, no infamous transaction, no cynical robbery, no bold plunder or shabby betrayal that has not been or is not daily being perpetrated by the representatives of the states, under no other pretext than those elastic words, so convenient and yet so terrible: “for reasons of state.” — Mikhail Bakunin

Bradley Manning faces more than a hundred years in military prison for peeling away the veil of secrecy that shields the government’s crimes. Some have tried to claim that his acquittal on the aiding the enemy charges proves that the system works. But he was convicted on espionage charges, and of many other offenses against the “order” and “discipline” required to sustain the modern state in all its brutality.

Not that those who claim the Espionage Act has been misapplied have any basis for their claims. The Espionage Act was passed during World War I precisely to protect the government from criticism. Like Manning, the overwhelming majority of those convicted under it have never been charged with anything resembling the popular understanding of the term. Rather, it has always been a means of silencing the government’s critics. Thousands of Wobblies, anarchists and socialists were imprisoned during the World War I-era espionage cases (and some tortured to death) not for revealing government secrets (unless the fact that the government serves to promote the interests of the rich, and has not the slightest regard for the lives and welfare of working people around the world is a secret), but rather for having the temerity to protest – to refuse to lend their silence to the facade of “national unity” that governments always rely on to conceal their crimes.

A couple issues back, Anarcho-Syndicalist Review referred to Obama as a Nixon Republican. So true. He doesn’t burgle his critics’ offices, perhaps, but that’s because he doesn’t need to. He has the NSA working overtime intercepting phone calls, sweeping up emails, and generally casting a surveillance net that would have left the old-time totalitarian states green with envy.

The commentariat are up in arms just now about Russia’s criticisms of the U.S. human rights record, and there’s no doubt that there’s more than a little hypocrisy at play given the Russian regime’s dismal record. But torture is now government policy – at Guantanamo as with Bradley Manning. No one even pretends that there’s any reasonable basis for caging most of those at Guantanamo – Obama is quite open in declaring that he’s doing it only for political reasons. I very much doubt whether the Russian regime has ever dreamed of the sort of total surveillance machine that we are assured is perfectly legal (at the very same time that they threaten those who made it public with the direst consequences).

Bradley Manning released video that made it clear for all to see that the U.S. army was murdering civilians and journalists in cold blood. He leaked documents proving the duplicity and deceit that underlies U.S. foreign policy – and the foreign policy of all states. Those who care to trudge through the Wikileaks archives can see the sorry spectacle of government at work – bullying Haiti to protect bosses from paying higher wages, shoring up corrupt regimes, coddling dictators, doing the nasty things that governments have always done.

It should be pretty clear who’s the criminal here.

Free Bradley Manning

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