Under Obama, Better to Commit a War Crime Than Expose One

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/07-1

by Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis

March 7, 2011

Bradley Manning is accused of humiliating the political establishment by revealing the complicity of top U.S. officials in carrying out and covering up war crimes. In return for his act of conscience, the U.S. government is holding him in abusive solitary confinement, humiliating him and trying to keep him behind bars for life.

The lesson is clear, and soldiers take note: You’re better off committing a war crime than exposing one.

An Army intelligence officer stationed in Kuwait, the 23-year-old Manning – outraged at what he saw – allegedly leaked tens of thousands of State Department cables to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. These cables show U.S. officials covering up everything from U.S. tax dollars funding child rape in Afghanistan to illegal, unauthorized bombings in Yemen. Manning is also accused of leaking video evidence of U.S. pilots gunning down more than a dozen Iraqis in Baghdad, including two journalists for Reuters, and then killing a father of two who stopped to help them. The father’s two young children were also severely wounded.

“Well, it’s their fault for bringing kids into a battle,” a not-terribly-remorseful U.S. pilot can be heard remarking in the July 2007 “Collateral Murder” video.

None of the soldiers who carried out that war crime have been punished, nor have any of the high-ranking officials who authorized it. Indeed, committing war crimes is more likely to get a solider a medal than a prison term. And authorizing them? Well, that’ll get you a book deal and a six-digit speaking fee. Just ask George W. Bush. Or Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld or Condoleezza Rice. Or the inexplicably “respectable” Colin Powell.

In fact, the record indicates Manning would be far better off today – possibly on the lecture circuit rather than in solitary confinement – if he’d killed those men in Baghdad himself.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/07-1

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