FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Manning Trial Rests

by BINOY KAMPMARK

Moral courage – not afraid to say or do what you believe to be right.

-Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, The Memoirs of Field Marshall Montgomery, 1958

The farce is done, and one might say that the farce has ended – at least for now.  An interregnum of unclear and sinister stupidity has descended in Fort Meade, Maryland. Certainly, Rabelais would express considerable disgust at the folly that has been the Manning trial, a show of a state’s indifference to the human credentials of the accused.  Draw the curtain, the farce is played.

The story of WikiLeaks, the most modern and most daring of journalistic projects, is very much a story of the link with this young man.  That is where the farce continues, thudding and pulsating away in the briefs of prosecutors who are desperate to get their mitts on the organisation and supporters.  The Manning-WikiLeaks bond is a bond, part holy, part profane, a mix so terrifying to establishment security that it has brought the vulgar and brutish out to play.

The target lies well and beyond Manning.  Lead prosecutor Major Ashden Fein was clutching at straws in his summing up.  Julian Assange, first placed candidate for the WikiLeaks Party for the Australian Senate, potentate of the new publishing, was facilitating perfidy on the part of Manning.  Assange was “the enemy” who had been aided by a wobbly anti-patriot.  “Your honour, he was not a whistleblower, he was a traitor.”

The WikiLeaks outfit itself was deemed anarchical in its disposition to information, a situation that might well make a few beam with pride, but missed the point, yet again.  Every despot, or rigid intelligence structure, will regard any entity or individual keen to shed light on its abuses as radical and unduly anarchistic.  The unaccountable have such thin skins.

As Philip Dorling of The Age (Jul 27) reminds us, “more than 20 direct references to Mr. Assange and many more to WikiLeaks” were made during the final presentation.  Indeed, he notes Major Fein’s words that Private Manning “knew that WikiLeaks, and specifically Julian Assange, considered themselves the first intelligence agency for the general public” as it did “everything an intel[ligence] agency does.”  In the battle of ideas, one’s enemy often supplies you with the best description.  An intelligence agency for the general public is radical democracy in action, anathema for any imperial Republic and its unimaginative satraps.

Daniel Ellsberg, that durable mandarin of security disclosures, reminds us that, if “the ‘aiding the enemy charge is permitted to stand, this case will forever change the ability of journalists to reveal the most important crimes of the state”.  This will have another more striking consequence: the immunisation of U.S. foreign policy from critique and exposure.  The cyclopean giant, already blind, will have no other eyes to keep watch over its failings.

This strategy is being written on walls in high places.  Find the whistleblower. Find the journalist and recipient of the material. Link them in the co-conspiracy chain as plotters against the state, the anti-patriot in communion with the hostile enemy.  As Assange himself has argued, a conviction on the charge of aiding the enemy will “be the end of national security journalism in the US” (Associated Press, Jul 27).

Manning’s charges and trial is indicative about what the modern surveillance state entails. It is not the orthodox Stalinist killer in khaki, the overlord of soul and country; it is the invisible, all pervasive presence of a monitoring system that is explained as benign, a soft padding necessary for “safety”.  It only remains solvent in the face of apathy.

This is a farce which has had a corroding effect on Manning.  But beyond Manning, the chill, the freeze on overall journalistic enterprise, may be incalculable.  Washington is not so much clenching its fist as tightening a noose.  And yet, for all of this rough handling we will still see those leaks as they spring forth from the font of moral conscience.  We will see disclosures from citizens within organisations bitten by the bug of corruption.  As Field Marshal Viscount Slim noted in a broadcast on his days in Burma fighting the Japanese, “Moral courage is a higher and rarer virtue than physical courage.”  It is here to stay, an obstinate, determined presence beyond executive fiat or military trial.

Binoy Kampmark was as Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail