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

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail