Leniency for Generals, Jail Time for Whistleblowers

It’s no secret that the powerful in America are frequently immune to prosecution for committing far worse crimes than those by the powerless. Bush Administration torturers are on book tours while torture whistle-blowers are on trial. Wall Street executives are counting their bonuses while foreclosed homeowners are packing their bags. Life’s not fair.

That’s one reason why it was so startling to see General David Petraeus resign upon learning the FBI had discovered his extramarital affair with biographer Paula Broadwell. Surely, the director of the accountability-free, drone-happy CIA could sleep around as he pleased and not fear a fellow government agency would rat him out, right?

Ah, the unexpected pleasures of the ever-growing security state. It turns out the FBI found out that Petraeus shared more than a bed with Broadwell – likely his emails, rife with classified information, too, though he claims that Broadwell got the information from officials in Afghanistan. And this administration hates nothing more than the unintended release of classified information: despite anonymously leaking favorable-but-Top Secret information to the New York Times on a weekly basis, the Obama Administration has tried to use the Espionage Act to convict whistle-blowers more often than all previous administrations combined.

But not so fast. Gen. Petraeus is still their man, with a reputation to uphold. So when President Obama was asked about the potential security breach, he said, “I have no evidence at this point, from what I’ve seen, that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security.”

The statement is crafted to appear interested in the good of national security, to appear to put America’s safety first. But the subtext says much more: ‘There may have been a classified disclosure that didn’t impact national security at all, or that did so positively, but that isn’t a problem.’

These comments directly contradict government arguments in a much bigger ongoing investigation: that of WikiLeaks and PFC Bradley Manning. Cutting off PFC Manning’s ability to argue that he was a whistle-blower, who knew that the information WikiLeaks released wouldn’t bring harm to national security but instead would properly inform the American citizenry, the government prosecution has fully precluded discussion of whether or not WikiLeaks’ releases brought harm to national security from the trial. Even conceding that WikiLeaks’ release of hundreds of thousands of documents may not have harmed national security, the government says the effect is irrelevant to PFC Manning’s guilt or innocence.

But Gen. Petraeus – or any of the other high-ranking officials who leak Top Secret information, a classification level higher than anything PFC Manning is accused of releasing – will not be held to this standard.

This is the chilling effect on whistle-blowing: share classified information with a biographer selling books by glorifying your war-making, and your president assures the press that you’ve caused no harm; share crimes, uncounted civilian casualties, and corporate backroom dealing with your fellow tax-paying citizens, and you face a potential life sentence in prison, not to mention nine months of confinement abuse, an extensively delayed trial, and your presidentdeclaring you guilty before trial.

Time and again, PFC Bradley Manning is stepped on so the military can discipline dissent and discourage those he might inspire. Meanwhile, the prurient press is more curious about Gen. Petraeus’ sex life than the growing security state and the whistle-blowers trying in vain to stop it before it consumes as all. We cannot afford to abide this double standard any longer.

Nathan Fuller, a writer for the Bradley Manning Support Network, who can be reached at Nathan@bradleymanning.org



More articles by:
Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Do We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring