When many of us voted for Barack Obama in 2008, we thought that we'd see some of the worse abuses of the misrule of George W. "Chimperator" Bush's reign reversed. While this has happened on some fronts, in other disturbing ways Obama seems to be continuing and reinforcing some of Bush's most questionable moves - such as indefinite detention of alleged enemy combatants, the equivalent of torture in the case of Bradley Manning, and opposition to full gay marriage basted on his personal religious beliefs rather than supporting freedom of religion for all and true equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.
A piece I bookmarked earlier in the week at Huffington Post looks at the sad manner in which under Obama one is better off committing a war crime than exposing war crimes. Dick Cheney must be smiling somewhere. As for me? I feel dirty being an American. Here are some post highlights:
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.
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.
Hyperbole? Consider what happened to the U.S. soldiers who, over a period of hours -- not minutes -- went house to house in the Iraqi town of Haditha and executed 24 men, women and children in retaliation for a roadside bombing.
"I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head," said one of the two surviving eyewitnesses to the massacre, nine-year-old Eman Waleed. "Then they killed my granny." Almost five years later, not one of the men involved in the incident is behind bars. And despite an Army investigation revealing that statements made by the chain of command "suggest that Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as U.S. lives," with the murder of brown-skinned innocents considered "just the cost of doing business," none of their superiors are behind bars either.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has decided to make Manning's pre-trial existence as torturous as possible, holding him in solitary confinement 23 hours a day since his arrest 10 months ago -- treatment that the group Psychologists for Social Responsibility notes is, "at the very least, a form of cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment in violation of U.S. law."
By firing PJ Crowley for the offense of protesting against the sadistic military treatment of Bradley Manning, the president has now put his personal weight behind prisoner abuse. The man who once said that forced nudity was a form of torture, now takes the word of those enforcing it over a distinguished public servant.
It is not necessary to have had a father as a prisoner of war to see the evil of prisoner abuse, and the stain it places on everyone enforcing it. And in the military, as with Bush, so with Obama. As commander-in-chief, Obama is directly responsible for the inhumane treatment of an American citizen. And Crowley's firing will make it even less likely in the future that decent public servants will speak out against such needless sadism.
The foreign media continues to recognizes the hypocrisy and troubling mindset of Obama and his minions at the Pentagon. The growing discontect between America's supposed founding principles and what is allowed in practice cannot help but be recognized by moral individuals. One such piece is here in the Guardian.