Civilian deaths and bloody hands

July 30, 2010 | By | 9 Replies More

I was reading this story about Bradley Manning, alleged whistleblower, and my hypocrisy meter was set off so strongly that I fear it may never work again.

"Hello pot?  This is kettle, and I'm just calling to say that you're black." -Admiral Mullen (picture via Wikipedia)

"Hello pot? This is kettle, and I'm just calling to say that you're black." -Admiral Mullen (picture via Wikipedia)

Top Pentagon officials slammed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as having “blood … on his hands” for releasing the sensitive documents, which appeared to include the names of Afghans enlisted as classified U.S. military informants.

“Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said.

Mr. Assange *might* have blood on his hands, the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.  This, coming from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, leader of the U.S. military, which has been raining death on Afghanistan for almost 9 years now.

The Guardian reported on the information leaked by Wikileaks:

The logs detail, in sometimes harrowing vignettes, the toll on civilians exacted by coalition forces: events termed “blue on white” in military jargon. The logs reveal 144 such incidents.

Some of these casualties come from the controversial air strikes that have led to Afghan government protests, but a large number of previously unknown incidents also appear to be the result of troops shooting unarmed drivers or motorcyclists out of a determination to protect themselves from suicide bombers.

At least 195 civilians are admitted to have been killed and 174 wounded in total, but this is likely to be an underestimate as many disputed incidents are omitted from the daily snapshots reported by troops on the ground and then collated, sometimes erratically, by military intelligence analysts.

Yet, Mr. Assange is the one with blood on his hands?? Spare me.   I take every chance I can get to quote General McChrystal on this, because it’s vital that everyone understand what sort of people are running this war. McChrystal was quoted by the New York Times as saying “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.

And Wikileaks has blood on its hands?  We shot an “amazing” number of innocent people, and Wikileaks is the party with blood on its hands?  Let’s take a moment and review some headlines from 2010:

And one of the most damning incidents (of which we are aware) was the murder and subsequent attempted cover-up of several Afghan civilians in February:

Two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a police officer and his brother were shot on February 12 when US and Afghan special forces stormed their home in Khataba village, outside Gardez in eastern Afghanistan. NATO had initially claimed that the women had been dead for several hours when the assault force discovered their bodies, but later admitted responsibility for all the deaths. The Times reported that “US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened, Afghan investigators have told The Times.”

Given all that, it boggles my mind that Admiral Mullen can say, with a completely straight face, that Wikileaks is the party with bloody hands.

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Category: hypocrisy, Military, War

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is a full-time wage slave and part-time philosopher, writing and living just outside Omaha with his lovely wife and two feline roommates.

Comments (9)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Brynn: This Pentagon claim actually did break my hypocrisy meter.

    If you wanted to commit an atrocity and get away with it, it would seem to me that Afghanistan would be a great place to do it. If anyone catches you killing someone, just claim that it was an "insurgent," then the American news media will take you at your word. They don't have the resources or incentive to track down what really happened.

    My country is guilty of atrocities. I'm ashamed that we are claiming to fight a war that has no meaningful metric and no military mission. It's time to stop this charade.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    How about this story, insinuating that Bradley Manning, alleged leaker, is all messed up because he had broken up with his girlfriend, etc. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38499161/ns/us_news-s

    How about this possibility. He did the right thing by helping to expose the Afghanistan adventure for the ridiculously expensive and destructive farce that it is, he's now in confinement and he's depressed because he's in the process of getting treated like shit (probably many years of confinement) for doing a patriotic and humanitarian thing.

    Reminds me of Bradley Birkenfeld's plight. http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/01/07/repor

    Apparently, to get critical information in front of the public, decent people need to lose their jobs and lives.

  3. Brynn Jacobs says:

    If you are interested in contributing to Bradley Manning's legal defense fund, you may do so here, at a site run by a group called Courage to Resist.

    http://www.bradleymanning.org/

    Here are some quick facts about Courage to Resist:

    Why does Courage to Resist support Manning?

    Courage to Resist’s primary mission is to “support the troops who refuse to fight.” However, we realize that troops who speak out and share the realities of war after witnessing or participating have an important role to play in educating the American people. If Bradley Manning is indeed the “WikiLeaks leaker”, he serves our support in this regard. If he is not the individual who courageously exposed this war crime, then he also needs help.

    How did you get involved?

    As a Marine Corporal, I refused to deploy with my artillery battery in August 1990 in support of the coming attack on Iraq. Like Manning, I was also held in pre-trial confinement for months prior to a politically charged court martial where I faced years of possible imprisonment. Unlike Manning, I had access to, and communication with, a support community which acted as my lifeline in many different ways. Manning deserves the same political and legal support that I had, and I intend to do what I can to this end.

  4. Brynn Jacobs says:

    To understand why it's vitally important to support Bradley Manning, consider this: Congressman Mike Rogers has called for Manning to be executed, should he be found guilty. Rogers also criticized what he termed a "culture of disclosure". I think Candidate Obama called it "transparency", but has obviously re-evaluated his belief in transparency since taking office.

    Worth remembering in all of this, is that Manning allegedly believed he was exposing evidence of war crimes. Listen to the words of Manning, according to this article at Wired:

    “Everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed,” Manning wrote of the cables. “It’s open diplomacy. Worldwide anarchy in CSV format. It’s Climategate with a global scope, and breathtaking depth. It’s beautiful, and horrifying.”

    He claimed to have been rummaging through classified military and government networks for more than a year and said the networks contained “incredible things, awful things … that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington, D.C.”

    In January, while on leave in the United States, Manning visited a close friend in Boston and confessed he’d gotten his hands on unspecified sensitive information, and was weighing leaking it, according to the friend. “He wanted to do the right thing,” 20-year-old Tyler Watkins told Wired.com. “That was something I think he was struggling with.”

    “He would message me, ‘Are people talking about it?… Are the media saying anything?’” Watkins said. “That was one of his major concerns, that once he had done this, was it really going to make a difference?… He didn’t want to do this just to cause a stir…. He wanted people held accountable and wanted to see this didn’t happen again.”

    There once was a world in which the U.S. stood up, determined to prevent war crimes. Now, sadly, the U.S. appears to be covering up its own culpability or complicity in those crimes. As Julian Assange, of Wikileaks said:

    Assange told reporters in London that "it is up to a court to decide really if something in the end is a crime. That said … there does appear to be evidence of war crimes in this material."

    Assange compared the impact of the released material to the opening of the East German secret police archives. "This is the equivalent of opening the Stasi archives," he said.

  5. While not denying the justified moral outrage generated by all this, in regards to Private Manning and his fate there is one distinction. He was not a civilian when he did this, which changes the rules for him. If he gets punished, it will be because chain-of-command issues, no matter what else they might call it. A civilian who did this might possibly get prosecuted for trespassing or even theft, but not treason. A soldier is a different matter.

    Just pointing this out so it doesn't get lost.

  6. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Mark:

    It may change the technicality of his situation, not the morality. Under the Geneva Conventions, Manning was obligated to report evidence of war crimes to his superiors. Perhaps he took this step, perhaps not. He chose to release said evidence to the public domain, in hopes of seeing "people held accountable". That makes him a heroic patriot in my book, although I'm quite sure those in power would consider it treasonous.

  7. It can't be denied that leaking all this information may have been a dangerous thing. But I agree it pales into significance next to the crimes committed so far in this ridiculous war.

  8. Erich Vieth says:

    The military and the Obama Administration are accusing Bradley Manning of being unpatriotic. Consider, though, the damage caused by the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, a list compiled by Stephen Lendman:

    – our attack, invasion and occupation are illegal under US and international law;

    war crimes, including murder, torture, and targeted assassinations happen daily;

    – civilian men, women, and children are willfully targeted;

    since October 2001, millions of Afghans have been killed, injured or displaced, their country perhaps the most hellish anyway, devastated by decades of war, deep poverty, depravation, and unimaginable human suffering, mostly caused by America;

    – the same holds for Iraq, Pakistan, and nations where Washington wages proxy wars; and

    – our presence and imperial aims cause harm, not Manning or WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, exposing truths the public has a right and need to know.

    http://www.readersupportednews.org/off-site-opini

  9. Erich Vieth says:

    Bradley Manning's supporters are now being harassed by the U.S. government. How dare Manning give citizens an accurate view of how we are running our "wars." And how dare anyone show support for manning. If you do, and if you ever travel abroad, they will simply take your laptop. Glenn Greenwald reports the story. http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald

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