Glenn Greenwald has a great reaction to Manning’s appearance yesterday:
Heroism is a slippery and ambiguous concept. But whatever it means, it is embodied by Bradley Manning and the acts which he unflinchingly acknowledged today he chose to undertake. The combination of extreme government secrecy, a supine media (see the prior twocolumns), and a disgracefully subservient judiciary means that the only way we really learn about what our government does is when the Daniel Ellsbergs – and Bradley Mannings – of the world risk their own personal interest and liberty to alert us.
Lincoln’s oft quoted words, “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” are nothing more than a meaningless arrangement of letters in a state where the government hides behind an impenetrable iron curtain of secrecy. The U.S. government has a long history of secrecy, deceit, and intolerance of whistle-blowers, but 9/11 provided the excuse it needed to expand that methodology to the point where the U.S. can no longer be readily distinguished from the totalitarian police states erected under communism and fascism.
Today, U.S. government secrecy has little to do with national security and everything to do with shielding its actions from oversight or Constitutional challenge and avoiding embarrassing exposure of its brutality, corruption, and incompetence.
The U.S. government now routinely terrorizes the innocent people of other countries by killing them, imposing crippling sanctions on their already suffering economies, inciting civil war among them and hatred toward the U.S., interfering in their politics, supporting their corrupt despotic heads of state, over-throwing their government leaders (elected or not), provoking them into war, or sometimes simply by backing other nations that do these same things. And it does most of this in secret and it does all of it in the name of the American people, in your name.
Of course, after the next devastating terrorist attack, Americans will be told that some evil immoral enemy has attacked us through no fault of our own. The dead will be declared innocent victims as we immediately acquiesce to new wars and further erosion of what freedom we have left. Then the following November we will run to the polls and happily reelect all the same people who brought this down on us.
The fact is that Bradley Manning did more to hold our government accountable than any politician ever elected to Congress or the White House. A government that shrouds itself in secrecy is not, and never will be, a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people“. Manning is not the poison. He’s part of the antidote because he courageously pushed back against that secrecy and will pay for it for the rest of his life. The other part of the antidote is us. All we need to do is go to the polls and throw out the self-serving politicians of both parties in Washington who perpetuate this secrecy and the corruption that it conceals. It’s easy to do and won’t cost us a thing. If we don’t, we will simply get what we deserve.