Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right. - Laurens Van der Post
First of all, for those who might have a truly inquiring mind, and who are actually willing to take the time to read a somewhat less than flattering view of the somewhat odious, and ever ubiquitous FOX News Channel, please click on this link: http://www.alternet.org/story/149193/study_confirms_that_fox_news_makes_you_stupid
I just had to share that tidbit, hopefully with a few open minds. One major reason for wanting to share it would be that I suspect that all too many hotheads out there, especially some of those who like to get into heated arguments over Iraq, Bush, Obama, Wikileaks, etc. (always on the opposite side from me of course), have no other source of information. That explains why they seldom are able to muster any facts to support their blustering arguments, and why they inevitably resort to name calling, and threats of physical violence.
Having said that, now let me continue my diatribe about Wikileaks and government "secrets," and maybe a bit of history…..
Military Secrets, Treason, Espionage…….all of these terms are being bandied about in connection with the furor over the Wikileaks.
To my way of thinking none of these terms should be out there in connection with this current flare up in the war against the dissemination of information. Herewith, my further opinions and attitude about Wikileaks:
A military secret is something important concerning possible future plans, like where were the Allies planning to land when they launched their assault on the European mainland, or weapons development, like the Manhattan Project. Something so crucial that should it become common knowledge, as in the enemy finds out about it before it happens, it could truly screw things up for us. Treason would be if some pipsqueak, or even a General (like, oh, say, I don't know……..Benedict Arnold?) ran to the enemy and gave away one or more of these military secrets. Espionage would be if that pipsqueak provided classified/secret information over a period of time to an agent of a foreign power (the American is, of course, guilty of treason while engaged in espionage, and, as we all remember from James Bond movies, espionage is spying, and if one is caught spying, one is generally subject to execution out of hand). Releasing a video of a military action after that action has become history is not any sort of betrayal of a military secret. It is just embarrassing to the idiots who committed an atrocity, or outright murder of innocent civilians (like maybe My Lai, or this helicopter shooting civilians).
The argument offered on a recent Facebook 'discussion,' from one of these erudite debaters:
"It's not just the latest documents that I am concerned about. It's the one's that claim to show... US military shooting unarmed insurgents. Crap like that puts our soldiers more at risk...not counting the US civilians that are abroad. There were weapons behind the wall where they came out of. Remember, it's war and if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time hanging with the insurgents then so be it. You shouldn't be hanging with scum like that if you're innocent in the first place... and if you are then it's more than likely you deserve to have your ass blown off."
First of all, I believe this person was referring to some video that was allegedly accessed by that idiot PFC, in Iraq, or Afghanistan. And, here is my response: My understanding of the 'release' of this information/data/evidence was NOT to the Al Queada, or to the Taliban, or to the Insurgents, but to the world at large. That is because the America (speaking only for myself here) I grew up in does not kill innocent civilians, and if we do inadvertently harm civilians, we own up to it, instead of covering up our actions. Puts our soldiers at risk? How is that? Does he seriously think that the towel heads, of whom he apparently has so much fear, don't already know about this incident, and others, maybe worse? "There were weapons behind the wall where they came out of." ??? Huh? Whose weapons? What wall? Who came out of what? The wall? It was bad enough that his argument was based on fallacious data, but to be so incapable of expressing oneself clearly in presenting it, kinda destroys it all without me having to lift a hand to the keyboard here.
I won't even honor the rest of this semi-literate statement with a response, other than to say that the same idiot statement can be turned around, can't it? I mean, the enemy can say the same thing about any American civilians who are foolish enough to be over there.
Now, speaking off the top of my head, here, it seems to me that military secrets are not routinely found in any stack of I-don't-care-how-many Diplomatic Cables, nor would the release of the contents of I-don't-care-how-many Diplomatic Cables in fact, or in law, constitute treason or espionage. Again, this information that was given over to Wikileaks, and subsequently released to the world at large by Wikileaks, is simply embarrassing to those who wrote those cables because they obviously said the wrong things in the wrong places. The general proscriptions against revealing military secrets don't say that one should participate in any kind of cover up of the truth because that truth might be embarrassing to someone high up on the food chain.
I would like to ask some of those who are screaming for the blood of Mr. Assange, or that poor, befuddled U. S. Army PFC, where were you guys when Valerie Plame was exposed by members of the Administration of the former Prexy known as W? Were you not outraged when that scandal broke? You should have been, and if you were not, then shame on you. That was criminal, and who got punished for it? Remember 'Scooter?' Did he get executed? What a joke that was.
The facts are still these: we got involved in Iraq and Afghanistan because we were lied to by our own leaders. And, we let them get away with not only their lies, but their determination that our continued presence in those parts of the world is – or ever was - necessary. And, they are still busier than ever, doing all kinds of evil, while we are so busily distracted and picking at one another, fighting amongst ourselves, while they continue to further ruin our economy and our international reputation.
One of my Facebook acquaintances did acknowledge that some of the folks involved in the ongoing argument were ignoring due process, but then he blew his argument by going on to say: "I am sick of hearing how great these guys are when they are trying to destroy this country. The soldier that stole the documents committed espionage, and Assange did also by receiving the documents and mak...ing them public. 18 U.S.C. § 793 : US Code - Section 793: Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/18/I/37/793"
First of all, to try to stand up for "these guys'"rights is not synonymous with saying anything about how great they may or may not be. The further fallacy in this argument is that the actions of the PFC were of course not intended to, nor were they capable of destroying this country. His citing of U. S. law does him no good either, because he is taking things out of context.
Another of my FB buddies said, obviously referring to Assange: "Innocent until proven guilty? He owns the website, he admitted he's leaking the documents and threatening to leak more... He's GUILTY....period!" He was, by the way, talking about treason on the part of Mr. Assange. And, this statement actually comes from a rational and generally articulate man, whose father I admire greatly. But, he, along with the others is crying for blood!
Yet another person over there on Facebook, who claims to be presently in the military, said, among other things: "Espionage, in the 'good ole days', carried the penalty of death. The solider and Assange should be executed. due process here is nothing more than procedure. This has nothing to do with 'W'." (The mention of 'W' was the result of my accusing these guys as being the ones who used to call anyone who questioned 'W' a traitor).
There were others. The entire argument got started, by the way, because I had posted a comment on a link about how Michael Moore had put up some money for Assange's bond, in Great Britain, indicating that I thought that was a good thing. This from a lady: "Michael Moore should've had his a$$ capped a long time ago!!!"
And, then, another lady said: "We would never have won WWI or WWII with the likes of Assange and his website around. We must have National Security!! Treason.....1. A crime that undermines the offender's government 2. Disloyalty by virtue of subversive behaviour 3. An act of deliberate betrayal. By Assange's on admission....he is guilty. Treason is punishable by death." Let's see. How many holes are in that argument? Website in WWII? Did I point out here that Mr. Assange's nationality is Australian? How could he be guilty of Treason if he had something to do with American information?
It generally went downhill from there. I would add that I asked them to provide me with some facts to counter my statements and to show me where Treason or even Espionage might be part of all this, but you know what? This is what I finally got, after a day or two of waiting, taken straight from Wikipedia, as were most of their arguments:
Bradley Manning was an intelligence analyst assigned to a support battalion with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Contingency Operating Station Hammer, Iraq. Agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command arrested Manning based on information received from federal authorities provided by an American informant, Adrian Lamo, in whom Manning had previously confided. Lamo said that Manning claimed, via instant messaging, to be the person who had leaked the "Collateral Murder" video of a helicopter airstrike on July 12, 2007, in Baghdad. Additionally, a video of the Granai airstrike and around 260,000 diplomatic cables were released to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. Manning was charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) with violations of UCMJ Articles 92 and 134, for "transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system," and "communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source". While stationed in Iraq, Manning had access to SIPRNET from his workstation, from where it is alleged the leaked documents originated.
To which, I can only say: and…………..?
Then, he said: "Anything not released publicly by the government is classified. Face it, your arguement on these fools innocence is fabricated at best. I am military and I can tell you with absolute certainty what they did was wrong and is considered espionge. Your take on it is irrelavent. THe Army trator is in jail and the only jackasses who are backing the other fool are extremeist nutjobs like Michael Moore. Does this clarify things?"
I never said these people were innocent. All I had asked was what has happened to the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty?' My take on it is irrelevant? My take on a statement that assumes that if it was not released by the government it is 'classified' is not remotely irrelevant. Where do you suppose he got such a strange idea? Why, because he is "military," and I am not? Horse Puckey! By the way, the misspelling was his; not mine.
Yet another response from one of them said, "Treason plain and simple -- there is a Federal death penalty on the books for that one last used for the Rosenbergs (and rightly so) for giving the H bomb to Stailn."
I did try to tell him that he was wrong mostly because he is comparing apples and oranges (the secret of the HBomb alongside a video that show us up), and that my take is most definitely not irrelevant. Again, I tried to point out that treason is not when you try to bring to the light a potentially embarrassing situation for some few high ranking individuals, but something much more serious. Of course, that effort went over like a lead balloon, as his response read:
John, all I can say to that is I know history, I know th military and I know the government. Embarrassing or not it was classified information. The only reason your ok with it is because it is about the Bush presidency. If it would have been about Obama you would have a different stance. It is not regime or partisan that ANY file released without the declassification of the U.S. Government is a crime. Your take is very irrelevant and the fact that others agree with you only shows an ignorance of reality. This reminds me when Bill got caught diddling Monica. All the sudden liberals wanted to redefine cheating. However, if there 'spouse' did the same thing he did it was cheating. Lets use an example: You son takes your videos of things you did in private. I'll let you create an example in your head, and sells them on the internet. Would you say, oh, its not important, it is just embarrassing. You'd beat his ass. If your neighbor took those video tapes and sold them to your other neighbors what would you do? Try to stop him? Go to the police? Think about it.
So, I had to ask him how he can equate the idea of a personally embarrassing video or Bill getting caught to this situation? I pointed out that, first of all, there are no videos for my son - or anyone else - to get hold of. I mean, just how stupid does he think I am? Secondly, this 'Liberal' (that term was evidently intended to be me) never - ever - considered any redefinition of cheating when Bill was caught with his, er, um, member in the cookie jar! This one (yeah, this is me) thought, "What a stupid thing to do!" I was taught not to do things that might embarrass me, like shoot a "private" video. As for me being "OK" with this wikileaks thing, I told him that has nothing to do with Obama or Bush. It has to do with reality, and the fact that some folks can't seem to remember what is real, and what is fake. And, btw, I served in the Army, too, and I know just how screwed up our government can be (remember the government is US, and if we have let it get so messed up, then shame on us - all of us!
Yes, just when I thought it could not get worse, it did, as he actually posted this:
When I said Treason I was referring to that PFC in the 10th Mountian division who gave him the materials. He took an oath and betrayed his fellow soliders. Ike had Private Slovak executed for less than that.
I then tried to point out that he was getting farther and farther from the truth and from reality, as I corrected the spelling of Pvt. Eddie Slovik's name, and pointed out that he was nothing more than a simple deserter! And, I again tried to point out that the oath taken by him, me, or any other private soldier doesn't say anything about letting in some light, where the higher-ups want darkness!
This was his response: The bottom line is you simply cannot have a functional military where information is allowed to be leaked.
And, I said that you also should not pick out a situation like this one – that did not involve true military secrets - and scream treason, espionage, or whatever, when it is not. Information of a sensitive nature, that might be threatening to the well being of the troops, maybe, but not information that reveals that those same troops have overstepped the bounds.
My main antagonist then came back with: They are one in the same. If you think war happens without someone getting killed that shouldn't get killed you are very naive. With Al Qaeda killing anyone indiscriminately we are the ones held to a moral standard. We try to maintain that ...standard to civilize and professionalize war, but reality is innocents die. Yes, it sucks. we as Americans find it repulsive, but it is a reality. Airing our dirty laundry does nothing but endanger our troops, the troops of our allies, and every American. This isn't utopia, and it will never exist.
John you need to read the UCMJ. There is no 'private' soldier. It is not a soldier's job or responsibility to shed light on anything. THe 'higher-ups' have a better image of the big-picture than a grunt who knows only his job. There are reasons generals get payed so much. They have huge responsibilities.This is about crime and justice, that's it.
All of that, while saying to the other poster, XXXX you are absolutely correct. The military is in the business of killing people and breaking things.
As I had previously stated to them, their responses were getting farther & farther from reality, and the actual topic under discussion. I pointed out the the proper English phrase is "one AND the same." And, I asked him "when did I suggest that I believe war doesn't involve killing?" And, "When did I say that it is a soldier's job to shed light on anything?" I also told him: "Don't try to tell me that I am supposed to be a perfect little sheep, and go along to get along, like the German people did under the Nazis, either. Yeah, that's right. Blindly follow where fools and a sick Corporal lead us? I am not concerned about "airing our dirty laundry" in front of others so much as exposing the truth to the American people, because (apparently y'all have forgotten) it is our country that has now earned this terrible reputation in the world community, and I - for one - did not ever vote for this crap."
Of course he wasn't through yet: I forgot. Farther and farther. Back to your original post, the above is what the fuss is all about. Michael Moore is an idiot. The two fellas responsible for this leak, should be prosecuted and punished according to the laws of the UCMJ and the U.S. Desoite what you think all the fuss is about.
At that point I broke it off, saying, "I'm sorry, but since you don't even have the basic facts straight, how can anyone have a discussion with you? Y'all have a nice day."
I think the next post came from a twitter: The great thing about Democracy is that we can even have this debate. At the end of the each election day all of our points of view are totaled up and reflected by the new Congress. I am sure you remember the "Pentegon Papers" an...d similar dirt from SE Asia back in the 70's. War is messy and the politics behind the war effort back in DC have historically been a messy business -- kind of like making sausage you really want to stay out of the factory and stick with the supermarket. We could have had the debate over Vietnam or even WWI with some of the leaks that happened back then in the traditional press. Some of us like myself were in the Army and that background forms our belief system on these sorts of issues -- disobeying lawful orders is very bad with severe penalaties and we had that drilled into our heads from day one at boot camp. I really do respect your point of view and at the end of the day can agree to disagree. Take care, XX
Well, what can I say? I do think that this wikileaks thing is less important than some would have us believe, and I think it probably helps those who want to keep us distracted from real issues that are really demanding our full attention. I don't like what is happening. I don't understand why we still have a presence in that part of the world, and I really don't like how it seems that we are our own worst enemy.