Remember Dick Cheney? Sure you do. He’s the fellow who, as Vice President, shot a guy in the face and was never charged. Also, he’s the fellow who leaked to a few close media buddies the CIA identity of Valerie Plame, whose husband, Joe Wilson, had failed to obey orders to lie about the mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction in Iraq.
Dick’s not in the news these days, but he should be. We can assume he’s still in the ‘undisclosed location’ he inhabited while serving America, which is probably somewhere in the continental boundaries because he’s the subject of criminal charges in other countries around the world.
In the U.S., Cheney’s got protection, which shows what a little cash and a long-time fealty to Halliburton will do for you.
When he leaked Plame’s identity, it compromised both the arms control mission she was on in the middle east and the safety of numerous other CIA agents involved in her work. Although his assistant, Scooter Libby –– what kind of name is ‘Scooter’? Who are these people? Escapees from the Mickey Mouse Club? –– took the fall (and was pardoned by George Bush, who opined that he’d ‘suffered enough’), everyone knew it was on Cheney’s orders that Libby acted.
Compare and contrast, as teachers used to say before standardized testing left no time for critical thought in the classroom, the Cheney-Plame story with that of Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks.
U.S. military officials today told NBC News that 22 new charges have been leveled against Manning, including “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense which potentially carries the death penalty. According to unnamed sources, Manning’s alleged disclosures contained information useful to ‘the enemy’ and endangered people who had been working with U.S. intelligence.
Cheney’s collecting a fat pension, enjoying his Halliburton payoff, and remains free to discharge firearms whenever he’s drunk or feels the need to express himself. Bradley Manning’s into his eighth month of isolation and psychological torture and being threatened with death.
What a difference it makes to have powerful friends!
Why do I have this persistent sensation of having tumbled down the rabbit hole? To be a sentient American these days is to become an unwilling expert on cognitive dissonance. The Cheney-Manning juxtaposition is barely surprising in light of other recent developments.
Consider the fact that close to 100 people still in prison at Guantanamo Bay have been cleared of any wrongdoing and cannot win their release. The conditions of their incarceration have been detailed elsewhere; they include torture. A report issued today by Jeffrey Kaye and Jason Leopold on Truthout describes how the military has used the Guantanamo inmates for medical experiments in the use of anti-malarial vaccines. They are innocent, even by admission of the U.S. government, yet they remain imprisoned.
Consider the fact that the United States, while refusing to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, nonetheless demands that the Court move against the President of Syria for “war crimes”, and crafts the sponsoring U.N. Resolution on the matter to exempt the U.S. from prosecution.
“When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead, and the white knight’s talking backwards and the red queen’s lost her head....”
There’s something floating around these days called “American exceptionalism.” I don’t know what it means precisely, sparing myself the mind-numbing agony of too much more of this horseshit, but I do know what it means in general and I’ll bet you do, too. It means the rules which we apply to everybody else do not necessarily apply to us.
We’re special. The Geneva Convention? Quaint. International agreements? This is an exception. We’re against torture unless we’re doing it. We’re against secrecy unless its the government’s secrets from its own citizens. Freedom of speech? One dollar, one vote.
It’s all in plain sight. Even the treatment of Manning, ignored by the corporate media, is obvious: given drugs to help him ‘cope’ with the conditions of his confinement, constantly awakened, stuck inside a 6x12 cell 23 hours each day, deprived of any outside media. He is under torture and nearing a breakdown.
The very first WikiLeaks ‘Manning’ document was the helicopter video, U.S. troops murdering people in the street and talking about it as though it was a video game. But it was not the killers who faced charges. It was the man with the guts to expose them.
The Obama government is not stopping with Manning, however. Early reports today indicate the U.S. is expecting to bring Julian Assange into custody by way of extradition, and that he, like Manning, could be threatened with death.
Is this the country people honor with the singing of a national anthem? Is this the country whose flag is now routinely affixed to the lapels of pols and media phonies?
I don’t know about you, but somebody promised me something better than this.