If only Walter Benjamin were alive to see the Angel of History once again throwing one of his trademark lightning bolts of irony; Manning was pronounced guilty of being a spy -- by a Pentagon judge -- just next door to Spy Central, the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
The prosecution, applying the full force of the US government, derided Manning as a "traitor" -- not a whistleblower. Manning indeed betrayed the Pentagon's Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine -- detailing how the imperial industrial-military-surveillance complex kills civilians with impunity (as in the "Collateral Murder" video ); how the imperial wars on Afghanistan and Iraq were being (mis)conducted; what goes on in the Guantanamo gulag; and how the State Department bullies US satrapies.
He betrayed the Imperial Masters of the Universe, and as this is not a Marvel Comics summer blockbuster he had to go down.
US corporate media went on overdrive emphasizing a "balance" narrative -- as in imperial benevolence -- because Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy. According to the circular logic of the US government, hammered over and over again during the show trial, to publish sensitive information on the Internet means spying (and Manning was found guilty of that).
So if the enemy accesses this information on the Internet, you are enabling the enemy. Manning being found not guilty of aiding the enemy but mostly guilty of everything else still delivers the chilling message -- translated into decades of (military) jail time, possibly well into the 22nd century. As if 11 months in solitary confinement -- often kept naked and sleepless -- in a 6 x 12 foot windowless cell at Quantico, Virginia, was not torture enough. Ah yes; the United States does not do torture.
Al-Qaeda wins, on all fronts
The US government went no holds barred to prove that Manning had helped al-Qaeda. Reality -- not spin -- shows it's the US government that has actually enabled al-Qaeda.
With Shock and Awe and the invasion, occupation and destruction of the social fabric of Iraq, George W Bush, Dick Cheney and their goodfellas handed out a new base to al-Qaeda on a (bloody) plate. First it was al-Qaeda in Iraq, led by the monster psychopath Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Then somebody had to fight them; thus the Petraeus surge, which consisted of suitcases full of cash for Sunni tribal sheikhs who until then were fighting the Americans. The sheikhs took the money and waited; al-Qaeda dissolved, regrouped and is back in full force.
And this is where we are now. This Monday the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant -- the regional al-Qaeda spin-off -- killed at least 60 people in 17 bombings all across Iraq. The "carefully selected" targets were all Shi'ites. More than 4,000 people -- mostly civilians -- have been killed since early 2013, over 900 in July alone. The Interior Ministry in Baghdad correctly describes it as an "open war" unleashed by sectarian jihadis.
The key point is why this horror cannot possibly be the object of imperial condemnation. For Washington's purposes, a weak, bloody, sectarian-divided Iraq is as useful as a weak, bloody, sectarian-divided Syria; that opens the way to possible (double) balkanization, a not-so-secret wet dream of imperial factions since the first Bush administration.
Even without (or before) balkanization, Washington does not want a Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad and a mostly Alawite-led government in Damascus; it all reverts to the perennial supreme paranoia of cutting all links to Tehran. So why not leave jihadis to do most of the dirty work?
A jihadi spokesman even advanced that the so-called "Breaking the Walls" offensive, launched a year ago by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Iraqi branch, was over after the recent notorious jailbreak in Abu Ghraib; now it's time for "the Harvest of the Soldiers," as in enrolling even more jihadis for a Holy War against Baghdad.
Obviously this new wave of fanatics will cross the (non-existent) desert border from the current Jihad Central in Syria, where mercenaries from at least 60 countries are already wreaking havoc against Syrian civilians via the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and Ansar al-Khalifa.
Their latest exploit was in Khan al-Assal, in Aleppo province. They slaughtered 150 people, mostly civilians -- many executed with a shot in the head and later mutilated and burned. In mid-June, in Hatlah, in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, they killed more than 60 mostly Shi'ite villagers, including women and children.
Just like in Iraq, none of these massacres were condemned by the US or that bunch of poodles dubbed "the international community." Moreover, for Western corporate/stenography media, this is all about "rebels" fighting an "evil dictator" in the name of "democracy." The House of Saud is busy advancing "democracy" by buying at least US$50 million of heavy weapons from Israel for its own factions; experienced jihadis will certainly lay their hands on them. And more weaponizing (for "good" rebels only) is coming, courtesy of the CIA.
So who's helping the enemy? The US government destroyed Iraq and enabled al-Qaeda. The US government is enabling al-Qaeda in Syria. Manning may die behind bars. Meanwhile Dubya, Cheney, Rummy, Wolfie -- certifiable war criminals -- remain at large. If karma applies, the Angel of History may grant them a future in some realm of sub-zoology.