Her ruling may make things simple for all the right-leaning pod-people who salute everything a field grade military officer says, but for the rest of us, it raises a profound and rather perplexing question: Exactly who is the "enemy" in this case?
Court martial brass and Colonel Denise Lind, lower right, and Pvt. Manning
(Image by Clark Stroekley drawings) Permission Details DMCA
The military and intelligence agency brass and their enablers will tell you it's some nefarious and nebulous network called al Qaeda, which we should all know is by now a substitute for our old Cold War enemies and fictional entities like Spectre in the original Ian Fleming spy pulps. That is, al Qaeda has become The Boogie Man.
American patriots on the right will get no argument from me that there are, indeed, people and affiliations that mean real harm to Americans (including me) and that we need to protect ourselves from them. But that doesn't address the question whether al Qaeda and other "terrorist" groups are being exploited as the boogie man for the convenience of the Pentagon, the CIA, NSA and demagogues like New York Congressman Peter King.
To understand exactly who "the enemy" is in this case, it seems logical to, first, ask who it was Bradley Manning intended to benefit by leaking all that information to WikiLeaks. I'm not sure whether Colonel Lind asked young Manning this, but I doubt it. From his statements and from all that I can glean from following the case in the press -- I and other journalists have not had the opportunity to interview Manning -- the key reason he leaked all that information, including a damning video of US Apache helicopters gunning down a Reuters cameraman and another Reuters employee and embarrassing leaks of back-channel State Department cables, was to share it with the American people.
If any credence is given to the accused man's own admissions, which seem absolutely plausible to me, it would seem logical that, from the military's point of view, the American people are the enemy in this syllogism.
I realize for anyone to conceive of this as a serious analysis as to who the enemy is in this case, one has to be skeptical of our US military and intelligence apparatus circa 2013. Those captivated by the military and its mystique will obviously sputter and groan and see such an analysis as the ravings of a lunatic left-wing journalist. They will also imply, without, of course, openly saying it, that such an analysis is pointless because they -- the military and intelligence complex -- have young Manning by the you-know-whats. If I'm allowed to put words in their mouth, they might put it this way:
"Eat your hearts out, you left-wing, pinko fags. We have him totally under our control. And we're gonna do with him as we wish. And, right now, we wish to try him as if he was a raghead in a cave in the tribal areas of Pakistan. So demonstrate all you want. There's nothing you can do about it."
The US military/intelligence apparatus realizes in post-9/11 political America they trump pretty much everything. They're the Big Dog. If it involves lethal weapons or snooping into your private life, it's OK with them. You can't be too safe when those al Qaeda characters are out there and Sharia Law threatens our precious bodily fluids.
Thanks to all the revelations of Edward Snowden, who no doubt Colonel Lind would rule was also aiding al Qaeda, we now know our military/intelligence apparatus was chumping the American people. Just recall the NSA boss who stood up in Congress with stars all over his epaulets and swore on a Bible. I think this sums up his testimony: "Spying on you? Us? Are you kidding? We work for you."
As a journalist who writes opinion pieces like the one you are now reading, all this is getting pretty worrisome. When you link it with the fact a Fox News commentator -- Ralph Peters -- is actually pushing the idea that in the future journalists and reporters will have to be seen as "lethal combatants" in our wars, you realize all this is no longer a fever dream on the left and that we're really on a slippery slope. Unless someone can turn it around, it could easily lead to a very unhealthy and dangerous place of no return. The fever dream is now on the right, which in conjunction with a super-secret military and intelligence apparatus clearly has the power to run roughshod in the future.
To any reasonable journalist, Bradley Manning is nothing more than a whistleblower with an axe to grind willing to leak information. This is how things evolve and change. In this view, the widest possible sharing of information is good. The idea that Manning was "aiding the enemy" and, thus, was being subversive in a treasonous and criminal fashion is a case of slipping farther down that dangerous slippery slope.
In a world of super-secret military and intelligence capabilities, on one hand, and a public pacified by marketing, public relations, entertainment and special effects, on the other, the notion of democracy begins to seem a bit quaint and nostalgic.