Reprinted from popularresistance.org By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
The extremely harsh sentencing of Manning brought to mind many ironies and had us looking at other ironies around us this week. Some are maddening, some are sad and some are useful tools for activists, but they all have the effect of pushing our work forward.
Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning)exposed many crimes taking place in the two illegal wars, the Guantanamo prison camp and U.S. foreign policy, some going to the highest levels of government including former Secretary of State Clinton. Manning was sentenced to 35 years, which her lawyer says is longer than sentences his clients have received for murder and child molestation. Have any of the people who committed the crimes that Manning exposed been prosecuted? Or, even investigated?
What does it say about a country that has tortured, killed civilians, spied on diplomats and spied on its own people when it is the whistleblowers who get prosecuted while those whose crimes are exposed do not even get investigated? While President Obama shows he wants to deter people who blow the whistle in their effort to improve the country, but does nothing to deter people who have dragged the country into illegality.
Another irony that struck us, that we have not seen commented on elsewhere, was that Manning was sentenced in the same week that the CIA finally admitted it organized a coup d'etat in Iran 60 years ago against the democratically-chosen prime minister. The coup was achieved by painting the well-educated Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq as senile, incompetent and untrustworthy, getting the U.S. media to repeat the lies, creating protests against Mosaddeq in Iran and fomenting insurrection in the Iranian military.
The CIA saw this as a tremendous success and went on to duplicate the tactic around the world. But, in fact, this was one of the great blunders of U.S. history. How different would the Middle East be today if Iranian democracy had been allowed to succeed? The brutal Shah of Iran, a U.S. puppet, would not have come to power, other despots might have fallen to democracy and there would have been no Iranian Revolution in 1979. Democracy might have spread in the region rather than Muslim extremism.
The lesson from this is that transparency is needed to prevent reckless decisions. Would the CIA have conducted this mistaken coup if it knew the American and Iranian people would be told? And, isn't transparency what Manning was seeking to accomplish? How many lives -- U.S., Iraqi, Afghan -- were lost in two illegal wars conducted in ways that violated international law? Secrets caused deaths while transparency would have saved lives.
Yet, secrecy continues to reign despite its failures, and the Iranian coup is but one example of many. There has been aggressive secrecy around the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a giant agreement that is a major power grab by big business interests working with the Obama administration. Leaks have given us some information, enough to begin to generate the kind of opposition we need to stop the TPP.
This week in Minnesota, hundreds of fair trade, labor, environmental and community activists marched through Minneapolis demanding transparency and fair trade. But instead, this week President Obama took another step in the wrong direction, asking Congress for "Fast Track" authority. Fast Track will prevent Congress from holding hearings and serving as a check and balance to the president and will undermine Congress' constitutional responsibility to negotiate trade with foreign nations. Occupy Wall Street is making stopping the TPP and global corporate trade agreements a focus of their anniversary on September 17 and is calling for international solidarity. Your community can participate! Get involved at www.FlushTheTPP.org. We can expose and stop the TPP.
One of the strange ironies of the upcoming week is the events around the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the "I Have a Dream" speech. The event has been turned into a Democratic Party pep rally with people like Representatives Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi invited to speak. The irony is, as Cornell West says, "Brother Martin would not be invited to the very march in his name, because he would talk about drones. He'd talk about Wall Street criminality. He would talk about working class being pushed to the margins as profits went up for corporate executives in their compensation."
As Ajamu Baraka writes: "Obama is the living negation of everything, from his domestic to foreign policy, that Dr. King and the movement stood for in 1963." The president will be speaking on the anniversary of the event despite being at odds with what Dr. King worked for. Baraka adds, the rally "reduces the range of acceptable discourse related to the plight of African Americans to reforms within the existing order." An alternative to the pep rally will be held Friday night beginning at 8 PM at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC and ending at the MLK memorial.
Dr. King, who was a victim of government surveillance, certainly would be on the opposite side of President Obama when it came to the NSA spying. This week we learned there are no real checks on NSA spying. The secret surveillance court has been repeatedly misled, Congress has been kept uninformed and the NSA has violated the law thousands of times,2,746 times in just the last 12 months. Google told us we cannot expect privacy when we use gmail. And, we saw the abuse of power when reporter Glenn Greenwald's partner was held for nine hours under a UK terrorism law. His equipment was seized and he suffered abusive interrogation. Also, the Guardian disclosed that British intelligence destroyed its hard drives in an attempt to stop publication of Snowden leaks.
As so often happens in history, the result of these events is a growing wave of anger at the snooping. The irony is that this is resulting in people beginning to work on ways to block government Internet spying, whether creating an alternative Internet or creating a surveillance free Internet. And, it is resulting in those with information, making duplicates in the information cloud to ensure that the information will someday be shared. Thus government action is leading to people working to undermine and unite against the government.
The same type of reaction -- a counter-reaction -- is happening with workers. From teachers to low-wage workers, the abuses of employers, whether government or private, is resulting in worker anger. Chicago teacher organizers are sharing their skills with people in other cities who are also being harmed by privatization of their schools. Low-wage workers are planning major escalations in their battle for fair wages, including a major strike on August 29.