A traitor is defined as “a person who betrays someone or something, such as a friend, cause, or principle” and many sanctimonious Americans have accused US Army Private Bradley Manning and the National Security Agency’s Edward Snowden of betraying their country which patently they have not.Their offence was to make their fellow citizens aware that some government agencies have been guilty of monstrously illegal conduct.
Manning embarrassed a few pompous idiots and exposed some evil people, and Snowden revealed startling criminality on the part of Washington’s out-of-control surveillance cliques; but another point of interest in the Manning Papers published by WikiLeaks is that the US State Department has lots of people who are highly intelligent.
I’ve read scores of the leaked despatches and am pleased that in general their analyses, acuity and expression are as impressive as they were when I had the privilege of reading such communications as a matter of duty (and equal enjoyment) many years ago. There are still some pretty good folks in the US foreign service, thank goodness – although they have to keep their sensible heads down lest they be victimised by spiteful morons.
Talking of whom . . . As I began to write this piece there was news that the president of the United States had cancelled a meeting with his Russian counterpart because Russia has given sanctuary to Snowden to save him from treatment in the US that would have met with the approval of the Soviet Union’s Gulag or the gleeful torturers of the American army’s Abu Ghraib prison who practised what are wonderfully called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’.
This is one of these irregular grammatical constructions, in that we conduct enhanced interrogation ; you tie people’s hands behind their backs and hang them naked from the dripping walls of festering cells ; they have died from heart failure brought on by eating too many prison pizzas.
The American officer who suffered most from the Abu Ghraib affair was, inevitably, the head of the Board of Inquiry, Major General Antonio Taguba, an honourable man who was ordered into retirement because he refused to conceal the revolting details of torture that had been approved at the highest level of the US government. He was loyal to his country but, as he said after he was dismissed, “I’d been in the army thirty-two years by then, and it was the first time that I thought I was in the mafia.”
And this is parallel to the fashion in which the US administration has treated Bradley Manning and is determined to deal with Edward Snowden. Neither of them imagined they were in a squalid mafia that disdains decency and wants to concentrate on persecuting them rather than righting the wrongs they disclosed.
Before President Putin helped Obama look infantile, there was a fascinating revelation about American ‘justice’ as now interpreted. The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, wrote to his opposite number in Moscow saying that if the Russians handed over Snowden to the US authorities he would not be tortured. I don’t think I am alone in finding it barely credible that the senior official in America’s justice system thinks it essential to say that if people are delivered up to him they will not be subjected to physical and mental torment. Should that not be taken for granted? Obviously not.
His words were “Mr Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States.” Is it, indeed?So this would explain why for a year Private Manning was subjected to sleep deprivation, kept naked and shackled in solitary confinement in a tiny wire cage, and menaced by enormous (and disgustingly fat) guards, who treated him with bullying contempt.
It is stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed by the US in 1948, that “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.” Fat chance of that in Obamaland.
In considering Manning’s appalling treatment, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur assessed that “imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence.” His treatment was vindictively cruel – it was in fact torture – which is why it is so important to keep Snowden out of the talons of what is described as ‘justice’ in the New America.
And this brings us to injustice and a real traitor. The injustice is the failure of US authorities to pursue an authentic American traitor, in this case a high-profile person named James Clapper who is director of National Intelligence. In March this year he was asked under oath in Congress by Senator Ron Wyden, “if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question, does the National Security Agency collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” The Clapper answer was: “No, Sir.” He was again asked, “It does not?” and replied “Not wittingly.”
The only true word he uttered was “Sir”. Because he told a downright deliberate lie. But we wouldn’t have known that Clapper had committed perjury had it not been for Edward Snowden – which is the main reason the spiteful apparatchiks of Washington are so determined to wreak vengeance on him.
The man Clapper has betrayed both cause and principle: the cause of national honour and the principle of truth. He is a traitor to himself and to his nation. He later admitted that his words were “the least untruthful” he could have uttered, but the administration in Washington is content to have a liar continuing to direct the country’s entire intelligence system, while determined to hunt down the man who exposed him. A man who lies to the US is regarded as a respected member of the establishment while those who tell Americans the truth are hounded and reviled. Maybe perjury pays?