Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bradley Manning and Jeffrey Delisle

The Five Eyes' Fantasy
Anne of Green Gables
Jeffrey Delisle was a junior officer at a Canadian signals station in Halifax called HMCS Trinity.  There, he had access to highly privileged information relating to NATO and specifically the Five Eyes who freaked out about what subsequently happened.  Delisle sold secrets to the Russians (what the hell do Russians need secrets for, making the atomic cyberweapon? forestalling the burying of a Canadian loonie at centre ice in Sochi?) for $72K and change.  He pleaded guilty and got 20 years in the slammer under the new..oh I don't know... some stupid successor to the Official Secrets Act that under the present government might as well be called the "Saving Canada and Israel from Mindless Brown Terrorists Act"... although why they didn't charge Delisle with treason is unclear, since his actions seem to fit the definition in the Criminal Code of Canada, Section 46:

(2) Every one commits treason who, in 

(a) uses force or violence for the purpose of 
overthrowing the government of Canada or a province;

(b) without lawful authority, communicates 
or makes available to an agent of a state other than Canada, military or scientific information or any sketch, plan, model, article, note or document of a military or scientific character that he knows or ought to know may be used by that state for a purpose predudicial to the defence or safety of Canada;

Anyway, as far as is known, nobody died as a result of this venal treachery.  World War 3 has not broken out and terrorists have not driven airliners into the CN tower.  Iran is still doing whatever it's doing, and Afghanistan is still a mess, even though peace or victory is at hand.  No damage has been claimed although the National Security State hysteria was over the top.  Possibly, spies and innocent people were tortured in Pakistan or Uzbekistan, but that's not exactly news.

Bradley Manning on the other hand, released low level information - at minimal classification levels - for free.  He did it by his own account for the greater good and for what it's worth, I vehemently agree with him.  The helicopter video by itself should result in war crimes trials, if not for the crew then for their commanding officers who permitted such undisciplined, reckless, and lethal attacks to occur, and who created the culture that perpetuated them.  There is considerable evidence that this is the tip of the iceberg, and yet Manning is the one who's in trouble.

Like Delisle, Manning has not been charged with treason.  This is more comprehensible, meaning the US government wouldn't stand a chance of making such a charge stick.

Section. 3.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
It's hard to believe that the framers of the Constitution would have imagined that a soldier reporting, truthfully, actions committed by the United States was "adhering to their enemies"  if in fact those actions were on their face crimes that his suprior officers told him to shut up about.  

Some people are bent out of shape that Manning disobeyed orders.  As I recall "following orders" was not a mitigating defence at your Nuremberg trials:  Here's part of the Keitel judgement:

"There is nothing in mitigation. Superior orders, even to a soldier, cannot be considered in mitigation where crimes as shocking and extensive have been committed consciously, ruthlessly and without military excuse or justification."

Furthermore, the London Charter of 1945 made clear that following orders was no defence, but might be considered in mitigation.


Art. 6. The Tribunal established by the Agreement referred to in Article 1 hereof for the trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries shall have the power to try and punish persons who, acting in the interests of the European Axis countries, whether as individuals or as members of organizations, committed any of the following crimes.

The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there
shall be individual responsibility:

(a) ' Crimes against peace: ' namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;

(b) ' War crimes: ' namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labour or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;
(c) ' Crimes against humanity.- ' namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan. 

Art. 7. The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government Departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment. 

Art. 8. The fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determines that justice so requires. 

Then we have the oath taken by the American military:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

So what happens when defending the Constitution conflicts with obeying "the orders of the President of the United States"?  Nuremberg provides the answer.

It's very difficult to imagine "Collateral Murder" as anything other than a crime "committed consciously, ruthlessly, and without military excuse or justification."  Suffice it to say that the release of the diplomatic cables revealed an entire world of the Great and the Good that is marked by festering lies, toxic evasions, and poisonous self-interest.  That's what Bradley Manning wants made public.  

He's right, obviously.