Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Searching For Middle Ground

Having written a series of posts in which I made clear my feelings on the whole Wikileaks folderol, I thought I was done. Like Michael Corleone, however, I feel myself dragged right back in (although without Al Pacino's overacting . . .). Because I am interested in following certain of Glenn Greenwald's writings, I follow him of Twitter. Reading this tweet, I clicked the link to find this article.
According to yet another diatribe by Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, the claim has been made that the government is “harassing” friends and supporters of Bradley Manning (the army guy who leaked classified documents to Wikileaks).


As Greenwald reports it, Manning’s supporters and friends are being detained when they enter the country and whatever digital devices they are carrying have been confiscated.
That's the report without embellishment. Gerwitz, however, embellishes a bit.
It is not heroic to take an oath to protect and defend the United States, to accept a job where you’re entrusted with classified information, and then leak that classified information, putting American soldiers and assets at risk of loss of life.

That’s not being a hero. That’s being a traitor.
Actually, it isn't. Treason, as has been pointed out over and over again in recent years, is the only crime specifically defined by the Constitution, and Pvt. Manning, whatever crimes he may or may not have committed, is not, by that definition, a traitor.

All the same, Greenwald is equally ridiculous.
I think Manning, if he did what he's accused of, is the most heroic political figure of the last decade at least
That would be, alas, a big negatory.

Greenwald's column is an entire series of frustrations, really. Gerwitz is correct; the people being questioned are associates of Private Manning, who is under arrest for leaking classified information. Greenwald is huffy because officials are conducting an investigation. I am dumbfounded that a lawyer would consider this harassment.

All the same, I am frustrated by the way this entire business is being framed. There are no heroes or traitors here. Defending the investigative tactics of the Justice Department and its military equivalents is not a sign of an "authoritarian follower". That is some serious bullshit right there. While Gerwitz does presume Manning's guilt, he is under no compunction to do otherwise. Considering the facts already on the public record, while overstating that Manning is a "traitor", at the very least a commentator is quite free to state that he has, indeed, violated his oath, and several other laws besides, by his own admission. Specific instances can be adjudicated by a court of law. In court a presumption of innocence is necessary; in a public discussion of the broader topic, I see no reason to pretend such is necessary.

Furthermore, I think Gerwitz should feel no need to state his long-term opposition to the Iraq War as a way of defending his overall position. One can oppose the war, from beginning to the present, without believing for one moment that this opposition means defending every single act - including illegalities that might place our troops in great danger - done in the name of that opposition.

I see no reason to defend a position that opposes the war and opposes actions that have the potential of placing our troops or their allies in danger. As the discussion heats up, it would be nice to be able to have a discussion of this matter without the reversion to hyperbole.

Virtual Tin Cup

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