EDITOR’S NOTE: William C. Henry is better known to me as ‘Uncle Bill.’ I’ve invited him to weigh in from time to time on whatever is getting his goat at the moment.
BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Once upon a time in a far off land a society’s leadership came to the realization it was going to have to come up with a somewhat less “lethal” means of ensuring its hold on power, because constantly riling up the citizenry with displays of naked brutality could be bad for a regime’s longevity. (SEE Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, etc.) Over time that means came to be known as “imposing official secrecy.” In our case this neat little self-preservation device has evolved into what any high-level bureaucrat worth his salt will tell you (off the record, of course) is one of the finest C.Y.A. (that’s Cover Your Ass for you folks in Peoria) procedures ever concocted. Under our system the ruling minions divide their needs-to-be-protected information into three separate, but for all intents and purposes, equal categories of “sensitivity”: CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, and TOP SECRET (NATO calls its highest level of secrecy “COSMIC TOP SECRET” which no doubt includes mistresses’ names, measurements, and special talents). For the most part the process has proven to be nothing short of a godsend to countless elected and appointed officials alike whose blunders, ineptness and/or nefarious conduct might otherwise have precipitated their doom.
Enter Bradley Manning. He’s the persecuted young American hero who allegedly exposed some of the army’s previously “unkept” secrets to the world by turning the information over to Wikileaks. Let me break that sentence down for you. I say “persecuted” because Bradley has been locked up in harsh solitary confinement for a year now. He’s been allowed sunshine (when it’s shining) for an hour a day. The rest of his time is spent in a bare 6′ x 9′ cell with a light bulb glaring at all times. He’s naked and subject to extreme psychological abuse around the clock. He’s never been tried or convicted of a SINGLE F _ _ _ _ _ G THING, and it’s only two weeks ago that he was officially even CHARGED with something for Christ’s sake! I say “hero” because I use that term to describe ANY American enlistee these days who’s subject to deployment on a moments notice to any one of a half dozen godforsaken places on the globe where he’s likely to get killed because Americans have no f _ _ _ _ g business being there in the first place! I say “unkept” because these so-called SECRETS he exposed were already accessible to somewhere between 500,000 and 3,000,000 other pairs of eyes! You see, we’ve become a society divided between the security clearance haves and the have nots. What Bradley Manning (allegedly) did was erase that line.
Here’s the kicker, folks. Despite ALL the dire predictions, ALL the fretting, All the fuming, All the wringing of hands, ALL the sky-is-falling CRAP — the only thing that’s fallen is some of the Middle East’s most despicable tyrants! Nobody’s death or torture has been tied to the exposure! Widespread embarrassment? You betcha! And what about the hypocrisy of the media’s unwillingness to stand up for Manning and Wikileaks, despite the fact they they constantly parrot — and make money off that parroting — every newsworthy revelation from the reams of Pentagon and State department documents that Manning/Assange (allegedly) took it upon themselves to declassify. Where’s the debate about re-calibrating the ratio of transparency and accountability in the name of national security? Where’s the national conversation about the threats that state secrecy poses to an open society? Where’s congressional hearings on the abuse of government secrecy?! Where are the people in the streets and public squares demanding less official secrets and more official truth? Oh right, that is happening — in the Middle East.
Remember P.J. Crowley? He used to be the spokesman for our esteemed Department of State. I say “used to be” because the State Department canned him posthaste after it learned that he had had the “temerity” to speak the unvarnished TRUTH and embarrass those who deserved a whole lot worse than embarrassment. His “crime” was having publicly stated that what was being done to Bradley Manning was “ridiculous, and counterproductive, and stupid.” The lesson to be learned here, of course, is that publicly criticizing government “misdeeds” can prove downright deadly for your FREEDOM OF SPEECH and your LIVELIHOOD! It’s but another shining example of government doing what it almost always does best (granted, it might have acted just a tad bit late in this particular instance, but as you can see, it’s no slouch when it comes to “catch-up” either), namely: COVER ITS ASS, and KEEP YOU IN THE DARK!
I simply can’t say this emphatically enough: we need ALL the Bradley Mannings and Julian Assanges we can get! Whistle blowers, their publishers, and the investigative media in general are absolutely essential to our survival as a democracy! A couple hundred years ago a bunch of very bright guys got together in Philadelphia and hammered out what to this day are still UNIVERSALLY regarded as some of the finest human rights-oriented documents ever composed! One of the provisions argued for most forcefully was something called “freedom of the press.” Why so insistent? Because these unusually foresighted fellows knew that, if you wanted to sustain that glorious concept called DEMOCRACY, you had better provide for an incessant and inviolable INDEPENDENT WATCHDOG! Someone to constantly keep tabs on those wielding that most insidious of all narcotics, POWER, and their most heavily relied upon self-protection apparatus, SECRECY!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit.
1,562 = The number of brave Americans sent home from Afghanistan in BODY BAGS.
10,468 = The number of brave Americans that have been seriously wounded in Afghanistan.
0 = To date the number of financial industry kingpins indicted for having committed the most massive FRAUD in American history.