DAY 54 – For Bradley Manning

August 2nd, 2013 § 0 comments

In case you’ve been on another, happier planet. US soldier Bradley Manning

bradley-manning-aiding-the-enemy-300x168was convicted on twenty different charges relating to his ‘whistleblowing’ activity – which includes revelations about the casual way in which pilots behaved when gunning down civilians. (The famous ‘collateral murder’ video.)

As David Rieff commented for BBC News: ‘Of course the most important single piece of classified data Manning released was a cockpit video of two US airstrikes, one in Baghdad in 2007 and the other in Afghanistan in 2009.

The footage seemed to show soldiers in flagrant violation of the laws of armed conflict. Unlike Manning, members of the aircrew were never charged. Most US service personnel convicted of war crimes have received sentences far lighter than Manning’s.

 Back in June, Amnesty International asked that the should be allowed to use a ‘public interest’ defence. (He wasn’t.) And some MEPs – not any Brits, as has been noted – put in a strong plea with Obama that he should free Manning. (He won’t.)

So now we await sentencing. By raising the spectre of a ‘maximum’ 136 years, the press are probably trying to create a climate in which anything less – say, sixty years – would be generous. Plus the absurd charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ – the fact that he was found not guilty under that charge (and so escaped a notional death penalty) – allowed all the other verdicts to seem reasonable.

In a few days, it will be Hiroshima Day, another reminder of the terrorism of governments. No one was there to make a video; a month later, Wilfred Burchett wrote an article (Daily Express, Sept. 5th, 1945), called ‘The Atomic Plague’:

‘In Hiroshima, thirty days after the first atomic bomb destroyed the city and shook the world, people are still dying, mysteriously and horribly-people who were uninjured in the cataclysm from an unknown something which I can only describe as the atomic plague.’

Burchett was not jailed (General MacArthur tried to expel him from Japan). Indeed his treatment, and that of John Hersey who wrote the more famous book Hiroshima, stands in contrast to those who try to expose the doings of the US military today.

hiroshima

The point has been well made by Daniel Ellsberg: it’s a much colder climate in the US today, under Obama, than it was under Nixon (in 1971, time of the Pentagon Papers). Moreover, Edward Snowden is better off out of the jurisdiction. In the Washington Post, Ellsberg ’speculates that Snowden would probably be confined to total isolation like Manning, except for a much longer period than the eight months the WikiLeaks source was forced to endure in conditions that the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture described as “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” For Ellsberg, that’s reason enough for other countries to grant Snowden’s asylum request.’

YOU ASKED:

#plato: Is string theory true?

Answer (#stevehawking) Define your terms, punk! We need a few trillion dollars and a machine the size of the universe to find out what we mean by ‘true’. You want to contribute?

#andrerieu: What’s the origin of that tune that goes Dum-diddley-um-dum; dum dum?

Answer (#jay-zbarenboim): It’s the Castration Motif from Wagner’s Ring.

#slavzizek: What’s the quickest way to get from Kensington High Street to Archway?

Answer (#bibiliar): Stuck outside the israeli Embassy again, are we? Avoid the tube at all costs. Take the 10 to Warren Street, change to the 134.

Send in your questions for speedy and unreliable answers.

I think I’ve included a poem by H.D. before. What the hell, if you stick to the early ones they’re short, not too much typing. This is pirated from ‘The New Freewoman’ for Sept. 1st 1913.:

SITALKAS

Thou art come at length

More beautiful

Than any cool god

In a chamber under

Lycia’s far coast,

Than any high god

Who touches us not

Here, in the seeded grass.

Aye, than Argestes

Scattering the broken leaves.

I have been trying to locate the poem of Octavio Paz which André Breton criticized for a weak line (according to the LRB) despite its being automatic writing, and so the unedited product, as he thought, of his unconscious. Perhaps readers can help – it could  be useful for the rest of us.

And finally, a special treat. Here’s the whole of Anita O’Day’s set on ‘Jazz on a Summer’s Day’ – you can admire not only the incredible singing, but the way New Englanders dressed in the sixties on a summer afternoon. Eight and a half minutes.

 

 

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