The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewEric Margolis Archive
Are We Becoming What We Once Hated?
Living in the USSA
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
shutterstock_82709644

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

In the late 1980’s, an old friend of mine based in Moscow was calling her husband in the USA late one night. She said it was a “typical dumb husband/wife call,” mostly about a broken garage door.

Around midnight, a gruff voice broke into the call. “This is your KGB listener. This is the most boring, stupid call I’ve ever listened to. Shut up and go to bed!”

Ah, those innocent Cold War days. Today, Big Brother listens to your calls, reads your email, and follows your internet searches on silent cat’s feet.

China’s Taoists warned, “you become what you hate.” They are right: the September 2001 attacks on the US, as John Le Carré wrote, producing a period of temporary psychosis. America was knocked back to the ugly days of Sen. McCarthy’s Red Scare of the 1950’s. The big difference was that today the bogeymen of “terrorists” have replaced menacing Marxists. And today, terrorists were everywhere.

When I enlisted in the US Army during the Vietnam War, we were taught that it was our duty as American soldiers to report all war crimes and violations of the Geneva Convention, and to refuse to obey unlawful orders from superiors as established at post WWII Nuremburg trials At the time, I was proud to serve in America’s armed forces.

Today, the military trial of document leaker PFC Bradley Manning has echoes of the Soviet era: a show trial in which a lonely individual is slowly crushed by the wheels of so-called military justice, an oxymoron.

The dramatic revelations of fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden brings back sharp memories of Soviet-era dissidents, jailed, banished, locked in foul psychiatric hospitals for daring to speak the truth.

In my day, those seeking justice and freedom used to defect from the East Bloc to the United States and Britain. Now, ironically, we see a major defector, Ed Snowden, fleeing to Russia.

While the corporate-owned US news networks sugarcoat or obscure the NSA and Afghanistan War scandals, it’s left to Russian TV (RT) to tell Americans the facts. Who would have thought?

We journalists used to mock Pravda and Trud as party mouthpieces. Today, it’s the party line all the time from the big US networks, online news, and newspapers.

The Republican far right calls Snowden and Manning traitors; some demand the death penalty. Snowden’s lawyers warn he faces torture and possibly execution if he returns home; Manning has already had a long term in solitary confinement, which is itself a form of psychological torture.

We recall the horrific case of a Chicago gang member Jose Padilla during 9/11 hysteria. In an order signed by President George W. Bush, Padilla was accused on the flimsiest grounds of being an enemy combatant and stripped of all legal rights. He was held for over three years in solitary, tortured, sleep and sensory deprived, and injected with psychotropic drugs. Padilla was broken physically and mentally, then sent to prison for 17 years.

Such a gruesome fate could await Manning and Snowden.

ORDER IT NOW

I don’t know if PFC Manning took his charges of war crimes and other illegalities up the chain of command, the proper course for soldiers. He would, of course, have gotten nowhere – just look at the crimes committed at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. Going out of the command structure insured that Manning would have faced serious charges. Releasing a sea of details about US foreign policy inevitably courted severe punishment.

But as far as we know, Manning’s revelations didn’t harm America, it only embarrassed Washington by making it look bullying, two-faced and utterly cynical. Bureaucrats hate embarrassment much more than spying.

Snowden followed candidate Barack Obama’s pre-election call on whistleblowers to reveal waste and wrongdoing. America’s intelligence agencies have clearly overstepped their bounds and likely violated the law. A majority of Americans don’t buy the claim they were spied on to protect the nation from vague terrorist threats.

Snowdon and Manning were, in my view, patriotic Americans warning their nation that its ruling elite, obsessed with power and global hegemony, had veered way off course and were violating the US Constitution. However foolhardy, they acted with courage and honor.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Classic, Edward Snowden 
Hide 2 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
    []
  1. It is a sad fact that President Obama has been one of the worst at imprisoning whistleblowers. There is a chill on – anyone attempting to show corruption or illegal activities by the military or the government is at risk of lengthy and expensive court cases, which are likely to result in prison terms, loss of livelihood, and perhaps loss of health or early death.

    This chill has an effect – people who opine on topics they feel the government might not approve of are now making their speech as anonymous as they can, within their technological expertise. People are afraid to speak their minds, because Big Brother is here, and he is very mean and very active.

    If anything ruins our country it will be the chilling effect on free speech by things like the NSA, secret courts, and imprisonment of whistleblowers who are only acting in what they think is the best interest of America and have no desire to harm their own country.

    Unfortunately, it might be a long time until the next information hero like Snowden or Manning makes secrets public. Ordinary people do not have the strength of will to subject themselves to the results of such whistle blowing type activities – the government is just too powerful and too willing to use that power against private individuals. The government wants to shovel acts of torture and corruption out of sight by making bogus prosecutions against those who dare to bring those unpleasant and damning facts to light of day.

    It is so sad that not one national candidate sees these whistleblower prosecutions as a bad thing, as something to fight against to show Americans one way to improve America.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
    AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
    These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
    Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
    Sharing Comment via Twitter
    /emargolis/are-we-becoming-what-we-once-hated/#comment-1445033
    More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  2. Yes.

    There is an inherent, cogent logic to acquiring one’s persecutor’s vices once the tormentor is defeated or escaped, to democracy turning into authoritarianism (and, although at a slower pace, the viceversa).

    Sociopolitical history is cyclical. Nothing pushes to democracy like tyranny, and nothing pushes to tyranny like democracy.

    A work we have all read, by Edward Gibbons, draws our attention to the likeness of all civilisational sunset.

    China’s Taoists warned, “you become what you hate.”
    China’s Taoists were wise people.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
Current Commenter says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Eric Margolis Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Bin Laden is dead, but his strategy still bleeds the United States.
Egyptians revolted against American rule as well as Mubarak’s.
“America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in Palestine, which inevitably invites terrorist attacks against US citizens and property.”
A menace grows from Bush’s Korean blind spot.
Far from being a model for a “liberated” Iraq, Afghanistan shows how the U.S. can get bogged down Soviet-style.