Dear Mr. President,
All the revolutions in the Middle East that are toppling one dictator after another got me to thinking about how we see suppression and injustice elsewhere but don’t recognize it here at home. We decry the brutality and suppression of dissent by Mubarak, Qaddafi, Saleh and other dictators, but we do the same things – lock up dissidents, suppress information, use the media to spin and twist the news to support its’ views (that’s called propaganda anywhere else), spy on our citizens (illegal wiretaps), classify information it doesn’t want known as “Secret,” suspend habeas corpus (the Guantanamo Bay prisoners), and even put out hits on our own citizens. When other countries lock up dissidents we call them political prisoners but when we lock up people opposed to what the State does, we call it “a violation of the law.” Bradley Manning is a case in point. Locked up for 277 days, most of that time in solitary confinement in a Marine brig at Quantico, Virginia. This is torture, Mr. President. This is the kind of thing Mubarak would do, Qaddafi, Saleh. Accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. Accused, not convicted and still not even a pretrial hearing. A person used to be innocent until proven guilty in America, but nowadays that’s only true if you’re rich enough to afford high-priced lawyers or powerful enough to have friends in high places, and an army Pfc. whistleblower doesn’t fit either category. While the information might have been embarrassing to the government, nothing I’ve seen looked like a threat to national security. What you and the (in)Justice Department got all knotted up about is that your hypocrisy and lies got exposed, but really, Mr. President, State Secrets are the domain of tyrants and the enemy of democracy. What your regime is doing with Bradley Manning and others is suppressing information that We the People need to make informed decisions about our government. In an article in yesterday’s paper, I read the following: “The Obama administration, in its first two years, indicted more officials for leaking information to reporters than any previous one.” That sure gave me pause. It should you too, Mr. President. This is the stuff of tyrannies, the erosion of democracy. I thought when we said goodbye to Bush and hello to Obama, we were changing direction, taking the high road and getting off the low road, but apparently not. You’re really starting to spook me out, Mr. President.
Free Bradley Manning!