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Breaking the Sound Barrier

Breaking the Sound Barrier

By Amy Goodman

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Blood on Whose Hands?

Posted on Jan 21, 2012
Steve Rhodes (CC-BY)

By Chase Madar, TomDispatch

(Page 2)

This was, of course, the same Robert Gates who pushed for escalation in Afghanistan in 2009 and, in March 2011, flew to the Kingdom of Bahrain to offer his own personal “reassurance of support” to a ruling monarchy already busy shooting and torturing nonviolent civilian protesters.  So again, when it comes to blood and indifference to consequences, Bradley Manning—or Robert Gates?

Nor have such attitudes been confined to the military. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Manning’s (alleged) leak of 250,000 diplomatic cables of being “an attack on the international community” that “puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.”

As a senator, of course, she supported the invasion of Iraq in flagrant contravention of the U.N. Charter.  She was subsequently a leading hawk when it came to escalating and expanding the Afghan War, and is now responsible for disbursing an annual $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt’s ruling junta whose forces have repeatedly opened fire on nonviolent civilian protesters.  So who’s been attacking the international community and putting lives in danger, Bradley Manning—or Hillary Clinton?

Harold Koh, former Yale Law School dean, liberal lion, and currently the State Department’s top legal adviser, has announced that the same leaked diplomatic cables “could place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals—from journalists to human rights activists and bloggers to soldiers to individuals providing information to further peace and security.”


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This is the same Harold Koh who, in March 2010, provided a tortured legal rationale for the Obama administration’s drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, despite the inevitable and well-documented civilian casualties they cause.  So who is risking the lives of countless innocent individuals, Bradley Manning—or Harold Koh?

Much of the media have clambered aboard the bandwagon, blaming WikiLeaks and Manning for damage done by wars they once energetically cheered on.

In early 2011, to pick just one example from the ranks of journalism, New Yorker writer George Packer professed his horror that WikiLeaks had released a memo marked “secret/noforn” listing spots throughout the world of vital strategic or economic interest to the United States.  Asked by radio host Brian Lehrer whether this disclosure had crossed a new line by making a gratuitous gift to terrorists, Packer replied with an appalled yes.

Now, among the “secrets” contained in this document are the facts that the Strait of Gibraltar is a vital shipping lane and that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in minerals. Have we Americans become so infantilized that factoids of basic geography must be considered state secrets?  (Maybe best not to answer that question.)  The “threat” of this document’s release has since been roundly debunked by various military intellectuals.

Nevertheless, Packer’s response was instructive.  Here was a typical liberal hawk, who had can-canned to the post-9/11 drumbeat of war as a therapeutic wake-up call from “the bland comforts of peace,” now affronted by WikiLeaks’ supposed recklessness.  Civilian casualties do not seem to have been on Packer’s mind when he supported the invasion of Iraq, nor has he written much about them since.

In an enthusiastic 2006 New Yorker essay on counterinsurgency warfare, for example, the very words “civilian casualties” never come up, despite their centrality to COIN theory, practice, and history.  It is a fact that, as Operation Enduring Freedom shifted to counterinsurgency tactics in 2009, civilian casualties in Afghanistan skyrocketed.  So, for that matter, have American military casualties.  (More than half of U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan occurred in the past three years.)

Liberal hawks like Packer may consider WikiLeaks out of bounds, but really, who in these last years has been the most reckless, Bradley Manning—or George Packer and some of his pro-war colleagues at the New Yorker like Jeffrey Goldberg (who has since left for the Atlantic Monthly, where he’s been busily clearing a path for war with Iran) and editor David Remnick?

Centrist and liberal nonprofit think tanks have been no less selectively blind when it comes to civilian carnage. Liza Goitein, a lawyer at the liberal-minded Brennan Center at NYU Law School, has also taken out after Bradley Manning.  In the midst of an otherwise deft diagnosis of Washington’s compulsive urge to over-classify everything—the federal government classifies an amazing 77 million documents a year—she pauses just long enough to accuse Manning of “criminal recklessness” for putting civilians named in the Afghan War logs in peril—“a disclosure,” as she puts it, “that surely endangers their safety.”


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By gerard, January 25, 2012 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

Ardee and BR549:  Thank you both.

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By gerard, January 23, 2012 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment

Once more I’ll make a try, though I strongly doubt you will ever “understand” what I say, how I say it, or why.
  From you to me:  “You confuse non-passionate reasoning for chilliness.” (Calling people “communists” and “anarchists” and saying they are “dangerous” is not chillingly passionate?
  From you again: “I personally and passionately believe I care a great deal more about 6 billion people than you do about the actions and health of a few hundred million.”
  How would you possibly know how much a care about how many, let alone that you care more than I do?  Such comparisons are not only odious; they are unreasonable.
  And again from you: “Every subject, no matter where in the world, has you writing about the United States. If not, no comment. Bar none!” That is simply a childish lie so I won’t take time to address it. Even if it were true, so what? My country is the one I love, the one I literally weep over nowadays, and the only one I can hope to change.
  From me to you: I have never said ending violence is “simply a matter of etc.”  It will be a long, hard slog in education, training, reformation of habit, soul-searching, invention of new ideas and processes—and a lot of elbow grease. Stopping war is only the first step, but the essential step.
  Human nature has changed moment by moment, century by century. It is not immutable. What goes into its making comes out pretty much the same. Feed violence; excrete violence, and vice versa.
  It is doubtful that you will “understand” this because your orientation comes out of some rigid indoctrination which prevents your even admitting the possibility of ending violence. As you seem to believe in a very violent “end times” etc., you are not much “interested in” renouncing violence.
  Relativities are complicated. You prefer to think in terms of black-or-white. Colors, shades, tints and variations do not seem to interest you. In religious terms, you, like many, many others are stuck inside a frame of faith plus stubbornness.
  I’m sorry I fail to engage your imagination, your hope, your sense of the possibilities preached above all by that shepherd of Nazareth who challenged ten or twelve “occupiers” of that day to go against the legions of Rome and preach what? “Peace and goodwill among men.” As far as we know, he never even mentioned killing Japanese, Vietnamese, Arabs and indigenous tribes in large numbers, or cutting the social “security” out from under desperate families and permitting a handful of clever connivers to float on an ocean of misery. Kings and Popes had the same difficulty!
  Don’t get me started!  It becomes too much fun. The longer I go on, the more metaphors I can mix until the whole thing explodes in everybody’s face.

What are you saying now?  Ending violence is not simply a matter of everyone simultaneously ceasing all violence and employing globally understood, tried and verifiable, methods of mutual respect and harmony?  That it would take some significant changes in human-nature first?

Do I understand you correctly?

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By BR549, January 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment

gerard, January 22 at 4:02 pm

Loved that whole post. Spot on!

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By IMax, January 23, 2012 at 6:26 am Link to this comment

ardee-full-of-putrid-hate still smarts over how I used his own words, his own reasoning, against his logic.

This wretched individual got a full-on taste of his own hypocrisy.  It left him distressed in both body and mind.  Still angry over being laid so bare in the eyes of others.

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By ardee, January 23, 2012 at 5:59 am Link to this comment


I think your intention to ignore the slimer known as Rico sometimes and Imax other times is admirable and necessary to the continued exchange of honest opinions and ideas.

I do note that you were forced, by the stupidity of his post, to respond. I would note that I simply turboscroll past his nonsense, if for no other reason than his basic and fundamental dishonesty.

It is a waste of time to attempt honest discourse with one so dedicated to sophomoric, even childish, exchanges with absolutely no regard for truth or even decency. . Hell, he even lies about who he is!

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By IMax, January 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment


You confuse non-passionate reasoning for chilliness. 

I personally and passionately believe I care a great deal more about 6 billion people than you do about the actions and health of a few hundred million. - Every subject, no matter where in the world, has you writing about the United States. If not, no comment. Bar none!

What are you saying now?  Ending violence is not simply a matter of everyone simultaneously ceasing all violence and employing globally understood, tried and verifiable, methods of mutual respect and harmony?  That it would take some significant changes in human-nature first?

Do I understand you correctly?

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By prisnersdilema, January 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment

Actually Nigera has lots of oil…The oil industry is being developed by the Chinese….

Big oil doesn’t like that….But that’s o.k., because big oil has friends in the CIA…who are
willing to start trouble, through some cut out group, so that the good ole USA can send
in troups to keep the locals from killing each other. Of course we will kill many more
thousands of locals than the cut out group and it’s enemies would have….

As payments for our efforts there is oil….and respite from hours on end of CNN
highlighting atrocities of one side or the other to persuade the public that our aggression
there is justified, and not just a result of greed….

It takes a lot of oil to make a fourth reich…..

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By gerard, January 22, 2012 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment

Regarding Nigeria, without looking further I can point to the exploits of American and British oil companies over a period of decades with little to no regard for the “natives.” I regard those depradations and also the manaical violence of Muslim factions as equally despicable.  That is what I meant by using the term “mankind” in my previous rant. Mankind comes in all colors, shapes, sizes and beliefs, and more than enough of them are ready to kill each other just for the hell of it. Stupid!
  I hope you appreciate my having broken my New Year
resolution not to respond to your comments.  Really, your lack of generosity and warmth is chilling and I keep hoping to help you climb out of your little ice-box, but alas! I realize, as King did, that I may not get to a more peaceable world ...” but “I’ve seen the Promised Land” and it ain’t up in the sky, swinging from a heartless star lost in space. It will be in Nigeria and New York, in Tokyo and Tehran—and I’d much rather work toward it than not. In order to work toward it, I must believe in it, heart and soul. 


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By IMax, January 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

gerard- “the world is literally choking on blood, while alternatives are readily available everywhere at all times, and most of the world now knows it. The alternative:  Simply quit, and support a system of human relationships less deadly and insane.”


First, I see you’ve had nothing to say about the recent reported violence in Nigeria.  You see no viable way of connecting this type of violence with the United States.  No comment.

GREAT! FANTASTIC!  You have the answers to ending violence.  Thank God!  Everyone, all at once, simply stop.  It’s brilliant!

I beg you now to apply those principles and end this situation for us*: “KADUNA, Nigeria — Smoke rose above this city in Nigeria’s Muslim north where rioting broke out again Tuesday after opposition protesters in the region set fire to churches and homes when official results from the national election showed that the Christian incumbent had won the vote.

On the outskirts of Kaduna, burned out minibuses and cars lined the roads, and at least six burned corpses could be seen. Some of the victims also bore machete wounds. Skull caps and sandals were strewn nearby, left behind by those who frantically fled amid the chaos.”

Thank you, gerard.  Thank you so very much.  If you’re successful I’m right there with you.  Free Barely Manning!

*BBC 21 January 2012 Last updated at 15:50 ET

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By gerard, January 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment

Excuse me, IMax:  The U.S. is far from the only “enemy of mankind.”  In fact it would appear that “mankind” is the enemy of mankind—more or less, and mainly.  “Womankind” in general seems less interested in killing and more interested in nurturing, for some odd reason. I am genuinely sorry to have to inform you that men (since time immemorial, as they say) have been, and still are, primarily responsible for all the wars ever fought, whereas most of the victims (collateral damage, as they say) have been helpless women and the children they brought into the world at considerable pain and inconvenience. 
  Don’t try to tell me about guilt. Any person who
supports wars and killing, male or female, no matter what nationality, is guilty of unforgiveable ignorance and evil intent.  Why?  Because the world is literally choking on blood, while alternatives are readily available everywhere at all times, and most of the world now knows it. The alternative:  Simply quit, and support a system of human relationships less deadly and insane.
  What makes the U.S. so culpable is not that we are any worse or more insane than others, but that we have so much national wealth to put into innovation and yet pour it down a sink-hole and project such a vile image doing so. What the world most needs from us is leadership that promotes peace and justice by example.
  Believe me, IMax, I am not asking anything of the U.S. that the U.S. is not fully qualified to do. As Martin Luther King said:  “I have been to the mountaintop” ... and I clearly see what must happen next if the human race is to survive. So have an increasing number of other ordinary people. Further, I believe the U.S. is the most qualified to take leadership in peacemaking.  The fact that we are not doing so is what makes our present military aggressions so very heartbreaking!

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By Stupid Git, January 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“throughout our decade-long foreign policy debacle in the Greater Middle East”

It’s been longer than a decade.

We’ve been at war with Iraq continually for 20 years. Here was the response to
civilian casualties during the Clinton years:

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By IMax, January 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

Excuse me, gerard.  Womankind smile~

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By IMax, January 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment


LOL… posted references to Bradley Manning after a completely unrelated article concerning Iran.  You posted another after an article concerning internet piracy.

I’ve noted you have little to nothing to add to any subject that does not concern your favorite cause. - how the United States is the enemy of mankind.

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By gerard, January 22, 2012 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

And in bold caps, to boot, so we’re sure not to miss
the intended connection, which is ... ???

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By gerard, January 22, 2012 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

Interesting how OWs gets dragged into an article on Bradley Manning’s plight.  ???

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By prisnersdilema, January 22, 2012 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

At the the dedication of the temple of the sun, in Mexico city, the Aztecs sacrificed
to their gods, 250,000 captives in a day. The Aztec priests, cut the hearts out of
their victims with obsidian knives and threw their bodies down the steps of the
temple, spraying blood while they screamed. Other captives were skinned alive, in
honor of Texcatlipoltli, the God of Skinned alive captives. Aztect priests then
danced in the skins to honor their Gods. The Aztecs, routinely raided other
civilization for sacrificial victims, and although some Aztecs volunteered for the
honor of dying in this fashion, most of the victims came from else where. Many
captives lived the lives of kings, fattened with every whim pleased until the day
they would give up their lives for the blood thirsty.

No other civilization, that ever existed, made death into a cult. Until now.

Reveling in the the details of murder, with sophisticated weaponry, thats
deadliness is exceeded only by the cold calculated nature of its use, certain
segments of this country have turned the world into a killing floor.

Yet in the old days, when butchers worked the floor they were given time off to
recover from it’s soul destroying effects, lest they off handedly kill someone at the
slightest provocation.  This too has changed.

So Mr. Manning will have his ritual torture, his days of abuse and incarceration,
while he is being readied for his sacrifice to Amerika’s gods of war. The bankers,
and the corporations. They are the same ones who deal death here at home as

Death comes to all of us here at home through Genetically Modified foods,
glyphosate,  insurance companies, agribusiness, pharmaceutical companies, or
big oil through Global warming.

So whether you die of Cancer, or heart disease,  are one of the 500,000 deaths
from medical mistakes each, or are a drug over dose, your deaths has been
profitable to someone, because of a suppressed cure, or because our life was less
important than the profit of our Gods the Multi National corporations.

The Gods of Multi National Corporations have their prayers, and sacred words too.
So whether you march off to work, or march off to war, it’s the same. The same
words, the same prayers and the same death.

America is the country in which the tombstones of millions upon millions of
people should read…. “not a covered benefit”.

A country whose corporations have embraced a cult of death.

Only you can change that.

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By Ed Romano, January 22, 2012 at 9:09 am Link to this comment

Throwing objects at the police from the roof top of a hotel is a classic tactic of provocateurs. The Occupy movement has been almost completely non violent in every city it has appeared in. This action in Frisco is undoubtedly the work of agents whose aim is to turn the public against the movement.

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By Jim Yell, January 22, 2012 at 8:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No it is not pay back it is a grab for land and power, or at lest power and resources. Resources which of course could have been had from honest bargaining, but the Corporate Monsters and Investment Community want unsustainable profits, which means short changing people.

Bradley Manning is only guilty of not having enough spine to tell his Dad, “Hell No I Won’t Go”. As there is little process for second thoughts once you enroll with any military, you are in the position of “in for a penny, in for a pound”. But, the military is not the nation. Except for WWII it has not been used for a just War for Protection of the Country. It has instead become a branch of Corporate America and while I would believe that most common soldiers believe the lies they are told, the fact is the ones calling the shots are Bullies and Gangsters in the pay of the Military-Industrial Comples and Big Oil.

America can not clean its soul from the crimes we have allowed people like Bush/Cheney to commit in our names and people like Obama who have quietly allowed it to continue.

As a nation we are one body and the crimes and the blood are on all of us.

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By IMax, January 22, 2012 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

Violence, violence, and more violence.

Protesters Throw Bricks and Bibles at Police in San Francisco

Occupy San Francisco’s “Day of Action” turned violent Friday night when protesters occupied an abandoned hotel and began throwing objects at police officers from the roof, police said.

“Once they gained access [to the hotel], some of them made it to the top of the roof and they then began to throw bibles down at the officers,” San Francisco Police Department spokesman Carlos Manfredi said.

“One of officers was struck with a brick to the chest and one of our lieutenants was struck in the hand with an object and may have damaged or even broken his hand,” he said.

This is appalling. Not to mention embarrassing.

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By glider, January 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Madar for a beautiful written piece on the hypocrisy of the American MIC/Media/Political machine.  I only disagree with your one sentence about Bradley Manning being a fall guy/scape goat for all the civilian violence.  As your article beautifully demonstrates the establishment completely accepts and minimizes civilian casualties (outside of 9/11).  Bradley Manning is simply being made an example of what may happen to those that would seriously impede these wars of aggression.  The unifying theme is that anything that supports endless war is promoted.

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By Textynn, January 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bradley Manning is a symbol of the corruption of those who have taken over what was the American government.  Our government and Constitution is gone. We are run by an inbred, uneducated, world elite and they have no loyalty to Americans, or American values, or human beings in general. We are cattle to them. This is not an exaggerated complaint. Literally, they see us as animals to consume and extract wealth from.

These conquerors have taken over though abuse of our authority systems which they have turned on us. They use the titles and buildings and trusted institutions like the Church, but their purpose is to overtake, subjugate, steal, and privatize.

Awake America. Nothing will save us but coming together. The elections are pure fraud.  None represent us. Do not be lulled into believing an election is a step towards change or reversing any of this.  We are in Dark times.  We are in danger refusing to believe that something this dark could happen.  Only the strength of the 99 can save us. I repeat, ONLY THE STRENGTH OF THE 99 CAN SAVE US. We must not be obedient children.  That is how this all was done.

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By diamond, January 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

“How many thousands of lives might have been saved if government had self-corrected long before now? After all, the information in the cables had been available to them for years!”

Yup. And that’s how they like it. AVAILABLE TO THEM but not to you or me or anyone else. As for self-correcting: what a preposterous thought. This system of horror and injustice is one they invented a long time ago for profit and power and they have no interest in correcting anything. But if you give them too much trouble or tell the truth about what they do they will ‘correct’ you, with extreme prejudice. Now that corporations are people and run the world, the Pentagon and the CIA also run the world and that’s exactly how they like it. It can only be a matter of time before the Arab spring goes global. In fact that is the only way democracy can be saved and the situation ‘corrected’. But will people stop playing with their ipads long enough to do it? If there’s yet another global economic collapse, probably.

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By thecrow, January 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

“American airstrikes that Afghan officials and villagers said Wednesday had killed dozens and perhaps more than 100 civilians in western Afghanistan threaten to stiffen Afghan opposition to the war just as the Obama administration is sending 20,000 more troops to the country.

‘We have some other information that leads us to distinctly different conclusions about the cause of the civilian casualties,’ said the senior American commander in Afghanistan

‘The governor said that the villagers have brought two tractor trailers full of pieces of human bodies to his office to prove the casualties that had occurred,’ Mr. Farahi said. ‘Everyone at the governor’s office was crying, watching that shocking scene.’

Mr. Farahi said he had talked to someone he knew personally who had counted 113 bodies being buried, including those of many women and children. Later, more bodies were pulled from the rubble and some victims who had been taken to the hospital died, he said.”

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By thecrow, January 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

Gerard, I suspect you did not view the linked post.

I am concerned not with “blowback” or a cycle of retaliation, but the fruits of deception and betrayal.

“Payback” is the soldier’s word, used with irony.

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By gerard, January 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment

thecrow: And the payback for the payback will be ...?

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By thecrow, January 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

“Even though no Iraqis were involved, and there is no proof Saddam was behind it, the attack on the World Trade Center provides Cpl Richardson and many others with the justification for invading Iraq.

‘There’s a picture of the World Trade Center hanging up by my bed and I keep one in my Kevlar [flak jacket]. Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think, ‘They hit us at home and, now, it’s our turn.’ I don’t want to say payback but, you know, it’s pretty much payback.’”

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By thecrow, January 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

“‘This was a legitimate target,’ said a senior military official. ‘There is no culpability.’”

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By thecrow, January 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

“In a second posting, Coombs noted the breadth of the military’s definition of “enemy”: “`Enemy’ includes (not only) organized opposing forces in time of war, (but also any other hostile body that our forces may be opposing) (such as a rebellious mob or a band of renegades) (and includes civilians as well as members of military organizations). (‘Enemy’ is not restricted to the enemy government or its armed forces. All the citizens of one belligerent are enemies of the government and the citizens of the other.)”

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By Ed Romano, January 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Just as too many people sleeping on the sidewalks and in the alleys of our cities at night makes the free enterprise system look bad, so too many civilian casualties in the countries to which we are bringing “democracy” makes our motives suspect. If the stooges in government don’t really care a rat’s ass abouit the well being of the majority in this country why on God’s earth would anyone believe they care about the populations in foriegn lands? I would ask the flag wavers who disagree with the above to take a good look at the lives that are being led by millions of Americans in places like Appalachia, Detroit, Chicago and a thousand other places in this land of the “free” home of the buck.  Ed R

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By gerard, January 21, 2012 at 11:43 am Link to this comment

In reality, the leaks pointed the way for the American government and military to self-correct and thereby improve misguided procedures and errors that resulted.  Why didn’t anyone in office see this possibility?  And even yet, why does noone use the cable releases as an opportunity, not a betrayal?
Assange, early on, indicated the positive opportunities the releases offer when he wrote about
the dangers of secrecy and the need for openness in democratic government. 
  Probably the reason for this institutional blindness, and the fearful knee-jerk reaction of “kill the messenger” springs from lack of understanding of the internet itself, and of how an open society—or more than one acting together—can enhance citizen participation and official integrity and make international conciliation more possible by using the open internet to cut back on
miscalculations between nations. In this sense (as well as in other ways) the internet and the possibility of open and instant communication that it brings, is the most valuable change in possibly improving international relations to occur for many years.
  A deeper awareness of the significance of the internet itself, and of ways it can be used to support international peace, is something that even the well-educated U.S. government needs to understand and appreciate. Trying and punishing Manning and Assange shows lack of understanding,
not pursuit of intelligent response. The entire
internet information industry should have risen to vigorously emphasize this point before now, in my opinion, and saved the anguish of whistle-blowers and the embarassment of accusers.
  How many thousands of lives might have been saved if government had self-corrected long before now? After all, the information in the cables had been available to them for years!

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