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No Other Way Out
Posted on Feb 28, 2011
By Chris Hedges
There will be veterans in the park who carry with them physical and emotional wounds of great magnitude, who remain crippled by the dead hand of war, who never sleep well, who struggle in the black pit of depression and with post-traumatic stress disorder, and who will bear the cross that war inflicted upon them until the end of their days. They will have surmounted tremendous psychic and physical pain to make it to Lafayette Park, to defy what they know must be defied. And if they can walk their trail of tears to the White House so can you. They are our wounded healers, our disregarded prophets.
Hugh Thompson, a helicopter pilot who while flying saw the killings of unarmed Vietnamese civilians in what later became known as the My Lai massacre, landed in the village during the slaughter. He spotted a group of about 10 civilians, including children, running toward a homemade bomb shelter. Soldiers from the 2nd Platoon, C Company, were chasing the civilians. Thompson, dismounting from the cockpit, put himself between the civilians and the soldiers. He ordered his gunner to open fire on the Americans if they began to shoot the villagers or him. Later, Thompson, who crusaded for justice after then-Maj. Colin Powell led the official whitewash of My Lai, received death threats. Mutilated animals were tossed on his doorstep. He was unsung for decades and forgotten until shortly before his death in 2006. He exhibited real courage, moral courage, the kind of courage the state detests, the kind of courage for which they do not mint medals.
Bradley Manning, who allegedly downloaded thousands of documents and videos that confirmed war crimes by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and passed them on to WikiLeaks, is being held in a military brig in Quantico, Va. He has been kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and denied exercise, a pillow or sheets for the last nine months. His prolonged isolation is designed to break him physically and psychologically. There will be a protest outside Quantico on March 20 in support of Manning, another soldier from another war whom Thompson would have understood.
The documents published by WikiLeaks detailed for the world the widespread use of torture by Iraqi and Afghan security forces and the silent complicity of Washington. They confirmed that civilians, including children, are routinely murdered by occupation forces and that the killings are not investigated. The documents lifted the veil on our undeclared, black war in Pakistan, including drone strikes that have killed more than 900 civilians in Pakistan since Barack Obama took office. They shed light on the gross corruption, drug trafficking and crimes committed by the Afghan president as well as the reign of terror carried out by the Afghan National Army. These documents confirm that huge numbers of Iraqi civilians have been killed by U.S. troops at checkpoints, and that since the invasion tens of thousands of civilians have died as a result of the war. These documents illustrate in page after page that our government makes no effort to protect liberty, democracy or human rights, but instead prefers crude and brutal mechanisms of power.
The Obama administration, which has proved as efficient in serving the war machine and the corporate state as the Bush administration did, is attempting to destroy not only Manning but WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The state seeks to silence anyone who practices moral courage. It does not want the truth heard. It does not want the reality seen. If these forces of war and greed triumph, and we do not, there will be darkness. But if on March 19 there is at least one person willing to defy the state, to demand justice at the cost of his or her freedom, there will be a flame held to light the way for us all.
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