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Manning Chat Logs
July 13, 2011 2:24 PM   Subscribe

Manning-Lamo Chat Logs Revealed. "A little more than a year ago, Wired.com published excerpts from instant messenger chats between accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo, the ex-hacker in whom he confided and who reported him to the authorities. It’s now time to reveal the previously unpublished portions of these conversations."

New York Magazine recently ran a piece on Manning, which is mentioned by Wired: Bradley Manning’s Army of One: How a lonely, five-foot-two, gender-questioning soldier became a WikiLeaks hero, a traitor to the U.S., and one of the most unusual revolutionaries in American history.

One of the soldiers who was in the Collateral Murder video responded to the NYM piece, and Glenn Greenwald published the letter in full: Iraq War veteran on Manning, the media and the military.
posted by homunculus (347 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nobody seriously believes these are the actual logs, right? I mean, just for calibration. This is, after all, Adrian Lamo we're talking about here.
posted by jscott at 2:28 PM on July 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


"(10:23:34 AM) info@adrianlamo.com: I’m a journalist and a minister. You can pick either, and treat this as a confession or an interview (never to be published) & enjoy a modicum of legal protection."

This is about as far as I could stand to go.
posted by Xoebe at 2:33 PM on July 13, 2011 [37 favorites]


I like New York magazine. But "traitor to the US"?

Fuck you sideways.
posted by Trurl at 2:33 PM on July 13, 2011 [16 favorites]




I'm not finished reading yet, and I have my doubts as to the authenticity of these transcripts, but dang. If accurate, these conversations directly support the claim that homophobia, transphobia, and DADT were major factors in precipitating the largest breach of US intelligence in history.
(10:36:46 AM) bradass87: living such an opaque life, has forced me never to take transparency, openness, and honesty for granted
...
(11:49:02 AM) bradass87: im in the desert, with a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger happy ignorant rednecks as neighbors… and the only safe place i seem to have is this satellite internet connection
(11:49:51 AM) bradass87: and i already got myself into minor trouble, revealing my uncertainty over my gender identity… which is causing me to lose this job… and putting me in an awkward limbo
...
(1:13:10 PM) bradass87: i just… dont wish to be a part of it… at least not now… im not ready… i wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much, if it wasn’t for the possibility of having pictures of me… plastered all over the world press… as boy…
(1:14:11 PM) bradass87: i’ve totally lost my mind… i make no sense… the CPU is not made for this motherboard…
(1:14:42 PM) bradass87: s/as boy/as a boy
...
(02:03:27 PM) bradass87: received a “Company Grade Article 15″ — a formality (they only reduced me in grade, and aren’t making me do “extra duty”) since they needed to punish me in some way
(02:03:36 PM) bradass87: PFC
(02:04:59 PM) bradass87: i punched a colleague in the face during an argument… (something I NEVER DO…!?) its whats sparked this whole saga
(02:06:24 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: did they have it oming?
(02:06:33 PM) bradass87: yes
(02:06:44 PM) bradass87: as a result, i was referred (forced) to behavioral health… to evaluate me… as a result, my commander had access to all of my mental health files… ergo how they found out about my cross-dressing history, discomfort with my role in society, and the environment i’ve placed myself in
(02:07:03 PM) bradass87: it was a minor incident… but it brought attention to me
posted by zachlipton at 2:48 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think it's time to admit that when the 'change candidate' in a landslide election just continues the same old shit, your country is down the rabbit hole and ain't coming out. Hopey changey indeed. What a bill of goods.
posted by unSane at 2:49 PM on July 13, 2011 [28 favorites]


I was hoping for info@adrianlamo.com: I put on my robe and wizard hat.
posted by adipocere at 2:50 PM on July 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


The logs apparently begin May 21, 2010 (though the Wired article notes that they had no dates, only timestamps, so this date is from.... where?). That puts them a mere two weeks after Adrian Lamo was brought into custody by his handler, placed under an involuntary psychiatric hold, and then discharged on May 7th 2010 to his parents' home with a diagnosis of Asperger's along with a whole new round of psych meds.

I'm going to have to go ahead and say that a plaintext file from this guy, under those circumstances, is not going to fly as evidence in court.
posted by mek at 2:50 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bradley Manning is my hero too. He stood up for human life and probably will die for it.
posted by fuq at 2:53 PM on July 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


That is to say, he would be my hero if he actually leaked the intel. Innocent until proven guilty means he's not my hero currently.
posted by fuq at 2:55 PM on July 13, 2011 [23 favorites]


But "traitor to the US"?

Uh, yes? I don't see how this can really be in dispute (assuming he leaked the docs).
posted by ryanrs at 3:00 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Uh, yes? I don't see how this can really be in dispute (assuming he leaked the docs).

Only in the same way we were traitors to England. Once your government fails to live up to its own principles and laws, there is no moral value system you can become a traitor to.

Wouldn't you consider Chinese informants patriotic, or are we back to pot and kettle politics?
posted by notion at 3:07 PM on July 13, 2011 [39 favorites]


[[ But "traitor to the US"? ]]

Uh, yes? I don't see how this can really be in dispute (assuming he leaked the docs).


"The betrayal of one's own country by waging war against it or by consciously or purposely acting to aid its enemies"

If you think Manning's goal was to aid Al Qaeda, we're going to have to disagree.
posted by Trurl at 3:09 PM on July 13, 2011 [29 favorites]


Uh, yes? I don't see how this can really be in dispute (assuming he leaked the docs).

Country doing very illegal and wrong shit, covering it up, him standing up for what is good and right (assuming he actually did anything, but since he's never, ever going to get a fair and legal trial (which is another example of them being in the wrong) we'll never know). History will look back on him as a hero, instead of one of the many who claim "we tortured him to be more free".

Guess i'm now on lists, lovely times we live in eh?
posted by usagizero at 3:10 PM on July 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


these conversations directly support the claim that homophobia, transphobia, and DADT were major factors in precipitating the largest breach of US intelligence in history.

Of course, this snippet is interesting too:
(01:44:33 PM) bradass87: DADT isnt really enforced
(01:44:56 PM) bradass87: top interrogator here has a civil union in NJ
(01:45:18 PM) bradass87: i punched a dyke in the phace…
(01:45:22 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: lol
(01:45:43 PM) bradass87: half the S2 shop was at least bi
(01:45:57 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: you know this personal-like? ; )
(01:46:05 PM) bradass87: it was all female
(01:46:10 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: ah
(01:46:46 PM) bradass87: i got sick of these dykes and their drama… it was worse than “The L Word”…
(01:47:12 PM) bradass87: i even created a “chart”
(01:47:42 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: physical or virtual?
(01:48:07 PM) bradass87: we never got a replacement CI expert
(01:48:39 PM) bradass87: virtual… on SIPR =P(01:49:20 PM) info@adrianlamo.com: shouldn’t be a challenge for you to exfiltrate a copy ;>
(01:51:07 PM) bradass87: that was probably a primary facilitator… CI officer was an open position, taken up by a lesbian interrogator who was more worried about the drama than the exfiltration of classified information
posted by zachlipton at 3:14 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


From that last link:
"Listen up, new battalion SOP (standing operating procedure) from now on: Anytime your convoy gets hit by an IED, I want 360 degree rotational fire. You kill every [expletive] in the street!"

We weren't trained extensively to recognize an unlawful order, or how to report one. But many of us could not believe what we had just been told to do. Those of us who knew it was morally wrong struggled to figure out a way to avoid shooting innocent civilians, while also dodging repercussions from the non-commissioned officers who enforced the policy. In such situations, we determined to fire our weapons, but into rooftops or abandoned vehicles, giving the impression that we were following procedure.
Wow.

I wish I could trust the rest of the U.S. is going to find this as problematic as I do. It hasn't been a month yet since I recently sat at dinner with someone who served in WWII who speculated we were going to lose in Afghanistan because we're not free enough with torture and too committed to following the rules of engagement.

I like New York magazine. But "traitor to the US"?

It certainly seems credible to me to say that if he did what he's alleged to have done, he probably trespassed enough relevant U.S. statutes and portions of the military code to make the designation traitor or something close stick, regardless of what the dictionary entry you linked to says.

Whether that means he's a traitor to his "country" in a broader ethical sense is pretty separate question, though, and myself, I think a lot of the focus on Manning and his guilt/innocence hero/traitor status probably serves the interests of the status quo, as a distraction from the issues the material he helped release raises.
posted by weston at 3:26 PM on July 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Uh, yes? I don't see how this can really be in dispute (assuming he leaked the docs).

...

Only in the same way we were traitors to England.



Ummm. Was this meant as a joke? We were undoubtedly traitors to England. Whether or not a traitorous act is justified is another question. But c'mon.
posted by graphnerd at 3:26 PM on July 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Huh. On the one hand, I am glad Manning leaked these documents. I am glad these documents are now public. But at the same time, I am not opposed to Manning being executed or imprisoned for life should he be found guilty. Furthermore, I don't believe these are contradictory beliefs.

I think I'd feel the same way about a vigilante who murdered a war criminal. On the one hand, the war criminal deserved it, so yay. On the other hand, we can't have vigilantes running around, so that guy needs to be imprisoned for murder. Kind of a mixed bag of awful, I guess.
posted by ryanrs at 3:28 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Remember this, take this to heart, live by it, die for it if necessary: that our patriotism is medieval, outworn, obsolete; that the modern patriotism, the true patriotism, the only rational patriotism, is loyalty to the Nation ALL the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it."
— Mark Twain
posted by Zozo at 3:29 PM on July 13, 2011 [39 favorites]


I suspect that DADT was repealed when it was because of this. They recognized how many gays were in the service, and what a time bomb they were looking at if they kept persecuting them.
posted by empath at 3:29 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


We The colonial subjects who acted in open rebellion in 1776 were undoubtedly traitors to England. Whether or not a traitorous act is justified is another question. But c'mon.

FTFY. I think it's important to question ideas of belonging, of citizenship, of nation, and the meanings behind the stories that perpetuate all three, especially during the current historical moment.
posted by liketitanic at 3:30 PM on July 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I pretty much dismiss the whistleblower angle because I don't believe he read most of the documents he leaked.
posted by ryanrs at 3:34 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I pretty much dismiss the whistleblower angle because I don't believe he read most of the documents he leaked.

Read the chat logs then - he knew a fair bit of what was in there. But no-one could read all of them, obviously.
posted by memebake at 3:37 PM on July 13, 2011


It certainly seems credible to me to say that if he did what he's alleged to have done, he probably trespassed enough relevant U.S. statutes and portions of the military code to make the designation traitor or something close stick, regardless of what the dictionary entry you linked to says.

When dealing with capital charges, "close enough to stick" is one piss poor standard of justice,
posted by Trurl at 3:39 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think I'd feel the same way about a vigilante who murdered a war criminal. On the one hand, the war criminal deserved it, so yay. On the other hand, we can't have vigilantes running around, so that guy needs to be imprisoned for murder.

I see what you're saying, but your logic (to me) appears to depend on the assumption that persecuting Manning and other "vigilantes" to the fullest extent of the law will serve a deterrent effect, preventing the spread of similar lawbreaking behavior. Now, the deterrence effect is very generally controversial, but we don't even need to get hung up on criminology to see where you're mistaken here. In these very logs, Manning observes, repeatedly, that he is likely to be in a great deal of trouble and go to jail for a very long time. He even explicitly acknowledges he may be executed for what he is going to do.

So right there we know, if these logs are real, that the deterrent effect failed. Manning knew exactly what would happen to him and did it anyway. So I would argue you are just throwing good money after bad by insisting on punishment. It's quite possible that the legal prosecution of Manning will be even more damaging to the USA's image than the leaks were, which is saying a great deal.
posted by mek at 3:41 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


he knew a fair bit of what was in there

Agreed, but that's not good enough, in my mind. If you're going to leak classified data, I think you are at the very least obligated to read it carefully first.
posted by ryanrs at 3:41 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


the deterrent effect failed

The deterrent effect fails every time a crime is committed. That just means the effect is not perfect.
posted by ryanrs at 3:43 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a better understanding of the lawful evil alignment after reading the comments so far.
posted by wuwei at 3:44 PM on July 13, 2011 [29 favorites]


Regardless of you feel about Manning and what he did, was there ever a bigger scumbag than Adrian Lamo?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:44 PM on July 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


Manning betrayed far more people than Lamo ever did.
posted by ryanrs at 3:45 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


"close enough" as in the "close enough for Ethel Rosenberg" standard...
posted by warbaby at 3:46 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Speaking of Manning, there was some talk the other day in the torture probe thread about whether his confinement constituted torture, what with the suicide-watch policy, the limits on seeing other prisoners, the spare conditions of his cell, etc. I don't think it does, but it turns out to be a moot point now -- apparently he was moved to Leavenworth a few months ago, where "[t]he prevention-of-injury order was lifted, his clothes were not removed at night, and he was placed in a cell with a large window with natural light and a normal mattress. He was able to mix with other pre-trial detainees, write whenever he wanted, and keep personal objects, such as books and letters, in his cell." So at least the accommodations are less harsh, even if you think he's being held unjustly.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:47 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The deterrent effect fails every time a crime is committed. That just means the effect is not perfect.

That or it doesn't exist. But I'm not a criminologist. Perhaps you are?
posted by mek at 3:48 PM on July 13, 2011



I went to the last link in the FPP, and all I saw was the words "RESCUE ME" on either side of the page.

Either my browser can't handle the source code of the story, or Bradley has found a way to communicate from solitary confinement.

Assuming the latter... I'M COMING BRAD!! AS SOON AS I GET JASON STATHAM AND MACGYVER!!
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 3:51 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's such a thing as morally justifiable homicide (sometimes it's illegal). So in this case, I think an argument can be made that there's such a thing as morally justifiable treason.

We've gone down this semantic road before, but there's no doubting that Manning broke the law (assuming he did in fact distribute classified information).

Is that law just? Arguably, it's incomplete or failing to account for justifiable reasons for leaking classified information.

Could he have released seriously deadly information? Definitely. (Do you think for one minute he was able to read everything he leaked?)

Was it treasonous? That's for the courts to decide. My opinion is yeah, probably.

Was it justifiable? That depends on YOUR opinion. My opinion is that it was justifiable.
posted by chimaera at 3:54 PM on July 13, 2011


Mek, I'm not sure what you're arguing. That no crime should be punished? I'm am opposed to capital punishment, but for reasons entirely separate from this specific case. But that's a derail, I think.
posted by ryanrs at 3:54 PM on July 13, 2011


When dealing with capital charges, "close enough to stick" is one piss poor standard of justice,

I'm using a bit of vernacular here, so I can see how there could be some confusion. Just to be clear, by "close enough to stick" I mean the idea that even a well-conducted court or tribunal may convict him. While I'd agree even this is too often still distant from true justice, I'm not sure what standard is likely to work better in a society managed by rule of law.
posted by weston at 3:58 PM on July 13, 2011


Manning betrayed far more people than Lamo ever did.

Perhaps he did, but if he did then these chat logs make it pretty clear that he did so out of a sense of social/moral responsibility (regardless of how misguided you may think that) and/or emotional tumoil.

I don't consider Manning any kind of a hero -- and I differ from the people who believe that his actions strike a blow against homo/transphobia -- to my mind, just as many people are likely to say 'This is why we shouldn't allow gays in the military'.

But I don't regard Manning as a scumbag either. He's a troubled young man with poor judgement and a host of problems.

Lamo, on the other hand, appears to have been systematically milking somebody who was clearly troubled by pretending to be supportive, in the furtherance of nothing other than his personal self-interest. That's a scumbag in my book.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:00 PM on July 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


I believe that the law that forbids leaking classified data is just, yes. In fact, I believe it is a good and necessary law.

Now, whether the classification process itself is optimal... that's a different question. I believe the system we have today tends to over-classify documents. Many things are held secret for longer than they should be. But I understand why the classification process errs on the side of too much secrecy.

But I find it impossible to justify Manning's actions based on the military's tendency to over-classify documents. This is because I believe Manning exercised even less care and less consideration in his actions than the military did.
posted by ryanrs at 4:02 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


apparently he was moved to Leavenworth a few months ago

Good, I'm glad. He sounds out of his mind in the chat logs, so something resembling normal would be good for him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:03 PM on July 13, 2011


I believe the system we have today tends to over-classify documents.

Agreed. In previous threads related to this, I made the case that every classification had to have detailed documentary evidence supporting the necessity. Yeah that's a lot of work, but that's a feature not a bug. It should be HARD to classify information, not easy.
posted by chimaera at 4:05 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


If accurate, these conversations directly support the claim that homophobia, transphobia, and DADT were major factors in precipitating the largest breach of US intelligence in history.

I don't know if any else remembers the early coyness about the parts in the transcripts related to Manning's sexuality, but I found it both hilarious and infuriating at the time (BoingBoing, e.g., released and then redacted those parts). I am ever so glad the folks involved have now decided we're all adult enough to handle the truth.

*gag*
posted by mediareport at 4:07 PM on July 13, 2011


Yeah that's a lot of work, but that's a feature not a bug. It should be HARD to classify information, not easy.

Frankly, if there's one organisation in the world with the budget for that it would be the US DoD.
posted by jaduncan at 4:07 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


At the same time, I can definitely see why you'd construct a system that errs on the side of over-secrecy.
posted by ryanrs at 4:08 PM on July 13, 2011


But I don't regard Manning as a scumbag either. He's a troubled young man with poor judgement and a host of problems.

Lamo, on the other hand, appears to have been systematically milking somebody who was clearly troubled by pretending to be supportive, in the furtherance of nothing other than his personal self-interest. That's a scumbag in my book.


In my book it's better to be a scumbag who does the right thing than to take blind revenge on thousands of people who have nothing to do with your grievances.
posted by Anything at 4:08 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Legality is emphatically not equivalent to morality. Just because something is legal, doesn't make it more, and just because some act is illegal, it doesn't make it immoral.

A long time ago, when people were discussing the American torture of suspected terrorists, some people argued that torture had to be a legal option because sometimes, that would be the only way to save lives. While I think that such a case where torture could save lives would be highly improbable, if such case should occur, facing the legal consequences of torture would be an acceptible outcome: if torturing saves lives, surely one ought to be willing to go to jail to save lives.

If manning is guilty of what he has been accused of, he ought to suffer the legal consequences. That said, he appears to be cognizant of the potential legal consequences. The morality of the leaks is an entirely different matter than the legality of the leaks.
posted by Freen at 4:08 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


How Manning has been treated is horrible. Yes, I hate this aspect of the Obama administration.

But how is opening the floodgates to classified material -- much of which he didn't read -- how is that heroic? It may shows balls, but what exactly was he trying to accomplish but for FUCK YOU USA

Could some of you who find Manning a hero explain this to me?
posted by angrycat at 4:10 PM on July 13, 2011


Err... Just because something is legal, doesn't make it moral....
posted by Freen at 4:10 PM on July 13, 2011


It may shows balls, but what exactly was he trying to accomplish but for FUCK YOU USA

Could some of you who find Manning a hero explain this to me?


Maybe some of us just were really hoping for a big old "FUCK YOU USA".
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 4:13 PM on July 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Could some of you who find Manning a hero explain this to me?

Sure. He disliked the occupation, he thought the USG was being utterly immoral, and decided to blow it open and let the chips fall where they will.

He did so because it was more important to disrupt that (even at the stated cost of his own possible execution) than it was to continue with the status quo. That's pretty heroic levels of moral courage, and IMO anyone who is prepared to give their life for their ideology must be acknowledged to have that.
posted by jaduncan at 4:16 PM on July 13, 2011 [17 favorites]


"...than to take blind revenge on thousands of people who have nothing to do with your grievances..."

Revenge? Seriously?! What "thousands of people" are you talking about, who have actually been undeservingly victimized by this? Because I bet you can point out hundreds of thousands pf people who have been a victim of the policies in question that have been exposed.

The only people who have been questioned over all of these leaks are those at/near the top, responsible for the policies in question... and they deserved to be questioned, frankly.
posted by markkraft at 4:17 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't see a lot of difference between what Manning is purported to have done and the Pentagon papers. I did 6 years in the National Guard and how Manning is being treated is sickening to me. What he did needed done. The cables themselves prove that a lot of that shit should have never been secret in the first place, that some of it was plain criminal, and that the Emperor was shown to have no clothes.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:19 PM on July 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


angrycat: Could some of you who find Manning a hero explain this to me?

You know, you should probably ask this guy what he thinks.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:20 PM on July 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


It may shows balls, but what exactly was he trying to accomplish but for FUCK YOU USA
Could some of you who find Manning a hero explain this to me?


I don't know f I consider him a hero, but I do think he was brave to do what he did. I think what he accomplished was to provide confirmation that the USA was doing exactly what so many were saying all along, and putting the lie to the official narrative for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the USA's conduct among nations.

I can't say enough how depressing it is how the leaked info seems to have changed nothing in the US.
posted by Hoopo at 4:21 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


He did so because it was more important to disrupt that (even at the stated cost of his own possible execution) than it was to continue with the status quo. That's pretty heroic levels of moral courage, and IMO anyone who is prepared to give their life for their ideology must be acknowledged to have that.

I'm assuming that Manning's position was not that every single aspect of the USG was evil. Torture, evil. DADT, bad. Drone overuse, deeply troubling.

But it's like rather than chuck out the one or two books from the library that were bad (say, Flowers in the Attic or Twighlight) he threw out all the books. Still not getting the heroism here -- given he didn't sort through what was what.
posted by angrycat at 4:21 PM on July 13, 2011


Could some of you who find Manning a hero explain this to me?

You'll have to begin by understanding that some of us do not consider the US military a noble institution or the protection of its secrets a sacred duty. So if it will help, pretend that we're discussing a Goldman Sachs employee who disseminated confidential company records to expose its criminal behavior.

He's a hero because he did the right thing in the certain knowledge that an incalculably more powerful adversary would mark him for destruction.
posted by Trurl at 4:22 PM on July 13, 2011 [26 favorites]


I guess it all hinges on whether you consider what he did "the right thing". I do not, although I am glad the documents he released are now public.
posted by ryanrs at 4:25 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, you should probably ask this guy what he thinks.

Bravo to Ellsberg for objecting to Manning's treatment. But when you look at your link:

But while working for the administration of Lyndon Johnson, Ellsberg got access to a top-secret document that revealed senior American leaders, including several presidents, knew that the Vietnam War was an unwinnable, tragic quagmire.

The Pentagon Papers, as they became known, also showed that the government had lied to Congress and the public about the progress of the war. Ellsberg leaked all 7,000 pages to The New York Times, which published them in 1971.


Exactly how is this similar to Manning's intent? Just what did he hope to blow the roof off of?
posted by angrycat at 4:25 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming that Manning's position was not that every single aspect of the USG was evil. Torture, evil. DADT, bad. Drone overuse, deeply troubling.

But it's like rather than chuck out the one or two books from the library that were bad (say, Flowers in the Attic or Twighlight) he threw out all the books. Still not getting the heroism here -- given he didn't sort through what was what.

It's a bit more than that. The issue is with foreign policy and occupations, and all of the docs relate to that.
posted by jaduncan at 4:26 PM on July 13, 2011


Could some of you who find Manning a hero explain this to me?

The last link of this post contains at least one perspective from a soldier who feels that illegal and immoral orders are commonplace enough that highlighting them is a heroic and conscientious act.
posted by weston at 4:28 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


So all foreign policy is bad then?

I mean, if those who say Manning = hero are of the mind that all U.S. international efforts are illegitimate, then I guess why I don't see heroism.
posted by angrycat at 4:28 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Which particular documents were leaked had more to do with Manning's access than what secrets they contained. I he had access to more sensitive documents, I believe he would have leaked those, too.
posted by ryanrs at 4:29 PM on July 13, 2011


I guess it all hinges on whether you consider what he did "the right thing". I do not, although I am glad the documents he released are now public.
posted by ryanrs at 12:25 AM on July 14 [1 favorite +] [!]

Why? Someone can be a hero in aiding a cause one doesn't agree with. I said anyone who is prepared to give their life - that would include the Taliban etc. Why should I not grant someone that status just because their beliefs are not mine? I can be British (and indeed I am) and still admire Washington.
posted by jaduncan at 4:29 PM on July 13, 2011


If Manning had been drummed out of the military, only to travel to Britain and write a book where he shared just the very best, very juiciest bits of information, not in the form of the cables and leaked documents themselves, but in the form of telling us about the things he had seen... would any of us seriously consider him a traitor to the US in any kind of actionable way?

I say this, because former CIA officers have been doing this kind of thing for decades now, and never caught this kind of flack.

What is it about releasing actual documents to the press that can/should be called traitorous?!
posted by markkraft at 4:29 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


What is it about releasing actual documents to the press that can/should be called traitorous?!

We are At War, you see. All dissent in wartime is perforce treasonous.

Now that we are in a permanent state of war, this has far-reaching implications.
posted by Trurl at 4:34 PM on July 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


(The difference being, of course, that "tell all" CIA books are written by people who are trying to make a quick buck, as opposed to those who feel compelled to release info to the public, because they have a right to know what kinds of things their government is doing.)
posted by markkraft at 4:35 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


'cause it fucked up beneficial foreign policy shit. I can't get the links now, but I seem to recall that there was stuff leaked that made things more tense between the admin and that of Afgan, Pakistan. I just don't get you folks who seem to think that if the U.S. military all came home the world would break out into song and candy would fall from the sky.
posted by angrycat at 4:36 PM on July 13, 2011


Someone can be a hero in aiding a cause one doesn't agree with.

In fact, I agree with his cause. And I am pleased with the outcome of his actions (that these specific docs became public). But I think his methods were reckless in the extreme.
posted by ryanrs at 4:39 PM on July 13, 2011


Exactly how is this similar to Manning's intent? Just what did he hope to blow the roof off of?

Is intent really relevant here? Intent is subjective. I could assume that your intent in asking the question about Manning being a hero was not to interest yourself in any opposing viewpoint but rather to just engage people in your own point of view. As wrong as my assumption might be it takes nothing away from the legitimacy of your original question.

The government was corrupt and engaging in illegal actions. Ellsberg and Manning both brought forth documents to prove that. The only difference between the two was that Ellsbery was a highly connected journalist who ended up with some sweet book deals and Manning as a low level enlisted person who ended up in jail. But both did the same thing. Their reasons for doing what they did lie mostly in our own rationalizations.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:40 PM on July 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


We are At War, you see. All dissent in wartime is perforce treasonous.

That's a drastic oversimplification. Manning was given specific access to classified material because he took an oath to protect that information, under penalty of criminal action. He violated that oath. Do you deny this?

The parallel with the Pentagon Papers fails for this reason:

-- The Pentagon Papers were published by journalists who had made no oath to protect the information with which they were entrusted.

-- Manning did make such an oath.

Now, whoever leaked the Pentagon Papers WOULD be subject to criminal prosecution, had they been uncovered. But journalists also protect their sources for this very reason.
posted by chimaera at 4:40 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sure is a lot of hand-wavey shit here, especially amongst Manning's detractors. I bet none of you can come up with a legal justification for calling Manning a "traitor" that could pass anything but the Nancy Grace test.
posted by rhizome at 4:40 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm assuming that Manning's position was not that every single aspect of the USG was evil. Torture, evil. DADT, bad. Drone overuse, deeply troubling.

But it's like rather than chuck out the one or two books from the library that were bad (say, Flowers in the Attic or Twighlight) he threw out all the books. Still not getting the heroism here -- given he didn't sort through what was what.


Personally, this is one reason why I feel there should be consequences for Manning (although not the ones he's already suffered nor detah penalty/life imprisonment as some have suggested). His was clumsy; he just dumped such a huge volume of documents with no particular theme or focus that there's no way he knew for certain some of this wasn't potentially aiding the enemy or putting innocent lives in danger. It was irresponsible as an exercise in whistle-blowing and possibly even negligent.
posted by Hoopo at 4:42 PM on July 13, 2011


I bet none of you can come up with a legal justification for calling Manning a "traitor" that could pass anything but the Nancy Grace test..

how about this?
posted by chimaera at 4:42 PM on July 13, 2011


I just don't get you folks who seem to think that if the U.S. military all came home the world would break out into song and candy would fall from the sky.

It might be a bit like the Clinton administration, with an emphasis on containment through diplomatic strategy and maybe occasional air strikes rather than hundreds of thousands of boots on the ground combined with huge refugee movements and the deaths of huge numbers of civilians.

But, thank FSM, that was avoided.
posted by jaduncan at 4:43 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I could assume that your intent in asking the question about Manning being a hero was not to interest yourself in any opposing viewpoint but rather to just engage people in your own point of view. As wrong as my assumption might be it takes nothing away from the legitimacy of your original question.

I could assume that this is an instance of playing to the crowd by engaging in passive-aggressive put-downs.

I have no interest in appending a 'traitor" label to Manning. He should be treated humanely, and apparently was not, and that is egregious.

But he still fucked shit up because he released, inter alia, a bunch of shit that did nothing but diminish world security.

So, if anarchy, yay, okay. If something is a little more nuanced than that, well.
posted by angrycat at 4:45 PM on July 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


They hate the West for our freedoms rather than the occupations, you see. That's why everyone in the Middle East was so annoyed about Egypt and Tunisia recently.
posted by jaduncan at 4:46 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this where we rage against Lamo doing the same thing that all of us would have done and spin conspiracy theories about how THESE ARENT THE REAL LOGS and ITS ALL A BIG COVER UP FOR ADRIAN LAMO FBI AGENT?
posted by wrok at 4:46 PM on July 13, 2011


Yeah, Bradley Manning is definitely the guy that "fucked up all that beneficial foreign policy shit" the US had going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:47 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


a bunch of shit that did nothing but diminish world security.

What? It is frequently mentioned in connection to Tunisia/Egypt, which lead to many good things including two elections coming up. Democracies rarely invade each other. What do you want here?
posted by jaduncan at 4:47 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think Manning is a traitor in the dictionary sense, not in the strict sense of Article 3, Section 3.
posted by ryanrs at 4:47 PM on July 13, 2011


GRAR GRAR GRAR

Nuance is simply entirely lost on some people -- especially the "everything the Government does is bad" crowd (sounds familiar, hm, I should remember to bring biscuits to your little Tea Party).

If all you changed was your allegiances you'd be spouting "with us or against us." It's time to think about the possibility that the situation might have complexities, or, heaven forfend, be nuanced.
posted by chimaera at 4:48 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


a bunch of shit that did nothing but diminish world security

I think that overstates the real-world consequences of the leak, which have been few.
posted by ryanrs at 4:50 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


jeducan, that's not what I recall -- I remember huge awkwardness with Pakistan and the (awful) Karzai gov't. But I'm being a lazy debater, failing to dig up the links, and so on.
posted by angrycat at 4:50 PM on July 13, 2011


So if it will help, pretend that we're discussing a Goldman Sachs employee who disseminated confidential company records to expose its criminal behavior.

I'm imagining Manning as a Goldman Sachs employee who leaked hundreds of thousands of pages of the private financial information of Goldman's investors and I'm afraid it's not helping.
posted by The World Famous at 4:51 PM on July 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


When dealing with capital charges, "close enough to stick" is one piss poor standard of justice,

But is he dealing with capital charges? the magazine article suggested he was a traitor, but that doesn't mean anything because it's a magazine article. The actual charges do not appear to involve capital punishment, but by my (amateur) reading could total up to 60 years in jail if applied consecutively. Of course this almost never happens, so more likely it's 4 (1+3) sentences of ten years and 4 sentences of five years, which could mean anywhere from 10-25 years depending on how applied. This assumes maximum sentences, of course. On the information available so far, it does not appear that Manning faces the death penalty.

In any case, the burden of proof for custodial or capital charges is the same, it's the post-conviction appellate rules which differ, IIRC (which I'm not sure I do, and can't check right now).
posted by anigbrowl at 4:51 PM on July 13, 2011


Also, what kills me about the "everything the Government does is bad" crowd is that their sentiments have probably the opposite effect that they want--all of the doom and gloom leads a lot of people to apathy, not action.
posted by palidor at 4:51 PM on July 13, 2011


huge awkwardness with Pakistan and the (awful) Karzai gov't.

Yes, "awkwardness". But not "diminished world security". Not in any significant sense, anyway.
posted by ryanrs at 4:53 PM on July 13, 2011


Tunisia (a quick summary at the Guardian).
posted by jaduncan at 4:53 PM on July 13, 2011


On the information available so far, it does not appear that Manning faces the death penalty.

---

Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, said that the most serious of the new charges was the Article 104 offence of "aiding the enemy". The charge carries a potential death sentence.

Last I heard, the government was saying they wouldn't seek execution. But you can guess my estimate of what govenrnment statements are worth.
posted by Trurl at 4:55 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


A longer article on Tunisia at the Guardian.

Foreign Policy agree.

Is it your suggestion that the Arab Spring has made the world more unsafe?
posted by jaduncan at 4:57 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]




What secrets were revealed in the Tunisia document? Wasn't it obvious stuff that everybody already knew?
posted by ryanrs at 4:58 PM on July 13, 2011


(i.e. Ben Ali is a corrupt dictator, etc.)
posted by ryanrs at 5:00 PM on July 13, 2011


You want me to draw a line from Manning to some dead Afghan child? I can't do it. So, I'll back down on my claim that Manning destabilized the universe. However, it is impossible for me to believe that a) Manning is responsible for the Arab Spring and b) Exposing secrets of a nation w/o regard as to why you're doing it (i.e., what benefits you'll bring about) is pretty fucking irresponsible. Manning doesn't deserve what he's got/will get, but sheesh.
posted by angrycat at 5:01 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


that is *not* pretty fucking, etc.
posted by angrycat at 5:02 PM on July 13, 2011


In my book it's better to be a scumbag who does the right thing than to take blind revenge on thousands of people who have nothing to do with your grievances.

I agree.

Not seeing the relevance to this story though. Who were the thousands of people, and who took blind revenge on them?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:02 PM on July 13, 2011


Is it your suggestion that the Arab Spring has made the world more unsafe?

Certainly in the short term. But that's ok.
posted by ryanrs at 5:03 PM on July 13, 2011


No free press, remember. If people want a summary from a local, see at the bottom.

Bullet points are that the government was hugely corrupt in the view of the US, that they torture and kill political opponents, and that the first lady made huge sums on a school deal. But the crucial thing isn't that it was said, it's that it moved from rumour and opinion to the opinion of the US.

"The internet is blocked, and censored pages are referred to as pages 'not found' – as if they had never existed. Schoolchildren are exchanging proxies and the word becomes cult: 'You got a proxy that works?' … We love our country and we want things to change, but there is no organised movement: the tribe is willing, but the leader is missing. The corruption, the bribes – we simply want to leave.

"We begin to apply to study in France, or Canada. It is cowardice, and we know it. Leaving the country to 'the rest of them'. We go to France and forget, then come back for the holidays. Tunisia? It is the beaches of Sousse and Hammamet, the nightclubs and restaurants. A giant Club Med. And then, WikiLeaks reveals what everyone was whispering.

"And then, a young man immolates himself. And then, 20 Tunisians are killed in one day. And for the first time, we see the opportunity to rebel, to take revenge on the country's 'royal' family, who have taken everything, to overturn the established order that has accompanied our youth.

"An educated youth, which is tired and ready to sacrifice all the symbols of the former autocratic Tunisia with a new revolution: the jasmine revolution – the true one."
posted by jaduncan at 5:03 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Even the locals identify it as a factor. But from your time to respond to the links you would appear to be a very fast reader anyhow, angrycat.
posted by jaduncan at 5:05 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


a young man immolates himself

There's the the hero who sparked the Arab Spring. Not Manning.
posted by ryanrs at 5:07 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess if I had to say one thing I'd say it's a hell of a validation for one side of the argument, and (in the view of many) helped to galvanise opinion. Of course it isn't the only factor, but for the spark to start a fire the right atmosphere has to be in place.

Are you disagreeing with the locals that this occurred, ryanrs?
posted by jaduncan at 5:09 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


What we have here is a severely disturbed individual, who shouldn't have been in that position in the first place, trying to commit "suicide by court martial". This leak was a self-destructive act, no more, no less. Manning didn't give a shit. His motivations were the same of the Columbine kids - he wanted to fuck shit up.

He's a hero in the same measure Eric and Dylan were heroes.
posted by falameufilho at 5:10 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jadacun, I read one of your links (the Guardian piece) and came across this sentence.

There was little malfeasance in American foreign policy revealed in the documents, so where's the justification for revealing all?

The Guardian piece is interesting in its description of its impact. The leaks had an impact in Tunisia. The leaks are not responsible for the other conditions that existed (e.g., poverty, oppression) that were huge factors in the uprising.

And jaduncan, I do read fast. Give good blow jobs, too. Anything else?
posted by angrycat at 5:11 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is was a factor? I agree it was. That doesn't make Manning any sort of hero, though. Do you thing he released those documents specifically to condemn Ben Ali?
posted by ryanrs at 5:12 PM on July 13, 2011


Once again, I am blown away by the framing of this story. People aren't upset that their government was lying to them. They're upset that someone exposed the lies.

If you live in a democratic society, part of our job, and part of the press' job, is to expose government lies. The number one enemy of the state is the people they govern, because that's the only group that can put them out of power. We should give the government the benefit of the doubt in most cases, but when you discover they aren't telling the truth, it is your duty and your obligation to your fellow citizen to expose those lies.

When the people we pay to run our government start making it illegal to tell the truth about them, that's more than a red flag. That's an indication that you may need another government. We don't have a government for the government's sake. It's our government, and if they are lying to directly or through omission about the affairs of our government, fuck their legalistic excuses: tell the truth.

Don't wave a flag at me and hope that a little pretend patriotism excuses any and all rotten behavior by someone I pay to look after my interests. I'm not that gullible, and honestly I have a hard time accepting that so many of my fellow citizens are.

The law cannot be more important than the principles it is supposed to reflect.
posted by notion at 5:13 PM on July 13, 2011 [54 favorites]


The Guardian piece is interesting in its description of its impact. The leaks had an impact in Tunisia. The leaks are not responsible for the other conditions that existed (e.g., poverty, oppression) that were huge factors in the uprising.

No, obviously. That would be a bizarre suggestion, and is one that I never made.

That is was a factor? I agree it was. That doesn't make Manning any sort of hero, though. Do you thing he released those documents specifically to condemn Ben Ali?


No, it's in response to the claim that the documents were "a bunch of shit that did nothing but diminish world security", which is something that I disagree with on a purely results based level.
posted by jaduncan at 5:15 PM on July 13, 2011


It may shows balls, but what exactly was he trying to accomplish but for FUCK YOU USA

Could some of you who find Manning a hero explain this to me?


I don't find him a hero: some things are secret for darn good reasons and I like it that way. I especially like the idea of keeping things secret that directly endanger the lives of those working in precarious positions, whether or not I personally support all of their actions. The world would not be a better place if the Bin Laden operation had been planned on a public wiki page, and I hope we can all recognize that. Certainly, what he did took courage, but being courageous is not the same as being heroic.

But I think the disconnect between those who are utterly disgusted by his actions and those who can appreciate, without necessarily supporting, what he did, comes in large part from the very question you raise: "what exactly was he trying to accomplish?"

Manning worked with data for a living, massive amounts of data. I don't spend nearly as much time pushing around large datasets, but I've done my fair share for professional, academic, and hobby purposes. When you do this, you come to appreciate the enormous power in a collection of data. A single web page or telephone call billing record, picked at random, is almost certainly devoid of any interesting material. A great big set of web pages or phone records leads to research on the relationships between different languages and the social connections between different US communities, just to name two such results from the last week or so on MeFi. Get enough data, find the connections between the nodes to assemble a network, and hunt for interesting patterns, and you can discover some pretty cool stuff. (It can also lead to Freakonomics-style BS in the style of "OMG WE FOUND A CORRELATION!", but that's not really the point.) Playing with big data sets is addictive, to the right kind of mind anyway.

When you appreciate the power of big data, you start hungering for more datasets. Professors can get positively giddy talking about the dump of anonymized (theoretically anyway, though a lot of anonymized data can be de-anonymized given enough effort, which is why this stuff isn't public) data they got from a friend or former student at Google or Facebook. US domestic call logs are great, but it would be even better to grab Facebook posting logs and see how international call links differ from international Facebook communications. Once you get a bunch of data, you really want more data to match it with. That's what mashups are all about. The call log data is useless without census data to compare what is "expected" based on relative populations with reality. A great big list of movie ratings is more useful with information about the genres, directors, actors, themes, etc... of every movie.

So when you think about data in this way, you might come to the conclusion that you must jealously guard every bit of data you have, as you know its power, or you want to throw it all out into the open for other data geeks to play with and learn from. From what I've read, Manning came, perhaps through his personal circumstances, to fall into the second camp and took that philosophy to its logical conclusion.

A single leaked cable would probably not have had much of an impact. Even a couple of hand-picked cables wouldn't have done much; they would have been written off as aberrations. Remember that there were basically no outright smoking guns in the WikiLeaks cables. The power comes from the dataset as a whole: no one can call 250,000+ documents an aberration, and collectively they reveal significant disconnects between officials' public statements and private conclusions. Collectively, the cables and the Afghan and Iraq War Documents supply an enormous amount of data about the true policy aims and actions of the US Government and other countries worldwide.

So with all that in mind, let's come full circle to the original question: what exactly was Manning trying to accomplish? I sure as hell can't speak for him, but my best guess is that he wasn't trying to accomplish anything in particular at all. He had a huge bunch of data, knew that the data told a lot of stories, and he put it out into the world, hoping the crowd would make sense out of it and tell their own stories about what's been happening. I don't think his actions came from any kind of overt goals, but rather were simply the logical, albeit extreme, conclusion of Manning's philosophy, understanding of datasets, and personal circumstances that had left him utterly alienated and disaffected with no plans for the future.
posted by zachlipton at 5:23 PM on July 13, 2011 [29 favorites]


You know, you should probably ask this guy what he thinks.


I'm glad you brought Ellsberg up, Poet_Lariat, because for years now every time he has appeared on Democracy Now he's made a direct appeal to insiders with knowledge of crimes and corruption to to leak that knowledge, and I'm sure he's done the same at many another forum, as well.

I'd like to know whether Bradley Manning heard one of those appeals.

The Obama administration has been torturing Manning in order to break him so that when they do try him, he will be seen as a crazy, confused, pathetic loser rather than a hero.

But that's not going to work.
posted by jamjam at 5:23 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


No, it's in response to the claim that the documents were "a bunch of shit that did nothing but diminish world security"

I don't think I said that, exactly. I did say that the documents had few real-world consequences, which was an understatement, I suppose. I was thinking of operational security, like military secrets. As you point out, the indirect political consequences were greater.
posted by ryanrs at 5:24 PM on July 13, 2011


notion: Once again, I am blown away by the framing of this story. People aren't upset that their government was lying to them. They're upset that someone exposed the lies.

Are you referring to anything at all in particular, or are you going for the 'secrecy = lies' construction here? That's a serious question, because I don't see anything other than that from your post.
posted by graphnerd at 5:29 PM on July 13, 2011


American Foreign policy considered Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, etc. to be allies in the "war against terror". Prior to the leaks Local progressives, moderates and revolutionaries thought that the US, the most powerful country in the world, would back the tinpot dictators instead of supporting democratic uprisings. The leaked cables showed the world that America held it's nose and would gladly support the ouster of these dictators but would not publicly state this fact for fear of loosing influence in the region.

Beyond the larger geopolitical stuff, the leaked cables exposed the fact that American Military contractors were providing child prostitutes to Afghan warlords. What is your position on American tax dollars supporting child prostitution? Would you go to jail to expose that?
posted by Freen at 5:29 PM on July 13, 2011 [10 favorites]




Could some of you who find Manning a hero explain this to me?

The last link of this post contains at least one perspective from a soldier who feels that illegal and immoral orders are commonplace enough that highlighting them is a heroic and conscientious act.


And that soldier, former Army Specialist Ethan McCord, was one of the soldiers in the Collateral Murder video which Manning (allegedly) leaked:
I was part of the unit that was responsible for this atrocity. In the video, I can be seen attempting to carry wounded children to safety in the aftermath.

The video released by WikiLeaks belongs in the public record. Covering up this incident is a matter deserving of criminal inquiry. Whoever revealed it is an American hero in my book.
posted by homunculus at 5:38 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


His motivations were the same of the Columbine kids - he wanted to fuck shit up.

He's a hero in the same measure Eric and Dylan were heroes.


That is one of the most fucked up things I've ever read. What the hell?
posted by Hoopo at 5:43 PM on July 13, 2011 [15 favorites]


No, it's in response to the claim that the documents were "a bunch of shit that did nothing but diminish world security"

I don't think I said that, exactly. I did say that the documents had few real-world consequences, which was an understatement, I suppose. I was thinking of operational security, like military secrets. As you point out, the indirect political consequences were greater.

No, you didn't. That's a direct quote from angrycat, it just started off the whole Tunisia thing.
posted by jaduncan at 5:48 PM on July 13, 2011


Huh. On the one hand, I am glad Manning leaked these documents. I am glad these documents are now public. But at the same time, I am not opposed to Manning being executed or imprisoned for life should he be found guilty. Furthermore, I don't believe these are contradictory beliefs.

Or that if someone tortures a suspect to defuse a ticking time bomb, they should be willing to go to prison for a long time for it.

I mean they'd presumably take a bullet to save a life, is it more or less serious to accept incarceration?
posted by Sebmojo at 5:52 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll answer your nebulous 'questions' when you prove to me that "Bradley Manning" is an actual person who exists.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:53 PM on July 13, 2011


So, is there anything actually worthwhile in the chatlogs? I mean, I don't mind having the same "Bradley Manning — Jesus or Hitler?" back and forth here, even though I think we've done it to death, but I don't really want to have to comb through the logs myself to see if there's more there there, or if this is just essentially more historical chaff for a larger story.
posted by klangklangston at 5:55 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


In 1914, H. G. Wells anticipated the atomic bomb by more than three decades in The World Set Free:

His companion, a less imaginative type, sat with his legs spread wide over the long, coffin-shaped box which contained in its compartments the three atomic bombs, the new bombs that would continue to explode indefinitely and which no one so far had ever seen in action.

The idea of a bomb that continues to explode indefinitely always struck me as a little comical until Bradley Manning came along with his information bomb.
posted by jamjam at 6:03 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, is there anything actually worthwhile in the chatlogs? I mean, I don't mind having the same "Bradley Manning — Jesus or Hitler?" back and forth here, even though I think we've done it to death, but I don't really want to have to comb through the logs myself to see if there's more there there, or if this is just essentially more historical chaff for a larger story.

Eh, somewhat. They aren't really all that long, especially if you skim. Mostly, it confirms (if the logs are genuine anyway) and elaborates on Manning's gender identity confusion and fills in some of his backstory. All told, again assuming they aren't total bullshit, the logs paint a real picture of him as a confused, misunderstood, and freaked out human being. It's actually getting to know him in a way, at least a little bit, as opposed to the Manning character everyone's been debating. So I'd say worth a read.
posted by zachlipton at 6:03 PM on July 13, 2011


Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, said that the most serious of the new charges was the Article 104 offence of "aiding the enemy". The charge carries a potential death sentence.

The Guardian story you linked to is dated March 3. The preferral of charges I linked to above is from last week, and is copied from the official government press release. This seems to be the most accurate and current public summary of his legal situation.

Looking at sections 793 and 1030 of title 18, under which the criminal charges have been brought, I don't see anything there that would expose him to the death penalty. If this is incorrect, perhaps you could point out to me where it says so.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:12 PM on July 13, 2011


The preferral of charges I linked to above is from last week

It's from July 6, 2010, not 2011.
posted by queen zixi at 6:25 PM on July 13, 2011


Here's hoping that the exposure from Wikileaks can put an end to at least the United States' funding of "boy parties." That probably will cause some diplomatic tension. "You mean the Great Satan won't be bankrolling our bacha bazi shindig? WELL FUCK YOU AMERICA!"
posted by adipocere at 6:45 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Are you referring to anything at all in particular, or are you going for the 'secrecy = lies' construction here? That's a serious question, because I don't see anything other than that from your post.

How are you supposed to participate in the activities of your government -- or give your consent to be governed with an informed vote -- if you don't know what your government is doing?

I'm not aiming this specifically at you, but it continues to depress me that this point is contested among educated people who supposedly believe in democracy.
posted by notion at 6:50 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ouch. Well, I deserved that for posting in a hurry.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:54 PM on July 13, 2011


Thinking in a hurry, maybe, too?
posted by mediareport at 6:58 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The updated release on the charges is here. It's worth noting that the government's decision not to seek the death penalty for the article 104 charge comes as a formal notification to the defense, which means it is not a casual statement that can be withdrawn on a whim.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:00 PM on July 13, 2011


Chimaera: how about this?

Nothing in there about treason, champ. I don't think anybody has said that he didn't contravene his oath or whatever, so if your whole "nuance" is based on (something like) contract law, that would certainly be a different angle than what you've stated here.

...and ryanrs' "Oh, I'm using the dictionary definition (#8b in the Webster Collegiate 1943 Edition)" is such a cop-out.

which means it is not a casual statement that can be withdrawn on a whim

...unlike the claims of treason here.
posted by rhizome at 7:03 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thinking in a hurry, maybe, too?

I misread a date because it was superficially so close to today's date, and admitted the mistake as soon as it was pointed out to me. This is why I provide checkable primary sources for my statements. Make of that what you will.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:06 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


...unlike the claims of treason here.

I think your beef is with the New York magazine that used the word traitor in an article intro, and even they seemed to be using it to describe one group's view of him - much as they did with 'hero' and 'revolutionary'. You seem intent on attacking anyone who even acknowledges the existence of negative views about Manning.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:12 PM on July 13, 2011


Odd how the howls that the leaks are irrelevant/not a meaningful whistleblower thing/ineffectual/ etc. have melted away. angrycat? ryanrs? falameufilho?

If you had documents that exposed systematic child prostitution but would go to jail if you made them public, would you make them public?
posted by Freen at 7:22 PM on July 13, 2011


If you had documents that exposed systematic child prostitution but would go to jail if you made them public, would you make them public?

That depends. In your hypothetical, am I making just those documents public, or am I making those plus hundreds of thousands of others public? And in your hypothetical, do I bother to find out what it is I'm disclosing?
posted by The World Famous at 7:29 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd read 'em first.
posted by ryanrs at 7:30 PM on July 13, 2011


And in your hypothetical, do I bother to find out what it is I'm disclosing?

And are you mentally and emotionally stable, or beleaguered and harassed because of who you are, which may include some mental illness along with extremely difficult gender issues?

Don't forget that part.
posted by mediareport at 7:39 PM on July 13, 2011


I think there's possibly a problem going on in thread (and possibly in the discussion at large) with certain very approximate equivalences that aren't necessarily transitive: "Betrayal" ~ "traitor", and "traitor" ~ "treason", but "betrayal" != "treason."
posted by weston at 7:39 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am home, scooping cat litter.

But I don't have anything to add, except that some of my lang was somewhat over-the-top. My original question was why do people think he's a hero. To my mind, a hero sees an injustice and sacrifices himself to correct it. Manning sacrificed himself, and yes, the child sex slaves thing was odious, and yes arguably the release helped to stimulate a revolt. I don't think Manning -- or anybody else -- should suffer extreme interrogation or other methods of hurting him.

But neither have read anything that supports the idea that his actions were heroic. Any specific benefits did not seem to be intended by him, given the massive dump. And I think my biggest problem is that I think any person should not say -- hey, a massive, unvetted dump of classified documents could bring only apples and ponies! I think he's irresponsible.

Nonetheless, if I were Queen I would let him out of jail, tell him sorry about the torture, give a chunk of cash. But I wouldn't hire him to deal with classified documents again. 'Cause he's acted without a lick of sense here.
posted by angrycat at 7:39 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it is easier to view Manning as a hero if you see it as a more binary choice. Reveal stuff or not reveal stuff. Realistically, it isn't like he could hire a team of lawyers and say, "I know these few videos are bad and I'm going to leak them. Could you please comb through all this to help me narrow down what would not be inappropriate to leak?" He had to make the alleged call alone, and he couldn't possibly gauge the entire impact.

If your opinion is that it would be an immoral act if there was even the slightest chance that it could have negative ramifications, then I don't see how you could ever defend a whistleblower, and I can't really empathize with your thought processes. If you feel like there is an obligation to punish anything that could arguably be described as a crime without considering an overarching moral framework, then once again I just fundamentally don't understand how you think. What is the need to punish crime? I can understand why you might want to in many situations, but I'm also a lot more willing to met out mercy while considering a lot of extenuating circumstances and I just don't understand people who disagree with me on this. I think Manning is a hero but I also understand his individual act could have resulted in some negative consequences. I think the overwhelming effect is positive though, and because of that if I had the power I would pardon him.
posted by SomeOneElse at 7:39 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


-- The Pentagon Papers were published by journalists who had made no oath to protect the information with which they were entrusted.

Speaking as one who has actually taken that same oath as SPC Manning did, the oath asked us to "defend and protect" the Constitution as well as the United States of America (as I recall). it makes no mention at of of keeping illegal and anti-Constitutional activities secret just because someone who out-ranks you does them.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 7:39 PM on July 13, 2011 [21 favorites]


If you had documents that exposed systematic child prostitution but would go to jail if you made them public, would you make them public?

There's no indication from either his statements, the chat transcript, or any other source that I've seen that shows he knew that any of the documents had any information on child prostitution.

The contents were thousands upon thousands of documents, and there is no realistic way to expect that he read even a good percentage of them.
posted by chimaera at 7:41 PM on July 13, 2011


Speaking as one who has actually taken that same oath as SPC Manning did, the oath asked us to "defend and protect" the Constitution as well as the United States of America (as I recall). it makes no mention at of of keeping illegal and anti-Constitutional activities secret just because someone who out-ranks you does them.

I'm not sure "just because someone who out-ranks you does them" is the basis for the charges against him.
posted by The World Famous at 7:44 PM on July 13, 2011


Speaking as one who has actually taken that same oath as SPC Manning did, the oath asked us to "defend and protect" the Constitution as well as the United States of America (as I recall).

I'm not talking about the general oath all servicemen take. You realize that in order to get a security clearance you have to sign documents (which are under oath, as misrepresentations carry perjury penalties) that state you will treat classified information in accordance with the law. That is the specific oath I'm talking about, and journalists who release classified material are not bound by that.
posted by chimaera at 7:45 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Manning's "service" to the country, if he did any, was to expose how bad military and government network design and security really is. Why in hell the U.S. government uses TCP/IP networks, at all, in operational roles, has always beaten me, simply on the basis of how poorly they can be secured, while still serving functional roles in rapidly changing organizations, with lots of physical sites, and non-hierarchical, sometimes time limited, information needs. I'm all for punishing Manning appropriately, if his court martial determines he's committed crimes, but I'd like to see that diligence reflected up and down the chain of command in which he operated.

The captains who prepared the RFPs for the network design that Manning broached, ought to do some time, too. The colonels who approved the quotes for those networks ought to be busted back to private, do some time, and be ineligible for veteran retirement or benefits, at any level. The generals who advocated for broad networked access to information by low level battlefield level personnel ought to be publicly pilloried for "ignorance beyond their pay grade, and pre-treason." But I bet none of that's gonna happen.
posted by paulsc at 7:45 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The contents were thousands upon thousands of documents, and there is no realistic way to expect that he read even a good percentage of them.

I believe he expressed by his chats and other statements (before he was silenced) that he knew of systemic corruption and illegal activity (such as the helicopter war-crime killings referenced above) and he felt that the release of the documents would show this.

I do not believe it necessary that he personally vette each document personally for any reason.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 7:46 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I do not believe it necessary that he personally vette each document personally for any reason.

Are you [username redacted by me]'s sock puppet? Not long ago I was in a thread where someone pulled the same trick of taking a quote out of context to show how wrong I was.

My response was specifically to the assertion that, "if [he] had documents that exposed systematic child prostitution" and I said there was no way he knew that was there because he didn't read them all.

Please, as difficult as it may be, I encourage you to read all of my comments in the thread before you decide I'm not in agreement with you in general, as you are making a piss-poor showing for OUR case.
posted by chimaera at 7:51 PM on July 13, 2011


It seems the only point of disagreement is actually whereas Manning had taken an oath (cf. my previous post) to protect classified documents, and Ellsberg never did, that I consider the difference pertinent and you consider it impertinent.
posted by chimaera at 7:53 PM on July 13, 2011


He broke the law because he thought the law was bad. We all agree this can be praiseworthy, not just when the government commits a crime, but when the government has made bad laws, as during the civil rights movement. You might not think this case counts, but there is no need for his defenders to grant that he is a traitor or deserves punishment: when the law is bad, it deserves to be broken, and the breakers deserve celebration, not punishment. This is not like torture, where if you think it has to be done, you might believe you should face the consequences of legal prosecution: in this case, what was done was, he and others believe, in itself a good thing, and deserves no consequences but praise.

Specifically, he believed that the info he released documented war crimes, and should not have been hidden. He believed that the harm that might be done in releasing unvetted material would be less than the harm done by not releasing the clearly damning material. These sorts of beliefs are totally mainstream: they are shared by Ellsberg, wikileaks, ex-members of government who write tell-all memoirs, most liberals, and almost every major news entity. It is impossible to game out the effect of most published information, and often the benefits done by releasing the info outweigh the unknown possible harms. In this specific case, it was quite reasonable to believe that there would be nothing super-harmful in these documents released within the military to the view of hundreds of thousands of soldiers.

Furthermore, to err on the side of transparency is totally mainstream. The argument for declassification runs along precisely these lines: the pro-classifiers say that X info might have harm if released, and the anti-classifiers say it is better in the open than hidden. The latter make a broader argument that transparency outweighs danger unless you are very very sure that some specific piece of information will have specific harm. Another thing agreed on by people on the transparency side is that the damage done to the secret communications among diplomats, bureaucrats, or congress members is usually less than the benefits gained in having a public who knows what their government is doing.

To return to the question of justified lawbreaking, it is not the case that lawbreakers who are working against unjust laws need to accept the rule and punishment of those laws up until they manage to change them. Unjust laws do not deserve respect or acceptance at any point -- again, as we all agree with civil rights, slavery, etc. It is perfectly consistent to believe that the government classifies many things unjustly, especially when it demonstrates malfeasance; that the vastly expanded classification of barely vetted material should be rectified with a vastly expanded declassification, even without heavy vetting; that releasing documents which demonstrate malfeasance strikes a blow against both the malfeasance itself and over-classification; that this breaks the law but the law deserves to be broken and the breakers deserve praise, not punishment; that those sworn to uphold unjust laws should shirk their duty until they manage to change such laws; that the "rule of law" and civil society functions perfectly well if everyone behaves in these ways; that his mental health is as irrelevant to all this as Ellsberg's was, or anyone else's is; that there are very few exceptions to the rule that information does more good public than hidden; and that those exceptions bear a heavy burden of proof, and not the other way around.
posted by chortly at 7:54 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Manning's "service" to the country, if he did any, was to expose how bad military and government network design and security really is. Why in hell the U.S. government uses TCP/IP networks, at all, in operational roles, has always beaten me, simply on the basis of how poorly they can be secured

You do realize that the information that Manning obtained was not obtained through any inherent flaw in TCP/IP but rather the flaw was who was given clearance to look at the information. TCP/IP has no security at all - it was never meant to have security just as a piece of wire which carries information is never meant to have secirity. It is layers added to TCP/IP that give security.

In any case the leak did not occur because someone "cracked the TCP/IP nets" . It occurred because Manning and a huge number of others were (and still are ) allowed access to secured terminals and secured information and because Manning was allowed to rip the information to a CD on the supposedly "secure" computer's CD burner and then carry it out of the building in a CD case labelled "Lady GaGA"
posted by Poet_Lariat at 7:54 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


The captains who prepared the RFPs for the network design that Manning broached, ought to do some time, too. The colonels who approved the quotes for those networks ought to be busted back to private, do some time, and be ineligible for veteran retirement or benefits, at any level. The generals who advocated for broad networked access to information by low level battlefield level personnel ought to be publicly pilloried for "ignorance beyond their pay grade, and pre-treason." But I bet none of that's gonna happen.

Please tell me you want longer sentences for every official who knew that we were prostituting children with tax dollars and didn't say anything. Of all of the people involved in this scandal, the ones I'm not worried about at all are the ones who failed to make the coverup more difficult because of bad network design.
posted by notion at 7:59 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Err the ones who failed to make the coverup less difficult.
(Please, Mods Above, a five minute edit window.)
posted by notion at 8:01 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nonetheless, if I were Queen I would let him out of jail, tell him sorry about the torture, give a chunk of cash.

But if you were part of the military chain of command, you'd try very hard to impress upon your troops that Manning's actions were an unthinkable betrayal of his fellow soldiers and his country. The military doesn't have much protection against what Manning did. It's very important that soldiers be loyal and trustworthy. So I don't think the military command, including the president, has any alternative but to demonize Manning. They need to send the message to the troops that his actions were completely unacceptable. It would be very bad if a culture of leaking developed unchallenged.

(Manning should still be treated humanely while in custody, of course.)
posted by ryanrs at 8:02 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


It seems the only point of disagreement is actually whereas Manning had taken an oath

Very much so. But I do believe that the "taking of an oath" to do something has already been considered when in the context on activity that is criminal or, in Manning's release of information, information on activities that violates the Constitution of the Constitution itself.

Taking the Helicopter video killings as just one example, Manning became aware of a video that is construed by most of the world as a war crime, the indiscriminate killing of civilians from a helicopter while the crew laughed and chortled about it. The military tells, you right when you go in, that you can violate your oath to "follow the orders of your superiors" if the order is an illegal order. There is adequate precedent, both within and without the military, that oaths and orders can not be used to cover up criminal activity.

So yes, taking an oath per se is meaningless to me (and the legal system at large) when considered in the context of revealing outright criminal activity.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:03 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


But that doesn't justify the majority of the leaked documents, just a very select few. And since he leaked all of them, not just those few, his actions cannot be justified as exposing illegal activities.
posted by ryanrs at 8:07 PM on July 13, 2011


It's very important that soldiers be loyal and trustworthy.

It would be very bad if a culture of leaking developed unchallenged.

See these are the sorts of things that those of us who think Manning is a hero just don't agree about I suppose.
posted by SomeOneElse at 8:09 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The problem is that there's a yawning chasm between the helicopter video (which seems to depict the commission of a war crime) and the State Department cables (which don't have anything much to do with war at all). While I think the latter are probably needlessly over-classified, the moral case for just handing them off to someone on the Internet is much weaker. There was only pro forma disapproval of the helicopter leak, because the conduct recorded therein looked so bad. There was much stronger condemnation, and less support, for the Afghan war diaries, since that was getting into general order of battle stuff. As far as the State Department material goes, very little of it looks incriminating but it is heavily tied up with legitimate US government interests.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:10 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're pretty important if you want to run an effective military organization, I think. Is that important to you?
posted by ryanrs at 8:11 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So yes, taking an oath per se is meaningless to me (and the legal system at large) when considered in the context of revealing outright criminal activity.

Agreed (except for the oath being per se meaningless but we've established that). I consider this to be absolutely justifiable [whatever one chooses to call it]. Even if he didn't know what the contents were (taking the time to examine many or most of them would have gone a long way in my opinion), his intent was clearly to expose criminal activity. That he broke the law, I believe he must deal with the charges. That there was a net good from this, he unfortunately had no way of knowing because he, very irrresponsibly, didn't bother to even take a cursory attempt to expose crimes, but (for example, luckily this wasn't the actual case) also expose valuable intelligence assets who might be, for example, working to shut the "boy parties" down in Afghanistan.

He just didn't know what he was letting out, and though his intent was definitely laudable, his rashness and irresponsibility could have resulted in major net ill.
posted by chimaera at 8:11 PM on July 13, 2011


*didn't bother to even take a cursory attempt to ONLY expose crimes, but also took the risk of exposing valuable intelligence assets (etc. etc.)
posted by chimaera at 8:13 PM on July 13, 2011


I only want to run an effective military organization as long as what it does is consistent with a basic moral framework. I think at a very fundamental level, it is more important that people be responsible to an absolute moral framework than a chain of command. I think that officers should get up every day and know, for a fact, that if they cross that line it will be front page news at home. This is much more important to me than any concept of effectiveness.
posted by SomeOneElse at 8:13 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think a culture of indiscriminate leaking is the best way to further moral principles. That's why I think the military leadership is obligated to demonize Manning.

(I'm going to sleep soon, so I'll have to leave this conversation in a couple minutes.)
posted by ryanrs at 8:17 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Last I heard, the government was saying they wouldn't seek execution. But you can guess my estimate of what govenrnment statements are worth.

If you'd said "Last I heard, the government was saying it would seek execution. But you can guess my estimate of what government statements are worth" you could be a Freeper.

Do you realize your "I don't trust the gov'mint fer nothin" talk comes across as shrill? You might as well be telling the government to keep their government mitts off your social security.
posted by chimaera at 8:17 PM on July 13, 2011


> They're pretty important if you want to run an effective military organization, I think.

If we had one of those, it might be worth preserving.

> It's very important that soldiers be loyal [...]

I think we come down to the underlying point. Which is more important - loyalty to the government, or ethics? Manning clearly decided that ethical considerations required him to reveal this secret material.

There's also the results of his actions to consider - a lot of lawbreaking revealed by the US government, a lot of lawbreaking by various Arab dictatorships, and the fact that US diplomats have their work made much harder because, you know, their counterparties now know for a fact that they've been lied to.

These are all good things. And so far no one has identified even a single person who was directly damaged by these revelations.

I should also add that in 2011, I consider the US military to be one of the great forces for evil in the world today, so anything that exposes this evil, prevents this evil from sneaking around, and generally hampers this evil in attempting to fuck up the world, is a praiseworthy thing.

If I could press the right button, I would make the entire Defense Department vanish and leave every US soldier in their underwear.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:20 PM on July 13, 2011 [9 favorites]



The problem is that there's a yawning chasm between the helicopter video (which seems to depict the commission of a war crime) and the State Department cables (which don't have anything much to do with war at all).


I so beg to differ. The leaked State Department cables exposed systematic corruption amongst our allies in Pakistan, and Afghanistan as well as the collusion of the United States government in war activities which are both internally and internationally illegal - these things have everything to do with the war.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:20 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


> I don't think a culture of indiscriminate leaking is the best way to further moral principles.

So what would you do, then? I suspect the answer is "Just follow orders."

> That's why I think the military leadership is obligated to demonize Manning.

Of course, but they're committing further sins to justify their previous crimes. They should face judgement in international courts and do hard time.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:21 PM on July 13, 2011


Huh. BoingBoing is now taking Wired to task for the despicable way it withheld relevant info from the chat logs, particularly Lamo's "I'm a journalist and a minister" line:

I find it hard to accept that the last line there was "sensitive personal information with no bearing on WikiLeaks, [that] would serve no purpose to publish." It reads like a deliberated attempt to manipulate or even entrap Manning, on Lamo's part, and seems quite important to understanding what Manning thought he was doing by talking to him.

That BB ran scared during that same time from publishing the surprising news of Manning's gender issues and problems with DADT isn't addressed. Now, though, BB's squeamishness seems to have vanished, since just below they highlight the bit where Lamo asks Manning if Assange is gay, making sure to include the part where Manning says Assange "had a camera smuggled via rectum once." Not sure what "bearing" that has on anything, beyond prurience. What a weird way to handle this stuff.

I mean, last month Xeni finally openly acknowledged what everyone else in the world has known for months - "...if the personal crisis suggested here were true, it would certainly broaden the scope of Manning's motives and state of mind, and reveal a wealth of internally conflicted human drives that recontextualize the story" - but she declined to explain why BB redacted the gender stuff when it first came up and doesn't bother to say whether she now thinks that immediate reaction was a mistake. But now here's BoingBoing going all Gawker on the Assange-straight-rectum angle. I know this is an aspect to the story that not many folks are going to find interesting, but it seemed fucked-up enough to me to post a comment about it.
posted by mediareport at 8:24 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aargh. Xeni's post was from June 2010, not last month. I humbly apologize to anigbrowl for thinking too fast myself.
posted by mediareport at 8:26 PM on July 13, 2011


Please tell me you want longer sentences for every official who knew that we were prostituting children with tax dollars and didn't say anything.

This is what baffles me about the anti-Manning crowd.

For the sake of argument, let's agree that his oath to keep classified information secret was a moral absolute that trumped his oath to defend the Constitution and his responsibility to his conscience. Will anyone dare to claim that his violation of that oath was a greater evil than child prostitution? Than the butchering of Iraqi civilians in cold blood? Do they really expect us to find Manning the less sympathetic of the involved parties?

I wonder if they ignore the vast systemic evil exposed by the leak to focus on Manning's conduct because it's less painful for them to contemplate - or whether life in a country at permanent war has caused them to internalize a militaristic value system.
posted by Trurl at 8:26 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I consider the US military to be one of the great forces for evil in the world today

I agree.

Will anyone dare to claim that his violation of that oath was a greater evil than child prostitution? Than the butchering of Iraqi civilians in cold blood?

They're both bad and should both be punished.
posted by ryanrs at 8:29 PM on July 13, 2011


For the sake of argument, let's agree that his oath to keep classified information secret was a moral absolute that trumped his oath to defend the Constitution and his responsibility to his conscience.

Actually, let's NOT agree for the sake of argument, to a straw man that you invented, that, unless I missed something (please point where and I would happily retract this statement), nobody in the thread ever said. You're asserting premises that nobody has made to gin up outrage because the conclusion would be evil.
posted by chimaera at 8:31 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Once again, I am blown away by the framing of this story. People aren't upset that their government was lying to them. They're upset that someone exposed the lies.

It goes all the way to the fascination with the background of Manning, Assange, etc. Instead of, say, focusing on reporting the facts that get exposed, we get wall to wall tabloid coverage.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:33 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


> > I consider the US military to be one of the great forces for evil in the world today

> I agree.

And yet you think Manning should be punished for providing hard evidence of the mendacity, of the rapacity and murderous nature of the US government?!

Your argument above seems to be "loyalty to the military trumps all moral considerations". But if the US military is one of the great forces for evil in the world, then surely it deserves no loyalty at all...?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:40 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


she declined to explain why BB redacted the gender stuff when it first came up and doesn't bother to say whether she now thinks that immediate reaction was a mistake.

It's just a blog; they can unpublish refuse to comment on "mistakes" because right now they're *shakes magic eight ball* Bloggers Not Journalists.
posted by chimaera at 8:42 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


ryanrs, chimaera et all:

Let me put it this way: you've got a stack of documents. A really big one. Similar to the hundreds of thousands of documents leaked. You see that some of the documents in that stack talk about war crimes not only committed but explicitly ordered by commanding officers, in some of those documents you find evidence of state sanctioned child prostitution. You don't have the time to read them all. The first page you release could potentially implicate you and stop you from releasing any other documents. Simply possessing these documents all in one place or accessing them in order to read them could be incriminating and could stop you from releasing any of them.

What do you do?

Now, you may argue that you only release the most heinous stuff that you've read and you know are horribly reprehensible, but run the risk of not releasing potentially worse documents that you haven't read simply because you don't have the time. Others might argue that it makes sense to give the document to an organization with a track record of behaving more or less reasonably with sensitive documents (Wikileaks has purportedly not release documents that they think could endanger lives, etc.)

I don't think the choice is as clear cut as you want to make it.
posted by Freen at 8:43 PM on July 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


They're both bad and should both be punished.

This is the core of the problem. Both are bad, sure, fine. But one bad action (the leak) reveals the existence of many other bad actions (military malfeasance). We must then prioritize justice, as our delivery of it will affect our ability to identify future evildoing. If we attack the leaker, who reveals injustice, then we may, in the future, fail to discover the greater evils that they revealed to us. Blanket punishment now impairs our ability to blanket punish in the future; in practice it ensures that (what I believe to be) the greater evil, military malfeasance, will go unpunished, as it will be rendered invisible. This is exactly why whistleblowing protections are recognized as valuable.

It seems to me, that the only argument against permitting whistleblowing is the possibility of whistleblowing which adversely affects organizations via the revelation of private information which is specifically destructive while not beneficial to the public as a whole. As far as I know, this is extremely rare and typically dealt with in civil courts (eg. leaking of source code). What great evil are we being protected from, that we must intensely persecute Manning, Ellsberg, Sterling, Drake, etc.? Honestly, I'd love to know.
posted by mek at 8:45 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I say this, because former CIA officers have been doing this kind of thing for decades now, and never caught this kind of flack.

No they haven't. Retired CIA officers without exception are required to clear their memoirs with the CIA, no matter what country they choose to publish in. Those few who don't certainly catch flack for it. Witness the infamous handling of Philip Agee or the more recent cases of Jeffrey Sterling & Gary Berntsen.
posted by scalefree at 8:50 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"If we had one of those, it might be worth preserving."

And that's making it more effective? Yeah, let's burn down the house because the roof leaks.

I'm a lot more sympathetic to Manning than I am to a lot of the crappy justifications that get trotted out. Conscience is a subjective call, and what Manning released is not all inherently good.

We've never had a military that was perfect, nor a perfect diplomatic corps. Of course some of what Manning leaked was good to leak irrespective of consequence or secrecy, but a lot of it wasn't. And arguing that the answer to a flawed military is no military at all is something that most people won't accept, for good reason. It may be a case that a lot of MeFites whip themselves into a froth for, but when you do that, you sound just as dumb as libertarians complaining about how taxation is slavery.
posted by klangklangston at 8:50 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Freen: This is a long-ass thread. Kindly read all of my comments, because you are missing important points I made. My first comment states specifically that I consider his release of the data justified.

Also, be aware that he held on to the documents actually for long enough to read far more than he apparently did before sending them to Assange. And if he hadn't (mis)placed his trust in Lamo, the authorities would have possibly never caught him.
posted by chimaera at 8:51 PM on July 13, 2011


It goes all the way to the fascination with the background of Manning, Assange, etc. Instead of, say, focusing on reporting the facts that get exposed, we get wall to wall tabloid coverage.

And that's the thing that's been most disturbing about this entire episode. In this thread, where people are generally a lot more informed on this issue than the public at large, it's clear that we, collectively, have a pretty vague idea as to what exactly these cables even said. It will likely be years before some of them are really analyzed, understood, and reported upon, and at that point the people doing that work will be historians, not journalists.

Despite all the fuss, we never really took the time to find out what the documents were actually about. Instead, we spent all our time whining about the leaking and the leakers, including the collective hissy fit over WikiLeaks' donations and Amazon hosting, Anonymous' DDOS attacks, Assange's background and legal situation, etc...

The panic over the fact that the documents were classified made many people terrified to get anywhere close to them; poly-sci departments were warning students not to even look for fear that mere exposure to the cables would somehow cause them to become ineligible have access to any secrets more sensitive than the instruction manual for a janitor's mop and bucket. The Library of Congress went so far as to censor its internet access to block access to WikiLeak, a fundamental violation of the standards of the library profession that should have led to the expulsion of LOC leadership from the ALA (instead, the ALA eventually manged to produce a resolution that didn't even condemn the Library of Congress for this betrayal, but asked for some regulatory changes that are unlikely to ever happen).

So we had a situation where we had a massive trove of information that contextualized and informed practically every major foreign policy and military story in the news for years, but many of the people most able to make sense of the documents and use them were too afraid to touch them, and all of us were too distracted by tales of a kooky Australian and his sex life, a soldier's sexual preferences, smuggled Lady Gaga CDs, and all kinds of other extracurricular nonsense to bother to read what was right in front of us and to at least care about what the documents were saying. I'm as guilty as anyone in this regard.

I can only assume our enemies and hostile foreign intelligence organizations took the time to read and analyze as much about the content of the leaked documents as they possibly could. I doubt they spent much time thinking about what kind of genitals Manning wished he had. Maybe this whole exercise would have been slightly more useful if we bothered to show one tenth of the interest in what these documents are telling us about our own government as they did.
posted by zachlipton at 9:10 PM on July 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


Let me put it this way: you've got a stack of documents. A really big one. Similar to the hundreds of thousands of documents leaked. You see that some of the documents in that stack talk about war crimes not only committed but explicitly ordered by commanding officers, in some of those documents you find evidence of state sanctioned child prostitution. You don't have the time to read them all.

Then I don't leak them all. I probably don't leak any of them.

It's hard for me to put myself in that situation, though. I hate what the military does and would never sign up. So weighing the whole morality vs. loyalty thing is difficult. Personally, I think what happened is pretty cool just because it embarrassed the State department. But that's not a sound basis for deciding moral or legal questions.

OK, bed. Feel free to memail me.
posted by ryanrs at 9:14 PM on July 13, 2011


For those that think that Manning is a traitor who should get life sentence or death, even if you think that the release of the documents was on balance a good thing, would you feel the same way if, included in the documents, there was hard evidence that the US was rounding up muslims or illegal immigrants and executing them by the thousands, or something equally as heinous, and that Cheney had personally ordered it and Obama was continuing it?

Would it make a difference to you whether Manning knew or didn't know that the documents included that evidence before releasing them?
posted by empath at 9:15 PM on July 13, 2011


Chimaera, sorry. I read the bits about irresponsibility and didn't realize that it was you that made the earlier comment.

That said, 250k cables, not knowing quite how long each cable is, it could be quite alot to read.
posted by Freen at 9:16 PM on July 13, 2011


That said, 250k cables, not knowing quite how long each cable is, it could be quite alot to read.

Indeed it is, but all indications are that he spent very little time on, at best, a cursory look at the files. I find it difficult to believe that he couldn't have spent a few extra hours during the considerable time he had them in his possession doing more reading. That's what I'm calling irresponsible.
posted by chimaera at 9:19 PM on July 13, 2011


would you feel the same way if, included in the documents, there was hard evidence that the US was rounding up muslims or illegal immigrants and executing them by the thousands, or something equally as heinous, and that Cheney had personally ordered it and Obama was continuing it?

We've never had a perfect military...

And what about all the diplomats and their inhibited candor? Aren't they the true victims here?
posted by Trurl at 9:20 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


> And that's making it more effective? Yeah, let's burn down the house because the roof leaks.

No, we're talking about killing our dog because it keeps savaging our children. Yes, please, let's do that.

> And arguing that the answer to a flawed military is no military at all is something that most people won't accept, for good reason.

Oh, yes? What would those good reasons be?

I note that the last time the "Defense" Department was tested, it got zero out of four. Do you really think Canada or Mexico would invade if the US Defense Department disappeared tomorrow?

And what I want, and what a lot of rational people want, isn't that - it's just an end to foreign wars - close the seven or eight hundred hundred foreign bases, wind these wars down as soon as possible and not start any others.

The US simply has no business killing random people in foreign countries who have never offered us any harm. This would be evil even if it were profiting the citizens of the USA - the fact that, by any objective measure, the last decade and more of foreign wars has been a big loss for Americans makes it evil and stupid.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:22 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


(The "zero out of four" reference is to 9/11, by the way...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:23 PM on July 13, 2011


8,133 tonnes of gold and the highest GDP. We must be idiots to be so stupid.
posted by clavdivs at 9:34 PM on July 13, 2011


Metafilter: a kooky Australian and his sex life, a soldier's sexual preferences, smuggled Lady Gaga CDs

> And arguing that the answer to a flawed military is no military at all is something that most people won't accept, for good reason.

Oh, yes? What would those good reasons be?


National defense. Say what you want about America but it at least guarantees some level of freedom, and extends its aegis of protection over more progressive countries like the UK, Canada, and Australia. I sleep easier knowing that a bit of that world-destroying force protects my interests.

There are some things that needed to be leaked, but discipline is important to a military and there are many secrets that are secret for a reason. This wasn't all evidence of torture. Some of it was just basic diplomatic back and forth and background information. Having it out in public makes everybody's job harder.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:47 PM on July 13, 2011


Nuance is simply entirely lost on some people -- especially the "everything the Government does is bad" crowd (sounds familiar, hm, I should remember to bring biscuits to your little Tea Party).
This "guilt by really vague association" is pathetic. Having problems with the US government and being a fascist/libertarian/objectivist/tea partisan are very different things.
posted by cdward at 9:53 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


chimaera:Indeed it is, but all indications are that he spent very little time on, at best, a cursory look at the files. I find it difficult to believe that he couldn't have spent a few extra hours during the considerable time he had them in his possession doing more reading.

On one hand you say that all indications were that he spent little time on the files. Then in your next sentence you say that you have a personal belief that he spent "a few extra hours" reading them (them, referring to the 250,000 documents). So much wrongness... So many points of conflict on your part here.

Kindly read all of my comments, because you are missing important points I made. My first comment states specifically that I consider his release of the data justified.

You say that you believe that the release of the documents was justified yet you spent a dozen plus posts on this thread arguing for his prosecution and punishment. Again, the conflict.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:57 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You say that you believe that the release of the documents was justified yet you spent a dozen plus posts on this thread arguing for his prosecution and punishment. Again, the conflict.

It's not necessarily a conflict to believe that the release of the documents was justified and also that whoever did it should be punished.
posted by andoatnp at 10:00 PM on July 13, 2011


> National defense. Say what you want about America but it at least guarantees some level of freedom, and extends its aegis of protection over more progressive countries like the UK, Canada, and Australia. I sleep easier knowing that a bit of that world-destroying force protects my interests.

You'll have to do better than that - a lot better.

Canada and Australia have pretty serious armies. The UK has nukes, FFS. They waged a war half a world away in the Falklands, and won - let's see the US do that!

If the US stopped fighting in foreign wars, these countries would be perfectly OK. Frankly, if the Defense Department disbanded entirely, these countries would be fine.

Is this the best that can be done to justify half of the world's expenses on weapons? If so, I'd say that my case is completely proven...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:00 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lamo promised him a "modicum" of confidentiality. You may want to check out what that word means if you think he was promising much of anything.

I like the part where Adrian Lamo defends Hezbollah as being "light infantry" (uhhh) who are targeted by mean Israelis and Americans "only because they are savvy in helping their communities and building goodwill," after Manning tells him about his job spent trying to track them down, and how "they're the most dangerous guys in the world." Lamo's never going to get that AKO log-in back now! What a moron.

Everyone involved (Manning/Lamo/Assange) needs psychological help and needs to stop acting out. There are no "good guys" in this because everyone just comes off as seeking attention and trying to cover their own ass. Absolutely nothing looks like it was done out of good intentions.
posted by autoclavicle at 10:05 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


This "guilt by really vague association" is pathetic. Having problems with the US government and being a fascist/libertarian/objectivist/tea partisan are very different things.

Interesting. It sounds like you only read half of the comment and felt impelled to respond. I continued with "If all you changed was your allegiances you'd be spouting "with us or against us."" But don't stop here and quote me! I have a bit more so you can get my complete thought.

What I'm actually saying, since I have to lay it out more clearly, is that some people here are spouting rhetoric which is absolutist in its distrust of the government -- from (probably) politically the OPPOSITE SIDE of the tea partiers and fascists. All they had to do was reverse a couple words, and they would fit in fine and dandy on FreeRepublic.

Freepers, tea partiers, and some people here love rhetoric that amounts to "Never trust the government" and I was drawing a parallel that indicates their stance is as closed-minded and ideological and un-pragmatic as the freepers and Tea Partiers. Oh, now I've gone and written a long comment that I guess cdward won't read in its entirety (again).
posted by chimaera at 10:06 PM on July 13, 2011


What did we get from the release of cables, the specific contents of which were unknown to both Manning and Assange, the contents which had to be given to certain journalists to do the work of providing context and summaries? I mean, aside from creating diplomatic messes and weakening diplomatic ties, and launching an annoying media circus? Nothing. They never should've been released. They're done more harm than good.
posted by autoclavicle at 10:10 PM on July 13, 2011


You say that you believe that the release of the documents was justified yet you spent a dozen plus posts on this thread arguing for his prosecution and punishment. Again, the conflict.

I linked my original comment once already. Allow me to recount it in brief:

1. Did Manning break the law? Yes.
2. Is that law just? Arguably, it is incomplete.

Allow me to expand that thought: I think (all information I have at hand) he is guilty, and should be sent away with a slap on the wrist and time served.

On one hand you say that all indications were that he spent little time on the files. Then in your next sentence you say that you have a personal belief that he spent "a few extra hours" reading them (them, referring to the 250,000 documents). So much wrongness... So many points of conflict on your part here.

I concede I was not being clear and instead of "a few extra hours" I should have said "much more time, in order to have a better sense of the benefits and risks he was undertaking." I also dispute that there are "many points of conflict" -- there is just one, as I very clearly only borked the comment where it related to the time spent versus the time he should have spent.
posted by chimaera at 10:15 PM on July 13, 2011


"For those that think that Manning is a traitor who should get life sentence or death,

Very few, if any, here think that.

"even if you think that the release of the documents was on balance a good thing, would you feel the same way if, included in the documents, there was hard evidence that the US was rounding up muslims or illegal immigrants and executing them by the thousands, or something equally as heinous, and that Cheney had personally ordered it and Obama was continuing it?"

I think that's pretty frankly an intentionally loaded analogy that is incoherent with regard to the point that you're trying to make, that the ends justify the means.

Frankly, until there's a trial, we're unlikely to know exactly what extent Bradley Manning's actions were meant to expose and end illegal US practices, and how much was simply meant to take vengeance in the US for slights Manning felt. To the extent his actions were explicitly to expose and end those illegal actions, they're justified. To the extent they were motivated by pretty much anything else, you have someone putting their personal feelings above the law. It kind of baffles me that people who complain so endlessly about Bush torturing and not being held accountable don't understand that his camp avails themselves of the same justifications.

"Would it make a difference to you whether Manning knew or didn't know that the documents included that evidence before releasing them?"

Yeah, that's easy — it's a lot easier to justify if he knows what's in them.

You can't fire off a gun randomly, even if a bullet happens to hit a bank robber.
posted by klangklangston at 10:16 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


1. Did Manning break the law? Yes.
2. Is that law just? Arguably, it is incomplete.


If only there was some system in this country where Americans accused of breaking the law could be allowed to state their cases and argue the merits of it and have the rightness or wrongness of that judged ....

Oh well until we develop something like that I guess Manning will have to rot away in isolation while being psychologically and physically tortured.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:21 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


If only there was some system in this country where Americans accused of breaking the law could be allowed to state their cases and argue the merits of it and have the rightness or wrongness of that judged ....

Holy shit, dude. Do you just hate me or something? Did I ever once say that he shouldn't get a trial? Did I ever once say he deserved the treatment he's received? I think I'm done trying to talk to you, as I'm finding it increasingly difficult you're doing so in good faith.
posted by chimaera at 10:27 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


"No, we're talking about killing our dog because it keeps savaging our children. Yes, please, let's do that."

No, we're not. Poet_Lariat said that we didn't have an effective military, so the documents couldn't be damaging. I pointed out that didn't follow.

"Oh, yes? What would those good reasons be? "

National defense, the constitution, those'd be two large ones out of plenty more.

I really try to avoid calling you stupid, but if you can't think of any good reasons why the majority of Americans wouldn't want to totally do away with the military, I don't think you're trying at all.

"I note that the last time the "Defense" Department was tested, it got zero out of four. Do you really think Canada or Mexico would invade if the US Defense Department disappeared tomorrow?"

Yeah, that's pretty much confirmation bias on your part, along with a lot of debatable assumptions about what qualifies a test, and some white-hot rhetorical posturing.

"And what I want, and what a lot of rational people want, isn't that - it's just an end to foreign wars - close the seven or eight hundred hundred foreign bases, wind these wars down as soon as possible and not start any others. "

What I want, and what a lot of handsome people want, is a discussion where you don't pretend this is the moderate position nor that it doesn't come with a lot of pretty huge drawbacks.

"The US simply has no business killing random people in foreign countries who have never offered us any harm. This would be evil even if it were profiting the citizens of the USA - the fact that, by any objective measure, the last decade and more of foreign wars has been a big loss for Americans makes it evil and stupid."

Meh. Certain actions were stupid, certainly. Others, not so much. But it's worth being suspicious any time someone starts throwing around "evil." It's a with-us-or-against-us word, one that allows you to clothe yourself in righteousness and annihilate any reply that you disagree with, while being fairly circular.
posted by klangklangston at 10:28 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


*difficult to believe you're doing so in good faith
posted by chimaera at 10:28 PM on July 13, 2011


"On one hand you say that all indications were that he spent little time on the files. Then in your next sentence you say that you have a personal belief that he spent "a few extra hours" reading them (them, referring to the 250,000 documents). So much wrongness... So many points of conflict on your part here."

That's not what he said at all, and when you get it that wrong, you should knock off being so damn smug about it.

He said that indications were that Manning didn't spend much time on them, and then Chimera said that he believed that Manning could have spent "a few extra hours." Those things don't conflict. If he spent a hypothetical five hours reading them (ludicrously little for the number of pages), he could have spent five more and doubled his knowledge. Likewise, it's pretty obvious that "a few extra hours" is idiomatic.
posted by klangklangston at 10:34 PM on July 13, 2011


Holy shit, dude. Do you just hate me or something? Did I ever once say that he shouldn't get a trial?

Please calm down. I never implied nor meant to imply what you suggest. I am only pointing out that he is rotting away in a prison with no trial in sight and he has been both physically and psychologically tortured as well . I am pointing out that this say very bad things about our country at he moment. You seem to be taking this all very personally, that's not my intent even though I do disagree with a lot of what you are saying.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:38 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lamo promised him a "modicum" of confidentiality. You may want to check out what that word means if you think he was promising much of anything.

That's bollocks. Here's exactly what he said.

I’m a journalist and a minister. You can pick either, and treat this as a confession or an interview (never to be published) & enjoy a modicum of legal protection.

Priests don't offer their parishioners a 'modicum' of confidentiality over the confessional. They promise absolute sanctity.

What he was pretending to offer was a modicum of legal protection, which was just as much bullshit as his offer of absolute confidentiality.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:44 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I never implied nor meant to imply what you suggest.

I'll accept you may not have intended to imply what I suggest, but quoting my 2 points *immediately* before saying

If only there was some system in this country ...

Forgive me if I took that wrong, but if you DIDN'T intend it to imply that I was advocating there shouldn't be a trial and that he should be mistreated, quoting me right before that certainly made me suspect your intentions.
posted by chimaera at 10:46 PM on July 13, 2011


Do you really think Canada or Mexico would invade if the US Defense Department disappeared tomorrow?

That's a pretty simple view of modern conflicts and the nature of our globally dependent supply and distribution chains. It would be very difficult to maintain our domestic security without a department of defense and robust foreign policy. We tried ignoring the world before, it was an utter fiasco.


And what I want, and what a lot of rational people want, isn't that - it's just an end to foreign wars - close the seven or eight hundred hundred foreign bases, wind these wars down as soon as possible and not start any others.

You seem to suggest that your position can be arrived at by reason, and yet it seems highly inconsistent and unrealistic.


The US simply has no business killing random people in foreign countries who have never offered us any harm. This would be evil even if it were profiting the citizens of the USA - the fact that, by any objective measure, the last decade and more of foreign wars has been a big loss for Americans makes it evil and stupid.


We are at war with Al Qaeda and other terror groups. There will continue to be casualties in that war. There are lots of very smart people working on trying to end this, but it turns out its really complicated.

The fact that you think there is some simple resolution to this seem to suggest that you think that everyone is just stupid or something. It's like a patient is getting an emergency quadruple bypass, but your wandering in after watching 30 minutes of discovery health and suggesting a balanced diet and exercise. Great suggestion, too bad you are decades too late.
posted by humanfont at 11:00 PM on July 13, 2011


There are lots of very smart people working on trying to end this, but it turns out its really complicated.

Smart people, eh? Well I'm convinced.
posted by Hoopo at 11:08 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


And if he hadn't (mis)placed his trust in Lamo, the authorities would have possibly never caught him.

How no one had alarms set up on SIPRNet is a level of incompetence that's hard to believe. Ideally just set up Clippy to ask, "Are you bulk downloading data?" and let ops know that someone is BULK DOWNLOADING DATA.

Given the utter lack of safeguards that this incident exposed, how many foreign governments have access to that data and more?
posted by ryoshu at 11:08 PM on July 13, 2011


Huh. On the one hand, I am glad Manning leaked these documents. I am glad these documents are now public. But at the same time, I am not opposed to Manning being executed or imprisoned for life should he be found guilty.
Executed? Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you?

There seems to be some confusion between the US and the US Government. He clearly betrayed the latter. But the former? Not so much. Mostly all he did was embarrass government officials. Should he be executed for fucking up the ability of Visa and Mastercard to operate in Russia, or for screwing up a Spanish law against online piracy? Really? None of those things impact me, so why should I even have a problem with him?

Normally most people who support the death penalty do so for other murders, or perhaps brutal child rapists. That's obviously not the case with Manning.

So all foreign policy is bad then?
YES, OBVIOUSLY ALL FORIGEN POLICY IS BAD, THAT'S LIKE THE ONLY REASONABLE CONCLUSION ANYONE COULD DRAW.
Now, whoever leaked the Pentagon Papers WOULD be subject to criminal prosecution, had they been uncovered. But journalists also protect their sources for this very reason. -- chimaera
Holy shit! Daniel Ellsberg leaked the pentagon papers. This was never a secret. If you're this ignorant why are you even posting?

---
What did we get from the release of cables, the specific contents of which were unknown to both Manning and Assange, the contents which had to be given to certain journalists to do the work of providing context and summaries? I mean, aside from creating diplomatic messes and weakening diplomatic ties, and launching an annoying media circus? Nothing. They never should've been released. They're done more harm than good.
That's illogical, if they caused no problems then there is no reason for them not to be released. On the other hand, knowledge about how the world works is a good in it's own right. You seem to think the ability for the government to keep secrets is a good in it's own right, which I find bizarre.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I really try to avoid calling you stupid,

And yet you, in essence, just did. Were you someone I knew, I'd ask for an apology.

> but if you can't think of any good reasons why the majority of Americans wouldn't want to totally do away with the military, I don't think you're trying at all.

And yet you didn't actually list even one - doesn't that make you think just a little?

I'm dead serious here. What do you think would happen if the Department of Defense ceased to operate its foreign wars? Don't be rude to me again - actually treat this as a serious question. What would happen if we called all the troops home and stopped fighting wars in foreign countries?

Now, I'm not under any illusions here. I think your average American would laugh uproariously at the very idea - but then only a minority of Americans believe in lots of true things, like evolution or global warming.


> What I want, and what a lot of handsome people want, is a discussion where you don't pretend this is the moderate position nor that it doesn't come with a lot of pretty huge drawbacks.

Again: list some, please.

> > "The US simply has no business killing random people in foreign countries who have never offered us any harm. This would be evil even if it were profiting the citizens of the USA - the fact that, by any objective measure, the last decade and more of foreign wars has been a big loss for Americans makes it evil and stupid."

> Meh. Certain actions were stupid, certainly. Others, not so much.

And again, your lack of any examples makes it hard to respond. What were these non-stupid military actions since, say, 2000?

> But it's worth being suspicious any time someone starts throwing around "evil." It's a with-us-or-against-us word, one that allows you to clothe yourself in righteousness and annihilate any reply that you disagree with, while being fairly circular.

I await a better word for "maliciously ignorant actions that kill hundreds of thousands of innocents."

You're defending something that's morally indefensible, and you're doing it by calling me stupid, self-righteous, and posturing, while not actually addressing my arguments.

You might ask yourself - why are you being so rude to someone who's been perfectly polite to you?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:12 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy shit! Daniel Ellsberg leaked the pentagon papers. This was never a secret. If you're this ignorant why are you even posting?

I forgot his name. I knew Ellsberg's name wasn't a secret. "whoever" was poor word choice, but thanks for the insult.
posted by chimaera at 11:13 PM on July 13, 2011


By the way, Ellsberg didn't read all the pentagon papers, despite the fact that he had to xerox each one by hand. There was over 7,000 pages in 47 volumes. Apparently a lot of you would have thrown Ellsberg in jail and would have preferred the Vietnam war to keep going for a few more years.

The only difference between Ellsberg and manning is that the pentagon papers were Top Secret -- much more highly classified then the diplomatic cables.
posted by delmoi at 11:13 PM on July 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I forgot his name. I knew Ellsberg's name wasn't a secret. "whoever" was poor word choice, but thanks for the insult.
There is no way to parse this:
Now, whoever leaked the Pentagon Papers WOULD be subject to criminal prosecution, had they been uncovered. But journalists also protect their sources for this very reason.
As meaning anything other then that you don't think that the person who leaked the pentagon papers was known. Ellsberg actually was prosecuted, but there was a mistrial.
posted by delmoi at 11:16 PM on July 13, 2011


The only difference between Ellsberg and manning is that the pentagon papers were Top Secret

Now who is being too ignorant for the thread?

The difference is, allow me to reiterate, Ellsberg had made no oath to protect the information he disseminated. Manning had in fact undertaken that very charge.

Half-quotes, misrepresentations, and non-sequitur arguments are not helping your case.

But hey, if there's a word or phrase in here that's poorly chosen, I trust you to find it and obliterate my point thereby.
posted by chimaera at 11:18 PM on July 13, 2011


The difference is, allow me to reiterate, Ellsberg had made no oath to protect the information he disseminated. Manning had in fact undertaken that very charge.
Do you have a citation for this?
posted by delmoi at 11:19 PM on July 13, 2011


> We are at war with Al Qaeda and other terror groups.

There is no Al Qaeda in Iraq and there has never been. The US admits that there are only dozens of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

> There will continue to be casualties in that war.

For how long? It's been a decade!

There are hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead - and none of those deaths have near as anyone can see had any effect on the "war on terror".

Are we simply going to kill tens of thousands of people every year, people who have never offered us any harm, for the rest of time? When does it end?

There's not the slightest proof that this is working - and we're killing people. Do we get to keep killing randoms for ever, just in case it might be helpful?


> The fact that you think there is some simple resolution to this seem to suggest that you think that everyone is just stupid or something. It's like a patient is getting an emergency quadruple bypass, but your wandering in after watching 30 minutes of discovery health and suggesting a balanced diet and exercise.

I again comment that this rudeness is unnecessary and more, it seriously impedes the credibility of people's arguments in general.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:21 PM on July 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


There is no way to parse this... as meaning anything other..

I disagree. I conceded poor word choice, but I will happily amend that statement to revise "whoever leaked" to "Ellsberg, who leaked..."

I stand by my amended point.
posted by chimaera at 11:21 PM on July 13, 2011


chimaera:I forgot his name. I knew Ellsberg's name wasn't a secret. "whoever" was poor word

No. Actually you said:
Now, whoever leaked the Pentagon Papers WOULD be subject to criminal prosecution, had they been uncovered.

Which means that:
a) You didn't know his name
b). You did not know it was public knowledge that Ellsberg leaked the Papers
c) You did not know that he did in fact go to trial - was prosecuted - and was vindicated upon findings of gross government misconduct and illegal wiretapping.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:22 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway, Ellsberg was a military analyst and he held Top Secret clearance. I don't understand why you don't think he took an oath to protect it.
if there's a word or phrase in here that's poorly chosen, I trust you to find it and obliterate my point thereby.
And second of all, it wasn't a "poorly chosen word" it was a very clear statement that you didn't know how who leaked Pentagon Papers and you didn't think anyone else did ether. If that's not what you meant then what did you mean? Why did you write "had they been uncovered" if you didn't think they'd never been uncovered? Why did you include the part about journalists protecting their sources?

You clearly didn't know what you were talking about.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 PM on July 13, 2011


Do you have a citation for this?

Have you read all of my comments? I grow weary of repeating myself.

A previous comment of mine:

I'm not talking about the general oath all servicemen take. You realize that in order to get a security clearance you have to sign documents (which are under oath, as misrepresentations carry perjury penalties) that state you will treat classified information in accordance with the law. That is the specific oath I'm talking about, and journalists who release classified material are not bound by that.

-----

Allow me to cite merely personal experience when I was given the opportunity to seek a security clearance. You are bound by that clearance that you will protect classified information with which you are entrusted.
posted by chimaera at 11:25 PM on July 13, 2011


angrycat: "Give good blow jobs, too. Anything else?"

This information interests me. Might I subscribe to your newsletter?
posted by Samizdata at 11:28 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not talking about the general oath all servicemen take. You realize that in order to get a security clearance you have to sign documents (which are under oath, as misrepresentations carry perjury penalties)
Yes of course. Why is why Ellsberg, who had top secret security clearance, and access to the pentagon papers, must have taken that oath too.

You seem to be having trouble understanding what's going on.
posted by delmoi at 11:29 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


And second of all, it wasn't a "poorly chosen word" it was a very clear statement that you didn't know how who leaked Pentagon Papers and you didn't think anyone else did ether.

No. I really couldn't think of is name and put in "whoever" -- I made no attempt to state that nobody else knew his name. Any more misrepresentations? Are you going to attribute unseemly motives to me? Perhaps quote me and then respond to that quote with an assertion that evil things follow from my reasoning?

You tire me with your parsing and your assertions where "it's very clear" that I belived something convenient to your point that just so happened to totally undermine my credibility.

Are you watching yourself doing this? It's fantastic the rhetorical depths you are willing to plumb.
posted by chimaera at 11:30 PM on July 13, 2011


Yes of course. Why is why Ellsberg, who had top secret security clearance

Upon investigation, you are absolutely correct. I was completely in error in saying that Ellsberg was under no obligation to protect the documents, and hereby withdraw both my assertions of that as well as my intemperate language in defense of that point.

My apologies.
posted by chimaera at 11:32 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


No. I really couldn't think of is name and put in "whoever" -- I made no attempt to state that nobody else knew his name.
So what did you mean when you wrote?
subject to criminal prosecution, had they been uncovered. But journalists also protect their sources for this very reason.
What does 'uncovered' mean in that sentence?
posted by delmoi at 11:34 PM on July 13, 2011


I reiterate that my use of "whomever" was poor choice of words (perhaps very poor choice) -- as I had no intention of implying that Ellsberg was unknown to anyone, merely his name was unknown to me.

Further, delmoi, I apologize to you specifically for my overbearing defense of my established ignorance on that point.
posted by chimaera at 11:34 PM on July 13, 2011


chimaera:You tire me with your parsing and your assertions where "it's very clear" that I belived something convenient to your point that just so happened to totally undermine my credibility.

That whole schtick about not admitting your mistakes, pretending to be offended by people's comment's to you and them being dismissive and offensive offensive right back, putting out grossly nonfactual information and then being unwilling to accept a correction - that stuff only works for Rush Limbaugh because he's a gazillionaire in complete control of the medium in which he is transmitting his message.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:36 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are we simply going to kill tens of thousands of people every year, people who have never offered us any harm, for the rest of time? When does it end?

There's not the slightest proof that this is working - and we're killing people. Do we get to keep killing randoms for ever, just in case it might be helpful?


We are not directly killing tens of thousands of people every year. What would you accept as evidence of a strategy working? You simply assert it isn't working, because why exactly? Because we must maintain soldiers abroad? Because we will have to use our weapons to kill our enemies? Do you also think your toothpaste isn't working because you must use it continuously? What is your proposed comprehensive strategy for securing citizens of the United States, ensuring the flow of commerce, the freedom of the seas and protecting supplies of essential fuel and trade goods?
posted by humanfont at 11:37 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


With that, I realize that I am no longer commenting with what I generally intend in threads from a considered and informed stance. If occasionally strident, I put great effort into being specific and informed and it is apparent to me that I am no longer doing so, so I'm bowing out of this one. My apologies again to delmoi.
posted by chimaera at 11:38 PM on July 13, 2011


We are at war with Al Qaeda and other terror groups. There will continue to be casualties in that war.

As long as we're willing to wage war.

Pre 9-11 terrorism was rare; now we dump fuel on fires.
I'd almost go as far as to call Al Qaida a "first world problem". ;)
(in that I think it's some pretty stupid shit to get worked up over if one were to think more broadly about the future of humanity on Earth.)
posted by hypersloth at 11:53 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


> We are not directly killing tens of thousands of people every year.

We are causing the deaths of tens of thousands of people a year. We are directly killing at least thousands.

> What would you accept as evidence of a strategy working?

Why is the burden of proof on me?! You're the one who's in favour of this strategy that involves permanent warfare, trillions of dollars pissed away, hundreds of thousands dead and all this - surely the burden of proof should be on you to prove that it's working.

> You simply assert it isn't working, because why exactly?

The US government claims that terrorism is as big a problem as ever. There was yet another lethal attack in Mumbai today.

But again, YOU'RE the one proposing all the killing and burning money. Why do you assert that this is working? YOU want to spend trillions and kill all these people, and I'm required to assume that this is for some positive purpose, despite any evidence of this, unless I can prove "comprehensively" that you aren't getting anywhere.

> What is your proposed comprehensive strategy for securing citizens of the United States, ensuring the flow of commerce, the freedom of the seas and protecting supplies of essential fuel and trade goods?

The rest of the world manage to do this perfectly well, and the 6.5 billion of them spend less money doing it than the 300 million Americans do.

Anyway, you don't expect me to write this up, you wouldn't read it if I did, and the amount that the military really spends on "securing citizens of the United States, ensuring the flow of commerce, the freedom of the seas and protecting supplies of essential fuel and trade goods" is a tiny fraction of the total money the US spends on its military.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:54 PM on July 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


"What is your proposed comprehensive strategy for securing citizens of the United States, ensuring the flow of commerce, the freedom of the seas and protecting supplies of essential fuel and trade goods?"

These wars have nothing to do with securing anything for the vast majority of the citizens of the United States. These wars do have a lot to do with ensuring the flow of commerce into the pockets of a wealthy few and protecting the supplies of oil, which allows the US military to continue its "full spectrum dominance".

How are you going to prove that we are not directly killing tens of thousands of people every year? We are currently waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as covert military operations in Pakistan, and Syria, and who knows where else) and the lives lost as a direct result of these wars are too numerous to justify. Especially when hundreds of thousands of people in this country are losing their houses, their jobs, and their futures because some greedy investment bankers believed they cooked up some foolproof ways of making tons of money with no risk. Especially when education, health-care, social security etc. etc. are all being gutted so that we can continue spending a trillion dollars a year to fund these illegal and atrocious wars.
posted by nikoniko at 12:01 AM on July 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


The US government claims that terrorism is as big a problem as ever. There was yet another lethal attack in Mumbai today.

The US government claims that Al Qaeda is in shambles and there are 10-20 leaders left of any note and that Al Qaeda has essentially lost its ability to mount a large scale operation at this time. While we must watch for resurgence and there is always a chance of an attack by another group, your comment is incorrect.

Mumbai is not in the United States. You suggest though that the rest of the world is doing perfectly well. Yet you cite this attack as evidence. Would you characterize the attack in Mumbai as doing perfectly well?

...the amount that the military really spends on "securing citizens of the United States...[etc].. is a tiny fraction of the total money the US spends on its military.

That seems like a fairly radical assertion. What portions of US Military spending do you think are excluded from this overall mission?

These wars have nothing to do with securing anything for the vast majority of the citizens of the United States. These wars do have a lot to do with ensuring the flow of commerce into the pockets of a wealthy few and protecting the supplies of oil

The majority of citizens are highly dependent on oil for transportation, food, fuel and consumer products. You should understand that without that oil a lot of people would die. US agricultural productivity would decline and people all over the world would starve to death.

I'm confident that if we total the body counts up and compare the status quo deaths vs. your proposed alternative we would see a significantly higher death rate in your model.
posted by humanfont at 12:21 AM on July 14, 2011


Pre 9-11 terrorism was rare; now we dump fuel on fires.
I'd almost go as far as to call Al Qaida a "first world problem". ;)
Looks to me like you assume everything is a "first world problem".
posted by fullerine at 12:26 AM on July 14, 2011


Pre 9-11 terrorism was rare

Depends on where you live. In the UK, we'd lived with 35 years of it prior to 9/11 without all human life as we previously knew it coming to a standstill.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:31 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The majority of citizens are highly dependent on oil for transportation, food, fuel and consumer products. You should understand that without that oil a lot of people would die. not be able to shop at Wal-Mart.
posted by mek at 12:36 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, humanfont, perhaps you didn't get my point.

THE BURDEN OF PROOF IS ON YOU TO SHOW THAT YOUR MULTI-DECADE, MULTI-TRILLION DOLLAR, MULTI-HUNDRED-THOUSAND DEATH PROGRAM IS ACTUALLY DOING ANYTHING USEFUL.

> What portions of US Military spending do you think are excluded from this overall mission?

Let's start with the Wars in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. Your list is: "securing citizens of the United States, ensuring the flow of commerce, the freedom of the seas and protecting supplies of essential fuel and trade goods." If we skip "essential fuel" then none of these wars fit.

As for "protecting supplies", it depends on what you mean by that statement. If you mean it literally, well, both Libya and Iraq were good, reliable providers of oil before the wars - but I suspect "protecting" means simply "invading and taking".


> I'm confident that if we total the body counts up and compare the status quo deaths vs. your proposed alternative we would see a significantly higher death rate in your model.

Confident?! How?!

You're claiming that if the US stopped all its foreign wars, then we'd have a significantly higher death toll. You really have to explain how, because it certainly isn't intuitively obvious.

Anyway, I have no idea why I'm even discussing it. The burden of proof is on you. You're the one suggesting killing people. You're the one supporting the trillion dollar expenditures. You're the one claiming we're getting results. Prove it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:36 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


fullerine: Looks to me like you assume everything is a "first world problem"

Huh? It's my first comment in the thread. Perhaps you missed the recent FPPs (here's one) about first world problems and how annoying and misused the term is, resulting in my lame attempt at teh clever by using that term with an emoticon wink.
Anyway Pluto isn't a planet anymore? Totally a first world problem. Am I doing this right?

That said, I do believe Al Qaeda and the omg terrorists rhetoric is painfully tired, expensive and dangerous, and I'd really hoped it would've gone back home to Crawford a few years ago.

PeterMcDermott: Pre 9-11 terrorism was rare
Depends on where you live. In the UK, we'd lived with 35 years of it prior to 9/11 without all human life as we previously knew it coming to a standstill.

Forgive me, I was speaking from an egocentric POV, and you're right; that's one thing that kills me: the London tubes were bombed after 9/11 and everyone rode them the next day because they refused to live in fear, because then the terrorists would've won...
Nevermind our reaction in the States.

posted by hypersloth at 1:09 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll get you for this, unclosed i tag!!
posted by hypersloth at 1:12 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


fullerine, now I see what you meant - as I said, egocentric, poor choice of words - How about: Pre 9-11 terrorism was rare ly ever a topic of the general public's conversation in the United States.

take that, italics!
posted by hypersloth at 1:27 AM on July 14, 2011


If US "diplomacy" had not run so far off the rails and if the US had not been so keen to throw their military presence around in Iraq and Afghanistan to name but a few; there would not have been any such incriminating cables to leak.
The issue of whether Manning was right or wrong / is or is not a hero is therefore mute.
The Emperor has been shown to have no clothes. Everyone seems to be fighting over the scraps he wasn't wearing.
There are many other places in the world other than USA; those who live there (USA) are only just beginning to see themselves as many outside the country already do. This observation seems yet to have been achieved by your political nominees but as the internets help spread the the truth of the torture, support of covert and open despotic rule in many "allies", the invasiveness of the industrial military complex and the massive internal corruption in your democratic system let alone that some people in other countries have a better quality of life; so hopefully the populace will begin to demand some sort of accountability and real meaningful change.
I don't think the hopeful change is going to be pretty but I see more and more people saying WTF and beginning to become activists. All I can do is cheer from the sidelines.
posted by adamvasco at 1:37 AM on July 14, 2011


There is no need to shout lupus. Your emotional reaction does not indicate a rational mind nor advance your argument. You assert that our ongoing military actions do little to advance the US' security and economic interests. You can hold any opinion you want, but I see no reason to accept it as fact. There are many research and policy papers which contradict your assertion.

You further demand I demonstrate the efficacy of the US foreign policy and military strategy in the last several decades. The status quo is one where Americans are free to travel and trade in most places with limited risk. We enjoy a high stand of living and relatively cheap food and fuel.

I have stated that oil is necessry to produce fetilizer, gasoline and other basic inputs necessary for survival of large nbers of people around the world. The current global food crisis would be substantially worse in the event of major disruption in oil supplies. Millions would die.

As a further example in defense of current US military spending I note
that India has a much lower defense budget and would appear to be subject to additional terrorist risk.

Therefore we can conclude that the status quo is beneficial to the majority of citizens. As the person proposing a change you must provide some insight into anticipated changes and define specific strategies and anticipated results.
posted by humanfont at 1:52 AM on July 14, 2011


The US government claims that Al Qaeda is in shambles and there are 10-20 leaders left of any note and that Al Qaeda has essentially lost its ability to mount a large scale operation at this time. While we must watch for resurgence and there is always a chance of an attack by another group, your comment is incorrect.
This is kind of a self-defeating argument though. If AQ is down to like 10 guys, why do we need to spend hundreds of billions to fight them. It seems ridiculous. Most government spending on safety is calculated by putting a dollar value on life. If it costs more then, say $1m to save one life we don't spend the money. How many lives are being saved each year by the war on terror? In order to be cost effective we would have to be saving the lives of millions of people per year.

This isn't an entirely cold-hearted calculation either. If didn't spend the money fighting terrorists we could spend the money saving lives other ways.

If we spent the money on health care, on traffic safety or even public transportation we would save those lives. Why is a life saved from a terrorist attack worth so much more then a life saved from cancer?

So here's my question, humanfont. How many Americans should die of treatable diseases or medical problems to save one American life from a terrorist? How many Americans should die in traffic accidents to save one life from a terrorist? And this isn't even getting into the problems caused in other countries. Just out of curiosity, how many civilians is it OK to kill to save one US life from a terrorist? What's the actual number?

---

Anyway, as far as Bradly Manning possibly gumming up the works with respect to diplomacy, who cares? A lot of the stuff the U.S was advocating wasn't anything in my interests. Secret deals with China, for example, to derail the climate negotiations. Internet censorship laws in Spain to curb piracy and prosecution of the guys who run the Pirate Bay. A lot of what we saw was the U.S. acting in the interests of it's major corporations, not individual citizens.
As a further example in defense of current US military spending I note
that India has a much lower defense budget and would appear to be subject to additional terrorist risk.

Therefore we can conclude that the status quo is beneficial to the majority of citizens.
What? that's totally illogical? It's a correlation/causation error. China also spends less on it's military and doesn't have anywhere near the number of Terrorist attacks as India (as far as I know). And what about Brazil? In fact, Terrorism is simply rare overall.

I think Innumeracy plays a big role in these debates. People who are afraid of terrorists have no ability to understand the actual risks involved. They simply don't understand the scale of the world, how many people there are, what a trillion dollars actually means and so on

Think about it this way. Say we've spent $3T on the war in Afghanistan/Iraq in total. If you divided that equally between all Americans it would be worth $10k each. If you had a choice between continuing the war on terror, or receiving $10k cash, today, along with every other American, would you choose to continue the war on terror? Is all of this really worth $10k to you? I would much rather have the money.
posted by delmoi at 2:07 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Say we've spent $3T on the war in Afghanistan/Iraq in total. If you divided that equally between all Americans it would be worth $10k each. If you had a choice between continuing the war on terror, or receiving $10k cash, today, along with every other American, would you choose to continue the war on terror?

The money's already been spent. You can't get it back. It's gone.
posted by Wolof at 2:39 AM on July 14, 2011


Or that if someone tortures a suspect to defuse a ticking time bomb, they should be willing to go to prison for a long time for it.

I mean they'd presumably take a bullet to save a life, is it more or less serious to accept incarceration?


People are always saying this, as if the drive to protect the Bradley Mannings of the world had anything to do with personal cowardice on the part of those who have committed crimes while doing necessary things, rather than a general sense of justice, sympathy, and moral duty on the part of those who have judged their actions to be good (and perhaps benefited from them), and on whose behalf, moreover, any horrible consequences will be applied. It's irrelevant what punishment a person is willing to accept for illegally doing what's right. The real moral issue is, what punishment are his countrymen willing to inflict?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:39 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are many research and policy papers which contradict your assertion.
Of course the writers of all these papers have no particular leaning or causus belli I presume. Their financing does not contain any hidden agenda. Just asking.
posted by adamvasco at 2:41 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry hypersloth. That ignorant yank bandwagon was rolling by, I was tired and it looked so inviting.
posted by fullerine at 2:44 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]



(02:31:02 PM) bradass87: i think the thing that got me the most… that made me rethink the world more than anything

(02:35:46 PM) bradass87: was watching 15 detainees taken by the Iraqi Federal Police… for printing “anti-Iraqi literature”… the iraqi federal police wouldn’t cooperate with US forces, so i was instructed to investigate the matter, find out who the “bad guys” were, and how significant this was for the FPs… it turned out, they had printed a scholarly critique against PM Maliki… i had an interpreter read it for me… and when i found out that it was a benign political critique titled “Where did the money go?” and following the corruption trail within the PM’s cabinet… i immediately took that information and *ran* to the officer to explain what was going on… he didn’t want to hear any of it… he told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding *MORE* detainees…
posted by moorooka at 3:26 AM on July 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Just on NPR yesterday evening were African American vets from the Vietnam War. Some of them described what led to My Lai (and hundreds of other atrocities like it) was a standing order to completely destroy any village from which so much as a single bullet came. This was determined by our very own courts to be an illegal order. Yet here we are again with the whistleblower under the worst kind of isolating lockdown. Just like My Lai, this needs to be prosecuted as far up the chain as it goes including the official cover up.
posted by 3.2.3 at 4:55 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


"BB ran scared during that same time from publishing the surprising news of Manning's gender issues ... Now, though, BB's squeamishness seems to have vanished .. last month Xeni finally openly acknowledged ..."

We published our first thing on these logs on Jan 19, 2010:

Wikileaks: a somewhat less redacted version of the Lamo/Manning logs

And a few hours later on the gender issues they revealed.

Was alleged Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning's crisis also one of personal identity?

"Ran scared" indeed.
posted by beschizza at 5:25 AM on July 14, 2011


I apologize, beschizza (your first link should read June 19, btw). I was so furious about the redactions you made I missed that Xeni had posted the other thing soon after.

Still: I'd like to know if BB now considers the redactions a mistake, and I'd *love* to know why BB is now highlighting as "remarkable" the most prurient bits about Assange's rectum and Lamo speculating if Assange is gay.

I'd also like to know if Kevin Poulsen and Lamo were ever lovers, which would explain a lot, but don't think you can help there.
posted by mediareport at 5:52 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sleep easier knowing that a bit of that world-destroying force protects my interests.

You sleep easier knowing that millions of people have had their lives destroyed so you can pretend that you are safer? I guess I can sleep easier knowing that while I still participate materially in destroying the lives of people who I have never met -- people who have never materially supported terrorism or so much as picked up a gun and pointed it at an American who has invaded their country -- at least I'm not glad about that fact.
The US simply has no business killing random people in foreign countries who have never offered us any harm. This would be evil even if it were profiting the citizens of the USA - the fact that, by any objective measure, the last decade and more of foreign wars has been a big loss for Americans makes it evil and stupid.
Meh. Certain actions were stupid, certainly. Others, not so much. But it's worth being suspicious any time someone starts throwing around "evil." It's a with-us-or-against-us word, one that allows you to clothe yourself in righteousness and annihilate any reply that you disagree with, while being fairly circular.

So glad you're on board, sir. bin Laden wasn't evil. He may have had a perfectly legitimate reason to kill 3000 Americans based on his own ideology and information. According to the bar you've set, he would have had to kill a few hundred thousand more and empty the treasury of three trillion dollars before we could consider calling him names.
posted by notion at 6:09 AM on July 14, 2011


I'd also like to know if Kevin Poulsen and Lamo were ever lovers, which would explain a lot, but don't think you can help there.

Keep it classy, mefi.
posted by wrok at 6:17 AM on July 14, 2011


Wow, you guys argued all night, huh?

Here's a hypo: What if in the leak some docs related to OSB's whereabouts in Pakistan were released? That would be admittedly bad, right?
posted by angrycat at 6:25 AM on July 14, 2011


What if you you could be intellectually stimulated enough to come up with something other than "what if"?
posted by adamvasco at 6:29 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's a hypo: What if in the leak some docs related to OSB's whereabouts in Pakistan were released? That would be admittedly bad, right?

Are you sure it isn't in there? WikiLeaks did redact some of the documents.
posted by notion at 6:36 AM on July 14, 2011


The majority of citizens are highly dependent on oil for transportation, food, fuel and consumer products. You should understand that without that oil a lot of people would die. US agricultural productivity would decline and people all over the world would starve to death.

I take it then that you supported Donald Trump's abortive presidential aspirations for his rare candor in saying we should occupy Libya and take its oil? After all, as you point out, countless lives across the globe are at stake.

In any case, unexamined as always is the question of how the responsibility fell to one country among hundreds to assert its patriarchal benevolence over the world's resources. Is America really God's secret favorite among His children? Or is it just that we spend more on weapons of death than the rest of the planet combined?
posted by Trurl at 6:48 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


adaamvasco, whoa, what did I do to you, dude?

Trurl, I like you man, but isn't this the kind of thread you need to avoid?

Notion, nope, I guess I don't know whether OBL's location was in the docs -- perhaps Wikileaks acted super super responsible and didn't release that stuff. But it's hard for me to see Wikileaks as a sober, responsible actor -- or rather, I'll say that about Assange.
posted by angrycat at 7:29 AM on July 14, 2011


humanfront: I posted this in the last Al Qaida thread, but I think it bears repeating:

"The subtlest change in New York is something people don't speak much about but that is in everyone's mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now; in the sounds of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest editions.

All dwellers in cities must live with the stubborn fact of annihilation; in New York the fact is somewhat more concentrated because of the concentration of the city itself, and because, of all targets, New York has a certain clear priority. In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer might loose the lightning, New York must hold a steady, irresistible charm."


-- E.B. White
from "Here is New York" c. 1948

Free, modern societies, by their very nature, engender the risk of fringe lunatics. The response cannot be trillions of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands of lives lost.

angrycat: I'll bite, if you'll do me the favor of answering my hypothetical above as well. Showing to the world that the US was totally uninterested in OSB, to the point of knowing his location would be certainly disruptive, mostly to our own political structure. I think there would have been hell to pay if we had known and done nothing. Would that have been a bad thing? Dunno, but I do know that wikileaks scrubs documents, so of the available options leaking to wikileaks is much more responsible than say, a huge data dump on usenet. In any event, given the information the leaks did contain, I think that the possibility of exposing OSB's location prematurely would be relatively minor compared to exposing state sponsored child prostitution. What do you think?
posted by Freen at 7:35 AM on July 14, 2011


Here's a hypo: What if in the leak some docs related to OSB's whereabouts in Pakistan were released? That would be admittedly bad, right?

What if America was actually a water bed and the leaks were literally leaks!!!? What if the leaked documents confirmed that Obama was born in Kenya? What if the leaked documents were only about you and how you liked cole slaw and the documents had your address on them and I made you some slaw and took it to your house? What if spoilers for Dr. Who were leaked? What if all the wikieaks documents were actually forgeries made by Obama as part of an elaborate 9-dimensional chess game against Fidel Castro? What if noone cared about the documents because of the Superbowl?

Hypothetically speaking, what if Bradley Manning launched a nuclear strike against New York City and also blew up the moon? That would be fucked up and we should definitely take these hypothetical situations into consideration .
posted by fuq at 7:39 AM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


angrycat, you just appear to be arguing from a stance of 'well, x bad thing might have happened' when it did not, in fact, happen. The fact that it did not happen is not an indicator that you are arguing from a good place, and nor is the fact that you do not appear to have bothered to read anything at all about the actual impact of the release before you started.

Why not read up on the subject of the actual, proven impact before having a strong opinion?
posted by jaduncan at 7:41 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


what if members of the far left could actually use their brains and mouths to form coherent arguments in contentious metafilter threads?

that would be nice, because we are not so far apart but for I think Manning was irresponsible and I don't trust anything Assange is involved with to be reliable.
posted by angrycat at 7:43 AM on July 14, 2011


jeducan, o my god you know what I have read and what I have not! My o my how have you gained these God-like powers?
posted by angrycat at 7:44 AM on July 14, 2011


Hypothetically speaking, what if Bradley Manning launched a nuclear strike against New York City and also blew up the moon?

I wouldn't be in favor of that.
posted by Trurl at 7:47 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


What if spoilers for Dr. Who were leaked?

At last, the anger of the prison governor is explained!
posted by jaduncan at 7:49 AM on July 14, 2011


angrycat- I wasn't pissing in your cornflakes. fuq replied with slightly more humor than myself. Of course we could also hypothetically ask what would happen if the the US voted for change... oh shit you already have.
posted by adamvasco at 7:52 AM on July 14, 2011


"And yet you didn't actually list even one - doesn't that make you think just a little?"

I listed two. You can't complain about rudeness and not read what I wrote. National security and that it's explicitly required by the constitution as one of the fundamental justifications for government at all.

"What do you think would happen if the Department of Defense ceased to operate its foreign wars? Don't be rude to me again - actually treat this as a serious question. What would happen if we called all the troops home and stopped fighting wars in foreign countries?"

That very much depends on what you mean by foreign wars. As for Iraq and Afghanistan, we're already on the path of wind-down. I think that there will be some security blowback, but I don't think either of us is in any position to gauge how much relative to a pull out. South Korea and Taiwan would almost certainly be fucked, and some other states would have to step up to match our obligations, which you rather seem to give short shrift.

But it's not going to happen, and engaging on this hypothetic seems rather far afield.

"Again: list some, please."

Anything from strategic losses in states like RoK and Taiwan, to a general decrease of America's ability to protect itself and its allies (which would have pretty unpredictable outcomes in the international community) to a loss of jobs at home.

And again, if you can't think of any, I don't think you're trying — I think you're being disingenuous, and thus arguing in bad faith.

"I await a better word for "maliciously ignorant actions that kill hundreds of thousands of innocents.""

Like I said, circular.

You're defending something that's morally indefensible, and you're doing it by calling me stupid, self-righteous, and posturing, while not actually addressing my arguments."

Because you don't have arguments — you have circular, self-righteous posturing. And yes, if you can't see any drawbacks at all, nor any reason to justify having a standing military, you're either not engaging honestly or you're too foolish to have the conversation. You're an ideologue, not an interlocutor.

You might ask yourself - why are you being so rude to someone who's been perfectly polite to you?

Because my options are either to take you at your words and condescend incredibly or to assume that you're posing for rhetorical effect and wasting everyone's time.
posted by klangklangston at 7:55 AM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


angrycat: just as a pointer, if you are going to argue that someone is failing to form a coherent argument, it often helps your case to describe and expose the incoherency. Chimaera, above, was arguing from a factually inaccurate position, and well, those arguing against Chimaera exposed the factual inconsistencies. What about the arguments made by what you call the "far left" here are incoherent?

Additionally, you asked a counterfactual hypothetical question about the potential for the logs to expose the location of Osama Bin Laden, I answered. Now, above, I asked what you would do in a situation that bears a striking resemblance to what actually occurred. I ask you to read the above question and answer it.
posted by Freen at 8:02 AM on July 14, 2011


The redactions to the first post (which amounted to a few words) were made when we realized we'd revealed a new aspect of Manning's story without any explanation at all. We immediately set about writing a second item with the restored text, and posted it as soon as possible. The second item was indeed largely about the redacted phrases, explaining why we should all start paying attention to them.

So why redact them at all? Because we were worried about creating a decontextualized story about Manning's mental health that would serve his least scrupulous critics. We should have been quicker on our feet and wrote the updates into the first item rather than 'cut' them into a new one, but things move so fast online. Terms like "transitioning" really need careful context, hence an unwelcome compromise.

But it worked: by the time other media noticed the story, it often led from our second posts' sympathetic perspective. That perspective is, of course, a fine target of criticism.

The important caveat in all this is that we received that particular version of logs anonymously--they're just another choice cut leading back to the original source, who knows how to edit plain text files. Wired's done a very good thing by finally releasing the complete set.
posted by beschizza at 8:05 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


"THE BURDEN OF PROOF IS ON YOU TO SHOW THAT YOUR MULTI-DECADE, MULTI-TRILLION DOLLAR, MULTI-HUNDRED-THOUSAND DEATH PROGRAM IS ACTUALLY DOING ANYTHING USEFUL."

You know, for someone who complains over and over about rudeness, you certainly don't seem to eschew it yourself.

The burden really isn't on him — you're just looking for an opportunity to grandstand and axe-grind. (Which is a lovely little image of mixed metaphors — perhaps a lumberjack parade?)
posted by klangklangston at 8:08 AM on July 14, 2011


So, to answer your question, the redactions weren't a mistake, but a compromise forced upon us by an earlier mistake, fixed by reposing the redactions ASAP with some appropriate context.

"I'd *love* to know why BB is now highlighting as "remarkable" the most prurient bits about Assange's rectum and Lamo speculating if Assange is gay."

But it *is* remarkable that Assange smuggled a camera. It's not the gay thing; it's the "camera smuggled inside an ass" thing.
posted by beschizza at 8:12 AM on July 14, 2011


"So here's my question, humanfont. How many Americans should die of treatable diseases or medical problems to save one American life from a terrorist? How many Americans should die in traffic accidents to save one life from a terrorist? And this isn't even getting into the problems caused in other countries. Just out of curiosity, how many civilians is it OK to kill to save one US life from a terrorist? What's the actual number? "

I don't think any of us here are actuaries, nor that a strict zero-sum equation can be drawn. All of the questions, except the last one, can pretty easily be reversed — how many Americans should die of terrorism to justify saving one person from a treatable disease? And you can further load that hypothetical by pointing out that most Americans who die of treatable diseases do so because they've got compromised immune systems, generally due to age.

But given that none of us have any real numbers outside of moral outrage, it's a bit silly to ask.
posted by klangklangston at 8:20 AM on July 14, 2011


"So glad you're on board, sir. bin Laden wasn't evil. He may have had a perfectly legitimate reason to kill 3000 Americans based on his own ideology and information. According to the bar you've set, he would have had to kill a few hundred thousand more and empty the treasury of three trillion dollars before we could consider calling him names."

I know this is supposed to be some sort of inane gotcha, but frankly I don't really think of Bin Laden as someone who was evil. I don't think that meant he had legitimate reasons to kill Americans — you're much more likely to be in the Little Eichmanns camp than I am — but calling Bin Laden evil was always counter-productive and ignored a lot of legitimate grievances that his organization capitalized on. At best, calling Bin Laden evil is a shorthand prior to addressing some other point.
posted by klangklangston at 8:25 AM on July 14, 2011


Bradley Manning, the Person: The Making of the World's Most Notorious Leaker - "He was the conscience that sparked these international controversies. He was the human being who felt he had to speak out... If we, as a country, are going to imprison Manning for what he's done, we owe it to him to understand him." (via)
posted by kliuless at 8:26 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Returning to this thread and counting the number of insults directed at me personally, I am no longer interesting in participating in it.

Good day.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:27 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


what if members of the far left could actually use their brains and mouths to form coherent arguments in contentious metafilter threads?

You didn't address any of my hypothetical situations!
posted by fuq at 8:33 AM on July 14, 2011


But given that none of us have any real numbers outside of moral outrage, it's a bit silly to ask.

What? Of course there are no exact numbers, but let's look at what is known:
  • 3,000 Americans were murdered on 9/11.
Direct results of our response:
  • tens of thousands dead in Afghanistan
  • hundreds of thousands displaced in Afghanistan
  • hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq
  • 2 million plus displaced in Iraq
  • 6 thousand dead US soldiers
  • tens of thousands more maimed
  • hundreds of thousands more emotionally damaged for life
Long term blowback:
  • we destroyed Iraq, which was one of the most secular societies in the Muslim world
  • fomented anti-Americanism across largely Shia areas of Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia
  • flooded Afghanistan with weapons and training before we inevitably abandon it (again) to the Taliban
  • eliminated Saddam Hussein as a counterweight to Iranian influence
  • armed Pakistan to the teeth and radicalized its population against their military leaders
  • 3 trillion dollars in lost opportunities during our worst fiscal crisis in 70 years
  • basic civil rights shredded with draconian "PATRIOT" Acts
  • an enormous, unaccountable shadow government with basically unlimited powers has been created
The only way I can imagine it could be any worse if we had started a nuclear war, and that still remains a possibility with the destabilizing effect we are creating with Pakistan. If someone thinks the problem is not that all of this was done in our name without our knowledge, but that someone dared to speak up and had to violate their oaths to do it...

Fuck. I just don't know what to say anymore.
posted by notion at 8:58 AM on July 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


You forgot the bit where some people got obscenely rich.
Well, more obscenely rich.
posted by fullerine at 9:14 AM on July 14, 2011


also, forgot the bit how we could have either paid down the debt or gone to the moon a few times.
posted by Freen at 9:22 AM on July 14, 2011


"What? Of course there are no exact numbers, but let's look at what is known:"

Like I said, none of us have real numbers outside of moral outrage. In your haste to bloviate again on why everything is terrible, you ignored the questions that Delmoi asked. I have a feeling that your answers for all of them are "none," but that's just a guess based on your ideological tubthumping.

Part of the problem is that preventatives are always based on counterfactuals — if we don't make seat belt change X, how many people will die? We can estimate based on past expectations, but we don't really know until we make the change.

With policy and military questions, this is something that Rand deals with pretty regularly, but I haven't seen any hard numbers.

It is a little funny that you're all het up about destroying Iraq's government, because it was secular. It was secular against the wishes of a majority of the people and was run by a murderous strongman. It's simplifications and misrepresentations like that which lead to people just unfairly declaring you a supporter of Saddam. It's a blindness and bias that's really apparent if you happen to not accept all of the assumptions you make in the service of sanctimony.

(And again, for the record, I don't think the invasion of Iraq was worth the cost, something I've been consistently saying since prior to the invasion. But I'm pointing it out again to forestall the moronic presumptions that get lobbed immediately on MetaFilter by a strident minority of Manichean self-proclaimed leftists.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:25 AM on July 14, 2011


notion:So glad you're on board, sir. bin Laden wasn't evil. He may have had a perfectly legitimate reason to kill 3000 Americans based on his own ideology and information.

I could not disagree with you more . Killing 3300+ civilians is pretty fucking evil in my book. I am not discounting the Iraqi civilians that the U.S. killed or the great many that we continue to kill in Afghanistan . But the one does not justify the other.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:00 AM on July 14, 2011


Notion: Sorry about the comment - the sarcasm/context part of my brain is obviously on the fritz today. :(
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:05 AM on July 14, 2011


The US government is secular against the wishes of the majority of the people. It is a good thing.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 12:26 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is a little funny that you're all het up about destroying Iraq's government, because it was secular. It was secular against the wishes of a majority of the people and was run by a murderous strongman. It's simplifications and misrepresentations like that which lead to people just unfairly declaring you a supporter of Saddam.

Klangklangston, I think you mixed up your replies somewhere, as delmoi and notion seem to agree and humanfont was the one opposed. Anyway... the American government supported Saddam up until their invasion of Kuwait, using him as a check against Iranian influence. Much like they supported the Taliban up until 9/11, using them as a check against Russian and Chinese influence. But I don't see what that has to do with anything. I also don't see what business it is how a country is run, if we are not of it. There were certainly terrible things happening in Iraq under Saddam, but there are terrible things happening in lots of countries under lots of governments, some of which still enjoy American military and financial aid. Generally, I don't see what any of your points serve to justify your opinions.

As far as every assessment of the effect of the War on Terror I have ever seen, we have killed millions and made Americans significantly less safe, at home and abroad. We have illegally detained and tortured thousands. We have sacrificed huge amounts of international goodwill, capital, and our individual liberties. The total damage to human lives is incalculable and the supposed benefits, ephemeral. Obviously it's the case that some interests have become in ways dependent or reliant on our current military presences - that's in the nature of trillions of dollars spent overseas. Entire economies are currently running on fumes from our military engine, but that hardly justifies its existence. And nobody is advocating a total withdrawal of the entire American military apparatus overnight; as you note, SK would suffer terribly under such a hypothetical, and that blood would be on our hands. It's easy to imagine a long-term transition to broader UN operations where necessary, though, so why argue against the absurd?

Now, back to humanfont: what possible scenario could justify all of this? Nuclear attacks on several cities? Do you honestly believe Al-Qaeda was capable of something of that scale, and why? Do you think police, military, intelligence services etc. in 2000 were incapable of dealing with such a threat? Why? Right now you appear to be alleging that Americans' current standard of living is dependent on waging these wars, which seems to run exactly counter to the evidence, which is that trillions of dollars have been squandered. Is there some other economic analysis you are using that I am missing?
posted by mek at 1:50 PM on July 14, 2011


I hate war. I was against the invasion of Afghanistan. But an attack that killed thousands of civilians and cause billions of dollars and damage -- yeah, I think even Al Gore would have gone and shot some shit up.

9/11 was a huge hit. I was in Brooklyn, across the river from the Twin Towers. I lost nothing, but for thousands of New Yorkers I did not know but did completely relate to. When I heard of the terrorism in Mumbai (a few years back and this week) my stomach tightens and want to hug my Indian students.


Why this thread has turned into this discussion, I'm not sure.
posted by angrycat at 1:55 PM on July 14, 2011


Part of the problem is that preventatives are always based on counterfactuals — if we don't make seat belt change X, how many people will die? We can estimate based on past expectations, but we don't really know until we make the change.

How does more violence in the middle east prevent more violence in the middle east?

With policy and military questions, this is something that Rand deals with pretty regularly, but I haven't seen any hard numbers.

Do you dispute mine in any general sense? Or are you attached to the impossible accuracy you demand so you can claim that it can never be known because you don't like the implications?

It's simplifications and misrepresentations like that which lead to people just unfairly declaring you a supporter of Saddam. It's a blindness and bias that's really apparent if you happen to not accept all of the assumptions you make in the service of sanctimony.

Defending democratic values is not sanctimonious. It sort of goes with the territory if you want to live in a democracy.
posted by notion at 2:17 PM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mek: "Klangklangston, I think you mixed up your replies somewhere, as delmoi and notion seem to agree and humanfont was the one opposed. Anyway... the American government supported Saddam up until their invasion of Kuwait, using him as a check against Iranian influence. Much like they supported the Taliban up until 9/11, using them as a check against Russian and Chinese influence. But I don't see what that has to do with anything. I also don't see what business it is how a country is run, if we are not of it. There were certainly terrible things happening in Iraq under Saddam, but there are terrible things happening in lots of countries under lots of governments, some of which still enjoy American military and financial aid. Generally, I don't see what any of your points serve to justify your opinions."

No, I was responding to Notion first point under "long-term blowback." "Secular" is a pretty inapt description of Hussein's government, and it's a pretty clear signal that his bullet points should be treated with at least a moderate amount of skepticism.

And in terms of what business is it of ours, I'm afraid that I'm pretty unapologetically a liberal internationalist. I think that human rights abuses are deplorable anywhere, and that international institutions should mitigate them to the extent that they are able. I reject the isolationist underpinnings of a lot of the MeFi lefty doggerel that gets posted here.

We should be actively working in all countries to ensure that people across the globe are safe, healthy and secure, especially because modest investments abroad can do a lot more good there than even some robust investments here.

I do think that the ability to project force is a necessary component of international diplomacy, and that most of my objections are to people making over-broad and muddled arguments based on specious assumptions both about what is and isn't necessary on an international political scale and about what exactly I believe. It's pretty galling, because I'm usually fairly open about my beliefs, and yet continually have to fend off idiotic misrepresentations and simplifications used in the service of goofy binary sloganeering.

Notion: "How does more violence in the middle east prevent more violence in the middle east?"

If you're not asking simply to be fatuous, the micro example is instructive — you might as well ask how shooting one murder helps prevent more murders.

"Do you dispute mine in any general sense? Or are you attached to the impossible accuracy you demand so you can claim that it can never be known because you don't like the implications?"

I don't think yours are illuminating nor are they the whole story. The point wasn't that no negative outcomes had occurred due to the war against terrorism, but rather that the positive outcomes are primarily in things that are necessarily obscure, not least because they're preventatives — killing Bin Laden may have averted another tragedy on the scale of 9/11, but it's nigh impossible to put that into dollars or lives, especially at the level you want to argue at — it's something that policy researchers spend years trying to suss out, and even then it's controversial within the field. It has nothing to do with whether or not I like the implications, and it's churlish of you to suggest that it is.

"Defending democratic values is not sanctimonious. It sort of goes with the territory if you want to live in a democracy."

First off, democracy can be sanctimonious. Second off, democracy itself isn't an inherent good. Third off, pretending that Hussein's Iraq was a democracy or that it embodied democratic values in a positive way is so incredibly blind to the facts of his regime that I have to conclude that you're either an idiot or that you just don't care what you're writing because you want to win the argument.
posted by klangklangston at 3:27 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


In that case klangklangston, I can just gesture back to this Chomsky FPP, wherein the "libertarian interventionist" account of American foreign policy was, in my opinion, very thoroughly debunked. I don't disagree with the principle of humanitarian intervention, but it's naive in the extreme to conclude from the last 60 years of American policy that they are acting in accordance with those principles, rather as using them as a shield to engage in foreign interventions for self-interested reasons. In fact, those studying history are explicitly aware of the doublethink involved, which is why we can talk about policies of containment, dual containment, the US' history of covert regime change, etcetera. I would think it impossible for someone to study all of this history and conclude the primary motivating factor in American foreign policy is libertarian intervention, when even by their own official account it is exceedingly rare and typically only deployed as a rationale loudly and publicly well after the war is underway.

Of course, reviewing that link, it appears you spent that entire thread yelling ad hominems at people, so I suppose you're at least making a bit more of an effort here. Though it is also apparent you started both threads admitting your utter disinterest in reading the linked post. This suggests to me you possess the motivations of an apologist rather than an critical interest, given your loud, confrontational style and rapid-fire response times. That's unfortunate, because it's difficult enough to have a sensible conversation without the "Jesus or Hitler" rhetoric you deploy and decry simultaneously. Basically, "my options are either to take you at your words and condescend incredibly or to assume that you're posing for rhetorical effect and wasting everyone's time." At least we share our disappointment.
posted by mek at 3:55 PM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why this thread has turned into this discussion, I'm not sure
Because every thread turns into this discussion, because everything is about this. Like arguing with a man who hates women because his first wife left him, suggesting you may want to look at why she left just brings further violent invective only with bombs.
posted by fullerine at 1:34 AM on July 15, 2011


I don't think yours are illuminating nor are they the whole story. The point wasn't that no negative outcomes had occurred due to the war against terrorism, but rather that the positive outcomes are primarily in things that are necessarily obscure, not least because they're preventatives — killing Bin Laden may have averted another tragedy on the scale of 9/11, but it's nigh impossible to put that into dollars or lives, especially at the level you want to argue at — it's something that policy researchers spend years trying to suss out, and even then it's controversial within the field. It has nothing to do with whether or not I like the implications, and it's churlish of you to suggest that it is.

Does it take a policy researcher to place 3000 lives and tens of billions of dollars in related costs on one side of the scale, and everything I listed on the other?

First off, democracy can be sanctimonious.

What?

Second off, democracy itself isn't an inherent good.

Correct, but it's the only legitimate method of governance of which I know about. Maybe you have some other ideas, but I haven't heard them yet.

Third off, pretending that Hussein's Iraq was a democracy or that it embodied democratic values in a positive way is so incredibly blind to the facts of his regime that I have to conclude that you're either an idiot or that you just don't care what you're writing because you want to win the argument.
(a) Citizens are equal before the law, without discrimination because of sex, blood, language, social origin, or religion. (b) Equal opportunities are guaranteed to all citizens, according to the law.

Iraqi Constitution, 1970
Of course Iraq didn't follow their constitution fully, but neither did the United States follow our belief that all men were created equal until about two hundred years after we wrote it down. Saddam murdered and suppressed the voices of dissidents and Shiites, and we murdered and suppressed immigrants, Native Americans, African-Americans, and we still haven't got equality. At any point should Germany or England have invaded to solve our problems for us?

Let's look at a country study from the USG in 1990:
Education: Rapidly growing enrollment in tuition-free public schools. Six years of primary (elementary), three years of intermediate secondary, and three years of intermediate preparatory education. Six major universities, forty-four teacher training schools and institutes, and three colleges and technical institutes, all government owned and operated. Dramatic increases since 1977 in numbers of students in technical fields (300 percent rise) and numbers of female primary students (45 percent rise). Literacy variously estimated at about 40 percent by foreign observers and 70 percent by government. Academic year 1985-86: number of students in primary schools 2,812,516; secondary schools (general) 1,031,560; vocational schools 120,090; teacher training schools and institutions 34,187; universities, colleges, and technical institutes 53,037.
Doesn't sound so bad. Let's look at Shia/Sunni relations during the Iran/Iraq war:
It appears, then, that, however important sectarian affiliation may have been in the past, in the latter 1980s nationalism was the basic determiner of loyalty. In the case of Iraq's Shias, it should be noted that they are Arabs, not Persians, and that they have been the traditional enemies of the Persians for centuries. The Iraqi government has skillfully exploited this age-old enmity in its propaganda, publicizing the war as part of the ancient struggle between the Arab and Persian empires. For example, Baathist publicists regularly call the war a modern day "Qadisiyah." Qadisiyah was the battle in A.D.637 in which the Arabs defeated the pagan hosts of Persia, enabling Islam to spread to the East.

The real tension in Iraq in the latter 1980s was between the majority of the population, Sunnis as well as Shias, for whom religious belief and practice were significant values, and the secular Baathists, rather than between Sunnis and Shias. Although the Shias had been underrepresented in government posts in the period of the monarchy, they made substantial progress in the educational, business, and legal fields. Their advancement in other areas, such as the opposition parties, was such that in the years from 1952 to 1963, before the Baath Party came to power, Shias held the majority of party leadership posts. Observers believed that in the late 1980s Shias were represented at all levels of the party roughly in proportion to government estimates of their numbers in the population. For example, of the eight top Iraqi leaders who in early 1988 sat with Husayn on the Revolutionary Command Council--Iraq's highest governing body-- three were Arab Shias (of whom one had served as Minister of Interior), three were Arab Sunnis, one was an Arab Christian, and one a Kurd. On the Regional Command Council--the ruling body of the party--Shias actually predominated (see The Baath Party , ch. 4). During the war, a number of highly competent Shia officers have been promoted to corps commanders. The general who turned back the initial Iranian invasions of Iraq in 1982 was a Shia.

The Shias continued to make good progress in the economic field as well during the 1980s. Although the government does not publish statistics that give breakdowns by religious affiliation, qualified observers noted that many Shias migrated from rural areas, particularly in the south, to the cities, so that not only Basra but other cities including Baghdad acquired a Shia majority. Many of these Shias prospered in business and the professions as well as in industry and the service sector. Even those living in the poorer areas of the cities were generally better off than they had been in the countryside. In the rural areas as well, the educational level of Shias came to approximate that of their Sunni counterparts.

In summary, prior to the war the Baath had taken steps toward integrating the Shias. The war placed inordinate demands on the regime for manpower, demands that could only be met by levying the Shia community--and this strengthened the regime's resolve to further the integration process. In early 1988, it seemed likely that when the war ends, the Shias would emerge as full citizens-- assuming that the Baath survives the conflict.
You can read the whole report here. I make no claim that Saddam was a saint, but he was better at governing Iraq than we are. Saddam's Iraq certainly was unjust, and it's relationship with its Kurdish population was reprehensible (and completely supported by the United States, even today as Turkey regularly crosses the Iraqi border to kill Kurds).

Twenty years after that report, look at Iraq now. Literacy is dropping. Honor killings are back. The same prisons that Saddam used to torture and murder dissidents are open for business once again, and we're the ones guarding them. More people have died in the past ten years due to our incompetence and destruction of their security than died under thirty plus years of Saddam's rule. Do we still win because some people claim we had good intentions while we were scooping up oil contracts?

Had Saddam not been propped up by the United States in the 1980s and given so much power, maybe there could have been an Arab Spring there in the early 1990s. If we hadn't goaded him into war with Iran, perhaps it could have happened even earlier. Maybe instead of widespread misery and destruction, once again introduced by American hands during the Gulf War, and in the sanctions that strangled the country through 2003, the population could have united as the Egyptians did to oust their dictator in the past five years.

They never got that opportunity. We stole Iraq's future from them, and we can't give it back.

You're free to make the argument that a nation that has never had a soldier more than a few hundred miles from it's own border would have destroyed world security without our interference, but I'd need to hear a good bit of evidence before I could consider it a possibility. I'm going to bet instead of bringing some evidence to the table, you're going to keep flogging that thesaurus. I guess some good ideas may eventually fall out of it, but I'll be more impressed with the book than I will be with you.
posted by notion at 9:41 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Of course Iraq didn't follow their constitution fully, but neither did the United States follow our belief that all men were created equal until about two hundred years after we wrote it down. Saddam murdered and suppressed the voices of dissidents and Shiites, and we murdered and suppressed immigrants, Native Americans, African-Americans, and we still haven't got equality. At any point should Germany or England have invaded to solve our problems for us?"

Yeah, see, this is what I mean by idiotic disingenuousness. To say things like, "Iraq didn't follow their constitution fully," especially in some specious comparison to the US, is understatement to the point of inanity, and you cap it off with tu quoque fallacy.

"You're free to make the argument that a nation that has never had a soldier more than a few hundred miles from it's own border would have destroyed world security without our interference, but I'd need to hear a good bit of evidence before I could consider it a possibility. I'm going to bet instead of bringing some evidence to the table, you're going to keep flogging that thesaurus. I guess some good ideas may eventually fall out of it, but I'll be more impressed with the book than I will be with you."

Please. Let's not pretend that's not a straw man, and that you're actually interested in any sort of conversation that doesn't involve lauding Saddam as a method to condemn America. I'm rather surprised that you haven't touted Hussein's fantastic electoral record. Why, he was re-elected with 99 percent of the vote! No one in America has ever done that! That must mean he was a legitimate ruler of a democratic nation.

Is it just that you don't recognize the difference in scale? Relative to the population in 2002, Saddam had killed (according to various human rights organizations as reported by the NY Times (more here) one in 23 people. To have an equal scale based on the US at 300 million, the US would have to kill 13 million of its own people to be comparable — 13 million since the late '60s.

Let me reiterate again that I don't think the invasion of Iraq was worth it, either in lives or money, something that you seem to keep ignoring either because it's a drag or because you just don't give a shit when you're off on your rants. But I refuse to pretend that all of Iraq's problems should be laid at the feet of the US. What's next from you? A discussion on how Serbian genocide really wasn't that terrible for literacy rates? Something about how Rwanda was better off without American intervention? Maybe that the Sudanese mass graves being found just show local agricultural styles that would have been thwarted by international intervention? Somalia sure seems to have turned around great once we pulled out.
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 AM on July 15, 2011


Let's set some goalposts. klangklangston, what data would you have to see to falsify your assertion that your "liberal interventionist" beliefs are correct?
posted by wuwei at 11:04 AM on July 15, 2011


Yeah, see, this is what I mean by idiotic disingenuousness. To say things like, "Iraq didn't follow their constitution fully," especially in some specious comparison to the US, is understatement to the point of inanity, and you cap it off with tu quoque fallacy.

You think national sovereignty is a tu quoque fallacy? I guess that's one way to look at it.

Is it just that you don't recognize the difference in scale? Relative to the population in 2002, Saddam had killed (according to various human rights organizations as reported by the NY Times (more here) one in 23 people. To have an equal scale based on the US at 300 million, the US would have to kill 13 million of its own people to be comparable — 13 million since the late '60s.

If we're going on outlandish, unsubstantiated claims, then I'll raise your million by another, since the Lancet believes we've killed up to a million directly and indirectly during our invasion, plus the million more claimed dead by our sanctions in the 90s. Even going on conservative estimates, we're at a million in only about twenty years.

I never made the argument that Saddam managed Iraq better than we managed the United States. I'm saying that he managed Iraq better than we seem to be able to, as all evidence -- including the continued and unending desire of Iraqis for us to leave them alone -- seems to suggest.

Let me reiterate again that I don't think the invasion of Iraq was worth it, either in lives or money, something that you seem to keep ignoring either because it's a drag or because you just don't give a shit when you're off on your rants. But I refuse to pretend that all of Iraq's problems should be laid at the feet of the US.

Name the year in the last 30 where the United States was not either supplying Saddam Hussein with weapons and intelligence, strangling Iraq with sanctions, or killing Iraqi civilians directly. Don't worry. I'll wait right here.

What's next from you? A discussion on how Serbian genocide really wasn't that terrible for literacy rates? Something about how Rwanda was better off without American intervention? Maybe that the Sudanese mass graves being found just show local agricultural styles that would have been thwarted by international intervention? Somalia sure seems to have turned around great once we pulled out.

You know why we didn't help Rwanda. They didn't have anything useful for us to exploit. Do I get to make pretend arguments for you next as part of your next bizarre ad hominem, ad thesaurus attacks?

As for Somalia, it looks like things worked out for us in the end:
Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Set on the coast of the Indian Ocean, the facility looks like a small gated community, with more than a dozen buildings behind large protective walls and secured by guard towers at each of its four corners. Adjacent to the compound are eight large metal hangars, and the CIA has its own aircraft at the airport. The site, which airport officials and Somali intelligence sources say was completed four months ago, is guarded by Somali soldiers, but the Americans control access. At the facility, the CIA runs a counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives aimed at building an indigenous strike force capable of snatch operations and targeted “combat” operations against members of Al Shabab, an Islamic militant group with close ties to Al Qaeda.

As part of its expanding counterterrorism program in Somalia, the CIA also uses a secret prison buried in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, where prisoners suspected of being Shabab members or of having links to the group are held. Some of the prisoners have been snatched off the streets of Kenya and rendered by plane to Mogadishu. While the underground prison is officially run by the Somali NSA, US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners.
One man's humanitarian catastrophe is another man's favorite black ops site.
posted by notion at 11:58 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Let's set some goalposts. klangklangston, what data would you have to see to falsify your assertion that your "liberal interventionist" beliefs are correct?"

That's a good question, and one I'm not sure I have an answer to offhand, in part because it's really broad. At the most fundamental — and I want to emphasize that this is a rather off-the-cuff conception — it would require either demonstrating that shared humanity doesn't confer moral obligation or that force is always wrong.

In reference to the classic philosophy problem, I would push the fat man onto the tracks to save the train full of people.

And to clarify, I do think that a utilitarian calculus is helpful, and that there are times when practical considerations decide against intervention, or specific intervention forms.

If you have more specific questions about my beliefs, I'll try to answer them with more specific replies.
posted by klangklangston at 12:32 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You think national sovereignty is a tu quoque fallacy? I guess that's one way to look at it."

No, the argument that because the US has a poor history of human rights — judged by contemporary standards — that Hussein's human rights abuses were equal and unworthy of international action is the tu quoque. The sovereignty is a red herring — if you can't see the difference between Hussein's crimes and America's, you're being reductive in the service of outrage rather than being an honest appraiser of the situation.

"If we're going on outlandish, unsubstantiated claims, then I'll raise your million by another, since the Lancet believes we've killed up to a million directly and indirectly during our invasion, plus the million more claimed dead by our sanctions in the 90s. Even going on conservative estimates, we're at a million in only about twenty years."

Yeah, thanks, Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf. Why were those sanctions in place again? Of course through no fault of Hussein's, they were all evil bad USA bullying the poor defenseless Iraqi people again. And they were imposed by the US unilaterally too!

But handy how you dodged the point to come back to your favorite axe — how the US is terrible. It must be mighty sharp by now!

"Name the year in the last 30 where the United States was not either supplying Saddam Hussein with weapons and intelligence, strangling Iraq with sanctions, or killing Iraqi civilians directly. Don't worry. I'll wait right here."

Yeah, it was the US that made him kill the Kurds. It was the US that made him attack Iran. It was the US that made him invade Kuwait. Post hoc ergo propter hoc!

Once again, al Sahhaf, you blame everyone for Hussein's actions except Hussein.

"You know why we didn't help Rwanda. They didn't have anything useful for us to exploit. Do I get to make pretend arguments for you next as part of your next bizarre ad hominem, ad thesaurus attacks?

I know! We got so much sweet, sweet Kosovo oil, man. And arguing that we didn't help Rwanda because they didn't have resources is not an argument that we shouldn't have helped Rwanda. Likewise, that Somalia is a black ops site now is not really a good justification for the failure of the international community there. I mean, I know that you think that's some kind of zinger, but it's really not. It's a non sequitor.

As far as my thesaurus, you should invest in a dictionary, since you don't seem to know what "ad hominem" means. (Also, complaining about my vocabulary is pretty petty. Perhaps you should take that up with the teachers that failed you.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:53 PM on July 15, 2011


Yeah, it was the US that made him kill the Kurds.

No, it was the US that sold him the weapons to do it, removing him from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List in 1982, and who fought the UN in specifically calling him out for using WMDs. And it's the US that is still sponsoring the murder of Kurds in Turkey and Iraq right now. I'm guessing you don't have much to say about that. It's better for you to focus on the actions of a dead dictator, because the current history doesn't support any of your ideas about America being wholly removed from being held to account for the death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was the US that made him attack Iran.

It was the US, indirectly through Brzezinski (and possibly directly the CIA) that gave him the green light for invasion. It was the United States that flew his commandos to Fort Brag for "unconventional warfare" training in the event they were overrun by Iran. It was the United States that trained Iraqi helicopter pilots on forged Jordanian passports. It was the United States that arranged tens of billions of dollars worth of loans between Arab nations, US banks, and used intermediaries like Sarkis Soghanalian to get the weapons to Saddam.

(There are claims that the green light extended as far back as Jimmy Carter after the collapse of our dictatorship in Iran, but I haven't seen anything but rumors of secret memos.)

The reason I can build a case against the United States when it comes to Iraq is because there are mountains of evidence I can draw from. A similar case cannot be made for Canada, for instance, because their hands are actually clean as far as I know.

It was the US that made him invade Kuwait. Post hoc ergo propter hoc!

We told Saddam that we had no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts. A standard diplomatic line, but he'd gotten away with killing US servicemen without any scolding from Washington; received WMDs, weapons, and military training for a decade. Maybe he thought he could get away with it.

And dude, it's okay. You can feign intellectual superiority with all the latin you can look up. I'll continue in English, if you don't mind.

Name the year in the last 30 where the United States was not either supplying Saddam Hussein with weapons and intelligence, strangling Iraq with sanctions, or killing Iraqi civilians directly.

Still waiting. Haven't you picked out a year yet?
posted by notion at 1:32 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's a good question, and one I'm not sure I have an answer to offhand, in part because it's really broad. At the most fundamental — and I want to emphasize that this is a rather off-the-cuff conception — it would require either demonstrating that shared humanity doesn't confer moral obligation or that force is always wrong.

I think this identifies what you're struggling with. We're not disagreeing necessarily with your liberal interventionist ideology in principle, we're disagreeing with the contention that foreign policy as practiced by the USA has anything to do with your liberal interventionist ideology. We believe that claims to humanitarian concerns in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Cuba, China, etc are American propaganda, plain and simple. While some naive supporters of American policy (such as yourself) may sincerely believe in the moral worth of humanitarian intervention attempts, those in charge of deciding which country invade next do not believe such, and most certainly do not consider your ideology in their decision-making process. As proof we cite... the entire post-WW2 history of American foreign interventions.
posted by mek at 1:45 PM on July 15, 2011


No, the argument that because the US has a poor history of human rights — judged by contemporary standards — that Hussein's human rights abuses were equal and unworthy of international action is the tu quoque.

So you agree that England should have invaded the United States in 1850? The issue is whether or not one sovereign nation can decide the internal affairs of another. You can keep throwing out rhetorical definitions, but you're failing to address the issue.

The sovereignty is a red herring — if you can't see the difference between Hussein's crimes and America's, you're being reductive in the service of outrage rather than being an honest appraiser of the situation.

So, slavery isn't torture? Wiping out Native American communities isn't genocide? I'm having a hard time believing you have any objective sense of morality.

Yeah, thanks, Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf. Why were those sanctions in place again? Of course through no fault of Hussein's, they were all evil bad USA bullying the poor defenseless Iraqi people again. And they were imposed by the US unilaterally too!
As the criticism grew, there is no sign that anyone in the U.S. administration, and only a tiny handful within Congress, actually took it to heart— actually questioned the sanity and legality of reducing an entire civilization to a preindustrial state, of bankrupting an entire nation for the purpose of containing one tyrannical man. As the criticism grew and the suffering continued on a massive scale, the U.S. administration stubbornly saw itself as alone in its moral leadership, never grasping the significance or thoroughness of its isolation and marginality. It seems that the United States simply could not see its policies the way the rest of the world did: not just Arab nations, or France or Russia, but nearly everyone— the General Assembly, NGOs, UNMOVIC, the UN’s human rights rapporteur, every UN humanitarian agency, and nearly every member of the Security Council.

U.S. officials did not act with the deliberate cruelty that is envisioned by international human rights law. It was not a hatred of Iraqis that led U.S. officials to act as they did; it was the decision that the Iraqis would bear the cost of the United States’ intractable political dilemma. This particular catastrophe did not require actual hatred; it required only the capacity of U.S. officials to believe their own rationales, however implausible they might have been, and that there be no venue in which to challenge their reasoning as casuistic and disingenuous. Madeline Albright’s memorable gaffe in response to the question “500,000 children— is it worth it?”— which she regretted for years— was always and only a public relations error. It made no difference that she and other State Department officials, from that point on, vigorously insisted that they cared deeply about Iraqi children. The more accurate answer, regardless of the public rhetoric, was: of course it was worth it. Blocking glue, water pipes, water tankers, thermos flasks, ambulance radios, irrigation equipment— all of this was worth it because the negligible imaginary possibility that these could be turned to nefarious purposes always outweighed the collapse of the Iraqi health system, Iraq’s frantic efforts to increase agricultural production, the disappearance of Iraq’s middle class, the hundreds of thousands of tons of untreated sewage that went daily into Iraq’s rivers.

Excerpt from Joy Gordon's "Invisible War"
But handy how you dodged the point to come back to your favorite axe — how the US is terrible. It must be mighty sharp by now!

The United States is one the freest, most egalitarian civilizations on earth concerning it's own citizens, especially since 1970. It's foreign policy has always been a different story. If you know of a nation responsible for more carnage internationally in the past fifty years -- or the past thirty, or the past ten -- let's see your numbers.
posted by notion at 1:47 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, it was the US that sold him the weapons to do it

Saddam and the Ba'ath party bought the weapons and used them to kill the Kurds. They are the only responsible party here.

A similar case cannot be made for Canada, for instance, because their hands are actually clean as far as I know

Canada sold munitions to Iraq. They are one of the top suppliers of munitions to the third world. They also participated in Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.

US foreign policy choices often come down to very difficult decisions regarding the realities of international politics, national priorities and values.
posted by humanfont at 1:59 PM on July 15, 2011


Saddam and the Ba'ath party bought the weapons and used them to kill the Kurds. They are the only responsible party here.

So if North Korea sold Al-Qaeda nuclear weapons which they then detonated in NYC and LA, you would not hold North Korea responsible?

Though the Kurds are a great example, as a people who were explicitly encouraged to rebel against Iraq by the Nixon administration with promises of assistance, and then ignored once Saddam commenced slaughtering them, instead selling weapons to Saddam! When asked about the morality of this policy, Kissinger famously stated that "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work."
posted by mek at 2:07 PM on July 15, 2011


"I think this identifies what you're struggling with. We're not disagreeing necessarily with your liberal interventionist ideology in principle, we're disagreeing with the contention that foreign policy as practiced by the USA has anything to do with your liberal interventionist ideology. We believe that claims to humanitarian concerns in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Cuba, China, etc are American propaganda, plain and simple. While some naive supporters of American policy (such as yourself) may sincerely believe in the moral worth of humanitarian intervention attempts, those in charge of deciding which country invade next do not believe such, and most certainly do not consider your ideology in their decision-making process. As proof we cite... the entire post-WW2 history of American foreign interventions."

If you disagree that foreign policy as practiced in the US has anything to do with liberal interventionalism, you're flatly wrong. If you want to argue that it isn't always the controlling interest in American foreign policy, or that other interests commingle —and can even corrupt — I'll agree with you, happily.

However, what I object to is the simplistic, and yes, naive, view of American foreign policy (including military intervention) as singularly opposed to those ideals. Dismissing humanitarian concerns as propaganda is naive, and arguments against the US fall into either fallacies (whether false equivalency or tu quoque) and require ridiculous amounts of contortions in order to dismiss real concerns — see the above trumpeting of Iraq under Hussein as any sort of constitutional democracy.

Finally, the "proof" that you cite is not convincing, and you've simplified it to the point of inanity in order to trump up your case. It's hard to argue that the international intervention in the Korean War did not forestall a pretty horrific end for South Korea, even if the RoK did fall into a military dictatorship afterwards — we can still say that their dictatorship was not nearly as bad as the one in the DPRK. There have also been myriad smaller armed force interventions both with and without the UN, including ending the fighting in Cyprus, facilitating the end of the North Yemen Civil War, and more recent missions to Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan. In fact, the accurate criticism of intervention in Rwanda, the DRC, Sudan, Somalia and many other African conflicts isn't that the US didn't do anything, but rather that it hasn't done enough. And speaking personally, I think at least part of that emphasis on the US is misplaced, but makes contextual sense — I don't think the global community has done enough to end these conflicts, and the US is merely the biggest military actor. But I think it's an important distinction and one that people who blame the US for every global problem ignore.
posted by klangklangston at 2:31 PM on July 15, 2011


"No, it was the US that sold him the weapons to do it, removing him from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List in 1982, and who fought the UN in specifically calling him out for using WMDs. And it's the US that is still sponsoring the murder of Kurds in Turkey and Iraq right now. I'm guessing you don't have much to say about that. It's better for you to focus on the actions of a dead dictator, because the current history doesn't support any of your ideas about America being wholly removed from being held to account for the death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Sponsoring murder? You mean, with patches on the jerseys? And besides, if they'd kept him on the state sponsors of terrorism list, wouldn't he have had to deal with those terrible sanctions? I mean, I'd think that you'd be happy he was removed. And who said anything about "wholly removed"? I mean, I realize that it's hard for you to actually address what I wrote — too many trips to the dictionary for you — but if you could confine yourself to my actual comments, I wouldn't treat you like you'd just returned from all-you-can-eat at the paint chip buffet.

"It was the US, indirectly through Brzezinski (and possibly directly the CIA) that gave him the green light for invasion. It was the United States that flew his commandos to Fort Brag for "unconventional warfare" training in the event they were overrun by Iran. It was the United States that trained Iraqi helicopter pilots on forged Jordanian passports. It was the United States that arranged tens of billions of dollars worth of loans between Arab nations, US banks, and used intermediaries like Sarkis Soghanalian to get the weapons to Saddam."

Aided isn't caused. I know that's a hard concept for you to understand, and I'm trying very hard not to use any complicated words (is complicated OK? It does have a lot of letters in it.), but if you could just admit that even once, I'd feel a lot better about continuing to have any sort of conversation with you. When I buy paint at the hardware store, it isn't the store that's making me paint my garage, nor is it the paint.

Still waiting. Haven't you picked out a year yet?"

Wait harder. Maybe it'll become relevant if you hold your breath too.

"So you agree that England should have invaded the United States in 1850? The issue is whether or not one sovereign nation can decide the internal affairs of another. You can keep throwing out rhetorical definitions, but you're failing to address the issue."

I think you'd be better served by reading what I write, rather than trying to write it for me, as you keep getting it so wrong that I've begun to suspect that your effort lies toward wrongness rather than understanding.

But given your idiotic question, yes, in principle, I don't have anything against England invading to stop the slave trade. I suppose you'd rather support slavery or genocide than impinge on the arbitrary borders of nations. And as I noted, the moral standards of the 1800s are different from what they are today, or even 30 years ago. I'm not sure why you're so reluctant to admit that, when you seem happy to admit you'd rather have millions of people die in a genocide than to contravene lines on a map, and that common humanity means less to you than political grandstanding.

I know that referencing fallacies is something that you think is too highfalutin' for such a simple bumpkin as yourself, but just to discount it a priori (that means "prior to"), reasonable contextual distinctions can be made and there's no need to countenance an invasion over every unjust arrest, at least until the global community has advanced far enough that we no longer tolerate those relatively minor abuses too.

As for sovereignty with sanctions — sanctions respected sovereignty. They relied on a mutual, international agreement of other sovereigns not to buy or sell to Iraq until Iraq remedied the conditions leading to the sanctions. I'm not going to pretend that this didn't have real, negative consequences for the Iraqi people, but basically sanctions and force are the only ways that the international community has to enforce compliance with international law, which Hussein violated (much as you want to make that the fault of the US as well). Until he was back in compliance, that was the process allowed under the rule of law. There is absolutely no evidence to believe, as you've imagined, that Iraq would have had an Arab Spring in the absence of those sanctions.

Confining someone for years may be cruel to their family, but it's recognized as the punishment provided by law for their actions. You may argue that this was inconsistent punishment relative to other states, but that someone else gets away with murder is not a justification for ignoring the penalties in any other given murder.
posted by klangklangston at 3:05 PM on July 15, 2011


Anyway, this is all terribly far afield from the topic of the post, and I don't feel like we're actually exploring any new ground so much as turning this into another one of those nasty fights about intractable disagreements that make MeFi worse, so I'm done with this.
posted by klangklangston at 3:10 PM on July 15, 2011


It's hard to argue that the international intervention in the Korean War did not forestall a pretty horrific end for South Korea, even if the RoK did fall into a military dictatorship afterwards — we can still say that their dictatorship was not nearly as bad as the one in the DPRK. There have also been myriad smaller armed force interventions both with and without the UN, including ending the fighting in Cyprus, facilitating the end of the North Yemen Civil War, and more recent missions to Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan.

It's extremely telling that most of your examples of moral interventions are United Nations-led missions or actions which the USA did not explicitly initiate. Those are some pretty big blinders you have on, where you conflate internationally-led interventions with USA-specific foreign interventions, the latter being the target of virtually all the criticism you have been arguing against in this thread. It's not that you are moving the goalposts so much as outright refusing to discuss the topic at hand.

Your point that what I object to is the simplistic, and yes, naive, view of American foreign policy (including military intervention) as singularly opposed to those ideals. is downright silly. Nobody is arguing that US foreign policy is some pure, unadulterated force of evil. We're just arguing it's a fucking mess, which does much more harm on a global scale than good. "Worse than nothing" does not equal "singularly opposed to humanitarian interests." It just means it diverges significantly from humanitarian interests, to the point that anyone who claims to be a humanitarian should also be a vocal critic of the USA. This is exactly the point Chomsky makes, and I happen to agree with him.
posted by mek at 3:16 PM on July 15, 2011


So if North Korea sold Al-Qaeda nuclear weapons which they then detonated in NYC and LA, you would not hold North Korea responsible?

1. Al-Qaeda is not a State.
2. The sale of nuclear weapons is treated differently in international relations.

Your Jack Bauer strawman ignores reality. Many countries sold weapons to Saddam.
posted by humanfont at 3:26 PM on July 15, 2011


Sponsoring murder? You mean, with patches on the jerseys? And besides, if they'd kept him on the state sponsors of terrorism list, wouldn't he have had to deal with those terrible sanctions? I mean, I'd think that you'd be happy he was removed. And who said anything about "wholly removed"? I mean, I realize that it's hard for you to actually address what I wrote — too many trips to the dictionary for you — but if you could confine yourself to my actual comments, I wouldn't treat you like you'd just returned from all-you-can-eat at the paint chip buffet.

Okay then. Is the United States partially responsible for

1) arming Iraq in the 80s, including the bioweapons he used on his own people?
2) The misery and death caused by our unilateral position on the sanctions during the 90s?
3) The deaths caused by our near-unilateral invasion in 2003 on false evidence and trumped up charges?

I would have not supported Saddam in the 70s, or in the 80s, or in the 90s, or in the 00s. Neither would I support sanctions that brought the whole Iraqi populace to its knees. America, unfortunately, has been on the wrong side every step of the way.

Aided isn't caused.

Wow. So you're saying when the United States bought the weapons, trained the men, and gave Iraq intelligence and political cover in the UN to carry out any number of atrocities, that we were just "aiding?"

Are you disappointed in our treatment of the Taliban, who did far less for Al Qaeda than we did for Saddam? At least bin Laden had to raise his own money and train his own men. As you said, up to a million people died under Saddam's rule. Even if we're only 10% responsible for his rise to power, we've got quite a lot of blood on our own hands.

When I buy paint at the hardware store, it isn't the store that's making me paint my garage, nor is it the paint.

Yes. Weapons, weapons training, political support, military intelligence, and billions of dollars are just like paint. They're right next to each other on the shelf.

Wait harder. Maybe it'll become relevant if you hold your breath too.

How is the last thirty years of relations between Iraq and America not relevant?

I'm not sure why you're so reluctant to admit that, when you seem happy to admit you'd rather have millions of people die in a genocide than to contravene lines on a map, and that common humanity means less to you than political grandstanding.

You're talking about the United States, not me. (For reference, Rwanda, East Timor, the DRC, our whitewash of Stalin during WWII, Cambodia, etc). What I recognize is that it's impossible to know the outcome of a war, and the problem is seldom solved with more violence from extranational forces. The danger is so high, in fact, that the United States only intervenes when it serves our national interest. I'm not saying that our foreign policy is the worst ever, I'm saying it's the worst in the world for the past fifty years. Our motives are not different from any other state, and to treat our reputation in these matters as anything but standard operating procedure for an empire is ridiculous and unsupported by the facts.

I know that referencing fallacies is something that you think is too highfalutin' for such a simple bumpkin as yourself,

You dedicated a good portion of your reply to ad hominems. Are you out of ideas?

but just to discount it a priori (that means "prior to"), reasonable contextual distinctions can be made and there's no need to countenance an invasion over every unjust arrest, at least until the global community has advanced far enough that we no longer tolerate those relatively minor abuses too.

Discount what a priori? Your fallacies? "Reasonable contextual distinctions," known elsewhere as rationalizations? Are you saying that you don't believe in interventionism, or that you do according to standards which are never the same?

The whitewashing of both wars is pathetic. We invaded Afghanistan to, in the words of our Commander in Chief, bring people to justice "dead or alive." It's too fucking bad they were probably in Pakistan.

We invaded Iraq, officially, because we didn't want Saddam to have access to WMDs, not because he killed Kurds -- we helped with that. Not because we wanted more rights for Iraqis. We didn't want him to have the WMDs we sold him twenty years ago. Do you not see the problem in American hubris? We destroyed Iraq on three separate occasions, and each time claimed it was for their own good when, in truth, it served our national interests.

As for sovereignty with sanctions — sanctions respected sovereignty. They relied on a mutual, international agreement of other sovereigns not to buy or sell to Iraq until Iraq remedied the conditions leading to the sanctions. I'm not going to pretend that this didn't have real, negative consequences for the Iraqi people, but basically sanctions and force are the only ways that the international community has to enforce compliance with international law, which Hussein violated (much as you want to make that the fault of the US as well).

You appear to have read nothing substantive about the sanctions. I'll just paste this again, and maybe you'll read it this time:
As the criticism grew and the suffering continued on a massive scale, the U.S. administration stubbornly saw itself as alone in its moral leadership, never grasping the significance or thoroughness of its isolation and marginality. It seems that the United States simply could not see its policies the way the rest of the world did: not just Arab nations, or France or Russia, but nearly everyone— the General Assembly, NGOs, UNMOVIC, the UN’s human rights rapporteur, every UN humanitarian agency, and nearly every member of the Security Council.

...Blocking glue, water pipes, water tankers, thermos flasks, ambulance radios, irrigation equipment— all of this was worth it because the negligible imaginary possibility that these could be turned to nefarious purposes always outweighed the collapse of the Iraqi health system, Iraq’s frantic efforts to increase agricultural production, the disappearance of Iraq’s middle class, the hundreds of thousands of tons of untreated sewage that went daily into Iraq’s rivers.
Hiding behind claims of internationalism is par for the course, but there's no evidence to support that claim.

Until he was back in compliance, that was the process allowed under the rule of law. There is absolutely no evidence to believe, as you've imagined, that Iraq would have had an Arab Spring in the absence of those sanctions.

You're wrong. The Arab Spring rose mostly in countries under the thumb of dictators on the US payroll. Saddam, had he not invaded Kuwait, would be as dear to the State Department as Mubarak was until he was thrown out.

Confining someone for years may be cruel to their family, but it's recognized as the punishment provided by law for their actions. You may argue that this was inconsistent punishment relative to other states, but that someone else gets away with murder is not a justification for ignoring the penalties in any other given murder.

What the fuck? I'm not saying don't punish murderers. I'm saying don't give murderers weapons and training. And if you do and they kill a bunch of people, don't hide it from the authorities because he's doing some dirty work for you. And if your henchmen murders the wrong person, don't punish his whole neighborhood with famine. And when someone down the street murders your family, don't use that as an excuse to kill your old murdering friend and a good chunk of his neighborhood because you're afraid he's still got the shit you gave him in the first place.
posted by notion at 4:31 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


And when someone down the street murders your family, don't use that as an excuse to kill your old murdering friend and a good chunk of his neighborhood because you're afraid he's still got the shit you gave him in the first place.

Is this the gangland version or do you have something analogous as to A FUCKING POINT!
posted by clavdivs at 8:31 PM on July 15, 2011


You're talking about the United States, not me. (For reference, Rwanda, East Timor, the DRC, our whitewash of Stalin during WWII, Cambodia, etc). What I recognize is that it's impossible to know the outcome of a war, and the problem is seldom solved with more violence from extranational forces. The danger is so high, in fact, that the United States only intervenes when it serves our national interest. I'm not saying that our foreign policy is the worst ever, I'm saying it's the worst in the world for the past fifty years. Our motives are not different from any other state, and to treat our reputation in these matters as anything but standard operating procedure for an empire is ridiculous and unsupported by the facts.

This is so fragmented I can barly parse it.
It is impossible to know what i will have for lunch tomorrow.

is "extranational" a typo?

The danger of what is so high, the world, the use of weapons?
well the u.s. does intervene when it's national interests are at risk.

Saddam, had he not invaded Kuwait, would be as dear to the State Department as Mubarak was until he was thrown out.

Dude was broke and his country war torn, then he got real funny ideas, he would most liklely have been "replaced" if he did not invade. He turned coat from the russians to us then back again, turned his country into a police state and bankrupted it to the point of almost no return.

you never know.

and foriegn policy from 1960-to present, 50 years...so things became bad when JFK was elected?
posted by clavdivs at 8:57 PM on July 15, 2011


Is this the gangland version or do you have something analogous as to A FUCKING POINT!

We armed Saddam Hussein in the 80s with biological weapons. He used them against Iran, we did nothing. He used them against Kurds, we did nothing. When he attacked Kuwait, we suddenly remembered his crimes. In 2001, Colin Powell said the following:
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister and good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am very pleased to be back in Egypt and to have had the opportunity to meet and consult with President Mubarak and with the Foreign Minister. I've known President Mubarak for many, many years and it is good to renew the friendship. He is looked on as a wise leader not only by his people, but by people throughout the region and throughout the world...

We will always try to consult with our friends in the region so that they are not surprised and do everything we can to explain the purpose of our responses. We had a good discussion, the Foreign Minister and I and the President and I, had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions -- the fact that the sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place, but we are always willing to review them to make sure that they are being carried out in a way that does not affect the Iraqi people but does affect the Iraqi regime's ambitions and the ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and we had a good conversation on this issue.
This has since been scrubbed from the State Department website as far as I can tell -- if you can find it, please post the link -- but I found a copy of it here. It would seem a little strange that only one year after that, the view of the State Department would turn completely on its head. My opinion is that it had nothing to do with Saddam's WMD capability, and everything to do with opportunistic military interventionism by people depraved enough to use 9/11 to sell another war to their own people.

However, my analogy is on the completely conservative end of what happened. It assumes that the official reason of disarming Saddam is the reality of our involvement. If you feel the analogy is inaccurate, more details and less shouting would be helpful.
posted by notion at 9:40 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Still trying to make out "extranational" and you want a discussion? I feel your wrong.

start with the bill of sale of biological weapons. uncle sam to uncle saddam.
your move.
posted by clavdivs at 9:29 AM on July 16, 2011


I'm under the impression that some satellite imagery was shared with Iraq that may later have been used by Iraqis to calibrate their mustard gas attacks. US labs may have sent anthrax samples to Iraq, but these products were not highly regulated at the time and had research purposes as anthrax is a cattle disease. There is a big gap between sending an anthrax sample and sending actual biological weapons. We also exported computers, incubators, and other materials which could be used for WMD programs, but had many other purposes as well.

The direct military aid was in the form of anti-Tank TOW missiles, bombs, helicopters, radar and navigation systems. They did not comprise a significant part of the Iraqi Army and played only a minor role in the conflict. The Iraqi manufacture and use of Chemical weapons began prior to US involvement in Iraq.
posted by humanfont at 12:33 PM on July 16, 2011


The type of stuff that kept Rumsfeld up at night. I had a theory about the imagery shared with Saddam. I found one cite were it was shared to help stave off counter-attacks from Iran.
Ah here

What saddam kept, as far as imagery, was used to gas, making the U.S. complicit. Kinda of a "gotcha". He was a tricky dude. He did not tolerate religious extremism that was contrary to his interests. He did not tolerate his own family and he stood up to Iran and the U.S. Saddam.
fucker was stone cold nuts.

What still staggers me is the money pumped into that alone. (Iran/Iraq war, not to mention the Kingdoms long coffers into Yemen for years before that)
Makes the aid given to the muj during the soviet period seem small.

were did we get the precursors for the mustard gas?
posted by clavdivs at 2:21 PM on July 16, 2011


"we"...opps "they"
posted by clavdivs at 2:23 PM on July 16, 2011


For what it is worth. Manning is not a traitor. In order to justify changing an unjust law, it must be proven in court and Manning has to be sentenced, no way around that. I watched the video he leaked and saw some things that were confusing like men taking prones postions and aiming some thing and what appears to be groundfire not richocets. I like to look for myself then read someones analysis.
posted by clavdivs at 2:30 PM on July 16, 2011


Still trying to make out "extranational" and you want a discussion? I feel your wrong.

Sorry... it's a French word I thought was an English word.
extra-national
adjectif masculin singulier
en dehors du territoire national
start with the bill of sale of biological weapons. uncle sam to uncle saddam.
your move.
The United States exported support for Iraq during the Iran–Iraq war over $500 million worth of dual use exports to Iraq that were approved by the Commerce department. Among them were advanced computers, some of which were used in Iraq's nuclear program. The non-profit American Type Culture Collection and the Centers for Disease Control sold or sent biological samples of anthrax, West Nile virus and botulism to Iraq up until 1989, which Iraq claimed it needed for medical research. A number of these materials were used for Iraq's biological weapons research program, while others were used for vaccine development. For example, the Iraqi military settled on the American Type Culture Collection strain 14578 as the exclusive anthrax strain for use as a biological weapon, according to Charles Duelfer. ( wiki )
This does not include all of the third party sales transfers we enabled, which made up over half of the total armaments Iraq received in the 80s. Or the military intelligence we gave them. And don't forget we specifically removed Iraq in 1982 from the State Sponsors of Terror List so we could sell him weapons.

We knew about his chemical weapons use as early as 1983:
TO: The Secretary
FROM: PM - Jonathan T Howe
SUBJECT: Iraq Use of Chemical Weapons

We have recently received additional information confirming Iraqi use of chemical weapons. We also know that Iraq has acquired a CW [chemical weapons] production capability, primarily from Western firms, including possibly a U.S. foreign subsidiary. In keeping with our policy of seeking to halt CW use whenever it occurs, we are considering the most effective means to halt Iraqi CW use including, as a first step, a direct approach to Iraq. This would be consistent with the way we handled the initial CW use information from Southeast Asia and Afghanistan, i.e., private demarches to the Lao, Vietnamese, and Soviets.

As you are aware, presently Iraq is at a disadvantage in its war of attrition with Iran. After a recent SIG meeting on the war, a discussion paper was sent to the White House for an NSC meeting (possibly Wednesday or Thursday this week), a section of which outlines a number of measures we might take to assist Iraq. At our suggestion, the issue of Iraqi CW use will be added to the agenda for this meeting.

If the NSC decides measures are to be undertaken to assist Iraq, our best present chance of influencing cessation of CW use may be in the context of informing Iraq of these measures. It is important, however, that we approach Iraq very soon in order to maintain the credibility of U.S. policy on CW, as well as to reduce or halt what now appears to be Iraq's almost daily use of CW.
More precisely, that was written on November 1st, 1983. On December 24, 1983, Lawrence Eagleburger -- future Secretary of State and current third-in-command -- wrote to EXIM asking them to resume financing for Iraq:
I understand that there were legal constraints on EXIM financing for sales to Iraq arising from Iraq's links to international terrorists. Recently, the President of Iraq announced the termination of all assistance to the principal terrorist group of concern, among others. Iraq then expelled this group and its leader. The terrorist issue, therefore, should no longer be an impediment to EXIM financing for U.S. sales to Iraq...

[blah blah there will be money, they will boost oil exports]...

From the political standpoint, EXIM financing would show U.S. interest in the Iraqi economy in a practical, neutral context. It could provide some incentive for Iraq to comply with our urgings that it show restraint in the war. This evidence of our interest in increasing commercial relations also will bring political benefits, as well as balance-of-trade and employment benefits to our economy.
Now, did Mr. Eagleburger know about the chemical weapons? It turns out that he did. From what I can tell, he'd at least been sent memos for months with titles like: "Iraq Use of Chemical Weapons"

So there you go. Undeniable proof that members of the United States government knew Saddam was gassing his own people, and continued to send him money and weapons.
posted by notion at 8:52 AM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Among them were advanced computers, some of which were used in Iraq's nuclear program. The non-profit American Type Culture Collection and the Centers for Disease Control sold or sent biological samples of anthrax, West Nile virus and botulism to Iraq up until 1989

Computers! Samples of diseases OMG we sent them things which could he used for research into things which could be used to make a thing which could be turned into a weapon. It is like your Dick Cheney looking at aluminum tubes and deciding someone is sending Iraq fully assembled centrifuges.
posted by humanfont at 3:05 PM on July 17, 2011


Also back to the FPP subject directly, has anything in this full chat log releasse been found to justify the over the top fantasies articulated by Glenn Greenwald in his prior attacks against Wired and Kevin Paulson?
posted by humanfont at 10:04 AM on July 18, 2011


Yes, it's the the second comment in this thread.
posted by mek at 11:50 AM on July 18, 2011


Computers! Samples of diseases OMG we sent them things which could he used for research into things which could be used to make a thing which could be turned into a weapon. It is like your Dick Cheney looking at aluminum tubes and deciding someone is sending Iraq fully assembled centrifuges.

What was in that vial that Colin Powell was brandishing at the UN that was supposed to unite us all behind ridding the world of Saddam?

Here's sworn testimony from Howard Teicher in 1995 (original here). If you want to keep your eyeballs squeezed against your colon after reading this, you're more than welcome. I've bolded the most interesting bits.
I, Howard Teicher, hereby state that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the facts presented herein are true, correct and complete. I further state that to the best of my knowledge and belief, nothing stated in this Declaration constitutes classified information.
This is my only interruption: note that all of the following is not classified information. Any exclusion of details -- about the helicopters we shipped to Iraq, or the $230 million worth of military trucks, or the shipment of biological weapons grade viruses -- only means they were classified at the time that he gave his testimony.
1. My name is Howard Teicher. From 1977 to 1987, I served in the United States government as a member of the national security bureaucracy. From early 1982 to 1987, I served as a Staff Member to the United States National Security Council.

2. While a Staff Member to the National Security Council, I was responsible for the Middle East and for Political-Military Affairs. During my five year tenure on the National security Council, I had regular contact with both CIA Director William Casey and Deputy Director Robert Gates.

3. In the Spring of 1982, Iraq teetered on the brink of losing its war with Iran. In May and June, 1982, the Iranians discovered a gap in the Iraqi defenses along the Iran-Iraq border between Baghdad to the north and Basra to the south. Iran positioned a massive invasion force directly across from the gap in the Iraqi defenses. An Iranian breakthrough at the spot would have cutoff Baghdad from Basra and would have resulted in Iraq's defeat.

4. United States Intelligence, including satellite imagery, had detected both the gap in the Iraqi defenses and the Iranian massing of troops across from the gap. At the time, the United States was officially neutral in the Iran-Iraq conflict.

5. President Reagan was forced to choose between (a) maintaining strict neutrality and allowing Iran to defeat Iraq, or (b) intervening and providing assistance to Iraq.

6. In June, 1982, President Reagan decided that the United States could not afford to allow Iraq to lose the war to Iran. President Reagan decided that the United States would do whatever was necessary and legal to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran. President Reagan formalized this policy by issuing a National Security Decision Directive ("NSDD") to this effect in June, 1982. I have personal knowledge of this NSDD because I co-authored the NSDD with another NSC Staff Member, Geoff Kemp. The NSDD, including even its identifying number, is classified.

7. CIA Director Casey personally spearheaded the effort to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran-Iraq war. Pursuant to the secred NSDD, the United States actively supported the Iraqi war effort by supplying the Iraqis with billions of dollars of credits, by providing U.S. military intelligence and advice to the Iraqis, and by closely monitoring third country arms sales to Iraq to make sure that Iraq had the military weaponry required. The United States also provided strategic operational advice to the Iraqis to better use their assets in combat.

For example, in 1986, President Reagan sent a secret message to Saddam Hussein telling him that Iraq should step up its air war and bombing of Iran. This message was delivered by Vice President Bush who communicated it to Egyptian President Mubarak, who in turn passed the message to Saddam Hussein.
Similar strategic operational military advice was passed to Saddam Hussein through various meetings with European and Middle Eastern heads of state. I authored Bush's talking points for the 1986 meeting with Mubarak and personally attended numerous meetings with European and Middle East heads of state where the strategic operational advice was communicated.

8. I personally attended meetings in which CIA Director Casey or CIA Deputy Director Gates noted the need for Iraq to have certain weapons such as cluster bombs and anti-armor penetrators in order to stave off the Iranian attacks. When I joined the NSC staff in early 1982, CIA Director Casey was adamant that cluster bombs were a perfect "force multiplier" that would allow the Iraqis to defend against the "human waves" of Iranian attackers. I recorded those comments in the minutes of National Security Planning Group ("NSPG") meetings in which Casey or Gates participated.

9. The CIA, including both CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, knew of, approved of, and assisted in the sale of non-U.S. origin military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to Iraq. My notes, memoranda and other documents in my NSC files show or tend to show that the CIA knew of, approved of, and assisted in the sale of non-U.S. origin military weapons, munitions and vehicles to Iraq.


10. The United States was anxious to have other countries supply assistance to Iraq. For example, in 1984, the Israelis concluded that Iran was more dangerous than Iraq to Israel's existence due to the growing Iranian influence and presence in Lebanon. The Israelis approached the United States in a meeting in Jerusalem that I attended with Donald Rumsfeld. Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir asked Rumsfeld if the United States would deliver a secret offer of Israeli assistance to Iraq. The United States agreed. I travelled wtih Rumsfeld to Baghdad and was present at the meeting in which Rumsfeld told Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz about Israel's offer of assistance. Aziz refused even to accept the Israelis' letter to Hussein offering assistance, because Aziz told us that he would be executed on the spot by Hussein if he did so.

11. One of the reasons that the United States refused to license or sell U.S. origin weapons to Iraq was that the supply of non-U.S. origin weapons to Iraq was sufficient to meet Iraq's needs. Under CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, the CIA made sure that non-U.S. manufacturers manufactured and sold to Iraq the weapons needed by Iraq. In certain instances where a key component in a weapon was not readily available, the highest levels of the United States government decided to make the component available, directly or indirectly, to Iraq. I specifically recall that the provision of anti-armor penetrators to Iraq was a case in point. The United States made a policy decision to supply penetrators to Iraq. My notes, memoranda and other documents in my NSC files will contain references to the Iraqis' need for anti-armor penetrators and the decision to provide penetrators to Iraq.

12. Most of the Iraqi's military hardware was of Soviet origin. Regular United States or NATO ammunition and spare parts could not be used in this Soviet weaponry.

13. The United States and the CIA maintained a program known as the 'Bear Spares" program whereby the United States made sure that spare parts and ammunition for Soviet or Soviet-style weaponry were available to countries which sought to reduce their dependence on the Soviets for defense needs. If the "Bear Spares" were manufactured outside the United States, then the United States could arrange for the provision of these weapons to a third country without direct involvement. Israel, for example, had a very large stockpile of Soviet weaponry and ammunition captured during its various wars. At the suggestion of the United States, the Israelis would transfer the spare parts and weapons to third countries or insurgent movements (such as the Afghan rebels and the Contras).

Similarly, Egypt manufactured weapons and spare parts from Soviet designs and porvided these weapons and ammunition to the Iraqis and other countries. Egypt also served as a supplier for the Bear Spares program. The United States approved, assisted and encouraged Egypt's manufacturing capabilities. The United States approved, assisted and encouraged Egypt's sale of weaponry, munitions and vehicles to Iraq.

14. The mere request to a third party to carry out an action did not constitute a "covert action," and, accordingly, required no Presidential Finding or reporting to Congress. The supply of Cardoen cluster bombs, which were fitted for use on Soviet, French and NATO aircraft, was a mere extension fo the United States policy of assisting Iraq through all legal means in order to avoid an Iranian victory.

15. My NSC files are currently held in the President Ronald Reagan Presidential Archives in Simi Valley, California. My files will contain my notes and memoranda from meetings I attended with CIA director Casey or CIA Deputy Director Gates which included discussions of Cardoen's manufacture and sale of cluster bombs to Iraq. My NSC files will also contain cable traffic among various United States agencies, embassies and other parties relating to Cardoen and his sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq and other Middle Eastern states.

16. Under CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, the CIA authorized, approved and assisted Cardoen in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq. My NSC files will contain documents that show or tend to show the CIA's authorization, approval and assistance of Cardoen's manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq.

17. My files will contain notes, memoranda and other documents that will show that the highest levels of the United States government, including the NSC Staff and the CIA, were well aware of Cardoen's arrest in 1983 in Miami in a sting operation relating to the smuggling of night vision goggles to Cuba and Libya. My files will also show that the highest levels of the government were aware of the arrest and conviction of two of Cardoen's employees and his company Industrias Cardoen.

18. CIA Director William Casey, aware of Cardoen's arrest and the conviction of his employees and his company, intervened in order to make sure that Cardoen was able to supply cluster bombs to Iraq. Specifically, CIA Director Casey directed the Secretaries of the State and Commerce Departments that the necessary licenses required by Cardoen were not to be denied. My files will contain notes, memoranda and other documents showing or tending to show that CIA Director William Casey's intervention was in order to maintain Cardoen's ability to supply cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq.

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my memory and recollection.

Executed on 1/31/95
If that's not neocolonialism in action, provide me with a better example.

I'm sorry you don't want to see the truth, but not for the reason you think. We still do not have access, over 25 years later, to many of the documents that would illuminate just what our country did in our name with our tax dollars. If you don't think this is a serious threat to our democracy, enjoy the fucking kool-aid, my friend. It won't last forever.
posted by notion at 3:23 PM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Weapons grade virus is a made up term by people who want to scare or bullshit you.

Nothing in your cited affidavit challenges my earlier assertions regarding US aid to Iraq. It also doesn't indicate any shipment of biological or chemical weapons. Howard Teicher Is a bit controversial as a former Iran-Contra figure.

Also the appeal to authority isn't particularly compelling. For example, Dr Edgar Mitchell was the sixth man to walk in the moon, holds a PhD from MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics. He also believes in aliens, remote healing and ESP. In short he's a complete nutjob.
posted by humanfont at 5:04 PM on July 18, 2011


Poet_Lariat: "Oh well until we develop something like that I guess Manning will have to rot away in isolation while being psychologically and physically tortured."

In what way has Manning been psychologically, much less physically, tortured? Even the conditions he was originally held in were merely unpleasant at worst, and even that came to an end when he was transferred to Leavenworth months ago.

I won't rehash the specifics of his original confinement here, but I refer you to this older comment discussing allegations made about his treatment in a letter from Amnesty International. Calling the conditions cited in the letter "torture" is ridiculous hyperbole.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:12 AM on July 19, 2011


Weapons grade virus is a made up term by people who want to scare or bullshit you.
Recipes that antigovernment militia groups circulate at gun shows might suffice to make the deadly powder, he said.

But William C. Patrick III, a scientist who made germ weapons for the American military and is now a private consultant on biological defense, rated the Daschle anthrax as 7 on a scale of 10.

"It's relatively high grade," Mr. Patrick said, "but not weapons grade."

--NYT, 5/7/2002
Nothing in your cited affidavit challenges my earlier assertions regarding US aid to Iraq. It also doesn't indicate any shipment of biological or chemical weapons.

You're going to have to read. The affadavit was in 1995, and as I said in the beginning, any omission at that time only means it was still classified. Here's a story from the AP in 2002:
WASHINGTON –– Iraq's bioweapons program that President Bush wants to eradicate got its start with help from Uncle Sam two decades ago, according to government records getting new scrutiny in light of the discussion of war against Iraq.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent samples directly to several Iraqi sites that U.N. weapons inspectors determined were part of Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program, CDC and congressional records from the early 1990s show. Iraq had ordered the samples, claiming it needed them for legitimate medical research.

The CDC and a biological sample company, the American Type Culture Collection, sent strains of all the germs Iraq used to make weapons, including anthrax, the bacteria that make botulinum toxin and the germs that cause gas gangrene, the records show. Iraq also got samples of other deadly pathogens, including the West Nile virus.

The transfers came in the 1980s, when the United States supported Iraq in its war against Iran. They were detailed in a 1994 Senate Banking Committee report and a 1995 follow-up letter from the CDC to the Senate.

The exports were legal at the time and approved under a program administered by the Commerce Department.

"I don't think it would be accurate to say the United States government deliberately provided seed stocks to the Iraqis' biological weapons programs," said Jonathan Tucker, a former U.N. biological weapons inspector.

"But they did deliver samples that Iraq said had a legitimate public health purpose, which I think was naive to believe, even at the time."

The disclosures put the United States in the uncomfortable position of possibly having provided the key ingredients of the weapons America is considering waging war to destroy, said Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. Byrd entered the documents into the Congressional Record this month.

Byrd asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld about the germ transfers at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Byrd noted that Rumsfeld met Saddam in 1983, when Rumsfeld was President Reagan's Middle East envoy.

"Are we, in fact, now facing the possibility of reaping what we have sown?" Byrd asked Rumsfeld after reading parts of a Newsweek article on the transfers.

"I have never heard anything like what you've read, I have no knowledge of it whatsoever, and I doubt it," Rumsfeld said. He later said he would ask the Defense Department and other government agencies to search their records for evidence of the transfers.

Invoices included in the documents read like shopping lists for biological weapons programs. One 1986 shipment from the Virginia-based American Type Culture Collection included three strains of anthrax, six strains of the bacteria that make botulinum toxin and three strains of the bacteria that cause gas gangrene. Iraq later admitted to the United Nations that it had made weapons out of all three.
Speaking of naivete, here's more idiocy that coincidentally gave Iraq the means to deploy those bioweapons.
1. SUMMARY. THE DIRECTOR OF AGRICULTURAL AVIATION HAS INVITED U.S. CROP SPRAYING AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURERS TO PROVIDE PROMOTIONAL LITERATURE FOR A JUNE 83 PURCHASE. A PILOT TRAINING PACKAGE IS EXPECTED TO BE INCLUDED. AIRCRAFT SALES ARE EXPECTED TO TRIPLE AS THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT EXPANDS THEIR AGRICULTURAL PROGRAM. END SUMMARY...

4. 20 SOVIET DESIGNED, POLISH BUILT, AGING FOUR-MAN CHOPPERS ARE CURRENTLY DEPLOYED FOR CROP SPRAYING, DUSTING, FERTILIZING AND SEEDING... ACCORDING TO THE DIRECTOR, SOME PILOTS WHO HAVE BEEN FLYING FOR OVER 20 YEARS ARE EXPERIENCING CHEST PAINS FROM INHALING INSECTICIDE FUMES. COMATT WAS SHOWN THROUGHOUT CHOPPER BASE AND WITNESS LACK OF VENTILATION WITHIN HELICOPTERS...

5. THE DIRECTORY STATED THAT HE EXPECTED TO GRADUALLY REPLACE ALL 20 POLISH CHOPPERS WITHIN THREE TO FOUR YEARS. AFTER SOME PROBING, THE DIRECTOR AGREED THAT CURRENT INVENTORY WAS BASED UPON AN AGRICULTURAL PROGRAM THAT HAS BEEN DORMANT. WITH NEWLY AWARDED LARGE LAND RECLAMATION PROJECTS, AND ADDITIONAL FUNDING OF AGRICULTURAL SELF-SUFFICIENCY PROGRAMS (FARMS), AIR FLEET IS EXPECTED TO TRIPLE (60 AIRCRAFT) TO ABSORB THE DEMAND FOR PEST CONTROL. AS ONE PILOT REMARKED, UPCOMING MAJOR JOBS WILL INCLUDE TWO CRAFTS IN OPERATION FOR A PERIOD OF 2 AND ONE HALF MONTHS, COVERING A MINIMUM OF 1200 DONUM.
That same year, the United States directly sold Iraq 60 MD 500 Defender helicopters.
Since first delivered to civil operators in 1966, over 2,500 Model 500s and MD 500s of various models built by Hughes, MDHC, and their licensees have operated on all continents. In addition to their more common use as executive transports, these helicopters have been employed frequently for law enforcement, training, geological survey, transport of precious metals, oil drilling and other mineral exploration projects... crop spraying (with a market breakthrough being achieved in 1988 when MD 500Es replaced Soviet-built Kamov Ka-26s operated by the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture), and battle against pests (such as during attempts by the World Health Organization, WHO, to control the African River Blindness in eleven West African nations).
There are only two options in this situation: either the United States knowingly sold bioweapons and the means to distribute them under the guise of research and farming, or they are so colossally stupid that they accidentally sold Iraq the tools to create bioweapons, and the aircraft to use them, and didn't consider the consequences.

In either case, it shows that the USG is either untrustworthy or too stupid to interfere in the affairs of other nations without making a bigger mess than they were trying to fix.

Howard Teicher Is a bit controversial as a former Iran-Contra figure.

Your link is broken. I'll need more than assertions.

Also the appeal to authority isn't particularly compelling. For example, Dr Edgar Mitchell was the sixth man to walk in the moon, holds a PhD from MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics. He also believes in aliens, remote healing and ESP. In short he's a complete nutjob.

What the hell? Why you want to talk about a highly educated nutjob who has fuck all to do with US support of Saddam Hussein?

Let's see some citations. Let's see some sworn testimony (which isn't later retracted) saying that none of this is true. So far, I've seen nothing even slightly interesting or compelling from you concerning anything we are talking about.
posted by notion at 6:28 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I don't think it would be accurate to say the United States government deliberately provided seed stocks to the Iraqis' biological weapons programs," said Jonathan Tucker, a former U.N. biological weapons inspector.

Your citations clearly support my case. Crop dusters and a few anthrax spores are not the same thing as a chemical or biological weapon. They were so far from being weapons that until the anthrax mailings a few years back anyone could order them with almost no paperwork. You are Dick Cheney here trying to find any evidence to support your insane theory. I already told you we sent a few helicopter and provided them with imagery. The US support for Saddam was very limited. Iraq bought lots of stuff from Canada, Russia, France, Britian, China, and other leading arms exporters. They spent a billion dollars a week fighting Iran back when a billion dollars was real money.

Now your quoing a scare peice about militia in the NY Times to make the case that there is some difference between weapons grade anthrax and ordinary anthrax. Article you quote is talking about recipes for treating the spores, not the spores themselves. The lab sames arn't going to he weaponized with coatings to offset their static charges and make them I to an aerosol. Pathogens are weaponized not weapons grade.

You obsess over these sources but you have no idea who they are. Teicher was a major player in Iran-Contra. He's also a massive supporter of Israel. He's got major axes to grin and a political agenda.
posted by humanfont at 9:31 PM on July 19, 2011


Crop dusters and a few anthrax spores are not the same thing as a chemical or biological weapon. They were so far from being weapons that until the anthrax mailings a few years back anyone could order them with almost no paperwork.
The document shows that the American and French supply houses shipped 17 types of biological agents to Iraq in the 1980's that were used in the weapons programs. Those included anthrax and the bacteria needed to make botulinum toxin, among the most deadly poisons known. It also discloses that Iraq had tried unsuccessfully to obtain biological agents in the late 1980's from other biological supply houses around the world.
--NYT, March 2003
Anyone but Saddam, from anyone but the US or France. Your simplistic apologetics for the US government are almost unbelievable.

They spent a billion dollars a week fighting Iran back when a billion dollars was real money.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit data (see Figure 6), Iraq’s GDP stood at roughly $38 billion in 1989, measured in constant 2003 dollars.
Are you suggesting that Iraq spent more than it's entire GDP every single year during the war? Why are you making shit up? Here's actual data, showing the United States and its partners in the Gulf provided the bulk of financing for Iraq's militarization:
Iraq’s indebtedness has been the result primarily of the war with Iran. Iraq traditionally had been free of foreign debt and had accumulated foreign reserves that reached $35 billion by 1980. These reserves were exhausted in the early stages of the war with Iran. It is estimated that from 1980 to 1989 Iraq’s arms purchases alone totaled $54.7 billion. Following the war, Iraq was faced with the dilemma of paying off short-term debts to western creditors estimated between $35 to 45 billion at high interest rates. However, the Regime resisted western attempts through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to reschedule the debt primarily because Baghdad believed it could negotiate more favorable terms dealing with countries bilaterally.

Iraq’s foreign debt was comprised of western credit provided for military assistance, development finance and export guarantees. This assistance has been estimated at $35 billion in principal. The former Soviet Union and Russia also provided loans to Iraq via the Paris Club during the 1980s and 1990s for the development and production of military programs (Figure 10). Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates provided an additional $30 to 40 billion in financing to fight Iran (Figure 11). Although the Gulf States considered the financial support provided to Iraq to be a loan, Iraq believed that the Gulf States were required to provide help to Iraq in its fight to prevent the spread of radical Iranian fundamentalism.
As far as anthrax is concerned, there are weapons grade strains and weapons grade forms. You need both for an effective biological weapon.

As for your continued attack on Teicher, once again with zero documentation and zero factual arguments, it's a meaningless asserted ad hominem until you provide some evidence.
posted by notion at 12:08 AM on July 20, 2011


I see no bill of sale, just commerce as usual, like any other day.

There are only two options in this situation: either the United States knowingly sold bioweapons and the means to distribute them under the guise of research and farming, or they are so colossally stupid that they accidentally sold Iraq the tools to create bioweapons, and the aircraft to use them, and didn't consider the consequences.

There is a third option, can you guess what it is?
posted by clavdivs at 8:44 AM on July 20, 2011


I see no bill of sale, just commerce as usual, like any other day.

It's like when Russia sold weapons to Cuba. Just business as usual, no political implications at all. It's not like the US would freak out if Iran sold weapons to Iraq.

There is a third option, can you guess what it is?

Certain people are beyond the reach of a reasoned argument?

The United States government, according to its own internal documents, acted to interfere in the Iran-Iraq war to prevent Iraq's defeat and said it would pursue any legal means to do so. They considered it legal to arrange funding from Arab states, remove Iraq from the state sponsors of terror list, directly sell helicopters and military trucks for "farming", approve Iraq for receipt of biological weapons agents, arrange third party arms sales and transfers, and in cases where third parties could not supply the weapons, step in to make sure they had necessary Soviet-compatible parts to win the war. After reports of chemical warfare surfaced, the United States continued to support Saddam Hussein and shielded his government from UN scrutiny, and continued to make funds available.

There are hundreds of pages of documentation about this, many of which I've linked to. What is the point of pretending that something else happened when there's no evidence to support that idea?

They formulated a plan. They carried it out. There were enormous consequences, which makes them cynical imperialists or fucking morons -- maybe a little of both. In either case, it demonstrates the danger and disaster that lurks every time someone in an office in DC thinks they can change the course of history to our benefit by arming a dictator who we hope will follow orders.
posted by notion at 9:43 AM on July 20, 2011


are you familar with T2 notion and it's murky history. (hint: the "look, sadrs getting weapons from Iran" is an old trick that usually works when stove-piped, the legs of that damage seldom is)


The Use Of Chemical Weapons
"The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's (SIPRI) report on Iraq's use of chemical weapons during the Iraq-Iran War. This report is dated May 1984.
Allegations of the use of chemical weapons have been frequent during the Iraq-Iran War. One of the instances reported by Iran has been conclusively verified by an international team dispatched to Iran by the UN Secretary-General.

There have been reports of chemical warfare from the Gulf War since the early months of Iraq's invasion of Iran. In November 1980, Tehran Radio was broadcasting allegations of Iraqi chemical bombing at Susangerd. Three and a quarter years later, by which time the outside world was listening more seriously to such charges, the Iranian Foreign Minister told the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that there had been at least 49 instances of Iraqi chemical-warfare attack in 40 border regions, and that the documented dead totalled 109 people, with hundreds more wounded. He made this statement on 16 February 1984, the day on which Iran launched a major offensive on the central front, and one week before the start of offensives and counter-offensives further south, in the border marshlands to the immediate north of Basra where, at Majnoon Islands, Iraq has vast untapped oil reserves. According to official Iranian statements during the 31 days following the Foreign Minister's allegation, Iraq used chemical weapons on at least 14 further occasions, adding more than 2200 to the total number of people wounded by poison gas.


Verification
One of the chemical-warfare instances reported by Iran, at Hoor-ul-Huzwaizeh on 13 March 1984, has since been conclusively verified by an international team of specialists dispatched to Iran by the United Nations Secretary-General. The evidence adduced in the report by the UN team lends substantial credence to Iranian allegations of Iraqi chemical warfare on at least six other occasions during the period from 26 February to 17 March 1984.
The efficiency and dispatch with which this UN verification operation was mounted stand greatly to the credit of the Secretary General. His hand had presumably been strengthened by the announcement on 7 March by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that 160 cases of wounded combatants visited in Tehran hospitals by an ICRC team "presented a clinical picture whose nature leads to the presumption of the recent use of substances prohibited by international law". The casualties visited were reportedly all victims of an incident on 27 February 1984. The ICRC statement came two days after the US State Department had announced that "the US Government has concluded that the available evidence indicates that Iraq has used lethal chemical weapons". Iraq had denounced the Washington statement as "political hypocrisy", "full of lies", a fabrication by the CIA, and had suggested that the hospital patients examined by the ICRC had "sustained the effects of these substances in places other than the war front". On 17 March, at almost the same moment as the UN team was acquiring its most damning evidence, the general commanding the Iraqi Third Corps, then counter-attacking in the battle for the Majnoon Islands, spoke as follows to foreign reporters: "We have not used chemical weapons so far and I swear by God's Word I have not seen any such weapons. But if I had to finish off the enemy, and if I am allowed to use them, I will not hesitate to do so".

and as "As part of Project 922..."
posted by clavdivs at 10:29 AM on July 20, 2011


As discussed earlier, this war was known to be a most bloody and expensive war. Both countries had a total of over one million casualties12 and monetary wise, the eight-year war had cost both Iraq and Iran in excess of US$700 billion each

The war lasted 8 years. That's $1.68 billion dollars a week at least. Iraqi weapons imports totally $41.94 billion. Which is still more than $100 million a month. The US provided Iraq with loan guarantees of $5 billion from 1985-1989. That's a tiny fraction of the $700 billion dollar cost of the war.
posted by humanfont at 1:31 PM on July 20, 2011


humanfont, you said earlier:

They spent a billion dollars a week fighting Iran back when a billion dollars was real money.

But your own link says this:
On the direct monetary costs, Iraq spent between US$74-US$91 billion on the conduct of the war and another £41.94 billion on military imports, whereas Iran's costs were US$94-US$112 billion and £11.26 billion respectively. As for the indirect cost due to the loss of income from oil and agricultural produce, it was estimated that the sums were US$561 billion and US$627 billion for Iraq and Iran respectively.
The footnoted source mentions nothing about cost on page 250, but let's just assume it's a different edition. The author of your article does not mention what year of what currency the information is based on, but even assuming a 2 to 1 exchange rate and pretending the figures are in 1980 dollars, you are well short of your claim that "[Iraq] spent a billion dollars a week fighting Iran."

Why are you making shit up, and now quoting sources out of context to cover your ass?
posted by notion at 3:25 PM on July 20, 2011


clavdivs: Nothing you quote contradicts what I have stated. What has it got to do with US support of Saddam Hussein?

And you've got me on what T2 is. Perhaps you could provide some lucid information instead of vague metaphors and codewords. Are you talking about mycotoxin?
posted by notion at 4:03 PM on July 20, 2011


Ok so my estimate of US assistance to Iraq was over by 100% because I failed to convert pounds to dollars. It only strengthens my point that US assistance to Iraq was minimal. Your argument is the most hole ridden spin job since Colin Powell at the UN. Are you going to start citing secret Iraqi communications next? When will you be citing Ahmed Challabi.
posted by humanfont at 4:42 PM on July 20, 2011


Your source is an army officer from Singapore who can't properly do math, whom you blindly cited without doing any basic research, and now you're accusing me of using desperate citations?

For someone with such faith in the US government (apparently until the year 2000), I find it strange that you'll accept sophomoric attempts at scholarship over sworn testimony and declassified internal records. But to each his own, I guess.
posted by notion at 7:35 PM on July 20, 2011


em>Nothing you quote contradicts what I have stated

What you have stated is your indictment of America with out any regard to other countries actions and Iraq and Irans insane geo-political position at the time.

Why did the U.S. and others turn a blind eye?

The public condemnation was issued on March 5. It said, "While condemning Iraq's chemical weapons use . . . The United States finds the present Iranian regime's intransigent refusal to deviate from its avowed objective of eliminating the legitimate government of neighboring Iraq to be inconsistent with the accepted norms of behavior among nations and the moral and religious basis which it claims" [Document 43].

There you are, what next, shall be take Berlin now. It is common knowledge that the war in total cost both sides about 600 billion when it was over.

1.2 trillion bucks because of two lunatics. Those days are hopefully over. Your anti-imperialistic screed is over notion, those days are past, new players, new rules, lets hope not the same old thing but I'm starting to think that may be true and there is not a damn thing you or I can do. about it.

back to T2. Now what’s your take commie trick or Yankee dog cover-up, kidding. No the case is one of great interest because of the chemistry involved, something explained to me in some detail as I asked a friend who knows chemistry and biology if this could be a manufactured agent leaving no makers mark so to speak. (pre-cursors can be checked and traced to manufacturing origin)

Why is that interesting and how does it pertain to saddam?

(follow the precursor, see were it goes, were it ends up, hopefully we'll know)

((like Obama (((he is in charge if the BATF))) selling guns to Mexican drug lords...any comment notion?))
posted by clavdivs at 9:25 PM on July 20, 2011


Now you want to quibble over costs. Wikipedia pegs the war at $500 billion per side.


New revelations into the Iran-Iraq war.

Saddam kept lots of records in a Nixonian like fashion. Key highlights:
-The alleged green light by the US is likely a hoax.
-The decision to invade was conducted with limited planning.
-The major role played by France in the war

See also Wikipedia

Some additional reading on the costs of the war. Mofid pegged the cost on the low end at $450 bllion which is more than $52 billion per year.

Your America secretly runs the world as global puppet master is only differed from the neocons in that you feel bad about it. It is like you are the Come Zero to their Coke.
posted by humanfont at 9:44 PM on July 20, 2011


What you have stated is your indictment of America with out any regard to other countries actions and Iraq and Irans insane geo-political position at the time.

What I have stated is that the United States supported Saddam Hussein when it was geopolitically convenient, and then pretended that we had nothing to do with his acquisition of power or biological weapons when it was geopolitically convenient to invade. In this respect, the United States government has no better foreign policy than the British Empire or any other state. It seeks power and money. It is not exceptional and rarely acts for any moral purpose.

Your defense of our actions in the 1980s is what a teenager uses when they get caught vandalizing a house or beating someone up. But we're not talking about a few bruises and scrapes or a few thousand in property damage. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of lives, and yes, hundreds of billions in lost opportunity costs. (humanfont is now lying to say that's what he meant, but I'm not as gullible as he is to himself.)

It doesn't matter what the other states were doing. The United States knowingly escalated a war and propped up a murderous dictator who they knew was developing and using biological weapons because they thought it would be better for our interests in the Middle East. If you deny this fact after reading all of the internal documents I have posted above, you're simply in denial. For what reason I do not understand.

As for our public condemnation, I can only laugh. Here, before I hand this known murder a loaded weapon, I'll scold him for his past murders, and remind him that he's been a bad person. That should absolve me of any responsibility, right?

1.2 trillion bucks because of two lunatics. Those days are hopefully over.

The current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost well over three trillion dollars, not including lost opportunity costs. We outspent the entire GDP of Afghanistan every single year for the last ten trying to take over, and we've still not achieved stability there. Iraq is all but destroyed, and its government is back to torturing dissidents and making people disappear. Every day more people are discovered on the side of the road, missing fingers and teeth and with holes drilled in their head. And now there are soldiers with American flags on their shoulders guarding those prisons. Is this progress?

Your anti-imperialistic screed is over notion, those days are past, new players, new rules, lets hope not the same old thing but I'm starting to think that may be true and there is not a damn thing you or I can do. about it.

As citizens of a democratic country, it's our fault that our government is destroying lives in their attempt to control parts of the world with extraordinary violence.

I'm still not able to parse what you mean in regards to mycotoxin.

((like Obama (((he is in charge if the BATF))) selling guns to Mexican drug lords...any comment notion?))

Yes. He should have directed the closure of all gun shows and banned the sale of all semi-automatic assault rifles the day he stepped into office, and he is in part responsible for the gun deaths in Mexico.

And since he is also continuing our disastrous drug war policies, he is even more responsible for keeping the Bush Administration threat of pulling all of our support for Mexico if they dare to legalize drugs and end the war.
posted by notion at 5:33 AM on July 21, 2011


Now you want to quibble over costs. Wikipedia pegs the war at $500 billion per side.

In lost opportunity costs. You said "spent billions" "back when that kind of money meant something." The highest estimate I've seen on Iraq's side -- remember, we were discussing US support of Iraq -- was a little over one hundred billion in real 2003 dollars. Our contribution and those of the Gulf States, whose funds we helped acquire and directed to third parties for arms purchases, account for approximately half. Remember, when Saddam invaded Kuwait, those Gulf States opened their borders to our military. That's usually a good sign in a political relationship.

Your estimation that it spent one billion in 1980s dollars per week is simply not true, and I would urge you to retract it instead of lying further.

-The alleged green light by the US is likely a hoax.

Contradicts nothing about our monetary and political support for Saddam Hussein. (And a point I do not concede, since that conference is mostly filled with DoD apologists.)

-The decision to invade was conducted with limited planning.

Ditto.

-The major role played by France in the war

Ditto.

Some additional reading on the costs of the war. Mofid pegged the cost on the low end at $450 bllion which is more than $52 billion per year.

Those are lost opportunity costs in today's dollars, as stated above. You can lie to yourself all you want, but I'm not that credulous. You are again trying to claim that Iraq spent more money than its entire GDP. Why do you keep making such a stupid claim?

Your America secretly runs the world as global puppet master is only differed from the neocons in that you feel bad about it. It is like you are the Come Zero to their Coke.

The United States outspends the rest of the world combined in military expenditures and has the world's largest economy. If you think we are not one of the most formidable military and political forces in the world just on an institutional level, you're a fucking fool.
posted by notion at 5:48 AM on July 21, 2011


The United States outspends the rest of the world combined in military expenditures and has the world's largest economy

sorry no, of the 1630 billions spent world -wide, the u.s. spent 698, B less then half the worlds combined GDP spending military.

I'm not denying anything if fact what could be worse then using chemical weapons, well not much unless you setout to destroy a countires infrastucture like Iran did and why in the hell did we warn iran that they might be invaded...weeks before they seized our embassy, an act of war in most places.

It doesn't matter what the other states were doing. The United States knowingly escalated a war and propped up a murderous dictator who they knew was developing and using biological weapons because they thought it would be better for our interests in the Middle East. If you deny this fact after reading all of the internal documents I have posted above, you're simply in denial. For what reason I do not understand.

3 Trillion for the wars. not cheap but we are safe, aren't we? No more saddam to deal with (everyone is glad of that) no more bin laden.

and look whats happening in the middle east without our help.

I don't deny it, in fact it is a fact except we did not sell him the finished product. Hey if your diabetic and want to buy a case of sugar then eat it, your free to do so.
posted by clavdivs at 10:58 AM on July 21, 2011


sorry no, of the 1630 billions spent world -wide, the u.s. spent 698, B less then half the worlds combined GDP spending military.

Every source I see says 43-45%, but let me concede this point: the US does spend 100% of what the rest of the world does combined. It spends roughly 90% of the world combined.

I'm not denying anything if fact what could be worse then using chemical weapons, well not much unless you setout to destroy a countires infrastucture like Iran did and why in the hell did we warn iran that they might be invaded...weeks before they seized our embassy, an act of war in most places.

Planning to destroy a nation's infrastructure is wrong, but carrying out the destruction of the infrastructure of two nations so your geopolitical goals are met is just fine? How about selling both sides of that war weapons? How about selling chemical weapons to one side, and then using your political clout to stifle UN action?

3 Trillion for the wars. not cheap but we are safe, aren't we? No more saddam to deal with (everyone is glad of that) no more bin laden.

6,000 soldiers are dead, tens of thousands have been maimed, and hundreds of thousands will now suffer from PTSD out of the one million men and women who have been sent there to fight. Pakistan has the whole region poised on the brink of nuclear war -- another gift from the Reagan Administration. Afghanistan is about to fall back to the Taliban, and Iraq and Iran are forging closer and closer ties as Shia nations, which will probably further destabilize Saudi Arabia. We did a fucking bang up job, didn't we?

I don't deny it, in fact it is a fact except we did not sell him the finished product.

This is inanity.
posted by notion at 1:50 PM on July 21, 2011


Anyway, this is all terribly far afield from the topic of the post

I just want to point out this is exactly the discussion these leaks were intended to engender. If these logs are accurate, Manning felt morally obligated to force a critical examination of American foreign policy, which is why he's a whistleblower, not a traitor. Hopefully this is a beginning, not an end.
posted by mek at 2:12 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


We did a fucking bang up job, didn't we?
and if we and the allies did nothing? I see this will be moral equivalency thing.

but carrying out the destruction of the infrastructure of two nations so your geopolitical goals are met is just fine?

Iraq attacked iran not the U.S. It may have been in our and others interest but we did not launch the assault. Your blaming these dirty practices of arms trade on the traders themselves and not the dictators who buy them.

and did some people get caught during the Iran-contra scandel for selling/trading weapons?

Why did we warn Iran of the invasion? why did Carter do little to nothing concerning the threat of mideast instability, sure, some peace talks but what about the rest of that mess. Have you reviewed the soviets action during this war. Are you aware of the gas used by them in Afghanistan. What about North Yemen. Do you have an explanation for that other just another empire playing around with countries.

and then using your political clout to stifle UN action?

using poison gas, and alleged that Britain and the US were using the reports as psychological warfare against Egypt. On February 12, 1967, it said it would welcome a UN investigation. On March 1, U Thant said he was "powerless" to deal with the matter

fuck the U.N. until it can react with decisiveness.


none of this is fine. esp.
We did not sell them chemical weapons, just the precursors what can you not understand about that. look at these way, reality says hmmm, *sell him the stuff and make the money or someone else will, trace the stuff and he might not use it because we and others helped him accure the precursors and saddam would not bite the hand that feeds...right*

I agree, boneheaded move.

Personaly I like the idea Bob Gates had back then. Sell to Iran and cut out the sovs.
And what about irans program. the ayatollah said it would be inhuman to use them, can't disagree there, but how about sending thousands of kids into machine gun nests, thats more like the martyr spirit. Wrong for Iran to target the infra? it choked the country of oil and supplies. i suspect the iraqis used the shit as justification to the attacks of the iraqi civilian population.

moral justification, well I'm sorta ill. My personal belief is that we should have invaded then left and I said so on the blue back then-no occupation and Afghanistan we had to invade but we do not have the duty to rebuild that country, many have tried and they will have make do. And I care little about Pakistan, that arrangement is over for the most, besides India could kick the shit out of them. don't you agree that Afghanistan is in better hands with Pakistan, Russia and China at the helm...so to speak.



I sorta agree mek, I have a hard with the traitor issue but he has to except a penalty until the laws are re-written if at all. I get very upset when someone compares Manning to someone like Sheldon Boone or Aldrich Ames....and clayton lonetree, which is a poor analogy:) (Manning would laugh at that)
posted by clavdivs at 2:40 PM on July 21, 2011




Manning (again according to these logs) acknowledged the likelihood of severe legal consequences for his actions, and any realist would do the same at this point. But it's interesting that we still argue over whether or not he's a traitor. The question is really about the definition of "good citizen" which "traitor" is defined in opposition to. Especially given the increasing awareness of notions of global citizenhood, humanitarianism, etc... what are our duties as citizens now? Do we have duties to humanity, the planet, friends, family, etc as well? When those duties conflict, which should we choose?

Complex and messy questions, which we will only have more of in the future. At least this signals a lessening influence of 20th-century nationalism, to me.
posted by mek at 4:21 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw we call it a draw. I can't support the moral actions with any defintive reason other then what the U.S. released in the statement about the saddams use of these weapons.

and notion cannot produce a viable bill of sale that states 'fully functiooning chemical/ bio weapons, readt to use, no assembly required.'

and thanks mek, i think your right and this is what i take away.
posted by clavdivs at 10:49 AM on July 22, 2011


and notion cannot produce a viable bill of sale that states 'fully functiooning chemical/ bio weapons, readt to use, no assembly required.'

If there's anything we learned from the scandals like the Iran Contra affair, it's that everyone in the US government does everything above board and provides a full and complete paper trail when they know they are skirting the law. Just like everyone else.

US BIOWEAPONS SUPERSTORE
JUNE 24, 1984
AMERICAN TYPE CULTURE COLLECTION AND THE CDC
APPROVED BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT FOR EXPORT

QTY ITEM
---------------------------
001 CLOSTRIDIUM BOTULINUM*
001 HISTOPLASMA CAPSULATUM*
001 CLOSTRIDIUM PERFRINGENS*
001 BRUCELLA MELITENSIS*
001 BACILLUS ANTHRACIS*

TOTAL DUE: $0 (COURTESY OF AMERICAN TAXPAYERS)

THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING WITH US, SADDAM HUSSEIN!

*NOT FOR USE FOR CHEMICAL WEAPONS DEVELOPMENT OR ATTACKS
*ESPECIALLY LIKE THE ONES YOU EXECUTED IN THE PAST YEAR
*WE REALLY, REALLY MEAN IT

posted by notion at 6:23 PM on July 22, 2011


Norway bomber bought fertilizer in Poland:

OMG notion, how could the polish government/companies sell these precurors to a madman. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN!
posted by clavdivs at 2:11 PM on July 25, 2011










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