Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Didn't Speak Up

On March 7th, I sent the following questions to Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.
I didn't really expect a response since specific questions can not easily be answered by form letters, and these two poltroons were born without spines or had them surgically removed.

"He has also been a tireless advocate for improving the quality of life for troops and their families." - Saxby Chambliss


1. In view of the above claim from your profile, what are you doing to end the torture of Bradley Manning?
2. Do you approve of forced nudity, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and exercise deprivation?
3. Do you support the prosecution of the perpetrators of these acts?
4. Do you support an investigation of Manning's treatment?
5. Do you think that Barack Obama should be held accountable as Commander in chief of the Armed Forces?
6. Do you think that persons charged, but not tried or convicted should be maltreated?

What brought this to mind was the story of the troops in Afghanistan killing civilians and cutting off their ears and being so stupid and reckless as to photograph themselves committing the crimes. Several of those charged have admitted guilt, but I have heard no stories about any of them being deprived of sleep, forced to sleep nude, held for long periods in solitary confinement, deprived of exercise etc.

Bradley Manning performed a public service by informing the populace of the secret actions and policies of the government - that is, assuming he leaked the information to WikiLeaks. The Pentagon has admitted that no harm has come to any U.S. troops because of the public release of the secret information.

What the renegade death squad boys have done in Afghanistan is a crime under any moral code and shows a high degree of depravity. All Manning is alleged to have done is to make manifest what shouldn't have been concealed from the public to begin with. Why the disparity in treatment? Manning hasn't even been convicted and they're treating him like he's Carlos the Jackal or Osama bin Ladin.

I'm not going to hold my breath until Chambliss and Isakson call for Manning to be treated humanely. These two guys are such milquetoasts that they would make Vidkun Quisling look like evil's implacable foe.

Politicians love to hear from people who are having trouble with the V.A. or Social Security or some other agency that they can have a staffer call and solve the problem. They have a vote from then on. They usually don't mind letters about legislation because if it's popular they can say they support it and might even be a co-sponsor, but if it's unpopular or risky, they can drone on about what's in the bill (which you already know) and assure you that they're going to consider your views at the time of the vote.

I think it would be helpful if people started asking questions in their letters to politicians that have to be answered individually. It puts them on the spot. It is said somewhere that an honest man can speak for himself when the fool and the knave cannot. I think that's why I have received no response to my query.
As if to confirm what I wrote about politicians prattling on with irrelevancies, I received this response from Saxby Chambliss after posting the above.  Notice than none of my questions are answered and note also that I did not mention WikiLeaks in my questions.

Dear Mr. Sullivan:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about the WikiLeaks incident. It is good to hear from you.

As you may know, on July 25th 2010, WikiLeaks released more than 91,000 classified military documents regarding the war in Afghanistan.  The documents are largely field-level military reports and do not have the sophistication of national-level finished intelligence. Nonetheless, the leaked documents do include information including times, dates, unit designations, geographic identifiers, and the names of some Afghan personnel working with the U.S. Military which could put those personnel at risk of retaliation.  

Again, in November 2010, the website began publishing a reported 250,000 confidential American diplomatic cables, largely from the last three years. Several news organizations have subsequently reported on the cables and their contents.  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has said that these documents describe sensitive information that could potentially endanger the lives of those who are operating in Afghanistan.

Private First Class Bradley E. Manning, 23, is the chief suspect in leaking the military documents to the Wikileaks website.  PFC Manning, a former intelligence analyst, was arrested in Iraq at the end of May 2010 on suspicion of passing classified information.  Originally, he was charged with communicating national defense information to an unauthorized source.  In March 2011 an additional 22 charges were preferred, including "aiding the enemy," a capital offense.  PFC Manning is currently being held in solitary confinement awaiting court martial for these offenses at the United States Marine Corps base in Quantico, VA.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I believe that our military units should operate with the best intelligence available, and we need to ensure that classified information is handled and secured appropriately.  Effective diplomacy requires candid conversations with America's friends and adversaries alike.  It is essential that any communications within our own government about such conversations take place within a confidential and often-classified setting.  Leaks of this magnitude undermine the trust and confidentiality that are critical to diplomatic efforts, and should command the highest form of punishment. I will work to ensure persons guilty of leaking classified information are held accountable. 

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