George Galloway: US govt’s persecution of Chelsea Manning is medieval punishment, the cutting out of tongues, the murder of truth

George Galloway

George Galloway

was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator. Follow him on Twitter @georgegalloway

12 Mar, 2020 by https://www.rt.com/

Chelsea Manning leaves the Albert V. Bryan U.S. District Courthouse, March 5, 2019 © Getty Images/The Washington Post/Jahi Chikwendiu

The US government’s efforts to punish truth-tellers like Chelsea Manning is in part vengeance, but the ultimate goal is to terrify, to ensure there will never be another Manning or Julian Assange.

The woman who, as Bradley Manning, revealed some of the stark truths about the high crimes and misdemeanours of the US government which now persecutes her, has attempted to end her life.

Her leaked information to WikiLeaks provided the basis of the War Logs which in turn are the basis of the US government’s persecution of the publisher Julian Assange.

Manning has already paid the price for the crime of leaking true information about war crimes, serving seven years of her 35-year sentence in a Kansas prison before being released after President Obama commuted her sentence – effectively placing her on parole for life. She was not pardoned but nonetheless her subsequent arrest and imprisonment is effectively Double Jeopardy, and runs contrary to the prohibition of being punished twice for the same crime.

Essentially, Manning is refusing to testify to a Grand Jury – the existence of which was for many years a state secret – against Julian Assange. She has been convicted of nothing new in this case and has not been sentenced. But in a surely arbitrary, cruel and unusual punishment (all three being forbidden by the US Constitution), she has been held for nearly a year and fined $1,000 per day, a fine which her lawyers say has now reached the staggering sum of half a million dollars. If she continues to refuse to testify against Assange for the entirety of the publisher’s legal battle in England and then Europe, she will owe the US government many millions of dollars and will have spent many years behind bars.

The sheer vindictiveness of the US government’s efforts to punish the truth-tellers – Manning and Assange – is of course in part simple vengeance.

Not even the Vietnam war did as much damage to American reputations than their madcap disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan. It ensured that the historic icon of the USA will be not the Statue of Liberty but the pile of prisoners being sexually abused, being made to perform indecent acts upon each other, on the floor of Abu Ghraib Prison. 

It ensured that no piece of Hollywood footage will in the end be quite as famous as the faceless controller telling his helicopter gunmen to “light them up” as Reuters reporters and fathers with their children are killed and wounded  on film on the ground in Iraq. The scale of the deep-state rage against those who bravely leaked and published such truths runs as deep as the state itself. There will be never glad confident morning again for America.

But it is not only revenge. The ultimate purpose of the remorseless persecution of Assange and Manning is to ensure that there will never be another Julian Assange, or another Chelsea Manning. It is the chilling effect, make that the killing effect, on free journalism, free publishing in the world which is the overarching goal. Who will volunteer to be the next Chelsea Manning is the question they seek to pose. Ironically this is a similar motive for the invasion of Iraq itself.

The Iraq war was not “for oil” – though oil was an important motive. Neither was it “for Israel” though that too was a factor. The real purpose of the invasion of Iraq, the war and occupation which reverberates still, was to terrify the world with American power. To ensure the new American Century. That it all failed merely makes the rage all the more murderous.

Though there are no wracks, no spikes – make no mistake, this is medieval punishment. These are two butterflies being crushed upon the wheel. This is the cutting out of tongues. This is the murder of truth.