The other day, an obnoxious Pentagon spokesperson issued formal threats (essentially: destroy everything, or else!) against WikiLeaks, the organization which received thousands of classified documents from Bradley Manning and has since made many of those available for public consumption.
WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, responded in an interview on Democracy Now. Amy Goodman, conducting the interview, quoted Admiral Mike Mullen from a news conference earlier in the week
ADM. MIKE MULLEN: Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is, they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family. Disagree with the war all you want, take issue with the policy, challenge me or our ground commanders on the decisions we make to accomplish the mission we’ve been given, but don’t put those who willingly go into harm’s way even further in harm’s way just to satisfy your need to make a point.
Hear? We’re allowed to “take issue with the policy” and “challenge” the tactical decisions made by the commanders, as long as we leave “the mission” out of the equation, because, you see, they’re just following orders (and so should you). But following orders isn’t an excuse.
“Following orders was not an excuse for anyone put on trial in Nuremberg, and it will not be an excuse for you or your superiors, either.” — Andrew Williams (addressing Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, legal advisor to Guantanamo Bay prison)
About those who “willingly” go in to harm’s way? They would rather be driving their kids to soccer practice, finishing college, working their 9-to-5, etc. How many would’ve “willingly” gone to fight for Empire if the Pentagon had put a C-130 at every airport in the country with suitable runway and said, “Anyone who wants to go to Afghanistan and fight, the door is open!”? My guess: they wouldn’t fill a high school gymnasium.
Assange points out that when, e.g., Robert Gates or Mike Mullen implies that WikiLeaks and its collaborators might have blood on their hands, that these statements “all together, are designed to distract from the big picture,” which is of course the same big picture which Mullen craftily sidesteps in the blockquote above. The big picture is “the mission” itself, the objective consequences of which include the deaths of 20,000 civilian, non-combatant Afghans.
Mr. Mullen can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his forces are doing, but the truth is, they already have on their hands the blood of 4,000 American soldiers, some 20,000 innocent Afghans, and (conservatively) over 100,000 innocent Iraqis. Including “accidents” wherein 150+ children were bombed to death.
Collateral murder, indeed.
Assange and WikiLeaks are exposing the crimes and the criminals like Mullen, Gates, et. Al, who are responsible. If you want to pretend that all that shit never happened, then I guess you can get on your high horse and start spouting off about the “potential” blood Assange might someday be responsible for. But you’re definitely light-years ahead of him in terms of destroying human lives.
Mr. Mullen & Mr. Gates, You pay lip-service to keeping the troops out of harm’s way, you may fret over tactics, the specific actions you take towards the accomplishment of “the mission you’ve been given”, but tactics do not exist in a fucking vacuum. They exist only in the context of “the mission.” Every second of your pitiful existence which passes without questioning the morality of the orders you’ve been given, the orders you’ve accepted to undertake, is another second in which you are responsible for the harm those people face, and the harm they may commit. And if “the mission” is rotten (to the goddamned core), then nothing else matters.
Releasing “secret” military files does not endanger the troops. Putting them in unconstitutional wars and keeping them there for a decade does.