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Treason

Manning, Snowden, and their crimes......

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, August 21, 2013.

Two treason cases are in the news. Airman Bradley Manning, who sent a bunch of military info to Wiki Leaks to call attention to dubious or illegal actions by our military, has just been sentenced to 35 years in prison instead of life or - with more prosecutorial enthusiasm - death. He's served three years and in either seven or ten years would be up for parole.

The other, Edward Snowden, was a military contractor working for the National Security Agency who sent British media info on American spying on its own citizens. He has sanctuary in Russia, and it's hard to figure where this is going.

Treason has a sordid history in my life time. During the cold war, treason was used to execute Ethel Rosenberg for the activities of her husband, also killed. This was J. Edgar Hoover's fault, as he supposedly thought the husband would confess and excuse his wife who, while certainly guilty of a degree of knowledge, and whose brother participated, could not be proven to have done squat deserving of death. Then, Alger Hiss, whom Nixon, a later crook, made his reputation upon and whom those lamenting Ethel claimed had been framed and innocent. When the Soviet Union fell, the paperwork revealed Hiss was indeed a spy. The Left had to admit, horrors, Nixon had been right.

At the time, and perhaps even now, Julius Rosenberg and Hiss could easily be presented as deserving death by commonly accepted values. They also coincidently fluffed the paranoid right wing's image of traitors: one was Jewish and one was a namby-pamby moneyed elite who liked FDR and served in that administration, so obviously both guilty. Snowden and Manning do not fit these templates.

Manning is an effeminate Air Force serviceman with actual gender identity problems and issues. That did not emerge till recently, or at least I'd not read it. This is awkward for everyone, because was he being prosecuted for being gay, or gayish sorta, or because he did actual material damage to the security of others? He's since admitted everything and apologized, and I think, all considered, his sentence was fair and he'll be out in ten years. He is not a bad person wishing the US ill, but he could be imaged as a childish and selfish one who threw a prolonged hissy fit for an unhappy life. The military, in the middle of two or three wars and dealing with the changing national values and getting rid of DADT, can deserve some sympathy for this atop else.

Snowden's case is different, and I've complained about this. Essentially what has happened is the government applied its computer power to the already obtained records of private phone companies and related entities. The military did not initiate or seek out new information, they siphoned it from the already obtained info private companies already had and kept of American citizens for billing and judging customer need. That it could provide a great plot twist in trials actual and fictional has been known since early in the 20th century. So, for the American public to staple its wrist to its forehead and shriek about this invasion of privacy is rather rich, because there is no way they could not have known about it. This does not excuse the Federals for getting it, perhaps, but owning a phone from the time of Alex Bell meant the info was collected and kept forever.

If the government is telling the truth, and I'm pretty sure in the main they are, they're only interested in nailing terrorists and neither the time nor budget to venture into broad scale extortion or intimidation. Nonetheless, they certainly could and whatever was in place to prevent that is pretty vague. And, isn't it good we go after drone attacks done frivolously or carelessly by pudgy remote pilots safe in this nation but killing folks, some innocent, in Iraq or Afghanistan? Yes, and no.

Yes comes easily to those who pretend to hate war and no comes easily to those who want to deify all patriarchal and patriotic issues. Both nauseate me. The left because it wants no guilt for enjoying the benefits of being an American, and the posturing right pretending we are superior, and cynically saying some human wastage is unavoidable to maintain the flag. Hate both.

This is complicated, and for the moment I'd prefer we focus the term treason on those who risked public funds for personal profit with small regard for the nation's financial collapse. That and tighten security clearances.