Syria: The Snowden, Manning (and Godfather) Connections

Godfather

Well, we’re coming up for another vote about attacking a far off country over weapons of mass destruction. This time the target is not Iraq, but Syria. This time the “new Hitler” is not Saddam Hussein but Bashar al-Assad. This time it’s not Colin Powell, but John Kerry who assures the world that it can “trust us” and the secret evidence that can’t be fully shared for reasons of National Security.

Remember the last time a vote like this was taken? It was three days after 9/11. Then Congress passed a resolution for the Authorization for Use of Military Force. It sailed through with only one dissenting vote – that of Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Before registering her brave dissent, the Congresswoman spoke on the House floor. “As we act,” she said, “let us not become the evil that we deplore.”

President Obama would do well to heed those words this time around. However I’m not merely referring to the fact that we already are the evil we ostensibly deplore. After all, we supported Saddam Hussein in his deployment of chemical weapons against Iran in 1988. We have repeatedly used chemical weapons ourselves – for example, Agent Orange in Vietnam and white phosphorus in Fallujah. (I’m not sure how to classify depleted uranium.)

Instead, I’m referring to the Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden cases and the Obama administration’s position that the former Army, CIA and NSA employees deplorably (1) revealed state secrets, (2) violated their constitutional oaths, (3) failed to go through the proper channels, (4) aided the enemy, (5) endangered American lives, and (6) did all of this for reasons of personal advancement.

Ironically, these are the very “crimes” the Obama administration is committing relative to Syria. In effect, Obama is a more deplorable whistle-blower than he considers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning to be. That is, by confirming the Manning and Snowden revelations, he’s unwittingly blowing the whistle on himself.

Consider the Manning and Snowden parallels one-by-one. In the run-up to the Syria bombing:

• Obama has revealed state secrets: The big “state secret” in question is the most devastating one disclosed by Manning and Snowden. It is that the U.S. is a completely out-of-control rogue state. Its army is not only routinely guilty of “collateral murder.” Its CIA and NSA act like a world police force spying on and attempting to control not only designated enemies but even “friends.” The embarrassment caused by Manning and Snowden’s irrefutable revelations on those scores is what has so enraged the Nobel Peace laureate who resides in the White House. Nevertheless, Obama’s own posturing as World Policeman and Mad Bomber relative to Syria confirm what Manning and Snowden have told us so clearly. Our president and Congress are completely out-of-control.

• Obama is violating his constitutional oath: The State Department has repeatedly accused Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden of violating their constitutional oaths to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. But the president, of course, and his congressional enablers are doing the same. According to the Constitution, treaties have the same force as domestic law. As a signatory of the United Nations treaty, the U.S. is bound to get Security Council approval before attacking another nation. Yet it refuses to go that route, because it knows that Russia and China will support world opinion which stands overwhelmingly against U.S. intervention in Syria (as does U.S. opinion).

• President Obama declines to “go through the proper channels”: In prosecuting Chelsea Manning and going after Edward Snowden, a constant accusation of the Obama administration has been that the two have failed to go through the proper channels and procedures which the administration claims are adequate and necessary to avoid catastrophe. Yet nowhere is international law clearer than in defining the proper channels that must honored before launching acts of war. Once again, those channels centralize the United Nations and its Security Council. The Obama administration ignores U.N. procedures because they would inevitably determine U.S. intentions to be criminal.

• President Obama is aiding the enemy: In its prosecution of Chelsea Manning and pursuit of Edward Snowden, the State Department has insisted that the two have “aided the enemy.” Even people giving donations to charitable causes perhaps tangentially connected to al-Qaeda run the risk of having similar accusations (and prosecutions). Yet, by all accounts the opposition to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad includes forces tightly allied with al-Qaeda. So by siding with the rebels, President Obama is directly aiding the enemy in ways that absolutely dwarf anything Manning and Snowden (and charitable donors) could even think of doing.

• President Obama is endangering American lives: Iran and Syria correctly claim the right to self-defense recognized by the U.N. Charter. As allies, they promise retaliation against the United States and its principal regional ally, Israel. Will Israel or the U.S. stand aside in the case of such retaliation? Of course not. As Obama himself has said, once the bombs start flying all bets are off. Events simply take on a life of their own. Will Israel itself retaliate using its atomic weapons? How irresponsible can our “leaders” be?

• President Obama is pursuing this insanity for reasons of personal gain: Obama clearly made a mistake in drawing a “red line” and promising “action” in the case of using chemical weapons in Syria. He made another mistake by jumping to the conclusion that the al-Assad government was responsible for their use before all the data was in. Now it fears appearing weak should it follow the lead of British Prime Minister David Cameron who in effect admitted his mistake in not honoring the will of the British people and its Parliament. So like a Mafia Don, in order to maintain “credibility” and save face, Obama feels compelled to break some legs and spray some restaurants with machine gun fire. Otherwise who knows how many congressional seats might be lost next year? Make no mistake: this round of blood-letting will be done for political gain and to save the president’s reputation as a credible “Godfather.”

So the substance of the Manning and Snowden revelations has been confirmed from the highest possible source. The U.S. is indeed a rogue state. It not only spies on the world, it has set itself up as its lone judge, jury, and executioner. It is a supporter of al-Qaeda. It cares not a bit for American lives or anyone else’s for that matter. In fact it is willing to risk a World War to avoid losing face. As such “America” is an outlaw state with “leaders” who routinely violate not only their oaths of office, but the U.N. Charter, world opinion, and the most elementary moral principles.

Not only that, but the procedures used by Manning and Snowden have been validated by Obama’s intentions towards Syria. Evidently he agrees with the whistle-blowers he deplores that the channels and protocols the world has established to avoid catastrophe are not adequate or workable. Like Bush before him, his will alone determines what is right and wrong.

The only thing left to do is award Manning and Snowden the Nobel Peace Prize – not as worthy successors of Barack Obama, but to atone for the mistake of previously giving it to a Mafia Don.

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 40 years. Three grown children. Four grandchildren.

2 thoughts on “Syria: The Snowden, Manning (and Godfather) Connections”

  1. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose! The Dems who opposed Bush on Iraq are falling all over each other to support Obama. The Republicans, afraid to be seen as anything but hawkish, haven’t budged in 40 years. We may one day reach the point, to paraphrase a general from the Vietnam era, when the president emerges from his bomb-proof bunker and tells the last person standing, “We had to destroy the world in order to save it.”

    Like

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