Thursday, May 5, 2011

An American Awakened

This is so great! It was updated earlier. So reprint!!!

An American Awakened

I woke up the last night and my mind was churning. I didn’t know why. So I thought about what I did the day before.

Earlier in the day my apathy had been in full effect. I was working on numerous foreign affairs pieces and was sloshing through framing, wording, and sourcing. For the sourcing I had about a dozen pages and pdfs open when my computer decided to take an unexpected break. That was good because I was accomplishing nothing.

I ran into an article on human rights in the United States, once back online. I saw a challenge so I started writing. The piece began to take the shape of a strategy of informational warfare against the United States. The  report I read was from China and I became uncomfortable and decided against publishing. Again more wasted time.
My day of reading and barely writing was coming to a close. Just one more thing, put something on the blog.
I need to laugh. It’s my favorite apathetic diversion. So I dug up some stats on the chance of being killed by terrorists and made some jokes about the obsession with it. I felt a little better after posting the snide little terrorist entry.

I had drifted back to sleep just to awake to the same problem shortly later. This is unusual. I like sleeping and I’m good at it. Something beyond my normal restless curiosity was at work here. Still my determination to return to sleep was strong so I lay there, basically pretending to sleep now.

Thoughts continued to mill around in my head.  I was trying to figure out what was bothering me. Toiling through thoughts of what I read and written just hours ago. Was it that Russia has massive swaths of land that are Mongol, Finish, and Caucasian dominated territory or that China has a similar demographic condition? Was it the Arab Springs ebb and flow? Was it the bombing of Libya? I was back on the human rights as a tool thing again. Why?

This isn’t like me. I’m concerned with “The Great Game”.  I’ve discounted values, life, and liberties enough already. It can’t be a profound concern for human rights. It must be something closer to home (contradiction noted). Now I’m frustrated. I consider just getting up and having some coffee.

I love coffee but right then I was lazy. I didn’t want to move. So I settled on just thinking about it while pretending to sleep. I remembered being in the field (training operations) and using instant coffee and creamers. That would suffice if somebody would just go get me some. Now my eyes are closed but I do have a little grin thinking about the silliness of that.

I remembered being stuck on Okinawa when two wars were on. I was searching for my war sauce and felt left out. I also remember guys, myself included, getting in trouble and being looked out for by our fellow Marines. It’s a Marine thing. Then I remembered landing on the island and getting briefed about how it was a bad idea for us to land in foreign jails.

That’s when I became terrified.

I’m wide awake now. I feel strongly about something political on a very personal level. Not my sine qua non.  I realized that I've thaken the patriot act, the economic malaise, the pathetic news outlets, the corporate strangle hold on the government, torture to gain information, war to gain resources and influence, and all the nonsense that flows from the mouths of those elected officials who swore to defend the constitution but are hell bent on circumventing it. Yep I’ve taken a lot.

Twenty four hours ago I didn’t care. Apathy and self interest had gotten the best of me. Not right now. Now I’m a terrified American. It’s a really weird special brand of terrified. It’s a frightful blending of anger, shame, and fear that has overcome me. My country, more specifically the future of my country, is in jeopardy. Seems strange since it happens to be the most powerful political, economic, and military power the world has ever seen. A decade of being assaulted by misinformation, moral haphazardness, and economic negligence has torn its very social fabric.

We’ve failed together. My country and I have failed together that is. There have been two Americas for a long time. The domestic America and the American Empire. They have traditionally operated under different sets of rules and the latter acted separately from domestic politics for the most part. Parts of this have ended over a period of time and a very profound event is taking place.

Some dumb American kid signed up to serve the American people and protect the Constitution of The United States of America. Something went wrong and now this US Army Soldier is being tortured just miles from the Nations Capital.

Theoretically he did what he was obligated to do under Uniform Code of Military Justice by reporting what he believed to be war crimes (Clearly more than just these pieces of evidence have been released). While I have my doubts about whether going up the chain of command was an option it was the route he was required to take. He broke both written and unwritten rules.

What he did might be illegal and it may have harmed the global interests of the US. I can’t say for sure why he did it. I should give his innocence the benefit of the doubt but that’s not how I work. So from my Ivory tower the kid did it. However at this point I don’t care about these leaks nearly as much as the damage the response to them has caused.

He has now been treated as though he has information on an imminent terrorist attack for almost a year. Yet we are told he is not allowed to sleep or exercise, along with being subject to a host of other psychological bending techniques, “for his own protection”. This is the case because bold face lying is now common place and goes unpunished in our political system.

This is troubling because a very important questions needs to be asked now. Has the bar really moved so far that now we use torture on US citizens to gather evidence for criminal cases and/or as a punitive act? Because we can’t rely on truth from government or media I’ll answer this question. “The answer is yes.” Presently one or both of those things is taking place in Virginia.

Next is can and will we stop this? “I don’t know.” This is so obviously a violation of the law that it is unbelievable that it is even taking place. Also wildly unbelievable is that this brazenly illegal and unethical behavior is publicly defended. The rule of law has clearly broken down. “So I can’t say.”

How can the men and women in the US Armed Forces stand for the torture of one of their own countrymen? I think “This is insane!” As far as I can tell he didn’t intend to get anyone killed nor was he cooperating with any enemy state or terrorist group. I dare speculate that he thinks he is the good guy. Most people who fight have this attribute. The lack of gamesmanship on the US’s part is really astonishing.

I didn’t serve to watch silently as we torturer American citizens’ just miles from the Nations Capital, and not far from me. This is a badge of shame cast upon this nation and its military.

What is the military here for? Is it not its job to protect this young man? Is it not their duty to “Support and Defend the Constitution?” If not… does it abide by any laws at all?

It is my firm belief that the behavior of the Commander and Chief all the way down to the Lance Corporal at this soldier’s cell every five minutes is indefensible. This conduct is unbecoming, unconstitutional, and a gross violation of international law. This soldier has every right to Constitutional, Uniform Code of Military Justice, and International Law protections.

To pledge allegiance to the flag requires one to utter these words “With Liberty and Justice for ALL”. They are not just for those who don’t need them but for those who do need them as well.

Now as the world watches this fiasco. They see we can’t even walk the talk when it comes to our own citizens. This is a political, moral, legal, and cultural disaster.

We authorized the use of torture to stop imminent terrorist attacks. Then it became wide spread in our war zones. Now it has reached the door steps of the Nations Capital itself. Torture has become “just” one of the tools in the old tool box. This attitude, based on actions and lack of outrage, has become deeply embedded in our most revered institutions and in our minds themselves. Now we have set the precedent that the Government can seek through force anything it desires.

Our compass has been broken for a long time. Now only one thing terrorizes me. My fear of what will happen if we don’t have the strength, intellect, wherewithal, and resources to recover from this long standing and deepening catastrophe.

It is time to change the structures within which we were supposed to operate. There is no mechanism of enforcement within them. This has left us far too vulnerable to self inflicted wounds. We didn’t acquire nor will we lose world superiority overnight. However we certainly can’t let the foundation of a structure crumble and expect the rest of it to survive.

It would behoove the Nation to breathe, return to something approaching “the rule of law”, and deal with the profound domestic and institutional issues that have allowed for this to take place.

(Update; the soldier is being treated better. The importance of this is small and does not address the root problems that allowed it to take place. This is not an ooops matter. There are profound institutional, social, and political matters that need to be addressed.) (Further I'm aware of how silly the word behoove is!!!)