Almost Every Word Of John McCain's Response To Chelsea Manning's Sentence Commutation Is Flat Out Wrong

from the hypocrites-in-congress dept

It’s hardly a surprise that a bunch of people who have been fed a load of bullshit about what Chelsea Manning did years ago are now quite angry over President Obama’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence. But I don’t think any are quite as painstakingly wrong as Senator John McCain. Someone should call up the Guinness World Record folks, because the wrong-per-sentence ratio of McCain’s angry statement might just set a new world record. Let’s dig in.

President Obama?s commutation of Chelsea Manning?s sentence is a grave mistake that I fear will encourage further acts of espionage and undermine military discipline.

Wait. Really? Manning has been in prison for seven years, with a significant portion of that being held in solitary confinement, sometimes being made to strip naked before being able to sleep. This was called “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of article 16 of the convention against torture” by the United Nations. You would think, of all people, Senator John McCain, who similarly was held in solitary confinement and tortured for extended periods while being held captive for 5 and a half years in Vietnam, would recognize that “only” 7 years of such treatment wouldn’t exactly encourage more of Manning’s behavior.

To put it more directly: who, in their right mind, is going to leak a bunch of documents thinking “oh, perhaps after going through literal torture, character assassination and basically hell on earth, it’ll be okay, because maybe some other President will commute my insane 35 year sentence to just 7 years? No one. The idea that this commutation is going to lead to further leaks is ridiculous. If anything will lead to further leaks it’s Manning’s courage in seeing something wrong in the system and actually doing something about it.

In fact, it was things like Manning’s courage that helped inspire Ed Snowden and other whistleblowers to step up. They didn’t do it on the idea that they might “only” suffer 7 years of torture.

Second, what Manning did was not “espionage” and for McCain to suggest it is, means McCain either has no idea what he’s talking about, or is lying. Manning leaked diplomatic cables and related information exposing vast wrongdoing by the US, to Wikileaks, who partnered with a number of respected press outlets to reveal the wrongdoing. That’s not espionage. That’s classic whistleblowing. And, yes, in case you’ve forgotten, Manning’s leaks revealed a hell of a lot of wrongdoing by the US government.

It also devalues the courage of real whistleblowers who have used proper channels to hold our government accountable.

Oh come on. We’ve highlighted repeatedly how the “proper channels” claim is a complete joke. The “proper channels” have a long history of retaliating against whistleblowers such that everyone now knows the best way to destroy your life is to use the proper channels.

It is a sad, yet perhaps fitting commentary on President Obama?s failed national security policies that he would commute the sentence of an individual that endangered the lives of American troops, diplomats, and intelligence sources by leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive government documents to Wikileaks, a virulently anti-American organization that was a tool of Russia?s recent interference in our elections.

First of all, Manning did not endanger the lives of American troops, diplomats and intelligence sources. During Manning’s sentencing hearing, following her conviction, the US military admitted no one died because of Manning’s leaks. So why does this myth still persist? Mainly because it’s politically convenient to lie and pretend that whistleblowing leaks must “cost lives.”

Thousands of Americans have given their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq upholding their oaths and defending this nation. Chelsea Manning broke her oath and made it more likely that others would join the ranks of her fallen comrades. Her prison sentence may end in a few months? time, but her dishonor will last forever.

This has been pointed out over and over again: the oath that people take is to defend the Constitution. And a big part of that is calling out unconstitutional behavior by “this nation.” Which is exactly what Manning did. Manning clearly felt that part of defending our nation and upholding her oath was to reveal wrongdoing by the US government. Furthermore, once again, the US military itself admitted that Manning didn’t cause anyone to die.

Finally, as Marcy Wheeler correctly points out, McCain isn’t just completely wrong with most of his statement, he’s a total hypocrite as well. After all, McCain has been one of the most vocal supporters of General David Petraeus, a man who was convicted of giving classified information (much more serious than anything leaked by Manning) to his mistress. When there was talk of demoting Petraeus for this fairly serious breach, McCain said he was going to launch a Congressional investigation. And, more recently, McCain had this to say about Petraeus:

People make mistakes in life, they pay a price and move on.

So, uh, yeah. Compare that to his statement about the commutation (not pardon) of Manning’s sentence and explain how McCain is not an utter and total hypocrite. If commuting Manning’s sentence after “just” 7 years of torture and inhuman treatment will incentivize more leaks, wouldn’t that also mean that Petraeus getting basically no punishment at all for leaking much more serious material will lead to more leaks, since it seems top government and intelligence community officials are clearly being given the message: it’s okay to give up the nation’s biggest secrets if it means you get laid.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Almost Every Word Of John McCain's Response To Chelsea Manning's Sentence Commutation Is Flat Out Wrong”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
52 Comments
I.T. Guy says:

“You would think, of all people, Senator John McCain, who similarly was held in solitary confinement and tortured for extended periods while being held captive for 5 and a half years in Vietnam”

McStain lied about his treatment in Vietnam. No one could have gone through that but yet still advocate to treat others that way. Or… who knows, maybe there is a ball gag in his nightstand drawer and he liked it.
https://letustalk.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/john-mccain.jpg

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I am shocked you an I can agree on something.

McCain is a thoroughly broken man that sold any “shadow of respect” he may have had away to some unknown entity. I have members of family that served, but I do not respect someone ‘just because’ they served.

I would be one of the few with a spine to publicly state ‘to his face’ that it is a shame he turned into a coward after having lived what he lived through.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Not to mention the US Soldiers who will be subjected to EIT’s in the future.

It’s not brought up as commonly now, but for quite a while one of the “major” reasons not to release the torture report, Abu Ghraib photos, etc, was because (to paraphrase), such materials “might result in US soldiers being subjected to similar treatment and/or retribution.” Never mind that the issue was the Torture^WEnhanced Interrogation Techniques, not the reports. Because the people that survived it and were released surely weren’t going to keep their treatment a secret on behalf of the Good ‘ol USA.

Nietzsche said it best: “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

The US has been fighting “monsters” for a long time now. And sadly, there’s no end in sight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

““Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.””

Right. On. Target.

America is quickly becoming the very things it has stood against over the past two centuries AND every step we take to avoid that fate we wind up helping seal it. It is insane how fast we tend to destroy ourselves in the same effort to preserve ourselves.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

That’s mostly correct, but with one caveat: the military-industrial complex is what is being preserved. Imagine what the world would be like if we all decided, on the same day, at the same time, to stop fighting each other and learn o get along.

That’s a lot of jobs down the crapper, right there. Wall Street would take a header and the world’s economy would suffer.

Until such time as we admit to ourselves that we have all this crap because we’ve created a NEED for it, it’ll continue. With no end in sight.

JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

‘I have members of family that served, but I do not respect someone ‘just because’ they served.’

Respect is a scale, not a yes or no thing. I can respect someone a little or a lot. Serving in the military earns you some respect. Acting like a fuckwad loses you some respect. Bad actions can absolutely cancel out any respect that might be deserved for serving, e.g. McCain.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'It's okay to do it to them, they're the BAD GUYS'

McStain lied about his treatment in Vietnam. No one could have gone through that but yet still advocate to treat others that way.

Not necessarily, as seen in his act of throwing Manning under the bus but rushing to defend Petraeus it’s very clear that he’s willing to apply different standards to different people, so it would be consistent for him to claim that he was tortured and decry that as a terrible thing because he’s from the US and a Good Guy while at the same time advocating and supporting that those dirty terrorists be ‘tortured’ because clearly they had it coming for being accused terrorists, and as such are Bad Guys, so it doesn’t actually count as ‘torture’.

Hypocritical and disgusting yes, but it would be consistent hypocrisy and revolting behavior.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'It's okay to do it to them, they're the BAD GUYS'

Partial retraction:

It seems McCain has been one of those that actually objected to the CIA’s torture program and noted that beyond being repugnant torture isn’t effective, so those claiming that it was ‘justified’ because it produced intel are wrong, so at least in general he’s not pro-torture, it’s just that he apparently doesn’t see Manning’s treatment as rising to that level and therefore objectionable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Congress can do something

If they’d like proper channels to be used, they can fix the image that their channel has. They can make their Committees true watch-dogs and not cheer squads for the executive. Who in their right mind would approach Burr or Nunes regarding something wrong in the IC? And who would approach McCain regarding military abuses? Maybe I’m misjudging them, but they can do more to develop a reputation for true oversight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Black or White. Good or evil. God or satan.

Mccain is known for a very black and white attitude on moral in the military system. In this case, sir Petraeus is a medalled war hero who wrote the book on counter insurgence. Manning was a low level soldier with a lot of problems in the dossier from an army-standpoint.

That is likely where his judgement comes from. Can’t blame a warhero, can blame a loser. The facts of their cases do not matter!

It is classist and probably in several other ways discriminatory, but that is politics for you: Everybody needs a fall-guy and nobody wants to blame a “hero”! As always: Actions are not a personality trait, but by god a lot of people cannot see situations based on objective facts, but interprets them through the persons background.

Richard Forno (profile) says:

The hypocritical optics are interesting…

Manning and Snowden disclose info that makes the US look bad, so: “EVIL COWARDLY TRAITORS”

Petraeus and Cartwright disclose info that makes the US look good, so: “Meh, mistakes made, water under the bridge now. They’re all patriots.”

The mythology associated with leakers/whistleblowers is astounding, as TFA notes. Even when it’s proven otherwise, the noise machine (aaah! FAKE NEWS!) gives it a sense of realism and unassailable truth.

Anonymous Coward says:

Stripped before being allowed to sleep? Is this common practice for US prisons? It sounds dangerously like they were trying to intimidate him/her for being transexual and undergoing a gender change. Or the guards were just sick perverts. Maybe both. I half expect Chelsea to reveal she was the subject of ‘corrective’ rapes or other explicit acts. Truly horrifying.

(Not sure if Bradley/Chelsea identified as male or female during that time, so using “him/her” both.)

Michael Z. Williamson (user link) says:

Re: Re:

When you threaten suicide, they have a legit reason to search you for hidden objects. When you bleat that you’ll strangle yourself with your underwear, they take that, too.

Bradley is an attention whore, always has been, from the first time he tried to punch an officer, until now. Probably will be in the future.

The mental health experts rule him male, so even his claim of being trans is mere attention seeking, not an actual medical condition.

But at least I now now Techdirt is fake news and can be ignored from now on.

Anonymous Coward says:

"First of all, Manning did not endanger the lives of American troops, diplomats and intelligence sources. During Manning’s sentencing hearing, following her conviction, the US military admitted no one died because of Manning’s leaks."

Endangering lives and people dying are two very different things. I don’t think either of them should be applauded or excused.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Going outside endangers your life. So does staying inside. Drinking water or not drinking water. Any number of things ‘endanger lives’, the fact that they couldn’t point to so much as a single death caused by her actions makes it pretty clear that despite their histrionics about how Manning’s actions were so horrible because ‘lives were at risk!’ either that risk was minimal at best or every single person impacted was insanely lucky.

PsycoGlock (profile) says:

Rank And Power Win The Day!

Bottom Line if the roles were reversed and it was Petraeus who was a Private and not any DIRT on his powerful friends he would’ve been prosecuted and sentenced to the full extent to the law! And Manning a General he woulda got a Petraeus! Its the typical disgusting double standard of “American Democracy (AKA MONEY & POLITICS)!!!!

As for Mr John McCain (AKA Grumpy Dueche)……He doesn’t speak for All of Arizona, Just Sayin!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...