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.


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  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 18 Jan 2017 @ 11:07am

    "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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 11:34am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        I.T. Guy, 18 Jan 2017 @ 11:43am

        Re: Re:

        "I am shocked you an I can agree on something."
        Why, do I know you? Wilbur? How's the baby doing?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 1:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I was overplaying my hand, we do agree on a few things, you just tend to whine a lot about how I word things.

          But yea, the baby is fine!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        I.T. Guy, 18 Jan 2017 @ 12:06pm

        Re: Re:

        One can argue that he wasn't tortured at all, considering they (The Bush Admin) argued that waterboarding and prolonged standing were "enhanced interrogation techniques" and not torture. So McCain was just subject to enhanced interrogation techniques. Right?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 12:40pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So McCain was just subject to enhanced interrogation techniques. Right?

          This.

          Since America is OK with moving the goal posts on what is/isn't torture, then I for one can no longer sympathize with veterans subjected to exactly the same techniques as we subject enemy combatants to.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 1:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: 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.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 1:13pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Wendy Cockcroft, 19 Jan 2017 @ 5:58am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JMT (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 6:02pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 2:39pm

      '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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 3:06pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 2:43pm

      Re:

      Do I understand you correctly that McCain is/was an advocate for various forms of "torture"? Surely you have made a typographical error in your comment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JR Thompson, 19 Jan 2017 @ 7:19pm

        Re: Re:

        He is only for torturing people who aren't patricians who mustn't suffer for their acts and MUST be free to leak secrets in order to continue access too nookie. Plebes should be tossed under the bus.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 11:58am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Haywood (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 12:10pm

    Almost Every Word Of John McCain's mouth

    Almost Every Word Of John McCain's mouth is Flat Out Wrong. No real news there. Why he continues to sit on the conservative side of the isle is a mystery. He could make a success of being a progressive, he sucks at being a Conservative.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 18 Jan 2017 @ 12:12pm

    How is this news?

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

    I don't see the Manning theme making a difference to McCain's batting average here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 12:20pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 12:44pm

    Government looks good because of the leak, benefits to you.
    Government looks bad because of the leak, destroy you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 1:28pm

    Anyone else would like to punch him?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard Forno (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 1:40pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 2:06pm

      Re:

      Can we change the narrative just a touch?

      There is nothing they released that made America look bad. America is already doing that on it's own.

      They just released information and made congress out for corrupt, lying, fools they are. That is the real crime! Making members of the government look bad!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 1:59pm

    "everyone now knows the best way to destroy your life is to use the proper channels"

    To be fair, we now know you will destroy your life whether you use the proper channels or not, using the proper channels just guarantees it will be for nothing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    David (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 2:14pm

    LAGNAF

    "it's okay to give up the nation's biggest secrets if it means you get laid"

    Does it count if the person is of the same sex?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    My_Name_Here, 18 Jan 2017 @ 2:47pm

    Not to point out the obvious, but clearly Assange is just as full of shit. Apparently he chickened out:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/18/julian-assanges-conditions-extradition-us-not-met-say -lawyers/

    now you know exactly how full of shit Assange really is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 3:08pm

    Crazy, Old Coot

    In 2008, McCain ran for President with Palin as his side-kick. You had to know he was way over the border into coot-land back then. He's been forging ever deeper into those territories ever since.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    cynoclast (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 3:49pm

    "Proper channels" are Wikileaks and The Intercept.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 4:14pm

      Re:

      No, "proper" channels are via whichever "formal" and "approved" channels are provided.

      Wikileaks and The Intercept fall into the "viable" and "meaningful" channel categories.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 5:41pm

    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.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael Z. Williamson, 18 Jan 2017 @ 11:24pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 19 Jan 2017 @ 12:24am

        Re: Re:

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

        Just out of curiosity - what about this opinion blog makes it "fake news", other than you don't agree with it?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Jan 2017 @ 12:10pm

        Re: Re:

        A bit of a bleak attitude. You will end up getting quite a limited sample of reality if a single "questionable" opinion piece is discouraging you, sir!

        Actual "fake news" would never provide primary source materials, since that is invaluable if you want to determine the objectivity of their work...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Jan 2017 @ 12:51pm

        Re: Re:

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

        We'll see - what we probably won't see is you reverse course and call those who tortured him FELONS (all in CAPS, like you rant on your website) once he's able to speak freely.

        Right?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Z. Williamson, 18 Jan 2017 @ 11:22pm

    So, in fact, almost every word in this article is wrong.

    So, in fact, almost every word in this article is wrong.

    Well, maybe not every word. I'm sure "the," "and" and "of" were used correctly once or twice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Almost Anonymous (profile), 19 Jan 2017 @ 9:50am

      Re: So, in fact, almost every word in this article is wrong.

      And you did such an excellent job disputing the article. Look at all the sources you cited, and logical arguments you put forth!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    frank87 (profile), 19 Jan 2017 @ 1:48am

    What's hypocrite is that nobody thought it was dangerous when this guy had a chance becoming president.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 19 Jan 2017 @ 3:29am

    If you live in denial and believe your almighty and benevolent country would never treat people inhumanly or torture then you could say such things. I'm sure there's plenty of Americans who think that way. In McCain's case I"d say it's a lot of intentional cognitive dissonance though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jan 2017 @ 3:46am

    This guy is Hillary's drinking buddy, but she has proven that she can drink him under the table. McCain and Romney, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Don't wonder why so many of us Conservatives backed Obama in the last two presidential elections. Now if I could just get Ed Snowden back on my team...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Darkhog, 19 Jan 2017 @ 3:56am

    Q: How can you tell a politician is lying?

    A: He moves his mouth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jan 2017 @ 8:05am

    Obviously

    So Chelsea Manning had no documents that could embarrass the Senator but what about General avid Petraeus

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jan 2017 @ 11:19am

    "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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 19 Jan 2017 @ 3:28pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PsycoGlock (profile), 20 Jan 2017 @ 9:26am

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2017 @ 8:03pm

    McCain was born wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Grammar, 26 Jan 2017 @ 4:43am

    grmmar error

    You said: "because maybe some other President will commute my insane 35 year sentence to just 7 years? "

    You meant to say: because maybe some other insane President will commute my reasonable 35 year sentence to just 7 years?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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