Friday, August 02, 2013

Oaths & impunity

When American politicians express indignation over Russia’s refusal to hand over Edward Snowden to face “the rule of law” (which as we know always begins with extraordinary rendition from a country with which we have no extradition treaty), I think – well, there are lots of people I could think of, but I think of this dude,

who spent his latter years as the owner of a pizza parlor in a Washington DC suburb in Virginia.

Bradley Manning’s crime is often described as violating his oath. Conservatives attach a great deal of importance to oaths; maybe I’ll write about that one day, hopefully more coherently than in the paragraph I just deleted. But Manning’s oath of secrecy was a blank check. How is an oath to protect secrets one doesn’t know yet morally binding? If he’d discovered that the reason we invaded Iraq was to kill Iraqi children and drain them to slake Dick Cheney’s insatiable thirst for human blood (sorry if I just scooped you, Glenn Greenwald), would everyone expect him to have kept schtum?

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