Broken Turtle Blog

Broken Turtle Blog

Friday, April 12, 2019

Chelsea and Julian: When Poetry Crosses with Coverup

One of the yet unpublished poems from my novel in verse Jacobo the Turko is called “Wikileaks: JTF-GTMO Detainee Assessment.” It comes early in my story, and it gives me a chance to use the form of a Gitmo detainee assessment to outline the course of Jacobo’s life as well as the absurd fabrication by which his tormentors justify his imprisonment. I can thank Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange for my material. Anyone who peruses the Guantanamo Files will soon see how the truth is more absurd than my somewhat absurdist fable of an Ecuadorian indigenous who is mistaken for a Middle East terrorist. The pursuit of the files’ leakers reveals the lengths the intelligence community will go to to equate anyone who exposes them with the accused terrorists whose human rights they have trampled. Sometimes I wonder if fear of government persecution has deterred publishers from publishing my book. Or maybe it stinks, although half the poems in the book have been published by over a dozen national and international journals and anthologies, just not the prestigious lit rags.
The greatest crime of Chelsea Manning was to reveal to Julian Assange and thence to the world the murderous nature of the U.S. military’s campaign in Iraq (see “Collateral Murder”), the bogus nature of U.S. claims against the vast majority of prisoners at Guantánamo, and the towering arrogance at the U.S. State Department, especially when conflating our national interests with empire. Julian has just been arrested at London's Ecuadorian Embassy, and Chelsea has been returned to prison, where she is tortured with solitary confinement, on the yet to be proved pretext that she and Julian went a step beyond downloading secrets to hacking the password of a secure military server. This last charge, partially spelled out in a March 6, 2018 sealed indictment, gives great comfort to the war criminals who have murdered, tortured, and set the world on fire and wish to reverse the direction of opprobrium back to the smarmy Assange, as well as to Manning (and perhaps to President Obama, who pardoned Manning). It also gives some relief to the New York Times, who published the same documents as did Assange, and lets the mainstream media return to making Assange the scapegoat for Hillary Clinton’s loss. It also gives some distress to those of us who see the arrests of Manning and Assange as an attack on freedom of information and the press and a warning to all who challenge imperialist policy and state-sanctioned mayhem.
I invite you to peruse Andy Worthington’s 2017 characterization of what the Guantanamo Files reveal. The cult of secrecy, so often defended with cant about methods and means, is there exposed as a cover for incompetence and crime.
We who have been around a while have seen this before. For decades, everyone to the left of Richard Nixon was tarred as an ally or dupe of Russia. Communists were branded as traitors, not dissidents, and anyone whose opinions could be tied to the soviets, from the liberal Helen Gahagen Douglas to the red Dalton Trumbo, was smeared, blacklisted, or jailed.
Make no mistake, Russia today is ruled by a criminal clique of former apparatchiks who seized the property of the Russian people after the apparatchiks had run the socialist system into the ground. However, attempts to paint Trump or Assange as Russian assets is an opportunistic case of historical acid reflux disease. I remember how Khrushchev and his gang got rid of Stalin’s vile henchman Lavrentiy Beria without accusing themselves: they charged him with being a British spy. Similarly, American media accuses Trump, without admitting their own predilection for talking heads trumpery and establishment talking points over substantive news. One can hardly blame Americans for seeking news from alternative sources.
For example, there’s RT America, funded by the Russian Government. While often inserting Russian propaganda, it also broadcasts several distinguished Americans such as the commentators Chris Hedges and Larry King and the comic Lee Camp. Of course, Liz Wahl famously broke with RT when RT blipped out her question to Ron Paul about the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. On the other hand, RT’s Breaking the Set host Abby Martin condemned the Ukrainian invasion on-air, but stated RT backed her. You can accuse those remaining of being opportunistic or can doubt their ethos, but that’s too easy a way to dismiss their views. Personally, I prefer Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Juan González. At least there you may learn that if Trump pulls out of the START treaty with Russia, it will be the first time since 1972 that nuclear weapons are totally unregulated. Slim Pickens rides again!
If we let our dismay over our national disaster get highjacked by corporate media’s reductionism we may soon find ourselves swept up in the narrative of those, liberal to conservative, who backed the Iraqi war crimes Wikileaks exposed.
We love Chelsea Manning. Will we let her be tortured and destroyed? We hate Julian Assange. Is that a sufficient reason to accept DOJ claims about an incomplete password Assange might have sussed? Remember that the greater crime, the crime of the century, is the invasion of Iraq and the dismantling of human rights by the nation that proselytized human rights. Will we, poets or politicos, collude in the coverup?

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