Friday, September 07, 2012

The US government is punishing whistleblowers and protecting criminals

Alright, I've finally gotten mad enough to be broken out of my blog hiatus (slash-abandonment). Here's the situation: The US government has now blocked all prosecution of people who have committed war crimes, including torture, under the Bush administration. I don't mean that these people were tried in court and found innocent. I mean that the Obama administration went into court and argued that they shouldn't be tried at all. Not one person has even been tried for committing torture in the name of the US government. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has gone ahead and prosecuted whistleblowers who have exposed war crimes committed by the government and its agents. John Kiriakou revealed the torture techniques being used by the Bush administration, and he's being tried for it. Bradley Manning revealed various war crimes being committed by soldiers in Iraq, and has been subject to inhumane conditions of imprisonment for months on end before even facing trial. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Want to argue that these people deserved to be tried, as their revelations of classified information can indeed do real harm? Fine, that's an argument we can have. Want to argue that they deserve to be prosecuted, while those who committed the various harms they exposed should be protected? No. The US government has made it the case where you're safer committing a war crime than you are exposing one. If this doesn't stop, future generations of government agents will feel they can get away with anything, and the government will protect them for it. I've had enough. I've started a petition on to demand a response on this issue. You can find it here, and I strongly encourage you to sign it, and to spread word of it. I need your help to get the Obama administration to respond to this. We have a chance to make sure they listen. Let's take it. Now, I know people have a lot of reasons why they don't sign petitions like this, so I'll take a moment to address them: 1. It probably won't do any good. This may be true. But it also may be wrong. In the end, this is often pulled out as an excuse not to try to make a difference. I've done it myself, I admit, and I've come to regret those decisions. There are many types of "slacktivism" that have little to no chance of making a difference, such as forwarding chain letter petitions, changing your Facebook picture for a day, etc. With this one, if it reaches 25,000 signatures within the next 29 days (from the time of posting this), we can at least make someone in the administration realize that people care about this. At the very least, they'll have to try to explain their logic to us. Hopefully this will make them think twice about prosecuting whistleblowers or blocking prosecution of war criminals in the future. They might even drop prosecution of current whistleblowers, or not put as much effort into it. It's too late to go back and prosecute most war criminals that have gotten off, but that doesn't mean we can't help protect those who exposed these crimes. 2. I'm not a US citizen/resident. The website does not actually require a US citizenship to sign a petition. You can see the terms of participation here. Nothing about citizenship or residency is ever mentioned. There is a field for entering a zip code when registering, but it's not a required-entry field. In short, non-citizens and non-residents are allowed to use the website, just as citizens and residents are. 3. It's a hassle to sign up. Perhaps it is. It wasn't that hard for me, but it's possible that other people with different browsers will have more issues. I encourage you to at least try. Think about it this way: If 25,000 people go through the hassle of signing, the total time they've used up will only be a small fraction of the amount of time Bradley Manning has spent in solitary confinement for exposing US war crimes, and it could save people in the future from having to put up with this. (At two minutes per person, that's about a month worth of time used, compared to over a year of solitary confinement for Manning.) To add to this, once you've signed up once, it's a lot easier to sign future petitions on the site. You only have to go through this "hassle" once. Please, sign this petition, and then help spread the word about it.

Proceed with your information binge...