Why Obama Will Never Pardon Manning and Snowden

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It’s been said by many progressives and human rights advocates that sentencing Private Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning to 35 years in prison for exposing US atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan was grossly excessive and cruel. Some have asked President Obama to pardon him or reduce his sentence. I myself have received and signed a petition making that plea to Obama. Not that I have any illusion that he might do that, but, I did as a way of acknowledging and lending support to their worthy cause.

But, when you look at it from the corporate empire’s and its servile politicians’ point of view, you realize that her punishment is not excessive, at all, and is, in fact, just right, as cruel and heartless as it is. A cruel and heartless economic system that’s built on the plunder of the world and exploiting the poor until they drop dead, accumulating more and more of the wealth of the world and driving ever more people into poverty, requires tough and merciless punishment of those who stand on its way. Private Manning, Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange did more with their actions to educate the public on the ways and the nature of the corporate empire and their government than people like myself ever could no matter how many thousands of wards we write that go mostly unread, anyway. This is why Manning is in prison, Snowden is in exile in Russia and Assange holed up in Ecuador’s Embassy in London.

Punishment handed down by the empire’s criminal (corporate) “justice” system is not decided on moral grounds or based on how egregious the act was or how much damage it has caused people victimized by it. Banks have repeatedly defrauded millions of people, at times, to the tune of tens and even hundreds of billions of dollars, wiping out peoples’ entire pension money, forcing elders to go back looking for a job in a tight labor market, driving many into desperation and unforeseen and undeserved poverty, after a life time of working and enriching the employers. Not one banker has served a single day in prison, even in cases when the banks have admitted to the fraud and money laundering, which resulted in them paying fines. I’m sure you’ll get the same treatment if you go rob those banks. They will just levy a fine on you, as if you just violated a traffic code. Individuals who planned and executed devastating wars that resulted in hundreds of thousands and even millions of deaths are never charged, either.

But, we don’t even have to consider bankers and their frauds on septuagenarians, or war criminals never facing trials for their crimes against humanity to demonstrate the level of inequality and injustice in the US criminal justice system. There are rapists and murderers who serve much less than what Private Manning has been sentenced to, or what Edward Snowden would receive had he stayed in the US. Wisconsin state Rep. Bill Kramer (the GOP Majority Leader in the Assembly), has been accused of multiple sexual assaults against several women and he continues to remain in the Assembly. Mark Zimmerman and Michael Dunn were both acquitted after they shot and killed unarmed African American teenagers (Trayvon Martin, 17, and Jordan Davis, 18, respectively), while Marissa Alexander, an African American mother of two, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting a warning shot in the air to drive away her abusive ex-husband who had previously beat her severely, sending her to hospital. Police officers routinely beat and shoot and kill unarmed black, Latino and poor people with impunity. But, such huge disparities are not an accident. It is true that they are motivated by race, but, racial biases too, have their logic: oppressed minorities pose a threat to the system, in the long run. What the system needs, it creates and makes it part of the culture and mindset and the acceptable and unquestionable norm. So, too, is the favorable bias towards the police, a part of the strategy of the ruling class for controlling the poor.

If there is one thing that can be said about the ruling corporations and their servile government is that they know well who is their friend, who their enemy and who is dangerous to their interests and the longevity of their fraudulent system. They know who to go easy on and who to go after without mercy. Bankers defrauding the public is within the norms of the fraudulent economic system called “capitalism”. Police officers beating and killing the poor is also a required and understandable byproduct. So is racial bias.

If capitalism were a drug advertised on TV, the broadcaster would have to list as its side effects, air, water and food being poisoned, the Earth being ruined, millions going hungry, children dying of diseases long overcome in much of the world, millions dying in wars, others incarcerated unjustly for years, climate change threatening life on Earth, as well as, dividing people based on race and gender, huge disparity in sentencing and young people with a conscience getting 35 year sentences for revealing government atrocities.

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