I’ve been thinking a lot about Daniel Ellsberg’s speech at the Free Bradley Manning rally that I attended this past Saturday. I am honored to have been there (although honestly I had no excuse since I live 20 minutes away). I think that Bradley Manning is a truthteller, and brave whistleblower, and not a traitor/spy, as the other side has portrayed him. In any event, at one point Daniel Ellsberg was talking about one of the many crimes that Bradley Manning exposed (if anyone is interested, here it is, it’s called “Collateral Murder”, and it’s footage of U.S. military crew on an Army Apache helicopter shooting at Iraqi civilians and a Reuters journalist. Collateral “Damage”. Word. And more on Bradley Manning, here)
Anyway, Daniel Ellsberg, that famous Vietnam era whistleblower, said that for a while, at least for the past decade, “Americans have been acting as if the lives of foreigners meant NOTHING. Not just less than Americans, nothing. A concern that amounts to zero.” He then went on to argue that Bradley Manning’s video had the potential for showing Americans the truth.
It saddened me to hear that. I understand that he was making a point. And in my dark times I think that perhaps he’s right…people are so busy and there is so much pain and suffering right here in our own backyard, it’s almost too much to think about the babies in Iraq (and Syria and the Congo…and on and on). It’s human nature to feel the things that are closest to home. I almost lost the faith, thinking about that.
But as Daniel Ellsberg also (rightly) pointed out, if you show people the pictures and you give them the facts, they become informed, and when they know, well, maybe some of them will care, and maybe some would care enough to do something. People need to see the pictures and they need to see the data (I work with economists and they taught me the importance of, and a respect for, data). We need to get the word out in this country. And we can start by demanding to know why more studies aren’t being done, and why a World Health Organization study on congenital birth defects in Iraq that was completed in 2012 has not been released. (Here is a link to a letter calling for the WHO to release the study). And there is this heartbreaking video from Voice of America (!). (Note that the US Dept of Defense denies responsibility but says that “more studies need to be done”). hmmmm