Bradley Manning, Daniel Ellsberg, and the dreaded “p” word

When I use the dreaded “p” word, it’s amazing how many people get their knickers in a twist.

I used to write for a group blog that was ostensibly liberal, but really was just a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party. Its entire thesis, day after day, was “Democrats good, Republicans bad.” God forbid you criticize Obama. God forbid you criticize the party line on any issue. It was, like so many places in the blabbosphere, leftwing and rightwing, a relentless slog. The enforced conformity was stifling.

So I left. Simply stopped writing there. I didn’t feel the need to flounce, which I consider rather pathetic and undignified, not to mention pointless, though god knows it’s beloved in the blogosphere. In fact, I argued the pointlessness of it to another writer there, a close friend, and persuaded said friend that a simple, quiet exit was the best course of action.

Anyway, I bring this up because one of the things that got me in trouble with my colleagues was the one time I used the dreaded “p” word.

Police state.”

I used it once—in, in fact, a half-ironic title.

You would’ve thought I’d accused the entire country of being Stalinist Russia.

The opprobrium that rained down on my head began then, and never let up.

Since then, I’ve written here and elsewhere about what a police state is. I don’t care how many people disdain the term, or cry “hyperbole!” or don’t get it. Tant pis.

The whole point of recognizing and acknowledging the characteristics of a police state is to prevent said state from becoming full-fledged. That’s the fucking point. You don’t wait until everybody and his brother is being dragged away in the middle of the night. You don’t wait until it gets to just-before-that-point to say, “Oh, gee, I guess maybe I should kinda sorta be concerned about this.” Because by then, it’s too late. (Though frankly the spectacle of Boston under militarized lock-down after the Marathon bombing, with people being forced out of their houses at gunpoint with their hands over their heads, should be enough for you to get it through your noggins.)

Of course the fact that Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Wolf (yeah, let’s just forget about her vagina book for a moment, please), Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, and others have also pointed out the characteristics of the U.S. that mirror those of a police state is a niggling little tidbit that naysayers don’t want to address.

So let’s add Daniel Ellsberg to that list. You know, Daniel Ellsberg, whom establishment liberals say they admire but you can bet they wouldn’t if his revelations had come during a Democratic administration. Just as they excoriate Bradley Manning today, but you know damn well that if Manning had blown the whistle during the Bush administration, they’d all be flocking to support him. Nah, no hypocrisy here.

In his most recent statement after the sentence handed down against Manning, Daniel Ellsberg said:

“We have not only the capability of a police state, but certain beginnings of it right now. And I absolutely agree with Edward Snowden. It’s worth a person’s life, prospect of assassination, or life in prison or life in exile—it’s worth that to try to restore our liberties and make this a democratic country.”

I have only one quibble: we’re past the “beginnings.” Way past.

Lisa Simeone is a writer, editor, political activist, Glamour Girl, and radio host. She publishes ABombazine, where this originally appeared.

One Response to Bradley Manning, Daniel Ellsberg, and the dreaded “p” word

  1. Tony Vodvarka

    A system of total electronic surveillance, a GULAG of two and a half million prisoners, militarized riot police, the ever-increasing use of SWAT teams for routine police work, the relative unaccountability of peace officers, the death penalty, the draconian sentencing guidelines, a two-tiered justice system watched over by too many mad dog prosecutors, “stop and frisk” in many major cities, DUI road blocks that serve as dragnets, the expansion of TSA frisking out of the airports, the application of “terrorism” laws to ordinary crime and political dissent, the fabrication of terrorist plots by the FBI to justify surveillance, a president who has declared the right to murder or indefinitely detain American citizens within our borders without any due process whatever, Posse Comitatus repealed and Army divisions training for crowd control within the USA. Police state? What police state?