Periscope Depth

when they said repent, I wonder what they meant

Pfc. Manning Acquitted of Aiding Enemy, Convicted of 20 Other Charges

The sentencing phase of the court-martial, which could take several weeks, begins Wednesday morning. Because it was a general court-martial, Manning gets an automatic appeal to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, probably within six months of sentencing.

Manning had already pleaded guilty to 10 charges that carry up to 20 years in prison, plus a dishonorable discharge. But prosecutors pushed ahead with more serious counts, including aiding the enemy.

First off, read what IOZ wrote and, as usual, consider me cosigned:

What does the Manning case say? I won’t say mean, because what does anything mean? It says that our rulers are small and vengeful and afraid. The language of security and peril that’s come to cloak every official announcement is decadent. The hounding pursuit of those who undermine and question the imperatives of security and the reality of the peril is decadent. The hollow liturgy of a show trial is decadent. I’ve never been much of a nationalist, never felt especially inspired by America, always known that we are a nation like any other, built on bones and fairy tales as much as anything else, but I do appreciate the power of myth to model society, and this lousy episode really makes you wonder, what is our national myth? What does America have to offer itself anymore? We’ve become very adept at hurting people for nothing. I wonder: is that all?

Second: Sylvia’s latest Netflix entry was In The Name of the Father, which I glanced at while passing through the living room last night, then got sucked into. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a story about some innocent men who are accused of terrorist activity, tortured, and imprisoned for fifteen years before being released. It’s particularly worth it for Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance, as most things with him are: his cynical despair, his descent into madness, and the eventual restoration of his faith are captivating.

Watching the movie, which depicted events over fifteen years prior to its filming and is itself twenty years old at this point, I couldn’t help but wonder how history would judge our empire for how it treated innocent prisoners. What BAFTA-nominated film would be told about their struggle? What genius actor of the 21st century would tell their story? Who would they get to play the angry spectators to their story, sneering at the news on CNN in some urban bar? And what would my (as yet) hypothetical children ask me after watching this movie, and how would I answer? I can’t pretend that “I didn’t vote for the guy” is much of a defense, but it sounds better than “I voted for the guy, but reluctantly.”