Political Prisoners, Ours and Theirs

Somewhat old news by now, the two American hikers jailed in Iran on suspicion of being spies, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, were bailed out by the US-allied Omani government for $1 million. They were detained for two years and are now free.

In brief statements at the airport, Fattal said the two are “so happy” to be free, while Bauer added that “two years in prison is too long.” Bauer also said he hopes their release will bring “freedom for political prisoners in America and Iran.”

It is quite coincidental that convicted cop killer Troy Davis – whose case lacked any physical evidence and saw 7 of 9 accusing eye witnesses recant – was murdered by the American state justice system just as Fattal and Bauer were being released from Iranian prison. But as to Bauer’s statement, of course America has locked up a priority political prisoner. Former United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department Ann Wright:

Although Pfc. Bradley Manning has not yet been brought to trial, President Barack Obama has publicly declared that the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst “broke the law” by allegedly sending this restricted information to WikiLeaks.

Many civilians — and a surprising number of military personnel — are unaware that this system of classification is not grounded in any law passed by Congress. In fact, the entire edifice that allows the use of classification rests solely on the basis of executive orders that have been renewed and modified by various presidents. The ability to restrict information from the public is essentially an unchecked assertion of executive power.

…Instead of punishing and silencing alleged whistle-blowers like Manning for revealing uncomfortable truths, we should honor their courage to stand up for what’s right.

Manning has been in jail since May 2010, over a year, and has yet to face trial. Some of his time in prison has been in solitary confinement, and other treatment bordering on abuse. This is someone who is suspected of taking a political action to fight against a government policy of over-classification which primarily serves – and is intended to serve – for the cover-up of government abuse and misbehavior. Not a soul has been identified to have been put in danger as a result of what Manning allegedly leaked, and national security has in no measurable way been harmed. It is a victimless crime for the sake of transparency, freedom, and fighting corruption; for the sake of political goals. And the United States of America has imprisoned him for it as a political prisoner.

In tandem with the American media coverage of Fattal and Bauer were predictable implications of Iranian depravity and almost diabolical villainy. In the case of Manning, it is the reverse: Manning is the disturbed rogue officer with malicious intent, facing the United States government whose honorable intent has been disgraced by such disorder.

Ah, but as has been said, truth is treason in the empire of lies. And remember too, that the Obama administrations war on whistleblowers and political actors certainly does not end with Manning.

Shane Bauer was interviewed by Scott Horton on Antiwar Radio shortly before being arrested. Listen here.

  • While certainly this country has political prisoners of its own, Bauer's snotty comment could've been saved for a more appropriate time. The U.S. worked hard diplomatically to get the two freed, and we still don't know who's picking up the tab for their release. Publicly, it's Oman, and the question must be asked, "Why the hell would Oman pay their ransom?" As a taxpayer, I'd be unhappy to learn we'd picked up the tab. After all, while we're asking questions: What were three young Jews doing hiking so close to Iran their actual capture site could arguably be within its borders? Why did they put themselves in a position in which charges of spying were conceivably legitimate?

  • brainfan

    Comparison's between Iran's political prisoners and ours? How about Gitmo? How about torture and indefinite detention? There IS no comparison.

  • Walter Cole

    25% of the world’s prisoners are in American jails or prisons. Isn´t it logical that some of those incarcerated would be political victims? What do you say, Mr. Government? On a per capital basis, this means we have seven times the number of people incarcerated than in the EU, China or even Cuba. Yes, I know, we are really tough on crime. But what does this mean, Mr. Government? Are you telling us that there are no political prisoners, it´s simply that we have a degenerate society, one that needs to lock up an ever increasing number of its citizens?

  • Amused

    Take an aspirin Walter. And afterwards your head may be able to absorb some facts . Even with Gitmo , and your "logical conclusion " that some of those incarcerated in the US , are "alleged " political prisoners , the US has by far the least of political prisoners . And keep in mind that in many of those 'other countries ' political prisoners are simply killed . And if you want to start throwing around the term "per capita " then dont even mention Chia with a fifth of the Earths inhabitants , and how many it politivcally persecutes will never be known by you or I .
    Your statistic is B.S.
    But besides all that Walter , if you had been accused of a serious crime , you bloody damn well know , if there were any judicial system on Earth that you'd want to face , it would be the US Judicial system .
    Degenerate Society ? Speak for yourself Walter .

  • Amused

    And to the author of this editorial , yes , it IS purely coincidental that Davis met his end , get real ! And as for davis being "murdered " , he got what he deserved , for he did infact MURDER , for no good reason . And if those 'witnesses " who infact put him in jail , and those jurors who believed those witnesses , some of which actually knew Davis …NOW they recant ?? Why did they finger him to begin with ? Do you buy that they were coerced by police ? Or that they were "afraid " of Davis ?? Shell casings , eyewitnesses ….the man's was clearly guilty , and he paid the price .