Under Obama, Tyranny is the New Transparency
By Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and Kevin Berends
August 08, 2013
President Obama has instituted a kind of “equal opportunity retaliation” regime against whistleblowers. “All that was required of Manning and Snowden to harvest the bounties of white privilege was that they look the other way when faced with war crimes and sweeping invasions of privacy domestically and worldwide.” These days, anybody can be “taken out” without benefit of due process.
Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden may never get the opportunity to meet and compare notes about reshaping the world’s understanding of the US surveillance-cloaked-as-national-security-state. Yet their courage in blowing the whistle on high governmental criminality has recast the US Empire in ways unimaginable since the 1960’s. Both whistleblowers are of European descent—a heritage still laden with privilege in the US. The Obama administration’s zeal when it has encountered dissent has broadened the State’s parameters for seek and destroy missions. Gone are the comforts of skin privilege with Obama-as-agent-for-the-1% sending clear signals that in these United States everyone is a suspect—except the politicos and their overlords.
On July 31, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy that could have carried a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, he still faces nearly two dozen additional charges in connection with his leak of classified information to WikiLeaks. While unexpected, these charges could possibly land Manning in prison for over a hundred years. Meanwhile, Edward Snowden, after exposing wide-spread illegal surveillance of American citizens and foreign governments fled the US to Russia to avoid the incarceration and torture that Manning has endured.
Manning and Snowden were both on tracks that enjoyed the many advantages of white privilege. Manning, a high school graduate, was not assigned to the mess hall as a cook but rather trained as an intelligence analyst, receiving a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) security clearance. According to No FEAR employment data a significant level of complaints have been filed against the Army by African-Americans for job discrimination. Many African Americans with the same level of education as their fellow white troops find themselves in positions that do not lend themselves to upward mobility. Edward Snowden was also a high school graduate, a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and later hired by Booze Allen as a technical contractor for the United States National Security Agency (NSA). According to Snowden, his life was “very comfortable,” earning a salary of “roughly US $200,000.” With this substantial salary, Snowden was stationed in Hawaii and enjoying the American dream—a dream that most African-Americans with a high school degree can only imagine and far removed from Dr. King’s celebrated vision.