Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, April 2011
Florida pastor bigger threat to US security than Bradley Manning
By Yvonne Ridley
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, April 4, 2011
US Army Private Bradley Manning was arrested, tortured and put in solitary confinement based on the absurd allegation that he is a threat to American national security.
His alleged crime was that he handed over classified military and diplomatic documents to the whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks.
Among the accusations thrown at him by Pentagon top brass is that he endangered the lives of serving soldiers overseas by allegedly exposing US war crimes to the world.
Now, in an apparent act of revenge, his captors are subjecting him to sleep deprivation, prolonged time in isolation and continuous nude spot-checks - conditions said to be right out of the manual of the CIA for ‘enhanced interrogation’ as used and refined in Guantanamo Bay.
So you see, when the US government wants to act in a swift, unconstitutional and in a vengeful way nothing can stop it. Ergo torture, water boarding and rendition as seen in the War on Terror.
The truth is Bradley Manning’s actions have not cost anyone their life but, someone whose actions have triggered a killing spree of mayhem and murder is the American Pastor Terry Jones.
His inexplicable act of burning a copy of the Holy Qur’an has caused a tsunami of revolt among ordinary Afghan people, and with the striking of a single match he has undoubtedly put the life of every US squaddie based over there in danger.
Sadly, I suspect what is unfolding in Afghanistan will be repeated in other sporadic outbreaks of violence in the Muslim world.
Yet no one lifted a single finger to stop this deranged, evil old man from setting fire to a holy book revered by more than 1.5 billion Muslims ... a book, by the way that is also hugely respected by countless Christians, Jews and people of other faiths and no faiths.
Now I’m sure some will claim that what he did was an expression of freedom and that he had every right to act in the way he did because America is the "Land of the Free" after all.
If that is the case can someone tell me why US authorities are very quick to act against those who dare to criticise Israel for instance? The University of California at Irvine suspended its Muslim Student Union for a year when members heckled Israel’s Ambassador to the US in February 2010.
Other students and teachers elsewhere in the US have been punished, sacked or suspended for expressing anti-Israeli views or criticisms of the Zionist State.
In fact, if you are too vocal about the evils of Zionism or voice your support for the Palestinians in the west Bank or Gaza, you can expect a home visit from FBI agents.
So if US authorities can jail Bradley Manning and punish him in an obscene way even before his trial, and they can sack, suspend and intimidate US citizens for daring to criticize the Zionist State why did no one act swiftly to rein in the demented pastor?
In September last year the so-called most powerful man on the planet, Barack Obama, urged Pastor Jones not to burn a copy of the Qur’an, saying it could cause “serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan”. General David Petraeus and even Ban Ki-Moon joined in pleading with the pastor.
Terry Jones backed down and he resumed preaching his hatred to his tiny flock in Florida which numbers less than two score and ten.
But the attention seeking cleric, who was banned from entering Britain earlier this year because he is seen as a preacher of hate, went ahead anyway a few days ago and desecrated a copy of the Holy Qur’an.
At a mock trial conducted by the mad cleric a “jury” found the Qur’an guilty of promoting violence. Only a handful of people were present for the kangaroo court which was held on Sunday March 20th, but it was streamed live on Truthsat-tv and went global thanks to the social networks.
A violent reaction, as previously predicted by the US President et al, was anticipated.
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan while condemning the incident urged the US government to arrest Pastor Terry Jones. It was wise advice, foolishly ignored.
As a result, riots erupted across Afghanistan which left 12 dead, including at least four Gurkhas and three United Nations staff.
Not one US soldier posted in a Muslim country would be wise to step out of a bunker or foxhole in this incendiary climate created by the American pastor.
He has put all of their lives in danger and so must now be regarded as a very genuine threat to the national security of the US – far more so than young soldier Bradley Manning who was slapped in irons last May.
The actions of those who went on a killing rampage is beyond belief, but we have to remember that for every action there is a reaction.
And it is quite possible that the anger unleashed in Afghanistan was already bubbling just beneath the surface, thanks to the dozen soldiers from the Stryker Brigade who killed Afghan civilians cutting off body parts as trophies, then covered up their crimes.
If the actions of the so-called Kill Team drove Afghans wild then it is possible the tipping point was the actions of Pastor Terry Jones who provided the ubiquitous straw to break the camel's back.
This could all have been avoided if the authorities in the US had acted in an appropriate manner way back in September.
There was no such dithering or navel-gazing over what to do about Bradley Manning who has been confined for 23 hours a day in a six-foot by twelve-foot jail cell since his arrest.
*British journalist Yvonne Ridley is a patron of Cageprisoners - www.cageprisoners.com
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