Deroy Murdock, Wikileaks, and the Danziger Bridge

Syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock joins the ranks of those calling for the execution of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.

The U.S. remains at war with Muslim fanatics who plot mass murder against Americans and our friends overseas. From Mogadishu to Tehran to Pyongyang, bad men wish America the worst. That’s why WikiLeaks is neither funny nor cute nor just a “newsy” offshoot of the logorrhea that fuels breathless “tweets” about Kardashian leg-waxings and such.

Underscoring this point also serves justice. WikiLeaks’s alleged chief source, Pfc. Bradley Manning, should be court-martialed for espionage and treason. If convicted, he should be placed against a wall and executed by firing squad. (If extradited here, Assange deserves the same sendoff.) Maybe that will persuade Americans to stop flapping their gums about things that will enable murderers.

Murdock also posits a counterfactual American Revolution in which Bradley Manning tips off the British at Valley Forge the Battle of Trenton. Given Murdock's fondness for imperialism and his eagerness to do away with anyone who gets in its way, I don't know that he's doing himself many favors by invoking the colonists who shook off the British empire.*

Reader Johnny Cook sent me Murdock's column, and also pointed to this 2005 Murdock column about the Danziger Bridge shootings shortly after Hurricane Katrina:

Rather than applaud as 14 contractors crossed the Danziger Bridge to fix the 17th Street Canal that faltered and submerged their city, a well-armed band of hoodlums instead opened fire on these engineers. NOPD officers, on hand to provide security, shot back at these hooligans. In a magnificent and morally pristine use of force, the NOPD killed two of these goons and wounded two others in a firefight. They also captured two more who fled, one of whom was injured in an exchange of bullets.

If these derelicts hindered the levee-doctors’ work for even a quarter hour, that would have been 15 minutes too many. Katrina’s still-trapped victims can thank these criminals, not George W. Bush, for this latest delay in getting help.

Murdock was entirely wrong about what happened on Danziger Bridge. The two men killed by NOPD weren't weren't "hooligans" or "goons". They hadn't fired on anyone. They weren't even armed. James Brissette, 19, and the 40-year-old Ronald Madison, who was mentally handicapped, were gunned down by cops on both sides of the bridge as they tried to escape the flooding. Six other people were wounded. Four NOPD officers have since been charged under federal civil rights law for the murders and subsequent cover-up. Two other NOPD officers, investigators who initially cleared the other cops, have been charged with obstruction and falsifying reports. Murdock gets bonus points for being so thoroughly, bombastically wrong ("morally pristine use of force"?) in the same column in which he actually mocks civil rights activist Randall Robinson for perpetuating a separate falsehood about Katrina because it fit Robinson's own narrative about race relations. (Robinson at least issued a retraction. If Murdock has corrected his slander of the Danziger Bridge victims, I can't find it.) Even Murdock's narrative was wrong. Danziger Bridge was hardly the only example of jaw-dropping police brutality after the storm.

There's a point here—beyond Murdock's habit of cheering on state executions. Murdock botched the Danziger Bridge story (as did a number of other people) because he credulously parroted government officials, in this case, the NOPD officers on the bridge and their enablers in the police department. But the government lied. These cops killed people, and then they and the police department lied about it. Then Murdock, who holds a healthy distrust of government on matters unrelated to crime and national security, bought the lie, and used his platform to smear Brissette and Madison, and make heroes of the government employees who killed them.

Obviously NOPD isn't the State Department. The stakes and the stage were much smaller in New Orleans than they are in the Wikileaks story. But the premise is the same. Governments and the people who work for them lie. They do it all the time. And on things that matter, like war and murder. This is why we need whistleblowers, leakers, and outlets willing to give them a forum. We were told that Iraq had huge quantities of weapons of mass destruction. We were told that everyone imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay represented the "worst of the worst". These were lies. The case that gave us the state secrets doctrine—the judge-made law the Obama and Bush administrations have invoked to cover up yet more government lies and mistakes, including the abduction and torture of an innocent man—was itself based on a lie. Murdock has in various ways helped perpetuate the government's lies on these stories over the years, too.

For all Murdock's huffing about how Wikileaks has endangered lives, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has indicated that the document dumps in both July and late last month have done minimal damage. Government lies have killed far more people than leaked documents and whistle blowers ever could. As a conservative, Murdock is supposed to be skeptical of government. But when it comes to the government's most serious powers—the power to make war and to use lethal force on its own citizens—he cheers government on. And not only does does he not use his platform to keep government transparent and accountable, he uses it to call for the prosecution and execution of the people who do.

UPDATE: *Via email, Murdock writes:

"I may be an imperialist, but I am not a monarchist!"

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  • spencer||

    It probably doesn't even cross his mind as an affront that a government that is answerable to him feels it can freely keep secrets from him for his own good.

    A government by the people must not keep secrets from the people.

  • Cytotoxic||

    ...unless doing so is vital to defending their rights. Which isn't really applicable with these leaks so whatever.

  • ||

    What rights does the government defend, and what secrets are vital to that, Randroid? And how would you know?

    You put a lot of trust in government flunkies. Why?

  • Cytotoxic||

    A proper government defends property rights, the right to freedom of speech ie the rights of man. I know some of the things government had to keep secret from something called 'hindsight'. In hindsight, it was a very good thing that the British kept the breaking of the Enigma code secret, as it helped protect the rights of their citizens from the Nazis. Where did I put my trust in government flunkies? Oh wait, you're carefully constructing your caricature of anyone who disagrees with Episiarch as a FUCKING STATIST. I'm sorry to bother you with reason and logic.

  • Mr Whipple||

    So, you would equate an attempt by a ruthless Dictator to achieve world domination with blowback from a handful of Islamic extremists?

  • Cytotoxic||

    I'm sorry I don't follow.

  • Mr Whipple||

    World domination? Wait a minute. Fuck you, that's our fucking job.

  • Suki||

    Don't forget, property rights are the most sacred of human rights.

  • cbmclean||

    Say the people whose culture puts a lot of emphasis on the concept of property.

  • Trespassers W||

    Can I borrow your cell phone for a minute? I need to make a call.

  • Suki||

    WikiLeaks did NOT reveal Climategate and reason needs to stop spreading that lie.

  • Brian E||

    I guess that anything the government does is as important as beating the fucking Nazis, since pretty much everything is secret these days.

  • sevo||

    Cytotoxic|12.19.10 @ 8:01PM|#
    "...In hindsight, it was a very good thing that the British kept the breaking of the Enigma code secret, as it helped protect the rights of their citizens from the Nazis...."
    Hard to argue with this, but it isn't very relevant to the issue at hand.
    WWII was, well, WWII and by all accounts far more serious than what we're facing now.
    Further, it is a shame, but true that war (or the declaration of same) tends to allow government far more control, giving government the incentive to 'declare war' on, oh, drugs, poverty and any other damn thing Pelosi (and Bush for that matter) can imagine.
    Wikileaks may (or may not; I'm not sure) put some few people in harm's way, and shame on them if they did. But by any reading of history, Wikileaks doesn't match leaking Ultra.

  • Cyto||

    I don't know if it qualifies as a vital secret, but I can give an example of a secret that should have been kept. The CIA et al were using cell phone intercepts to track the whereabouts of Bin Laden and his homies. Somebody wanted to be a big shot and brag about how cool they were and told the press how they were finding the Al-Qaeda big-shots. Suddenly, the Al-Qaeda big shots quit using cell phones (imagine that).

    So there's an example of a secret that an official leaker (press secretary) let out of the bag that directly impacted operational efficiency and aided the (self-declared) enemies of the US.

    Of course, nobody needed wikileaks for that one. They just called a press conference. Strangely, many years later tracking cell phones allowed them to kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I guess he didn't get the memo. Also, the Iraqi military official who used a press conference to reveal the intel used to track Abu Musab al-Zarqawi down using cell phone data probably didn't see the other memo....

  • nekoxgirl||

    So did they line that press secretary up against the wall and shoot him?

  • CavMedic||

    No, but he was still a very naughty boy.

  • ||

    If that's the best you got then I'm all for transparency. The net cost of transparency is basically nil while the net cost of secrecy is potential if not actual tyranny

  • robc||

    Why would the editor of the NY Times (and other newspapers) not be on his execution list?

  • ||

    Because he's an intellectually shallow, supremely credulous asshat.

  • spencer||

    +1

  • Ted S.||

    I'm willing to let the editor live if we can just sacrifice Tom Friedman instead.

  • ||

    In a magnificent and morally pristine use of force, the NOPD killed two of these goons and wounded two others in a firefight

    This fucker has an authority fetish the size of the Chrysler Building. What a complete and utter scumbag.

    If convicted, he should be placed against a wall and executed by firing squad. (If extradited here, Assange deserves the same sendoff.) Maybe that will persuade Americans to stop flapping their gums about things that will enable murderers

    And to think of how many posters at H&R feel exactly the same way. "Ass Angel" is not only the dumbest fucking "insult" ever, but is utterly indicative of the authority fetishists for what they are: government lapdogs. At least this fucker thinks he should get a trial.

    Enjoy your subservience, dipshits.

  • ||

    I've no love nor respect for Assange but to assert he should be executed or even prosecuted for ostensibly doing what reporters fucking should be doing* (shining a light in the dark halls of government) is pro-government secrecy toadyism exemplified.

    * I think he's irresponsible, that is not a fucking crime. Bradley Manning committed the crime here and I'm not at all upset with his prosecution.

  • robc||

    I think he's irresponsible, that is not a fucking crime. Bradley Manning committed the crime here and I'm not at all upset with his prosecution.

    Im not sure its even irresponsible for an Australian to be doing this. Other than that, agree 100%.

    Maybe Im being "irresponsible" but if someone emailed me New Zealand state secrets tomorrow, I wouldnt have a problem publishing them.

  • Suki||

    Like when they sank the Rainbow Warrior and blamed it on France?

  • Dave||

    Thank you. I am constantly surprised at how many Americans are dumb enough to think that their laws are in force throughout the world.

  • Joe R.||

    I like having this discussion, though, because it potentially opens the door about how stupid it is for many of those laws to even apply in the U.S.

  • -||

    to assert he should be executed...is pro-government secrecy toadyism

    Is the Obama Administration on record as saying Assange should be executed? If not, then Deroy Murdock is merely speaking for himself. Surely you have no objection to individuals voicing their opinions. Do you?

  • ||

    Surely you have no objection to having a point. Do you? Because you don't seem to.

    Passive aggressive troll is passive aggressive. But we all knew you would be.

  • -||

    You're more predictable than Warty's colon.

  • Warty||

    Jesus, you are tiresome, anonopussy.

  • -||

    You are free to ignore any and all commentators here.

  • Bradley||

    This is me trying to figure out what your response has to do with the chunk of text you quoted.

  • Cytotoxic||

    My thoughts exactly. PFC Manning will get his due.

  • ||

    Bloodthirsty troll is bloodthirsty.

  • -||

    You are the gift that just keeps on giving. What retarded internet thing will you do next?

  • ||

    Stalker troll stalks. And quotes. And obsesses.

  • -||

    You just can't stop being a fucking idiot, can you?

  • ||

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, anonypussy. So thanks for the compliment.

  • -||

    You are either a mendacious fuck or you can't fucking read.

  • EPISIARCH||

    FUCKING STATIST.

  • ePISSeARCH||

    Poopy head!

  • Eepissiarch||

    You sound like a moron. Congratulations.

  • Cytotoxic||

    When did I say his 'due' was execution? At this point, I just don't trust the US government enough to carry out execution. Again, sorry about your caricature. I know gaining an actual understanding of the world is hard for people like you.

  • Wind Rider||

    Kill him? nah. But I'd help out giving him a swirly. Not for the leak stuff, but simply because he strikes me as an arrogant douche. Does that make me a bad person? If not, what more can I do that doesn't require a lot of effort on my part to be one?

  • Not a lawyer, but||

    what more can I do that doesn't require a lot of effort?

    Intellectual effort? Just keep commenting here!

  • Yonemoto||

    "...has an authority fetish the size of the Chrysler Building"

    Hey man, some people are size queens "on the DL". Diffr'nt strokes.

    Now, if you had said, the shape of the chrysler building... Good lord, that thing is pointy.

  • Kevin Carson||

    The U.S. government murders people in wars of aggression. So Murdoch flaps his gums about things that will enable murderers. He is an apologist for one of the biggest gangs of murderers in the world.

  • -||

    Who the hell is Deroy Murdock?

    Reason: 1
    Low-hanging fruit: 0?

  • Hugh Akston||

    According to the links provided, he is a columnist for National Review, a print and online publication of some repute.

    The better question might be, who are you?

  • -||

    Just some guy with an opinion, like Deroy Murdock. And like Murdock, what I say (and what you say) is mostly ineffectual. But we play this game.

  • ||

    National Review? Isn't that the rag that Buckley spent a couple of decades shitting out?

    -jcr

  • Robert||

    He's an acquaintance of mine originally from the 1980s, when he did some very good legwork getting stories about...I forgot what, but trust me. I've seen him a few times since then.

  • oncogenesis||

    Your web site if fucking awesome,/i>!

  • ||

    Maybe that will persuade Americans to stop flapping their gums about things that will enable murderers.

    Nothing says, "Thou shalt not kill" like a firing squad.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Whatever one thinks of capital punishment, advocating its use against someone who has harmed literally no one betrays a disturbing mindset.

  • Max||

    " And not only does does he not use his platform to keep government transparent and accountable, he uses it to calll for the prosecution and execution of the people who do."

    I understand the reason not to prosecute Assange. The guy didn't steal the information. He just posted what was given to him. If you go after him, you need to go after pretty much every major newspaper editor in the world. But is it Reason's position that Manning, a guy who took and oath and signed an agreement not to leak classified documents and did so anyway, should not be prosectuted? I can understand the objection to his execution. Reason has consistently been against the death penalty. But does Reason really think he should not be prosecuted?

  • Radley Balko||

    I don't speak for anyone other than myself, but I'm more troubled by Manning's treatment than his possible prosecution. Whistle blowers who expose government wrongdoing should be protected, even they have to leak classified information to expose the wrongdoing. But from what I understand, Manning just did a general document dump out of spite. That would seem to make it less defensible.

    That said, there's also a difference between leaking information to the press and espionage--covertly giving secrets to an enemy. The government knows what was leaked, and can mitigate the damage. That seems less serious to me.

    But I don't think Manning should be executed, or even spend the rest of his life in prison. And the talk of killing or even prosecuting Assange (who is by all appearances a twit) is nuts.

  • ||

    Manning violated his terms of access to secret material. How anyone can call this "treason" is beyond me:

    "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

  • Yonemoto||

    luckily the only witness was lady gaga! So even if by some stretch of the imagination he is found to be giving our 'enemies', 'aid' and 'comfort' he may be guilty, but he can't be convicted of treason.

    Then again, we really don't bother with the constitution anymore, do we.

  • -||

    there's also a difference between leaking information to the press and espionage--covertly giving secrets to an enemy

    That's why Manning will never be tried for espionage. The burden of proof is too great, and the last thing "the government" wants to do is execute this fool.

  • Wind Rider||

    Yes, what Manning did was basically a violation of contract, without the mitigating rationalization that he was exposing a great wrong or righting a huge injustice - based on the snippets of information we have, he is supposed to have simply done so for much baser motivations.

    As for his treatment - the shock and horror at the conditions of his physical detention misses the point - it's been an inordinate amount of time since he was taken into captivity, with no apparent activity in the process of bringing him to trial. As I mentioned elsewhere, one of the rights retained by those in the military is that of speedy trial, with little information one way or another as to why his case is taking so long. Defense motions? Sluggardly prosecutorial conduct? Open questions, these.

  • Yonemoto||

    actually the chat conversation with adrian lamo suggests that he was at least a little bit idealistic.

  • Wind Rider||

    Where, Max, other than under the leaky sink of your fetid imagination do you come up with the idea that "Reason" doesn't want Manning prosecuted? Simply asking because it's an editorial position I seem to have overlooked.

  • ||

    Secrets is secrets; is that it?

    If General Petraeus' driver tells a newspaper reporter where he will be having lunch, should he be executed?

  • Bellevue Hospital||

    Wow.

  • mike c.||

    Brad Manning stepped on his dick very hard when he sent Assange those cables. Assange never promised to keep any secrets for anyone. Brad did and he is fucked. Does anyone know if the UCMJ provides for the death penalty in his case? If it does it will more likely be the noose for him than a bullet.

  • Wind Rider||

    Nah, this likely isn't a capital offense - I think that only comes into play when there is an actual "State of War" and an "Authorization for the use of Force" doesn't clear that bar. He's potentially looking at quite a stretch at Leavenworth if convicted, however, as I doubt he'll get much leniency if the verdict is guilty.

    The question I seem to not see people pondering, as they do the OMFG dance over the physical circumstance of his confinement is - what the hell is taking so fucking long with this? Being in the military does not abrogate the right to a 'speedy' trial, and there's been damned little reportage of the procedural progress in the case - with 7 months being quite a long time to be held. I've seen it speculated that this may be due to defense motions and such, but info on it is hard to come by. The majority of the articles are of the blood enraged crowd variety, or obtusely sensationalized puff pieces lacking much substance.

  • Not a lawyer, but||

    Being in the military does not abrogate the right to a 'speedy' trial

    Define "speedy." Defense lawyers might interpret "speedy" as a government's attempt to railroad the defendant before his defense has had adequate time to prepare. It works both ways. High-profile cases often don't come to trial for years. Getting a "speedy" trial is always dependent upon the backlog of cases and the complexity of each individual case. The last thing a defendant wants to do is go to trial before he is ready. Unless he wants to lose.

  • Yonemoto||

    It took arlington county nine months to take my parking ticket to trial.

  • Not a lawyer, but||

    And the military does not operate under the same set of rules as the civil and criminal courts. "Speedy trial" is meaningless to them.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Read the UCMJ article 10 and get back to me.

  • Ted S.||

    But you weren't kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day during those nine months.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Stringing out the time for the trial is an old defense lawyer's trick. Especially, if he's looking for a plea bargain. However, it's not as useful with high-profile cases.

  • Kolohe||

    It took almost a year to bring the Fort Hood shooter to his preliminary hearting - the actual Court Martial hasn't happened yet.
    This guy was two years from incident to conviction:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasan_Akbar_case
    The Abu Ghraib players similarly took well over a year from the investigation getting kicked off (which was well before any press coverage) to their convictions/acquittals/plea deals.

  • Kolohe||

    insert 'alleged' in front of 'Ft Hood shooter' as one likes.

  • Bill||

    How many witnesses are required before we can drop the alleged?

  • Dello||

    "what the hell is taking so fucking long with this? Being in the military does not abrogate the right to a 'speedy' trial, and there's been damned little reportage of the procedural progress in the case - with 7 months being quite a long time to be held."

    Perhaps his got more stuff stashed away that he's using for leverage.

  • polooutlet||

    Polo ShirtsGuangZHou HuiYuan Leather Manufactory is a fashion bag 2010 Men Polo T Shirts Do you want a brand new purse

  • oncogenesis||

    Die in a fire.

  • ||

    Still more interesting than anything Rather's army of sockpuppets has ever managed to post.

  • Old Man with Candy||

    Will these shirts show off my fine man-boobs?

  • ||

    UPDATE: *Via email, Murdock writes:

    "I may be an imperialist, but I am not a monarchist!"

    Har dee fucking har.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    That guy's a laff riot!

  • sevo||

    Well, that's a relief!

  • Pink Cosmotarian||

    "Raaaaacist!!"

  • MNG||

    Boy I love this stuff. Nothing brings out the faux in the GOP leaning faux libertarians around here like a good old case mixing nationalism, the military and MUSLIMS (oh noes!). This group which waxes on and on about their hate of government wants to prosecute and execute citizens who have committed the "crime" of making public the meanderings of officials in a state department of what is, ostensibly, an "open democracy." Hell with Assange he didn't even post secrets of his own frigging government but another!

  • Brian E||

    Can you actually read? Seems to me that people around here are generally defending Assange with some minor complaining that he's not exactly the best representative of the open government cause. Personally I don't think anything should happen to him on account of what he published.

    Manning on the other hand betrayed the trust that was given him and should be sent to where other people who have repeatedly violated the public's trust go. I'm thinking that a few terms in Congress would be about right.

  • Almanian||

    I'm thinking that a few terms in Congress would be about right

    Ohhhh, the bloodlust is deeeep in this one.

    *shudder*

  • prolefeed||

    Manning on the other hand betrayed the trust that was given him and should be sent to where other people who have repeatedly violated the public's trust go. I'm thinking that a few terms in Congress would be about right.

    I'm gonna call it -- threadwinner!

  • Um||

    the open government cause

    A handful of anonymous drunks on a semi-obscure political blog is a "cause"? OK.

  • sevo||

    MNG|12.19.10 @ 9:18PM|#
    "Boy I love this stuff. Nothing brings out the faux in the GOP leaning faux libertarians around here..."
    Of course you do! Picking cherries is what you do best! Does it pay well?

  • ||

    He's not really talking about he regular HnR posters as much as the GOP lurkers who keep coming out to vent their seething hatred of Assange. And he's right, nothing reveals the faux-libertarian GOPer more than a little "national security" issue. Same goes for faux-libertarian democrats and food controls.

  • MWG||

    You should check out the threads on any of the posts related to immigration. Those commenters remind me why I hate the fact I once called myself a conservative and why I hate, even more, the fact that people so often tend to lump libertarians with conservatives.

  • Trespassers W||

    You ever get the impression that Minge just likes the sound of his keyboard clacking?

  • Wind Rider||

    Meanwhile in the lovin to dish it, but has issues with takin it department. . .

    Snort. Karmically poetic.

  • sevo||

    OK, but the asshole has to be separate from the act.

  • Ted S.||

    The whole "Assange was the worst sex ever" revelation sounds more like state disinformation to me.

  • ||

    Plus a nice example of how disgustingly hypocritical governments are. Selectively releasing information to damage defendants prior to their "fair" trial is an old trick.

  • Ted S.||

    See Wicked Eliot Spitzer (or any state AG) and the "perp walk" for another example of this.

  • jester||

    perpetual war. any comment against it is treason.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The stakes and the stage [of Danziger Bridge] were much smaller ... than they are in the Wikileaks story.

    I have to disagree. The stage was surely smaller. However, no one has yet (AFAWK) died from the Manning / Assange leaks, so I'd say the stakes were quite a bit lower.

  • Spur||

    This is what happens when conservatives hire blacks

  • martin||

    ...and that is the grand hipocrisy of most mainstream conservatives. They rally against the incompetency of government while enabling the worst of our government's actions.

  • ||

    Politicians leak classified material all the time, just to score points in cheesy political games. If people are going to be punished for leaking, those fuckers should have to go first.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

  • Kristen||

    Manning belongs in jail along with the person who leaked Valerie Plame's identity! Oh wait....

  • sven||

    Whoever added the word 'fascist' to Murdock's Wikipedia article: kudos.

  • ||

    You need to research Danziger and the other cases against the NOPD that the Justice Dept is making before you rush to judgement. There was massive chaos during and after Katrina. It is the perfect poorly documented scenario for an ambitious attorney (or two) from the Justice Department to make their careers on.The Feds are coercing stories out of defendants, witnesses, etc.; in exchange for immunity (most of the time they won't even tell their targets what they are being investigated for, just that they need immunity). Having to hire a lawyer just to talk to the feds will cost you about 10,000. Is it any wonder that people will tell any lie the feds want them to to avoid slow financial ruin? Read the testimony changes the defendants in Danziger case who recieved immunity have made. The whole thing stinks like the Salem Witch Trials. The question is, who will decide to stop the madness, if not for the sake of justice, then for the opportunity of making their own careers by exposing corrupt federal attorneys?

  • ||

    Oh come now, Reason. I know the guy identifies as Republican, but if you've read his work consistently, you'd know he's far more Libertarian leaning. Why must we target those who are essentially our friends?

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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