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!"