We’re All Prisoners of War Now | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

We’re All Prisoners of War Now

America has essentially been at war, nonstop, since the weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Those “forever wars,” as they’re now commonly called, have been both truly distant from and eerily close to us, far away and yet a deeply embedded part of American life. And here, to my mind, is the strangest thing: those rare figures who, as citizens (or in one case an outsider), managed to reach into the heart of the American-war and national-security states and reveal something of what was actually being done in our names have suffered grim fates indeed.

Take Edward Snowden, who, in 2013, as a private contractor working for the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed the vast surveillance structure that had been built in the shadows — quite literally as a kind of shadow government — in the post-9/11 years and significantly aimed at Americans. For his revelations (that is, his “crime”), he would be charged under the 1917 Espionage Act meant to criminalize dissent against the U.S. entry into World War I. He is now a resident of Russia (of all places) because, were he to return to his homeland, he might never again make it out of a prison cell. Chelsea Manning, who as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq passed secret information and documents to WikiLeaks revealing American crimes in its wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, was charged under that same law and found herself imprisoned from 2010 until 2017, when President Obama commuted her 35-year sentence. She was then sent back to jail again for refusing to testify in court against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. And he was, of course, the one outsider among the three of them but was indicted under that same Espionage Act. H

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