Three heroes. One mistake.

What trap have Pte. Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Edward J. Snowden all fallen into?
It is the belief that somehow the mere act of exposing injustice has some form of magical and inherent corrective power.
Each one of them must have believed with all their hearts that if only people knew “the truth,” things would change.
It isn’t true.
imagesRecent history has proven that, in fact, the opposite is the case.
Together, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange exposed the crimes of the American war machine in Iraq. Arguably, this action is one of the chief reasons the Americans ended the conflict.
They may have left with their “heads held high,” but they were forced to do it in the middle of the night with their tails tucked between their legs.
What have been the consequences of exposing these crimes to the world? Basically, the war is more or less forgotten and written off as a big oopsie, rather than the atrocity it really was.
No one of any consequence has been held accountable for anything and a whole lot of military contractors got rich. The price for Manning and Assange was the loss of their freedom forever.
Manning will likely never see the light of day again after being convicted of espionage for the crime of exposing the crimes of the real criminals. Assange will be lucky if his worst fate is never leaving the confines of the Ecuadorian embassy again.
Then there are other instances of increased “public awareness.”
Like when the American people became aware of the fact that their government routinely kidnaps people all around the world and sends them to third-party countries to be tortured.
The consequence of that was merely one of semantics. They repackaged their sins to make them sound better. Indeed, “enhanced interrogation methods” and “extraordinary rendition” does sound a lot better than torture and kidnapping.
Once the language was cleaned up, people began to talk about it openly. We even saw members of the United States senate publicly calling for the torture of the surviving suspect in the Boston bombings. He is a boy who, for whatever else, is still an American citizen and innocent until proven guilty.
But being a citizen of the greatest country on Earth doesn’t seem to count for a whole lot these days.
Also now openly discussed is the United States drone program that targets individuals (including its own people) for assassination without any due process, oversight or accountability.
These were all once big controversies when the stories broke. Now they are humdrum, routine business that many accept as a matter of ordinary course.
Enter Edward Snowden. A young idealist who thought that exposing the Orwellian system of surveillance we all live under would somehow bring about its end.
His actions certainly have caused a lot of ink to be spilled. There has been an extraordinary amount of discussion about the exact capabilities and the extent of the schemes currently being carried out all around the world.
What has been the true effect here? A lot of awareness, for sure.
But this awareness has not brought about the change Snowden had hoped for. Rather, it has brought on large-scale indifference and defeatist resignation from a mostly apathetic American public.

Now, just as Snowden had wanted, everyone knows the truth — and they’ve done nothing about it. Which is what they almost always do.
Oh yeah, there is one thing you can count on. They will label the messenger a traitor and hunt him down to the ends of the Earth.
The famous quote says, “That in times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
untitledHere we have three revolutionaries with one simple goal. They wanted the world to know the truth about what was being done in their name.
They surely hoped wholeheartedly that justice would follow.
It has not. Call me a cynic, but I think it will not.
What has come of their courage is the compounding of the actual crimes by the complacency of the public.
These men made as much of a difference as anyone could hope to make. But apparently making a difference makes no difference at all.
Joseph Couture is a London author.