Deroy Murdock, Wikileaks, and the Danziger Bridge

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

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 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 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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48 Responses to “Deroy Murdock, Wikileaks, and the Danziger Bridge”

  1. #1 |  Brandon | 

    More proof that statism is the great bipartisan unifier.

  2. #2 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    While the biggest impact of Wikileaks has been blowing the lid off of government lies, almost as important has been its role in exposing the power-worshipping media tools like Murdock –– from across the political spectrum –– who enable and encourage government wrongdoing.

  3. #3 |  derfel cadarn | 

    Government is the problem and all the lies they tell will not make them ethical just as spending money will not make you rich.

  4. #4 |  Rick H. | 

    You’re absolutely right, Radley, and it will shock me to my bones if this shitstain retracts any of his, let’s say, “inaccuracies.” Because shitstains don’t care about the truth. Murdock cares about vicariously experiencing the thrill of power via the government agents he fellates so unquestioningly. He’s an awful person, as well as an attention whore that rivals any leg-waxing Kardashian.

  5. #5 |  overgoverned | 

    On a positive note, I’ve never heard of Deroy Murdock before today. And I hope and doubt that I’ll never hear of him again.

  6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

    From the article:

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

    While it would be quite a stretch to accuse Assange of enabling murderers, a case could certainly be made against those who “enabled” Bush to invade Iraq resulting in the senseless death of thousands on utterly false pretenses.

  7. #7 |  John P. | 

    You are absolutely right and it sickens me how conservatives will proudly cheer on the roadside, summary executions of people. Not based upon any indisputable facts, not based upon a thorough review of all the evidence and the finding of a jury that is beyond a reasonable doubt. But upon nothing more than a “reasonable” suspicion of one person, a cop, that you may have done something wrong.

    Conservatives luvs them some cops. Especially killer cops.

    The cops-can-do-no-wrong crowd is strong among their ranks.

    They have no clue just who or what they are cheering on everytime a cop murders a person under very questionable circumstances.

    I recall the discussions that took place on Free Republic Forum in the wake of the Katrina/Danziger Bridge Shooting. There were so many who scoffed at the idea the shooting was unjustified. But of course this was during all those fairy tales the cops were telling reporters about armed gangs roaming wild and firing on Coast Guard Choppers while they were engaged in roof top rescues.

    Conservatives luvs them some cops. Especially killer cops.

  8. #8 |  Pete | 

    That’s a very good point, Radley, and one that should be obvious but really isn’t, especially to the loudest of the loud:

    All these calls for the execution of the whistleblower and the publisher are based on the premise that all secrets should be kept secret, or something like that.

    I wonder how many of them would be singing different tunes if part of the wikileaks publication volume included concrete proof of, say, Obama’s birth in Kenya, or documents showing that Nancy Pelosi wanted to entice corporations into setting up shop in Venezuela so that Chavez could later seize their facilities. Whatever it is that neocons sweat over when they’re under the covers at night with a flashlight, shivering in fear.

    But since it merely shows how the government has repeatedly lied about stuff that they all lined up behind and sang patriotic songs about, both Manning and Assange need to be publicly blooded and their bodies then desecrated.

  9. #9 |  JS | 

    Judas Peckerwood “While the biggest impact of Wikileaks has been blowing the lid off of government lies, almost as important has been its role in exposing the power-worshipping media tools…”

    Yea there have been a lot of great things that have come out of this whole wikileaks deal so far-it has exposed most of the American media as a pathetic government mouthpiece, it has exposed the US government as the hysterical murderous tyrant that it is to a lot of people. It has also exposed the Hilary’s Huckabees, Holders. Palins and Obamas as basically the same thing. It’s really separated those who want an authoritarian Soviet style government from those who want some sort of freedom. In this it has united libertarian leaning liberals and conservatives as well as united state worshipping liberals and conservatives. It has also exposed the US government once and for all in countries overseas. I’ve been talking with some people in Australia who say that their prime minister Julia Gillard really really pissed off the whole country with her initial reaction to parrot Washington’s line about Assange being a bad guy and how he should be arrested. They say there has never been so much libertarian ideas being discussed publicly like this in Australia. Almost all public opinion now is for wikileaks and Assange. Same thing in Europe. In fact I think the biggest thing that may come out of all this is that the US government has forfeited forever the trust of Europeans. Der Spiegel has been running positive articles about wikileaks and there seems to be great resentment about the US trying to subvert the German and Italian justice systems trying to keep CIA officers who kidnapped and tortured people in those countries from being prosecuted.

    Anyway, great work again Radley. It just again the law and order conservatives are some of the biggest enemies of freedom in America.

  10. #10 |  Bill | 

    His Wikipedia page called him “libertarian”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deroy_Murdock
    Calls him “fascist” now.
    Let’s see how long that edit can stay.

  11. #11 |  MassHole | 

    Statists that call themselves conservatives will claim to be skeptical of government, until they see a uniform. If you’re not skeptical of the guys with uniforms and guns, you’re not skeptical of government, at all.

  12. #12 |  John P. | 

    To: #8 Pete

    QUOTE
    I wonder how many of them would be singing different tunes if part of the wikileaks publication volume included concrete proof of, say, Obama’s birth in Kenya,
    END QUOTE

    Just go on any conservative dominated political forum, they openly talk about how they would happily forgive him if he was to release any such information. I was once a staunch conservative until about 4 years ago. Towards the end of the Bush 2 I grew very upset with the way he was handling things. And then the way the conservative base lost its mind when the Dems nominated Obama.

    I to this day still cannot figure out if they truly disliked him for what they thought he stood for or if the idea of a black man as president drove them over the edge.

    Whatever it was they truly and literally flew over the cuckoos nest… and pushed me and many that I know, completely away from the party all together.

    If Assange was to product the holy grail of the rightwing lunatic fringe, Obamas kenyan birth certificate. They would try to have his face chiseled onto Mount Rushmore.

  13. #13 |  Mattocracy | 

    Are there any conservatives calling for Clinton to resign or be fired for telling her people to engage in espionage against our allies? Or calling for defense contractors to be tried for treason and shot for peddling children for sex? Or those members of our intelligence community for kidnapping innocent people and torturing them?

    All this talk about endangering lives is so far fetched and absurd. “American service people, who already in danger because we sent them to war and in the process began endangering the lives of innocent people abroad, are even more endangered now that everyone knows just how much we fuck them over! Quick, the only answer is act like petulant little brats!”

    There is a great Onion Article entitled “I fucked my way into this mess, and I’m gonna fuck my way out.” It precisely describes US foreign policy in the age of Barack W Bush.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/i-fucked-my-way-into-this-mess-and-ill-fuck-my-way,11256/

  14. #14 |  Episiarch | 

    Calls him “fascist” now.
    Let’s see how long that edit can stay.

    Gold, dude. And for now, it’s still there.

    While the biggest impact of Wikileaks has been blowing the lid off of government lies, almost as important has been its role in exposing the power-worshipping media tools like Murdock –– from across the political spectrum –– who enable and encourage government wrongdoing.

    This cannot be stressed enough. It has been amazing seeing people who claim to be libertarian go absolutely apeshit over Assange, and then cannot understand why they get subsequently called out for it.

  15. #15 |  Kevin3% | 

    “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.”

    Unfortunately, there are many people who still believe these lies. Partisanship is without the ability to question what one does not want to believe.

    And JS: “Yea there have been a lot of great things that have come out of this whole wikileaks deal so far-it has exposed most of the American media as a pathetic government mouthpiece, it has exposed the US government as the hysterical murderous tyrant that it is to a lot of people. It has also exposed the Hilary’s Huckabees, Holders. Palins and Obamas as basically the same thing. It’s really separated those who want an authoritarian Soviet style government from those who want some sort of freedom.”

    Exposed only to those willing to think (or rethink) their beliefs. Blind obedience prevails among the masses. The willingness to accept the government side of any issue is dangerous and those who buy the lie vote.

  16. #16 |  LibertarianBlue | 

    The cops-can-do-no-wrong crowd is strong among their ranks.
    ________________________________________________

    Its not strong, its a requirement. One of the pillars of conservatism is to believe that cops are always right.

    As for the article, whenever a neo-con is pissed, liberty takes a step forward.

  17. #17 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    Shorter version: Balko accuses Murdock of Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking. Murdock responds, “I Take Offense To That Last One

  18. #18 |  EH | 

    And his response to Radley underscores his unseriousness.

  19. #19 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    On January 8, 1918 President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress and listed fourteen points as American war aims, the first of which was:

    Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

    This was official policy. I wonder if it’s ever been repudiated?

  20. #20 |  grog | 

    I shouldn’t be, but somehow always am surprised and amazed at how bloodthirsty some of these “law and order” types are. Completely aside from how morally appalling it is, it seems to betray a disturbing personality trait underneath.

    But I will say, his email comment from the update was funny.

  21. #21 |  chuchundra | 

    I don’t know if we really want to take advice from Woodrow Wilson as far as diplomacy goes.

  22. #22 |  Dan Z | 

    Release of this information from the wikileaks dump isnt what puts the American people in danger, the fact that the government and its armed forces are doing the things that are being released is what puts this country in danger! The media at large is simply a mouth piece for the government at this point, investigative journalism is coming from people that run blogs and work for the smaller outlets, the ones that get brushed aside. Add in the fact that corporate America is in bed with the government as well in terms of cutting off funding to wikileaks etc and you have a massive government intimidation and denial operation to prevent the unspeakable acts being committed in the name of this country from being well known.

  23. #23 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    # #21 | chuchundra | December 19th, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    I don’t know if we really want to take advice from Woodrow Wilson as far as diplomacy goes.

    Oh, fershure; I’m just taken with the notion that the US government may be trying to hang Assange for implementing its own official policy.

  24. #24 |  Guido | 

    Radley, this very argument encompasses my confusion with folks who call themselves conservative in the first place. Which is why we need to give credit where credit is due. Either you are for big government or your are against it. Defense is most certainly big government in the sense of entitlements. As in, entitlements to large corporations. COnservatives love to rally against “entitlements”. A “conservative” buzz word. Wave the flag all you want. Just don’t feign being the victim of over government spending yet gloss over defense.
    I ain’t no democrat, but I can say with conviction that all Americans want a strong defense. Just not a blank check that “conservatives” are so happy to cosign.

  25. #25 |  Toastrider | 

    Eh.

    First off, PFC Manning is a serving member in the United States armed forces. That means unless someone pulls some SERIOUSLY interesting legal chicanery, he’ll be tried by the military. He might be executed, he might not; the military isn’t immune to the court of public opinion, though they are far more resistant to it. I saw an interesting theory — that Manning’s leaks were an attempt to blackmail the administration into dumping ‘don’t ask don’t tell’. Take that one with a grain of salt, though.

    Frankly, his motivations don’t matter. As a member of the armed forces he is not immune from the repercussions of passing diplomatic cables and data (some of which was classified) on to a foreign national. If he’s convicted, well, sucks to be him. It’s not impossible that Obama might pardon him, but knowing the tendencies of the current administration, Chairman Zero probably won’t mind seeing him hang.

    I was once accused of wanting to drown the government in a bathtub, and honestly it’s hard to argue /against/ openness in governing. I just can’t help but think the Wikileaks mess is not the best way to do things, and it doesn’t help that Julian Assange comes off as a complete douchenozzle. It feels less like ‘let’s pull back the curtain on the diplomatic sausage factory and show everyone how it works!’ and more ‘let’s piss on the U.S. some more!’.

    Measure twice, cut once.

  26. #26 |  Gideon Darrow | 

    @ #25 Toastrider:

    “It’s not impossible that Obama might pardon him.”

    Yes, it is.

  27. #27 |  Joe | 

    Jullian Assange, beyond being a strange cat, is not the problem.

    The problem is how does the United States government manage to leak all this so called “classified” data in the first place and then cry about it afterward? Blaming Assange is like blaming the tide for coming in (or going out).

  28. #28 |  Joe | 

    As for Jullian Assange being a sex symbol, the collective response from my wife and her friends was “eeeeeeewwwwwww.”

  29. #29 |  Ben | 

    Manning may be convicted of mishandling classified documents, but I’m quite certain he isn’t even going to be indicted on treason. Treason has a very specific definition in the Constitution, and the facts in this case do not meet the requirements. Assange hasn’t committed ANY US crime at all, nor is he under the US jurisdiction.

  30. #30 |  Marc | 

    Manning may actually be a valid target to prosecute for execution due to espionage/treason, since he was a soldier at the time and stole the documents, calling for his execution isn’t terribly unreasonable if you’re not opposed to capital punishment. Julian Assange, on the other hand, should be treated as a journalist and be afforded numerous protections under our law. Not to mention, by our own law, he did nothing wrong. He just revealed the documents, he didn’t steal them. That’s what reporters do.

  31. #31 |  Marty | 

    Manning and Assange are not easy men to be sympathetic to, but I’m very sympathetic to the position they’re in.

    good article.

  32. #32 |  Sheldon Richman | 

    Absolutely fantastic!

  33. #33 |  Pablo | 

    Awesome post. Thanks for putting into words what I’ve been thinking about the whole Wikileaks thing. I am saddened by the number of my fellow Americans who just accept what the government tells them and want to kill anyone who tries to reveal the truth.

    BTW what exactly is Assange accused of doing? Anything besides having unprotected sex?

  34. #34 |  cApitalist | 

    The state is nothing more than a criminal gang with a geographic monopoly on the legalized initiation of violence against others. The US government will behave accordingly. The state will murder Manning and Assange and anyone who thinks due process, definitions, or constitutional prohibitions will stop them is only fooling him/herself. After all, their cases will be tried in the state’s courts where I’m sure the state will an absolutely impartial arbiter of its own case. Governments murdered over 100 million people during the 20th century and I doubt many of those casualties were this great a thorn in the state’s side. I hope I’m completely off base here, but I highly doubt it.

  35. #35 |  Mario | 

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

    Years ago, I used to take a perverse pleasure in watching the guests on shows like “Ricki Lake” and “Jerry Springer” attempt to defend themselves. I used to get a big kick out of watching them open their mouths and “erase all doubt.” Their justifications, explanations, and apologies only dug them a deeper whole and made them — contrary to their efforts — look like even bigger morons than initially.

    I believe Ms. Lake or Mr. Springer have television gold in the case of Mr. Murdock.

  36. #36 |  Mario | 

    CORRECTION: “… a deeper hole.

    Damn, but I’m getting to used to being able to edit my comments on Reddit after posting them. My online proofreading skills are shot.

  37. #37 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Too bad Murdock just doesn’t change his last name to O’Brien.

  38. #38 |  Lefty | 

    Deroy is a journalist but Julian isn’t? Smells like…

  39. #39 |  demize! | 

    I should also point out that one of the injured men was beaten to death while laying supine and mortally wounded. It was a case of sheer bloodlust, not an error.

  40. #40 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Sometimes you come across people like Murdock who are mindnumbingly dumb and wonder how the hell they even get dressed in the morning.

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

    Where does one even begin to address all that is wrong with this sentence?

    As #2 (Judas) states, Wikileaks exposes more than just government lies and murder.

  41. #41 |  Dr. Q | 

    His article referencing the Danziger Brdidge incident doesn’t have a single comment on it, let alone one that corrects his falsehoods, so I submitted one (though it hasn’t been approved yet) encouraging him to issue a retraction and apology.

    I encourage others to do likewise.

    Let’s see what happens.

  42. #42 |  Joshgeek | 

    Just when I think I’m alone in a sea of bloodthirsty satists, along comes Radley and his spot on reasoning. I can’t thank you enough for articulating perfectly how so many must feel but, like me, are a little skittish about outing themselves as freedom lovers in a moment in history where it is, let’s say, not so popular to align one’s self with the likes off PFC. Manning and Mr. Assange. Your brave words are a wellspring of refreshment for those of us experiencing a drought of free and well reasons thought due to an inundation of reflexive protectionism. Fools right and left and here I am, Radley, as Steeler’s Wheel said, stuck in the middle with you. :) keep it coming!

  43. #43 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Government is the mortal enemy of the individual. There is no middle ground.

  44. #44 |  Cynical in CA | 

    It is nice to see Sheldon Richman commenting here. The anarchist population of The Agitator grows by one ….

  45. #45 |  cApitalist | 

    #43 Cynical in CA:
    “Government is the mortal enemy of the individual.”

    …and the family, and the business, and the fraternal organization, and the house of worship.

  46. #46 |  JOR | 

    If wikileaks got some US-employed murderers and enablers killed, I’d think better of them.

  47. #47 |  Morning Links | The Agitator | 

    [...] The Economist on the Danziger bridge convictions. I wonder if syndicated conservative columnist Deroy Murdock is ever going to apologize to the victims he libeled? [...]

  48. #48 |  Morning Links | The Agitator | 

    [...] Danziger bridge cops will spend decades in prison for murdering unarmed citizens after Katrina. I wonder if conservative columnist Deroy Murdock still considers the incident “a magnificent and morally pristine use of force.” [...]

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