Wednesday, January 18, 2017

USA military whistle blower convicted of treason, Chelsea Manning, is given clemency by USA president Obama! Seems to be very controversial decision

Last updated on 19th Jan. 2017

[Note: I have put this up on my spiritual blog instead of my miscellaneous topics blog, as my whistle blowing activity, referred below, was related to Prasanthi Nilayam system in immediate post-Mahasamadhi traumatic period.]

As I have been a much smaller scale and within Indian law whistle-blower (in 2015 & 2016) of some matters in immediate post-Mahasamadhi (period of April end 2011 - around mid 2012) Prasanthi Nilayam system (Puttaparthi, India) including and mainly Sathya Sai university (SSSIHL) related matters, I have an absorbing interest in contemporary and near-contemporary famous whistleblowers in the world. Wikileaks - Julian Assange & Chelsey Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) - and Edward Snowden were the really big whistleblowers, news accounts of whom, I followed quite a bit in the last decade or so. They have surely played a role in inspiring me to become a whistle-blower (using Facebook and blogger) in 2015 & 2016 with an intent on achieving public good via both knowledge of what actually happened in the traumatic immediate post Mahasamadhi period of a year or so (till around mid 2012) in Prasanthi Nilayam system, and then good governance reform, including early 21st century transparency & accountability norms, of Prasanthi Nilayam system.

Now Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden have been either convicted of having broken serious laws of the countries they lived in or served, or are accused of doing so (but not yet convicted as Snowden and Assange are fugitives from justice as viewed by these countries, and have, respectively, sought refuge in a foreign embassy (Assange) and fled their country (Snowden)). So what they have done is very, very serious stuff with great national security implications for their countries. In stark contrast, what I have done is minor and well within Indian law, as far as I know.

So this news of USA President Obama commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning from a long 35 years to effectively around 6 to 7 years (she is expected to be released in May 2017 according to a report given below) is of great interest to me. It seems to be a hugely controversial decision of Obama with USA Senator Lindsay Graham (serves in powerful USA Senate Armed Services committee, if I recall correctly) being very harshly critical of it. USA Speaker Paul Ryan has reportedly called the clemency decision outrageous. Wikileaks has declared 'victory' and Snowden has thanked Obama in a tweet.

I do not have a stand on it, as of now, and am just sharing the big event with the widely opposing reactions to the event.

Obama's dilemma on Chelsea Manning, http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/17/politics/chelsea-manning-barack-obama-commutation/, Jan. 18th 2017

Chelsea Manning has suffered enough. Finally, Obama did the right thing, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/17/chelsea-manning-suffered-enough-obama-commutation-right-thing, Jan. 18th 2017

President Obama commutes sentence of Wikileaks leaker Chelsea Manning, CBS News, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qa8aoAvJKb8, 2 min 25 secs.

Why Obama's commutation of Manning is a slap in intel's face, Fox News, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvnZm4KbcTA, 7 min. 2 secs.
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I felt it is appropriate to add that though my whistleblowing in 2015 & 2016, about what happened in the Sai university in particular and in Prasanthi Nilayam system general from after Sathya Sai Mahasamadhi (April end 2011 when he bodily passed away) till about mid-2012, a traumatic and chaotic period for Prasanthi Nilayam system, was within Indian law and minor as compared to what Assange, Manning and Snowden have done, I also faced significant challenges.

Those people of Prasanthi Nilayam system (including some who had left Prasanthi Nilayam system by 2015) who I exposed in my whistle-blowing would have been furious with me for my whistle-blowing. Some of their supporters behaved nastily towards me. Mentally I felt traumatized as I was exposing wrongdoings of some current (and some past) powerful people of Prasanthi Nilayam system. I was attacked on social media for being a "notorious hatemonger" and was advised not to publicly criticize sacred Sai university! Very, very few people on social media supported my whistle-blowing against some then (in 2015 & 2016) current Sai university administrators. Most people of Prasanthi Nilayam system were scared to associate with me, though by that time my contacts with Prasanthi Nilayam system had reduced drastically even though I continued to live in outside-ashram Puttaparthi rarely visiting the Prasanthi Nilayam ashram! It was quite a lonely period. All this did affect my already delicate health.

However, there were no legal actions taken against me. Perhaps that's because what I was doing was within Indian freedom of speech laws. Neither did I get any formal protest/complaint letters from the people I exposed or from the Sai university itself about these whistle-blowing posts of mine. So most of the trauma that I felt due to these whistle-blowing actions of mine were mental and related to people-to-people interactions rather than explicit threats of violence against me or legal actions. I did face some nasty behaviour including dirty looks and a Prasanthi Nilayam system youngster (perhaps associated with some of the persons whose wrongdoing I exposed) trying to brush his body against mine as we crossed each other on a narrow staircase, but nothing beyond that from Prasanthi Nilayam ashram people. However, the fear that somebody might do something against me was there during this period of whistle-blowing and that fear led to me taking actions like having an aggressive physical posture while walking on Puttaparthi streets to send a signal that I was willing to fight back if somebody gets physical with me. That created some misunderstanding with some other outside-ashram Puttaparthi people (mainly shopkeepers but also some youth leaders) not connected with my whistle-blowing matters in any way. But I was able to quickly resolve that misunderstanding with them by letting them know that I had no issues with them whatsoever.

I shared the above in this post to avoid giving the impression that my whistleblowing activity (in 2015 & 2016) did not involve facing significant level of unpleasantness. It certainly DID involve some amount of unpleasantness and did create some mental trauma for me.

Readers may want to read the following posts related to my whistle-blowing activities:

1) How and why I became a whistleblower and publicly named and exposed few persons in Sai university, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/07/how-and-why-i-became-whistleblower-and.html, July 2016

2) Stepping back from Whistle-blower role; Plan to focus more on spirituality & religion, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/12/stepping-back-from-whistle-blower-role.html, Dec. 2016

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