Author Topic: In Defense of Bradley Manning  (Read 1589 times)

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In Defense of Bradley Manning
« on: December 30, 2011, 10:47:06 AM »
Bradley Manning is charged with leaking sensitive military information to Wikileaks. He’s currently on trial for his life. The military calls him a traitor, but he seems like a hero.

In 1971 a military analyst named Daniel Ellsburg leaked what’s known as the “Pentagon Papers” to the New York Times. The papers eviscerated many government claims about the Vietnam war, and raised public pressure to end the war. Ellsworth faced 115 years under the Sedition Act of 1917, but due to governmental misconduct he was freed. The misconduct included such incursions as warrantless wiretapping and, in a precursor to Watergate, a burglary of his psychiatrist’s office. Ellsburg remains a widely respected figure and a hero to many.

Ellsburg’s tale comes to mind because of its similarity to the current saga surrounding PFC. Bradley Manning. Manning is allegedly the man behind the treasure trove of secure military data that was made public on Wikileaks.

Wikileaks released a staggering amount of U.S. intelligence, which ranged from diplomatic cables to confidential information about the Iraq war. Some of it was fairly benign, gossipy scuttlebutt about foreign leaders’ foibles, but some of the released material provided irrefutable evidence of war crimes.

One widely seen video titled “Collateral Murder” is particularly damning. In it an Apache helicopter is shown firing on 12 unarmed civilians, including 2 journalists from Reuters. As people tried to rescue the civilians, the army fired on them, and to add insult to injury, a tank drives over one man, cutting him in half. The Geneva convention expressly prohibits killing civilians, preventing the rescue of the wounded, and defacing dead bodies. Three war crimes in a little over 17 minutes.

It turned out to be three strikes and you’re out, for the U.S. in Iraq. One of the central reasons the U.S. has fully withdrawn is that Obama was unable to negotiate for continued immunity for U.S. fighters, and Wikileaks played a large part in Iraq’s refusal to continue to act without impunity.

Wikileaks also helped spark the “Arab Spring,” it revealed just how corrupt the Tunisian government was. Protests sprang up in Tunisia, the President was deposed, and the revolutionary promise ricocheted around the Muslim world.

By all rights Pvt. Manning is a hero: he revealed U.S. war crimes which helped bring a close to the deeply unpopular war in Iraq, and helped changed the world for the better by bringing about regime change in several Arab countries. But the Obama administration and the military see him in a decidedly different light.

He has been held by the military for the past 19 months, the first 9 months of which he spent in solitary confinement. Manning was forcibly paraded around other prisoners naked in an attempt to humiliate him. His treatment has been so rough that it  garnered attention from the U.N., which is now investigating his imprisonment.

Last week the military held a 7 day pretrial  hearing during which Manning was charged with 30 different offenses, including aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage act. If convicted Manning will likely spend the rest of his life in jail. The military presented a compelling case that Manning did indeed leak the files, but failed to show any instance in which the leaks materially hurt the U.S. It is ironic that if Manning was in that Apache helicopter that massacred civilians, today he’d be treated as a war hero — instead he’s in a battle for his life for blowing the whistle on blatantly illegal activities.

One might think our current President, the ex-constitutional professor, might have sympathy for Mr. Manning, but defending civil liberties seems to only be the dominion of true nut cases like Ron Paul.

In the end, I’ll let Pvt. Manning speak for himself, on an online chat he wrote: “If you had free reign over classified networks… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?” He doesn’t sound like a traitor to me.


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Re: In Defense of Bradley Manning
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2012, 23:46:50 PM »
Wonderful post