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Dec-08-2012 17:22printcomments

As Court Martial Approaches, Support for Bradley Manning Grows

“We Nobel Peace Prize laureates condemn the persecution Bradley Manning has suffered" - Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel

The American hero Bradley Manning
The American hero Bradley Manning
bradleymanning.org

(BOSTON) - In 2010, 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was charged with leaking classified information to Wikileaks, which was widely seen as a catalyst for the Arab Spring that began in December 2010.

Asia Times reported that the documents revealed “US war crimes, including the video of US soldiers in a helicopter gunship enjoying themselves murdering civilians walking along the street as if the soldiers were playing a video game.”

“According to the US Military Code, US soldiers are required to make war crimes known. However, the law on the books provided no protection to Bradley Manning,” wrote Paul Craig Roberts.

Last week, Bradley Manning’s defense faced off with military prosecutors in Ft. Meade, Maryland to argue that all charges be dismissed because of “unlawful pretrial punishment.” This hearing was second in importance only to the court martial.

Manning testified about his treatment at a military prison in Quantico, Virginia. He can only see natural light as a reflected gleam from a window down the hall when he holds his head to the door of his cell and looks through the crack. His 6ft by 8ft cell contains a toilet that is in full vision of the guards. When he needs toilet paper, he told the court, he has to stand to attention and shout: "Lance Corporal Detainee Manning requests toilet paper!" Held in solitary confinement and prohibited from exercising, Manning testified that he is “authorized to have 20 minutes sunshine, in chains, every 24 hours.” Expert witnesses stated that these harsh restrictions are worse than Guantanamo Bay or even death row.

Military judge Colonel Denise Lind announced that Manning's court martial, which had been set to begin in February, would now be delayed until March 16 at the earliest, due to the debate over his unlawful confinement.

Under the most severe of the 22 counts he faces – "aiding the enemy" – Manning could be detained in military custody for the rest of his life. In a proposed plea bargain, Manning would admit to leaking a battlefield video file, classified memos, Iraq war logs, Afghanistan war logs and other classified materials. He would also plead guilty to wrongfully storing classified information, in hopes of a lighter sentence.

Meanwhile, peace activists around the world are pushing for dismissal of all charges. Protests at Fort Meade, recruiting centers, and US embassies demanded fair treatment for Bradley, considered by many to be the most important whistleblower of our time.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel published a letter of support in The Nation on December 3, 2012, which stated:

“We Nobel Peace Prize laureates condemn the persecution Bradley Manning has suffered, including imprisonment in conditions declared “cruel, inhuman and degrading” by the United Nations, and call upon Americans to stand up in support of this whistleblower who defended their democratic rights...

If Bradley Manning released the documents, as the prosecution contends, we should express to him our gratitude for his efforts toward accountability in government, informed democracy and peace.” Ray McGovern, a high-ranking retired C.I.A. analyst, called Manning “our friend” and “a hero.”

Bradley Manning Support Network is asking all people to submit photos of themselves holding a sign that reads “I am Bradley Manning,” to show the world that people from all walks of life believe the public deserves to know the truth. Their website, iam.bradleymanning.org states:

“Whistle-blowers play an important role in a democracy, and by revealing evidence of unpunished war crimes, as well as secret corporate influence on U.S. foreign policy, Bradley Manning acted in the interest of American citizens.”

Commentator Glenn Greenwald wrote, “Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado: all without so much as having been convicted of anything.”

David House, a 23-year-old MIT researcher who befriended Manning after his detention (and then had his laptops, camera and cellphone seized by Homeland Security) is one of the few people to have visited Manning several times at Quantico. He describes worrying changes in Manning’s physical appearance and behavior just over the course of a few months.

President Obama's state department spokesman, retired air force colonel PJ Crowley, resigned after publicly condemning Manning's treatment.

According to chat logs released by Wired Magazine, Manning clearly believed that he was a whistle-blower acting with the noblest of motives.

Manning told hacker Adrian Lamo that the leaks were intended to create “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

Manning described to Lamo the incident which first made him seriously question the US government. He was instructed to work on the case of Iraqi “insurgents” who had been detained for distributing so-called “insurgent” literature which, when Manning had it translated, turned out to be nothing more than “a scholarly critique against PM Maliki.”

“I had an interpreter read it for me… and when i found out that it was a benign political critique titled “Where did the money go?” and following the corruption trail within the PM’s cabinet… i immediately took that information and *ran* to the officer to explain what was going on… he didn’t want to hear any of it… he told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding *MORE* detainees… i had always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the truth… but that was a point where i was a *part* of something… i was actively involved in something that i was completely against…” wrote Manning.

Lamo reported Manning to US authorities.

“The government's radical theory is that, although Manning had no intent to do so, the leaked information could have helped al-Qaida, a theory that essentially equates any disclosure of classified information – by any whistleblower, or a newspaper – with treason,” writes Greenwald.

79-year-old former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who is often praised for his 1971 leak of the Pentagon's secret history of the Vietnam War, said that Wikileaks' disclosure of government secrets on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and thousands of diplomatic cables was “exactly the right thing” to do. Ellsberg once faced criminal charges over his leak, but they were thrown out by a judge.

But military law experts told The Huffington Post that the odds are low that his charges will simply be dismissed.

Karin Maria Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East affairs and US politics. She is Director of the Division on Muslim Civil Rights and Liberties for the National Association of Muslim American Women. Karin is editor of World View News Service: groups.yahoo.com/group/wvns/ and an op ed columnist for the Khaleej Times (Dubai). She blogs at: karinfriedemann.blogspot.com and mariahussain.wordpress.com.

She enjoys writing about Jewish and Middle East affairs and her occasionally outrageous personal advice column "Ask Maria." She has written for the Muslim Observer, Islamic Horizons and the Message magazine on local politics, the halal meat industry and women's issues. You can email Karin at this address: togethertalk@hotmail.com

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Anonymous December 11, 2012 3:37 pm (Pacific time)

If Manning is ever put in the general prison population he will be taken care of and revered, nobody likes the murder of children, Iraq vets... nobody.


Anonymous December 10, 2012 11:58 am (Pacific time)

AS a solider I am proud of what he did. Perhaps manner in which he decided to manifest himself was wrong, but those whom committed the war crimes should be suffering the consequences not him. From a moral sense what he did was right, the approach he took however, is questionable. He joined to be a good soldier not a bad one, therefore he deserves better treatment as he was morally right.


Toni S. December 9, 2012 5:21 pm (Pacific time)

If there was no one put in harm's way then the truth should be revealed. We need whistleblowers. I don't want to live in a world of total lies and deception. I've never forgotten the Ken Ford, Jr. story that I read on Salem-news.com. People who are in the dark and criticize those who expose corruption and vileness are often critical of those who are brave beyond measure.

Editor: Great piece to bring up: What Does Ken Ford Know? And Who Put Him in Prison to Keep Him from Telling? - Cynthia McKinney Special to Salem-News.com


Anonymous December 9, 2012 9:13 am (Pacific time)

Regardless of one's opinion of "nameless" and that you back Manning up "1000%"...he is being prosecuted wthin the most ethical and professional judicial proceedings, under the UCMJ. How do you think he would do if it was a flip situation and he was being tried under Sharia Law? Or the type of proceedings you see in places like Cuba, China, Russia, etc. My only beef is that they took the death penalty off the table, but once he's in general population that will most likely be taken care of. He is a traitor and he deserves the full measure of our lawful sanctions. Those of you who support him...well, you are a tiny minority, and I imagine in most things in your lives, you have very minimal influence with anything. I bet you really go ballistic if they short you on food stamps. Hey go get a real job and support the socialistic policies that you live off of. You are the ones in the wagons who hate the wagon pullers...soon we will let you slide back down the hill. Poof, just like Manning's existence...poof!


Anonymous December 8, 2012 8:57 pm (Pacific time)

Great article, thanks!


Anonymous December 8, 2012 5:43 pm (Pacific time)

The source is a joke. Maybe a writer without an antihuman bias would balance this aburd bs.

Editor: Oh great nameless one who knows more than other.... you are ABSOLUTELY nothing in this world.  Brad Manning is a person many of us would give our lives for, but then you would NOT understand the FIRST thing about it.  We back him 1000%  as well as most Americans.  

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