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Jun-15-2013 16:54printcommentsVideo

Prosecuted for Embarrassing Obama

Knowing his obligation to report war crimes, Manning went to his superior officers to report war crimes and other atrocities he discovered. His superiors refused to act. Eventually he gave the information to Wikileaks.

Bradley Manning

(RICHMOND, RI) - If you or I do something bad, we would prefer that others not learn of it. Criminals go so far as to bribe, beat or kill witnesses to prevent them from testifying.

But presidents have another option. A president anxious to keep secret an illegal action or an embarrassing memo simply classifies it “secret.” Then if a whistleblower reveals something, prosecute him for “aiding the enemy.”

President Obama holds a record. He has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidents in our history combined. (He only prosecutes whistleblowers who expose government’s offenses. He praises those who expose corporate wrongdoing.)

Bradley Manning was a 21-year-old army intelligence analyst in 2009 when he discovered that U.S. secret documents contradicted U.S. official reports about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was particularly shocked by a video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack on people on a street in Baghdad. In the video (www.collateralmurder.com) helicopter crews fired on civilians, claiming they were armed. As they fired, the crews were heard saying “Light ’em all up” and “Look at those dead bastards.”

Seeing a badly-injured man trying to drag himself to safety, a gunner in a helicopter was heard wishing the man would pick up a weapon so they could shoot him again. It didn’t appear that the injured man was capable of picking up anything. But the gunner killed him anyway.

When rescuers came in a van to help the injured, they too were shot.

When the shooting stopped, American troops on the ground found two injured children in the van. They blamed the Iraqis: “It’s their own fault for bringing their kids to a battle,” said one voice on the recording. “That’s right,” said another.

Soldiers carried the children away — presumably to an Iraqi hospital. It is unknown whether they survived.

Knowing his obligation to report war crimes, Manning went to his superior officers regarding this and other atrocities he discovered. He got a further shock when his superiors refused to act.

Eventually he gave the information to Wikileaks.

In addition to records of war crimes, including torture of prisoners, Manning turned over memos and cables that embarrassed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. So Manning was quickly punished. He was incarcerated in solitary confinement upon his arrest in 2010.

There had been no trial. President Obama declared Manning guilty. After three years of punishment, Manning’s trial has only just begun — on June 3.

Among the people killed in that 2007 helicopter attack were two Reuters reporters. In hopes of preventing future such killing of its employees, Reuters sought a copy of the video under the Freedom of Information Act. For two years the U.S. rejected the request. And the video would probably still be secret but for Bradley Manning.

Mr. Obama wants Manning imprisoned for life for “aiding the enemy.” The irony is that the “enemy” (Iraqis and Afghans) already knew what the United States was doing to them. The purpose of punishing Bradley Manning is to keep him and others from revealing the truth to Americans.

President Obama shows no interest in punishing people for committing war crimes, only for revealing them.

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Rod Driver is president of Justice First Foundation, a former Rhode Island state representative and a retired University of Rhode Island mathematics professor. Rod studied engineering and mathematics at the University of Minnesota, receiving a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1960. He worked at Sandia Laboratories in Albuquerque for six years before taking a teaching position at the University of Rhode Island for 30 years. Rod says he became a 'peacenik' in 1951 (thanks to a few weeks on Pariss Island). He became particularly active in opposition to U.S. wars in Indochina and U.S. involvement in overthrowing governments and supporting dictators in Latin America and Iran. As the Vietnam war was winding down Rod began paying attention to the abuse of Palestinians - enabled with U.S. weapons and dollars, which has never stopped. Rod is the founder and president of the non-profit Justice First Foundation.

In Rhode Island Rod was an elected delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1986, Then he was elected a state representative for 10 years. At this time he is not in office. You can write to Rod Driver at this address: rod@roddriver.com

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