Posts Tagged ‘Bradley Manning Court Martial’

‘Sometimes you have to pay a heavy price’

August 22, 2013

Bradley Manning

The following is a transcript of the statement made by Pfc. Bradley Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference on Wednesday after an Army judge sentenced Manning to up to 35 years in prison for leaking classified information.  I think it is worth reading and putting on record.

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in.  Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war.  We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.  It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing.  It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. 

We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians.  Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture.  We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process.  We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government.  And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power.  When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few.  I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States.  It was never my intention to hurt anyone.  I only wanted to help people.  When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.  I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

For background, click on Bradley Manning to request pardon from Obama over 35-year jail sentence by Paul Lewis for The Guardian.  The article explained that Manning will get credit for time served, and an additional reduction for the abuse he suffered while awaiting trial.  The remainder of the sentence could be reduced by as much as two-thirds for good behavior.  But to my mind, that doesn’t mean he is getting off lightly.

Hat tip to Laura Bruno’s Blog.

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Julian Assange on the Bradley Manning show trial

June 25, 2013

Julian Assange said in an interview Monday that the Bradley Manning court-martial is a show trial.   Just like the show trials in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, the verdict has been pre-determined, and the purpose of the trial is to convince the public of the defendant’s guilt.

The judge has ruled out the Manning’s lawyers main line of defense, which is that the information he released was wrongly over-classified, and allowed only one of 33 witnesses the defense wanted to call.  The prosecution will call 141 witnesses, some of whom will present their testimony in secret.  Access by the press is controlled, and less than a quarter of those who applied were granted press credentials.

Assange pointed out that many American newspapers published articles using the information Manning revealed, but not one of them contributed to Manning’s defense fund.  Some reporters may have done so individually, however.

What Bradley Manning is accused of

June 7, 2013
Bradley Manning on trial.  Source: Slate

Bradley Manning at Fort Meade.   Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Here are some things the U.S. government has done that Bradley Manning has made known through Wikileaks.

  • During the Iraq War, U.S. authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape, and murder by Iraqi police and soldiers, according to thousands of field reports.
  • There were 109,032 “violent deaths” recorded in Iraq between 2004 and 2009, including 66,081 civilians. Leaked records from the Afghan War separately revealed coalition troops’ alleged role in killing at least 195 civilians in unreported incidents, one reportedly involving U.S. service members machine-gunning a bus, wounding or killing 15 passengers.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country that opposed genetically modified crops, with U.S. diplomats effectively working directly for GM companies such as Monsanto.
  • British and American officials colluded in a plan to mislead the British Parliament over a proposed ban on cluster bombs.
  • In Baghdad in 2007, a U.S. Army helicopter gunned down a group of civilians, including two Reuters news staff.
  • U.S. special operations forces were conducting offensive operations inside Pakistan despite sustained public denials and statements to the contrary by U.S. officials.
  • A leaked diplomatic cable provided evidence that during an incident in 2006, U.S. troops in Iraq executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence. The disclosure of this cable was later a significant factor in the Iraqi government’s refusal to grant U.S. troops immunity from prosecution beyond 2011, which led to U.S. troops withdrawing from the country.
  • A NATO coalition in Afghanistan was using an undisclosed “black” unit of special operations forces to hunt down targets for death or detention without trial. The unit was revealed to have had a kill-or-capture list featuring details of more than 2,000 senior figures from the Taliban and al-Qaida, but it had in some cases mistakenly killed men, women, children, and Afghan police officers.
  • The U.S. threatened the Italian government in an attempt to influence a court case involving the indictment of CIA agents over the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric. Separately, U.S. officials were revealed to have pressured Spanish prosecutors to dissuade them from investigating U.S. torture allegations, secret “extraordinary rendition” flights, and the killing of a Spanish journalist by U.S. troops in Iraq.
  • In apparent violation of a 1946 U.N. convention, Washington initiated a spying campaign in 2009 that targeted the leadership of the U.N. by seeking to gather top officials’ private encryption keys, credit card details, and biometric data.

Via Slate

If we the people have a right to know these things, then Bradley Manning should be exonerated.

If there is a duty to report war crimes, then Bradley Manning is a hero.

Bradley Manning is a criminal only if it is wrong for you and me to know that the U.S. government is committing crimes.

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Bradley Manning is a hero, not a traitor

March 1, 2013

We live in a time when the government has more and more power to power to collect information about the citizens, the citizens have less and less power to find out what the government is doing, and the executive claims powers to operate outside the law.

Under such circumstances, the only way that we the people have to know what the government is doing is for courageous individuals to defy the government and reveal the secret crimes.

Double click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Private Bradley Manning is a hero.  He faces court-martial for massive disclosure of secret information to WikiLeaks, including the “collateral murder” video, which showed the crew of an Apache helicopter shooting unarmed civilians and then the passers-by to attempted to help the wounded.  He also made public war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, a vast number of diplomatic cables and information about mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

Yesterday he pleaded guilty to 10 charges, including unauthorized disclosure of secret information, but not guilty to 12 other charges, including knowingly giving help to al Qaeda, causing secret information to be published with the intent of making it available to the enemy, and knowingly disclosing information that would be used to injure the United States or helping a foreign nation.

He said he made the information public because he thought the American people ought to know what their government was doing.  “We were obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and ignoring goals and missions,” he told the court.  “I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general [that] might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter-terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.”

I don’t think anybody who was followed his case would doubt that this was his motive.

Double click to enlarge.

Double click to enlarge.

Manning said that he first offered his information to the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Politico news service, and was turned down.  Only then, he said, did he turn to WikiLeaks.  This will undermine government attempts to claim that WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange conspired with Manning to obtain the tapes.   I personally think the reason that the government waited so long to bring Manning to trial was the hope that he could be induced to implicate Assange.   If so, they were disappointed.

The New York Times and Washington Post editors, in rejecting the information, behaved differently from the editors of an earlier era who published the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department’s secret history of the Vietnam War.  As with the WikiLeaks disclosures, the Pentagon Papers revealed little that enemy leaders didn’t already know, but much that was highly embarrassing to the government.

Manning’s trial judge, Colonel Denise Lind, said that you can’t have a functioning military if everyone is free to disregard orders because of conscience.   That’s a good point.   But it’s not as if Bradley Manning has gotten off scot-free.   He has been in prison for two and a half years (1,012 days), including months stripped naked in solitary confinement.  He could be sentenced to 20 years in prison on the charges to which he has pleaded guilty (voluntarily, without a plea bargain), and he could be sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted on the other charges.  If it were up to me, I would find him guilty and sentence him to time served, plus a bad conduct discharge.

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