By Stephen Lendman
He’s one of America’s best. He risked great personal harm. He did so to expose vital truths. He’s a true American hero. He deserves praise, not prosecution. In February 2012, Movement of the Icelandic Parliament (MIP) members nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
They felt compelled to recognize his important contribution to world peace. They called nominating him a “great honor.” They’re indebted for what he did. He deserves Washington’s Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It’s awarded “for especially meritorious contributions to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
War criminals often get it. Peacemakers are spurned. British MP George Galloway said Manning should “be getting a Nobel Prize instead of being tortured, and what is the British government doing about this torture of the Welshman, Bradley Manning?”
“What they’re doing is intriguing and plotting with the Swedish government and the US government to send Julian Assange to join him on the torture tables and in solitary confinement for the next 50 years.”
“And we call ourselves the land of the free.” Paul Craig Roberts called Manning “a window into the American soul.” It reveals “total evil. The US government constitutes Satan’s Chosen People. Nothing else can be said for those who rule and oppress us.”
Manning’s a latter-day Daniel Ellsberg. “I was Bradley Manning of my day,” he said. “I too faced life in prison for exposing classified government lies and crimes.”
Ultimately all charges were dropped. It was “because of criminal government misconduct” in his case. Manning deserves no less. Whistleblowers, social justice advocates, and war resisters reflect America’s best. Washington treats them like criminals.
Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark says “Our jails are filled with saints.” Some of America’s best and brightest are persecuted and abused. Law Professor Francis Boyle says US government lawlessness demands civil resistance. It’s lawful, necessary, and right. “US government officials are the outlaws,” he says. Doing the right thing requires challenging them.
Law Professor Marjorie Cohn calls Manning’s heroism “uncommon courage.” He did what he had to do because it’s right. He spoke for the second time publicly. More on that below. His own words confirm “a very brave young man.”
Center for Constitutional Rights President Emeritus Michael Ratner calls Manning’s court martial a “show trial of state secrecy.” The public’s right to know is denied. Evidence is kept secret. Transparency is spurned. So is accountability. Court documents, orders, and off-the record arguments will decide Manning’s fate.
Ratner attends his hearings. He calls them the “theater of the absurd.” They involve lengthy off-the-record conferences. They’re secretive and suppressed. An in-court summary conceals what’s most important to explain. A pre-trial publicity order details what lawyers may or may not say. “Even the degree to which proceedings (are) kept secret is secret.”
Doing so reflects Plato’s Cave. People lived chained to a wall. It was blank. They remained there all their lives. Shadows replaced reality. The public’s right to know reflects allegorical injustice. Denying transparency violates constitutional and statute law. The Supreme Court ruled criminal trials must be public. Democracies die behind closed doors.
Proceedings are rigged to convict. Manning doesn’t have a chance. Expect prosecutors to throw the book at him. Expect hanging judge complicity to go along. For heroism above and beyond the call of duty, he faces 22 counts under America’s Espionage Act. He’s also accountable under Articles 92 and 124 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
They include aiding the enemy. It’s a potential capital offense. Prosecutors said they won’t seek the death penalty. Manning faces potential life imprisonment.
He was held incommunicado for 10 months. He was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. He was isolated 23 hours a day. He was allowed outside, alone, shackled, and permitted to walk in circles. He was returned to his cell the moment he stopped.
He was stripped of all rights. He was denied most other activities. He was prohibited from exercising in his cell. He was video and visually monitored 24 hours a day. He was forced to sleep naked. He was denied a pillow and sheets. He was awakened at night for being out of full view. He was forced to respond to guard inquiries every five minutes all day.
He was tortured and abused for doing the right thing. He took everything America threw at him and stood tall. It doesn’t get any better than that. He’ll be remembered as one of America’s best. At great personal risk, he exposed US war crimes. Everyone has a right to know. They include systematically murdering civilians in cold blood.
It’s standard practice. Rules of engagement order combatants to shoot all military aged men on sight. Drone operators do so indiscriminately. International, constitutional, US statute and military laws are violated. Nuremberg standards aren’t imposed. Accountability is long overdue. Pursuing justice more than ever is vital. Legions of Mannings are needed.
His Support Network provides regular updates. He’s denied civil justice. His military tribunal trial begin June 3.
On February 28, he pleaded guilty to 10 lesser charges. He can withdraw any of them before trial. He denied 12 greater ones. He called war logs given WikiLeaks “some of the most important documents of our time.” He chose ones he believed “wouldn’t cause harm to the United States.”
He hoped what he did would launch a national debate. It’s sorely needed and much more. He “became depressed with the situation” in Iraq. America’s “obsessed with capturing and killing people,” he said.
“Collateral murder” is policy. US helicopter pilots gunned down innocent civilians. They murdered anyone trying to help them. Shooting wounded victims was like “a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass,” he said.
He wanted everyone to know. It’s their right. Back home on leave, he contacted the Washington Post and New York Times. He hoped they’d report what he knew. They published Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers. That was then. This is now. They spurned him. They’re in lockstep with imperial lawlessness. They’re complicit in suppressing US war crimes. Doing so shares guilt.
Journalism demands truth and full disclosure. Managed news misinformation substitutes. Fundamental ethical standards are violated. Exposing high crimes and misdemeanors is verboten. Scoundrel media editors and commentators are guilty on all counts.
They support wealth, privilege, power and dominance. They oppose peace, equity and justice. They shame themselves disgracefully. They operate no other way. Manning enlisted WikiLeak’s help. He had many conversations with someone called “Nathaniel.” He believed it was Julian Assange. No one pressured him to do anything.
He did what he believed right. He did it on his own. “I take full responsibility,” he said. Judge Denise Lind presides over his pre-trial hearings. His “naked plea” waved his Sixth Amendment and Rule of Court Martial (RCM) 707 rights, she said. They include speedy trial protections.
His plea involved no government agreement. Prosecutors don’t have to prove his admissions. They can use them to pursue greater charges. Manning read his entire 35-page statement. Judge Lind calls his motives irrelevant. Doing so denies him whistleblower protections. Obama’s war on them strips them of all rights.
Manning pleaded guilty to unauthorized possession of one classified army intelligence memo, more than 20 classified CIDNE (Combined Information Data Network Exchange) Iraq documents, another 30 CIDNE Afghanistan ones, more than five relating to an Afghanistan Farah province military operation, and the Collateral Murder video.
He also pleaded guilty to willfully communicating to unauthorized personnel. On February 23, international protests marked his 1,000th day in prison without trial. Constitutional and Court Martial rights demand speedy ones.
Defense counsel David Combs represents Manning. He said his “statutory and constitutional speedy trial rights were trampled on with impunity.” Washington made an “absolute mockery” of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights, RCM 707, and Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 10.
Clear evidence shows his due process rights were violated. Judge Lind can dismiss charges with or without prejudice. Doing so with prevents refiling. Without prejudice permits doing so later. Usually it’s done if more evidence is obtained.
Prosecutors deliberately delayed Manning’s trial. It was done to punish him. It’s just cause to dismiss. Manning’s been incarcerated since May 2010. Holding him this long without trial is unconscionable. Doing so to inflict cruel and inhumane treatment reveals America’s true face.
State terrorism is policy. Crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide reflect it. So does police state repression. Manning’s victimized for doing the right thing.
Expect kangaroo trial proceedings to mock justice. Dozens of government witnesses will testify. They’ll lie. They’ll claim national security was compromised. Saying so turns truth on its head.
Many witnesses will testify wholly or in part in secret. Doing so denies the public the right to know. It exposes government contempt for judicial fairness.
Combs is prohibited from calling military or government witnesses able to contradict prosecutor arguments. Trial procedures are rigged to convict.
Manning is guilty by accusation. At issue on what charges and length of sentencing. Minimally expect it to be long term. Obama may demand he’s imprisoned for life. Tyranny reflects today’s America. The criminal class in Washington is bipartisan. Dissent is endangered.
Rule of law principles provide no protections. Police states operate that way. America is by far the worst. There’s no place to hide.