Heroic Bradley Manning makes detailed statement to the court

| March 2, 2013 | 6 Replies

This statement proves that most media outlets have been slandering Bradley Manning.  He is an extremely intelligent and courageous man with a real conscience.  He is heroic in every sense of the word, as discussed in detail by Glenn Greenwald.

Manning is absolutely right when he said today that the documents he leaked “are some of the most significant documents of our time”. They revealed a multitude of previously secret crimes and acts of deceit and corruption by the world’s most powerful factions. Journalists and even some government officials have repeatedly concluded that any actual national security harm from his leaks is minimal if it exists at all. To this day, the documents Manning just admitted having leaked play a prominent role in the ability of journalists around the world to inform their readers about vital events. The leaks led to all sorts of journalism awards for WikiLeaks. Without question, Manning’s leaks produced more significant international news scoops in 2010 than those of every media outlet on the planet combined.

This was all achieved because a then-22-year-old Army Private knowingly risked his liberty in order to inform the world about what he learned. He endured treatment which the top UN torture investigator deemed “cruel and inhuman”, and he now faces decades in prison if not life. He knew exactly what he was risking, what he was likely subjecting himself to. But he made the choice to do it anyway because of the good he believed he could achieve, because of the evil that he believed needed urgently to be exposed and combated, and because of his conviction that only leaks enable the public to learn the truth about the bad acts their governments are doing in secret.

If you are wondering why Manning’s trial is not being freely broadcast, that’s a good question.

Before going further, a question:  What should a person of good conscience do when he or she discovers that the government is repeatedly lying, and that people are dying, getting maimed and becoming homeless because of those lies?   What would we say about someone who had the capability of exposing this ongoing dangerous conduct but did nothing?  Wouldn’t we call those kinds of people “cowards,” “accomplices,” or “immoral”? What do we normally call someone who risks his or her own life for the benefit of others? We call them heroes, even if what they are doing breaks formal laws.  Since when are people allowed to do nothing in the face of evil just because those in power put a law on the books to scare them or muzzle them?

Here are a few excerpts, in Manning’s own words, of what he did and why:

[This first excerpt pertains to the video published by Wikileaks as "Collateral Murder."]

Despite the submission of the FOIA request, the news account explained that

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CENTCOM replied to Reuters stating that they could not give a time frame for considering a FOIA request and that the video might no longer exist. Another story I found written a year later said that even though Reuters was still pursuing their request. They still did not receive a formal response or written determination in accordance with FOIA.

The fact neither CENTCOM or Multi National Forces Iraq or MNF-I would not voluntarily release the video troubled me further. It was clear to me that the event happened because the aerial weapons team mistakenly identified Reuters employees as a potential threat and that the people in the bongo truck were merely attempting to assist the wounded. The people in the van were not a threat but merely ‘good samaritans’. The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.

The dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote “dead bastards” unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.

While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about

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human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew– as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.

Shortly after the second engagement, a mechanized infantry unit arrives at the scene. Within minutes, the aerial weapons team crew learns that children were in the van and despite the injuries the crew exhibits no remorse. Instead, they downplay the significance of their actions, saying quote ‘Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kid’s into a battle’ unquote.

The aerial weapons team crew members sound like they lack sympathy for the children or the parents. Later in a particularly disturbing manner, the aerial weapons team verbalizes enjoyment at the sight of one of the ground vehicles driving over a body– or one of the bodies.

I began to think about what I knew and the information I still had in my possession. For me, the SigActs represented the on the ground reality of both the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I felt that we were risking so much for people that seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and anger on both sides. I began to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year. The SigActs documented this in great detail and provide a context of what we were seeing on the ground.

In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.

I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

[On the diplomatic cables that were released]

The more I read the cables, the more I came to the conclusion that this was the type of information that should become public. I once read a and used a quote on open diplomacy written after the First World War and how the world would be a better place if states would avoid making secret pacts and deals with and against each other.

I thought these cables were a prime example of a need for a more open diplomacy. Given all of the Department of State cables that I read, the fact that most of the cables were unclassified, and that all the cables have a SIPDIS caption.

I believe that the public release of these cables would not damage the United States, however, I did believe that the cables might be embarrassing, since they represented very honest opinions and statements behind the backs of other nations and organizations.

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Category: Censorship, Orwellian, Propaganda, Secrecy, Whistle-blowers

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (6)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    “No wonder Manning was subjected to what the UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, described as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment: left languishing in solitary confinement for months, regularly stripped naked, forced to sleep without darkness, deprived of any right to privacy. An example had to be made of a soldier who helped strip away the humanitarian pretences of US power, and revealed a far uglier reality.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/sacrifice-of-bradley-mannings-liberty-will-not-have-been-made-in-vain-8515890.html

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Glenn Greenwald on the First Amendment threat associated with the zealous prosecution of Bradley Manning:

    [T]he theory that the government is proceeding on is one that’s really quite radical and menacing. That is, that although he never communicated with, quote-unquote, “the enemy,” which the government has said is al-Qaeda, although there’s no evidence that he intended in any way to benefit al-Qaeda—he could have sold this information, made a great deal of money, had he wanted to. All the evidence indicates that he did it for exactly the reason that he said, with the intent that he said, which was to spark reform and to bring attention to these abuses. The government is proceeding on the theory that simply because the information that’s leaked ended up in the hands of al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda had an interest in it, that constitutes aiding and abetting the enemy. And what that essentially does is it converts every form of whistleblowing or leaks into a form of treason. There’s evidence that Osama bin Laden was very interested, for example, in Bob Woodward’s book—books, which have all sorts of classified information in them at a much higher level of secrecy than anything Bradley Manning leaked. That would mean that not only the leakers to Woodward, the highest-level members of government, but even Woodward himself, could be depicted as a traitor or be accused of aiding and abetting the enemy. It’s an extraordinarily menacing theory to journalism and to whistleblowing and leaking.”

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/3/5/glenn_greenwald_on_bradley_manning_prosecutor

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Daniel Ellsberg:

    Manning faces some of exact same charges I faced forty two years ago when I leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and eighteen other papers. The only difference is I was a civilian, so I could stay out of jail on bond while the trial was going on, and was able to talk to the media throughout. I took responsibility for what I had done on the day of my arrest, and I was able to explain why I did it.

    But thanks to the judge’s rulings in Manning’s case, the public has barely heard anything from Manning at all. No official transcripts of the proceeding are released to the public, and when documents like the judge’s court orders are released, it is weeks after the fact – and only in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

    Now I hope the American people can see Manning in a different light. In 1971, I was able to give the media my side of the story, and it is long overdue Manning is able to do the same. As Manning has now done, I stipulated as to all the facts for which I was accused. And I did that for several reasons, and I suspect that Manning had the same motives.

    . . .

    Some of the most critical documents leaked by Manning revealed torture by the Iraqi government, which the US knew about, and according to the international treaty on torture, the US should have required investigations.

    In fact, the Iraq war logs show hundreds of instances of cases of torture, and in every case, the soldiers were given the illegal order not to investigate.

    In his statement to the court, Manning talks about an incident where he thought men who were apprehended shouldn’t have been, and that they were being handed over to the Iraqis to possibly be tortured. He went to his superior and was told to forget about it.

    Bradley Manning, by releasing this information, is the only solider who actually obeyed this law, the international treaty, and by extension, the Constitution.

    http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/370-wikileaks/16446-hearing-bradley-manning-for-the-first-time

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    “The US military has done its best to erect a wall of secrecy around the court-martial trial of Bradley Manning, easily one of the most important trials on whistleblowers and espionage laws in many years. This week, the military judge not only permitted numerous witnesses to testify in secret but also ordered a “dry run” of parts of the trial to be held in secret as well, a move even military prosecutors acknowledged was “unprecedented”. Legal proceedings demanding greater transparency brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of several journalists and activists (including myself) have been rejected by military courts.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/09/hawking-israel-manning-transparency-fcc

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