June 3rd 2013 was one of the most important and critical days in modern history. It marked the beginning of the estimated 3 month trial of young Bradley Manning, a US Military Private ‘First Class’, who allegedly communicated national defence information to an unauthorised source, and thus aided the enemy. The US Government has already accepted Manning’s plea of guilty to many lesser charges, which could get him locked away for 20 years, but it has decided to pursue the more serious, afore-mentioned charges as well.
The “aiding the enemy” charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, or the death penalty, if the military judge decides to over-ride the government’s preference not to call for Manning’s execution. These more serious charges will also attempt to criminalise the involvement of Julian Assange from the Wikileaks organisation. It is alleged that after attempting to deliver his evidence of war crimes to the NY Times and Washington Post, Manning uploaded the material anonymously to the Wikileaks website. If Assange is charged with conspiracy to commit espionage, he could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty.
Clark Stoeckley (court room artist) recently reported on RT that the Wikileaks Grand Jury prosecutors are now sitting in the second row at Bradley Manning’s trial. First, the war on disobedience; next, the war on truth… but oh, how the blinkers are becoming ineffective to the eyes of the world. Thanks to Manning, Assange, Hammond, O’Brien, Ellsberg, Swartz and another army – of truth-tellers – we are informed!
Reading the transcript of Day One’s proceedings, one learns of the USG’s somewhat confused opinions: that Bradley Manning’s actions were motivated by self-interest and to “help Wikileaks”. As for the “aiding the enemy” charge, the prosecution makes it “clear” that Manning’s capital crime hinges upon (whom it considers to be) America’s “adversaries” and “enemies” having access to the internet. One would hope that objections are raised, if only for the reason that motive and opinion are not supposed to be considered at this stage of the trial.
That no possible motivation has been conceived of by the USG, regarding the war crimes Bradley Manning so rightly denounced under international law, demonstrates a legal bias of divisionism. The rationale seems to be: they are not Americans, so the lives of those victims don’t matter. Some “patriots” might agree with Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, who pointed out on the eve of the trial, that tens of thousands of US soldiers would still be in harm’s way if it weren’t for Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, but as Doctor Douglas Rokke pointed out… who at the top of the chain of command cares about them?
The Pentagon assigned Dr Rokke the task of cleaning up the “toxic wasteland” left by depleted uranium bombs after the War in the Gulf. In a thought-provoking lecture, he states that although only a couple of hundred soldiers were wounded in active combat, almost a quarter of a million, including Dr Rokke, got sick in the years that followed from radiation exposure. He also says that the troops were denied health care, and that he was instructed to lie about the dangers of depleted uranium, so that the US could continue to use it in future combat. “The aim, ladies and gentlemen, is to kill the enemy… every last one of them.” And depleted uranium was used again, to harm enemy and US soldier alike.
Bradley Manning’s trial should not be happening within the chain of command of a US military court. His loss of confidence in that chain of command and his adherence to international law warrants the judgement of an international court. This trial must be opened to the eyes of the world, and in the interest of humanity – not just the US, and not just the few.
Private ‘First Class’ Bradley Manning stands trial for allegedly communicating national defence information to an unauthorised source and aiding the enemy, amongst numerous other state sponsored charges, but is the prosecution’s case about anything else than disobedience to (what has been forced on the world as) “Authority”? And is the real enemy the common man, wherever he/she lives?
The inhumane treatment suffered by Bradley Manning has been described by many, including Special Rapporteur for the UN, Juan Mendez, as torture, and his prosecution as a show trial, but this is not just about Bradley Manning. Neither does it focus exclusively on Julian Assange. Whilst it does indeed involve these courageous and defiant men’s lives – their liberty already curtailed, and their life under serious threat – this is an information war: what the less powerful among us have the right to know, and what the powerful must be obliged to articulate.
The state in this matter, the U.S.A. with prudent forethought, has left legal definitions extremely broad and without clarity. Even when ordered to define what they mean by ‘terrorist’, in a recent court ruling with regards to the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), the Obama administration’s lawyers refused to do so.
Pandora’s Box is well and truly open for complete corporate-state control over the international flow of information, while tin the US, he most fundamental press freedom – source protection – falls into jeopardy. We have just witnessed the Obama administration’s raid on the Associated Press (AP), seizing two months of its emails and phone logs, and Fox News reporter James Rosen’s phone records were also taken by the state – actions that could well be described as Orwellian surveillance in nature. Six government whistle-blowers have been charged by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act, while the inner workings of power become increasingly opaque.
“Once there are no Mannings or Assanges, once no one is willing to take risks to expose the crimes of empire, there will be no freedom of the press.”
Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), President of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and legal representative for Wikileaks in the U.S.A., recently commented on the Bradley Manning trial;
“The government has decided in the most repressive way possible…to hit dissent, whistle-blowing and journalism with a sledge hammer. There is no doubt about it. I consider us to be at a critical juncture, and the internet is what has brought us here. There is now a tremendous amount of information available and very smart people out there. Secrets of criminality are harder and harder to hide. So what the government wants to do is really send a message to all of us, all of us, all the people up here, all of you, everybody in the military, every journalist who has a source, every source. You disclose our secrets, and you will be punished with a sledge hammer, and that is what they are doing.”
“… and Bradley’s (Manning) case in particular – I’ve been a lawyer for 40 years – has pleaded guilty to a charge that can get him 20 years in prison. In any reasonable society, that had any care at all, that would be the end of the matter. But it’s not, they now want to go and prove the most serious charge: espionage. Aiding the enemy, which actually carries the death penalty – which the government says it won’t ask for – but who knows what a judge would or could do? He certainly has a good chance of getting convicted of charges that could get him life in prison. Ask yourself, why are we doing this? It’s obvious, because they (the state) don’t want the truth disclosed.”
“Three hundred and fifty journalists applied to cover the trial tomorrow which is fantastic. The question I want to ask is…..where have they been month after month?”
There is one journalist who has been there throughout Bradley Manning’s ordeal. The extraordinary citizen journalist, Alexa O’Brien, has covered every single minute of United States v. Pfc. Bradley Manning. For all details, transcripts and more: http://www.alexaobrien.com/secondsight/archives.html
Alexa O'Brien, nominated for the Martha Gelhorn Prize for outstanding contribution to journalism
More from Michael Ratner:
“Some of the most crucial parts of that (Pre) Trial, when Manning described his torture – one of the hardest days I have ever spent in the court room – I was just crying when I heard Bradley Manning describe… And then when I was there for his guilty plea and twenty year possible sentence, again… articulate incredible reasons, politically, for each piece of information that he took off the computers and uploaded to Wikileaks. Incredibly articulate. Did the media cover it? Not even there. What did they cover? They cover instead, Bradley Manning’s psychological state, or Julian Assange’s psychological state, or what is going on personal for them. The question we ought to be asking is not what did Bradley Manning do. The question we ought to be asking is WHY aren’t they out there asking – the U.S. government ought to be held accountable for the (seeming) crimes of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange”
“Such acts of courage and patriotism… should be encouraged rather than stifled.”
Barrack Obama speaking about whistle-blowers, whist a candidate for the Presidency…
“Last week we heard Obama, now he’s going to have a shield law for journalists; journalists he claims are not co-conspirators with other journalists. That’s Julian Assange… I would say LOL, laughing out loud, except Bradley Manning is in the Brig, Julian Assange is in the embassy, Jeremy Hammond was forced to plead guilty to a ten year count, and there are countless others that this government is going after”.
“We are at an incredibly important moment because we are going to have to struggle over whether we will have a government in which we know what it’s doing; know its criminality; know its hypocrisy; know its corruption… Or will they close up every hole they have, and will we just be blind people walking through the street; not knowing what our government does? All out to support Bradley Manning tomorrow, and for the next number of months, he’s there. Support Bradley Manning. Thank you”.
2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling, co-recipient of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award, former senior executive of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), and a decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran whistle-blower, Thomas Drake had this to say:
“Informed decisionary is the heart of our democracy…. The executive branch of this government is increasingly ruling through secrecy and propaganda, and shielding its very conduct from the press and public accountability. (Bradley) Manning exposed the dark shadows of our National Security regime and our foreign policy follies, and as our government opts out of liberty and severely erodes the very basis of democracy at home and abroad, those that condemn and vilify Bradley (Manning) only serve to promote and preserve the projection of secret unbridled power while personally pathologising onto Bradley manning misplaced threats and fears, attacking messenger and displacing the message.
“And so I say his acts of civil disobedience, given by the courage of his character and conviction of his conscience, strike at the very heart and core of the very critical issue surrounding our National Security, our public and foreign policy, openness and transparency as well as the unprecedented and relentless campaign by this (Obama) administration to snuff out and silence truth tellers and whistle blowers, and a deliberate and assault on the First Amendment”
The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.
Jesselyn Radack, former ethics adviser to the United States Department of Justice and DoJ writer of TRAITOR: The Whistle-blower and the “American Taliban”, National Security & Human Rights Director of the Government Accountability Project (an organisation for whistle blowers) had this to say:
“There is a war on information going on in this country, it’s a war on whistle blowers, it’s a war on hacktivists, and now it’s turning into a war on journalists… You used to have to choose your conscience over your career, but now you have to choose it over your very freedom”
“I would like to remind the President ….. There already is a shield law for journalists, it’s the First Amendment of the United States” – Peter Van Buren.
Van Buren is a Meritorious Honour Award and Superior Honour Award winner. He has worked extensively with the military, with 23 years in the U.S. Foreign Service. He’s the author of: “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People”, and a journalist for Mother Jones and The Nation.
Daniel Ellsberg, former US military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, ending the Vietnam War; who was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2006; who was recipient of the Inaugural Ron Ridenhour Courage Prize; who accepted the Gandhi Peace Award in 1978 for Promoting Enduring Peace, and who is now representing the Freedom of the Press Foundation… Daniel said on the eve of Bradley Manning’s trial:
“Speaking truth to Power, that’s what I did. That was my job….. It took me a long time to realise, longer than Bradley Manning, which impresses me, that it did not have any effect… As Noam Chomsky says: “Power knows the truth”. (On Medea Benjamin’s interruption during a recent speech) President Obama said: “Let her speak – of course I don’t agree with what she says.” It made me think… now I don’t believe that. Which part of what she said didn’t he agree with? That there are presently people on a hunger strike protesting years at Guantanamo? That he could, as President and Commander in Chief, get them out of there in a day by signing a paper? No, he knows better than that, but the people out there who heard that on television didn’t”.
“Why is Obama doing this? Why more prosecutions than George W. Bush, or all the other Presidents put together? There has been a change over the last two years. The government is arguing that Bradley Manning is not a whistle-blower, and all of his critics and opponents are saying he’s no whistle-blower. The fact is that not one person has been shown to be harmed by what he did, neither a troop nor otherwise. On the other hand, tens of thousands of troops, men and women, would be in harm’s way in Iraq, right now, if it were not for Bradley manning and Wikileaks.”
“That (Wikileaks) revelation in the Iraqi press led to the Iraqi opposition (demanding) that no Americans could stay in the country under risk of committing atrocities, which was a daily occurrence, with immunity from Iraqi prosecution, since Americans would not prosecute atrocities they were aware of… Obama couldn’t risk it without immunity (leaving troops in Iraq). He couldn’t risk the kind of atrocities that he saw on the video (known as Collateral Murder) that Bradley Manning put out. He couldn’t risk Iraqi prosecution.”
This point made by Daniel Ellsberg is one of the most important pieces of information that all Americans, and all people outside of America must deeply understand. That American military personnel, when acting in foreign nations, do so almost entirely with impunity from any form of discipline, from any side. When daily atrocities and war crimes are being committed (as Bradley Manning’s heroic releases have revealed) and when war has become a corporate-sponsored, state-run program of genocide (as Wikileaks cables have clearly shown they are), is there any civilised and dignified human being or civilian populous that wouldn’t, if informed, be outraged and aggrieved?
The question must be asked, was not Barrack Obama outraged?
Why is it that Bradley Manning and Julian Assange’s Wikileaks organisation are suffering such attacks, not only from the American military industrial complex, but almost every corporate mainstream media (MSM) outlet in the West? Are they knowingly complicit? Earning favour perhaps?
One could say Silence is Betrayal, but this goes way beyond silence, to persecution and propaganda on a global scale.
Aaron Swartz had this to say on Internet freedom;
“If we lost the ability to communicate with each other over the Internet, it would be a change to the Bill of Rights. The freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution, the freedoms our country had been built on would be suddenly deleted.”
“The enemies of the freedom to connect have not disappeared. The fire in those politicians’ eyes hasn’t been put out. There are a lot of people, a lot of powerful people, who want to clamp down on the Internet. And to be honest, there aren’t a whole lot who have a vested interest in protecting it from all of that..….We can’t let that happen”.
Whether we agree or disagree about our governments’ wishes to seize total control, one thing is for sure, gallant are our whistle-blowers and they are our true heroes, having humanity at the forefront of their conscience. They have shown us the way forward, humbly… and both Julian Assange and Bradley Manning are as courageous as any. Lead on noble beings, we have to stop this Kangaroo Court, for both are worthy of our utmost efforts to help them to continue to help us.
However the USG continues to condemn, vilify and martyrise Bradley Manning, his words and actions will have heralded a watershed moment in history, for thus was born our certitude that every human being has the right to know:
“I want people to see the truth regardless of who they are, because without information we cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
“ “Now is the time to stand with Bradley Manning, …we are Bradley Manning”
Editorial by Colin Mirgis & Cathy Vogan