Bradley Manning: Hero or Villain?
August 22, 2013 1 Comment
The man accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified U.S documents, Private Bradley Manning was sentenced yesterday under the Espionage Act of 1917, to thirty five years imprisonment, with the possibility of parole after seven years. The prosecution against Manning had called for a sentence of sixty years imprisonment, while Manning’s defence team had felt a twenty five year imprisonment, was justified.
The majority of the significant files that were released could be categorized into The Afghan War Logs, & The Iraq War Logs and the Gitmo Files.
On July the 25th 2010, some 92,000 files were released to the New York Times, Der Spiegel and the Guardian. The Afghan War Files most notably revealed one hundred and forty four incidents in which coalition forces killed civilians, including twenty one instances of British Troops attacking civilians.
On October the 22nd, 2010, Manning via the mediums of the New-York Times, The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, Le-Monde and Der Spiegel released the Iraq War Logs. The most notable of these documents was the Collateral Murder Video, accessible to all users of YouTube, the video has received world wide publicity. The footage shows a gun sight view of U.S Apache Helicopters opening fire on a small group of Iraqi’s, most of them unarmed, with two of them Reuters News Agency employees. After initial opening fire, a van containing an innocent driver with children on board, pulls up to help some of the severely wounded innocent. Seconds later, U.S soldiers repeat their fire on the van containing the children, who somehow miraculously managed to remain relatively unharmed.
Documentation of a house raid by U.S Forces on an innocent Iraqi household, in which the murder of one man, four women, two children and three infants took place. The house had originally been targeted for an airstrike but it was later revealed that autopsies carried out by the Tikrit Hospital’s Morgue revealed that all corpses were handcuffed and shot in the head.
The Gitmo Files released to The Washington Post, and The British Daily Mail highlight some frightening revelations. Previously stated by George W Bush as being the ‘worst of the worst’, by the end of 2008 some 600 inmates were released for lack of any evidence that they were a threat to the America. The files highlighted that local Afghan militias, enticed with the generous bounties offered by the U.S military had loosely rounded up anyone they liked, to be handed over to the U.S Military. Startlingly the cost of housing each of the remaining 171 prisoners is now at $800,000 per year, eighty nine prisoners that are still being held have already been cleared for release.
Some other notable files show how the US government exerted heavy pressure to suppress a German Criminal Investigation of the CIA’s kidnapping of Khaled El- Masri;, an innocent German civilian, mistaken as a terrorist, who was rendered and tortured in an Afghan prison camp.
From July of 2010, Private Manning was held at the <strong>Quantico Confinement Facility under the Prevention of Injury Watch</strong> (POI), despite being cleared by psychiatrists who had indicated that their tests on Manning, had revealed no threat of personal injury. His cell was approximately six feet wide by twelve feet in length. PFC Manning had to spend approximately 23 hours per day in solitary confinement. The guards were required to check on Manning every five minutes by asking him, was he ok? To which Manning had to respond in an affirmative manner. Personal exercise was not permitted in his cell, if an attempt to do push-ups was made, he was immediately stopped. The only exercise Manning was allowed to undertake was the one hour he receives outside of his cell. Daily he was taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk, normally walking figures of eight for the entire hour.
Opposition to Manning:
Mike Huckabee, Baptist Pastor and former Republican Presidential Candidate, taking time out from signing his new Christmas themed children’s books, called for the execution of Bradley Manning. Indeed some Republicans and Democrats are united in their disgust, according to them, at Manning’s Betrayal of the nation. Democrat Politician Consultant believed that the only way to deal with the likes of Jullian Assange and Bradley Manning were to ‘illegally shoot the son’s of bitches’.
Support For Manning:
Ex Democrat Senator praised the efforts of both Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, citing that they had fulfilled their moral obligation to reveal anything unlawful that the government or military was doing. He emphasized the importance of a transparent government and likened Snowden and Manning to Daniel Elsberg, a former whistle-blower that had previously leaked documents, shedding light on the fabrications of truth that led the U.S to war in Vietnam.
Ben Griffin a former Paratrooper of the British Army, member of the SAS, founder of Veteran’s For Peace, served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has indicated that the picture portrayed by the media of what goes on in the conflict zones are very much different from reality. Griffin believes Manning to be a ‘Hero’ for his bravery in releasing the files which show the war crimes that take place when countries such as the U.S continue to spread their brand of democracy.
Manning’s Actions put the country in Danger?
According to Hilary Clinton, the leakage of such highly sensitive material, ‘Was an assault on the international community’. This statement was then followed with confidential written state reports that no damage had been done to national interest. Former Secretary of Defence went from accusing Wikileaks of ‘having blood on their hands’ to later dismissing his initial comment. In addition, The Department of Defence confessed to a McClatchy reporter in December of 2010 that there was no evidence of a single Afghan informant having been harmed with the release of the Afghan War Files.
It is true that Manning broke U.S law and his military oath with the release of classified documents. So it’s arguable that some form of reprisal would seem justified. Worryingly however, the fact that the war crimes committed by soldiers in the Collateral Damage footage, have not been called into question, is befuddling. Much has been made in the media of Manning’s sexual orientation, and his confusion of gender as traits which would discredit the validity of his intentions in releasing these private documents. Since the ‘War On Terrorism’ has begun there seems to be a lack in accountability of the Western Governments actions. History has shown us that absolute power corrupts and that the responsibility of the people to keep their government to account, with military and economic actions, is now greater than ever. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, ‘Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety’.