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"We Are Bradley Manning" ~ By Chris Hedges ~ Posted on Truthdig - March 3rd, 2013

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  • Frank Dorrel
    We Are Bradley Manning Posted on Truthdig - March 3rd, 2013 By Chris Hedges -
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2013
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      We Are Bradley Manning
      Posted on Truthdig - March 3rd, 2013
      By Chris Hedges <http://www.truthdig.com/chris_hedges/> -
      www.truthdig.com/report/item/we_are_bradley_manning_20130303// -
      His trial is not simply the persecution of a courageous whistle-blower, but
      a state mechanism to destroy the independence of the press & its ability to
      expose the power elite's criminal activity.
      I was in a military courtroom at Fort Meade in Maryland on Thursday as Pfc.
      Bradley Manning admitted giving classified government documents to
      WikiLeaks. The hundreds of thousands of leaked documents exposed U.S. war
      crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as government misconduct. A statement
      that Manning made to the court was a powerful and moving treatise on the
      importance of placing conscience above personal safety, the necessity of
      sacrificing careers and liberty for the public good, and the moral
      imperative of carrying out acts of defiance. Manning will surely pay with
      many years-perhaps his entire life-in prison. But we too will pay. The war
      against Bradley Manning is a war against us all.
      This trial is not simply the prosecution of a 25-year-old soldier who had
      the temerity to report to the outside world the indiscriminate slaughter,
      war crimes, torture and abuse that are carried out by our government and our
      occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a concerted effort by the
      security and surveillance state to extinguish what is left of a free press,
      one that has the constitutional right to expose crimes by those in power.
      The lonely individuals who take personal risks so that the public can know
      the truth-the Daniel Ellsbergs, the Ron Ridenhours
      <http://www.ridenhour.org/about_ron.html%20> , the Deep Throats and the
      Bradley Mannings-are from now on to be charged with "aiding the enemy." All
      those within the system who publicly reveal facts that challenge the
      official narrative will be imprisoned, as was John Kiriakou, the former CIA
      analyst who for exposing the U.S. government's use of torture began serving
      a 30-month prison term the day Manning read his statement. There is a word
      for states that create these kinds of information vacuums: totalitarian.
      The cowardice of The New York Times, El Pais, Der Spiegel and Le Monde, all
      of which used masses of the material Manning passed on to WikiLeaks and then
      callously turned their backs on him, is one of journalism's greatest shames.
      These publications made little effort to cover Manning's pretrial hearings,
      a failure that shows how bankrupt and anemic the commercial press has
      become. Rescuing what honor of our trade remains has been left to a handful
      of independent, often marginalized reporters and a small number of other
      individuals and groups-including Glenn Greenwald, Alexa O'Brien, Nathan
      Fuller, Kevin Gosztola (who writes for Firedog Lake), the Bradley Manning
      Support Network <http://www.bradleymanning.org/%20> , political activist
      Kevin Zeese and the courtroom sketch artist Clark Stoeckley, along with The
      Guardian, which also published the WikiLeaks documents. But if our
      domesticated press institutions believe that by refusing to defend or report
      on Manning they will escape the wrath of the security and surveillance
      state, they are stunningly naive. This is a war that is being played for
      keeps. And the goal of the state is not simply to send Manning away for
      life. The state is also determined to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian
      Assange and try him in the United States on espionage or conspiracy charges.
      The state hopes to cement into place systems of information that will do
      little more than parrot official propaganda. This is why those with the
      computer skills to expose the power elite's secrets, such as Aaron Swartz
      on-memorial-20130205,0,483788.story%20> , who committed suicide in January,
      and Jeremy Hammond <http://freehammond.com/> , who is facing up to 30 years
      in prison for allegedly hacking into the corporate security firm Stratfor,
      have been or are being ruthlessly hunted down and persecuted. It is why Vice
      President Joe Biden labeled Assange a "high-tech terrorist,"
      ech-terrorist_n_798838.html> and it is why the Bradley Manning trial is one
      of the most important in American history.
      The government has decided to press ahead with all 22 charges, including
      aiding the enemy (Article 104), stealing U.S. government property (18 USC
      641), espionage (18 USC 793(e)) and computer crimes (18 USC 1030(a)(1))-the
      last notwithstanding the fact that Manning did not hack into government
      computers. The state will also prosecute him on charges of violating lawful
      general regulations (Article 92). The government has refused to settle for
      Manning's admission of guilt on nine lesser offenses. Among these lesser
      offenses are unauthorized possession and willful communication of the video
      known as "Collateral Murder"; the Iraq War Logs
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_War_documents_leak> ; the Afghan War
      Diary <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghan_War_documents_leak> ; two CIA Red
      Cell Memos, <http://boingboing.net/2010/08/25/wikileaks-publishes-3.html>
      including one entitled "Afghanistan: Sustaining West European Support for
      the NATO-Led Mission-Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough"; Guantanamo
      files; documents of a so-called Article 15-6 investigation into the May 2009
      Garani massacre
      <http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/printer_60359.shtml%20> in
      Afghanistan's Farah province; and a Department of Defense
      counterintelligence report, "WikiLeaks.org-An Online Reference to Foreign
      Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?" as well as one
      violation of a lawful general order by wrongfully storing information.
      Manning's leaks, the government insists, are tantamount to support for
      al-Qaida and international terrorism. The government will attempt to prove
      this point by bringing into court an anonymous witness who most likely took
      part in the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. This witness
      will reportedly tell the court that copies of the leaked documents were
      found on bin Laden's computer and assisted al-Qaida. This is an utterly
      spurious form of prosecution-as if any of us have control over the
      information we provide to the public and how it is used. Manning, for
      substantial amounts of money, could have sold the documents to governments
      or groups that are defined as the enemy. Instead he approached The
      Washington Post and The New York Times. When these newspapers rejected him,
      he sent the material anonymously to WikiLeaks.
      The short, slightly built Manning told the military court Thursday about the
      emotional conflict he experienced when he matched what he knew about the war
      with the official version of the war. He said he became deeply disturbed
      while watching a video
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_12,_2007_Baghdad_airstrike%20> taken
      from an Apache helicopter as it and another such craft joined in an attack
      on civilians in Baghdad in 2007. The banter among the crew members, who
      treated the murder and wounding of the terrified human beings, including
      children, in the street below as sport, revolted him. Among the dead was
      Reuters photojournalist Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver, Saeed Chmagh.
      Reuters had repeatedly asked to see the video & the Army had repeatedly
      refused to release it. Click here
      <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0%20> to see the "Collateral
      Murder" video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0
      "Using Google I searched for the event by its date and general location,"
      Manning said in reading from a 35-page document that took nearly an hour to
      deliver. "I found several new accounts involving two Reuters employees who
      were killed during the aerial weapon team engagement. Another story
      explained that Reuters had requested a copy of the video under the Freedom
      of Information Act, or FOIA. Reuters wanted to view the video in order to be
      able to understand what had happened and to improve their safety practices
      in combat zones. A spokesperson for Reuters was quoted saying that the video
      might help avoid the reoccurrence of the tragedy and believed there was
      compelling need for the immediate release of the video." [Alexa O'Brien,
      another journalist who attended Thursday's proceedings, has provided a full
      transcript of Manning's statement: Click here.
      y_e_manning_providence_hearing_statement.html> ]
      "Despite the submission of the FOIA request, the news account explained that
      CENTCOM [Central Command] 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," Manning said. "Another story I found written a year later
      said that even though Reuters was still pursuing their request [the news
      organization] 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 [van] 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 [the helicopter crew members] appeared
      to have.
      "They 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," Manning
      said, speaking into a court microphone while seated at the defense table.
      "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
      human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured
      children at the scene. In the video, you can see 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
      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 kids 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. As I continued my
      research, I found an article discussing the book 'The Good Soldiers,'
      written by Washington Post writer David Finkel. In Mr. Finkel's book, he
      writes about the aerial weapons team attack. As I read an online excerpt in
      Google Books, I followed Mr. Finkel's account of the event belonging to the
      video. I quickly realize that Mr. Finkel was quoting, I feel in verbatim,
      the audio communications of the aerial weapons team crew. It is clear to me
      that Mr. Finkel obtained access and a copy of the video during his tenure as
      an embedded journalist. I was aghast at Mr. Finkel's portrayal of the
      incident. Reading his account, one would believe the engagement was somehow
      justified as 'payback' for an earlier attack that led to the death of a
      soldier. Mr. Finkel ends his account of the engagement by discussing how a
      soldier finds an individual still alive from the attack. He writes that the
      soldier finds him and sees him gesture with his two forefingers together, a
      common method in the Middle East to communicate that they are friendly.
      However, instead of assisting him, the soldier makes an obscene gesture
      extending his middle finger. The individual apparently dies shortly
      thereafter. Reading this, I can only think of how this person was simply
      trying to help others, and then he quickly finds he needs help as well. To
      make matters worse, in the last moments of his life he continues to express
      his friendly gesture-his friendly intent-only to find himself receiving this
      well known gesture of unfriendliness. For me it's all a big mess, and I am
      left wondering what these things mean, and how it all fits together. It
      burdens me emotionally. ...
      "I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the
      aerial weapons team crew members. I wanted the American public to know that
      not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be
      neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure
      cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare. After the release I
      was encouraged by the response in the media and general public who observed
      the aerial weapons team video. As I hoped, others were just as troubled-if
      not more troubled than me by what they saw."
      Manning provided to the public the most important window into the inner
      workings of imperial power since the release of the Pentagon Papers. The
      routine use of torture, the detention of Iraqis who were innocent, the
      inhuman conditions within our secret detention facilities, the use of State
      Department officials as spies in the United Nations, the collusion with
      corporations to keep wages low in developing countries such as Haiti, and
      specific war crimes such as the missile strike on a house that killed seven
      an-taliban%20> in Afghanistan would have remained hidden without Manning.
      "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," Manning
      said. "I began to become depressed with the situation that we found
      ourselves increasingly mired in year after year. The SigActs
      [significant-acts reports of the Army] documented this in great detail and
      provide a context of what we were seeing on the ground.
      "In attempting to conduct counterterrorism, or CT, and counterinsurgency,
      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 [a reference to military
      information] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military
      and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.

      8> "I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of
      time by different sectors of society might cause society to re-evaluate the
      need or even the desire to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency
      operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the
      affected environment every day."
      It is certain that with this "naked" plea Manning will serve perhaps as much
      as 20 years in prison. The judge, Col. Denise Lind, who will determine
      Manning's sentence, warned him that the government could use his admissions
      to build a case for the more serious charges. Manning faces 90 years if he
      is convicted on the greater charge of espionage, and he faces life if
      convicted of aiding the enemy. Military prosecutors have made it clear they
      are out for blood. They said they will call 141 witnesses, including 15 who
      will charge that Manning caused harm to national interests; 33 witnesses,
      the government claims, will discuss information so sensitive or secret that
      it will require closed court sessions. Four witnesses-including, it appears,
      a Navy SEAL involved in the bin Laden raid-will give testimony anonymously.
      Army Maj. Ashden Fein, the lead prosecution attorney, has told the court
      that the government witnesses will discuss issues such as "injury and death
      to individuals" that resulted from the WikiLeaks disclosures, as well as how
      the "capability of the enemy increased in certain countries." The government
      is preventing
      gs-defense-from-interviewing-classified-witness%20> Manning's defense team
      from interviewing some of the witnesses before the trial.
      When he was secretary of defense, Robert Gates said
      <http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/10/16/wikileaks.assessment/index.html> a
      Defense Department review determined that the publication of the Iraq War
      Logs and the Afghan War Diary had "not revealed any sensitive intelligence
      sources and methods." In the trial, however, the government must prove only
      that the "disclosure could be potentially damaging to the United States" and
      need only provide "independent proof of at least potential harm to the
      national security" beyond mere security classification, writes law professor
      Geoffrey Stone.
      The government reviews determined that the release of Department of State
      "diplomatic cables caused only limited damage
      20110118%20> to U.S. interests abroad despite the Obama administration's
      public statements to the contrary," according to Reuters. "We were told the
      impact [of WikiLeaks revelations] was embarrassing but not damaging," a
      congressional official, briefed by the State Department, told Reuters. The
      "Obama administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations
      had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts
      to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers,"
      the official told the news outlet. Government prosecutors, strengthening
      their case further, have succeeded in blocking Manning's lawyers from
      presenting evidence about the lack of real damage caused to U.S. interests
      by the leaks.
      Manning has done what anyone with a conscience should have done. In the
      courtroom he exhibited-especially given the prolonged abuse he suffered
      during his thousand days inside the military prison system-poise,
      intelligence and dignity. He appealed to the best within us. And this is why
      the government fears him. America still produces heroes, some in uniform.
      But now we lock them up.
      The court has not yet issued an official text of Bradley Manning's
      statement. Thanks to Alexa O'Brien for providing a transcript.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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