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Excerpt: "The military under the Obama administration has displayed a desire to over-prosecute whistleblowing with life-in-prison charges."

PFC Bradley Manning has offered a partial plea deal, acknowledging responsibility for leaks. (photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
PFC Bradley Manning has offered a partial plea deal, acknowledging responsibility for leaks. (photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)



Bradley Manning Deserves Americans' Support

By Desmond Tutu, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Guardian UK

18 November 12

 

ast week, PFC Bradley Manning offered to accept responsibility for releasing classified documents as an act of conscience – not as charged by the US military. As people who have worked for decades against the increased militarization of societies and for international cooperation to end war, we have been deeply dismayed by his treatment. The military under the Obama administration has displayed a desire to over-prosecute whistleblowing with life-in-prison charges including espionage and "aiding the enemy", a disturbing decision which is no doubt intended to set an example.

We have dedicated our lives to working for peace because we have seen many faces of armed conflict and violence, and we understand that no matter the cause of war, civilians always bear the brunt of the cost. With today's advanced military technology and the continued ability of business and political elites to filter what information is made public, there exists a great barrier to many citizens being fully aware of the realities and consequences of conflicts in which their country is engaged.

Responsible governance requires fully informed citizens who can question their leadership. For those citizens worldwide who do not have direct, intimate knowledge of war, yet are still affected by rising international tensions and failing economies, WikiLeaks releases attributed to Bradley Manning have provided unparalleled access to important facts.

Revealing covert crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and corporations' pervasive influence in governance, this window into the realities of modern international relations has changed the world for the better. While some of these documents may demonstrate how much work lies ahead in terms of securing international peace and justice, they also highlight the potential of the internet as a forum for citizens to participate more directly in civic discussion and creative government accountability projects.

Questioning authority, as a soldier, is not easy. But it can, at times, be honorable. Words attributed to Bradley Manning reveal that he went through a profound moral struggle between the time he enlisted and when he became a whistleblower. Through his experience in Iraq, witnessing suffering of innocent civilians and soldiers alike, he became disturbed by top-level policy that undervalued human life. Like other courageous whistleblowers, he was driven foremost by a desire to reveal the truth.

PFC Bradley Manning said in chat logs attributed to him that he hoped the releases would bring "debates, discussions and reform", and condemned the ways in which the "first world exploits the third." Much of the world regards PFC Manning as a hero for these efforts toward peace and transparency, and he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as a result. Much as when high-ranking officials in the United States and Britain misled the public in 2003 by saying there was an imminent need to invade Iraq to stop them from using weapons of mass destruction, however, the world's most powerful elites have again insulted international opinion and the intelligence of many citizens by withholding facts regarding Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks.

The military prosecution has not presented evidence that, by releasing secret documents, PFC Manning injured anyone, and they have asserted in court that the charge of "aiding the enemy through indirect means" does not require them to. Nor have they denied that his motivations were conscientious; they have simply argued they are irrelevant. In ignoring this context, and recommending a much more severe punishment for Bradley Manning than is given to US soldiers guilty of murdering civilians, military leadership is sending a chilling warning to other soldiers who would feel compelled by conscience to reveal misdeeds. It is our belief that leaders who use fear to govern, rather than sharing wisdom born from facts, cannot be just.

We Nobel Peace Prize laureates condemn the persecution Bradley Manning has suffered, including imprisonment in conditions declared "cruel, inhuman and degrading" by the United Nations, and call upon US citizens to stand up in support of this whistleblower who defended their democratic rights. In the conflict in Iraq alone, more than 110,000 people have died since 2003, millions have been displaced, and nearly 4,500 American soldiers have been killed. If someone needs to be held accountable for endangering Americans and civilians, let's first take the time to examine the evidence regarding high-level crimes already committed, and what lessons can be learned.

If Bradley Manning released the documents attributed to him, we should express to him our gratitude for his efforts toward accountability in government, informed democracy and peace.

For further information, visit the Bradley Manning Support Network

 

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+25 # futhark 2012-11-18 09:41
Outgoing Republican congressman Dr. Ron Paul called Bradley Manning a "hero" and a "true patriot". The Obama Administration calls WikiLeaks whistleblowers "enemies of the state". For whom did you vote?
 
 
+22 # WestWinds 2012-11-18 12:09
Obama should be ashamed of himself. His treatment of Julian Assange and Sgt. Manning are reprehensible. He claims some kind of moral high ground here when what he is really upset about is that the dirty secrets of corruption and appalling behavior the federal government has been indulging in for decades gets out.

The swine that has been running our government (DLC-ers and Right-wing monsters; same thing,) are vicious gluttons with no moral conscience about their greed and need for ever increasing control over everything. These creeps can pardon each other, administration after administration, but they make a patsy and fall guy out of the true heroes like Manning and Assange.

But we know who the real rats in the woodshed are, and their day will come (and they know it; this is why they keep trying to take all our handguns).

As a Constitutional scholar, Obama should be protecting members of the fourth estate and REAL Americans. If Obama isn't a REAL America, this is the reason why; he constantly thumbs his nose at the Constitution in favor of corporate money.

This country needs to go Green Party and get rid of both the Right and Left wings of the Corporate Party... then put the Gang of 17 in Levinworth and throw away the key.

Manning is a martyr and a hero. Let him go. And end the blackout on Assange.
 
 
+8 # Innocent Victim 2012-11-18 12:35
My only disagreement with WestWinds is his appraisal of Barack Obama as a "Constitutional (sic) scholar". We have no reason to believe that Obama is a scholar of any sort. He sealed his grades at Harvard, Columbia and Occcidental. He never published a single article of legal scholarship while a lecturer at U. of Chi Law School. He published instead a memoir of his early life. He did not publish legal papers in the Harvard Law Review. There is not a shred of scholarship by him that is known.

What we do know is that he has shredded the Bill of Rights, abandoned due process of law in regard to the lives of US citizens, violated our international laws on torture and failed to execute faithfully the laws of the US, as required by his oath of office.
 
 
+15 # Innocent Victim 2012-11-18 12:28
Pfc Manning suffers from the venality of our political leaders and our journalistic establishment, as does Julian Assange. Manning's "profound moral struggle" is something our leaders, including our President, cannot underatand, because they are immoral people. The only morality they understand, and they misunderstand that, is sexual. For most of them, sexual morality is tool by which to embarrass members of the other Party.
 
 
+16 # reiverpacific 2012-11-18 12:45
This country will be mockery of the continuing attempts at the Democracy that they keep shouting about around the world, slapping OTHER'S wrists for not seeing everything their way.
American-claimed exceptionalism is just another way of stomping on any true free speech.
Hell, they've been doin' to the Indians for well over four hundred years now in spite of adopting their Gayanashagowa or the "Great Law of Peace" of the Iroquois as the model for their own constitution.
All Manning and Assange were trying to do was allowing the US to "See itself as others see it" to somewhat paraphrase Burns, as Leonard Peltier was simply defending his people's elders, women and children in June 1975 at Oglala.
If you can be bothered or motivated, please listen to KBOO 90.7 FM (http://kboo.fm) on Thursday morning 9.00 AM Pacific time for the annual "Genocide Awareness Day" program, a Native perspective of the day hosted by a good friend of mine and his wife, who are Salish/Blackfoo t. It will repay y'r curiostity and it's very much related to this subject of "selective freedom" and the shameful, brutal consequences of getting in the way of the Corporate State.
 
 
+21 # Archie1954 2012-11-18 13:12
I wish both Manning and Assange would be nominated for a Nobel prize. They deserve it!
 
 
+15 # Magginkat 2012-11-18 16:54
George Bush, Dick Cheney & others of their shyster admin walk free after committing real war crimes....BUT whistle blowers who expose criminal activity are being prosecuted? Something is bassackwards in this country.
 
 
+13 # tbcrawford 2012-11-18 17:49
I hope Bradley Manning does get the Nobel Peace Prize. His compassion and sense of duty was 100% honorably dedicated to our best interests as a country. I'm sickened by what this idealistic young man has had to suffer for our ignorance. We are so quick to jump to the defense of a "peace loving Chinese artist or poet". How about our own home-grown hero!
 
 
+4 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-11-19 11:09
If Manning's charged, why aren't the outers of Valerie Plame? Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. &, as Magginkat noted, Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld still walk free.
 

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