Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bradley Manning Makes His Statement on Why He Exposed War Crimes

As the title of this post indicates, I believe some of the information released by Bradley Manning exposed war crimes committed by American military personnel. And it is because of some of the horrific American wrongdoing exposed in my opinion that the military has been so Hell bent to persecute Manning.  Watch the video above from the Press Freedom Foundation which has some on Manning's statement superimposed underneath and I would argue any moral, decent person would have felt the need to expose these murders and hopefully prevent further atrocities.  A full audio of Manning's over 1 hour statement is here.  Here is a portion of the statement made by the Press Freedom Foundation:

The information provided by Manning has uncovered stories of wrongdoing by the United States, as well as by leaders and politicians around the world. The cables were reportedly one of the catalysts that led to the Arab Spring and sped up the end of the Iraq War. To this day, more than two years after their release, the information provided by Manning is used every day by journalists and historians in major publications are the world to enlighten and inform the public, both in the United States and around the world. In a time when the extent and reach of U.S. government secrecy is unprecedented, and there are credible reports that the government has abused its secrecy and classification systems to cover up numerous illegal and unconstitutional activities, Manning’s actions should be seen as an overdue sliver of sunlight into an overly secret system rather than as a basis for a prosecution seeking decades of imprisonment.

By releasing this audio recording, we wish to make sure that the voice of this generation's most prolific whistleblower can be heard—literally—by the world.

Regardless of whether one believes that Manning’s acts were right or wrong or a mix of both, he has taken responsibility for them by pleading guilty to ten charges, for which he faces up to twenty years in prison. The government however, is continuing to pursue all of the charges against him, including charges under the Espionage Act and "aiding the enemy" —which could have huge consequences for press freedom and the First Amendment. The ACLU has expressed concern that this "aiding the enemy" charge could criminalize speech for all sorts of active military members, noting that "In its zeal to throw the book at Manning, the government has so overreached that its ‘success’ would turn thousands of loyal soldiers into criminals."

And Harvard Law professor Yochai Benkler has argued that this prosecution could decimate national security journalism by outlawing whole categories of journalist-source relationships in the future: "[T]he prosecutors seem bent on using this case to push a novel and aggressive interpretation of the law that would arm the government with a much bigger stick to prosecute vaguely-defined national security leaks, a big stick that could threaten not just members of the military, but civilians too."
 Here is a portion of Manning's statement in connection with the video clip above (I find the mindset exhibited by the weapons team deeply disturbing): 
"At first I did not consider the video very special, as I have viewed countless other war porn type videos depicting combat. However, the recording of audio comments by the aerial weapons team crew and the second engagement in the video of an unarmed bongo truck troubled me ...

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."
Is Manning a criminal and traitor or is  he a patriot who wanted to prevent heinous crimes.  Readers will have to decide for themselves.   For my part, those prosecuting Manning do not seem to care about morality and decency whatsoever otherwise they would be prosecuting the members of the weapons team.

No comments: