The trial and tribulations of Bradley Manning


US soldier Bradley Manning is due to go on trial on Monday (03.06.2013) for leaking thousands of secret documents to Wikileaks, some of which allegedly revealed war crimes. But is he a hero or a traitor to the US army?

“If you’re a 22-year-old kid from Oklahoma, and you find yourself in a dark room in Iraq, watching grainy videos of possible war crimes and actually sharing your concerns with your supervisors, and they’re telling you to look the other way, shut up, your life will become miserable if you keep talking about this stuff, it’s easy to see how somebody could actually look at the big picture and think maybe I could, in some small way, change the world for the better.”

This is how Jeff Paterson, a member of the grass roots group Courage to Resist, described the situation of US soldier Bradley Manning during his eight-month deployment in Iraq in 2009 – 2010. He is due to go on trial next Monday, accused of leaking thousands of secret government documents, diplomatic cables, and military videos to Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.

Whatever the court in Fort Meade, Maryland decides, Manning has already touched the lives of many people, despite the fact that the trial has gotten little coverage from the mainstream US media. But the case has a sizable and passionate following, a coalition of older people who opposed the war in Vietnam and a new generation wedded to Wikileaks.

‘Amounting to torture’

Manning was ‘incredibly smart, understood where he was’ during pre-trial hearings, one witness said

Manning was kept in a military prison in Quantico, Virginia since shortly after his arrest in May 2010, and spent much of that time on Prevention of Injury (POI) status, which entailed checks by guards every five minutes.

He was forced to sleep facing a bright light, was not allowed to lean against the wall during waking hours and had his clothes and glasses taken away for speaking angrily to his guards.

After an international outcry over his treatment, he was transferred to a medium-security prison in Ft. Leavenworth in 2011.

In March 2012, UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Manning after completing a 14-month investigation, and nearly a million people signed a petition demanding Manning be released from the solitary cell.

Emotional pre-trial testimony

Manning has won thousands of supporters, even though the case has been covered little in the US

Michael Ratner, president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin, attended Manning’s pre-trial hearings. The 69-year-old lawyer, who represented Guantanamo prisoners before the US Supreme Court and served as US attorney for Assange, told DW about hearing Manning’s testimony.

“It was for me, watching it, the most devastating day I’ve spent in a courtroom,” he said. “I was in tears from beginning to end, watching this young man, having faced some of the most punitive punishment by our government and yet be able to testify with incredible dignity. He was incredibly smart, understood where he was, what was happening to him.”

Manning has won thousands of supporters, even though the case has been covered little in the US

Daniel Ellsberg, a former US Marine who gained fame when he leaked the Pentagon Papers, an inside history of the Vietnam War, was also a regular observer in the courtroom. He praised Manning for releasing a video that shows US servicemen shooting civilians and journalists from a helicopter.

“Helicopter gunners hunting down and shooting an unarmed man in civilian clothes, clearly wounded, in an area where a squad of American soldiers was about to appear – as the helicopter gunners knew – to take custody of anyone remaining living – that shooting was murder. It was a war crime,” he said.

Manning’s background

But apart from these occasional glimpses in court, Bradley Manning remains a mystery, not least because his lawyer has refused to do interviews.

But critics have been quite vocal, in contrast, casting Manning as mentally unstable and reckless. “He apparently grew up in a dysfunctional home and he was very short – five-foot one or two, 100 pounds, and was bullied and so forth, and I feel sorry for him for all those things,” said Robert Turner, co-founder and director of the National Center for Security Law at the University of Virginia. “But that’s no excuse for giving away hundreds of thousands of secrets. To me that’s the equivalent of walking through a military base and just tossing grenades through windows.”

But there is another source that offers a different view. While stationed in Iraq, Manning chatted online with Adrian Lamo, a celebrated computer hacker who had broken into networks at the New York Times, Yahoo and Microsoft. When he learned the FBI was investigating him, Lamo turned himself in, and some critics suspect he then went to work covertly for the federal government – a claim Lamo has denied, though he was the one who reported Manning to federal officials.

Vietnam whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg attended Manning’s hearings

Manning and Lamo corresponded for some time during Manning eight-month deployment near Baghdad, and their chat-logs provide virtually the only personal testimonies from Manning himself to be made public. In them, he describes himself as a sensitive, intelligent, physically small child who initially suffered under an abusive, alcoholic father, before moving to Wales with his mother.

He says he joined the army in order to earn enough money to go to college, and that his computer skills were initially valued. But he felt alienated when he was stationed in Iraq, and struggled with gender identity issues.

“I’m very isolated – lost all of my emotional support channel – family, boyfriend, trusting colleagues. I’m a mess,” he wrote to Lamo. “I’m in the desert, with a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger happy ignorant rednecks as neighbors, and the only safe place I seem to have is this satellite Internet connection.”

Conscience and confession

He then went on to confide his crisis of conscience and his security breaches to Lamo. “If you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time… say, 8-9 months… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain … Or 260,000 state department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world, explaining how the first world exploits the third, … what would you do?”

 

 The helicopter video of a group of men being fired on in Baghdad sent shockwaves across the world

Paterson, a former marine, can relate to what Manning went through in the military. “I didn’t believe what other Marines believed,” he told DW. “I was the only person in the regiment certified with our battlefield tactical nuclear warheads. If anything went wrong in Iraq, it would be my job to nuke them all.”

Paterson responded by becoming the first US soldier to refuse to fight in the Iraq War, was jailed and eventually discharged. Manning faces a much tougher legal battle. He has told his lawyer that he’d like to get a college degree and go into public service – to make a difference. Regardless of how his trial pans out, he may already have done so.

“It’s important that it gets out,” Manning wrote to Lamo. “I feel for some bizarre reason it might actually change something.”

via The trial and tribulations of Bradley Manning | World | DW.DE | 02.06.2013.

Advertisements

About Old Boy

Love the past and the future but live in the present

Posted on June 3, 2013, in Crime, Government, Human rights and Liberties, International affairs, politics, Protest, War and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

let me photograph you softly

photographs on the street

| SCRIPTEUM |

Blog de escritura

Sally.CS

"Érase una vez una gitana, que escribía historias de amor"

territori del '900

identità luoghi scritture del '900 toscano

fountain hues

the journey of a poetry

Flavorful Delights

A collection of recipes, food inspirations, and finding joy in cooking

Cafė com filosofia

A verdade existe!

From 1 Blogger 2 Another

Sharing Great Blog Posts

A Better Man

Make a Start

johncoyote

Poetry, story and real life.

passaporte no bolso

blogue de viagens

Art Bacchant

drunk on the arts

optimisticlifeat30

The essence of Poetry

Fun Freedom Fables

Stay happy, think positive & live life to the fullest

The Rolling Paper Company

Rolling papers for customized cigarettes has developed from rolling tobacco and weed in dried leaves of trees to rolling them in a paper.

andycritiques

Film & Television Reviews From The Perspective Of A Film & Televison Lover

Truth Troubles

Why people hate the truths of the world.

The Culture Tome

An Online Journal For Appreciating The Past

The Comic Vault

Unlock your inner geek and step inside!

sandsoftime10

A peep into Megha's mind

Education Motivation Inspiration

Warm welcome! This is more than an exploration. Discovery of new ideas and new ways of being.

EXPLORING FOR KNOWLEDGE.

REASONING IS THE FOUNDATION.

Perfect-Style-Knower

Visual Perception Hots, Edgy Site

THE BOOKS THAT TIME FORGOT.

Reviewing books that time has passed by.

Peach6972's Re🤗Blog🥀

lonly n depress😢🐘make my day 🌷⚘

outofwak (artworldwar)

we are all empty circles, through which the creative power of the universe passes through, whether we like it or not..

Why'd Multiple Sclerosis pick me

My Life with Multiple SCLEROSIS

Windows on Worlds

Because you speak to me in words and I look at you with feelings

Crackdown Review

A place to search something like movie, anime, novel, manga, etc. reviews

Dave's Corner of the Universe

Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide

Trust and Believe in the Unseen

Live with Light of Faith

#FILMose

Crítica para quem gosta de Cinema.

Gaston Bessette, Photographie

La passion de la photo-Photographs as a passion

hands in the garden

short poems for short attention spans

Empowered

Everyday

Iain Kelly

Fiction Writing

The Müscleheaded Blog

"Nothing Exceeds Like Superfluous Jejunity "

After the Final Curtain

"People buy tickets to theatres, not movies." -- Marcus Loew

cracked rear viewer

Fresh takes on retro pop culture

indiescifi451.wordpress.com/

science fiction autopsy. movie reviews, books, quotes, posters. no trash. no bullshit.

Roadtirement

"Retired and traveling"

%d bloggers like this: