On Wednesday evening, I spoke to RT about the verdict in the trial by court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, following his conviction on 20 charges, including espionage and theft, which was announced by the judge in his case, Army Col. Denise Lind, on Monday. My five-minute interview is available below, via YouTube.
Significantly, Judge Lind refused to convict Manning on the most serious charge — that of “aiding the enemy,” which the prosecution had tried to claim proved that Manning had “general evil intent” when he leaked hundreds of thousands of classified US government documents, including the “Collateral Murder” video, featuring US personnel indiscriminately killing civilians and two Reuters reporters in Iraq, 500,000 army reports (the Afghan War logs and the Iraq War logs), 250,000 US diplomatic cables, and the Guantánamo files, released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, on which I worked as a media partner.
However, that was the only good news on Monday, as Manning still faces 136 years in prison based on the other charges, which is a horrendous situation. Asked about it, I explained that it is an unacceptable ruling for whistleblowers, motivated, as Manning was, to make available information that is in the public interest — about war crimes, for example — that the US government wanted to keep hidden, and I also pointed out how the mainstream media evidently agreed, having used what he leaked to sell newspapers and attract viewers for news programs for many months in 2010 and 2011.
In my opinion, the only sentence Manning should receive is one based on the ten charges he admitted to voluntarily in February. As the Guardian explained at the time, the charges to which he pleaded guilty “carry a two-year maximum sentence each, committing Manning to a possible upper limit of 20 years in military prison.”
Nevertheless, I hasten to add that, although I follow the logic of Manning receiving a sentence based on those charges, because of the US military’s rules, I don’t believe it would be fair, when, as I discuss in the interview, his various revelations were not crimes, but immensely useful leaks in the public interest, and, of course, it is completely unacceptable that those who committed the crimes he exposed — and particularly senior officials in the Bush administration, up to and including the President — have not been held accountable for their actions.
As the sentencing phase continues, my hope is that the case against Manning will crumble still further. Certainly, on Wednesday, the testimony of Brig. Gen. Robert Carr, a senior counter-intelligence officer who headed the Information Review Task Force that investigated the impact of WikiLeaks disclosures on behalf of the Defense Department, was extremely important. As the Guardian explained, he told the court that “they had uncovered no specific examples of anyone who had lost his or her life in reprisals that followed the publication of the disclosures on the internet.”
As the Guardian added, “It has been one of the main criticisms of the WikiLeaks publications that they put lives at risk, particularly in Iran and Afghanistan. The admission by the Pentagon’s chief investigator into the fallout from WikiLeaks that no such casualties were identified marks a significant undermining of such arguments.”
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).
To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the four-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.
RT have made a transcript of the interview available, which is here: http://rt.com/op-edge/manning-guantanamo-prison-veil-878/
They chose an interesting title: “Manning helped pierce the veil of secrecy in Guantanamo,” which is certainly true, and is something I explained in the interview.
He did break military law, but he does not deserve the sentence that the US Government want to give to him.
Yes, exactly. Thanks, Thomas. Good to hear from you.
Bradley Manning has been officially nominated as a Nobel Prize candidate by an Icelandic political party.
With Obama blocking the passage he obviously stands no chance, but the publicity can be vital in many ways.
Few know that the European Parliament awards a similar prize, the Sacharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Could there be a more deserving candidate?
A minimum of 40 Europarliamentarians or one Euro-party can suggest candidates before September 12th.
That leaves us a few weeks to bombard our representatives in the EP with messages.
Official document with all vital info about the Prize:
Full (alphabetical) list of all Europarliamentarians: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/full-list.html?filter=A&leg=
You can also filter by nationality, political affiliation or membership of the vital (sub-)committees of Foreign Affairs, HUman Rights and Development: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/parliamentary-committees.html
However, any proposition must be substantiated with arguments. Don’t count on the parliamentarians to know such arguments, we must supply them. The Guardian article to which Andy provided the link in this blog is an excellent piece of ammunition, as it disproves the -popular- claim that Bradley’s revelations would ‘harm innocent people’.
Plenty other links can be added as footnotes to appeals to parliamentarians, such as the ‘Collateral Murder’ video from Iraq, a picture of a recent demonstration in Afghanistan with the moving text : ‘Bradley Manning, you are a hero of suffering Afghans” (from Debra Sweet’s World Can’t Wait – 24/07/2013).
– Transscript of Bradley’s statement at first trial day: http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=PtN7mBk9V3B9AyDHiTNnDIsZkyrCrmLE (Courtesy Alexa O’Brien)
– Recording of this statement: https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2013/03/fpf-publishes-leaked-audio-of-bradley-mannings-statement This is an extremely powerful document, showing a person with honour and integrity, fully assuming responsibility for his choices and actions – which cannot be said of our politicians or military …
(full_statement.mp3 (63M) full_statement.ogg (37M) Help Spread Bradley Manning’s Words Across the Internet )
Let’s show Bradley and his tormentors that The Whole World is not only Watching, but also Acting …
Oops, forgot to add the obvious link to Bradley’s Guantanamo revelations : http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2011/04/25/wikileaks-reveals-secret-guantanamo-files-exposes-detention-policy-as-a-construct-of-lies/
Sorry Andy :-), it’s just that that’s so self-evident to me, that I tend to assume that it’s so for everyone … I’m pretty sure though, that it really is, at least to your other readers :-).
Thanks, Anna. Great to hear from you, as always, and thanks for those words of encouragement for people to contact their Europarliamentarians. It sounds like a very good idea to me.
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