Solomon: You failed to break the spirit of Bradley Manning: An open letter to President Obama

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Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information on the documentary based on the book is at WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

Dear President Obama:

As commander in chief, you’ve been responsible for the treatment of the most high-profile whistleblower in the history of the U.S. armed forces. Under your command, the United States military tried -- and failed -- to crush the spirit of Bradley Manning.

Your failure became evident after the sentencing on Wednesday, when a statement from Bradley Manning was read aloud to the world. The statement began: “The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life. I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.”

From the outset, your administration set out to destroy Bradley Manning. As his biographer Chase Madar wrote in The Nation, “Upon his arrest in May 2010, he was locked up in punitive isolation for two months in Iraq and Kuwait, then nine more months at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia. Prohibited from lying down during the day or exercising, he was forced to respond every five of his waking minutes to a guard’s question: ‘Are you OK?’ In his final weeks of isolation, Manning was deprived of all clothing beyond a tear-proof smock and forced to stand at attention every night in the nude.”

More than nine months after Manning’s arrest, at a news conference you defended this treatment -- which the State Department’s chief spokesman, P.J. Crowley, had just lambasted as “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.” (Crowley swiftly lost his job.) Later, the UN special rapporteur on torture issued a report on the treatment of Manning: “at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading.”

At a fundraiser on April 21, 2011, when asked about Manning, you flatly said: “He broke the law.” His trial would not begin for two more years.

Bradley Manning’s statement after sentencing on Wednesday said: “It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized that (in) our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.”

Public accountability is essential to democracy. We can’t have meaningful “consent of the governed” without informed consent. We can’t have moral responsibility without challenging official hypocrisies and atrocities.

Bradley Manning clearly understood that. He didn’t just follow orders or turn his head at the sight of unconscionable policies of the U.S. government. Finding himself in a situation where he could shatter the numbed complacency that is the foundation of war, he cared -- and he took action as a whistleblower.

After being sentenced to many years in prison, Manning conveyed to the American public an acute understanding of our present historic moment: “In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

“Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission.”

Clearly, Mr. President, you have sought to make an example of Bradley Manning with categorical condemnation and harsh punishment. You seem not to grasp that he has indeed become an example -- an inspiring example of stellar courage and idealism, which millions of Americans now want to emulate.

From the White House, we continue to get puffed-up sugar-coated versions of history, past and present. In sharp contrast, Bradley Manning offers profound insights in his post-sentencing statement: “Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy -- the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps -- to mention a few. I am confident that many of the actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light. As the late Howard Zinn once said, ‘There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.’”

Imagine. After more than three years in prison, undergoing methodical abuse and then the ordeal of a long military trial followed by the pronouncement of a 35-year prison sentence, Bradley Manning has emerged with his solid humanistic voice not only intact, but actually stronger than ever!

He acknowledged, “I understand that my actions violated the law; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.”

And then Bradley Manning concluded his statement by addressing you directly as president of the United States: “If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.”

You failed to break the spirit of Bradley Manning. And that spirit will continue to inspire.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information on the documentary based on the book is at WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

(Bruce B. Brugmann edits and writes the Bruce blog on the Bay Guardian website at sfbg.com.  He is the editor at large of the Bay Guardian and former editor and co-founder and co-publisher with his wife Jean Dibble, 1966-2012.)

   

Comments

That will start in a men's prison with a self-styled female inmate.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 12:32 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

I doubt that Manning's experiences in prison will only be as bad as the average inmate.

Posted by anon on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

when you responded? Lilli was not addressing the question to you nor did she inquire if you are happy or not, so why respond?

Posted by Guest III on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

And should do if they have a contribution or clarification to make.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:37 am

And the pronoun should be changed to the feminine. "He" is now a "she."

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

elect to "identify" as something other than that they are not.

Either way, Manning should not have let his dissatisfaction with his conferred gender lead him to betray his nation, and he will have plenty of time to muse on that in the brig.

Posted by anon on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

How do you whistleblow on an immoral war based on lies then?

If the government lies to you about a war that was unnecessary and a threat to the security of the country, what's the right thing to do?

I don't understand the outrage in San Fran towards Manning. I don't care if Manning is a he or a she. I would like to see proof, which has yet hasn't been provided, that Manning's leak has been proven to be a threat to American soldier's safety.

The real threat to our troops and to our national security was the war in Iraq. More of our troops died in Iraq, than in 9/11. I would like to shout that into the ears of GW Bush's defenders. The reaction to 9/11 by the government under GW Bush -- invading Iraq has always been incomprehensible. It was incomprehensibly stupid and irrational then, given the facts we had then, and in retrospect, only the most die-hard extremists would disagree now, with hindsight.

Manning's wikileak made it that much harder for the public to willfully to ignore the lies about that war, by exposing more ugliness about "Operation Iraqi Freedom". Thereby -- helping to open the public's eyes about the truth of that war, reduce public support, helped support our withdrawal, and therefore stopped the deaths of more American soldiers.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

It's only necessary that his betrayal could have done that or increased the risk of that.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

gov who searches and seizes with out reasonable suspicion, or wants to cover up govs crimes against transparency laws within the constitution(that declare the public is suppose to know all gov does(except maybe certain info with 75% of the public's permit), is a traitor who betrayed their oath to defend the constitution, and betrayed the public by lieing to them saying they are there for national security when actually they breach national security, and only secure gov criminals from being prosecuted.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPbFzb7eYgU bradley manning innocent part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06EiFutO4og bradley manning innocent part 2
read more manninginnocent.blog.com/2013/08/19/manning-innocent/
NSA is guilty of criminal ESPIONAGE, NOT MANNING, according to espionage act: "whoever, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defence with intent or reason to believe that the information to be obtained is to be used to the injury of the United States..""gross negligence permits""document""to be removed from its proper place..or delivered..abstracted..punished by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by imprisonment for not more than two years, or both.""intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury or the United States..communicated, delivers, or transmits..document..punished by imprisonment for not more than twenty years.."
gov admitted manning leaks didnt put anyone at risk. gov cant proove or point to anything manning leaked that could be used to injure anyone.
manning leaks put no one at risk(exsept might put the crooks he exposed at risk of being fired/arrested/disliked).
only criminals say exposeing/leaking evidence of crimes puts security at risk, because it put's criminals at risk of being fired or arrested.
allowing criminals who spy on entire non-gov w/o their permit, overclassify gov docs, cover up gov misconduct, or murders who kill innocents, to go unpunished puts everyone at risk.
manning wasnt negligent, wreckless or indiscriminate, he didnt leak all the info he could have leaked.
its gov's job to report and try to stop crime/gov-misconduct, and protect everyone=under the law=not letting some get away w the same type of misconduct you dont let others get away with, =no spying on everyone while baning every1 to spy on u
us army subject schedule no. 27-1 is "the obligation to report all violations of the law of war"
UCMJ: 894. Art. 94. Mutiny or sedition "..REFUSES..to..do his duty or creates..violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny..failure to supress or report mutiny..shall be punished..as..court martial.."
it is a felony to attempt to use the classification system to hide a crime or protect the powerful from embarrassment. Such material remains unclassified after being stamped.
Title18US Code contains the law. Executive order 13526 Sec.1.7.Classification Prohibitions and Limitations.
(a)In no case shall information be classified, continue to be
maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to:
(1)conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;
(2)prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;
..or prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.”
REDUCING OVER-CLASSIFICATION ACT Public Law 111–258: SEC. 5. ..‘‘(G) in accordance with Executive Order No. 13526.." house and senate passed it, president signed into law October 7, 2010.
applogizeing under coercion isnt gonig to get you off any easier, it will only make you be treated worse if you confess to wrong doing. coercers dont keep promises. I WONT BELEIVE HE SAID THIS W/O PROOF, WHERE IS THE VIDEO OF MANNING SAYING THIS! put manning on video now lets see what he has to say! keep manning under 24-7live public video+audio surveilence to make sure he doesnt get physcially abused or threatened any more!
ITS ILLEGAL TO USE HISTORY non criminal and unprooven alledged criminal BEHAVIOR AS PART OF THE DESICION FOR SENTENCEING! history behavior isnt sapose to be allowed in court. .everyone must be treated=under the law, u only sapoe to be punished for the crime you commited, its illegal to extra punish based on history behavior. its illegal to arrest or sentence someone based on a confession.
corrupt gov says: if people know about our war crimes they wont like us, instead of not commiting war crimes to be liked lets just punish/kill whoever leaks them. punishing whistleblowers and letting the gov-paid murderers go free and not be fired, and covering up war crimes and gov corruption makes gov look way way worse than a few inevitable gov paid murderers.
tyrants agisnt manning say other countries finding out about their war crimes "injured/harmed/damaged" them by causeing them to not be liked, and put them at risk of not being liked. no real danger of real injury=physcical injury. lieing pretending the word injured=being avoided. anyone that critisizes corrupt gov members they charge with espionage beacuse their a risk it might "injure" us corrupt gov members by causeing people not to like us corrupt gov members.
not exposeing and arresting murderes can result in them continueing their rampage. allowing overclassifcation can result in corruption being covered up, resulting in innocents being victimized, and wasteing $millions of tax dollars for extra security to protect overclassifed docs, wasteing $millions of tax dollars paying crooks to commit crimes, wasteing $millions of tax dollars paying crooks to illegal occupy a job they dont quailfy for.

manning's lawyers want him to be tortured in prison for life. manning's defense lawyers are liars, arnt there to defend manning, they are doing the oposite of defending manning. his lawyers are anti-tranny, seemingly anti-gay, think manning is mentally unstable for whistleblowing, is trying to make manning look as bad as possible and claiming manning is guilty of crime and did wrong, and thinks he shuldnt have been given access that his supervisers didnt act upon warning signs that he was looseing control emotional outbursts(according to tyrants warning signs/looseing control/emotional outbusts=dislikeing gov corruption)ONLY MUDERERS THINIK PEOPLE WHO REPORT MURDER ARE UNSTABLE, INSANE, and unfit. manning was the best person for the job. manning's lawyers are lieing about wanting to reduce the sentence, instead they want to make it as severe as possible. i suspect their motive is they are being paid or coerced by gov to do it, otherwise they are a sadist/satanist. permantenly revolk manning's lawyer's lawyer license for fraud and charge refund.
gov/mental health workers calls anyone who critisizes it, political oppoents, or anyone who it doesnt like unstable/mental disorder. almost all if not all mental health workers lable everyone mentally ill/disorder exsept something they exclude themself. labeling the accused as unstable or fradgile emotional state always resorts in longer sentence+more torture(posion, electric shock, strapped down)than otherwise. disorder=disobey order, its in the eyes of the controller, an individual opinion of the controller. phycologists are fraud/thought police.
mental health/behavioral health is fraud slang(there is no such thing)=thought police to probe peoples "fitness"(fraud slang)or purge anyone who is agianst gov murder/torture of innocents..gov calls them unstable. eval=measure value. if your agianst gov murder/torture tyrants lable you valueable for torture to set an example, tho not valueable for gov jobs. maybe the suicide were murders of potential leakers.
MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS ARNT DRS. orwellian oposite speak, a dr isnt someone that tortures polical dissadents or anyone they dont like, ex:cross dressers or people that carve things into chairs-ALOT OF PEOPLE CARVE WORDS INTO THINGS. if a phyciatrist was a dr than so would every meth dealer.
CROSS DRESSING ISNT A MENTAL PROBLEM. BAN FROM ALL GOV JOBS WHO EVER IS CROSS DRESSER PHOBE. you call cross dressing a mental problem, tho murdering and tortureing people isnt.
tyrants/mental health workers call everything a disorder includeing happiness. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GENDER ID DISORDER/dysphoria EXSEPT TO TRANSGENDER PHOBES.
to tyrants, not blindly obeying them, or not worshiping and loveing them, is a disease, a medical condition. there going to try to torture/posion him aka "treat his medical condition" into an early death.

only criminals say exposeing/leaking evidence of crimes is aiding the enemy because law-abideing people that try to stop crime are a criminal's enemy.
some corrupt gov members overtly documented on video and public gov written docs, wrongly call law abideing people terrorist based on words or ideology..., beacuse corrupt gov is terrified of good people who want to stop them.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

thank u sir for u extreme sacrifice god bless u god bless u

Posted by Guest on Sep. 02, 2013 @ 11:49 pm

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