Come Home America Co-chair Kevin Zeese on behalf of the Green Shadow Cabinet:
Bradley Manning is a whistleblower who has exposed the policies and practices of the U.S. governmnet’s domination and hegemony. From Tunisia to Yemen, Sweden to Washington, DC, the documents expose the operation of U.S. foreign policy. The detailed war logs from Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and the State Department’s diplomatic cables provide a glimpse into the daily operations of U.S. foreign policy at a critical time. The documents have changed the course of history, spurring the Arab Spring and allowing the people of the world to see the truth about their government’s relationship with the United States.
Manning is a hero for sharing with the people of the world, and especially the people of the United States, the truth about U.S. foreign policy that is too often abusive, in violation of international law and conducted on behalf of transnational corporate interests. This 25 year old private first class should not be being prosecuted but should be recognized as someone who has helped and continues to help, the United States become a more perfect union by showing the people the truth of the actions taken by the U.S. government.
It is not hyperbole to say that Manning has exposed war crimes. The documents released show the indiscriminate killing of civilians and the torture of people in violation of international law. The Iraq and Afghanistan war logs show military and civilian leaders lying to the people of the United States and the world as they covered up these crimes and misled people about what was really occurring in these two failed and unnecessary wars as well as military actions in many other parts of the world.
We urge academics, legal scholars, human rights activists, writers, members of the media and the public to review these documents and report on them so the people of the United States can become more aware of what has occurred in their name and so the nation can have a debate about the direction of U.S. foreign policy.
The treatment and trial of Bradley Manning has been a disgrace. He has been incarcerated for three years, with one of those years in torturous solitary confinement at the Quantico Marine Base as well as in the Middle East. The United States has refused to allow an official visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. We urge that this visit be allowed so an international review of U.S. actions against Manning can occur.
The trial has been marred by President Obama, the commander-in-chief, saying Manning is guilty. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff joined in making the same finding of guilt in a press conference. The prosecutors delayed responding to discovery requests. The delay of the trial violated the speedy trial rights of Manning. For all these reasons the conduct of the government has been outrageous and the charges should be dismissed.
Further, Manning has already agreed to plead guilty to offenses that total a potential 20 years in prison. What than is the purpose of this trial? This trial is utterly punitive and should be stopped now.
Finally, the secrecy surrounding this prosecution has been a violation of Manning’s right to a public trial, the right of the people to know what occurs in courtrooms and the right of the media to report on trials. In fact, there will 30 secret witnesses who will be testifying behind closed doors during the court martial. These are exactly the types of abuses that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution sought to prevent, but they have been routinely violated throughout these proceeding under exaggerated claims of national security.
The trial needs to be looked at in the context of President Obama’s war on whistleblowers and attacks on the media. Obama has used the 1917 Espionage Act more than all other president’s combined. His Department of Justice has spied on the Associated Press, FOX News as well as on independent and citizen’s media. The Manning case is also tied to the inappropriate grand jury investigation of Julian Assange and Wikileaks under the theory that Assange sought information from Manning, but even if true, isn’t that the job of the independent media? Routinely at First Amendment actions, media is arrested or harassed for taking photographs of police action. The prosecution in the Manning trial has a very broad theory of prosecution that puts all media at risk of espionage charges or being accused of aiding the enemy. The case should be seen as the John Peter Zenger case of the 21st Century. Zenger established the idea of a freed press in the Colonial Era, Manning will help define what a free media means in the age of the Internet and the era of a growing citizen’s media.
The legacy of Bradley Manning is best served if we live up to what he sought by the release of these documents. As he said: “I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan. It might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counterterrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day…. I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”
Kevin Zeese, Attorney General, Green Shadow Cabinet
Leah Bolger, Secretary of Defense, Green Shadow Cabinet, retired Commander, U.S. Navy
Michael Ratner, Division of Civil, Social & Economic Rights, Director, Green Shadow Cabinet
Jesslyn Radack, National Security and Human Rights Advisor to the President, Green Shadow Cabinet