Military judge Col Denise Lind sentenced Manning to 35 years (out of a possible 90) today for his leak of classified documents to Wikileaks in 2010.
Just a little refresher here:
- Bradley Manning is to serve 35 years for exposing war crimes and “lifting the fog of war” (his words) to spark debate among the American people and the international community on the seemingly endless wars abroad.
***Keep in mind that Manning has already served more than three years in pretrial detention (ILLEGAL), 11 months of which was spent in conditions that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, described as cruel and inhumane (denied social interaction, meaningful exercise, sunlight, and at times forced to stay completely naked, again ILLEGAL).
- The men in the Collateral Murder Video, a video that Manning released, who were shown gunning down civilians and Reuters journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver Saeed Chmagh, in Baghdad in 2007 have not been investigated and have served no time in jail for their war crimes.
- The hundreds of civilians killed in Afghanistan, as revealed by the Afghan War Logs that Manning released, have not been investigated. No files have been charged.
- The more than 15,000 civilians killed in 2004-2009 in Iraq that were unreported previous to Manning’s leak have not been investigated. The leaked report upped the known body count of the U.S. war in Iraq to 150,000, roughly 80% civilian.
- The prisoner abuse also documented in the Iraq War Logs detailed the torture, rape, and murder of prisoners by U.S. and coalition forces. Prisoners were reportedly shackled, blindfolded, and hung by wrists or ankles and then whipped, punched, shocked, peed on, and even had holes drilled into their bodies with an electric drill. No one has stood trial for these abuses.
- Dyn Corp, a defense contracting firm that makes billions per year in revenue from the U.S. – threw a party for Afghan security recruits that featured boys purchased from child traffickers as entertainment. No charges.
And while the prosecution and the U.S. government has tried to paint Manning and Wikileaks as terrorists with blood on their hands, the prosecution’s case could not trace a single death to any of Manning’s disclosures.
What’s worse, Manning was not even permitted to present evidence in his defense that he was acting in the public interest when he disclosed these materials. Sparking debate on the role of the U.S. abroad, causing people to consider the true cost of war, exposing war to be entirely different from the clean and surgical war that those in power would have you believe, exposing child trafficking, torture, murder, and other war crimes, bringing to light the tens of thousands of civilians killed abroad by U.S. forces, helping to spark the Arab Spring that toppled dictators – this does not harm the U.S. It holds us accountable for our actions. This does not put us in danger, it exposes the danger that our never-ending, hegemonic wars have created for us.
So now this is where we are at: whistleblowers, those who speak truth to power, are being prosecuted harshly for their heroism. Meanwhile, the very same people who whistleblowers seek to expose – the U.S. government and those in power – those that have dropped us into an 11 year war in Afghanistan, kept us in Iraq for a decade, tortured, murdered, raped prisoners in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Djibouti, and other black sites, those who have bombed weddings, dropped drones on civilians, children, pregnant women, who have surveilled the entire country, and even killed four of their own civilians without trial – they go free. They continue to run the world and put all those who seek to expose them behind bars. To render them invisible. To make us forget that the true power lies with the people; the 99%. This twisted state of affairs has war criminals placing Manning in jail for exposing their war crimes. This is where we are at today.
Manning asked us in a statement earlier this year:
“If you had free reign over classified networks… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?”
More people must do what Manning did and not go quietly into the night. More people must speak out against injustice, against war crimes, against our illegal and unjust wars, and against the corrupt power that has put our lives in jeopardy by its unending addiction to war.
I will be protesting outside of the White House tonight at 7:30 p.m. You don’t need to live in DC to make your voice heard. Protest at your nearest government building. Protest in the streets. Protest in your home by speaking out online, sending letters, making phone calls. DO something. Manning’s leaks helped to spark the Arab Spring. It is time for a similar movement in North America.