About PVT. Manning
“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?”
“God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms… I want people to see the truth… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
-Quotes from an online chat attributed to PVT Manning
After more than 3 years of pretrial confinement, the trial of military whistle-blower and democracy advocate PVT Chelsea Manning (known publicly as Bradley Manning until her Aug 22, 2013 announcement) finished on August 21st. With her sentence of 35 years, this case sets a dangerous precedent for the first amendment, opening whistle-blowers and those who help them to extreme prosecution.
Nobel Peace Prize nominee PVT Manning is the 25-year-old Army intelligence analyst who released the Collateral Murder video that exposed the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. Manning also shared documents, known as the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables. She stated these documents were some of the most important historical documents of our time. These documents were published by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, and they have illuminated such issues as the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, along with a number of human rights abuses by U.S.-funded contractors and foreign militaries, and the role that spying and bribes play in international diplomacy. Given the war crimes exposed by these documents, PVT Manning should be given a medal of honor.
On July 30, 2013 she was found not guilty of the most serious charge against her, that of “Aiding the Enemy’, however she was convicted of 20 offenses, including 6 under the Espionage Act. On August 21, 2013 PVT Manning was given a particularly harsh sentence of 35 years in prison: a clear message to anyone who might oppose and expose government illegalities.
Not a single person has been harmed by the release of this information. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has called the effect of WikiLeaks’ releases on U.S. foreign relations “fairly modest.” Yet the Obama administration has chosen to persecute the whistle-blower rather than prosecute the war criminals who were exposed.
Soldiers are promised fair treatment and a speedy trial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). However, the soldiers responsible for PVT Manning’s care took it upon themselves to abuse her by keeping her locked up in solitary confinement for the first 10 months of his incarceration. During this time, PVT Manning was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction, sunlight, and on a number of occasions she was forced to stay completely naked. These conditions were unique to PVT Manning and are illegal even under US military law, as they amount to extreme pre-trial punishment. In March 2011, chief US State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley called PVT Manning’s treatment at the Quantico, Virginia, Marine Corps brig “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” He was forced to resign shortly after admitting this. Since resigning, he has stated that the prosecution’s heavy-handed persecution of PVT Manning has undermined the government’s credibility.
PVT Manning’s treatment sparked a probe by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez. Mr. Mendez stated that he has been “frustrated by the prevarication of the US government with regard to my attempts to visit Mr. Manning.” After having his requests to visit PVT Manning repeatedly blocked, and after completing a fourteen month investigation, Mr. Mendez issued a statement saying that PVT Manning’s treatment has been “cruel and inhuman.”
It only took one week in April 2011 to have over a half million people sign a petition calling on President Obama to end the isolation and torture of PVT Manning. The Obama administration’s ongoing persecution of PVT Manning has served as “a chilling deterrent to other potential whistleblowers committed to public integrity,” and over 300 top legal scholars have declared her treatment was a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, as well as a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against punishment without trial. Among the signatories is professor Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who taught President Obama. Professor Tribe was, until recently, a senior advisor to the US Justice Department.
Partially in response to public outcry, on April 21, 2011, PVT Manning was moved from Quantico to Fort Leavenworth, KS, where her conditions greatly improved. The conditions of Quantico were later ruled to constitute “Unlawful Pretrial Punishment,” but Manning was only granted 112 days credit.
After having already spent more than 3 years in pretrial confinement, her supporters continue to demand her release. Among the supporters is the famous whistle-blower, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Recognizing the valor required to tell the truth, Ellsberg calls PVT Chelsea Manning a hero and a patriot. We agree, free PVT Chelsea Manning. Immediately following the 35 year sentence announcement, the Private Manning Support Network along with Amnesty International launched a petition to President Obama and the White House demanding clemency for PVT Manning, and set up a “Pardon PVT Manning” campaign website where supporters can submit photos holding signs of support.
We hope that you will join us as well. See what you can do to support justice in this historic time.
Here are some recommended articles with more information:
- What did WikiLeaks reveal?
- Bradley Manning’s statement to the court.
- Army SPC Ethan McCord on Media Coverage of Bradley Manning
- Addressing confusion about PFC Bradley Manning’s case
- Homecoming for U.S. troops attributed to WikiLeaked cable
- Military official’s unlawful influence mimics Commander-in-Chief