Friday, August 02, 2013
Manning Must Go Free!
By Carl Dix | July 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Bradley Manning dared to expose the war crimes of the U.S. For this, he has been convicted by a military court on 19 charges, including espionage and theft of government property. He was acquitted of aiding the enemy, which could have gotten him the death penalty—but he faces more than 130 years in prison when the judge decides his sentence.
What "crimes" did Bradley Manning commit? In 2010, he leaked video footage to WikiLeaks that documented U.S. troops firing from a helicopter and mowing down Iraqi civilians, including a journalist carrying a camera, people coming to the aid of those wounded or killed, and children! The video became known as "Collateral Murder" and was viewed by people the world over.
Later Manning leaked documents that included a U.S. government report that documented more than 66,000 Iraqi civilians killed in the U.S. invasion and occupation of that country. The U.S. had claimed that it had no records of civilian deaths in Iraq, and this leak exposed that as a flat-out lie.
Bradley Manning was a young man who joined the military because he thought he could help people as a soldier. Then he saw the horrors America was perpetrating on people in Iraq and Afghanistan that were being covered up. He righteously decided that he had a responsibility to bring those horrors to the light of day. For doing this, he was viciously persecuted in prison—held in solitary confinement, and stripped naked for much of the time he was jailed. Now he faces a lifetime in prison.
The punishment of Bradley Manning is cruel and vindictive. And the system is trying to make an example of him: to warn and intimidate others in the military and in society more broadly that anyone who acts on conscience this way will face the same consequences.
Bradley Manning did the right thing! He never should have been put on trial, and he should go free from prison.
I have a sense of what Bradley went through. I was drafted into the U.S. military in the 1960s and given orders to go to Vietnam. I had to do a crash course in what that war was about and learned that U.S. imperialists were trying to drown the liberation struggle of the Vietnamese people in blood. It was a war that I should not be a part of. Then I had to decide whether to act on what I knew to be true, knowing that meant going to jail. I did the right thing—refused to go to Vietnam and spent two years in Leavenworth Military penitentiary.
Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, the drone wars of Obama. The political representatives of U.S. imperialism never tire of proclaiming America to be the worldwide champion of "democratic values." But look beneath the façade, and there is the gruesome reality of murderous wars, atrocious war crimes routinely covered up, and the harsh prosecution of those who expose these crimes.
This IS a criminal system and we need revolution—nothing less.