The US Military Should Be Ashamed of Its Treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning
by Ann Wright
Candidate Obama said "Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal."
As a U.S. presidential candidate in 2008, in referring to the Bush Administration's use of phone companies to illegally spy on Americans, Barack Obama said, "We only know these crimes took place because insiders blew the whistle at great personal risk ... Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal." Candidate Obama was referring to the Bush Administration's use of phone companies to illegally spy on Americans.
President Obama says No whistleblowing on my watch!
Yet, Obama, as he has on so many issues as President, is taking a 180 degree turn from his comments as a candidate, comments on which the American people relied and elected him.
Now, the Obama administration's warning to Bradley Manning and to other whistle blowers is this: blow the whistle on government criminal actions and we will put you in solitary confinement before you are charged, much less go to trial. You will be treated as an "enemy combatant," in America's ongoing wars on about everything, including the truth.
Evidence of Murder of Civilians in Iraq by US military helicopter pilots
Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army Private First Class (PFC) intelligence analyst who turned 23 years old in late December, allegedly leaked a video of a US helicopter attack that killed at least eleven Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters reporters, to the website Wikileaks. Two Iraqi children were also severely wounded in the attack.
PFC Manning's alleged actions are just as important as those of the whistleblowers who informed us of the Bush administration's use of phone companies to illegally spy on Americans. The video taken from the U.S. military helicopter that fired the killing rounds of ammunition, graphically showed US military pilots firing on and killing innocent civilians in Iraq. In addition to this "Collateral Murder" video, PFC Manning is suspected by the government of leaking the "Afghan War Diaries" - tens of thousands of battlefield reports that explicitly describe civilian deaths and cover-ups, corrupt officials, collusion with warlords, and a failing US/NATO war effort.
Manning had the legal responsibility to disclose evidence, even classified evidence, of criminal actions conducted by government officials
If indeed, Manning did give the video to Wikileaks, his actions show clearly that he reasonably believed that war crimes were being covered up, and that he took action based on that belief. Exposing criminal actions done under the cover of government orders is a responsibility and duty of military personnel as codified in the Uniform Code of Military Justice as well as the Geneva conventions and the Nuremberg Principles.
Nuremberg Principle I
Principle I states, "Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment."
Principle II states, "The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law."
Principle III states, "The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law."
Principle IV states: "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him".
This principle could be paraphrased as follows: "It is not an acceptable excuse to say 'I was just following my superior's orders'".
Classifying the evidence of criminal actions does not make the actions untouchable
Reporting criminal actions done by others and providing evidence of those criminal actions, especially when the evidence of criminal actions have been covered up by "classifying" the evidence, is not illegal, but in fact, is a very brave response.
Punishment before the Trial-Solitary Confinement
Manning has now been in prison in solitary confinement for 7 months and still neither the U.S. military nor the U.S. government has indicted him for any offense. Manning essentially is being treated by the U.S. government as an American citizen "enemy combatant."
Manning's treatment in detention, pre-trial confinement in prison is cruel and unusual. He is being kept in solitary confinement, alone in a cell for 23 hours a day. He is forbidden to exercise in his cell. He is deprived of sleep. He is not given a pillow or sheets for his steel bed, although recently after publicity about he conditions in the prison, he was given a mattress for the bed. Prison medical personnel now "administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation."
US Soldier Treated as Those Detained in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo
The U.S. military's treatment of Manning is tragically consistent with its treatment of persons detained in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. America's military uses harsh conditions and torture, physical or mental, for those who have not been convicted of any crimes used to break the person to provide whatever information the military wants to receive. This type of treatment is inhumane, immoral and wrong for those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo and is wrong for Bradley Manning.
Nothing to be Proud of
Nothing in this to be proud of, President Obama. Nothing in this to be proud of, US Military.
If you, the reader, are offended by this, please -- Raise Hell for Bradley, the undeclared American "enemy combatant."
Contribute to Manning's defense fund at www.couragetoresist.org
* Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book "Dissent: Voices of Conscience." (www.voicesofconscience.com)