WE ARE BRADLEY MANNING
We stand with WikiLeaks whistle-blower US Army PFC Bradley Manning
We are American military veterans, artists, journalists, educators, homemakers, lawyers, and citizens. We live in red states and in blue states, in communities urban and rural. We ask you to consider the facts, and join us in declaring:
Enough is enough. Free Bradley Manning now.
In a time of endless war and economic distress, a cloud of government secrecy has eclipsed our republic. We are told that these secrets are necessary, that they save American lives, and we are told the growing National Security state is beyond question. More secrecy does not make us secure when it allows leaders and politicians to avoid accountability. We’ve learned these secrets also conceal crimes: torture, illegal surveillance, and corruption—all committed in our name.
In a time when we needed the truth, a young U.S. Army private became our champion for openness and responsibility. An Intelligence Analyst, Bradley Manning had access to some of America’s dirtiest secrets, such as U.S. support for Iraqi torture, and a video exposing American troops shooting children, civilians, and journalists from an Apache helicopter over Baghdad. Bradley Manning acted on his conscience, with selfless courage and conviction, and gave these secrets to us, the American public.
“I believed that if the general public… had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan,” explained PFC Bradley Manning prior to his May 2010 arrest in Iraq.
“I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan were targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare,” PFC Manning added.
Journalists used these documents to uncover many startling truths. We learned…
• how Donald Rumsfeld and General Petraeus built their careers by supporting torture in Iraq.
• how deliberate civilian killings by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan went unpunished, and that thousands of civilian casualties were never acknowledged.
• most Guantanamo detainees were innocent.
For his service on behalf of an informed democracy, Bradley Manning faces life in prison. Prosecutors accuse him of “Aiding the Enemy” for providing WikiLeaks with this information, but acknowledged that they would have done the same if he had given the documents to The New York Times.
Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three years in a row, Bradley Manning is a whistle-blower in every sense of the term. He exposed secret crimes and malfeasance for the public good, and took nothing in return. Bradley Manning has accepted responsibility for releasing these documents and mishandling classified information. Alone, these charges could send him to prison for 20 years. Yet the Government argues for life in prison, declaring that he sought to indirectly aid our enemies with a new “open-source” espionage.
No proof that any lives were endangered, or that any person was even harmed, was presented by the prosecution.
A new whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, has stepped forward since Bradley Manning’s trial began last month. He revealed that a vast, unwarranted, and fundamentally unconstitutional program of Internet and phone surveillance on every U.S. citizen is being conducted by the National Security Agency. Edward Snowden fled his home explaining that he feared the type of extreme punishment that Bradley Manning has already endured in military pre-trial confinement.
We put forward this letter to advance the public debate, as Bradley Manning intended—to further transparency and accountability in government. We dedicate ourselves to following Bradley Manning’s example to expose the truth, even when inconvenient to do so. To promote openness in our government, so that it can be evaluated and improved. To believe, passionately, in the power of real democracy.
We await military judge Colonel Denise Lind’s ruling as to what sentence Bradley Manning will receive in her Fort Meade, Maryland courtroom a few days from now. As PFC Manning has been imprisoned for over three years, and subjected to brutal conditions at Marine Base Quantico, Virgina for nine of those months, the only remotely reasonable sentence would be time-served.
We call on Major General Jeffery Buchanan to use his ability as Convening Authority of these proceedings to reduce any sentence handed down by Judge Lind in order to free Bradley Manning without delay.
Finally, we call on President Barack Obama to pardon Bradley Manning. This 25-year-old, openly gay soldier from Oklahoma does not deserve to spend one more day in prison for informing the public of our government’s policies. Bradley Manning believed you, Mr. President, when you came into office promising the most transparent administration in history, and that you would protect whistle-blowers. Now would be a good time to start upholding that pledged transparency, beginning with PFC Manning.
We will not relent until this American hero is free.
Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in each of the last 3 years. He was awarded the Sean MacBride Peace prize for 2013. The International Peace Bureau co-president Tomas Magnusson comments: “IPB believes that among the very highest moral duties of a citizen is to make known war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is within the broad meaning of the Nuremberg Principles enunciated at the end of the Second World War. When Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the US military he did so as an act of obedience to this high moral duty”.
Our World Report stands in solidarity with Pfc. Manning. For more information or to contribute to Brad's defense fund: bradleymanning.org