Bradley Manning Deserves Americans' Support
Bradley Manning Deserves Americans' Support
By Desmond Tutu, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel / rsnorg.org

Last week, PFC Bradley Manning offered to accept responsibility for releasing classified documents as an act of conscience – not as charged by the US military. As people who have worked for decades against the increased militarization of societies and for international cooperation to end war, we have been deeply dismayed by his treatment. The military under the Obama administration has displayed a desire to over-prosecute whistleblowing with life-in-prison charges including espionage and "aiding the enemy", a disturbing decision which is no doubt intended to set an example.

We have dedicated our lives to working for peace because we have seen many faces of armed conflict and violence, and we understand that no matter the cause of war, civilians always bear the brunt of the cost. With today's advanced military technology and the continued ability of business and political elites to filter what information is made public, there exists a great barrier to many citizens being fully aware of the realities and consequences of conflicts in which their country is engaged.

Responsible governance requires fully informed citizens who can question their leadership. For those citizens worldwide who do not have direct, intimate knowledge of war, yet are still affected by rising international tensions and failing economies, WikiLeaks releases attributed to Bradley Manning have provided unparalleled access to important facts.

Revealing covert crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and corporations' pervasive influence in governance, this window into the realities of modern international relations has changed the world for the better. While some of these documents may demonstrate how much work lies ahead in terms of securing international peace and justice, they also highlight the potential of the internet as a forum for citizens to participate more directly in civic discussion and creative government accountability projects.

Questioning authority, as a soldier, is not easy. But it can, at times, be honorable. Words attributed to Bradley Manning reveal that he went through a profound moral struggle between the time he enlisted and when he became a whistleblower. Through his experience in Iraq, witnessing suffering of innocent civilians and soldiers alike, he became disturbed by top-level policy that undervalued human life. Like other courageous whistleblowers, he was driven foremost by a desire to reveal the truth.

PFC Bradley Manning said in chat logs attributed to him that he hoped the releases would bring "debates, discussions and reform", and condemned the ways in which the "first world exploits the third." Much of the world regards PFC Manning as a hero for these efforts toward peace and transparency, and he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as a result. Much as when high-ranking officials in the United States and Britain misled the public in 2003 by saying there was an imminent need to invade Iraq to stop them from using weapons of mass destruction, however, the world's most powerful elites have again insulted international opinion and the intelligence of many citizens by withholding facts regarding Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks.

The military prosecution has not presented evidence that, by releasing secret documents, PFC Manning injured anyone, and they have asserted in court that the charge of "aiding the enemy through indirect means" does not require them to. Nor have they denied that his motivations were conscientious; they have simply argued they are irrelevant. In ignoring this context, and recommending a much more severe punishment for Bradley Manning than is given to US soldiers guilty of murdering civilians, military leadership is sending a chilling warning to other soldiers who would feel compelled by conscience to reveal misdeeds. It is our belief that leaders who use fear to govern, rather than sharing wisdom born from facts, cannot be just.

We Nobel Peace Prize laureates condemn the persecution Bradley Manning has suffered, including imprisonment in conditions declared "cruel, inhuman and degrading" by the United Nations, and call upon US citizens to stand up in support of this whistleblower who defended their democratic rights. In the conflict in Iraq alone, more than 110,000 people have died since 2003, millions have been displaced, and nearly 4,500 American soldiers have been killed. If someone needs to be held accountable for endangering Americans and civilians, let's first take the time to examine the evidence regarding high-level crimes already committed, and what lessons can be learned.

If Bradley Manning released the documents attributed to him, we should express to him our gratitude for his efforts toward accountability in government, informed democracy and peace.

For further information, visit the Bradley Manning Support Network

4.0 ·
1
What's Next
Trending Today
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 16,775 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
Brené Brown on How to Reckon with Emotion and Change Your Narrative
Brené Brown · 10,567 views today · The most powerful stories may be the ones we tell ourselves, says Brené Brown. But beware—they're usually fiction.
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 7,599 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
"Desert Goddess" Remembers Arizona's Glen Canyon
7 min · 7,113 views today · In this excerpt from the award-winning documentary DamNation, filmmakers Ben Knight and Travis Rummel interview the "desert goddess," Katie Lee. When the Glen Canyon Dam was...
Willie Nelson Has Some Advice for You: Don't Be An A**hole
2 min · 5,815 views today · Since childhood, Willie Nelson has been living by the golden rule. In this episode of "Hey Willie," the superstar talks about applying the golden rule to his everyday life and...
Law Professor's Epic Response to Black Lives Matter Shirt Complaint
Social Design Notes · 5,369 views today · A first year law school student wrote a complaint about her professor having worn a Black Lives Matter T-shirt during class. The professor’s response is priceless. Scans of...
North Dakota Gov Cuts Water Supply to Native Americans as DAPL Protest Swells in Number and Spirit
Lauren McCauley · 3,745 views today · Thousands join protest camp as supporters are holding a rally in Washington D.C. on Wednesday outside of Army Corps hearing
What's Wrong With Being in Someone's "Friend Zone"?
Samuel Granger · 2,982 views today · I once read a Dear Abby column responding to a letter from a girl who, as I recall, was in middle school. She was asking for advice about an awkward incident that happened to...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 2,960 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Time for Degrowth: to Save the Planet, We Must Shrink the Economy
Jason Hickel · 2,898 views today · What is so refreshing about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is that they recognise the inherent tension between economic development and the ecology of our planet. Or so...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 2,735 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Jill Stein Censored on PBS NewsHour
3 min · 2,461 views today · Jill Stein's criticism of the TPP and Hillary Clinton was cut from the PBS Newshour August 23, 2016. PBS cut out nearly two-thirds of Jill Steins answer to the last question!
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 1,668 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
If You Want to Say Thank You, Don't Say Sorry - And 6 Other Examples of Beautiful Communication
Yao Xiao · 1,410 views today · Appreciate others for what they have done, don't apologise for simply existing.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,094 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Powers of Ten - Fantastic Film from 1970s Takes us on Journey from Macro to Micro
9 min · 884 views today · Powers of Ten takes us on an adventure in magnitudes. Starting at a picnic by the lakeside in Chicago, this famous film transports us to the outer edges of the universe. Every...
Mental Health and Masculinity - A Personal Perspective
8 min · 805 views today · 'I think people make quite positive assumptions about my mental health, because I'm outwardly very energetic, very enthusiastic. Actually, when I've been at my most energetic...
Mesmerising Video of Tiled Roof Hut Built Entirely from Materials Found in the Forest
14 min · 791 views today · I built this tiled roof hut in the bush using only primitive tools and materials. The tools I used have been made in my previous videos. It should be pointed out that I do not...
How to Resist the Pressures of Conformity
10 min · 755 views today · The social psychology of conformity affects us all, but there are ways to maintain our independence, as explained in this animated short.
Workers' Control in the Crisis of Capitalism
Dario Azzellini · 731 views today · Recent years have seen a proliferation of recuperated workplaces around the globe, laying the foundations for a truly democratic workers’ economy.
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Bradley Manning Deserves Americans' Support