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

Load Comments
You Might Be Interested In
45 min · Private Bradley Manning was the man U.S. authorities allege stole classified military files, providing them to WikiLeaks for publication. While WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange battles to avoid extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden, on the other side of the...
5 min · It's time to stop the war on whistle-blowers. Activists, Journalists, and Filmmakers show their support for Iraq War whistleblower, Bradley Manning.  With appearances by: Maggie Gyllenhaal Roger Waters Oliver Stone Daniel Ellsberg Phil Donahue Michael Ratner Alice Walker...
6 min · Freedom Watch - Paul discusses the media spin behind the Federal Reserve, Wikileaks, Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning.  Who got the bailouts and to what tune?  Who is committing war crimes and why are we shooting the messenger?  "In a free society we are supposed to know...
56 min · Today we look back at 2013. It was a historic year. Edward Snowden exposed how the National Security Agency had built a worldwide surveillance apparatus, while Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in jail for leaking U.S. secret documents to WikiLeaks. Pope Francis urged...
14 min · Secret wars breed deadly blow-back. It’s a truth as old as covert operations themselves but one that both Democratic and Republican administrations ignore, leading to a vicious cycle of spending on killing that soaks up billions of public dollars. That’s the story Rick...
51 min · A 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic reveals how retired US colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played a key role in training and overseeing US-funded special police commandos who ran a network of torture...
22 min · Free Brad is a video of a Rally that took place on Aug. 21, 2013, in Times Square on the day that Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for exposing the short comings and war crimes of our government.
2 min · The charges are too serious to ignore. There is credible evidence that the Vice President abused the power of his office, and not only brought us into an unnecessary war but violated the civil liberties and privacy of American citizens. It is the constitutional duty of...
56 min · This controversial and arresting film takes you behind the walls of government, as CIA, Pentagon and foreign service experts speak out, many for the first time, detailing the lies, misstatements and exaggerations that served as the reasons to fight a "pre-emptive" war that...
7 min · Obama supporters condemn right-wing-sounding policies when they think they’re Romney’s, but either excuse them or go into denial  when told that the policies are actually Obama’s. Here are some of the sources that were mentioned throughout the interviews 
50 min · Is the pro-Israel lobby so strong, financially and politically, that the U.S. relationship with Israel is taboo and therefore unmentionable? And what happens to those who dare expose the unmentionable? In March 2006 the American political scientists John Mearsheimer...
3 min · Edge Fund launched 15 December 2012. Edge Fund is a grant-making body with a difference. We are a community of donors, activists and people from communities facing injustice who work together to support efforts to achieve social, economic and environmental justice and to...
Glenn Greenwald · News reports yesterday indicated that Bradley Manning, widely known to be gay, had been selected to be one of the Grand Marshals of the annual San Francisco gay pride parade, named by the LGBT Pride Celebration Committee. When the predictable backlash instantly ensued...
Christopher Carbone · Mainstream LGBT rights groups like Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD have stayed quiet about Manning Gay 25-year-old US army private Bradley Manning stood trial for supposedly aiding the enemy by passing classified information to Wikileaks, including several hundred...
John Pilger · In the week Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, he  ordered bombing attacks on Yemen, killing a reported 63 people, 28 of them children. When Obama recently announced he supported same-sex marriage, American planes had not long blown 14 Afghan civilians to...
Glenn Greenwald · There's been a very strange episode being written about the past couple of days involving numerous parties, including me, that I now want to comment on.  The story, first reported by The Tech Herald, has been been written about in numerous places (see Marcy Wheeler, Forbes,
the Bradley Manning Support Network · Supporters of accused WikiLeaks source vow to fight on for open trial and freedom Hundreds of thousands of individuals globally celebrate today the confirmation that their efforts to end the torturous pre-trial confinement conditions inflicted upon US Army PFC Bradley Manning...
Fred Branfman · "Try as I may I can not escape the sound of suffering. Perhaps as an old man I will accept suffering with insouciance. But not now; men in their prime, if they have convictions are tasked to act on them." -- Julian Assange, 2007 blog entry Do you believe that it is in...
Petite Pointer · Why Kill the Mockingbird, Mr. President? teaser from Petite Pointer We enter a new year, a year of same old same olds, resolutions and new Hollywood films, including films about Wikileaks that sensationalized the organization, leaving many people in the dark about the...
Carl Gibson · “We have to nationalize the banks. We have to get rid of the government. We need to have access to the internet seen as a human right. We need to have a new Constitution," said Birgitta Jonsdottir, founder of the Icelandic Pirate Party. Jonsdottir, a lifelong political...
Like us on Facebook?