Revolution #221, January 9, 2011
The Persecution of Private Bradley Manning
Bradley Manning is a 23-year-old private first class in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to a battalion stationed near Baghdad, Iraq as an intelligence specialist when he was arrested in May 2010, accused of providing classified information to Wikileaks. If he is found guilty, he could receive a 52-year prison term. Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, new head of the House Intelligence Committee, has called for Manning to be executed if convicted. One of the things Manning is alleged to have leaked is the video known as Collateral Murder, which shows a U.S. Apache helicopter firing on civilians on a Baghdad street in 2007 and killing 11 people.
Since his arrest Manning has been imprisoned in solitary confinement, now going on seven months, without being convicted of any crime. He is currently held at the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia. The persecution of Bradley Manning is part of a whole barrage of repression and threats that the U.S. has unleashed in an attempt to silence Wikileaks. (See “U.S. Lashes Out at Wikileaks” online at revcom.us.)
Manning is held in a six-by-twelve cell with a bed, drinking fountain, and toilet. According to Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, he is woken up at 5 a.m. each day (7 a.m. on weekends) and is not allowed to sleep at any time between then and 8 p.m. If he tries to sleep during those hours, the guards make him sit up or stand. Manning’s jailers have put him on a “prevention of injury” watch, which means even more extreme and cruel conditions. Coombs reports that Manning is confined to his cell for about 23 hours a day; forbidden to have any personal items in his cell; only allowed to have one book or magazine to read at a time (which is taken from him at night); prevented from exercising in his cell, and forced to stop if he attempts to; given one hour of “exercise” daily, which consists only of walking in an empty room; required to strip down to his shorts and hand over his clothing to guards when he goes to sleep. (“A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning,” www.armycourtmartialdefense.info/).
This is the kind of inhumane, people-destroying treatment that the U.S. carries out in military and CIA prisons around the world and in Supermax prisons within the U.S. What is being done to Bradley Manning is, without question, torture.
The Criminals Lash Out
Why is the U.S. lashing out so viciously against Bradley Manning? It is because the information that he is alleged to have provided to Wikileaks, and the material provided overall by Wikileaks, contains clear, direct, and indisputable evidence of all kinds of crimes that the U.S. has—and continues to—carry out around the world.
Take, for example, the “Collateral Murder” video (available online at www.collateralmurder.com) which was released by Wikileaks in April last year. The video, taken from a U.S. Army attack helicopter, shows American troops cold-bloodedly gunning down 11 Iraqis, including two people who worked for the Reuters news agency and a man who had come onto the scene in a van to try to help the other victims. Two small children in the van were seriously injured by the gunfire.
The video includes an audio track of voices of the soldiers in the helicopter during the attack. The soldiers can be heard repeatedly requesting and being granted permission to open fire, and joking with each other about the dead and injured victims on the ground.
The U.S. accuses Wikileaks of endangering lives by publicizing classified material, some of which Manning is alleged to have provided. But the actual reality is that the leaked material such as the “Collateral Murder” video threaten the ability of the U.S. operatives—those responsible for immense crimes—to massacre, torture, and brutalize people in service of U.S. imperialist dominance around the world.
The vicious and vindictive repression against Bradley Manning is meant as a threatening message against people broadly, including within the military, against standing up to and resisting the crimes of the U.S. empire.
There are also reports that U.S. officials are trying to put pressure on Manning in order to get him to cooperate in the government’s efforts to go after Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. In a December 22 interview with the “Frost Over the World” news program on the English Al Jazeera network, Assange said, “There is pressure that’s been applied to one of our alleged sources, Bradley Manning in his prison cell. He is a young intelligence analyst being held in Quantico, Virginia, for some six months now, prior to trial, and there is pressure on him through his physical cell conditions, according to his lawyer David Coombs, to coerce him into testifying against me, or against the organization, to try and suggest that there is some kind of a conspiracy to commit espionage. Which there is not.”
Bill Quigley, Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, told Revolution that Manning “is being held in punitive solitary confinement—which is defined as torture in international human rights law. Reports say he is being threatened with the death penalty unless he implicates Wikileaks. This is another example showing how little the U.S. believes in international human rights when it comes to their own actions.”
For news and information about these developments, go to the Bradley Manning Support Network website at bradleymanning.org.
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