Outrageous Verdict: Bradley Manning Faces Possible Life in Prison

August 2, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Bradley Manning is a hero. But this criminal system is now set to put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

While an intelligence analyst in the military, Manning leaked documents to WikiLeaks, exposing U.S. war crimes including the Collateral Murder video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack where:

U.S. soldiers gun down 12 Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists. A man with two children pulls up in a van and tries to save the wounded. He is shot and killed. The two children are severely wounded. A U.S. tank drives over one of the bodies, cutting the man in half. The U.S. soldiers in the helicopter are 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 essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.

Bob Avakian,
Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
BAsics 1:3

The U.S. goes around the world carrying out all kinds of horrendous war crimes that are kept secret, that the world never knows about.

But because of Bradley Manning, the world knows about this and other U.S. war crimes revealed in documents he leaked, including torture, the killings of civilians, and the abuse and bullying of other governments by the U.S.

And now the U.S. imperialist system, like an international godfather overseeing and protecting its hitmen, is doing everything it can to make sure Bradley Manning will never, ever be free.

On Tuesday, July 30, Manning was found guilty on 19 of the 21 charges he faced. A military court found him not guilty on the charge of "aiding the enemy," which carried a possible death sentence. But Manning still faces a possible sentence of up to 136 years in prison.

The sentencing phase of Bradley Manning's trial, which is expected to go for a couple of weeks, began immediately after the verdict was announced. Among other things, Manning was convicted of five violations of the Espionage Act of 1917, a law enacted to be used against spies. He was also convicted of theft charges, for publicly revealing materials such as the Collateral Murder video.

Other Recent Articles on Bradley Manning:

Manning Must Go Free!
U.S. Mass Murderers Convict Bradley Manning for Exposing Their War Crimes

by Carl Dix

Bradley Manning and U.S. War Crimes
The Injustices of a Criminal System

The Questions That Must Be Asked About Bradley Manning Case

This system that considers it "justice" to punish Bradley Manning for exposing U.S. war crimes is the same system that considers it "justice" to let a racist vigilante like George Zimmerman walk free after murdering Trayvon Martin.

This is the same system whose "justice system" has some 2.3 million people incarcerated, the majority Black and Latino, with 80,000 being tortured in solitary confinement.

This outrageous persecution of Bradley Manning is just one more exposure of the criminal and illegitimate nature of this system. It is an absolute outrage. And one more example of why it is that we need revolution and nothing less!

Vicious Prosecution of a Truth Teller

Michael Ratner, attorney for Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, attended closing arguments in the trial. Ratner said the government's prosecution and conviction of Manning is "one of greatest injustices of our decade." He told PBS, "You have the people engaged in some of the criminality he revealed not being investigated at all. Bradley Manning is a whistle-blower. He should not be prosecuted. The people who committed the crimes ought to be prosecuted."

Screenshots from the Collateral Murder video, one of the documents Bradley Manning is accused of leaking. The video shows American soldiers in an Apache helicopter in Baghdad, 2007, firing on and killing 12 Iraqi civilians.

The Center for Constitutional Rights said on Tuesday, "Manning's treatment, prosecution, and sentencing have one purpose: to silence potential whistleblowers and the media as well. One of the main targets has been our clients, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, for publishing the leaks. Given the U.S. government's treatment of Manning, Assange should be granted asylum in his home country of Australia and given the protections all journalists and publishers deserve." Daniel Ellsberg, the most famous whistleblower alive, called the conviction of Manning on "absurd and onerous charges" a danger to press freedom.

World Can't Wait responded to Manning's conviction by saying, "The government's prosecution aimed to make an example of Manning, imprisoning him under harsh conditions, and charging him with 'aiding the enemy,' a capital offense, to intimidate others from standing up and speaking out against U.S. war crimes …We are outraged that Manning was found guilty for reporting widespread, horrific crimes.  His action was honorable and correct, as opposed to the action of the U.S. government in committing, justifying and covering up crimes against a whole people..."

Obama has refused to even investigate, let alone prosecute, top officials of the Bush regime who blatantly carried out torture and other crimes under U.S. and international law. Meanwhile, Manning is one of seven people prosecuted by the Obama administration for leaking information to news media. And Obama has carried out more prosecutions of whistleblowers—those who leak or publicly come forward to expose various kinds of official crimes, corruption, and wrongdoing—than have occurred in all previous administrations combined.

"We Are All Bradley Manning"

Manning: "They dehumanized the individuals"

Bradley Manning accepted responsibility for many of the leaks and told the court, "I felt I had accomplished something that allowed me to have a clear conscience based upon what I had seen and read about and knew were happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan everyday."

Manning explained in court why he released classified files to Wikileaks: "I believed that if the general public … had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs, two of the main files Manning sent to Wikileaks] it could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan."

In open court in February 2013, Manning conveyed his dismay at learning that his work as an intelligence analyst was aiding the U.S. and Iraqi governments in detaining authors who wrote scholarly critiques of the Iraqi president. As journalist Kevin Gosztola wrote, "Manning knew that if he continued to assist the police in identifying political opponents, innocent people would be jailed, likely tortured, and 'not seen again for a very long time, if ever.'"

Manning was even more shocked at the callousness of fellow soldiers who laughed about the deaths of Iraqis. Speaking of the Collateral Murder video, Manning said, "They [his fellow soldiers] dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life, and referred to them as quote 'dead bastards' unquote and congratulated each other on their ability to kill in large numbers."

He continued, "While saddened by … lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see a bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew assumes the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck, and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.

"Shortly after the second engagement, a mechanized infantry unit arrives at the scene. Within minutes, the aerial weapons team crew learns that children were in the van and despite the injuries the crew exhibits no remorse. Instead, they downplay the significance of their actions, saying quote 'Well, it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle' unquote."

Manning also spoke about how this very incident was reported on—and distorted beyond any relation to what actually happened—by David Finkel, a reporter for the Washington Post. Manning said he was "aghast" at Finkel's report. Manning told the court, "Reading his account, one would believe the engagement was somehow justified as 'payback' for an earlier attack that led to the death of a soldier."

On July 25, a full-page ad titled "We Are All Bradley Manning" appeared in the New York Times. It had hundreds of signatures. The ad pointed out some—by no means close to all—of the truths that had been brought into the light of day by the documents Bradley Manning released: "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; how most Guantánamo detainees were innocent."

And there have been many other efforts by Bradley Manning supporters, including marches in Bradley Manning contingents in gay rights parades, the hundreds who attended the trial, and 40 solidarity actions on July 27 around the world.

With arguments now underway over the sentencing of Bradley Manning, David Coombs, Manning's attorney, said he is not celebrating the verdict of not guilty on aiding the enemy, and that he will be arguing for the lightest sentence possible on the other convictions. The government is expected to go for the longest possible sentence. Manning was held unlawfully in the torture of solitary confinement for over ten months at the Quantico Marine base before worldwide protest got him into better conditions and the court will take 112 days off his sentence for "unlawful punishment." But he still faces the possibility of 136 years in prison—which is in effect, a life sentence.

World Can't Wait wrote supporters Tuesday:

"The only suitable response from people who care about humanity to the unjust conviction of Bradley Manning is to demand that Bradley Manning be released immediately for his time served, 3+ years, including 10 months in solitary confinement.

"He was right to blow the whistle on war crimes. We should follow his lead. During the time his sentence is being considered, we must make a concerted effort to make sure that hundreds of thousands see Collateral Murder, U.S. military footage of an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 which killed 12 Iraqi civilians. Government prosecutors claim this is 'propaganda'; Bradley thinks it must be used to show the truth.

"Distribute this video widely. Write Bradley Manning to let him know of your experiences taking this to out widely to people. Show him and the whole world, that people living in this country are blowing the whistle on war crimes and that We Are All Bradley Manning!"

World Can't Wait offers a DVD of the Collateral Murder and instructions for projecting it outdoors at its website worldcantwait.net

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