Posts Tagged julian assange

Julian Assange’s Statement on the Verdict of Bradley Manning

Today Bradley Manning, a whistleblower, was convicted by a military court at Fort Meade of 19 offences for supplying the press with information, including five counts of ’espionage’. He now faces a maximum sentence of 136 years.

The ’aiding the enemy’ charge has fallen away. It was only included, it seems, to make calling journalism ’espionage’ seem reasonable. It is not.

Bradley Manning’s alleged disclosures have exposed war crimes, sparked revolutions, and induced democratic reform. He is the quintessential whistleblower.

This is the first ever espionage conviction against a whistleblower. It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism. It is a short sighted judgment that can not be tolerated and must be reversed. It can never be that conveying true information to the public is ’espionage’.

President Obama has initiated more espionage proceedings against whistleblowers and publishers than all previous presidents combined.

In 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama ran on a platform that praised whistleblowing as an act of courage and patriotism. That platform has been comprehensively betrayed. His campaign document described whistleblowers as watchdogs when government abuses its authority. It was removed from the internet last week.

Throughout the proceedings there has been a conspicuous absence: the absence of any victim. The prosecution did not present evidence that – or even claim that – a single person came to harm as a result of Bradley Manning’s disclosures. The government never claimed Mr. Manning was working for a foreign power.

The only ’victim’ was the US government’s wounded pride, but the abuse of this fine young man was never the way to restore it. Rather, the abuse of Bradley Manning has left the world with a sense of disgust at how low the Obama administration has fallen. It is not a sign of strength, but of weakness.

The judge has allowed the prosecution to substantially alter the charges after both the defense and the prosecution had rested their cases, permitted the prosecution 141 witnesses and extensive secret testimony. The government kept Bradley Manning in a cage, stripped him naked and isolated him in order to crack him, an act formally condemned by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for torture. This was never a fair trial.

The Obama administration has been chipping away democratic freedoms in the United States. With today’s verdict, Obama has hacked off much more. The administration is intent on deterring and silencing whistleblowers, intent on weakening freedom of the press.

The US first amendment states that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”. What part of ’no’ does Barack Obama fail to comprehend?

See Assange’s statement here

I could not have worded it better. Thank you Julian Assange and thank you Bradley Manning. My heart aches to know that such a fine young man like him will spend the rest of his life in prison as a political prisoner essentially because he exposed crimes committed by our government. And it is even more disturbing that the American people are not more riled up, or riled up at all and do not see just how truly detrimental to the very fabric of this nation such a verdict is.

Bradley Manning is a hero and patriot and it is shocking to see that I live in a country where whistle-blowing and thus exposing government crimes are being treated as espionage and treason.

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An Observation in Light of the Bradley Manning Verdict Tomorrow

Bradley Manning

Twenty Five year old Bradley Manning, who was held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for nine months after his arrest on May 29, 2010 and forced to sleep naked without pillows and sheets on his bed, and restricted from physical recreation or access to television or newspapers even during his one daily hour of freedom from his cell, all under the pretense that the private was a suicide risk, is awaiting his verdict tomorrow.

Manning was arrested in 2010 in Iraq and accused of providing WikiLeaks with 700,000 intelligence documents and videos, many of them classified and he was subsequently court-martialed.  He  faces life in prison if he is convicted of aiding the enemy, along with 21 other charges related to what has been deemed the largest leak of classified information in American history.

A few things:

Do people really believe it would be “just” or that “justice” would be served if this kid, who isn’t a violent offender, were put into jail for however many years where he will be violated and abused and psychologically damaged simply because, for whatever reason – naivety, idealism, youthful hopefulness, stupidity, patriotism, humanity  – he revealed our government’s dirty little deeds and lies and war mongering and a host of other undemocratic and dishonest practices that take place clandestinely in our names and which have serious consequences for us as well as others? Do people really believe that locking him up, as if he was the enemy,  would be the solution?

As if it wan’t bad and unconscionable enough that he had to endure the inhumane treatment in prison and as if it weren’t bad enough that he has already been robbed off three years of his life and youth, now we believe sending him to jail with a bunch of violent offenders and locking him up would be just?

Bradley Manning, in that case, would then be effectively nothing but a political prisoner.

Look, we all know what the verdict will be, and it won’t be just. And all those people who cite government and allegiance to government need to remember that a government is a body of people, usually notably ungoverned. See: the United States government and its spying and our Congress members half of whom are millionaires and in bed with big industry that line their pockets and who are not accountable to anyone. Congress holds the purse, they can give themselves raises, they borrow money from social security and postal service retirement and never pay it back and then count it as part of the budget – as if they weren’t paid into systems – they set the laws, they chose when not to regard and obey certain laws as they see fit –  such as in the case of torture and the NSA spying and other civil rights violations – they approve secret courts that issue secret warrants and they are, in essence not accountable to anyone and thus notably ungoverned. And unless one these Congress members is caught doing it with someone who isn’t his wife, they are virtually untouchable too and stay in office forever so that they can continue to enrich themselves at our expense.

So let me ask again, who is the criminal here?

Transparency doesn’t always mean we need to know every little detail but we do need to know the motives of our leaders and the documents released by Manning and then WikiLeaks show us that the true face of government is very different from what we are shown. A third of your pay, if you are not part of the 1%, goes to that government, which uses it for reasons you don’t understand nor are likely to benefit from.

Finally, if we allow those that would give up their freedom to try to inform and bring understanding to the people of this nation regarding crimes being committed by the Government and the Military Industrial Complex to be found guilty of a crime then we, the citizens of this nation, deserve neither safety nor freedom.

Bradley Manning has attempted to enlighten the citizens of this nation…better put, he has enlightened the citizens of this nation and the citizens of the world as to how horribly wrong war and some acts committed during war can be and are. I mean the atrocities committed were not being committed against paper dolls, those are real human beings whose lives are just as important as the lives of the people in this nation.

Manning should be found not guilty and should be given an honorable discharge from the military instead of sentenced to jail for one year or 20 or 15 or 100.

Wouldn’t we be sending a better message to the world- both as a nation and as a peoples  – if we lived in a world where the judge gave Manning immunity because “the American people are not the enemy“? Instead, we live in a world in which someone like George Zimmerman murders an unarmed black teenager and gets away with it while Bradley Manning who exposes crimes committed by our government gets locked up. This is your America.

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