Bradley Manning: A criminal in the eyes of our government, a hero to me

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Bradley Manning: A criminal in the eyes of our government, a hero to me

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Bradley Manning exposed war crimes committed by the U.S. on WikiLeaks. Credit: Claire Stockdill/The Foothill Dragon Press

Bradley Manning exposed war crimes committed by the U.S. on WikiLeaks. Credit: Claire Stockdill/The Foothill Dragon Press

Solitary confinement for months, sleep deprivation, forced nudity, and torture are all ways that our government and military punishes people for simply exposing the truth. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, received all of those punishments and more after being accused of leaking military secrets to the public and the “Collateral Murder” video, which shows the killing of 12 unarmed citizens and the wounding of two children by a U.S. helicopter crew in Iraq.

Manning was suspected of releasing these government secrets to WikiLeaks, a website created by the famous whistleblower Julian Assange.

During Manning’s trial on February 28, he stated about the Collateral Murder video that “the most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemingly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.”

Manning is undeniably correct. The men in the helicopter refer to the men they just killed by saying, “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards.”

The enthralled joy that these men got from killing innocent Iraqi citizens is beyond Manning’s understanding, which is why he leaked it to the public, not because he had some mischievous plan take down America or “aid the enemy” (a charge made against him), but because he wanted to promote “discussion, debates, and reforms.”

He went with being a moral human being before being a soldier.

One of the most ironic aspects of Manning’s case is that the soldiers who committed war crimes and violated the laws set in the Geneva Conventions had no charges against them. Yet Manning who “blew the whistle” on these war crimes had his rights violated, was tortured, and was imprisoned over 1,000 days before his recent trial.

Politicians and media are portraying him as some sort of traitor to America. Exposing crimes and informing the public (since mainstream media is the biased opinions of arrogant Republicans and Democrats) is why I would consider Bradley Manning to be a hero. He is not a traitor but is in fact the opposite, a patriot. Patriotism in no way means conformity, but standing up for the good of people before the state, even if that means breaking some unjust laws along the way.

President Obama stated about Manning, “What he did was illegal.”

Regardless of the legality, no person should have suffered the conditions that Manning underwent for the first nine months that he was held in solitary confinement. And Obama really isn’t in much of a position to subject others when he himself has committed numerous war crimes abroad, and is more concerned about corporatism, profit, and imperialism than the good of the people.

In our “democracy,” is it okay to do illegal things if you are in a higher position of power? Morally, honestly, and democratically, of course not. However, under the imperialist empire that is becoming America, yes, it is okay. Bradley Manning, a man who exposed war crimes our military is committing, is awaiting his next trial in June, with the possibility of life in prison.

Like Walter E. Williams says, “Legality, alone, cannot be the talisman of moral people.”

The crimes Hitler, Mao, and Stalin committed were actually “legal,” but in no way were they moral. In the same way, we can’t use laws to justify the torturing of an individual or the imprisonment of a hero. Laws don’t bring out morality in people. We need to stop saying that Bradley Manning “broke the law” because that holds no relevance.

What is relevant is the fact that he was tortured in solitary confinement for nine months, which violated his Eighth and Fifth Amendment rights. And what is relevant is that he risked his life by exposing the truth. He released information for the good of American democracy, which is deeply respectable that he, in fact, is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Anyone can show their support for Bradley Manning by going to bradleymanning.org and signing the “Stand with Brad” petition, donating to the defense fund, submitting the “I am Bradley Manning” photo, volunteering, attending or hosting an event in support, and most importantly, spreading awareness of the heroic actions of Bradley Manning.

Blowing the whistle on war crimes helps to create a society in which people are safe and knowledgeable. Manning wasn’t “aiding the enemy” or being disloyal to our country. He simply holds the desire for people to know the honest truth, even though the truth is ugly.

What do you think?