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  Print view: Bradley Manning: An American Hero

Bradley Manning: An American Hero

How is waging an illegal war where civilians are intentionally killed 'patriotic', but exposing it is 'illegal'?

by Stephen Lendman
Saturday, 7 August 2010
Manning exposed cold-blooded civilian murders, the public being unaware that Pentagon rules-of-engagement (ROEs) targets them like combatants in every warfare theater. The public has a right to know their country is waging wars of aggression.

Manning, of course, is the courageous Army intelligence analyst turned whistleblower, who admitted leaking:

  • "260,000 classified United States diplomatic cables and video of a (US) airstrike in Afghanistan that killed 97 civilians last year," and
  • an "explosive (39 minute) video of an American helicopter attack in Baghdad that left 12 people dead, including two employees of the Reuters news agency" - "collateral murder" he felt obligated to expose.

It got him in trouble. On June 7, the military in Iraq arrested him, saying:

"The Department of Defense takes the management of classified information very seriously because it affects our national security, the lives of our soldiers, and our operations abroad."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the leak "potentially dramatic and grievously harmful....The battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and Afghan partners, and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that part of the world. Intelligence sources and methods, as well as military tactics, techniques and procedures, will become known to our adversaries."

Unmentioned was the following:

  • our attack, invasion and occupation are illegal under US and international law;
  • war crimes, including murder, torture, and targeted assassinations happen daily;
  • civilian men, women, and children are willfully targeted;
  • since October 2001, millions of Afghans have been killed, injured or displaced, their country perhaps the most hellish anyway, devastated by decades of war, deep poverty, depravation, and unimaginable human suffering, mostly caused by America;
  • the same holds for Iraq, Pakistan, and nations where Washington wages proxy wars; and
  • our presence and imperial aims cause harm, not Manning or WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, exposing truths the public has a right and need to know.

They deserve praise [in the above context], not prosecutions, compliments, not condemnation, and accolades, not accusations. They are heroes, risking personal harm to disclose disturbing truths, what government and media reports suppress, sanitize and distort, letting warlords plunder lawlessly so war profiteers can cash in, Americans the worse off for it.

In his August 4 Anti-Empire Report (, author William Blum asked:

"So please tell me again: What's the war about?" Lies, of course, about 9/11 and leaders repeating them, Obama for one last August 17 saying:

"But we must never forget this is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans."

On July 28, 2010, Obama lied again, saying:

"the region from which the 9/11 attacks were waged and other attacks against the United States and our friends and allies have been planned."

Rubbish according to Blum, saying:

"Never mind that out of the tens of thousands of people the United States and its NATO front have killed in Afghanistan not one has been identified as having had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001."

"The only 'war of necessity' that draws the United States to Afghanistan is the need for protected oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea area, (and) establishment of military bases (there), making it easier to watch and pressure next-door Iran (besides being a land-based aircraft carrier to target Russia and China). What more could any respectable imperialist nation desire? Oh, did I mention that the military-industrial-security-intelligence complex and its shareholders" will profit handsomely.

In 1996, America helped the Taliban gain power, funneling military aid through Pakistan's ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence). Oil was the hidden agenda, Taliban representatives visiting Unocal in Houston in December 1997 to negotiate a trans-Afghan pipeline from the oil rich Caspian area. It was nearly agreed, the kicker being America's refusal to extend recognition, a small courtesy to avoid war, occupation, and a deepening unwinnable quagmire.

On December 14, 1997, London's Daily Telegraph reported:

"the US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban's policies against women and children 'despicable,' appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract."

On December 4, 1997, a BBC correspondent said "the proposal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea."

By recognizing the Taliban government, it would have been built and today's quagmire avoided. Perhaps America's graveyard also, no invader ever occupying Afghanistan successfully, not the Soviets or British, the UK government suffering its greatest ever slaughter and defeat in 1842, losing 16,000 soldiers and civilians, except one man, historians believing Afghans let him live to recount the horror. As a result, Britain withdrew all its personnel and left, a lesson now forgotten, about 9,500 UK troops deployed with Americans and other NATO forces.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai was a former Unocal adviser when pipeline negotiations took place. He was also a CIA asset. Unocal claimed it abandoned the pipeline project. Secret talks, however, continued up to a few months before 9/11, Taliban representatives visiting the State Department, CIA, and National Security Council. They even had a Queens, New York diplomatic office, and US officials visited Taliban ones in Islamabad.

The French newspaper Le Figaro also quoted Arab specialist Antoine Sfeir, saying CIA operatives met with bin Laden (a CIA asset in the 1980s) and maintained contact with him until his training camp was attacked in 1998.

America's fine line between enemies and friends is their willingness or reluctance to obey - do what we say or we'll boycott or bomb you, a threat with teeth, revealed by Manning and WikiLeaks.

Revealing Disturbing Truths Is Risky

Held initially in Kuwait, a July 29 Baghdad Pentagon press release said:

"US Army officials transferred PFC Bradley Manning from the Theater Field Confinement Facility in Kuwait to the Marine Corps Base Quantico Brig in Quantico, Virginia, on July 29. (He) remains in pretrial confinement pending an Article 32 investigation (like a grand jury or preliminary hearing) into the charges preferred against him on July 5."

"The criminal investigation remains open....findings and recommendations (will determine) whether to recommend (if) the case (will) be referred to trial by court-martial." For sure, that's what's planned, the Pentagon and Obama administration to throw the book at him or worse unless somehow their plans are derailed.

On August 2, Congressman Mike Rogers (R. MI) told Michigan radio station WHMI that Manning should be executed, saying:

"He release(d) this information to a third party who they say will make the determination that there's nothing harmful in it, while we know for a fact that there will be people that will likely be killed because of this information being disclosed. That's pretty serious. If they don't charge him with treason, they ought to charge him with murder."

Asked if he should be punished by death, Rogers said: "Yes, and I would support it 100 percent."

Federal Charges Against Manning

In early July, the Pentagon charged him with four noncriminal offenses, and eight violations of federal criminal law, including one count of violating the 1917 Espionage Act.

Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) charges included:

  • eight violations of federal criminal law, including unauthorized computer access and transmitting classified information to an unauthorized third party; and
  • four noncriminal Army regulations violations, governing the handling of classified information and computers.

If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 52 years in prison.

Its purpose is to:

  • "Harness the outrage felt by millions (viewing) the 'Collateral Murder' video into a coordinated defense of Manning;
  • Raise awareness" about his arrest, charges and likely court-martial;
  • "Coordinate" efforts to support him;
  • "Collect funds (for a) high-quality" defense;
  • "Provide supporters with accurate, updated information as the" pretrial hearing and likely trial progress; and
  • "Provide prisoner support for (him) throughout his imprisonment."

Connected with Assange, he's more vulnerable, a 2008 classified Counterintelligence Center report placing WikiLeaks on "the list of enemies threatening the security of the United States," discussing ways to destroy its reputation and effectiveness, saying:

"Web sites such as have trust as their most important center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insider, leaker, or whistleblower. Successful identification, prosecution, termination of employment, and exposure of persons leaking the information by the governments and businesses affected by information posted to would damage and potentially destroy this center of gravity and deter others from taking similar actions."

With Manning in custody and facing trial, score one for the Pentagon, expected to exploit his case to the fullest to set an example and deter others. He'll likely be convicted and imprisoned, not executed as Congressman Rogers wants.

Law Professor Francis Boyle "believe(s) a treason charge wo(n't) stick (because) Congress has not declared war." The best outcome for military resisters he helped defend was to "get them off of prison time, out of the military, or else minimum time served." He and others also got Amnesty International to designate Capt. Dr. Huett Vaughn, Staff Sgt. Mejia, and Lt. Ehren Watada Prisoners of Conscience (POC).

Watada was the first commissioned officer refusing to deploy to Iraq, saying: "as an officer of honor and integrity, (he could not participate in a war that was) manifestly illegal....morally wrong (and) a horrible breach of American law."

As a result, he faced court-martial, a possible dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and seven years in prison, but got off thanks to Boyle and others. Before his Article 32 hearing, he publicly called the war illegal. Not wanting that revealed in testimony, the presiding judge declared a mistrial. He'd lost control, knew Watada was right, and had to suppress the truth to avoid an acquittal possibility on constitutional grounds.

Afghanistan is also illegal, Boyle explaining that Congress never declared war. The UN Security never authorized it under Article 51, and the Taliban never "attacked the United States or authorized or approved such an attack." In public testimony, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and CIA's then Deputy Director John McLaughlin admitted finding no link between the Taliban and 9/11.

Nonetheless, the Bush administration preemptively attacked in violation of US and international law. Obama is a war criminal pursuing and escalating it, expanding it cross border into Pakistan, and continuing the Iraq conflict and occupation.

American forces may refuse to serve, citing US and international law, including Army Field Manual (FM) 27 - 10, incorporating the Nuremberg Principles, Judgment and Charter and The Law of Land Warfare (1956).

FM's paragraph 498 states that any person, military or civilian, who commits a crime under international law is responsible for it and may be punished. Paragraph 499 defines a war crime. Paragraph 500 refers to a conspiracy, attempts to commit it and complicity with respect to international crimes. Paragraph 509 denies the defense of superior orders in the commission of a crime, and paragraph 510 denies the defense of an "act of state" to absolve them.

These provisions apply to all US military and civilian personnel, including top commanders, the Secretary of Defense, his subordinates, and the President and Vice President. Boyle calls resisting lawlessness "our Nuremberg moment." Those refusing them and exposing crimes should be praised, not prosecuted.

Manning provided evidence and may denounce the war's illegality, perhaps using it as a defense. He found crimes, needing to be exposed, acting honorably and heroically doing it as did WikiLeaks by publishing them anonymously.

In edited chat logs posted by, Manning admitted "want(ing) people to see the truth....regardless of who they are....because without information, you cannot make informed decisions...." He never considered selling it to foreign powers or anyone, saying: "information should be belongs in the public domain....if it's out in the should be a public good," exposing crimes and corruption to generate "worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms."

That's honor, not espionage or treason, Manning saying:

"Everywhere there's a US post, there's a diplomatic scandal (to) be revealed. World-wide anarchy in CVS format. It's Climategate with a global scope, and breathtaking depth. It's beautiful and horrifying. (The documents describe) almost criminal political back dealings. (They belong) in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark corner in Washington, DC (or the Pentagon. Our government is involved in) incredible things, awful things."

He exposed cold-blooded civilian murders, the public unaware that Pentagon rules-of-engagement (ROEs) target them like combatants in every warfare theater. Waging permanent wars of aggression, America acts lawlessly and recklessly. The public has a right to know. Manning and Assange are heroes, deserving plaudits for their courage.

A Final Note

On Sunday, August 8, a public rally will be held outside the Quantico, VA Marine base, supporting Manning. War criminals remain free uncharged. Manning, an American hero, faces 52 years in prison for exposing their crimes.

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at His blog is

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.

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This story was published on August 7, 2010.

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