A hopeful update on Bradley Manning: articles, opinions and rallies

I have not written anything recently about Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier suspected of providing WikiLeaks with classified information.  I had high hopes that President Obama would do the right thing when he heard about Manning’s treatment, and I was sorely disappointed that nothing came out of this. But something happened yesterday on my bus, which, taken with other recent events, makes me a little hopeful that sanity will prevail.

I was on the bus yesterday telling a friend about Bradley Manning, my anguish at his mistreatment, and my attempts to raise some awareness through this blog. Just before I got off, a gentleman who’d been sitting close by came to me and said, “You are right about Manning. I am glad you are speaking up.”  That gave me strength and made my day – and made me resolve to summarize some recent events related to Manning.

For one thing, more people are speaking up. Case in point: PJ Crowley, State Department spokesman, who, in a talk at MIT on March 10th, called the Defense Department’s treatment of Manning “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” On March 13th Crowley resigned from office.  In his resignation letter, Crowley stood by his remarks, saying “The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values.” More power to you Mr. Crowley!

There’ve also been several news articles about Manning in the mainstream press. Here are some excerpts from the March 15th New York Times piece The Abuse of Private Manning: “Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has been imprisoned for nine months on charges of handing government files to WikiLeaks, has not even been tried let alone convicted. Yet the military has been treating him abusively, in a way that conjures creepy memories of how the Bush administration used to treat terror suspects. … Many military and government officials remain furious at the huge dump of classified materials to WikiLeaks. But if this treatment is someone’s way of expressing that emotion, it would be useful to revisit the presumption of innocence and the Constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment. …. Far more troubling is why President Obama, who has forcefully denounced prisoner abuse, is condoning this treatment. Last week, at a news conference, he said the Pentagon had assured him that the terms of the private’s confinement “are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards.” He said he could not go into details, but details are precisely what is needed to explain and correct an abuse that should never have begun.” (emphasis mine).

The LA Times ran an editorial, where they say “It’s hard to resist the conclusion that punishment, not protection, is the purpose of these degrading measures. Punishment may be in Manning’s future; he was charged last week with an additional 22 offenses,
including aiding the enemy. But Manning’s treatment should reflect the fact that he remains innocent until proven guilty.” (again, emphasis mine)

Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com) has a good summary of several news/opinion
pieces on Bradley Manning in The clarifying Manning/Crowley controversy. He says “it is the way in which this Manning/Crowley behavior bolsters the regime of secrecy and the
President’s obsessive attempts to destroy whistleblowing that makes this
episode so important and so telling.”

Bruce Ackerman (Yale Law School) and Yochai Benkler (Harvard Law School) have petitioned the academic legal community “to join us in signing the following
statement, asking the Administration either publicly to justify, or end, the
humiliation and mistreatment of Private Bradley Manning”; 285 academics had
signed as of Tuesday 22nd evening.

Last weekend, there were protest rallies at several places around the world. These included a protest rally outside the White House on Saturday, and a protest outside Quantico (where Manning is being held); Daniel  Ellsberg was arrested at both these rallies. More details at http://www.evri.com/person/arrest-of-bradley-manning-0x50955c

I hope all these rallies and increased public awareness will stop Bradley Manning from being mistreated as he awaits trial.

#bradleymanning #wikileaks #


About Chandra

Interested in people, language, ideas, technology and their interactions.
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