Do you know Bradley Manning? And no, he is not related to Preston. Some would argue he is a new American military hero. Some would argue he is a traitor. We have no idea how the history books will paint him. We don’t even know the details of the case because there is a pending legal investigation around it, but here’s what I’ve gathered from the various quasi-news sources.
As a young man Bradley Manning enlisted in the military and was soon dispatched to Iraq. Even though he was away life was good for Bradley. Back home his high school sweetheart was waiting for him to come back. In the field, because of he was a smart man and because he had demonstrated himself as a loyal soldier, he quickly moved up within the ranks of intelligence officers. Pretty soon he was intercepting communication between Iraqi combatants and properly relaying high level top secret American documents. It wasn’t long though before his life became a lot more complicated. His work was becoming quite stressful and his girlfriend unexpectedly broke up with him. Whether it was his increasingly difficult job or his suddenly turbulent love life, something snapped in Bradley.
You see, Bradley’s job required him not only to discover the enemy’s secrets, but also to keep his own country’s secrets. It seems as though Bradley had problems with both parts of his job. His job was to look for secrets that would demonstrate how evil their enemy was. It seems to me that Bradley didn’t discover as many of those secrets as he needed. But the secrets he was being asked to cover up, that was a whole different story. We don’t know what Iraqi secrets he discovered, but we do know some of the American secrets he was asked to cover, only because he stopped covering them up.
Wikileaks is a website that invites people to make anonymous submissions of classified information. A while ago, a lot of classified American military information started appearing on this website. Then, what really got people’s attention was when a secret American military video appeared on youtube. The video showed American soldiers in a helicopter shooting at Afghan children without adequate evidence and then laughing about it. The response to his actions have been swift, he was quickly arrested and is due to be court martialed for high treason.
It needs to be said however that he has only been charged with doing these things, and it will be up to US military lawyers to prove in court that he is guilty. My sense however is that it will quickly become clear what he did and didn’t do but much more attention will be paid to whether or not those things are illegal. Certainly releasing classified military secrets is illegal by definition, but sometimes people get away with doing illegal things if it uncovers the more illegal things that other people do.
Reading about this story and the comments people post on those articles makes clear that this is a hugely polarizing issue. People are love him or hate him. So far though it’s really only seemed to be an ethical and legal discussion, but I’m sure it won’t be long before some influential religious people weigh in with their opinions.
If you want to find more information, you can follow any of these links:
- Wikipedia page
- Facebook support page
- Veterans for Peace discuss Bradley Manning (video including leaked footage)
It’s unclear how public this trial will be, but I think this is only going to get more interesting.
I’ve tracked and supported Bradley’s case since day one. If he is guilty, he has done more in stopping these wars, than I have over the last 40 years and will pay a price far higher than I and most I know. I’m also an US Army veteran and a life member of Veterans for Peace. Bradley was enlisted, not an officer. He was promoted normally as any soldier in a technical field, who did their job and stayed out of trouble. After an altercation with a fellow soldier he was busted down from a Specialist E-4 to Private First Class E-3.
I’m writing a critical analysis of the official report on Collateral Murder. It will be on my face book page and most face book pages that support Bradley.
Thanks Tom for the clarification of some of the details from this story. I salute you and your VfP allies who are working to stop these wars.
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