Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Than Just A Hero

Trey Smith

Last week Bradley Manning pleaded guilty to some of the charges levied against him. He showed himself not only to be a hero but a compassionate and empathetic human being. He sets a brave example that more of us should follow -- he cares for people he has never met!
Manning made it clear last Thursday that he leaked the documents to Wikileaks because he saw serious problems in US foreign policy. Problems which are as serious as they can be: war crimes, criminal behavior at the highest levels up to Secretary of State Clinton, unethical behavior and bullying of other nations.

Manning’s sole purpose was to “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.”* He hoped the debate “might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment every day.”

Regarding the collateral murder video which showed civilians, including two Reuters journalists being massacred, he said “I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the aerial weapons team crew members. I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare.”

When discussing the State Department cables Manning saw that the US was not behaving the way the “de facto leader of the free world” should act as the cables “documented backdoor deals and seemingly criminal activity.” Again, he hoped for a change in policy as the “cables were a prime example of a need for a more open diplomacy” that would avoid conflict and save lives.

In some of these statements you get a hint of Manning’s empathy for fellow human beings. The incident that really showed it was his comments on David Frankel’s book “The Good Soldier,” where Frankel describes a seriously injured Iraqi civilian on the ground at the end of the Collateral Murder video. He lifts two fingers toward the soldier, a well-known sign of friendship, as he asks for help. The US soldier responds lifting his middle finger as the Iraqi died. Manning puts himself in the place of the Iraqi thinking his final act was an act of friendship only to be returned by a crude obscenity of unfriendliness. Manning acknowledges that this “burdens me emotionally.”
~ from We Must Not Fail Bradley Manning by Keven Zeese ~
It should go without saying that I find it absolutely reprehensible that Manning was charged with crimes against the state, while the people he exposed have not even been investigated, let alone charged. I find it even more reprehensible that Barack Obama campaigned on the notion that whistleblowers would be protected only to become the greatest prosecutor of whistleblowers.

How is it moral for Bradley Manning to spend one day in prison when those who committed heinous criminal acts enjoy the luscious fruits of freedom and unmitigated power? More importantly, what has become of the conscience of average Americans? Too few people acknowledge the injustice that has been laid at Manning's feet.

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