Tomgram: Chase Madar,
The Trials of Bradley Manning, A Defense
By Chase Madar
February 10, 2011.
Obama administration came into office proclaiming
"sunshine" policies. When some of the U.S. government's dirty
laundry was laid out in the bright light of day by WikiLeaks, however,
its officials responded in a knee-jerk, punitive manner in the case of
Bradley Manning, now in
extreme isolation in a Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia. The urge
of the Obama administration and the U.S. military to
break his will, to
crush him, is unsettling, to say the least. Whatever happens to
Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, Washington is clearly
intent on destroying this young Army private and then putting him
away until hell freezes over.
It should not be this way.
Today, thanks to lawyer and essayist Chase Madar, TomDispatch is making
a long-planned gesture towards Manning, whose acts, aimed at revealing
the worst this country had to offer in recent years, will someday make
him a genuine American hero -- but that’s undoubtedly little consolation
to him now. When it comes to America’s recent wars, its torture
black sites, and
extraordinary renditions, as well as the
death and destruction
visited on distant lands, blood
is on many official American hands, but
not on Manning’s. Those
officials should be held accountable, not him.
With that in mind, TomDispatch offers its version of the defense of
Bradley Manning. (To catch Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast video
interview in which Chase Madar explores Manning’s case and his defense,
here, or download it to your iPod
Why Bradley Manning Is a Patriot, Not a
An Opening Statement for the Defense of
Manning, a 23-year-old from Crescent, Oklahoma, enlisted in the U.S.
military in 2007 to give something back to his country and, he hoped,
past seven months, Army Private First Class Manning has been held in
solitary confinement in the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia.
Twenty-five thousand other Americans are also in prolonged solitary
confinement, but the conditions of Manning’s pre-trial detention have
sufficiently brutal for the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on
announce an investigation.
Manning is alleged to have obtained documents, both classified and
unclassified, from the Department of Defense and the State Department
via the Internet and provided them to WikiLeaks. (That “alleged” is
important because the federal informant who fingered Manning, Adrian
Lamo, is a
felon convicted of computer-hacking crimes. He was also
involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution in the month
before he levelled his accusation. All of this makes him a less than
reliable witness.) At any rate, the records allegedly downloaded by
Manning revealed clear instances of war crimes committed by U.S. troops
Afghanistan, widespread torture
committed by the Iraqi authorities with the full knowledge of the
U.S. military, previously unknown estimates of the number of Iraqi
killed at U.S. military checkpoints, and the massive Iraqi
civilian death toll caused by the American invasion.
bringing to light this critical but long-suppressed information, Pfc.
Manning has been treated not as a whistleblower, but as a criminal and a
spy. He is
charged with violating not only Army regulations but also the
Espionage Act of 1917, making him the fifth American to be charged under
the act for leaking classified documents to the media. A court-martial
will likely be convened in the spring or summer.
called for Manning’s head, sometimes
literally. And yet a strong legal defense for Pfc. Manning is not
difficult to envision. Despite many remaining questions of fact, a
legal defense can already be sketched out. What follows is an “opening
statement” for the defense. It does not attempt to argue individual
points of law in any exhaustive way. Rather, like any opening
statement, it is an overview of the vital legal (and political) issues
at stake, intended for an audience of ordinary citizens, not Judge
Advocate General lawyers.
it is the court of public opinion that ultimately decides what a
government can and cannot get away with, legally or otherwise.
Statement for the Defense of Bradley Manning, Soldier and Patriot
Private First Class Bradley Manning has done his duty. He has witnessed
serious violations of the American military’s Uniform Code of Military
Justice, violations of the rules in
U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, and violations of international law.
He has brought these wrongdoings to light out of a profound sense of
duty to his country, as a citizen and a soldier, and his patriotism has
cost him dearly.
General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
told reporters: “It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S.
service member [in Iraq], if they see inhumane treatment being
conducted, to try to stop it.” This, in other words, was the obligation
of every U.S. service member in Operation Iraqi Freedom; this remains
the obligation of every U.S. service member in Operation Enduring
Freedom in Afghanistan. It is a duty that Pfc. Manning has fulfilled.
Who is Pfc.
Bradley Manning? He is a 23-year-old Private First Class in the U.S.
Army. He was raised in Crescent, Oklahoma (population 1,281, according
to the last census count). He enlisted in 2007. “He was basically
really into America,”
says a hometown friend. “He was proud of our successes as a
country. He valued our freedom, but probably our economic freedom the
most. I think he saw the U.S. as a force for good in the world.”
Bradley Manning deployed to Iraq in October 2009, he thought that he’d
be helping the Iraqi people build a free society after the long
nightmare of Saddam Hussein. What he witnessed firsthand was quite
helping the Iraqi authorities detain civilians for distributing
“anti-Iraqi literature” -- which turned out to be an investigative
report into financial corruption in their own government entitled “Where
does the money go?” The penalty for this “crime” in Iraq was not a slap
on the wrist. Imprisonment and torture, as well as systematic abuse of
prisoners, are widespread in the new Iraq. From the military’s own
Sigacts (Significant Actions) reports, we have a multitude of
credible accounts of Iraqi police and soldiers shooting prisoners,
beating them to death, pulling out fingernails or teeth, cutting off
fingers, burning with acid, torturing with electric shocks or the use of
suffocation, and various kinds of sexual abuse including sodomization
with gun barrels and forcing prisoners to perform sexual acts on guards
and each other.
more than adequate reason to be concerned about handing over Iraqi
citizens for likely torture simply for producing pamphlets about
corruption in a government notorious for its corruptness.
good soldier, Manning immediately took these concerns up the chain of
command. And how did his superiors respond? His commanding officer
told him to “shut up” and get back to rounding up more prisoners for
the Iraqi Federal Police to treat however they cared to.
have already heard what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had to
say about an American soldier’s duties when confronted with the torture
and abuse of prisoners. Ever since our country signed and ratified the
Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture, it has been the
law of our land that handing over prisoners to a body that will
torture them is a war crime. Nevertheless, between early 2009 and
August of last year, our military handed over thousands of prisoners to
the Iraqi authorities, knowing full well what would happen to many of
time Pfc. Manning encountered evidence of war crimes, he took a
different course of action.
Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) shared by the
Departments of Defense and State Manning soon found irrefutable evidence
of possible war crimes, including a now-infamous
“Collateral Murder” video in which a U.S. Apache helicopter mowed
down some 18 civilians, including two Reuters journalists, on a street
in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. The world has now seen and been shocked by
this video which Reuters is alleged to have had in its possession but
had not yet made public. Manning is alleged to have leaked it to the
whistleblower site WikiLeaks in April 2010.
also found a video and an official report on American air strikes on the
village of Granai in Afghanistan’s Farah Province (also known as “the
According to the Afghan government, 140 civilians, including women
and a large number of children, died in those strikes. He is alleged to
have released that video as part of a
tranche of some 92,000 military documents relating to our escalating
war in Afghanistan -- already the longest war our nation has ever fought
-- and Pakistan, where the war is steadily spreading. Manning is also
alleged to have released to WikiLeaks some
392,000 documents regarding the Iraq War, many of which relate to
the torture of prisoners, as well as some
251,000 State Department cables.
your judgment of Bradley Manning, please know that the stakes are indeed
high, but not in the feverish way our political and media elites have
been telling you from nearly every newspaper, channel, and website in
the land. We will want you, a true jury of Manning’s military peers, to
ask a few questions about what’s really been going on in this trial --
and in this country. After all, when we reward lawyers in the Justice
Department who created memos that made torture legal with
federal judgeships and
regular newspaper columns, while locking lock up a whistle-blowing
private, you have to ask: What country are we now living in?
couldn’t be more important or your judgment more crucial. The honor of
our country is very much at stake in how you decide. When we let the
aerial slaughter of civilian noncombatants pass without comment or
review, when a reported
92 children die from an American air strike on an Afghan village and
18 civilians are shot dead on a Baghdad street without the slightest
accountability, except when it comes to locking up the private who
ensured that we would know about these acts -- let me repeat -- the
honor of your country and mine is at stake and at risk. Not the
security of your country, though the prosecution will claim otherwise,
but the honor of our country, and especially the honor of our military.
Bradley Manning is one soldier who has done his duty. He has complied
with it to the letter. Now you must do your duty as members of this
jury and as soldiers.
Whistleblower Laws Protect Pfc. Manning
prosecution will surely tell you that none of our existing whistleblower
protection laws, interpreted narrowly, apply to Bradley Manning.
otherwise, and so will the experts we will call to the stand. You will
hear from legal expert
Jesselyn Radack, an attorney and former whistleblower who was
purged, punished, and then vindicated for her courageous acts of
disclosing illegal wrongdoing inside the Bush administration’s
Department of Justice. Ms. Radack will explain to you why and how
Bradley Manning is well protected by our current laws. After all, the
Whistleblower Protection Act is designed to protect a government
employee who exposes fraud, waste, abuse, or illegality to anyone inside
or outside a government agency, including a member of the news media.
This is well supported by case law. (See
Horton v. Dep’t of Navy, 66. F3d 279, 282 (Fed. Cir. 1995)]. Isn’t
that exactly what Pfc. Bradley Manning has done?
fallback argument, the prosecution is sure to suggest that WikiLeaks is
not a real media entity in the way that the New York Times is. Any one
of you who has ever gotten the news and information from the Internet
prosecution will also be eager to inform you that the
Military Whistleblower Protection Act (MWPA) does not apply here.
We, however, will prove to you that the act applies with great and
particular force to Pfc. Manning. For one thing, the MWPA not only
allows an even wider array of government officials to make disclosures
of classified information, it also broadens the scope of what kinds of
disclosure a soldier can make. It expressly allows disclosures of
classified information by members of the armed forces if they have a
“reasonable belief” that what is being disclosed offers evidence of a
“violation of the law,” “an abuse of authority,” or “a substantial
danger to public safety.” In other words, the purpose of the Military
Whistleblower Protection Act is to protect soldiers just like Pfc.
Manning who report on improper -- or in this case, patently illegal --
activities by other military personnel.
is no strict precedent, the prosecution will claim, for any of our
whistleblower protection laws to apply to Pfc. Manning. But as we will
make clear, there is no contrary precedent either. That’s because we’ve
never seen a whistleblower disclosure as massive, vivid, and horrific as
this one. We are in uncharted territory. If the plain language of
these whistleblower protection laws is unclear, legal convention
dictates that we look at the laws’ intent. Clearly Congress meant,
and legislative history supports this, for the whistleblower protection
laws to protect whistleblowers, not -- as this administration seems to
think -- to prosecute them.
progress of our common law is prudent, it is incremental, it is slow.
But our common law is not dead. It does progress. Whether the common
law will take that small step forward in the case of Pfc. Manning is
your duty to decide. And your decision will have repercussions.
For if you
convict Bradley Manning, then you are also clearing the way to try and
possibly convict Army Specialist
Joseph Darby, the whistleblower who leaked the Abu Ghraib photos and
thereby ended acts of torture and abuse that were shaming our military
and our nation. Now, Specialist Darby did not leak the photos of this
disgrace up the chain of command or to the Army Inspector General as our
whistleblower law envisions. Instead, he leaked it straight to the Army
Criminal Investigative Division, and this path is not strictly what our
whistleblower laws allow. Was Spc. Joseph Darby doing his duty as an
honorable soldier when he exposed the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib?
Or was he just trying to damage the United States? Your verdict on
Bradley Manning could reopen that question, and answer it anew.
convict Bradley Manning, you will also potentially be convicting the
father of Army Specialist Adam Winfield. In February 2010, Winfield
informed his father, Christopher Winfield, a marine veteran, via
Facebook, of a homicidal “Kill Team” at Forward Operating Base Ramrod in
Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, that was murdering civilians.
Winfield’s father tried to sound the alarm
via phone calls to the Army Inspector General’s 24-hour hotline, to
Senator Bill Nelson, and even to members of his son’s command unit in
and son went beyond the “proper” channels to stop the murder of innocent
Afghan civilians. Spc. Winfield is now on trial for possible complicity
in the “kill team” murders, but no charges have been filed against his
father. Tell me, then: Is Winfield’s father guilty of damaging his
country because he tried to warn the Army about a homicidal “kill team”
in the ranks? Whether you like it or not, whether you care to or not,
this is something you will decide when you render your judgment on
Bradley Manning’s actions.
outlandish entries on the
overachieving charge sheet are those stemming from the
Espionage Act of 1917. After all, Pfc. Manning is just the fifth
American in 94 years to be charged under this archaic law with leaking
government documents. (Of the five, only one has been convicted.)
Espionage Act was never intended to be used in this way, as an extra
punishment for citizens who disclose classified material, and that is
why the government only carts it out when its case is exceptionally
for Espionage Act charges to stick, it is required that Pfc. Manning had
the conscious intent -- take note of that crucial phrase -- to damage
the United States or aid a foreign nation with his disclosures. Not
surprisingly, given this, you are going to hear the prosecution spare no
effort to portray the release of these cables as the gravest blow to
America’s place in the world since Pearl Harbor.
you’ll take this with more than a grain of salt. For where is the
staggering fallout from all the supposed bombshells in these leaked
documents? Months after the release of the State Department cables, not
a single American ambassador has been recalled. Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates, who commands far more
budget and power than the
Secretary of State, publicly insists that these leaks -- the Iraq
War logs, the Afghan War Logs, and the diplomatic cables --
have not done any major harm. “Now I've heard the impact of these
releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a
game-changer and so on,” said Gates. “I think those descriptions are
fairly significantly overwrought.” Significantly overwrought? "Every
other government in the world knows the United States government leaks
like a sieve,” he added, “and it has for a long time."
happened to the biggest blow to American prestige since the 1968 Tet
Offensive in Vietnam? And keep in mind that the Secretary of Defense is
by no means the only official pooh-poohing the hype about the WikiLeaks
apocalypse. One former head of policy planning at the State Department
looked at the cables, shrugged, and said that the documents
hold “little news,” and that they are “unlikely to do long-term
damage.” A senior Pentagon spokesperson, Colonel David Lapan, confessed
to reporters last September that there is
zero evidence any of the Afghan informers named in the leaked
documents have been injured by Taliban reprisals. Tell me, where is the
Armageddon that this 23-year-old private has supposedly loosed on our
there’s no denying that some members of our foreign policy elite have
been mightily embarrassed by the State Department cables. Good. They
fleeting embarrassment is nothing compared to the shame they have
brought down on our country with their foolish deeds over the past
decade, actions that range from the reckless and incompetent to the
downright criminal. It’s no secret that America’s standing in the world
has been severely damaged in these years, but ask yourself: Is this
because of recent disclosures of civilian deaths and war crimes --most
of which are surprising only to Americans -- along with diplomatic
to you that the damage to our nation, which couldn’t be more real, has
come not from the disclosures of a young private, but from our foreign
policy elite’s long pattern of foolish and destructive actions. After
all, the invasion and occupation of Iraq have cost
rivers of blood. The price tag for our current foreign wars has now
soared above the trillion-dollar mark (and few doubt that, in the
end, the real cost will run into the trillions of dollars). And don’t
forget, the invasion of Iraq has inspired new waves of hatred and
distrust of our country overseas, and
has provided an adrenaline boost for Islamic terrorists.
say, our political, military, and media elites have not lined up to take
responsibility for this series of self-inflicted wounds. Before they
try to pin a nonexistent catastrophe on Pfc. Manning, they ought to take
a long, hard look in the mirror and think about the real damage they’ve
done to our nation, the world, and not least the
imagine: if only someone like Bradley Manning had leaked conclusive
documentation about Saddam Hussein’s supposedly deadly but nonexistent
arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, the excuse for our invasion of
Iraq. Such a disclosure would have profoundly embarrassed Washington’s
foreign policy elite and in the atmosphere of early 2003, the media
would undoubtedly have called for that whistleblower’s head, just as
they’re doing now.
leak, however, would have done a powerful load of good for our nation.
Four thousand four hundred and thirty-six American soldiers would not be
dead and thousands more would not be maimed, wounded, or suffering
from PTSD. At the very least,
more than 100,000, and probably
hundreds of thousands, of Iraqi civilians would still be living.
These are the consequences of policy-making by a secretive government
that wants the American people to know nothing, and a media that is
unable or unwilling to do its job and report on facts, not
You all are
old enough to have noticed that the health of our republic and the
reputations of our ruling elites are not one and the same. In the best
of times, they overlap. The past 10 years have not been the best of
times. Those elites have led us into disaster after disaster,
imperiling our already breached national security, straining our ruinous
finances, and tearing to shreds our moral standing in the world. Don’t
try to blame this state of affairs on Private Bradley Manning.
Nuremberg Principles Mean Something in Our Courts
soldiers have a solemn duty not to obey illegal orders, and Pfc. Manning
upheld this duty. General Peter Pace’s statement on a soldier’s
overriding duty to stop the torture and abuse of prisoners, whatever his
or her orders, is not just high-minded public relations; it’s the law of
the land. More than 50 years ago,
U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 incorporated the
Nuremberg Principles, among them Principle IV: “The fact that a
person acted pursuant to an order of his government or of a superior
does not relieve him from responsibility under international law,
provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.” This remains the
law of our land and of our armed forces, too.
the prosecution will have other ideas. They will tell you that the
Nuremberg Principles are great stuff for commencement addresses, but
don’t actually mean anything in practical terms. They will tell you that
the Nuremberg Principles are of use only to the Lisa Simpsons of the
400,000 of your fellow soldiers died in the Second World War for the
establishment of those principles. For that reason alone, they are
something that you in the military ought to treat with the utmost
And if the
judge or prosecutor should tell you that the Nuremberg Principles don’t
mean a thing in our courts, they would be flat wrong. Courts have taken
the Nuremberg Principles to heart before, and more and more have done so
in the past few years. In 2005, for example, Judge Lieutenant Commander
took note of the Nuremberg principles in a sentencing hearing for
Pablo Paredes, a Navy Petty Officer Third Class who refused redeployment
to Iraq, and whose punishment was subsequently minimized.
at his court martial in 2009, Sergeant Matthis Chiroux
justified his refusal to redeploy to a war that he believed violated
both national and international law, and was backed up by expert
testimony on the Nuremberg Principles. The court martial granted Sgt.
Chiroux a general discharge.
A long line
of Supreme Court cases, from
Mitchell v. Harmony in 1851 all the way back to
Little v. Barreme in 1804, established that soldiers have a duty not
to follow illegal orders. In short, it is a matter of record and
established precedent that these Nuremberg Principles have meant
something in our courts. Yours will not be the first court martial to
apply these principles, fought for and won with American blood, nor will
it be the last.
Whistleblowers Are Patriots Who Sacrifice for Their Country
Whistleblowers who attempt to rectify the disastrous policies of their
nation are not criminals. They are patriots, and eventually are
recognized as such. Bradley Manning is by no means the first American
to serve his country in such a way.
Daniel Ellsberg is famous as the leaker of the
Pentagon Papers, a secret internal history ordered up by Secretary
of Defense Robert McNamara himself that candidly recounted how a series
of administrations systematically lied to the nation about the planning
and prosecution of the Vietnam War. Ellsberg’s massive leak of these
documents helped end that war and bring down a criminal administration.
How criminal? Midway through Ellsberg’s trial in 1973, the Nixon
offered the judge overseeing his treason trial the directorship of
the FBI in an implicit quid pro quo, a maneuver of such brazen
corruption as to shame any banana republic. The judge dismissed all the
government’s charges with prejudice and now Daniel Ellsberg is a
after a certain date may be forgiven for assuming that Ellsberg was some
long-haired subversive of an “anti-American” stripe. In fact, he had
been, like Bradley Manning, a model soldier.
Basic School in
Quantico, Virginia, Ellsberg
graduated first in a class of some 1,100 lieutenants. He served as a
platoon leader and rifle company commander in the Marine 2nd Infantry
Division for three years, and
deferred his graduate studies so he could remain on active duty with
his battalion during the Suez Crisis of 1956. (You will note that
deferring graduate school in order to stay on active military duty is
the exact opposite of what
so many of our recent, and
current, national leaders did in those decades.) After satisfying
his Reserve Officer commitment, Ellsberg was discharged from the Corps
as a first lieutenant, and leaving the military went on to a
distinguished career in government.
Ellsberg was a model Marine, and later a model citizen. His courageous
act of leaking classified information was only one more episode in a
consistent record of patriotic service. When Ellsberg leaked the
Pentagon Papers he did so out of the profoundest sense of duty, knowing
full well, just like Bradley Manning today, that he might spend the rest
of his life in jail.
calls Pfc. Manning
his hero and he is a
tireless defender of the brave Army private our government has
locked away in solitary.
trash things without a care in their hearts, but real patriots like
former Lt. Ellsberg and Pfc. Manning do their duty knowing that the
privilege of living in a free society does not always come cheap.
and in the Public View”: The American Tradition of Diplomacy
Ellsberg himself is lionized, even by the U.S. government, as a national
hero. The State Department recently put together a traveling roadshow
of American documentary films to screen abroad, and
front and center among them is an
admiring movie about Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. But then it
is only appropriate that the government recognize Ellsberg and his
once-controversial disclosures as part and parcel of the American
demands for more open and transparent diplomacy are as American as
baseball and Hank Williams. World War I-era President Woodrow Wilson
himself insisted on the abolition of secret treaties as part of his
14 points for the League of Nations; in fact, it’s the very first
covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no
private international understandings of any kind but
diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”
foreign policy be democratic if the most serious decisions and facts --
alliances, death tolls, assessments of the leaders and governments we
are bankrolling with our tax dollars -- are all kept as official
“Bricker Amendment” was an attempt by congressional Republicans in
the 1950s to require Senate approval of U.S. treaties, in large part to
open up public debate about foreign affairs. The late Senator Daniel
Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat who served as representative to the U.N.
for Republican President Richard Nixon, was also a
severe critic of government secrecy and the habitual
over-classification of state documents. These American statesmen
knew that if foreign policy is crafted in secret, without the oxygen and
sunlight of vigorous public debate, disaster and dysfunction would
past 10 years, we have had exactly such disaster and dysfunction as our
foreign policy. Our leaders have plunged us into a dark world of
secrecy and lies. Tell me: Is this Private Bradley Manning’s fault?
Let me be
clear as I bring this opening statement to a close: for all the
complexities this case holds, your job will in the end prove a simple
and basic one. It’s your task not to let our leaders, or the
prosecution, pin the horrendous state of affairs into which this country
has been thrown on Pfc. Manning. I am confident that you will see him
for the patriot he is, a young man with a moral backbone whose goal was
not self-aggrandizement or profit or even attention and glory. His urge
was to shine a bright light on his own country’s wrongdoing and, in that
way, bring it, bring us, back to our nobler national traditions.
It is Pfc.
Manning, not our fearless national leaders, who has sacrificed much to
restore the rule of law and a minimal level of public oversight to
American foreign and military policy. “Frankly and in the public view”:
this once would have been called a reasonable description of the
American character, something that set us apart from the
Austro-Hungarian Empire, Otto von Bismarck’s Prussia, or Imperial
Japan. Whether our government has any responsibility to conduct its
affairs frankly and in the public view in 2011 and beyond -- this is
something else you will decide in your judgment on Pfc. Manning.
soldiers, you know well that most Americans have insulated themselves
from the last decade’s foreign-policy disasters. Even as we spend a
trillion dollars on foreign wars, our taxes are cut. If you’re making
decent money, the odds are it’s not your kids, grandchildren, brothers,
or sisters who are off fighting, killing, and dying in our foreign
wars. Most Americans, thanks in part to the media, have little idea of
what you and your peers have lived through, the weight you have
This is not
true of Pfc. Bradley Manning. He came face to face with this
disaster. He saw, and participated in, the roundup of Iraqi civilians
to be tortured by their own national police force. Tell me honestly:
Was this what Operation Iraqi Freedom was supposed to accomplish? Is
this why you, his jury of peers, enlisted in the military?
Manning saw this misery and rampant illegality with his own two eyes,
and then, online, he discovered more of the same -- much, much more --
and he did something about it,
knowing full well the penalty. “I wouldn’t mind going to prison for
the rest of my life, or being executed so much, if it wasn’t for the
possibility of having pictures of me […] plastered all over the world
press,” he confided to the informant who betrayed him. Manning knew the
stakes and the risks when he leaked these documents, but still he
loyally performed his duty, both to the United States Army and to his
As one of
Manning’s childhood friends from Crescent, Oklahoma, has
testified, “He wanted to serve his country.” It’s up to you to
decide whether he did.
You have a
duty as a fully informed jury of free citizens. You are not an
assortment of rubber stamps pulled out of a judge’s desk drawer. You
are as important a part of this court as the judge, prosecutor, and the
way you decide in your verdict, you will not face the consequences
Bradley Manning already endures, but your judgment will have great
consequences, not just for him, but for the honor and future of the
country you have taken an oath to serve.
Now, go and
do your duty.
is an attorney in New York and a member of the National Lawyers Guild.
He writes for
TomDispatch, the American Conservative magazine, Le Monde
Diplomatique, and the London Review of Books. (To listen to Timothy
MacBain’s latest TomCast video interview in which Chase Madar explores
Manning’s case and his defense, click
here, or download it to your iPod
2011 Chase Madar
© 2011 TomDispatch. All
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