On June 3, the highly anticipated court-martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was arrested in July 2010, will take place. A previous PolicyMic article delivered specific details on the over 700,000 government documents and pieces of classified military information Manning allegedly leaked. According to the article, “Manning is charged with leaking hundreds-of-thousands of classified documents to the website WikiLeaks.”
Manning is an American hero who made the decision to leak these classified documents as a service to the general public. He testified, "I believe that if the general public had access to the information, this could spark a domestic debate as to the role of the military and foreign policy in general." He added, "I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience."
In a January 2013 ruling, Military Judge Colonel Denise Lind awarded Manning a 112-day reduction in any eventual sentence due to being subjected to excessively harsh treatment while in military detention. A month later, Judge Lind accepted Bradley Manning’s guilty pleas of 10 lesser charges that he misused classified information, though he denied "aiding the enemy." A guilty sentence to “aiding the enemy” could languish him military prison for the remainder of his life.
Bradley Manning released the video, “Collateral Murder,” to WikiLeaks and he explained, “The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.” He went on, “They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote ‘dead bastards’ unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers.”
A similar whistleblower was arrested 40 years ago in the Vietnam era, named Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg was a military analyst who worked in the Pentagon under Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. He was an ex-Marine officer who was allowed to walk with combat troops in Vietnam and see the war up close. Ellsberg reported on what he considered a costly and immoral war through publishing a secret study known as “The Pentagon Papers” in The New York Times.
Since Manning’s arrest, Ellsberg has been a vocal protester of President Obama’s use of the Espionage Act against whistleblowers since it had questionable constitutionality unless used in situations of actual espionage. He has also urged anyone who cares about the future of our country to learn about Bradley Manning’s trial because he believes transparency and accountability are at stake.
Bradley Manning has pled guilty to lesser crimes after he endured a considerable amount of personal sacrifice to bring forward classified military documents which highlighted some of the immoral undertakings in Iraq and Afghanistan. The information Manning leaked was valuable for providing Americans with the knowledge needed to further assess their support for seemingly unending military presence in wars with already questionable motives.
As Bradley Manning’s June 3 trial draws near, be grateful for the sacrifices he has made to educate Americans on the military actions abroad and consider the impassioned conclusion Glenn Greenwald wrote in his article earlier this month about the permanency of the war on terror. “The Obama administration already claims the power to wage endless and boundless war, in virtually total secrecy, and without a single meaningful check or constraint," Greenwald wrote. "No institution with any power disputes this. To the contrary, the only ones which exert real influence — Congress, the courts, the establishment media, the plutocratic class — clearly favor its continuation and only think about how further to enable it. That will continue unless and until Americans begin to realize just what a mammoth price they're paying for this ongoing splurge of war spending and endless aggression.”