In 2013, Private Bradley Manning spent his 1,000th day in jail. Those 1,000 days equal 2.75 years. The first 10 months were spent in solitary confinement, where he was routinely denied sleep and clothing as well as his eye glasses. The above conditions combined with psychological abuse amount to cruel and unusual punishment. All of this occurred before a trial. This type of treatment is what the colonists fought against in the American Revolution. Many early patriots were warehoused without trial in old British ships, where their rights as Englishmen were denied and their jailers abused them, thus the eighth amendment in the Bill of Rights supposedly protecting our rights to humane treatment.
Beginning in 2009, PFC Manning, an army intelligence analyst, downloaded classified documents, which he was authorized to access, and took them off base, which was illegal. During his tour in Iraq, PFC Manning daily came across documents detailing crimes perpetrated in the name of the people of the United States. One of these documents was the now infamous "Collateral Murder" video showing a U.S. helicopter crew killing civilians, including journalists, and wounding children. The crew disparaged the dead and taunted one of the wounded to grab a gun so that they could finish him off. Manning knew that Reuters, the news agency for which the murdered reporters worked, had asked the United States for information regarding the deaths. Reuters' requests were repeatedly refused. Knowing the truth, Manning's conscience could not join in the cover-up. As Manning looked further, he found many other instances of official government stonewalling, denials and fabrications.
On April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released the "Collateral Murder" video, and in October, published thousands more documents. Reuters finally received the information that the United States said didn't exist, and we all got a closer look into the activities (crimes) that our government conducts in our names and with our tax dollars. According to CNN, "[Iraq and U.S.] negotiations were strained following WikiLeaks' release of a diplomatic cable that alleged Iraqi civilians, including children, were killed in a 2006 raid by American troops rather than in an airstrike as the U.S. military initially reported." This cable, confirming local reports, finally convinced the government of Iraq to not extend a U.S. deadline for withdrawal, thus saving American lives and money.
We, the people, now had knowledge of what our "enemies" knew all along. The only people being kept in the dark prior to releasing these documents were the citizens of the United States. Whether a whistleblower is sharing the crimes and audacious behavior of our government or, like Erin Brockovich (rent the video), is exposing the sins of Pacific Gas and Electric, too many times documents are classified or labeled "trade secrets" in order to protect the guilty. We, the population of honest everyday folks, should applaud and support the efforts of the Bradley Mannings of this world.
Manning will finally go to trial on June 3. Of the 22 counts against him, the most serious is "Aiding the Enemy." As stated above, the foreign "enemy" already knew what we were doing to them. Apparently the government feels that U.S. citizens are the enemy, since we were the ones kept in the dark regarding the "Collateral Murder" video and other crimes.
The prosecution of Bradley Manning will take place in a military court. Given pretrial prejudicial statements, President Obama and military officers have proclaimed him guilty before going to trial; it doesn't appear that he will get a fair hearing. We should all be sad that this brave soldier will continue to be mistreated for opening our eyes to what the main stream media won't report. Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by officials of Iceland, Tunisia and Sweden and by three Peace Prize winners, including Bishop Desmond Tutu. Support our heroes; don't abuse them!
Jim Skvorc was a high school civics and history teacher for 20 years.