Tag Archives: war on terror

Bradley Manning: “I Have a Clear Conscience”

Bradley Manning, the Army private who has been held in custody since May 26, 2010 on suspicion of leaking classified material to WikiLeaks, offered a plea bargain during a pretrial conference on February 28. Manning’s guilty plea to 10 lesser charges included possessing and willfully communicating to an unauthorized person all the main elements of the WikiLeaks disclosure. The UK Guardian reports, “That covered the so-called ‘collateral murder’ video of an Apache helicopter attack in Iraq; some US diplomatic cables including one of the early WikiLeaks publications the Reykjavik cable; portions of the Iraq and Afghanistan warlogs, some of the files on detainees in Guantanamo; and two intelligence memos.
These lesser charges each carry a two-year maximum sentence, committing Manning to a possible upper limit of 20 years in prison.”

An attorney who serves on the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network wrote in an email, “Whether this plea helps him or not is not the critical issue. In fact, the government has already announced that they will be prosecuting him on the aiding the enemy and espionage charges, so it did not stop them from going forward with offenses that could result in life in prison for Manning.”

Reading from a prepared statement, Manning said he was not pressured by WikiLeaks to release the information and that he wanted to give the documents to The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Reuters, but they did not want what he had to offer. He also said the leaked information had “upset” or “disturbed” him, but did not contain anything he thought would harm the United States if it became public.

Regarding the Collateral Murder video, Manning said the “most alarming part to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust,” and that those in the video “seemed to not value human life by referring to them as ‘dead bastards.’”

Manning added, “I was disturbed by the response to injured children… I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan was a target that needed to be engaged and neutralized.” He also said, “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,” and “I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”

The attorney also wrote, “Manning obviously put his liberty in jeopardy in an act of conscience for the patriotic reason of trying to improve US foreign policy which has gotten horribly off-track.” The debate regarding “the role of the military and foreign policy” that Bradley Manning hoped to spark, has yet to take place. Hopefully his trial will be the catalyst for that debate.

note: You can see his full statement read in court here. The court has not allowed this to be released to the public, but an unofficial court reporter was able to make a transcript and publish it.

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Drone war cover-up: Now in Yemen, too!

The US government isn’t the only government trying to conceal the use of drone warfare which has expanded during the Obama Administration. The Washington Post reports of a drone strike in Radda, Yemen that killed 11 of the 14 people in the truck that was hit. The Post reported, “The Yemeni government initially said that those killed were al-Qaeda militants and that its Soviet-era jets had carried out the Sept. 2 [2012] attack.”

Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com reported, this “wasn’t the first time Yemen sought to cover for the US in a massacre, and it likely won’t be the last. But while the US has avoided blame in the international media, at least sometimes, there is little doubt in the minds of drone victims that the attacks are US policy.”

The federal government has even tried to cover-up these attacks. The New York Times sued for disclosure and on January 2, a federal judge rejected their bid to force the US government to disclose more information about its drone war.

The Obama Administration made Yemen a front in the “war on terror” and ramped up attacks after the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death. In fact, Yemen is only one of at least six countries in which drone warfare has been used as part of the endless war which began under the Bush Administration.

Estimates report approximately 2,000 people killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, approximately 1,000 in Yemen and untold numbers of people have been killed by drone strikes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia.

Most of the people killed in these attacks are civilians who posed no threat to the American government. However, the continued presence of American military around the world is actually creating enemies! Nasser Mabkhoot Mohammed al-Sabooly, the truck’s driver said, “If we are ignored and neglected, I would try to take my revenge. I would even hijack an army pickup, drive it back to my village and hold the soldiers in it hostages. I would fight along al-Qaeda’s side against whoever was behind this attack.” And Abdul Rahman Berman of Yemen’s National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms warns that the drone policy is a losing proposition, noting that “if the Americans kill 10, al-Qaeda will recruit 100.”

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