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Free Bradley Manning

By: 
Laura Kaminker

August 19, 2013

While George Bush roams free after launching a war that killed a million Iraqis, Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years jail for blowing the whistle on Bush's war crimes--through his leaks to wikileaks.
 
The verdict should not have been a surprise, as Manning was not given an actual trial. In a court martial, the accusers and prosecutors also serve as judge and jury. Under a military proceeding there can be no justice for a war resister.
 
Collateral murder
Manning is the US soldier and war resister who released thousands of US military documents to the public through WikiLeaks. Among those documents was a video – called “Collateral Murder” on the internet – showing the complete disregard for human life inherent in the US’s occupation of Iraq. The documents also proved much of what peace and democracy activists have long known or suspected, including: an official US policy to ignore torture in Iraq, that US officials covered up evidence of child abuse by US contractors in Afghanistan, that torturers in Egypt were trained by the FBI, that the notorious concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay holds mostly innocent people, and other damning evidence of US imperialism. Manning released these documents at enormous personal risk, because once he learned the truth about the US’s imperialist wars and occupations, he could not be silent.
 
The Obama administration has zealously persecuted Manning from the beginning. Manning spent more than three years in prison before his court martial, including nine months in solitary confinement, conditions that are widely recognized as torture. During those nine months, Manning’s cell was stripped; eventually even his glasses and clothing were taken away. At night, guards would wake Manning every five minutes; he was not allowed to sleep during the day. This was done despite the military’s own psychiatric staff insistence that there was no medical justification for this treatment.
 
Persecution
Only worldwide public outrage pressured the military into improving the conditions of Manning’s confinement. Charging Manning with the most serious of military crimes, “Aiding the Enemy” – which can still carry a death sentence in the US – was part of this persecution.
 
Although the US’s treatment of Manning stands out for its brutality, the persecution of war resisters can be seen in historical context. The Espionage Act under which Manning was charged was passed in order to silence opposition to the US’s entry into World War I. Socialist leader and war resister Eugene V. Debs was sentenced to ten years in prison, and served nearly five years of that, for speaking out against the war in Europe. (Debs ran for President from prison and received nearly one million votes as a write-in candidate.)
 
Under the same law, the US government persecuted socialists, trade unionists, pacifists, and other democracy activists. During the “Palmer Raids” – named for U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer – the Espionage Act was invoked to charge not only those advocating revolution, but people engaging in legal, supposedly protected activities like writing letters, circulating petitions, speaking in public, joining a group, organizing meetings, and carrying banners and flags. Hundreds of immigrants, including the revolutionary Emma Goldman, were deported, and thousands of US citizens were arrested and imprisoned.
 
Similar incidents are peppered through the history of both Canada and the United States, as the ruling class tries to silence dissent with demonstrations of power. Most recently in Canada, more than 1,000 peaceful protestors at the G20 Summit in Toronto were arrested, detained, and abused by police.
 
Support war resisters
Crackdowns on free speech and dissent are especially common during wartime, when the ruling class needs working people to carry out its plans for war and profit. Now that we live in a state of perpetual war, punishment of those who challenge capitalist wars has become ever more common.
 
Bradley Manning revealed truths that the US government wants to suppress. Similarly, the US has punished war resisters who speak out against the invasion and occupation of Iraq much more harshly than other soldiers who went AWOL without speaking out--and the Harper govement encourages this persecution by deporting war resisters.
 
Bradley Manning and other US war resisters need and deserve our support. For more information visit the Bradley Manning Support Network

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