Bradley Manning helped start the Arab Spring, but NPR wants to talk about his gender issues

Israel/Palestine
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Last night National Public Radio ran another disgraceful piece about Bradley Manning as a mental case. Titled “Bradley Manning Had Long Been Plagued By Mental Health Issues,” the piece gave a line or two to Manning’s political commitment but New York Magazine reporter Steve Fishman spent the rest of the 7 minutes relating Manning’s “mental instability” and gender issues.

I am sure this is a terrible distortion of this young man’s personality. I am sure that Manning is someone of great intelligence and thoughtfulness.

Do you really care about Manning’s gender issues, when he released video showing that the US was killing innocent civilians in Iraq? And when he helped trigger the Arab Spring by releasing the Tunisian government corruption documents?

Stephen Colbert made this point last night in a great riff on Manning saying that he was “working for the American people.” Colbert showed part of the famous Apache helicopter video from Iraq, which he described as “the infamous collateral murder video.” He said the government tortured Manning. 

Since his arrest three years ago, Manning has been held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. Forced to sleep naked without pillows and sheets on his bed. But I say he deserves it. For Pete’s sake, the guy revealed that the United States tortures, partly through his document leak, but mostly by how we tortured him…

Just listen to the slap on the wrist that the judge could be giving Manning now … 154 years! That is nothing. I mean the guy’s only 25. He could be out in time to see his great great great great grandkids play with his bones…. Who was he spying for when he told us what the government was doing? Oh my god, he was working for the American people….

As for the Arab Spring, here are some of Michael Ratner’s statements on PBS News Hour:

I think [the Manning verdict is] probably one of the greatest injustices of our decade.

Here you have a man who’s revealed very important information about major war crimes, whose information actually sparked the Arab spring… Bradley Manning is a whistleblower, he should not be prosecuted. The people who committed the crimes ought to be prosecuted….

I wouldn’t really call it a fair trial… I thought he was overcharged tremendously… The charge of whistleblower with espionage– it’s the Obama administration hitting truthtellers with a sledgehammer….

As far as the oath issue [Manning’s military oath], when you see something that’s a greater crime, whether it’s Vietnam and the My Lai massacre or whether it’s what Bradley Manning saw, I think you have a higher duty to disclose greater criminality when you see it, rather than go along with it. Bradley Manning is a hero for doing that.

But Bill Keller of the New York Times says that Private Manning should have worked through the system first, and brought his grievances to the attention of superiors. Like they would have released the collateral murder video? How much does Keller care about the people’s right to know?

Chase Madar at the Nation relates a long string of Manning’s revelations, and concludes that Manning is being scapegoated for the war that Bill Keller among many others helped to start:

Obama has launched eight prosecutions based on the Espionage Act of 1917—more than all previous presidents combined, who together have managed only three such trials. Maybe he feels he has nothing to lose, since this clampdown placates the national security apparatus and wimp-proofs his right flank, while those who care about civil liberties were probably not going to vote Republican anyway. As a result, the former constitutional law professor who ran as the whistleblowers’ best friend in 2008 is now their scourge. 

It would take great powers of imagination to blame any part of our recent military debacles on leaks and whistleblowers. If someone had leaked the full National Intelligence Estimate on Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, would more people have decided—like then-Senator Bob Graham, who voted against the invasion after reading the unredacted report—to oppose the war before it began? If the Afghan War logs had somehow come out during Obama’s months of deliberation before escalating that conflict, would he have made the same decision—one that has yielded only thousands more civilian and military casualties? 

But it is Bradley Manning we have put on trial, not the impresarios of war, not the CIA torturers or their lawyers.

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