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

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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.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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12 Responses

  1. mijj on August 1, 2013, 12:16 pm

    so, those who would like us to think Manning has mental health issues, have no problem with the mental health issues of those who he exposed gunning down random civilians?

    • Citizen on August 1, 2013, 1:41 pm

      Once upon a time, at Nuremberg, “I was only following orders” was no excuse. A good portion of the American people disgrace their ancestors who died for that principle. They’re so clueless they actually think they are different that German patriots and “go along to get along” types, and those seeking material advantage–all led by Hitler, right over the cliff. AIPAC knows this, and uses it (as developed by Bernays, and his spiritual follower, Goebbels. Hitler himself laid out the mental process in his discussion of the effectiveness of the big lie repeated, In Mein Kampf.)

      Archie Bunker is as old as the hills, yet much easier to manipulate and not confined to the working class, whites or not.

  2. Justpassingby on August 1, 2013, 12:53 pm

    Thats how media works in dictatorships, instead of praising the courage and expose of crimes, they attack the messenger.

  3. piotr on August 1, 2013, 1:17 pm

    “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. ”

    Bill Keller knows that “as we do not live in a perfect world” we need to have crimes committed to defend our safety and/or our interests. It is important that serious knowledgable people decide if a particular murder, maiming, lie etc. is for the benefit of the State and the People or not. People like Manning are overthrowing the social order. With no qualifications whatsoever they overrule their betters! This is a particularly drastic case. Manning had pretty short education, from a poor family, young, and very short (while describing authority figures, the American journalist routinely mention their height with admiration).

    Bill Keller also knows what happens when a properly educated medical doctor on a military base fills the death certificate of a captured native person “homicide committed by members of unit X”. The superiors review the certificate, judge the situation and decide to do nothing, AS IT IS PROPER.

  4. Citizen on August 1, 2013, 1:34 pm

    Obviously Keller has never served in the US Army as a lowly enlisted man. I did, and so I know Manning is a very courageous, principled person. If you cause the slightest inconvenience as an enlisted private, you are dead meat, even if your cause is just. He’s likely from a lower middle class background at best. I admire him. At least Snowden’s detractors don’t get to divert the message by pointing to the messenger’s gayness.

  5. thetumta on August 1, 2013, 10:06 pm

    Oh my God, does this mean every American President and Congress-Person and their supporters in our lifetime are war criminals? Do we have enough rope? Is there a rope shortage looming? Inquiring minds want to know!

    I do think the both of them are tilting at WindMills. The American people just aren’t worth it. Especially Snowden, he sacrificed at a great life in Hawaii for what? Good Germans?

    Hej! Tumta

  6. Nevada Ned on August 2, 2013, 12:38 am

    Bravo Mike Ratner!!

  7. Chespirito on August 2, 2013, 1:55 am

    Another nadir for NPR. Honestly, Pat Buchanan’s magazine is more fair-minded about Bradley Manning, so is Dick Morris’s radio show. Steve Fishman’s article got a piñata bashing from one of the soldiers, Ethan McCord, who was filmed on the ground in that hideous “Collateral Murder” video, recovering wounded children from the shot-up van. McCord wrote in a letter to New York magazine saying that Fishman’s focus on Manning’s sexual identity erased his political motives. But who listens to the people on the ground?

  8. just on August 2, 2013, 8:43 am

    Manning– a man of conscience and integrity, not content to witness the grotesque acts we wage while “spreading democracy” and merely perform his role as American cannon fodder for the elites that fomented and supported these wars……….

    And for this he’ll be punished and has been treated with what is torture by his own government, the complicit media, and the UCMJ (Justice???????), and now the homophobes………..

    He’ll be remembered for the good he did, while the goons who made these wars happen with relish will be judged harshly. Oh, and by the way, Rivkin is still up to his dirty tricks. It’s a good debate between Rivkin and Ellsberg. Guess who wins? Check D.R. out @ ca. 7 min.

    (wonder what he thinks about Pollard).

  9. mikerol on August 2, 2013, 9:57 am

    One of the odd consequences of post WW II military life and law is that a German soldier who fails to at least report if not intervene to stop an atrocty lives under the threat of dire legal consequences. Even a foreigner who witnessed an atrocity if he happens to be arrested in Germany lives under the same threat of dire consequences, There is the famous case of Novo Djaic, a Serbian who witnessed what was judged to be a war crime on a bridge in Bosnia and who failed to intervene, who then lived and worked in Germany and was arrested and sentenced there. Peter Handke did much to have him freed and made his case part of his Yugoslav war play VOYAGE BY DUGOUT. Now Novo is on faceook!
    Here Private Manning is sentenced for revealing U.S. crimes and atrocities!

  10. DICKERSON3870 on August 2, 2013, 10:19 pm

    RE: “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.” ~ Chase Madar

    BUT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DROPPED TWO PROSECUTIONS FOR ESPIONAGE: “US government to drop espionage charges against Aipac officials”, By Chris McGreal in Washington, The Guardian, 5/01/09
    Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman accused of providing US defence secrets to Israeli embassy in Washington

    [EXCERPTS] The US government is to drop espionage charges against two officials of America’s most powerful pro-Israel lobby group accused of spying for the Jewish state because court rulings had made the case unwinnable and the trial would disclose classified information.
    The two accused, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, worked for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), which drives fundraising for some US members of Congress. They were accused of providing defence secrets to the chief political officer at the Israeli embassy in Washington, Naor Gilon, about US policy toward Iran and al-Qaida in league with a former Pentagon analyst who has since been jailed for 12 years. . .
    . . . Rosen and Weissman have argued they were merely using the back-channel contacts with government officials, lobbyists and diplomats that are common in Washington. The defence intended to call the former US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and other officials to establish that the government regularly uses Aipac to discreetly send information to Israel. . .
    . . . The case has been further complicated by a scandal revealed last month by a political publication, Congressional Quarterly, around a member of Congress, Jane Harman, who was secretly taped telling an Israeli agent that she would pressure the justice department to reduce spying charges against the two former Aipac officials.
    In return, the Israeli agent offered to get a wealthy donor who helps funds election campaigns for Nancy Pelosi, the then-minority leader in the House of Representatives, to pressure Pelosi to appoint Harman to a senior position on the congressional intelligence committee. . .
    . . . An FBI probe of Harman was dropped after the intervention of President Bush’s attorney general, Alberto Gonzales. . .


  11. miriam6 on August 3, 2013, 3:07 am


    And here I was naively imagining it was this young man Mohammed Bouazizi who triggered the Arab revolts…

    And the mainly young Arabs and Tunisians his actions inspired..

    Anyone who believes in freedom and democracy will be thoroughly heartened by recent events in Tunisia. A corrupt, authoritarian leader, backed for years by Western governments, has been swept aside by people rampaging for greater freedom and economic security. It’s an inspiring moment.

    And yet how is it being interpreted by Western observers?
    As a ‘Wikileaks revolution’ or a ‘Twitter war’ – terms which expose both the Western political class’s seriously emaciated skills of social analysis and also its self-obsession, where the implication is that if hadn’t been for us media-savvy whiteys exposing Tunisian corruption, those people would never have had the tools or the know-how to rise up against their rulers.

    If the protests have unnerved some initially quite excited reporters, they have also – implicitly – challenged the idea that it falls to the so-called humanitarians of the West to liberate Africans from tyranny.
    The Tunisian uprising leaves that notion in tatters, for it was Western governments that helped to keep Ben Ali in power for 23 years. Cheered as a loyal ally in Africa, a keen supporter of the ‘war on terror’, Tunisia under Ben Ali was backed by both Washington and Paris (the former colonial power).
    Ben Ali’s regime received an estimated $350million in US military aid between 1987 and 2009.
    In 2009, following Ben Ali’s re-election for the fifth time in a row with over 90 per cent of the vote, Abdul-Raouf Ayadi, vice-president of the banned outfit the Congress for Democracy, said: ‘Western countries are backing the dictatorship in Tunisia and giving it financial and media support.’
    Tunisia shows that the last thing Africans need is Western interference; that only hampers their ability to take command of their affairs, by allowing the expedient desires of foreign governments to override the interests of African people.

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