As whistle-blower Bradley Manning's military trial draws to a close the young man took to the stand Wednesday taking a final opportunity to speak and issuing an apology to the USA for leaking information. The leaked information proved very damaging to the USA as it painted a clear picture of abuse, murder and war crimes by some in the military on tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. No doubt all countries have such episodes stashed away from public gaze but outing them should be applauded and not result in torture and prison.
As the likely outcome of the trial became a painful reality for Manning, apologising was understandable. In an emotional day in court he appeared close to tears on more than one occassion, having previously shown a brave face to the world. At the pre-trial hearing in February Bradley continued with his stance that he stood by his actions leaking information to wikileaks and ultimately the world. He maintained he acted out of a good conscience.
Was Wednesday's back pedalling all it seemed though?
This young man has been abused and tortured, deprived of humanity and so much more during his brutal incarceration. Threatened with the rest of his life in jail can you blame him for offering an apology. In doing so Bradley hopes that he can undertake college education and become a productive member of society rather than rot away in jail until he dies.
He has learned a valuable lesson. When we are young many of us are idealisitic and believe we can change the world. In time we realise that the elite have the world sewn up to their advantage. Does that mean we should stop trying? Without people prepared to put their life and freedom on the line we are placing ourselves in the hands of others whose motives may be suspect.
We should never forget that just beacuse something cannot be changed does not make it right. What cannot be cured has to be endured, but change is possible when there is the will.
Wednesday others took to the witness stand including family members who spoke about his troubled childhood and a psychologist who said "Manning felt extreme mental pressure in the "hyper-masculine" military because of his gender-identity disorder — his feeling that he was a woman trapped in a man's body" reported CBS News.
Manning told the court rthat he understood what he was doing when he leaked sensitive information but had not realised the negative impact it would have on the USA. Of course it should not be about hurting the USA's feelings but ending war crimes.
25-year-old Bradley could be sentenced to 90 years in prison for the 2010 leaks.
The military court is posturing and procrastinating. When will Bradley be sentenced? Only the court knows the answer to that one. After Wednesday's defense testimony the prosecution will have their say Friday.
Bradley's unsworn words from the stand Wednesday were apparently read from papers and aimed directly at the judge. CBS News reported Manning said: "He realizes now that he should have worked more aggressively "inside the system" to draw attention to his concerns about the way the war was being waged. He said he wants to get a college degree, and he asked for a chance to become a more productive member of society."
Was Bradley forced to make the statement? Were his words from the heart? If not can you blame him?
We have all seen news reports from other countries were hostages have spoken words forced upon them. Whatever the motive, if Bradley's words have the desired effect and free him all well and good.
Julian Assange, the wikileaks founder holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy London since last year, had this to say on Wednesday's events. "Mr. Manning's apology is a statement extorted from him under the overbearing weight of the United States military justice system. It took three years and millions of dollars to extract two minutes of tactical remorse from this brave soldier."
The character assassination of Bradley continued Wednesday: "Navy Capt. David Moulton, a psychiatrist who spent 21 hours interviewing Manning at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after his arrest, testified as a defense witness that Manning's gender identity disorder, combined with narcissistic personality traits, idealism and his lack of friends in Iraq, caused him to conclude he could change the world by leaking classified information."
Nothing said however detracts from the war crimes Manning exposed. When will the perpetrators stand trail and if they ever do what will be their sentence?
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