His long confinement, pre any trial, included abuse and torture. In 2013 he was sentenced to 35 years in jail following a plea bargain. Without the deal he would have faced a whole-life-term in prison.
The leaks he gave the world were via Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Assange remains holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. His unofficial or some would say self-imposed exile, costs the British tax-payer a huge sum of money daily. Police guard the building and if Assange were to step one foot outside he faces certain arrest.
What are politicians so afraid of?
He faces allegations of sex abuse in Sweden but claims the accusations are fabricated. He believes that if he is extradited to Sweden he will promptly be sent to the USA and face a similar fate to Bradley Manning.
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden also risked a great deal to awaken the world to excessive spying by the USA and other allied countries.
The US administration initially refuted the allegations, condemned Snowden as an enemy of the USA, called him a criminal, revoked his passport and put pressure on other countries to ensure that Snowden would not be granted asylum.
In the months that followed Snowden’s escape to Hong Kong and temporary asylum in Russia further leaks followed. He is still a wanted man and his openness has caused huge embarrassment to many western leaders and politicians.
What he revealed should also have incensed people as we now look set to live in a less private world with an increasing amount of government spying.
The official government line that the spying is all done to protect us is no longer convincing; the extent of the spying, plus the ongoing acts of terrorism, belie that official message.
As yet the public has only glimpsed the tip of the espionage iceberg but it still stinks.
Governments have tried attacking journalists who publish information about Snowden and the NSA, the US national security agency, as well as hounding Snowden.
In recent weeks the Obama administration has attempted a damage limitations exercise. It now admits the spying was excessive and unnecessary. In a vague way it has promised change but will it be too little too late?
Can you believe leaders in a country that will jail a soldier for 35 years for exposing murder by some of their own armed forces; a country that, as yet, has not held the killers to account?
Can you believe an administration that calls one of its former analysts an enemy for exposing wrong-doing, hounds the man and revokes his right to citizenship of the USA?
If such acts were carried out by Russia, even 20 years ago, the US would be banging the human rights drum. Instead it is happily sacrificing its whistle-blowers, instead of using them to rectify errors. That stance alone proves that those involved see nothing wrong in excessive spying of citizens. In other words were politicians complicit? It certainly looks that way.
Those who value their freedom and rights should be actively supporting whistle-blowers instead of damning them. Without them democracy is well and truly dead instead of in its death throes.
How you respond to people such as Snowden could determine the fate of others in years to come.
So Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and others, enemies of the state or friends of democracy? You decide.
Happy New Year whistle-blowers everywhere".
Update: As New Year 2014 approaches Assange is still in the Embassy under tight police observation, Snowden is still in Russia one country that offered him asylum and made a renewed enemy of the USA and days ago Chelsea Manning celebrated her 27 birthday in jail.
But don't worry US President Obama has ensured a silly comedy film about the fictional assassination of the North Korean leader Kin Jong-Un is making big bucks in the name of free speech!
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?
Bradley Manning, America's conscience
Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy
Op-ed: Court debates Bradley Manning sentence before the trial
A great deal is said and written about President Obama and whistle-blowers, notably Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. Friday Obama went on record promising to increase transparency and restore trust following Snowden's surveillance leaks but collecting our data will continue. In the UK we have become accustomed to our politicians making empty promises, which is probably why many will view the President's words as meaningless. Remember though "actions speak louder than words".
Here in the UK Saturday Al Jazeera broadcast an interesting report which included interviews with the loved ones of those killed in Iraq by US forces. The dead were not those killed by Americans in the "line of duty" but those killed in the action highlighted by Bradley Manning.
No matter how many times you watch "collateral murder" it never fails to shock. The blas`e attitude of members of the US military mowing people down without a second thought sends a chill down your spine. If you have never watched the full video it is worth doing so.
Watching the interviews with some of the relatives of those killed was brutal. Their pain was visible. Two members of the US military who regretted the action were also interviewed.
The consensus was that military episodes such as the one shown in "collateral murder" happened all the time in the Iraq war. They only became a problem when Manning leaked abuse details to the world.
The Iraq war was not Obama's but George W Bush's and UK PM Tony Blair's. In Britain Blair lost political support primarily because people viewed the Iraq war as illegal. To this day many people still believe that Bush and Blair are war criminals. In truth of course war criminals are invariably on the losing side. Some would say it is the winning war criminals trying the losing ones.
War is a dirty business and terrible acts play out all the time. A highly trained military force should only commit atrocities rarely, if ever. However US forces do not have a good track record.
Currently a military trial is underway at Fort Hood. Maj. Nidal Hasan admits shooting dead 13 army personnel and injuring more than 30 others when he went on a killing rampage on November 5, 2009. He rightly faces life in jail or the death penalty for his actions if proved guilty.
However, what about US SSG Robert Bales who shot dead 17 Afghan civilians, including women and children, in 2012?
Wikipedia claims: On March 23, 2012 Bales was formally charged with seventeen counts of murder and six counts of assault and attempted murder. He is being held in detention at Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. On May 29, 2013 the media reported that Bales will plead guilty in return for a life sentence, avoiding the death penalty. Bales was found guilty in a plea deal on June 5, 2013.
A hearing is set for August to determine whether Bales will be eligible for parole after 10 years.
Would such an outcome mean that the USA values an American life more than an Afghan?
Killer Bales could be a free man in 10 years but will whistle-blowers Manning and Snowden? The answer is probably no. Guantanamo Bay says it all. Prisoners held without trial for more than a decade, many now on hunger strike.
US citizens are rightly proud of their country but some forget that foreigners love their countries too. Criticism is healthy as it holds our leaders to account and is one way to prevent dictatorships. Viewing all US criticism as Un-American is not healthy. It harks back to the McCarthy era and the witch hunts against any possible communist activity. A generation brainwashed to fear "reds under the bed" and perhaps little has changed.
The conclusion is that western hypocrisy knows no bounds in the 21st Century. Is it right that we do as we want, as long as we are not caught? If that is the way of the world now we should be thankful for brave whistle-blowers.
As kids we are taught that stealing is wrong, whether you are caught or not. Somewhere along the line morals and standards have slipped and are manipulated for our own ends.
President Obama may not have created Gitmo but he has failed to close it. The time has passed for slick words aimed at appeasing we, "the little people". Is he nothing more than a good actor who has a way with words or is he truly working for change for the better?
Source links embedded in report
Op-Ed: In spite of a Q & A session held online Monday with the Guardian as go-between and whistleblower Edward Snowden in the hot-seat the man remains elusive. Just where in the world is Edward Snowden at this moment in time is any person's guess although Monday it was a hide-out in Hong Kong. The less people that know the whereabouts of Snowden the better. Keeping secrets often proves to be a test too far and information can be blurted out accidentally.
According to the results of the Q & A Snowden waited to blow the whistle on US snooping until President Obama had showed that he would not control the issue. When it became abudantly clear he would not Snowden outed the NSA surveillance services dodgy dealings and himself.
Edward made it plain in the interview that if the security services want to access your private data they will. They have the means and apparently no qualms about doing so. He went to say that he felt he had the support of many members of the public but that may not be true in America where he is being painted as a national traitor. Mr Snowden expressed his disappointment with the mainstream media who are joining in his character assassination, simply confirming what most people already knew, that mainstream media is in the pockets of government and other powers, and is far from independent.
His advice to try and outwit the snoopers is using strong encryption when online but he accepts that surveillance bodies can find ways around that. He also said, what we believe, that talk of him being a Chinese spy is stuff and nonsense and offered as a distraction. If he is in the pay of the Chinese why he is still on the run?
As for being called a traitor by Dick Cheney, he said:
Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.................Guardian
You have to applaud Snowden for selecting the British publication the Guardian as his chosen media outlet. It is as far as we are aware an honorable publication unlike many others in the UK. Tuesday the Guardian carried a report about Lonnie Snowden, Edward's father. Lonnie asks his son to 'measure what you're going to do' but says he disagrees with the US surveillance. He has sent a plea to his son to stop leaking information to the World and return home to face the music in the USA.
Whether Lonnie acted independently or has been pressurised to make this appeal is not known. As a parent he is bound to be concerned. Right-minded people applaud whistle-blowers but would not want that person to be a close loved one.
Whatever happens next Snowden has blown it with the US authorities. Will they offer him a plea bargain to "shut the hell up" or will they look him up and throw the key away?
Lonnie went public after reading and seeing so much damning information about his son in the last few days. He wanted to set the record straight and said:
“We want you to be safe, we want you to be happy, but I know you’re your own man and you’re going to do what you feel that you have to do. I believe firmly that you are a man of principle. I believe in your character. I don’t know what you’ve seen, but I just ask that you measure what you’re going to do and not release any more information.
Yes, and that is the point.
So what will happen next? Ed may continue to release information until he is caught or just disappears. He could be hounded, captured, sent to jail or killed. Sadly there are endless possibilities, and all are bad news.
Politicians in the US have been caught with their pants down doing the proverbial on all of us. They may choose to view him as a traitor, whilst those of us who value our freedom and privacy may prefer to see them as treacherous.
They have betrayed the trust of the electorate under a veiled umbrella of terrorism when in fact they have even used the surveillance systems to spy on each other. If you support Edward Snowden keep his story in the news, contradict damning reports and lobby your politicians. None may have any positive effect but we can only try.
Bradley Manning has been treat in a deplorable fashion. You can argue about his 'crimes' until you are blue in the face but, he as been treat in a manner most decent people would not use on a dog.
People in the USA are divided over Mr Manning and what should be his fate. TEK published an op-ed in March 2012 comparing the treatment of Bradley with that of the so-called rogue US soldier who had recently killed 17 civilians in Afghanistan. It tried to address the lack of justice Mr Manning was afforded. It was an eye-opener to just how bigoted many people remain in the 21st Century. It showed that a fair trial in the West is a concept rather than a right. It is ironic that we, the west, want to push our rights and beliefs onto the ME but shy away from following them through at home.
So what was Bradley's crime? In March we wrote,
Bradley Manning was a 22-year-old US Army analyst when he allegedly passed sensitive information which was ultimately revealed to the World. Facing 22 charges of obtaining and distributing government secrets Manning is thought by some to be a Hero and by others to be a Traitor,
Bradley is in the news again as a pre-trial hearing makes a startling announcement. A US military judge has said that if Pfc Manning is convicted, his sentence could be reduced by 112 days. The reason for the possible reduction is that he 'suffered illegal punishment during his nine-month detention, following his arrest in 2010, reports the BBC. At that time he was held for 23 hours a day, in a windowless cell. Pfc Manning was shackled for the hour he was out of his cell, and his jailers have tried to say that the strict measures where as he had suicidal thoughts. I bet he had!.
Manning faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy. In the four-day pre-trial hearing a judge argued that Manning's treatment was "more rigorous than necessary" but she excused this saying it. "became excessive in relation to legitimate government interests".
So how does the 112 days stack up? 20 days credit in exchange for guards continuing to remove Pfc Manning's underwear at night and 10 days for denying him exercise, the Pentagon said. The defense request to reduce any sentence by 10 days for every day of his nearly nine months, of being held with excessive treatment, was refused. It would have reduced said sentence by seven years. Instead Judge Lind agreed to 112 days of the nine-month period.
Manning's offer to accept responsibility for over 250,000 lcables leaked to wikileaks has been denied. He will face the 22 charges, which will include aiding the enemy. Dismissal of all charges is listed as a possible remedy for an Article 13 violation, that is excessive abusive treatment. It will not be availble for Manning
The Court Marshall is scheduled for March 2012. The kangaroo court as that is what iot is proving to be will decide the fate of this young man. He may have been misguided or simply foolish but he will be the scapegoat. A way to set an example. Jail will be a way to silence him. After all as Bradley has already proved he knows tooo many wrongdoings by the US military and the authorities.
Good luck Bradley.
More at the Guardian
There has been a media frenzy taking place in Knightsbridge, London, Sunday August, 19. It is happening outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy where Julian Assange is holed up. For two months he has remained inside the property knowing that he will be arrested should he step foot outside.
Assange has become something of a thorn in the side of the UK government and officials in the US. Primarily wanted to answer sex allegations in Sweden it is widely believed that once out of the UK America will attempt to extradite him to the USA. His involvement with the Wikileaks cables could lead to him being imprisoned or even facing the death penalty.
The US does not have a good track record in such matters. Young Bradley Manning who was embroiled in Wikileaks was jailed without "due process" where he faced atrocities. Manning opened many people's eyes as to what was going on in countries where the US miltary were active. For that we should be grateful.
Assange announced that at 2pm today he would make an official statement. It is thought that would mean him stepping outside although he may choose to speak from a balcony of the building. When Ecuador agreed to give Assange asylum he agreed not to make political speeches so just what he will say is not clear.
Around 1pm his lawyer spoke to the media outside of the Embassy. Assange has it was revealed asked his lawyer to carry out a legal action to protect his and the wikileak's rights. He has said that he is thankful to the President and people of Ecuador.
More to follow around 2pm.......
2:05pm people were seen getting a balcony ready for Mr Assange. Microphones and cables were set up as the Police held the media back.
2:15pm Whether it be for dramatic effect or just simply one those days, Mr Assange has yet to appear
2:20 Julian came out onto the Balcony. His speech included thanks to the crowd, The Ecuadorian Embassy staff, the people and their President. Mr Assange talked of the night during the week when British police prepared to storm the embassy. He thanked those who have kept a vigil outside for preventing action.
Julian went on to thank the staff of Wikileaks, his family and his children, who he promised he would be with soon. The freedoms that Wikileaks aim to protect and the threat of the US government were voiced. Julian asked President Obama to stop its witch-hunt against wikileaks and abandon the FBI investigation. He went on to state that the US administration's war on whistle-blowers must end.
Finally he spoke of Bradley Manning. The Private who has been jailed for two years without trial. He said he must be released but this is bound to fall on deaf ears. He reminded the crowd that Bradley has spent more than the legal amount of days in jail without a trial.
Yet of course the US is the first to preach to other countries. He thanked the crowd, gave a thumbs up and paused for photographs before going back inside.
Wikieaks founder Julian Assange is wanted in Sweden for alleged sexual crimes which occurred almost two years ago. He stands charged of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion, involving two women. Mr Assange has denied any wrong doing and has continued to fight his extradition.
If the allegations are true the two women have been badly let down by the justice system. If they are not Mr Assange could find himself caught in an ever increasing web.
It is no secret that the USA would like to get their hands on Assange. His published wiki-leaks revealed far more than US officials wanted as public knowledge. One casualty of this affair has been Bradley Manning. His fate remains uncertain.
Assange has continued to maintain that the allegations from Sweden are all a ploy. Once in Sweden he thinks the US will easily be able to move him to that country. Either that or he will face a long sentece in Sweden for something he claims he did not do.
The latest twist in Mr Assanges complicated and controversial llfe happened last night, June 19, 2012, when he entered the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. His reason for doing so was to request asylum.
In doing so he breached his bail conditions and now faces arrest by UK police should he leave the building. Officials at the embassy have said that they must give Assange's request the necessary attention. This is common practice in embassies. Assange could have waited until a time of day when he had some freedom but he choose to enter the embassy at night.
Recently Julian had interviewed the leader of Ecuador as part of his new role on RT, Russia Today. Is this when he conceived the plan? How safe he would be in Ecuador is uncertain.
The Guardian has reported "Brita Sundberg-Weitman, a former head judge at a district court in Solna, a Stockholm suburb, who gave evidence in Assange's appeal against extradition in the UK courts, said she feared Assange's decision to seek refuge in Ecuador was misguided. "I can understand that Assange is afraid of being sent from Sweden to the US, but I am not sure it will turn out well for him," she said."I don't know what his situation would be if he really landed in Ecuador and whether he would be safe. If you think of the policy of the Obama administration to kill whoever the president considers a terrorist wherever they are in the world."
Last week Assange's appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected. This meant that extradition was imminent. Perhaps seeking asylum was simply a last ditch effort of a desperate man? Then again it could have been more contrived.
March 12, 2012. A new week begins but will it be more of the same in Afghanistan? The aftermath of Koran burnings by US military personnel has hardly settled and now reportedly a lone rogue US soldier has massacred at least 15 civilians. The dead include women and children. All were murdered as they slept in their homes.
Perhaps surprisingly for Westerners it is not known if the Afghan people will react as strongly to yesterday's tragedy as they did to the Koran burnings. The Koran has such a special significance to the Afghan people that it was an attack on the population. That said this weekend's murders could still result in an increase in terrorism. The Taliban have however vowed recriminations.
Many of the media reports that have been coming out of Afghanistan in recent years tell a terrible tale. The US and its propaganda team may try an ongoing damage limitations exercise but it is safe to say that this weekend's murders were not an isolated incident. US soldiers urinating on dead Afghans, Kill teams and more appear to be just the tip of the iceberg.
The US is due to leave Afghanistan in the coming years but it had hoped to leave behind a contingency force. What could prove to be a deal breaker on this though is immunity from prosecution for US troops. Yes the US likes to protect its military, or least it does sometimes. Apparently immunity from prosecution was a deal breaker in Iraq. In the end having fought hard for so long the US simply pulled out every single member of US forces. It may be that rogue US soldiers will face American justice but what will that entail?
For this blogger the case of Bradley Manning comes to mind. This young soldier was obviously a troubled soul. Accused of leaking secrets to Wikileaks he has endured years in jail without trial. He was kept in isolation and there have been accusations levied against his jailers, of torture. Manning showed the world a little oh what was really going on with some of the US military abroad. For some he will always be a traitor and for others a hero. Did his actions jeopardise the lives of others? Maybe. Did he reveal a little of what was really happening in Iraq? Definitely.
The US is often viewed from other countries as a "bunch of hypocrites" I say the US as it is successive US administrations not simply the Obama one.
Whether it turns out that this weekend's killings were by a lone soldier or not justice must be served. Until a full investigation is complete do not rule out any conclusion. It could still be a cover up for one of the US night raids that went wrong. Time will tell if the truth is eventually released.
If it was on lone soldier who had flipped will he still face prosecution? You could say Bradley Manning fitted that category but officials do not care about him. He however did not directly kill anyone.
A lone gunman in for example a school in America would feel the full brunt of the law, no matter what his mental status was. So what is the difference with these Afghan murders?
If you have not seen it before watch the attached video. It shows murder plain and simple called "engaging" the enemy or should that be a group of Afghan men..This blogger thanks Bradley Manning for his bravery in ensuring that such murder did not go unseen. Out of sight and out of mind.
Bradley Manning faced a possible life sentence in jail or even the death penalty. His fate is still not clear.
Final thoughts: The perpetrator of this crime may indeed be suffering from PTSD. He could however have carried out a revenge attack for the Koran burning US deaths. He could have been part of a night attack that went wrong. He could have wanted a way out of Afghanistan. He may have wanted to go out with a bang. He may have looked at previous lenient sentences which have been handed out to US troops, other than people like Bradley Manning, and thought I can do as I like and get away with it. That is what comes of a record of failed justice. Time to come clean, hold your hands up and mete out appropriate justice.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog