Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the Bradley Manning trial was his apology yesterday to the court that, “I am sorry that my actions hurt people…(and) the United States” when, in fact, there is no proof they did either. This show of repentance and contrition offered during the sentencing phase of his trial for feeding WikiLeaks 700,000 military and diplomatic documents is pardonable given that Manning faces 90 years in prison and the price he’s paid for his past honesty and courage has been three years behind bars, during which time he was tortured, humiliated, and hectored as any captive of the medieval Inquisition.
So here is Manning, pleading for forgiveness, confessing the errors of his way, every word out of his mouth undercutting the true reasons for his action, which was that he prayed his leaks would spark “worldwide discussions, debates and reforms.” Yet, who is this idealistic young man from Crescent, Okla., to stand against the likes, say, of a Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State who charged Manning’s action “threatens our national security.” Ms. Clinton, of course, by supporting America’s criminal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, (for which she will never be asked to apologize in a court of law,) did damage to America that would be unimaginable to PFC Manning, in that the wars she supported have drained the pockets of American taxpayers more effectively than a thousand Las Vegas casinos, and filled the morgues of the Middle East with the remains of a million innocent human beings gunned down by American firepower of the sort that emanated in 2007 from a U.S. Apache helicopter over Baghdad that we would not know about today if PFC Manning had not sent gunsight videotapes of the massacre to WikiLeaks. “There is no evidence that a single US soldier or civilian has been harmed as a result of his leaks,” writes Chase Madar in the August 19-26 issue of The Nation magazine.
Forensic psychiatrist Navy Reserve Captain David Moulton testified, “Manning was under the impression that the information he was giving was going to change the way the world saw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and future wars, actually,” according to a Reuters account of the trial. As Manning is discovering to his sorrow, that kind of idealism has no place in America today, when the country Abraham Lincoln called “the last, best hope of Earth” has degenerated into a common imperial war machine.
“Defense lawyers seeking a milder sentence rested their case on Wednesday after Manning’s statement,” Reuters reported. “With about a dozen witnesses including Army superiors, mental health professionals and Manning’s own sister, they sought to show Judge Colonel Denise Lind that commanders ignored signs of mental stress.” In fact, the defense has put forward arguments the judge may well dismiss out of hand, such as Manning’s troubled upbringing, the alcoholism of his parents, his desire to be a member of the opposite sex, the unraveling of a romantic relationship, etc., etc. Pardon me, but that ain’t gonna wash.
No, Bradley Manning is going to do hard time for America’s sins guided by a defense that had no chance from the start of obtaining a fair trial, especially after President Obama prejudicially declared two years ago that Manning “broke the law” when he “dumped” those documents. Obama claimed, “We’re a nation of laws. We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate.” (!!) This from Global Terrorist Number One, a man who has gutted the Constitution by signing the National Defense Authorization Act into law and has empowered himself to kill people in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere, without legal warrants or trials. Obama’s assassinations are based on “suspicions” of a CIA Gestapo that has betrayed democracy at every turn while compiling an ugly record of Ku Klux Klan-style kidnapping, torture and murder Obama chooses to ignore. Sadly, the prosecution of Bradley Manning has come to symbolize the new fascism that has taken over America. When Judge Lind sentences Manning, the nation’s prison population will increase at one stroke from two million to 300 million.
Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public relations consultant who formerly worked in the civil rights movement as well as for major dailies and wire services. To comment or contribute to his Anti-War News Service, reach him at [email protected].