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Galindez writes: "First of all Bradley, it is the court, the Army, and the American people that should be apologizing to you. We failed you, not the other way around."

Bradley Manning reviewing a document during his court-martial. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN)
Bradley Manning reviewing a document during his court-martial. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN)

An Apology to Bradley Manning

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

15 August 13


RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning

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Here is my reply to Bradley Manning's apology … line by line. Bradley's words in bold.

First, Your Honor, I want to start off with an apology.

First of all Bradley, it is the court, the Army, and the American people that should be apologizing to you. We failed you, not the other way around.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry that my actions hurt people.

Your actions saved lives. You exposed war crimes, you exposed our country's "narcissistic" foreign policy. It is ironic that they tried to portray you as "narcissistic" because you exposed our how our government believes it is privileged to violate international law because "we" somehow know better.

I'm sorry that it hurt the United States.

You are a hero, a whistleblower who helped the United States. The government was unable to present any evidence that anyone died or was harmed as a result of your leaks. Even the so-called diplomatic harm as a result of the leak of the cables was really harm caused by the actions of our diplomats that you brought out in the open. The truth can be messy, but we should not punish the messenger who reveals the ugly truth.

At the time of my decisions, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues, issues that are ongoing, and are continuing to affect me. Although they have caused me considerable difficulty in my life, these issues are not an excuse for my actions.

I applaud you for taking responsibility for your actions, and not blaming our dysfunctional society – but again, your actions were heroic. Our society and the Army failed you, Mr. Manning. While I don't believe anyone is fit for deployment to a combat zone, there were enough warning signs for the Army to not deploy you to Iraq. I understand that you are not using that as an excuse, but the Army should apologize for putting you in a situation that you were not capable of handling. After hearing about your upbringing, I understand why you joined the military to get the funding for your education. Unfortunately there is a de facto draft in our country: many people join the military to escape poverty or poor living conditions. You need treatment, not incarceration.

I understood what I was doing, and the decisions I made. However I did not truly appreciate the broader effects of my actions. Those effects are clearer to me now, through both self-reflection during my confinement, in its various forms, and through the merits and sentencing testimony that I've seen here. I'm sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions.

More important than any perceived harm that resulted from the leaks is the greater harm that was prevented. I believe your actions helped to quicken the pace for the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army speculates as to what the consequences of the leaks were – perhaps the real result was they will make soldiers and diplomats think twice before acting. The knowledge that they could not get away with doing wrong, and that someday their actions could become public, might lead to them to do the right thing. That is as likely as the Army's conjecture.

When I made these decisions I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.

You were right, you helped make the world a better place. You prevented a greater harm. If our country followed international law, you would not have been on trial. You did your duty to prevent a greater harm. If you hadn't exposed the criminal actions you revealed, then you would have been guilty of being complicit.

The last few years have been a learning experience. I look back on my decisions and wonder how on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better, over the decisions of those with the proper authority.

I only have one response, you did change the world for the better.

In retrospect, I should have worked more aggressively inside the system, as we discussed during the [...] statements. I had options and I should have used these options.

The "system" was and still is hiding crimes. The most effective way to address those crimes is exposing them. You did that, Bradley Manning. Don't second guess your actions, you did the right thing.

Unfortunately I can't go back and change things, I can only go forward. I want to go forward. Before I can do that though, I understand that I must pay a price for my decisions and actions.

I have committed acts of civil disobedience in the past and knew there would be consequences to my actions. I never faced 90 years in prison as you do now. I applaud you for your courage and pray that Judge Lind shows leniency. I understand your decision to show contrition, but many of us believe it is unjust for you to spend one more day in confinement while the criminals you exposed continue to enjoy their freedom.

Once I pay that price, I hope to one day live in a manner that I haven't been able to in the past. I want to be a better person, to go to college, to get a degree, and to have a meaningful relationship with my sister, with my sister's family, and my family. I want to be a positive influence on their lives, just as my Aunt Deborah has been to me.

I pray that day comes soon. You have been a positive influence on society. History will treat you more kindly than our current militaristic society. You will continue to be a hero to millions.

I have flaws and issues that I have to deal with, but I know that I can and will be a better person. I hope you can give me an opportunity to prove, not through words but through conduct, that I am a good person and that I can return to a productive life in society. Thank you, Your Honor.

None of us are perfect, Bradley. Your honorable conduct has already had a positive impact on society.

I am sorry - sorry that our society continues to fail you. Thank you, Bradley.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner
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