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Ellsberg writes: "Of course, there have been many who shown great courage on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq. But some have noted that we don't have the named heroes of the kind we did during World War I and World War II ... I see a hero in these wars whose example should inspire others. His name is Bradley Manning."

Bradley Manning. (photo: Getty Images)
Bradley Manning. (photo: Getty Images)

Hearing Bradley Manning for the First Time

By Daniel Ellsberg, Reader Supported News

12 March 13


oday, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an organization that I co-founded and of which I'm on the board, has published an audio recording of Bradley Manning's speech to a military court from two weeks ago, in which he gives his reasons and motivations behind leaking over 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks.

Whoever made this recording, and I don't know who the person is, has done the American public a great service. This marks the first time the American public can hear Bradley Manning, in his own voice explain what he did and how he did it.

After listening to this recording and reading his testimony, I believe Bradley Manning is the personification of the word whistleblower.

Secrecy Surrounding Trial

Manning faces some of exact same charges I faced forty two years ago when I leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and eighteen other papers. The only difference is I was a civilian, so I could stay out of jail on bond while the trial was going on, and was able to talk to the media throughout. I took responsibility for what I had done on the day of my arrest, and I was able to explain why I did it.

But thanks to the judge's rulings in Manning's case, the public has barely heard anything from Manning at all. No official transcripts of the proceeding are released to the public, and when documents like the judge's court orders are released, it is weeks after the fact - and only in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Now I hope the American people can see Manning in a different light. In 1971, I was able to give the media my side of the story, and it is long overdue Manning is able to do the same. As Manning has now done, I stipulated as to all the facts for which I was accused. And I did that for several reasons, and I suspect that Manning had the same motives.

First, it was to exonerate a number of people who were suspected of helping me, like former Defense Department colleagues Mort Halperin, Leslie Gelb and others. I was able to state flatly they did not know about the release in the midst of President Nixon's anxious desire to indict several of them.

And Manning, in saying he took responsibility for the leaks and describing in great detail how he did it, was able to say Julian Assange and Wikileaks had nothing to do with his decision to leak. WikiLeaks had not giving him any special means beyond what a normal newspaper would do.

Now, there's really now excuse for the grand jury chasing Julian Assange for conspiracy to commit espionage to continue. If they're not going to indict the New York Times - and there is no constitutional basis for them to do so - there's no reason for them to investigate or indict Assange or WikiLeaks.

As the former general counsel of the New York Times James Goodale once said, "Charging Julian Assange with 'conspiracy to commit espionage' would effectively be setting a precedent with a charge that more accurately could be characterized as 'conspiracy to commit journalism.'"

The second thing Manning did with his statement - which you can finally hear today - was to explain his motives (he could not do that while he was still putting the responsibility on the government - by pleading not guilty - to prove what he had done beyond a reasonable doubt).

They were the same motives I felt 42 years ago. We both felt the horror of reading about deceptive, and even criminal, activity. We both felt the public needed this information and should have had it years ago. So we both released classified documents about a bloody, hopeless war.

Such criminal, dangerous, and deceptive behavior by the government can only be changed if Congress and the public are informed of them. And when official secrecy allows the government to cover these facts up, the only way to bring them to the public is to break secrecy regulations.


Some of the most critical documents leaked by Manning revealed torture by the Iraqi government, which the US knew about, and according to the international treaty on torture, the US should have required investigations.

In fact, the Iraq war logs show hundreds of instances of cases of torture, and in every case, the soldiers were given the illegal order not to investigate.

In his statement to the court, Manning talks about an incident where he thought men who were apprehended shouldn't have been, and that they were being handed over to the Iraqis to possibly be tortured. He went to his superior and was told to forget about it.

Bradley Manning, by releasing this information, is the only solider who actually obeyed this law, the international treaty, and by extension, the Constitution.

Manning Was Discriminating

Critics have alleged that a major difference between my case and Manning's is that I was discriminating in what I leaked, while Manning wasn't. He just dumped some material that doesn't need to be out, they say. This is simply false.

First, it's important to point out most of the material he put out was unclassified. The rest was classified 'secret,' which is relatively low level. All of the Pentagon Papers was classified top secret.

But in a fact no one seems to observe from his statement, Manning was working within a "SCIF," which stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. To get into a SCIF, a soldier needs a clearance higher than top secret. This means he had access to the highest classified material, such as communications and signals intelligence. This means he could've put out information top secret and higher, and purposely chose not to do so.

Aiding The Enemy

It's important to remember through all this that Manning has already pled guilty to ten charges of violating military regulations (few of which, if any would be civilian crimes) and faces twenty years in jail. Yet the prosecutors are still going ahead with the absurd charge of "aiding the enemy," a capital offense, of which the prosecutors are asking for life in prison.

Nixon could have brought that charge against me too. I was revealing wrongdoing by our government in a public way, and that information could have been read by our enemies in Vietnam. Of course, I never had that intent and Manning didn't either. We both leaked information to provoke a domestic debate about military force and government secrecy. And to say we did so to aid the enemy is absurd.

This charge could have huge effects on the free speech of anyone in the military and journalists across the country. Any op-ed that is critical of military tactics or any news story that exposes misdeeds of the government can potentially lead to a capital offense.

Worse, the charge purports to apply to anyone, not just the military. It's blatantly unconstitutional.

Peace Prize

For the third straight year, Manning has been nominated for the Noble Peace Prize by, among others, Tunisian parliamentarians. Given the role the WikiLeaks cables played in the Arab Spring, and their role in speeding up the end of the Iraq War, I can think of no one more deserving who is deserving of the peace prize.

He's also deserving of the Congressional Medal of Honor. This medal, awarded by Congress - and not the executive branch - is given to military personnel, who during wartime, do what they should do for their country and their comrades, at the greatest risk to themselves.

Of course, there have been many who shown great courage on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq. But some have noted that we don't have the named heroes of the kind we did during World War I and World War II, such as Sergeant York or Audie Murphy.

I see a hero in these wars whose example should inspire others. His name Bradley Manning. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+95 # ER444 2013-03-12 14:48
Bradley Manning deserves the Nobel Peace Prize!!! President Obama does not. There are many things Obama has done to earn praise, fighting for international peace is not on the list. It was obvious to me that the Nobel Commission was using the prize to try influence American politics. I felt then that it was wrong to use the prize in this manner and that Obama hadn't earned it YET. Still, I hoped at the time he would earn it after the fact. He has dissapointed me greatly. His policy of using drones is on its own enough to disqualify him. It would be the most eloquent of statements to rescind Obama's prize and award Private Manning a prize of his own. Go Oslo!!! Do the right thing.
-38 # Sensible1 2013-03-13 09:44
This has nothing to do with Bradley Manning, but instead to blog your intense hatred for our President, the office of the President, the lack of respect for the honorable peace prize commission, and all those revered recipients worldwide is reprehensible and a disservice to all Americans. No doubt you are representative of the extreme right (GOP).
+16 # 6thextinction 2013-03-13 12:51
It has much to do with Bradley Manning because he IS a worthy Noble Peace Prize candidate for exposing war crimes. Plus his status as one of the six whistleblowers prosecuted under Pres. Obama's tenure so far (exceeding the total record of a half century of US presidents) shows the sad irony of Pres. Obama's receiving the Noble Peace Prize. I'm sure the Noble committee regrets conferring it on him prematurely.
-3 # Johnny 2013-03-14 00:31
We wish. But Zionist money controls the Nobel committee. They knew what they were doing.
+7 # engelbach 2013-03-13 14:22
The only hatred I see is coming from you.

And of course your last sentence is simply idiotic.
-11 # Johnny 2013-03-14 00:29
"Sensible" don't seem to be very sensible. Instead, he be wallowing at the feet of our Nazi Fuerher. He be a good Nazi. He have a sexual loyalty to the great leader. He swallow fascist propaganda don't think for hisself. I bet he get all his information from TV news and other big time controlled media.
+3 # Al21 2013-03-15 15:07
It's your accusations of ER444 that are extreme. There are many on the left as well as independents who are not happy with the President's track record on the wars abroad. Why not discuss your views and debate with some intelligence and equanimity instead of anonymously using so much vitriol to make your assumptions you have no idea about.
0 # RobertMStahl 2013-03-17 09:33
BObama ain't no Bernie Tiede, role-reversal and all that. Being a drama major seems to be the intent of one of them, at least. That is far more common than we know. "In the beginning was mush and without form" is completely confused with "In the beginning was the word," which never amounted to much more than the basis for our tax code, regulations that have nothing to do with statutes.
+26 # Henry 2013-03-12 21:50

Bradley Manning's full statement
+5 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-03-12 22:29
This is the song I hear in my head when I think of Bradley Manning:
+10 # Douglas Jack 2013-03-13 15:18
Lowflyin, The song has mixed loud-music hard-rock intact airplane-destro yed airplanes, imagery & music used by both the military to drive young people to war & distract them inside their tank cockpits. It is not a clear statement. I'm assuming you are referring to it as antiwar because of the "My country right or wrong" as maybe satyrical lyrics. Personally I'm tired of fearful beaten, drunk, drugged, bald & short-hair young angry men trying to get their acts together in the military & becoming violent tools of the imperial complex killing machine. Bradley Manning at least transformed himself to become a sensitive intelligent fellow working without electronic amplification. What a world of difference.

I prefer Bob Marley's "Chase those crazy baldheads out of town"

Them crazy, them crazy
We gonna chase
Those crazy baldheads
Chase them crazy
Chase those crazy
Baldheads out of town

I and I build the cabin
I and I plant the corn
Didn't my people before me
Slave for this country
Now you look me with a scorn
Then you eat up all my corn

Build your penitentiary
We build your school
Brainwash education to make us the fools
Hate is your reward for our love
Telling us of your God above

Here comes the conman
Coming with his con plan
We won't take no bribe
We got to stay alive
+35 # FactsFirst 2013-03-12 22:58
Amen, ER444, Amen. This young man is a hero. Obama is not close to that status.
-45 # trini-boy 2013-03-12 23:15
I am torn and conflicted by the Bradley case/dilemma!-? Bradley swore an oath of allegiance and duty to his country and The Army; he made a promise; a commitment to "serve and defend"! Bradley, from what i have read knew what he was getting-in-to; up-front! And, he continued his cloak-and-dagge r work for quite sometime!-? Yet, while still "under-oath" and still in-uniform he violated his "covenant" with the Army and his country!-? Yes, he did uncover "wrong"; and "transgressions "; but, it seems to-me that the proper way to have handled this "dilemma" would to have been to resign from his oath/covenant with the Army; his country and then reveal/expose the transgressions! Two wrongs, don't make-a-right! My perspective/opi nion on Bradley is that he is nothing more than a "grandstander"; a 'publicity-houn d"!!
+30 # Nick Reynolds 2013-03-13 09:04
"Bradley swore an oath of allegiance and duty to his country and The Army" No he didn't!!! Like every other member of the Military, like every official in the country, local, state, or federal, including the President, and like every member of every Bar in every state, he took an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend" the Constitution. And, I'll admit, that's pretty much a dead letter. But what he did did not violate his oath.
+26 # Phlippinout 2013-03-13 09:08
Sorry Trini, what your saying is that Brad Manning should follow rules but the military who represents us around the world is clear to commit atrocities and thumb its nose at rules. I say when you swear an allegiance to a system that makes you question your own morals then some people are going to do the brave and right thing. The soldiers who take place in these horrific actions are going to have their own ghosts, answer to their own conscience, Bradley decided he would like to sleep at night. Your conflicted self needs to get over it. You cannot win a war in a country that has witnesses to the brutality and stupidity. I thank Brad Manning for opening my eyes to the extreme disfunction of our military. Those old guys running the show need to retire and let some evolved thinking into the mix. Its disgraceful that so many Americans seek an allegiance with such a pack of lies and fabrications.
-4 # Sensible1 2013-03-13 09:49
Bradley Manning is in a fight for his life, and although he is praised by his revelations of war and the tragedies of war, it is expected that he, and his defense lawyers will argue his actions as patriotic and worthy of acclaim. However, it may be difficult to justify his breach of military law.
+6 # Johnny 2013-03-14 00:37
Manning swore to defend the Constitution. That is what he did. Nearly all the "all volunteer" (i.e. mercenary) military is too cowardly to live up to their oath.
+2 # 6thextinction 2013-03-13 13:08
Good luck, trini-boy, resigning from the U.S. Army! Or haven't you made that covenant, yet? Clearly, your proclaimed defense of and blind faith in the military would indicate hypocrisy if you have not.
+22 # engelbach 2013-03-13 14:24
That's incorrect.

He swore an oath to protect the Constitution.

As such, he is obligated to report violations of it.

And you too, would be obligated to report knowledge of a crime.

Manning is being prosecuted by the criminals he exposed.
+39 # Douglas Jack 2013-03-12 23:19
After reading Manning's written testimony & now listening to his audio statement, one can conclude that he has that rare personal & professional integrity, fortitude, intelligence, human-compassio n & bravery desperately needed for someone to be president of the USA. Alone in an army of millions, Bradley refuses to sanction torture, murder, massacre & illegally following constitution-vi olating orders which would put the military & America to shame. Then again, in a colonial nation built upon systematically planned genocide, Bradley's integrity takes us only to the next stage of resolving our illegality.
+26 # pushingforpeace 2013-03-13 00:56
I agree 1000% He is a hero. Can you hear his statement online anywhere?
+6 # Douglas Jack 2013-03-13 14:46 follow this link to the audio in different versions 1 hour 8 minutes long or directly for this mp3 version. The Press Freedom link is hidden in the text above.
0 # Al21 2013-03-15 15:20
Here's another link.
+34 # tpmco 2013-03-13 03:05
Thanks for this, Mr. Ellsberg. Like yourself, PFC Manning must know he is involved in a series of historical events unfolding. He seems pretty smart for a guy only 25 years old. A few years ago there was a well-publicized case of a Marine who, in-between your event and Manning, did an illegal act, and was never court martialed. His name was Oliver North. He was a Colonel. And that story got out on TV.

When I ask people what they think of Bradley Manning, they say "who?". People don't know about this. This is a big problem with the press, the news media. I've seen more coverage of a Papal vacancy in the past two weeks than I've seen of Manning's case in the past two years.

Shifting gears, I can't imagine a scenario where a Private First Class would be granted exclusive access to such privileged information without consent somewhere higher in rank. He kept the information on a CD with access to all of his coworkers and supervisors. I guess if I were a juror at the trial, I would probably say that someone really fucked up, and the government better get some guys in this case to share the blame. Manning only leaked well-known information. Information which we should have had without his intervention.

You have, finally, highlighted the looming question as to why the Army is continuing to prosecute the charges to which Manning pleads guilty. Which North was never charged.
+9 # Johnny 2013-03-14 00:40
North served the shadow government. Manning served the Constitution.
+33 # RMDC 2013-03-13 05:05
Manning is a great American hero. He discovered great crimes and he reported them to the american people. It is still astonishing that there are so few Bradley Mannings, so many cowards who saw what he saw and said nothing.

We all owe Manning a great deal. He's being used as an example to others who have access to government secrets. They will be even more afraid to blow the whistle.
+15 # RLF 2013-03-13 06:38
No constitutional grounds for charges against Assange? When did that ever stop our constitutionall y challenged president and justice dept?
+20 # fredboy 2013-03-13 08:03
Manning revealed the outright criminal evil of the war--especially the video of the American gunship crew knowingly gunning down unarmed civilians and laughing about it. And, of course, never being punished.

He sacrificed his future by doing what the “inbedded” (ie in bed with) news media and all others were too cowardly to do: he shared the truth of our 10 year Iraq invasion lie. History will indeed judge him as the false conflict's ONLY hero.
+8 # charsjcca 2013-03-13 08:33
When we are not sure of the principles we are support we hold secret trials, as was the case following WWII with the Japanese. We killed a few and took the property of others.
+11 # Kathymoi 2013-03-13 09:02
Me too. And I believe you are right. Lassuange is up for charges of committing journalism, something that major media reporters are willing to do.
manning is accused of being an enemy to the state because he revealed crimes committed by the government. That speaks well for Manning but reveals the seriousness of the crimes of our government. It reveals that our government is criminal in the first degree!
+11 # MidwestDick 2013-03-13 09:38
Go here to sign free Bradley petition

You may want to start another petition asking the Pres to award Bradley a Congressional Medal of Honor.
+16 # cafetomo 2013-03-13 09:53
Notice they kept him in a hole until they could ramp up the electronic espionage paranoia in this country. Always helps to have the self righteousness of an enraged and fearful mob on your side.

The media plays this country like a harp from hell.
+13 # John Escher 2013-03-13 10:15
Actually, it was President Obama who spoke about coming to deserve the Nobel Prize in the future as he delivered his notorious acceptance speech in which he announced more foolish war. So he is not as bad a man as some make him out to be. There's at least some honesty there is what I'm trying to say. He's also told us, on a number of subjects, to hold his feet to the fire, if in different words (and I prefer his). BUT LET'S DO IT. LET'S MAKE HIM DO RIGHT BY BRADLEY MANNING. AND HONOR THE BASICS OF AMERICAN JOURNALISM AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH. He might have to admit that he has been terribly, terribly wrong. Does a politician ever do that? Let's look at this as a decency test. There are those who say he (President Obama) has "a good heart," you know. Well...?
0 # Johnny 2013-03-14 00:44
Those who "say Obomber has a good heart" are wrong. He has no heart at all. He is a mass murderer.
+15 # tedrey 2013-03-13 11:41
History will record that, while the U.S. military complex was furiously leading this country and all the decent things it stood for to destruction, Bradley Manning put himself on the line to try to save it.
+15 # roberth 2013-03-13 14:32
The Oath of Office (for officers):

"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the _____ (Military Branch) of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance tot he same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God." Robert L. Hickerson 1st Lt USAFR retired
+12 # John Escher 2013-03-13 16:51
This oath doesn't mean "My country, right or wrong." It means, "Go after domestic enemies trying to perpetuate foolish war through evasion. Go after them and expose them." So help me God.

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