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Goodman writes: "One of the charges for which Manning was found guilty was 'wanton publication.' It's unprecedented in military law. Manning's lawyer called it a made-up offense. The real offense, for which no one has been charged, is the wanton disregard for human life that Manning exposed.'

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. (photo: Democracy Now!)
Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. (photo: Democracy Now!)

Manning, Snowden and Assange Took Risks to Expose Crime

By Amy Goodman, Guardian UK

03 August 13


RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning

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hat a dangerous edifice war is, how easily it may fall to pieces and bury us in its ruins," wrote Carl von Clausewitz, the 19th-century Prussian general and military theorist, in his seminal text "On War", close to 200 years ago. These lines came from the chapter "Information in War", a topic that resonates today, from Fort Meade, Maryland, where Bradley Manning has just been convicted of espionage in a military court, to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lived for more than a year, having been granted political asylum to avoid political persecution by the United States, to Russia, where National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary aslyum.

Manning's conviction sparked momentary interest among members of the elite media in the US, who spent scant time at the two-month court-martial, located just miles north of Washington DC, Manning's supporters expressed relief that he was found not guilty of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, which would likely have carried a sentence of life in prison. He was convicted on 20 of 22 charges, and could face up to 136 years in prison. The sentencing hearing is underway.

"Bradley Manning's alleged disclosures have exposed war crimes, sparked revolutions and induced democratic reforms," Assange said from the embassy. "He is the quintessential whistle-blower." Interestingly, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote about the leaks to Senator Carl Levin in 2010, saying,

The review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by this disclosure.

Manning made a statement at the start of the court-martial, wherein he took responsibility for the leaks, but, importantly, expressed his motivation. He commented specifically on the Apache attack helicopter video that recorded the slaughter of a dozen civilians in Baghdad on 12 July 2007. Two of those killed worked for the Reuters news agency, cameraman Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, a father of four.

We can listen to Manning in his own words, thanks to an unauthorized audio recording of his statement, anonymously leaked. He said:

The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seeming delightful blood-lust the aerial weapons team happened to have. They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life, and referred to them as quote-unquote 'dead bastards,' and congratulated each other on their ability to kill in large numbers. ... For me, this seemed similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.

One of the charges for which Manning was found guilty was "wanton publication". It's unprecedented in military law. Manning's lawyer called it a made-up offense. The real offense, for which no one has been charged, is the wanton disregard for human life that Manning exposed.

Manning's leak gave Reuters, and the world, a graphic view of the horror of modern war, of the violent death of two media workers in the line of duty.

As the young soldier also said in his eloquent statement, "I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained [in the leaks], it could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan."

Indeed, he did spark such a debate. The latest wave of disclosures, from Edward Snowden, has only intensified the debate, with a rare bipartisan coalition in Congress growing to clamp down on what many see as a runaway national-security state. Although a legislative amendment by Republican Justin Amash and Democrat John Conyers in the US House of Representatives was narrowly defeated last week, the two have authored a stand-alone bill, HR 2399, that will do the same.

Carl von Clausewitz wrote, "The great uncertainty of all data in war is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight." Manning took incredibly courageous actions to release data, to pierce the fog of war, to make public the machinations of modern American war-making. Edward Snowden has exposed the sophistication and extraordinary reach of the US surveillance state, cracking down on those who would dare to release information. And Julian Assange sits within the four walls of his embassy redoubt, persecuted for the crime of publishing. Yet those who planned the wars, those who committed war crimes, those who conduct illegal spying, for now, walk free. your social media marketing partner


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-62 # crinvegas 2013-08-03 10:24
I can tell you're very young. We've had surveillance since World War II. Today's surveillance, because of technology, is more extensive, but also more protected. In WWII, because surveillance was difficult, we even locked up Japanese citizens/reside nts in internment camps until the war was over. Read your history and then read our Constitution, particularly Article IIi section 3 and Article IV, section 2. You need to understand what treason is. These three men are criminals, not heroes. You write from emotion, not knowledge.
+35 # djnova50 2013-08-03 12:23
Amy Goodman was born in 1957. So, she's in her 50s. If that makes her "very young" then I must just be "young." The simple fact is that Assange, Snowden, and Manning can more likely be classified as whistleblowers. What they have done, hopefully, is to open up the American citizens eyes to the crimes that our government has been committing in our names. By some definitions, these men might not be "heroes." However, what they did really was done in the best interest of the many, rather than the few.
+3 # tm7devils 2013-08-04 00:34
Crinvegas: Would you please refrain from making any e majority of us would like to hear the positions of those who can think...critica lly.
+3 # engelbach 2013-08-04 18:56
No, you need to understand what treason is.

It is deliberate alliance with a particular enemy on time of war.

The judge found, correctly, that Manning was not guilty of this.

If you have no emotion about the killing of innocents, you are beyond redemption.
+31 # hoodwinkednomore 2013-08-03 11:57
"Read you history?" "I can tell you are very young?" "You need to understand what treason is?" Do you, crinvegas, know who you are addressing?--On e of the most brilliant journalists ever! So hold your patronizing tongue, please, and re-read Goodman's piece. You may learn a thing or two...

It is no accident that Manning, Snowden, and Assange are all being targeted by the (US) MIlitary Industrial Complex, formerly known as the US Government--run for and by the people. Imperialism is on its head, and the world is finally seeing, en masse, the devastating effects laid bare.

Bravo Whistleblowers everywhere!! We absolutely have your backs!!
+16 # reiverpacific 2013-08-03 12:42
As I'm sure Ms Goodman knows, this has been well-documented since at least the publication of Maj'-Gen' Smedley Butler's "War is just a racket" (for the military-corpor ate empire).
Amy G' herself has risked her life to get news from the fronts ignored by the US empire-patsies, including almost being killed in East Timor during the Suharto slaughters -with the nod of "go -ahead" from the Johnson-Kissing er administration, who supplied the munitions.
We need MORE whistle blowers, not an intimidated few being pilloried in public.
+18 # Milarepa 2013-08-03 12:45
Assange, Manning and Snowden understood that they are part of the global human family, not merely Australian and American. Their loyalty is to humanity not nationality. These principles were established by American prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials: individual moral conscience transcends repressive national law. Let's not get hung up on defining whether these men are heroes or criminals. The information they uncovered and distributed has changed the world forever, and for the better. Call them what you will, if they hadn't acted we'd all still be stumbling about in a massive fog of ignorance the way we were supposed to. The genie is out of the bottle and can't be put back. Next thing you know we'll be granted three wishes. We have Assange, Manning and Snowden to thank for that.
+3 # WestWinds 2013-08-03 22:32
Well said, Milarepa.
+11 # treadlightly 2013-08-03 13:49
The military machinery that we have worked our lives away to pay for has turned and bitten the calloused hands that fed it.
No person in their right mind can possibly believe that this has been worthwhile.
Image the wonderful world that we could have if we were working with the same intensity to lift ourselves out of this Destructive Nature.
Love you Amy.
+11 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-03 17:32
Manning, Snowden, and Assange are the three most heroic citizens the world now has. Even the Dalai Lama doesn't possess their courage.
-5 # Maturus 2013-08-03 20:08
How about the Lone Ranger?
+11 # futhark 2013-08-03 21:49
Someone who risks life, liberty, and wealth to stand up for an ethical principle, without asking for compensation or even recognition, is a hero in my book. The people who are not heroes are the drone pilots and helicopter gunship crews who spew death on demand from the relative safety and comfort of their citadels. These are pretty basic ethical distinctions and it escapes me why they are not universally recognized.
-2 # RobertMStahl 2013-08-04 12:06
I find it difficult to pay attention to Goodman because the worst evil of all is 50/50. It bothers me that she is on my side, here. Ahriman being the worst evil of all (just a metaphor for denial, evil), she falls into that 50/50 category with her support of AIDS and craving ignorance of the physics of 9/11 without actually consulting physicists.

Eleni Papadopulos-Ele opulos shows that the AIDS virus has neither proved to grow, thus reproduce, nor be isolated in any way. Come on, people?!!! Ask what the magical physics is about on 9/11, or do you not have the nerve?
0 # RobertMStahl 2013-08-04 12:08
These are NOT random events! After all, the conflicts surrounding the war in the Middle East is because of our support for, both, al-Qaeda and Mossad. How did that happen if not for the botched investigation behind 9/11. Read Paul Craig Roberts instead of Goodman.

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