Bradley Manning and Julian Assange: Exposing Pentagon War Crimes and U.S. Imperialism
BY JAAN LAAMAN, EDITOR
As a voice of and venue for U.S. political prisoners, we at 4sm want to express our solidarity and firm support for accused Pentagon war crimes whistle blower pfc Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Both these men are in the gunsights of the U.S. government, but their situations are greatly different.
Julian Assange, the leader and founder of the anti-secrecy internet organization, WikiLeaks, is living at a supporter’s mansion while on bail in England. Pfc Bradley manning is in an isolation strip cell in a segregation cell block at the Marine Corps brig at Quantico, VA. These are both very brave and worthy men.
Assange established WikiLeaks to expose the lies and secrets of governments. A couple of years ago, some of the public and some of the news media began to pay attention to WikiLeaks postings.
In 2009 Amnesty International gave WikiLeaks its media award for investigating the killing of hundreds of young men in Kenya, by government forces. Assange and WikiLeaks hit world consciousness, while simultaneously incurring the wrath of the U.S. Pentagon and government in April 2010, when WikiLeaks posted a video of a U.S. military war crime in Baghdad. It showed an Apache helicopter gunning down and killing at least 12 people, two of whom were Reuters journalists, while the pilots gloated over the carnage. Following the release of this video, WikiLeaks made public some 76,000 classified field reports from the Afghanistan occupation that documented the brutality inflicted by imperialist forces upon civilians, including by CIA-led forces operating out of bases along the Pakistan border. Then in October, WikiLeaks published nearly 400,000 field reports on the Iraq war and occupation. Not long after that, WikiLeaks published 251,287 cables sent between U.S. embassies around the world and the State Department in Washington.
U.S. imperialism cannot shut down or put back into the box, the information WikiLeaks opened up. In fact the struggle to contain WikiLeaks has the potential to bring millions of people into political consciousness and conflict with the established order. The effort to suppress the release of information on WikiLeaks by the arrest of Julian Assange and calls for his assasination or trial on terrorism charges; the imprisonment of Bradley Manning and the threats against WikiLeaks activists; along with the cancelation of its services by Amazon, PayPal, American Express, Mastercard, and U.S. and Swiss banks is radicalizing large numbers of highly skilled youth around the world.
Hundreds of thousands of cyber attacks were organized on the multinational information/banking corporations that attempted to shut WikiLeaks down. Every effort to shut WikiLeaks down has only served to spread it further and make it more widely available.
U.S. Army private Bradley Manning has been locked up since April 2010. The government and Pentagon generals are accusing him of being the person responsible for supplying WikiLeaks with all these files and documents.
Whether or not Manning is responsible for any or all of the WikiLeaks documents, he should be regarded as a hero and a fine example of a human being to all people who desire peace and justice around the world.
According to the New York Times, in late January, Attorney David Coombs, the lawyer for Bradley Manning, accused the military of abusing private Manning by unnecessarily placing him on suicide watch. The lawyer said that psychiatric reviews have clearly determined that Manning is not a suicide risk and should even be taken off the less restrictive “prevention of injury watch” and put on normal prisoner status at the Marine Corp jail. Instead, private Manning was placed on the stricter suicide watch, eliminating his one hour a day of exercise and stripping him of all clothing except underwear. After more protest by his lawyer, Manning was finally taken off the suicide status.
For 10 month now Bradley Manning has been in 23 hour a day lock up. He is barred from exercising and is under constant surveillance. He is being denied many basic necessities, including even a pillow for his bed.
Outside his cell Manning is forced to wear shackles and he has very limited contact with family and friends. All visits are from behind a thick glass wall. According to David House, a computer researcher from Boston who visits Manning, he is starting to deteriorate.
On December 17, Bradley Manning turned 23 years old, sitting in that isolation cell in Virginia. This is a young man, but a very courageous and principled individual who is facing some extreme measures by the government and military to break him.
In order to have anything serious to charge Assange with, the government wants to tie Manning into a preconceived conspiracy with Assange. They need Manning to falsely testify that Assange pushed or paid him into taking the Pentagon files and then turning them over to Assange and WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange has often spoken highly of Bradley Manning, and WikiLeaks has donated $100,000 to his defense. Many others have spoken out for young Bradley Manning as well.
Daniel Ellsberg, who gave the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971, exposing the lies and deceit as well as many war crimes of the U.S. government in the Vietnam War, called Manning, “a courageous patriot.”
He went on to say, “I identify with him very much… He sees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’d say correctly, as I saw Vietnam—as hopeless ventures that are wrong and involve a great deal of atrocities.” Even the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Mendez, has submitted a formal inquiry about pfc Manning’s treatment to the State Department.
Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, if he indeed was the source of the leaks, are courageous individuals who have performed a valuable and laudable service by lifting the veil of secrecy and lies of the U.S. government and Pentagon.
These men deserve our support. They need the support and solidarity of the working class, of oppressed people, of all conscious peace and freedom loving activists, individuals and organizations.”