The Wright Perspective℠
Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠
A Blog by Gary Wright II
PFC Bradley Manning is a national hero - not a criminal or traitor!
Saturday, February 12th, 2011
American media is not covering the story about Army Private First Class Bradley Manning. When they do mention it, they never tell the whole story. One of the key rights of our nation is the presumption of "innocent until proven guilty." In the case of Manning, that principle has been abandoned and he has been called a criminal, a spy, and a traitor. Even some members of Congress have called for his execution. In an effort to break his spirit, the military has held him in solitary confinement for over 6 months. This isolation is intended as an extreme form of punishment for the worst of criminals, yet PFC Manning has not been convicted of any crime. In a previous blog entry (Blog entry 1/14/2011) I posted a description of what a typical day is like for Manning. His treatment has been truly appalling.
When I first heard that there was an Army private who leaked classified documents, like most people, I was very angry. However, once I examined the evidence, it quickly became clear that my anger was misplaced. It is also very clear that Manning is not a traitor or criminal. I have no doubt that he eventually will go down in history as a hero and one of our greatest patriots. I want every American to see the evidence for themselves and then come to their own conclusions.
Private Manning allegedly released a classified military video to the media (WikiLeaks.org). The video shows a US helicopter opening fire and killing a dozen innocent Iraqis. Two of the victims were reporters, one was a highly respected journalist working for Reuters. The attack was not provoked and was not justified by the rules of engagement. The attack was not in self-defense - it was cold blooded murder. To get permission to shoot them, they lie and say the men were armed with weapons. The men were not armed and you can even see the video camera being carried by one of the journalists. As the event unfolds, the Reuters journalist is on the cell phone with one of his colleagues. After they hear the attack over the phone, you see a van rush to render aid to the injured. The helicopter then opens fire on the van, despite two children who can clearly be seen in the passenger seat.
For purposes of this discussion, let's assume that the allegations against private Manning are true. What Manning did was report a war crime. It should have been taken up the chain of command, but the officers were guilty of trying to cover up the incident. They lie about the incident, much like the case of NFL player Pat Tillman who was killed by friendly fire. Unfortunately, the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians by our military is a common practice. For proof, just read the war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan posted on WikiLeaks.org. Since it is so difficult to distinguish between terrorists and civilians, the military kills them before they have a chance to shoot at our troops. It is a game of survival, and we all would probably do the same if we were in their situation.
If Manning were a traitor, he would have sold these videos to Iran, Russia, or any other country that might want to embarrass us. Since the military leaders were aware of the incident and actively trying to cover it up - leaking the video to the press was the only option left. What Manning did was expose war crimes. If he is guilty of the leak, he has sacrificed his life for the sake of justice. You can't get much more American than that!
To see the leaked video for yourself, visit CollateralMurder.com WARNING: The video shows the slaughter of civilians and is very disturbing. If you have a weak stomach, here is my synopsis:
Video from helicopter scope: You see a group of men casually walking through a courtyard. They are not marching or moving in a military formation. Two men have items strapped over their shoulder. As the helicopter circles around them, you can see the items are video cameras. None of them appear to be holding AK-47s or Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs). A lot of confusion can happen during the fog of war, but none of these men have weapons drawn and the helicopter is not under any fire or immediate threat. As the group reaches the street, they ask for permission to shoot the people, but they say the men are holding weapons. When the helicopter circles again, they have a clear shot at the group and the open fire. When the dust settles, most of the group are dead, but they see one man trying to crawl to safety. The gunner is heard just begging for a reason to shoot the guy saying, "That's it... just reach for a weapon!" The two men who were carrying cameras were civilian reporters for the Reuters news agency, one is on his cellphone with a colleague when the shooting starts. A civilian van arrives on the scene and they get out to render aid to the shooting victims. There are no weapons mounted on the van and as they open the sliding door, there are no weapons visible inside the van. What is clearly visible are two children who are sitting in the front passenger seat of the van. The helicopter opens fire again, killing the survivors and those rendering aid. The gunner even brags about shooting the van "right through the windshield." The helicopter guides a group of troops on the ground over to the scene and the video shows a Bradley tank rolling over one of the bodies. The troops that arrive are horrified at the two injured children and ask for them to be taken to the hospital. They are then ordered not to evacuate the children, but to let the Iraqi police handle it.
Another point of interest is President Obama's campaign pledge regarding whistleblowers:
Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.
I hope that our leaders will wake up and realize that Manning did the right thing by exposing this war crime. He should be rewarded for his brave actions - not prosecuted for them. Those of us who believe in the principles that our country was founded on need to step forward and show our support for Bradley Manning. I hope you will stand with me and show your support for him.
What can we do to help Manning? He has a very good attorney and we have raised plenty of money for his legal defense. I think the best way to help him is to tell his story. We need to put pressure on the military and the Obama administration to be sure he has a fair courts-martial and to end the cruel punishment of holding him in isolation.
There are peaceful protests being organized across the country, so please attend if one is held in your area. On March 20th, there will be a huge demonstration held at the Quantico military base in Virginia (where Manning is currently imprisoned). For more information, please visit the Bradley Manning Support Network at http://www.bradleymanning.org
-- Gary Wright II
I've written several blog entries on this topic. To read more, visit our page devoted to PFC Bradley Manning .