Wikileaks, Journalism, and Justice
Bradley Manning has been charged with transferring thousands of classified US documents to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. Since the alleged leak, he has been kept in inhumane conditions during his detention first in Kuwait and then in the marine base in Quantico, Virginia.
Under the user name BRADASS87 private Bradley Manning told fellow hacker Adrian Lamo that he had access to documents that revealed, “incredible things, awful things, that belong in the public domain.” That is why he leaked state secrets to the press. Manning first tried to get the Washington Post to publish a classified video that showed US troops killing two Reuters journalists in Iraq. When they turned him down, he sent the video to Wikileaks, who published it. He later went on to release thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks. Wikileaks decided which documents it wanted to release and released them in batches over a period of several months.
Those documents proved to be a treasure-trove of information relating to a variety of critical issues. The leaks showed that the US government was drastically under-representing the number of civilians that died in the Iraq and Afghan wars, that the US military ignored hundreds of reports of torture of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of Iraqi police, that the US was spying on UN delegates, and that Pakistan’s intelligence agency supported the Afghan Taliban. In short, Wikileaks uncovered some of the most important stories of our time and revealed facts critical to understanding US foreign policy.
Bradley Manning was arrested in Iraq on May 26, 2010 and began his detention in Kuwait on May 29. Bradley Manning was transferred to the brig at the Quantico marine base in Virginia on July 29.
According to Manning’s lawyer David Coombs, Manning is held in solitary confinement in his cell at Quantico for 23 hours a day on weekdays. During his exercise hour he is taken to an empty room where he is allowed to walk. When it is time for Bradley to sleep he must strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards. His clothing is returned the next morning. On weekends and holidays Bradley is allowed 3 hours of contact with approved visitors.
Bradley Manning has to face this humiliating treatment despite the fact that he still awaits trial 11 months after he was first detained in Kuwait. Throughout this entire time he has spent the vast majority of his days in solitary confinement.
His treatment is even more infuriating when one considers that the legal questions involved in the case were settled long ago in the nearly identical Pentagon Papers Case. The Supreme Court decided that the government couldn’t keep The New York Times from publishing reports that revealed extensive lies by the US government on the war in Vietnam. And the leaker, Daniel Ellsberg, was cleared of all charges by the federal judge William Byrne who said of the case, “The totality of the circumstances of this case which I have only briefly sketched offend a sense of justice.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
It is certainly understandable that the military doesn’t want its classified documents leaked to the press. But we should not hold a man indefinitely without trial in inhumane conditions. When the trial is held, Bradley Manning should be punished by a dishonorable discharge from the military and be sentenced to time served. These documents have proved irreplaceable in understanding the state of US foreign policy and have had no discernable impact on our national security.
In the meantime, Bradley Manning will be moved to Fort Leavenworth here in Kansas. Let’s hope that that brings at least a slight improvement in the conditions of his imprisonment.
Originally Posted April 19,2011
Originally Posted April 19,2011