Published on firedoglake, by Nat Parry, August 23, 2013.
… After being rebuffed by her commanding officer and rejected by traditional news outlets like the New York Times, the young Army intelligence analyst provided three important bodies of documents to WikiLeaks.
The Iraq war logs consisted of 391,000 field reports, including the notorious “Collateral Murder” video of U.S. soldiers gunning down a crowd of Iraqi civilians, injuring two small children and killing two Reuters journalists in July 2007.
These logs also included documentation of the Haditha massacre in which 24 Iraqi civilians, most of them women, children and the elderly, were systematically murdered by U.S. Marines (a crime for which the perpetrators were never punished).
Following that release, there were 90,000 Afghan war logs, revealing how coalition forces had killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents in Afghanistan and how a secret “black” unit of special forces had hunted down suspected Taliban leaders for “kill or capture” without trial.
And, finally, Manning’s document release included 260,000 diplomatic cables, which arguably had the most impact globally, providing for example the spark for the Arab Spring.
Indeed, it could be argued that the biggest journalistic stories of the past half-decade can be attributed to the courage that Pfc. Manning showed by providing these documents to WikiLeaks back in 2010. But, in a sense, none of these are the biggest revelations that Pfc. Manning brought to light.
Sadly, the biggest story is the lengths that the U.S. government will go to in its attempts to silence and punish whistleblowers, and the shameful silence of the American public at large when these abuses are carried out in plain sight.
Manning, the whistleblower who brought to light countless stories of malfeasance and corruption, was tortured and denied any semblance of a fair trial. President Obama ensured that the military court-martial would be little more than a kangaroo-court show trial when he declared Manning’s guilt in his infamous statement, “He broke the law.”
This was all a striking blow to those of us clinging to some sense of “hope and change,” that phony campaign slogan from 2008.
It is a sad commentary on America that its justice system will condemn an idealistic young soldier with a lifetime prison sentence simply for bringing to light certain unpleasant truths about U.S. warfare and diplomacy, all while the perpetrators of war crimes, torture and corruption are shielded from prosecution by the Obama Justice Department. It is even more embarrassing though how we allow this travesty of justice to unfold.
“When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians,” Manning wrote to President Obama in her request for a pardon.
“Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability,” she said.
This veil of national security and the failure of the American people to deal with the reality that it hides is what Manning has truly revealed. In sentencing Manning this week, the United States has condemned itself to 35 years of shame.
Photo Gallery: Garment workers demand proper compensation in Bangladesh, on XinhuanetEnglish, August 24, 2013;
Trial of Egypt’s Muslim brotherhood’s top leaders starts Sunday, on XinhuanetEnglish, August 24, 2013;
Southern Asia: When the world economic crisis makes landfall in South Asia, Fragile governments will be rocked by mass movements of workers and poor, on Socialist World, by Clare Doyle, CWI, August 10, 2013.