Bradley Manning and similarities with the Pentagon Papers (Daniel Ellsberg) case

Reblogged in full on January 4, 2013 from <<< follow!!


With more pretrial hearings scheduled for this month and next we examine the similarities between the Bradley Manning case (and Wikileaks) and that of Daniel Ellsberg, the celebrated whistleblower who, together with Anthony Russo, was charged and tried for leaking the Pentagon Papers. At the trial all charges against Ellsberg and Russo were dropped and Bradley Manning’s supporters argue that the charges against him should be dropped too. Below is a summary of what happened to Ellsberg and Russo, their trial and the irregularities identified that led to the outcome..

1. Introduction

“I was the Bradley Manning of my day. In 1971 I too faced life in prison for exposing classified government lies and crimes. President Obama says “the Ellsberg material was classified on a different basis.” True. The Pentagon Papers were not Secret like the Wikileaks revelations, they were all marked Top Secret—Sensitive. Ultimately all charges in my case were dropped because of criminal governmental misconduct toward me during my proceedings. Exactly the same outcome should occur now, in light of the criminal conditions of Manning’s confinement for the last six months.” Daniel Ellsberg.

Daniel Ellsberg was described by Henry Kissinger as “the most dangerous man in America.” His actions directly contributed to the end of the Nixon presidency and the Vietnam War.

2. The Pentagon Papers

To see the Pentagon Papers in full (all 7000 pages were only made available in May 2011), click here .

The papers were officially known as United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense. The Papers showed that the US had deliberately expanded its war with the bombing of Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks. Four administrations, from Truman to Johnson, had misled the public regarding their intentions.

Ellsberg provided material from the Papers to the New York Times and the Washington Post (both went ahead and published).

3. The charges

On June 28, 1971, Ellsberg (who had gone into hiding after distributing copies of the Pentagon Papers to newspapers) surrendered in Boston to face criminal charges. Under the Espionage Act, Ellsberg was charged with theft and unauthorized possession of classified documents. Anthony Russo, a former RAND colleague of Ellsberg’s who had helped photocopy the documents and urged Ellsberg to distribute them, was subpoenaed in August 1971 and imprisoned for six weeks after refusing to testify against Ellsberg before a grand jury. In December 1971, a second indictment was issued against the two men, listing them as co-conspirators in the matter. Ellsberg faced five counts of theft and six of violations of the Espionage Act, for a maximum total of 115 years; Russo faced one count of theft and two of violating the Espionage Act, for a maximum total of 35 years.

4. The trial

Their trial began on January 3, 1973. Five days later, the Watergate burglary trial commenced in Washington, D.C. The Ellsberg/Russo trial continued for more than four months. In late April, Watergate prosecutor Earl Silbert submitted a memo that revealed that two members of a special investigations unit known as “the plumbers” that had been created by President Nixon — G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt (who had just been convicted in the Watergate burglary trial) — had illegally entered the offices of Lewis Fielding, Daniel Ellsberg’s psychoanalyst, in search of files that could be used to discredit Ellsberg. A few days later the judge revealed that John Ehrlichman — one of Nixon’s top aides — had offered him the job of director of the FBI. It was also revealed that the FBI had secretly and illegally recorded conversations between Ellsberg and Morton Halperin, who had supervised the Pentagon Papers study. Meanwhile the Government admitted that telephone conversations of Ellsberg were picked up by wiretapping in late 1969 and early 1970, but that all records and logs of those conversations had disappeared from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Given the irregularities that had occurred the judge declared a mis-trial and the charges against both Ellsberg and Russo were dropped. The Government’s action in this case, Byrne said, “offended a sense of justice,” and so “I have decided to declare a mis-trial and grant the motion for dismissal.” The judge also made it clear that Ellsberg and Russo would not be tried again on charges of stealing and copying the Pentagon papers. He said, “The conduct of the Government has placed the case in such a posture that it precludes the fair, dispassionate resolution of these issues by a jury”.

Note: it was the revelation of the Fielding break-in that Nixon feared the most. When the House Judiciary Committee, in 1974, adopted three articles of impeachment against Nixon, two of them directly concerned the Fielding break-in. After that, Nixon had no choice but to resign.

5. Similarities/differences to Manning case

A. The (apparent) differences:
1. Manning is being court-martialled and is not facing charges via the criminal courts system. The rules and procedures are therefore different from those that applied to Ellsberg/Russo.
2. At the time of the Ellsberg/Russo trial the public mood was not in favour of President Nixon, whereas today President Obama still, arguably, enjoys popularity.
3. While Ellsberg provided extracts from the Pentagon Papers directly to the media, Manning is alleged to have used Wikileaks as a conduit.
4. More..?

B. The (apparent) similarities:
1. Both cases involve irregularities. With Ellsberg/Russo it was about break-ins, unauthorised surveillance, corruption, etc. With Manning it is more to do with the way he has been treated – or mistreated – since his arrest.
2. With both the Manning and Ellsberg/Russo cases the raison d’etre is/was all about revealing uncomfortable truths and acting according to conscience.
3. The files Manning is alleged to have leaked were published in part by several well known newspapers, including the New York Times; NYT and the Washington Post similarly published extracts from the Pentagon Papers.
4. More..?

Bradley Manning treated like a “zoo animal”

WikiLeaks suspect treated like ‘zoo animal’: lawyer

FORT MEADE (USA), Dec 12: In his final plea to have charges dropped against WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning, a defence lawyer on Tuesday compared his harsh detention conditions to those of a “zoo animal”.

Manning’s solitary confinement — under 24-hour watch, forced to sleep naked in a tiny cell for all but 20 minutes a day — was “a clear violation” of the US code of military justice, defence lawyer David Coombs said.

“There was this eight-by-six (foot) cell, that was PFC (Private First Class) Manning’s life,” Coombs said, as both the defence and the prosecution wrapped up arguments to close off a dramatic phase of pre-trial hearings. “Every moment of your life is going to be subjected to being watched… watched or viewed almost as a zoo animal,” Coombs said.

The 24-year-old private faces a slew of charges, including “aiding the enemy,” for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive US military and diplomatic documents to Julian Assange’s anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks. He was arrested in May 2010 while serving as an intelligence analyst near Baghdad and subsequently charged over the largest leak of restricted documents in history.

Manning was sent briefly to a US jail in neighbouring Kuwait, before being transferred to Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia in July 2010.

After nine months in the brig, he was moved in April 2011 to a US Army prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he was allowed to interact with other detainees as detention conditions were relaxed.

During pre-trial hearings at Forte Meade in Maryland, the defence has focused on getting the charges dropped on the basis that Manning’s detention conditions at Quantico were unfairly harsh.

“It was arbitrary, month after month,” Coombs said. “If the conditions are not necessary that could give rise to illegal punishment,” which would justify dropping all the charges, he said.

The court has heard from the full hierarchy of figures involved in Manning’s incarceration — from the prison chief to the guards that kept watch over his cell.

The suspect took the stand himself, admitting he had broken down early on his detention and contemplated suicide but adding that he had recovered only for his pleas for better conditions to fall upon deaf ears.

“I had no socks, no underwear, I had no articles of clothing, I had no glasses,” testified Manning, who also complained bitterly about the uncomfortable suicide-prevention smock he was made to wear.

During about five hours of testimony, Manning showed flashes of humour as he calmly recounted the severe restrictions and monotony he faced during his pre-trial confinement in both Kuwait and Quantico.

The boyish-looking soldier recounted how he was forced to stand at attention naked in his cell and encountered angry responses when he questioned his detention regime.—AFP

CWO2 Denise Barnes continues whining about superiors’ oversight of her abusive orders – Day 10

Brig Boss: Manning’s Treatment Closely Watched

December 10, 2012 6:52 PM

bradley manning
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — The former head of a Marine Corps brig testified Monday that she was shocked when the base commander asked for advance notice of any orders she planned to give regarding the confinement of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with sending classified information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The request was surprising because brig commanders have sole authority to determine the custody status of detainees, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denise Barnes said. She testified on the 10th day of a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade, near Baltimore, to determine whether the nine months Manning spent in tight confinement at Quantico, Va., amounted to illegal pretrial punishment, possibly warranting dismissal of his case.

Barnes was the 11th of 14 government witnesses. Lawyers plan to make their closing arguments when the hearing resumes Tuesday.

Barnes testified that Col. Daniel Choike, then garrison commander at Quantico, made the request after Barnes ordered in early March 2011 that Manning be stripped of his underwear each night as a suicide-prevention measure. Manning stood naked at attention the next morning, resulting in news coverage that embarrassed the military and heightened worldwide interest in his case.

Barnes said Choike called her to say that Lt. Gen. George Flynn, then the highest-ranking officer at Quantico, wanted her to run any orders involving Manning up the chain of command before executing them.

“I was kind of shocked,” Barnes said. “The base commander does not control the brig OIC.”  The acronym stands for “officer in charge,” which was Barnes’ position.

Barnes said she never received any orders regarding Manning’s confinement conditions. He continued to be stripped of his underwear at night until he was moved to medium-security pretrial confinement at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in April 2011.

Barnes acknowledged that nothing in the military corrections manual authorizes removing clothing from detainees who aren’t on suicide watch. Manning was on less-restrictive “prevention of injury” status at the time, and remained so until he left Quantico.

Barnes was the brig commander during the last three months of Manning’s confinement at Quantico. For all of his nine months there, he was held in maximum custody, with additional restrictions ostensibly aimed at preventing suicide or self-injury. The restrictions kept him confined to his cell at least 23 hours a day.

Defense attorney David Coombs claims those conditions were controlled by Flynn. Choike has denied that Flynn influenced Manning’s confinement.

Two members of Manning’s Army chain of command testified that he told them almost weekly that he didn’t understand why he was on the heightened restrictions. Capt. Joe Casamatta said he followed up on the matter and was told by brig commanders that Manning was at risk of harming himself. Manning had acknowledged having suicidal thoughts shortly after his arrest nine months earlier.

Casamatta said he became skeptical of the explanation after the underwear seizure, which was prompted by a remark Manning had made to a guard about the dangerous waistband. Casamatta said he regarded Manning as an intelligent, articulate soldier who made a tongue-in-cheek comment.

“I just believed he wouldn’t have such thoughts as to actually kill himself with his underwear, sir,” Casamatta said during cross-examination by defense attorney David Coombs

The hearing is scheduled to end Wednesday. To prevail, the defense must show either that Manning was punished or that the restrictions were so egregious they were tantamount to punishment. To quash the claim, the government must prove by a preponderance of evidence that brig officials justifiably believed the strict conditions were needed to keep Manning from hurting or killing himself.

The 24-year-old native of Crescent, Okla., was an intelligence analyst in Iraq. He is charged with 22 offenses, including aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. He is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and more than 250,000 diplomatic cables while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010.

He is also charged with leaking a 2007 video clip of a U.S. helicopter crew gunning down 11 men later found to have included a Reuters news photographer and his driver. The Pentagon concluded the troops acted appropriately, having mistaken the camera equipment for weapons.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

reprinted without asking permission from

Thank you, Congressman Ron Paul

Two days after Farewell speech, Ron Paul condemns “terrible treatment” of Bradley Manning from House Floor


December 8, 2012

Ron Paul gave his epic farewell speech to Congress on November 14th 2012, referring notably to “psychopathic authoritarians”- getting in one last subtle dig to the establishment:

“The immoral use of force is the source of man’s political problems. Sadly, many religious groups, secular organizations, and psychopathic authoritarians endorse government initiated force to change the world. Even when the desired goals are well-intentioned – or especially when well-intentioned – the results are dismal. The good results sought never materialize. The new problems created require even more government force as a solution. The net result is institutionalizing government initiated violence and morally justifying it on humanitarian grounds.” []

However, that was not Ron Paul’s final speech on the floor of Congress! Paul gave two more speeches, on Friday Nov. 16th. In his Statement opposing HR 6156, the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (November 16, 2012), Paul stated, in part,

“…By attaching the so-called “Magnitsky” bill to the Jackson-Vanik repeal, Congress will direct the State Department to draw up a list of Russians it believes are responsible for human rights abuses. These people will be denied entry into the United States and have their assets seized by the US government. The implications of this reckless move are stunning….

…If Congress really is concerned about the human rights of prisoners, perhaps they might take a look at the terrible treatment of US Army Private Bradley Manning while incarcerated and awaiting trial. Last year Amnesty International wrote to then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates that Manning’s “inhumane” treatment while in custody “undermines the United States’ commitment to the principle of the presumption of innocence.” Congress remains silent.

… When it comes to human rights, the United States should most definitely lead the world by its own example. On that measure, we still have a lot of work to do.”

Paul was one of six Republicans in the House who voted no on the bill. Rand Paul, conversely, was one of the 92 Senators who voted YEA on the bill.

PBS has a lot of good information on Manning’s history, including a collection of 20 photos throughout his life and a timeline. Frontline conducted an interview with his father Brian Manning, who raised Bradley in Oklahoma. Manning said his son was “spoiled rotten” after he returned from his high school years in Wales with his mother. According to his father, Bradley was not able to pay his bills or carry his own weight. Brian recounted that he told his son “If you get into a place at Army, you know, you’re going to have three square meals a day; you’re going to have a place to sleep and a roof over your head. And as long as you follow the path, you know, it’s all you have to do” … “You don’t have a place to live. You’re camping at your aunt’s house. You don’t have any transportation. You’re working at a dead-end job, and you’re looking at going to a community college that you won’t even have transportation to and from. What’s your plan?”

PBS also interviewed Bradley’s friend Jordan Davis whom he met in kindergarden and described Manning as “Patriotic. Always supportive of the military”, with a tendency to be “opinionated”, “a little bit smarmy”, and sometimes “came off as arrogant”. He further describes Manning as a capitalist and athiest, although at one time said he still considered himself to be Roman Catholic. Davis adds that “in the 2000 elections, he was very pro-[Sen.] John McCain.”

On 3/29/06, Manning’s stepmom called 911 on Bradley and told police that he pulled a knife on her. Audio of that 911 call is available here. The police report can be seen here. The 911 call was made at 4:13PM, police arrived at 4:20PM and listed the “incident under control” at 5:44pm. Manning was not arrested.

In 2010 Manning allegedly told a computer hacker “If you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time – and you saw incredible things, awful things – things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington, D.C. – what would you do?”

The eggregious, inhumane and sadistic way Manning was treated in captivity in the aftermath of his arrest is nothing short of brutal torture, as indicated even in mainstream news accounts. The Guardian has a detailed account in Bradley Manning: how keeping himself sane was taken as proof of madness. [Also see Bradley Manning Gets No Love From The New York Times.]

Paul Craig Roberts, who served in the Reagan Administration, wrote Bradley Manning: A Window Into The American Soul (12/3/12) and states

“Bradley Manning, a member of the US military, complied with his oath of office, with the US Military Code, with the Nuremberg standards set by the US government, with the strictures expressed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the George W, Bush administration, and with his own conscience. Manning, allegedly (we will never know), released to WikiLeaks the video of the US military murdering two journalists and a dozen innocent people walking down a street. _civilians_20100405/ After the murder of these people by the US military playing video games with live people, a father with two young children stopped his van to help the survivors crawling in the street. The US military, due to either blood-lust, incompetence, or total evil, killed the father and sent high caliber bullets into the bodies of the two small children. The murderers then blame the father for bringing children into the combat zone created by the incompetence or evil of the US troops, who obviously get their jollies from murdering people. TV cameras are claimed to be weapons and justifications for murdering 15 people. Subsequently, a few people, whom the video shows to be unarmed, walk into a building. The US troops claim the unarmed people have weapons and RPGs and send three hellfire missiles into the building. The US troops then report that all the “targets” are dead. Any real patriotic American who saw this video would be compelled to release it. If Manning released it to Wikeleaks, then Manning is the most morally responsible American alive. What has Manning’s moral conscience cost him? It has cost Manning 900 days held incommunicado illegally by the US government. President John F. Kennedy’s presidency lasted 1,000 days. Manning was held and tortured for almost the entire length of Camelot. And the US government has got away with it. Americans don’t care. It is not them. They are too stupid to understand that once law is gone, they can be next. In their desire to punish Manning, US military and civilian authorities failed to realize that the lesson for soldiers is that crimes against humanity will not be punished, but those who reveal the crimes will be punished.”

Jeff Paterson of the Bradley Manning Support Network points out that a horrible photograph circulating on the internet alleged to be Manning post-captivity is not: This is not a photo of PFC Bradley Manning (8/14/12) It was previously reported by a year prior: Meet the “Other” (Kenneth) Bradley Manning(3/18/11)

The Humiliation of Bradley Manning

by , November 29, 2012

Originally published by

It is a bitter irony that Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, whose conscience compelled him to leak evidence about the U.S. military brass ignoring evidence of torture in Iraq, was himself the victim of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment while other military officers privately took note but did nothing.

That was one of the revelations at Manning’s pre-trial hearing at Ft. Meade, Md., on Tuesday, as Manning’s defense counsel David Coombs used email exchanges to show Marine officers grousing that the Marines had been left holding the bag on Manning’s detention at their base in Quantico, Va., though he was an Army soldier.

At Quantico, Manning, who is accused of giving hundreds of thousands of pages of classified material to WikiLeaks, was subjected to harsh treatment. He was locked in a 6-foot-by-8-foot cell for 23 hours a day and was kept naked for long periods. His incarceration led the U.N. rapporteur for torture to complain that Manning was being subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

According to the email evidence, the controversy over the rough handling of Manning prompted Quantico commander Marine Col. Daniel Choike to complain bitterly that not one Army officer was in the chain of blame. Choike’s lament prompted an email reply from his commander, Lt. Gen. George Flynn, offering assurances that Choike and Quantico would not be left “holding the bag.”

However, concerns about possible repercussions from softening up Manning did little to ease the conditions that Manning faced. His Marine captors seemed eager to give him the business and make him an example to any other prospective whistleblowers. Only after a sustained public outcry was Manning transferred to the Army prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Though his treatment was less harsh there, Manning still has faced 2 and a half years of incarceration without trial and could face up to life imprisonment after a court-martial into his act of conscience, i.e., releasing extensive evidence of wrongdoing by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan and questionable foreign policies carried out by the U.S. State Department.

The release of the documents led to hundreds of news stories, including some that revealed the willful inaction of U.S. military brass when informed of torture inflicted on Iraqi prisoners held by the U.S.-backed Iraqi military.

Manning’s Conscience

As a young intelligence analyst in Iraq, Pvt. Manning grew disgusted with evidence passing through his computer terminal revealing the secretive dark side of the U.S. military occupation, including this pattern of high-level disinterest in Iraqi-on-Iraqi torture, which resulted from a directive known as Frago 242, guidelines from senior Pentagon officials not to interfere with abusive treatment of Iraqi government detainees.

As the U.K. Guardian reported in 2010 based on the leaked documents, Frago 242 was a “fragmentary order” summarizing a complex requirement, in this case, one issued in June 2004 ordering American troops not to investigate torture violations unless they involved members of the occupying coalition led by the United States.

When alleged abuse was inflicted by Iraqis on Iraqis, “only an initial report will be made.… No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ,” theGuardian reported, adding: “Frago 242 appears to have been issued as part of the wider political effort to pass the management of security from the coalition to Iraqi hands. In effect, it means that the [Iraqi] regime has been forced to change its political constitution but allowed to retain its use of torture.”

Some cases of torture were flagrant, according to the disregarded “initial” reports. For instance, the Guardian cited a log report of “a man who was detained by Iraqi soldiers in an underground bunker [and] reported that he had been subjected to the notoriously painful strappado position: with his hands tied behind his back, he was suspended from the ceiling by his wrists.

“The soldiers had then whipped him with plastic piping and used electric drills on him. The log records that the man was treated by US medics; the paperwork was sent through the necessary channels; but yet again, no investigation was required.…

“Hundreds of the leaked war logs reflect the fertile imagination of the torturer faced with the entirely helpless victim — bound, gagged, blindfolded, and isolated — who is whipped by men in uniforms using wire cables, metal rods, rubber hoses, wooden stakes, TV antennae, plastic water pipes, engine fan belts, or chains.

“At the torturer’s whim, the logs reveal, the victim can be hung by his wrists or by his ankles; knotted up in stress positions; sexually molested or raped; tormented with hot peppers, cigarettes, acid, pliers, or boiling water — and always with little fear of retribution since, far more often than not, if the Iraqi official is assaulting an Iraqi civilian, no further investigation will be required.

“Most of the victims are young men, but there are also logs which record serious and sexual assaults on women; on young people, including a boy of 16 who was hung from the ceiling and beaten; the old and vulnerable, including a disabled man whose damaged leg was deliberately attacked. The logs identify perpetrators from every corner of the Iraqi security apparatus — soldiers, police officers, prison guards, border enforcement patrols.

“There is no question of the coalition forces not knowing that their Iraqi comrades are doing this: the leaked war logs are the internal records of those forces. There is no question of the allegations all being false. Some clearly are, but most are supported by medical evidence and some involve incidents that were witnessed directly by coalition forces.”

Possessing such evidence — and knowing that the U.S. high command was systematically ignoring these and other crimes — Manning was driven by a sense of morality to get the evidence to the American people and to the world.

Punishing Morality

For his act of conscience, Manning has become the subject of harsh incarceration himself, as some U.S. pundits and even members of Congress have called for his execution as a traitor. At minimum, however, he has been made an example to anyone else tempted to tell hard truths.

Many in Official Washington find nothing wrong with humiliating Manning with forced nudity and breaking down his psychiatric health through prolonged isolation. After all, they say, his release of classified information might have put the lives of some U.S. allies at risk (although there is no known evidence to support that concern).

There also are legal constraints upon the United States dishing out particularly nasty treatment to Pvt. Manning. Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners is expressly banned by the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 and ratified by the Senate in 1994.

And there are no exceptions for “wartime” whistleblowers like Manning. Here’s what the Convention says: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture” and “an order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture” (Art. 2 (2-3)).”

Personally, when I attended the Tuesday proceeding, I dreaded sitting through another “pre-trial hearing,” having been bored stiff at earlier sessions. But it was a welcome surprise to witness firsthand proof that military courts can still hold orderly proceedings bereft (on Tuesday, at least) of “command influence.”

Most illuminating at Tuesday’s hearing was the central fact that the virtually indestructible nature of email facilitates the kind of documentary evidence that lawyers lust after — whether they be attorneys, FBI investigators, or just plain folks fed up with lies and faux history.

To the Marine Corps’ credit, I suppose, there was no evidence at the hearing that anyone had tried to expunge the email correspondence revealing the fears about being left “holding the bag” on the harsh treatment of Manning.

Email vs. Petraeus

So the availability of email is the major new reality playing out in several major ways. As we have seen, former Gen. David Petraeus is a notable recent victim of the truth that can turn up in email.

I used to call him “Petraeus ex Machina” for the faux success of the celebrated “surge” in Iraq, which cost almost 1,000 additional U.S. troops dead (and many more Iraqis) to buy a “decent interval” for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to get out of town without a clear-cut military defeat hung around their necks.

As it turned out, “Petraeus ex Machina,” after a little more than a year as CIA director, was undone in a sex scandal exposed by the modern “machine” of e-mail.

More to the point, the torrent of email and the “Collateral Murder” video that Manning now acknowledges giving to WikiLeaks as a matter of conscience were, of course, highly illuminating to students of real history. And the emails (and State Department cables) also were rather unflattering regarding the aims of U.S. policy and military actions around the globe.

So how did the White House, the State Department, and military brass respond? There was a strongly felt need to make an object lesson of Bradley Manning to show what happens to people whose conscience prompts them to expose deceit and serious wrongdoing, especially through official documents that can’t be denied or spun.

In Manning’s case, he was delivered to the Marines, famous for their hard-headed determination to follow orders and to get the job done. So his jailers took Manning’s clothes away and made him stand naked, supposedly out of concern that otherwise he might be “a risk to himself.” To further “protect” him, he was kept in a 23-hour lockdown in a tiny cell.

The treatment of Manning at Quantico was too much for State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley, a 26-year Air Force veteran and former colonel. Crowley was of the old school on the treatment of prisoners; his father, a B-17 pilot spent two years in a German POW camp.

On March 10, 2011, Crowley went public, telling an audience that Manning was being “mistreated” by the Defense Department; Crowley branded Manning’s treatment “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

Three days later, Crowley resigned with this parting shot: “The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values.”

At Ft. Meade, the pre-trial hearings are continuing, including testimony about how the advice of health professionals regarding Manning was disregarded by the Marine officers and his jailers at Quantico. Later this week, Manning himself is expected to take the stand.

Again, the fair and orderly manner in which Tuesday’s hearing was conducted was a reassuring sign that not everyone is prepared to cave before “command influence.” The judge, Col. Denise Lind, upon whom all depends, listened attentively and asked several good questions at the end.

Let’s hope the kangaroos can be kept at bay.

Originally published by

Read more by Ray McGovern

Almost in the Army

I have a long story if you have some time to read it.   Back in 1999, my best friend and I had this grand scheme that since we had nothing better to do we were going to join the army.  So, we both took the ASVAB at slightly different times but since we were living in the same county, we both had the same recruiters and office we were going out of.  This was a long time ago, so my memory is a little foggy.  I remember this young recruiter and myself driving to La Crosse, WI and his cell phone ringing every so often.  He explained that his wife had mental health issues, which had her calling him almost every hour.   I met some of the other recruiters, there was this one I’ll never forget.  They called him Fudd and for good reason; he walked, talked, and acted like Elmer Fudd.  I looked around the office and thought it would be cool since the people were so mellow.  Bear in mind, I grew up in the 90’s.  Movies like Tank Girl, In the Army Now, among a dozen others I’m probably forgetting portrayed that tanks, guns, blowing shit up as being cool.  At our school, which was in a small town, had recruiters at it all the time.  I think they knew because people are in smaller towns and less opportunities, that their situation may even get them to enlist for the benefits and getting away.

So, my best friend takes the ASVAB and gets a score slightly higher than mine.   She was going to be in intelligence.  I was told I could have been a journalist, if the position had been open for a female (I was kind of irked) due to a near-perfect English language score.  But, they wouldn’t give me too many details about what I would be doing.  Since my best friend had taken the test first, she was first up.  She signed all her papers, packed her stuff, and went to Basic.

My mother and I, before she started drinking again, discussed my joining the army at length and when I see her I’ll owe her a “thank you” for this.  She said she didn’t think it was a good idea.  I had been diagnosed with clinical depression and PTSD.   She said I was too sensitive to violence and my disdain for authority would immediately get me in trouble.   I don’t know what would or could have happened but that now brings me again to the subject of Bradley Manning.

What I’m basically trying to say is, the Army doesn’t have an exceptional screening process when it comes to weeding out people that may be unfit.  If I could just about be in the Army, who else could be? I know it was a long time ago, but things couldn’t have changed all that much.  The various stories that have come out since the war began are the basis for my assertion (like killing rampages against civilians, systemic mistreatment of prisoners).

By the way, Happy belated May Day all.  Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month?  Rep. Napolitano has more to tell you:

(BTW I started writing this in May)

Like she said, substance abuse and spousal abuse have been a problem.  We owe it to our men and women who serve in the military to drop stigmas and petty nonsense to prevent problems.  Prevention is far better than a cure and we could prevent tragedies like this one:

And there have been many other controversies that have embarrassed the United States far, far more than Bradley Manning could have managed on his own.  And if you think war is a good thing, take a look at these numbers:

And there are many, many videos just like this one on youtube that makes America look bad without Bradley Manning’s help:

Does this make us look like kind, compassionate, helpful people?  Is this what YOU voted for?

Listen to the guy about one minute in.  You think war doesn’t cause mental problems?  The floor is yours, argue any points that you have.  I’m sure we’re all eager to hear it.

Here’s another documentary I recently found:

Basically, to sum up my point (you’re probably now wondering if I’ll ever get to it) is that not only does the Armed Forces have a problem in screening people before they enlist, they have a problem now of how they are going to deal with all these people that will undoubtedly have PTSD.  Some people internalize their pain and don’t ask for help until it’s too late.  What we’ve asked our young men and women to do is to be robots, to not feel.  That’s an extremely unreasonable expectation.  This is a part of the reason I support Bradley Manning.  I encourage others to share their opinion, whether they agree or disagree.  There needs to be more discourse about this subject.