The Shameful Exploitation of Bradley Manning

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Recently by Robert Scheer: Let Them Eat Keller

     

Keep an American soldier locked up naked in a cage and driven half mad while deprived of all basic rights, and you will be instantly condemned as a barbaric terrorist. Unless the jailer is an authorized agent of the U.S. government, in which case even treatment approaching torture will go largely unnoticed. Certainly if a likable constitutional law professor happens to be president, all such assaults on human dignity will easily pass muster.

After being interned like some wild animal in that cage in Kuwait, Pfc. Bradley Manning was transferred to the Quantico, Va., Marine base and further subjected to conditions that his lawyer termed “criminal.” Not all that far from the White House, and yet our ever-enlightened president seems not to have noticed that this soldier, whose alleged criminal offense is that he attempted to inform the public of crimes committed in its name, has been held in an environment clearly created to destroy his very sense of self.

As Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, a lieutenant colonel in the Army reserves and a veteran of 12 years of active duty, put it: “Brad’s treatment at Quantico will forever be etched into our nation’s history as a disgraceful moment in time.” Coombs warned that the most serious charge facing his client, “aiding the enemy,” is a “scary proposition” designed to “silence a lot of critics of our government.”

Who is that “enemy” other than the public that came to be informed about the true nature of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by news reports based on a trove of documents allegedly made available to the WikiLeaks website by Manning? The documents were labeled secret, but as the many important news reports based on them revealed, they contained information that an enlightened public had a need and right to know.

Yet for too many in the mainstream media, led by the example of the editors of The New York Times, the recent military courtroom proceedings where Manning’s lawyer finally got to document the government’s attempt to destroy his client were largely a nonevent. Conveniently so, given that the Times and other major news outlets that were thrilled to exploit the information that Manning uncovered are deeply afraid of being associated with the brave whistle-blower himself.

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