June 24, 2010

Whistleblower, pfc Bradley Manning, arrested for exposing hideous war crimes

BIRGITTA JÓNSDÓTTIR, Member of the Icelandic Parliament and co-producer of the Wikileaks video Collateral Murder:
If he, in fact, has leaked this, he should be considered a hero, because he is reporting on war crimes that the rest of the world, and in particular the countries that are participating in this war, this illegal war, should know what is happening on the ground there.
When the video, Collateral Murder, first appeared I experienced two powerful reactions. The first was revulsion. Forty years after we did this routinely in Vietnam we were still slaughtering innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan. The other feeling was a strong sense of satisfaction. Here was the military committing their typical war crimes and the audio and video was captured by their own equipment. All these years the soldiers and veterans have been telling people about this and nothing had been done about it. Either Americans didn't understand that it was as bad as the soldiers were saying or they just didn't care enought to demand change. Now we had a very graphic picture out there for the world to see. Surely Obama's White House and the Congress would be forced to do something about it.

Once again the eternal optimist, me, had expected too much since the video was so powerful. The military tried to make it look like it was an abnormal incident. Soldiers and veterans knew it wasn't.

Former Marine and Conscientious Objector,Josh Stieber, went to the media. He pointed out that he would have been with the ground troops in the video, but he wasn't permitted to go because he had refused to commit an unjust act days before. He seemed to be suggesting that this was normal operating procedure.

Instead of our government looking into the policies that produce these hideous, inhumane crimes, they go after the soldier who leaked the film. He's been held for three weeks without any charges in a prison in Kuwait. The military is not allowing him to communicate his side of the story.

According to Wired magazine,
"...Manning isolated a key turning point in his regard for the military; he said it was when he was ordered to look the other way in the face of an injustice.

Manning had been tasked with evaluating the arrest of 15 Iraqis rounded up by the Iraqi Federal Police for printing “anti Iraq” literature. “The Iraqi federal police wouldn’t cooperate with U.S. forces, so I was instructed to investigate the matter, find out who the ‘bad guys’ were, and how significant this was for the FPs,” he wrote.

But when Manning had the literature translated, he discovered it was a scholarly critique of Iraq Prime Minister Al-Maliki titled Where Did the Money Go?, he wrote. The document was nothing more than a “benign political critique … following the corruption trail within the PM’s cabinet.

“I immediately took that information and ran to the [U.S. Army] officer to explain what was going on. He didn’t want to hear any of it. He told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding MORE detainees.”

He continued. “Everything started slipping after that. I saw things differently. I had always questioned the [way] things worked, and investigated to find the truth. But that was a point where I was a part of something. I was actively involved in something that I was completely against.”

And now they're looking for the Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. The military is concerned about what other material might be released, further exposing the fruits of US policy.

According to the Guardian,
The elusive founder of WikiLeaks, who is at the centre of a potential US national security sensation, has surfaced from almost a month in hiding to tell the Guardian he does not fear for his safety but is on permanent alert.

Julian Assange, a renowned Australian hacker who founded the electronic whistleblowers' platform WikiLeaks, vanished when a young US intelligence analyst in Baghdad was arrested.

The analyst, Bradley Manning, had bragged he had sent 260,000 incendiary US state department cables on the wars in Iraq andAfghanistan to WikiLeaks.

The prospect of the cache of classified intelligence on the US conduct of the two wars being put online is a nightmare for Washington. The sensitivity of the information has generated media reports that Assange is the target of a US manhunt.

"[US] public statements have all been reasonable. But some statements made in private are a bit more questionable," Assange told the Guardian in Brussels. "Politically it would be a great error for them to act. I feel perfectly safe … but I have been advised by my lawyers not to travel to the US during this period."

Assange appeared in public in Brussels for the first time in almost a month to speak at a seminar on freedom of information at the European parliament.

He said: "We need support and protection. We have that. More is always helpful. But we believe that the situation is stable and under control. There's no need to be worried. There's a need always to be on the alert."

-Also see video coverage in Democracy Now!

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