Mar 4, 2013
Private Bradley Manning admitted in court recently that he provided classified information to WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy organization, so the public could know what was really happening in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information . . . this could spark a domestic debate over the role of the military and our foreign policy in relation to Iraq and Afghanistan,” Manning argued in a prepared statement to the military court.
Manning was arrested and charged in Iraq in 2010 with, among other things, providing national defense information to an unauthorized source and aiding the enemy – a capital offense. He is facing at least 20 years in prison with his guilty plea.
Manning used his time in front of the court to say what he thought about the wars and about what he described as an obsession with “killing and capturing people.”
One of the many things Manning leaked is the now infamous 2007 video depicting American forces using helicopter gunships to kill a group of men, including two Reuters journalists, and then firing on a van that pulled up to help the victims. Private Manning was justifiably troubled with the video because of the shooting of the second group of people, who “were not a threat but merely good Samaritans,” and because of the “seemingly delightful blood lust” expressed by the airmen in the recording.
Of course the population is deliberately kept in the dark about what is really going on with the justification that these are “military secrets.” But in reality the government doesn’t want us to know the truth because then we might oppose the wars. In fact, many people did and do oppose these wars. On this, the 10-year anniversary of the Iraq War, it is good to have people like Bradley Manning, with the courage to think for himself and the courage to act on that thinking.