On August 21 Col. Denise Lind handed out a brutally unjust sentence to a courageous whistleblower whose leaks offered an unprecedented look into U.S. government crimes, misdeeds, and manipulations. While the military prosecutors were unable to obtain a sentence as harsh as they sought, it has still imposed a harsh sentence aimed entirely at criminalizing those who expose government misdeeds.
Shortly after sentencing, the person born as Bradley Manning relayed through a statement that she is a woman, and would from now on be known as Chelsea Manning and use female pronouns.
Manning was sentenced to serve 35 years in prison. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, this sentence is more than 17 years longer than what had been the longest sentence served for leaking information to the media; it is more in line with those sentences of those convicted of leaking information for money to so-called enemies of the United States.
It is important to note the disgusting contrast in the punishment meted out to Manning on the one hand, and the treatment of war criminals that for the past decade have sown torture, death, and destruction across the world. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld remain completely free despite the massive war crimes conceived and executed under their leadership. John Brennan, a key advocate of the Bush-era torture regime, has not only faced no criminal charges, but has become an important and celebrated member of President Obama’s government. Others such as Michael Hayden and Cofer Black have spun their criminal exploits into lucrative careers.
Even at the most basic level the sentence handed out to Manning is outrageous. Manning has been sentenced to more time in prison than anyone charged in the Abu Ghraib case, in which none received a sentence above 10 years. In the brutal Haditha Massacre—where 24 innocent Iraqis including children were murdered by Marines—the perpetrators walked out of military court free.
The stakes of the Manning prosecution should not be understated. It is clear that the government is determined to crush anyone who dares speak out against its national security machine. The capitalist elites, having surveyed the domestic and international situation, have decided to construct a massive apparatus that can monitor the world’s digital communications, track people’s movements, and kill or detain—at will—any person who threatens their interests.
Manning heroically lifted the curtain on the way the U.S. government truly operates around the world, unearthing information that was crucial to the Arab Spring and social struggles around the world. In addition, the “Collateral Murder” video also revealed by Manning showed the type of cold-blooded war crimes committed during the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Without Manning the people of the world would have significantly less information on the truly Imperialist character of the U.S. government. Manning is a hero. Revealing at great personal cost information that has informed political debates in dozens of countries, while the U.S. media, with a few notable exceptions, has used information released by Manning over and over, but criminally has lifted not even a finger in defense. Despite this the Manning trial and verdict are aimed at dissuading government workers from revealing important information even to “traditional media outlets.”
This is why it is so crucial to defend and say “Thank you” to Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers. The harsh penalties are meant to crush those who dare expose the government’s criminal acts. A massive movement in defense of those who expose government lies and wrongdoing is the necessary antidote to these attempts.
We believe Manning is guilty only of providing a public service; all these charges are simply an attempt to stifle the release of information about the brutal Imperialist national security-military apparatus. We demand Manning be released right away!