1 Aug 2013

Manning Is The Ultimate Prisoner Of Conscience

By Antony Loewenstein

Whistleblowers like Bradley Manning show us the true face of global power. The guilty verdict against him should stir journalists to challenge authoritarianism, writes Antony Loewenstein

The verdict was never really in doubt. Former US intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was always going to be found guilty by a US military court. The only question was whether or not he would be viewed as “aiding the enemy”, namely Al-Qaeda.

Military judge Colonel Denise Lind decided he was not — but found Manning guilty on many other counts, including espionage, relating to the leaking of documents to Wikileaks. He is likely to face decades inside a US prison.

The Manning trial represents one of the most significant examples of American legal and political intimidation in our time. After being arrested in 2010 and brought to the US from the Middle East to await trial, the administration of Barack Obama subjected him, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in solitary confinement.

He was unable to communicate with the world. The reasons he leaked remained largely a mystery. Manning’s contribution to public knowledge of US foreign policy after 9/11 is profound, from war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, spying on the UN, abuses in Guantanamo Bay and countless details of corrupt US allies.

Manning’s motivations were never about financial gain nor destroying America; he is the ultimate prisoner of conscience, as his moving testimony proved during the trial. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange rightly said this week that Manning and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, both young men dedicated to risking their freedom in the pursuit of revealing truths about US power, should be seen as heroes.

Even after this week’s verdict, many in the US media continue to regard Manning as a sideshow and prefer, as independent journalist Jeremy Scahill told Democracy Now!, to focus on trivial stories. “There has been more coverage of the indictment of that Real Housewives lady and her husband than there has been of Bradley Manning,” Scahill said. “This is the state of media in this country right now, and it is just devastating that we don’t have a media culture that says this should have been gavel-to-gavel coverage.”

The precedent set by the Manning decision is clearly aimed at intimidating media outlets that dare to publish leaked information likely to embarrass the government. After all, White House-friendly stories appear every day after sanctioned drops to insider journalists. Witness the orgy of pro-Barack Obama yarns after the murder of Osama Bin Laden, where classified information was shared by officials when it was convenient to praise the heroic President.

Manning’s conviction was guaranteed because the US military and the security state could not allow a relatively low level intelligence official free without him paying a price as an example to others. The Obama administration wants Americans and the world to know that it prefers to prosecute whistle-blowers who reveal crimes than the perpetrators of the acts themselves. There have been no successful cases brought against government officials who ordered the torture, murder and assassination of innumerable civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and the “global war on terror”. Instead, Obama has pursued more whistleblowers than every previous US administration combined. This is what being a “liberal” President apparently means.

Sometimes unjust laws must be broken. This is what Daniel Ellsberg believed when he released the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s in an attempt to stop the brutal Vietnam War. Ellsberg has been a long-time supporter of Manning and this week said that the conflicts may have changed but the need for whistleblowers had not. “When I hear Bradley Manning and when I read what he said in the chat logs and whatever, I’m hearing myself when I was twice his age 40 years ago”, he said.

“I know my motives and I perceive the same motives in his case, in each case actually, to save lives, to shorten a wrongful, hopeless, stalemated war, and to do so by informing the public and challenging them to live up to the Constitution in an unconstitutional war, to live up to ideals of democracy and of nonaggression, rather than fighting an aggressive war, as Iraq, the war that Manning was involved in, was an aggressive war from start to finish”.

In a society that is increasingly monitored and recorded, recent revelations by Edward Snowden confirmed our worst fears about the US surveillance state, the role of whistleblowers and organisations like Wikileaks become even more important. Embedded journalism has left many global citizens in the dark about the actions of their governments since 9/11 (though encouragingly, latest poll figures in the US indicate a majority of people now oppose rampant state breaches of privacy). Adversarial journalism, ably assisted by leaks that shame the powerful, will not stop because the Obama administration wants them to. The internet doesn’t work that way and I believe it’s our responsibility, as citizens and journalists, to challenge the increasingly authoritarian streak of the Western state.

How should this happen? It’s equally relevant in America as in Australia. Whistleblowers here, including the recent expose on SBS Dateline by a former British multinational G4S employee detailing allegations of rape and abuse on Manus Island, should be praised and supported. In my own work, including new book Profits of Doom, I rely on explosive testimony from a senior Serco whistleblower who outlines the price-gouging, lack of care towards guards and asylum seekers and corruption within the corporation. This is an undeniable public service to the debate about warehousing refugees by private companies.

It is our responsibility as reporters, whether professional or amateur, to encourage the leaking of information from within corporations and the state that has no business remaining private. We’re beyond playing nice with authorities that are scared of material the public has the right to know. Let the leakers roam free.

The Manning verdict is a call to arms for the activists, journalists, whistle-blowers, hackers and citizens who refuse to accept that the only information we deserve to consume is given the tick of approval by a public relations office. Julian Assange remains a target for US prosecutors, arguably even more so after the Manning conviction. Washington will not tolerate an outsider, an Australian no less, releasing cables that reveal the dirty reality of the US empire.

It’s no wonder Edward Snowden fears returning to America and currently resides in Russia. Only a fool would believe the US Attorney General Eric Holder who was forced to recently issue a statement declaring the whistleblower would be treated fairly back home and not given the death penalty. The world laughed in response.

The true face of American justice has never been clearer after the Manning verdict. The Guardian writer Gary Younge tweeted the most perfect response:

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Posted Thursday, August 1, 2013 - 17:44

Excellent article. Would that there were more courageous, ethical, pro-Humanity journalists  in this world like Antony Loewenstein.

Bradley Manning is an American hero and a world hero for exposing appalling  US Government war crimes  and subversion of  every country in the world , including the United  States itself and Australia.

Thus thanks to Bradley Manning Australians know that PM Kevin "I love coal" Rudd had suggested the option of war with China in talks with the Americans and Kim Beazley had offered Australian forces in that eventuality  (former PM Malcolm Fraser was horrified; see Malcolm Fraser “Slavish devotion to the US a foreign policy folly for Australia”, The Age, 14 December 2010: http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/slavish-devotion-to-the-us-a-foreign-policy-folly-for-australia-20101213-18vec.html ).

Thanks to Bradley Manning Australians  know that 2 supporters of the 24 June 2010 pro-Zionist-led Coup against PM Kevin Rudd were also US "assets" who reported on the Labor Government to the Zionist-led US Embassy.

Decent Australians can register their  support for Bradley Manning  (and for decent American values that have  inspired  so many around the world thanks to heroes like Daniel Ellsberg, Martin Luther King, Mohammed Ali and so many wonderful, humane American writers ) at the ballot box - they can  vote 1 Green and put the pro-war, pro-Zionist, US lackey, human rights-abusing, neoliberal Lib-Labs (Liberal-Laborals) last .



Posted Friday, August 2, 2013 - 18:40

I second everything DrGideonPolya says.


Work out a voting strategy that gives us more minor parties.


Say 1 Greens and 2 Population Party or something or more of what we have now, rather then the Libs, good doctor.


AMERICA — From Freedom To Fascism (Full Length Documentary)


Posted Sunday, August 4, 2013 - 07:09

Iain Hall, ur a bone head.

Now for how many years should Manning have trawled through all of that rubbish to find the big Juicy bits, which century do u think all of this would have been exposed if he spent a life time being, Censor, judge and Jury. Do u have any idea HOW LONG IT TAKES TO READ A 3000 WORD ESSAY, never mind writting or deliberating over it.

It was easier to just cut and copy the lot and let other idiots do the trawling, he knew they would.


Sometimes time makes for a lousy bed fellow.

So consder this:

Well. America has 440 thousand avoidable deaths due to Heart disease and they spend 2.6 billion to try & fix the problem.

68 Americans (mostly idiots in silly uniforms) die every year due to terrorism & D Yanks spend 268 billion or so to supposedly fix that, a problem they created.

So who the hell DO YOU think really cares, America? That Nation of Drop Kicks who sold their rights to life away by accepting the Draft/Conscription for the right to vote in their u beaut brain dead democracy way back in1917, something that 65% of them can't be bothered with, even if it is only to save their own lives. I mean, its not as if they thought it was fantastic enough to give to the Germans after the War of wank.

50 thousand of those Brain Dead Yank John Wayne Wannabee idiots died in Vietnam, because they can't be bothered to vote, which is something that they supposedly die for.

And then the idiots ended up with more Vietnam Vets after the killing Fields then they ever sent and they lost 50 thousand.

And ur proud of THAT, Bone Headedness. go back to playing with ur ego and leave the thinking to people with a concience.

Humans we are a sad bunch. Animals in Fancy stitches, driving around in fancy cars, living at fancy addresses, Male milking cows hanging around with bimbo breeding cow's, thats it. 


Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 19:46

Iain Hall, ur obviously a payed up monkey, for an Organ Grinder and ur being willfully ignorant.


All he would have needed was the video of the Apache Helicopter, his discussed at what he saw would have done the rest.




This user is a New Matilda supporter. Tim Macknay
Posted Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 17:20

Manning was treated appallingly by the US authorities while he was in custody awaiting trial. Despite that, it's ridiculous to call him a "prisoner of conscience".

A prisoner of conscience is someone who is locked up purely because of their beliefs or opinions. Manning is locked up because he released US state secrets without authorisation, and thereby broke US law. Regardless of whether or not his leaks were justified by the public interest, he ain't a prisoner of conscience. A whistleblower, maybe.

I'm pointing this out because concepts such that of the prisoner of conscience are important, and shouldn't be diluted by lazy misuse.

Posted Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 20:28

Tim and Iain would have made fantastic defendants at Nurembourg.


This user is a New Matilda supporter. Tim Macknay
Posted Friday, August 23, 2013 - 12:40

Amazing. I point out that Manning isn't actually a prisoner of conscience and I get Godwinned. It's a real pity the regulars at NM have so much trouble maintaining basic civility or even minimal substance to their comments.