On Tuesday, the Freedom of the Press Foundation released Pfc. Bradley Manning’s full court statement — a one-hour, seven-minute speech to a military court, in which Manning explains why he shared hundreds of thousands of government documents with WikiLeaks.
The full audio is available at the bottom of this post. (The foundation’s website is currently down for many users.) Manning’s statement was previously only available through notes taken by journalists in court.
Below is an edited clip of Manning describing his reaction to a 2007 video that he eventually gave to WikiLeaks. The footage shows American soldiers killing civilians in Baghdad, including two Reuters journalists. This audio clip is not the full version — here is the full unofficial transcript.
“At first I did not consider the video very special, as I have viewed countless other war porn type videos depicting combat. However, the recording of audio comments by the aerial weapons team crew and the second engagement in the video of an unarmed bongo truck troubled me …
It was clear to me that the event happened because the aerial weapons team mistakenly identified Reuters employees as a potential threat and that the people in the bongo truck were merely attempting to assist the wounded. The people in the van were not a threat but merely “good samaritans.” The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.”
On its blog, the Freedom of Press Foundation explains why it published the leaked audio.
Freedom of the Press Foundation is dedicated to supporting journalism that combats overreaching government secrecy. We have been disturbed that Manning’s pre-trial hearings have been hampered by the kind of extreme government secrecy that his releases to WikiLeaks were intended to protest. While reporters are allowed in the courtroom, no audio or visual recordings are permitted by the judge, no transcripts of the proceedings or any motions by the prosecution have been released, and lengthy court orders read on the stand by the judge have not been published for public review.
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How did Manning “aid” the “enemy?” The Iraqi people were the “enemy”? I and millions of other Americans, never mind people around the world, never agreed with that. The fevered brains of Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc etc did not reflect public opinion. When I saw the video that Manning caused to be released, it didn’t surprise me at all. Incidents like this were amply reported at the time. It wasn’t even shocking. It was the invasion of Iraq was shocking from day 1, and by this point many of us were completely disillusioned and disgusted. War brutalizes soldiers. Nothing new about that at all. And many members of the military are further brutalized by repeated deployments. The human waste of soldiers suffering from PTSD and even “infecting” their families with PSTD, plus the suicides and other violence perpetrated by traumatized veterans is a national scandal.
Convenient application of retroactive martyrdom. Read the correspondence between Manning and WikiLeaks and it becomes clear that his release of the information was more motivated by petty, personal frustrations than anything else. He wanted to hurt the military because he was unsatisfied, not because he was on some grand quest to expose the truth.
Bradley Manning only aided the enemy, if we the U.S. civilian population are the enemy and we do not have a right to know what is being done in our name with our tax dollars. My thought is that PFC Manning is simply a whistleblower trying to alert us to war crimes pursuant to Principle IV of the Nuremberg principles. Unfortunately this is information that the Military Industrial Complex has tried to keep from us since the Vietnam conflict. But information vital to a working democratic republic that we think we live in.
In recognition of your sacrifices to our republic, here’s to you PFC Manning.
All i can think watching this is “What would I have done if i was in his position?” The answer is “i truly do not know.” Its a lose/lose situation. Option 1: Keep quiet and let this evil continue unchecked. Option 2: break an oath i agreed to, be declared a traitor, and spend the rest of my life in jail. Both options completely suck… and Im not going to judge him for making the choice he did.
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