March Forward! joins with all opponents of imperialist war in condemning the outrageous conviction of Bradley Manning for espionage and other charges that could lead to a total of 136 years imprisonment. Manning’s actions as a whistleblower are nothing short of heroic — he has performed an invaluable service to the people of the world by exposing the war crimes of the U.S. government and Pentagon brass. Because of the enormous amount of international support he generated through his courageous conduct and the dedication of his skilled legal team, Manning was found not guilty of the charge of aiding the enemy, the most serious he faced
As details of Manning’s life have come to light over the course of his cruel imprisonment and trial, it has became more and more clear that while Manning’s heroism is extraordinary, his experience was not. Otherwise unable to afford to go to school, Manning joined the military with the intention of protecting his country and other illusions stoked by recruiters, politicians and the media, but he gradually learned the truth — as thousands of other service members did through their deployment. In the past decade, countless U.S. service members have become anti-war activists and organizers, spoken out publicly about crimes they witnessed, refused deployments and more.
The United States was not waging war in Iraq, Afghanistan and countless other countries around the world to safeguard “freedom” or “democracy,” but to deny them the right to self-determination and pave the way for their exploitation by U.S. banks and corporations. Manning’s life, the lives of his fellow enlisted soldiers and the lives of the people suffering from occupation were deemed disposable in the pursuit of global domination.
And, like countless service members before and after him, he decided that he could not in good conscience allow the injustices he knew about to remain hidden and their perpetrators unaccountable. He blew the whistle on war crimes, setting an example of resistance for all people, especially those in the military, to follow.
The officers carrying out the prosecution knew that this was the case, and had to resort to slander. They said that his only interest was to gain “the maximum exposure, and advance his personal quest for notoriety.” In reality, we know that they are simply afraid that others will emulate Manning’s heroism.
Who is the real enemy?
The prosecution’s contention that he “aided the enemy” was loaded with questions and assumptions. Which group or country was he allegedly aiding? Exactly whose enemy are they? Similarly, Manning’s conviction on charges of espionage implies that there was a foreign, enemy power to which he was funneling information.
In reality, Bradley Manning aided millions of people around the world by releasing the information he did. The policies, practices, crimes and cover-ups of the U.S. and other governments were revealed plainly for the world to see. From Tunisia to Brazil to right here in the United States, the information released by Manning has afflicted the powerful and aided the oppressed.
To the generals, politicians and billionaires, the people of the United States and our sisters and brothers around the world are the enemy. The people who fight and die in their wars, work for their companies and live in the countries they target for destruction — we are the ones who threaten them and the system they rule over.
There is a big difference between “espionage” — the most serious charge he was convicted for — and being a whistleblower. A whistleblower exposes violation of laws and things that are a serious threat to the public good. Manning did just that: exposed serious war crimes that violated international law and revealed lies the people of the world were being told that justified the constant death of Iraqis, Afghans and U.S. service members alike, and the squandering of trillions of dollars on the already unpopular wars. He deserved protection as a whistleblower for those acts.
Movement for Bradley Manning shows we can fight back
In addition to the extreme cynicism of the leadership of U.S. imperialism, the verdict in the Bradley Manning case also highlights the power of the people, including GIs, to fight back. It is truly profound that the mass movement that emerged in support of Manning was able to force the military court to accept the people’s definition of “the enemy” and find him not guilty on this extremely high charge.
Immediately following the verdict, the Manning family released a statement thanking the thousands of supporters whose activism “has allowed a young army private to defend himself against the full might of not only the U.S. Army but also the U.S. government.” The struggle to free Bradley Manning is by no means over. As we go forward, we can continue to build this movement so that service members can not only defend themselves from the military brass, rich politicians in Washington and the billionaires who profit from their wars, but defeat them once and for all.