Posts Tagged wikileaks
Amnesty International and the Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning Support Network initiated a petition on WhiteHouse.gov calling on Barack Obama to “grant clemency to Pvt. Bradley Manning.” The petition requires 100,000 signatures by September 20 for the White House to have to comment on it, or it will die. So far there are just over 24,000 signers.
We are almost 25% of the way to 100,000 signers, and must pick up momentum quickly. On Monday September 16, #PardonManning Day, will you sign the peititon, and do the work to be sure that 5 of your friends, family, or colleagues do so?
President Obama has already granted pardons to 39 other prisoners, and a White House spokesperson said he would give consideration to PVT Manning’s request. Showing public support for PVT Manning’s application is the best way to give her a real chance of being released in 3 years, or even sooner. Sign our petition on Whitehouse.gov, and then submit your photo with a personal message at pardon.bradleymanning.org
You can steal (copy + paste) tweets to promote the action here like this:
#PardonManning Day. 76,000 signers needed Now. Do the work to get 5 more to sign for justice 4 #Manning https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/restore-united-states%E2%80%99-human-rights-record-and-grant-clemency-pvt-bradley-manning/L7zHZv4r …
You KNOW how to reach your people. Let’s come together by Monday with a mass outpouring for Chelsea Manning’s freedom.
We’ve gotten some response that supporters of Manning don’t with to give the White House their email addresses. We are all for privacy rights. But have you read the news since June 5? The NSA via direction by the Obama administration already has so much more than your email address. Defense of Manning and Edward Snowden is exactly what’s called for in response to the government’s vast surveillance against whole populations.
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More than 60 of us filled the courtroom, and spilled into the overflow trailer, at Ft. Meade last Thursday (July 25). The chief prosecutor for the government, a sneering Major Fein, in closing argument called Bradley Manning a “traitor” for the first time, and also a “hacker,” an “anarchist,” and a “humanist who does not care about humans.” He mentioned Julian Assange – who is not publicly indicted with any U.S. crime – dozens of times.
The government’s claim is that when Manning was sent to Baghdad in fall 2009 as a 22 year old Army intelligence specialist, he went to work “for Wikileaks,” digging through classified documents to supply material for Wikileaks’ “Most Wanted” List for 2009. Fein claimed that Manning “chatted” with Julian Assange about what he could supply Wikileaks, and that both Wikileaks and Manning intended to make the material available to “the enemy,” specifically, Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula via the internet.
The danger in this characterization of Manning and Wikileaks’s actions or intentions, beyond it being clearly false and unsupported by any evidence, is that any information posted on the internet, or in print, could be argued, under the same logic to be intentionally directed at “the enemy.” The government claims that information from Wikileaks was found in possession of Osama bin Laden when he was executed in 2011. They do not say if information from any other news sources were also found. The chilling prospect, of treason charges against journalists, is not so remote, says Glenn Greenwald:
“Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler explained in the New Republic in March why this theory poses such a profound threat to basic press freedoms as it essentially converts all leaks, no matter the intent, into a form of treason.”
Sitting about ten feet behind Bradley — who is not allowed any contact, eyes or otherwise, with supporters — we ached with anger and sorrow. His last few weeks in a room with people besides other prisoners and guards are passing, with the threat of life + 154 years in prison hanging heavy.
On Friday, we rushed to get one of the 36 passes to be inside the courtroom for Defense Attorney David Coombs’ closing argument. We were buoyed by the appearance on Thursday of a full-page ad “We Are Bradley Manning” in the New York Times, tangible evidence of the millions supporting Bradley worldwide.
The drama of Coombs’ conversation with the judge — which is how he approached his closing argument — surpassed that of July 8, when he opened the defense case by showing the footage from Collateral Murder, or the Apache video, as it’s called in the government’s exhibit. I’ve showed this video dozens of times to audiences from middle-school to churches, and to people on the street who wanted to watch it, to learn. Coombs chose the three excerpts to show that always get people the most upset, directing the judge to try and see the scene as Bradley first saw it in fall 2009. At that time Reuters, for whom two of the men killed on screen worked, had still not been allowed to know what happened, though they had gone through “proper channels” for two years in a Freedom of Information Act request.
Bradley learned that, saw the footage, and decided that the public, particularly those of us in the U.S., needed to see it too. I’ll turn the story over to Kevin Gosztola, who has covered this story diligently, and cogently, for years. See Clips from ‘Collateral Murder’ Video, Defense Attempts to Show ‘Truth’ About Bradley Manning, and watch the three clips that Coombs showed and the significant parts of Coombs’ explanation to the judge about what the clips represent.
On Monday, July 8, Bradley Manning’s defense began with what was surely one of the most intense and unusual openings in U.S. military or civilian court history. Almost without introduction, the 39 minute version of Collateral Murder was played on five screens, while the military judge seemed to read along from the chilling transcript. The more frequently viewed 17 minute version has the Apache helicopter attack on a group of Iraqis, including a cameraman and reporter working for Reuters. But the prosecution, for unfathomable reasons, insisted that the longer version, which includes another horrific attack from the Apache on an apparently unarmed Iraqi.
There were tears in the full court room at all the appropriate points. 25 of Bradley’s supporters were allowed in the public seats at any one time, switching with 52 others who filled the overflow trailer. We succeeded in having the largest turnout to date to support Bradley at trial, including many who were coming for the first time, 24 of us from New York. The security detail counted and re-counted, short of badges, nervously herding the overflow.
The Collateral Murder footage was what made us support Bradley before we had any idea he existed. On April 5, 2010, when Wikileaks first published the video which they named Collateral Murder, we knew it was a myth-breaker for those who still thought the U.S. was in Iraq to “save” lives and help people. The Standard Operating Procedure of U.S. war-fighting in contested urban areas of occupation came through strongly enough visually. Add in the callous, outrageous chatter of the gunners – which was what Bradley testified this past February caught his attention and horrified him — and you have crimes of war writ large.
This footage figures importantly in the U.S. case against Bradley, as they argue he intentionally released it and other material to Wikileaks, knowing it would get into the hands of “the enemy.” But the defense presented testimony that the footage had already been in the public domain, was no longer classified, and that Bradley was not collaborating with Wikileaks, but rather leaked the material to them when other news organizations didn’t respond to his entreaties to publish the real story of the Iraq & Afghanistan occupations.
Col. Morris Davis was brought by the defense to speak to another contention of the prosecution, that leaking the Guantanamo Detainee Assessment Briefs caused harm because “the enemy” could read them. Davis, a military lawyer and law professor now at Howard, was put in charge of the whole military prosecution structure at Guantanamo in 2005, but quit in protest in 2007 because he said it would be impossible to promote just prosecutions. He was the author of the Close Guantanamo petition on Change.org in May, which more than 200,000 people signed. Ed Pilkington wrote in The Guardian:
Davis said he had also checked against information provided in newspaper articles, a docu-drama called The Road to Guantánamo and a book, The Guantánamo Files, that was published three years before the WikiLeaks disclosures. He said he had concluded that “if you watch the movie, read the book and the articles, you would know more about them than if you read the detainee assessment briefs”.
Davis testified that the DAB’s were almost useless to the prosecution, because they were so hastily and casually constructed. We learned Tuesday that the five DAB’s picked out by the prosecution — although of course this was all kept secret in the courtroom — included Shaker Aamer. Aamer is outrageously, still at Guantanamo after eleven years, although he was cleared for release by Bush in 2007, and again in 2010. Three others were members of the Tipton 3, featured in the film The Road to Guantanamo, who got out years ago, and in our friend Andy Worthington’s book. None of the erroneous and incomplete information gathered by US intelligence years ago could have any relevance now compared to actual journalism.
The Justice Department has an ongoing grand jury investigation into Wikileaks and Julian Assange, and an active interest in the case against Manning, as a route to potential prosecution of Wikileaks. There was testimony today by defense witness Harvard professor Yochai Benkler who contends that Wikileaks is a legitimate news organization, thereby entitled to First Amendment protection, and not “the enemy” Manning is charged with aiding.
Kevin Gosztola noted,
What happens here will create precedent for pursuing future whistleblowers or leakers. Depending on how WikiLeaks ends up being cast in the ruling, it may become a factor in how the US government continues its investigation and potential indictment of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, WikiLeaks staffers or volunteers connected to WikiLeaks.
The defense rested on July 10, after ten witnesses testified. The court martial resumes at 3:00 pm Monday July 15, with more motion arguments, and an expected rebuttal from the prosecution. There may be more from the defense before the Judge announces decisions on the 22 charges. Then the trial moves to the sentencing phase, which will likely involve weeks more of arguments.
Stay tuned for another call-out for maximum support at the trial.
These reporters have been at the trial every day:
Coverage from Associated Press and The New York Times has been occasional.
We learned while in a strange, airless, windowless trailer-like military court at the infamous Ft. Meade, during the trial of Bradley Manning on Thursday, June 28, that the U.S. military has blocked access, worldwide, for anyone in the military to the website of The Guardian, apparently in reaction to the leaks by Edward Snowden on vast surveillance of whole populations by the National Security Administration. Ironically, or not, Ft. Meade is the home of the NSA.
The criminals, according to the U.S. government, are the leakers such as Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden and journalists such as Glenn Greenwald who publish the information about U.S. war crimes which we, the public, are supposed to support, or, at least ignore. The “enemy” is us, the public, explicitly, in the case of Bradley, who is charged with “aiding the enemy.”
This is all backwards, to risk understatement. The crime of aggressive war is the supreme war crime. To have waged such a war, destroying a country’s infrastructure, society, displacing millions, displacing and killing uncounted numbers — and all on the basis of lies, as was the U.S. war on Iraq — is the criminal offense we should be trying the leaders of the Bush regime for.
Instead, Bradley Manning, a private who joined to pay for college, sent to a Forward Operating Base outside Baghdad, is facing charges for which the U.S. government wants him in prison for life, and which could potentially lead to the death penalty. Preliminary hearings went on for many months, during which, last February, Bradley made a declaration taking responsibility for sending classified documents to WikiLeaks. The prosecution will finish its case against him this week, charging, most seriously, that he “aided the enemy.”
History is being made in this courtroom, but as is often the case in the proceedings of empire, on the surface, the proceedings are banal. The judge takes pains to point out Bradley’s rights as accused, all the better to not be reversed in an appeal. The large team of prosecutors comes and goes with stacks of files, as if this is business as usual, and as if “justice” will be served. Each morning the lead prosecutor informs the judge of how many members of the media and the public are present. There is a lot of talk about the rights of the public, while the public is searched, told not to talk, and treated as the “enemy” we are.
Bradley is charged with leaking “Cablegate” files, and specifically 117 of them, as allowed by the judge last week. Kevin Gosztola notes that these aren’t the cables that made news when released. He speculates on why these documents, which concerned countries all over the world including Iraq and Afghanistan, were charged:
Peter Van Buren, a former Foreign Service Officer for the State Department who helped lead two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in rural Iraq from 2009-2010, told Firedoglake that none of the cables from the US Embassy in Baghdad that Manning is charged with disclosing to WikiLeaks jump out at him as “anything special or concrete.” He suggested that many of them were reports done by State Department employees as if they were journalists.
The fact that none of the cables appear to be any that received widespread attention in the media when WikiLeaks published them is, to Van Buren, a possible symptom of the State Department’s “schizophrenia about WikiLeaks.” They have wanted to claim the release of cables was an “incredible crime against the US government” while at the same time wanting to “reassure” leaders of countries around the world that the “really important stuff was protected” and not compromised.
The prosecution attempted to get the judge to allow them to submit tweets from WikiLeaks as evidence that Bradley was working with WikiLeaks, providing what they asked for. We learned that the prosecutors hadn’t subpoenaed Twitter for those records, and had someone find them on Google, perhaps because they know they don’t have to work very hard here to get a “guilty” verdict from the military judge. The judge did deny one 2009 WikiLeaks tweet into evidence, but allowed others.
A small defense victory Thursday came when the judge seemed to indicate she’ll allow them to submit evidence arguing that the Collateral Murder video of the July 2007 Apache helicopter attack killing 12 Iraqi civilians was no longer “classified” by 2010 when Manning sent it to Wikileaks. It’s worth noting that this footage was sought by Reuters, (who employed two of the men killed in the attack) for three years, unsuccessfully.
The most interesting testimony Friday was from Col. David Miller, who had commanded Manning’s brigade in Iraq in 2010, which was assigned to “Operation New Dawn,” the U.S. cynical attempt to “teach” Iraqis to provide their own security, as he explained. Miller told how he thought Manning, who had once briefed him at Ft. Drum before deployment was smart, but that the whole unit “took a hit” and that he was “stunned” when he learned of the charges against Manning. “The last thing I anticipated was an internal security breach from one of our own.”
Nathan Fuller, writing for the Bradley Manning Support Network, wrote:
On cross-examination, Col. Miller testified that there were no restrictions on surfing the SIPRNet, the military’s Secret-level internet, where he perused the State Department’s Net-Centric Diplomacy Database. He also said that soldiers were allowed to download files to their computers and to digital media, such as CDs, and there were no restrictions on the ‘manner’ in which a soldier could download. This refutes the claim that by using the download-automating Wget program, Manning exceeded his authorized computer access.
NOW: Take-home message:
The prosecution will rest July 1 or 2. After the holiday weekend, on Monday July 8, the defense will begin. Let this be a day where the prosecutor has to tell the judge that the media trailer is full; the public seats are all taken, and the overflow trailer is also full. If you can’t get to Ft. Meade, join in the conversation online; send donations; talk to everyone you know about this case, and why telling the truth should not be a crime.
And, order a copy of Collateral Murder to show, to project outside, to share. What is so dangerous about this footage that Bradley should spend life in prison for releasing it? It shows war crimes, done in our name.
Finally, consider Julian Assange’s comments on the trial:
This is not justice; never could this be justice… The verdict was ordained long ago. Its function is not to determine questions such as guilt or innocence, or truth or falsehood. It is a public relations exercise, designed to provide the government with an alibi for posterity. It is a show of wasteful vengeance; a theatrical warning to people of conscience.
Saturday, we gathered at Ft. Meade for the largest support action for Bradley Manning during the three+ years of his imprisonment before trial. I saw MANY subscribers to the World Can’t Wait e-newsletter list, donors to the recent New York Times “Close Guantanamo” ad, activists from years of opposition to U.S. wars, and younger people who have come forward mainly because they are inspired by the integrity and honesty of Bradley Manning.
Bradley, at the center of the most important political trial of this century, is an extraordinary person, motivated (as we now know), by the wish to get people living in this country to see what the government is doing. The high stakes here described by Revolution Newspaper are:
“This system is out to inflict extreme punishment on Bradley Manning—to jail him for a long time, perhaps life, and to use this cruel punishment of a brave person as an example to anyone else who would dare expose the crimes of empire. The courage and resilience with which Manning has withstood years of solitary confinement and almost a year of torture are a testament to his strength.”
Emma Kaplan, in Free Bradley Manning: The World is Not the Enemy quotes Bradley in explaining how much he learned:
“I also recall that in early 2009 the then newly elected president, Barack Obama, stated he would close Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and that the facility compromised our standing over all, and diminished our, quote unquote, “moral authority.” After familiarizing myself with the DABs, I agreed….
“The more I became educated on the topic, it seemed that we found ourselves holding an increasing number of individuals indefinitely that we believed or knew to be innocent, low-level foot soldiers that did not have useful intelligence and would’ve been released if they were held in theatre.”
Attorney Michael Ratner, this morning on Democracy Now!, explained the breadth of the Espionage statute, where the government does not have to prove either intent to aid the enemy, or actual aiding of the enemy, to convict Bradley of six espionage charges (which carry the death penalty, although the government says it is “only” seeking life in prison for Bradley). Chillingly, the government, in its opening statement yesterday, referred frequently to Julian Assange and Wikileaks, likely targets of prosecution. Assange wrote Monday on the “Kafkaesque” nature of the trial:
“It is fair to call what is happening to Bradley Manning a “show trial.” Those invested in what is called the “US military justice system” feel obliged to defend what is going on, but the rest of us are free to describe this travesty for what it is. No serious commentator has any confidence in a benign outcome. The pretrial hearings have comprehensively eliminated any meaningful uncertainty, inflicting pre-emptive bans on every defense argument that had any chance of success.
“Bradley Manning may not give evidence as to his stated intent (exposing war crimes and their context), nor may he present any witness or document that shows that no harm resulted from his actions. Imagine you were put on trial for murder. In Bradley Manning’s court, you would be banned from showing that it was a matter of self-defence, because any argument or evidence as to intent is banned. You would not be able to show that the ’victim’ is, in fact, still alive, because that would be evidence as to the lack of harm.”
The New York Times, finally reporting on the trial, related part of the opening arguments from Bradley’s attorney, David Coombs, explaining how Bradley was motivated to leak evidence of U.S. war crimes:
“Mr. Coombs said Private Manning started sending files to WikiLeaks later, in January 2010, after a roadside bombing in Iraq on Dec. 24, 2009. Everyone in his unit celebrated, Mr. Coombs said, after learning that no American troops had been seriously hurt, and their happiness did not abate — except for Private Manning’s — when they learned that members of an innocent Iraqi family had been injured and killed. From that moment, Mr. Coombs contended, things started to change and he soon “started selecting information he believed the public should see, should hear” and sending them to WikiLeaks.”
Many people have ordered Collateral Murder from us.
YOU MUST have this DVD and show it to others. Get it now.
I’ll be speaking at the rally for Bradley this Saturday June 1, two days before his trial begins. Join me at Ft. Meade, or find a solidarity rally near you.
On Wide Lens
Host Jolie Diane interviews Debra Sweet of World Can’t Wait and Jeff Patterson of Courage to Resist about the actions and detention of Bradley Manning.
I was sitting in a Brooklyn court room last week, listening to police testify for prosecution of freedom fighters who protest NYPD stop-and-frisk. (Later that day charges were dropped by the judge). At the same moment, Bradley Manning was giving a first public statement on releasing documents on U.S. war crimes, including what came to be called the “Collateral Murder” video, the U.S. diplomatic cables, material on indefinite detention in Guantanamo, and Afghan War Diaries and Iraq War Log.
Manning accepted responsibility for some of the charges the US government has made, opening himself to two years prison on each of ten counts. What is most disturbing is the government’s intention to try him on June 1 for the remaining, more serious charges, and to ask for life in prison.
Monitoring my phone on breaks in the trial, we heard via Twitter that Bradley had tried the Washington Post, The New York Times, and Politico, before uploading the data to Wikileaks, with the urgent intent of getting the public in the U.S. to engage in a debate about war policy, based on knowing what their government is doing. Alexa O’Brien provided a transcript of the statement Bradley Manning made in military court last week, well worth reading through.
On Collateral Murder, he said of the U.S. military on the ground and in the Apache helicopter in 2007:
Preparations to rally at Ft. Meade, Maryland, site of the trial are being made now. The Bradley Manning Support Committee reports on international support actions February 23, 2013.
They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote “dead bastards” unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.
While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew– as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.
What the video depicted was the truth of war. There were completely inhuman things—laughing about killing people, laughing about rolling over dead bodies with tanks. It was just abominable and reprehensible and sickening. When you watch it, it just makes you gasp to hear the language. But this is not an aberration. This is the truth of war. And that’s what we need to convey to people. What Bradley Manning did was a huge service to the world, to let people know the ugly, awful truth of war.
I have no doubt the government will continue to pile on Bradley Manning with all the force they have. That an Army private, so articulate, so clearly out for the benefit of humanity, as opposed to personal gain, could begin a mass public reaction that brought down reactionary governments in the Middle East, and expose the U.S. for its illegitimate use of military force the world over, is dangerous to them. Much more dangerous, than say, CIA torture of thousands or the destruction of whole countries.
Virtually no one is being prosecuted for those crimes; yet, Bradley Manning faces life in prison for exposing them.
Glenn Greenwald, on Democracy Now, captured a lot of what the US is doing to this person of great moral conscience:
This is a case of extraordinary prosecutorial overkill. The government has never been able to identify any substantial harm that has come from any of the leaks that Bradley Manning is accused of and now admits to being responsible for. Certainly nobody has died as a result of these leaks, even though the government originally said that WikiLeaks and the leaker has blood on their hands. Journalists investigated and found that there was no evidence for that. So, just the very idea that he should spend decades in prison, let alone be faced with life on parole, given what it is that he actually did and the consequences of it, is really remarkable.
But even more specifically, the theory that the government is proceeding on is one that’s really quite radical and menacing. That is, that although he never communicated with, quote-unquote, “the enemy,” which the government has said is al-Qaeda, although there’s no evidence that he intended in any way to benefit al-Qaeda—he could have sold this information, made a great deal of money, had he wanted to. All the evidence indicates that he did it for exactly the reason that he said, with the intent that he said, which was to spark reform and to bring attention to these abuse…
In the chat logs that were published over a year ago with the government informant who turned him in, he said very much the same thing while he thought he was speaking in complete confidence, to somebody who had promised him confidentiality, about what led him on this path, that he had become disillusioned first about the Iraq war when he discovered that people they were detaining weren’t really insurgents but were simply opponents of the Maliki government, and he brought it to his superiors, and they ignored him. He then looked at documents that showed extreme amounts of criminality and deceit and violence, that he could no longer in good conscience participate in concealing. It was really an act of conscience, pure conscience and heroism, that he did, knowing he was sacrificing his liberty.
The government has insulated its conduct from what are supposed to be the legitimate means of accountability and transparency—judicial proceedings, media coverage, FOIA requests—and has really erected this impenetrable wall of secrecy, using what are supposed to be the institutions designed to prevent that. That is what makes whistleblowing all the more imperative. It really is the only remaining avenue that we have to learn about what the government is doing
Speaking for thousands of us who have protested Manning’s trial, from signing petitions to civil disobedience, I think we can say with even more determination now, after hearing him, “FREE Bradley Manning!”
I can’t tell you anymore than this: The Bush regime’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, based on lies, was illegitimate, unjust, and immoral from the start. Barack Obama’s announcement yesterday that the “war is over” is wrong on so many levels. For those on the ground, the millions in Iraq, and the one million US military sent there, it won’t end.
The wealthiest country and military in the world leaves behind billions of dollars worth of trashed equipment, and civil and physical society in shambles.
A young soldier, Bradley Manning, formerly stationed in Iraq, will begin a court martial Friday at Ft. Meade, because the U.S. military claims he released classified information about the war to Wikileaks.
But today, the New York Times reports that 400 pages of classified documents on the interrogation of U.S. Marines about the notorious massacre of civilians in Haditha, in 2006 were
discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.
Shaun Mullen, a columnist for The Moderate Voice comments
That the true story of the 2005 massacre of 20 Iraqi civilians, including an elderly man in a wheelchair and women and children, has finally come out because an Iraqi was using transcripts of secret interviews with the Marines involved to cook dinner is a fitting coda to a nearly nine-year war that officially ended today.
Says Leon Panetta, current Secretary of Defense for the Obama administration about the war on Iraq
“the cost was high — in blood and treasure of the United States, and also for the Iraqi people. But those lives have not been lost in vain — they gave birth to an independent, free and sovereign Iraq.”
Say what? from 7 of the 8 Iraq veterans CNN interviewed who were deployed to Iraq during the war. Their one sentence pull-outs mirror everything I’ve heard over 8 years:
“I don’t think that the gravity of what we were doing ever really hit me.” Emily Trageser, Army
“We removed one corruption and replaced Saddam with officials who were just as murderous and evil.” Nicholas Panzera, Army
“I lost everything. My wife, my place to live, my friends, and the future I had once seen.” Marc Loiselle, Army
“I have never felt more proud in my life to be a part of something.” Tyler, Army, who is currently in Iraq shutting down bases.
“Although we did depose a dictator, we ruined the country in the process.” Eric Sofge, Army
“The principle excuse to invade Iraq to discover WMD was a non-starter from the get-go.” Jeffrey Tracey, biological weapons inspector
“None of us could see a reason why we were still there. And it just kept going on and on.” Jim Lewandowski, South Dakota National Guard
“I don’t know any soldiers that really have a positive view on any of it.” Spencer Alexander, Army
It’s not over, people. The U.S. is ready to send troops back to Iraq, and will keep thousands on the border of Kuwait. The ceremony is only for public consumption.
I thought Michael Moore had a good idea when he proposed naming Occupy SF after Bradley Manning. Bradley is accused by the U.S. government of leaking to Wikileaks government reports and cables on years of military operations and communications about and with other governments.
He may go before a court martial soon, although there is apparently deep disagreement between different sections of the government over what evidence to let the defense see, and what they will allow to be made public.
Michael’s point is that the “Arab Spring” beginning with the uprising in Tunisia last December, spreading across the Mid East, and continuing now in struggle against highly repressive regimes in Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen, was fueled by revelations posted by Wikileaks. MissionLocal reports
Energizing protesters, he said the origin of the Occupy movement could be traced to Tunisia and the Arab Spring. But the ultimate credit? That belonged to alleged WikiLeaks informant and U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning, whom Moore called the original Occupy instigator for his purported role in leaking thousands of U.S. government cables. Moore even proposed renaming Justin Herman Plaza to Bradley Manning Plaza in his honor.
BradleyManning.org quotes Moore as calling on people to remember the (alleged) contribution of Bradley Manning, saying it’s
“… sad, tragic and criminal that he is still in jail. Has not been charged with a crime or put on trial. Having done a very brave thing, when you draw a line from A to B to C, that we are here in this park today in part to his courage.”
It’s worth thinking about the war crimes revealed, and how putting reality before people really can bring about change in how the perceive injustice, and how they act. Isn’t this what we’ve been working on for years?
Despite the Obama administration’s announcement Friday that U.S. combat troops are finally leaving Iraq — giving rise to the popular perception that “Iraq war is over”– I ask those who are celebrating to consider: where is the joy coming from?
It’s been ten years now since Donald Rumsfeld’s brain went “9/11 = attack Iraq,” apparently minutes after the WTC was hit by airliners. From that moment, when the world’s largest military machine began planning it, through today, after over a million Iraqi deaths, this war and occupation has never been legitimate, just or moral!
Tens of millions of us who care about humanity protested to prevent the Bush regime from getting the coalition it sought to attack Iraq; much of the world was convinced the U.S. was not invading to “save” Iraqis but to advance its own imperial agenda. Our actions did contribute to this loss of legitimacy as the United States military ran into deep geopolitical difficulties in the region (remember, Bush and Cheney planned to sweep through Iraq as a gateway to dominating the rest of the region, including Iran, a strategy that has, shall we say, not gone well.)
The Nobel Peace President, who promised an end to war on Iraq, isn’t exactly blazing a peace trail. The Bush Regime set this time frame of “withdrawal” in 2011.
In fact the Obama administration, through the State Department, pursued very hard the plan to keep U.S. fighting forces in Iraq beyond this year. It was the Maliki government, which in general has been very compliant to its U.S. funders, who balked at allowing U.S. military to stay because the terms demanded by Obama included immunity from local prosecution for the troops.
Think of that: The widest sustained, imperialist government sponsored, mass war crime, destroying a whole country, displacing 4.5 million from their homes, the turning of a secular society into a bloody sectarian battlefield, was to be justified and continued only on the basis of immunity from the victimized country!
Glenn Greenwald specifically attributes the Iraqi government stand to the revelation of a cable
released by WikiLeaks in May, 2011, and, as McClatchy put it at the time, “provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.” The U.S. then lied and claimed the civilians were killed by the airstrike. Although this incident had been previously documented by the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the high-profile release of the cable by WikiLeaks generated substantial attention (and disgust) in Iraq, which made it politically unpalatable for the Iraqi government to grant the legal immunity the Obama administration was seeking. Indeed, it was widely reported at the time the cable was released that it made it much more difficult for Iraq to allow U.S. troops to remain beyond the deadline under any conditions.
War crimes in 2003; war crimes never prosecuted at the hands of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and one can go on into the dozens, as War Criminals Watch does.
I am not celebrating!
More to come on the continued U.S. State Department presence of fighters; the black operations, and the hundreds of thousands of U.S. contractors staying in Iraq.
Remember, George. W. Bush, the master of creating his own reality, announced that it was over on May 1, 2003, in his famous “Mission Accomplished” speech, wearing his pseudo-airman’s costume:
“Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect and the world had not seen before.”
Any commander in chief of an illegitimate occupation should be very careful what he announces.