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Chase Madar, civil rights attorney and author of the new book The Passion of Bradley Manning, discusses the Army soldier who revealed the content of classified documents through WikiLeaks.
Dear Attorney Madar:
If I were a person primarily concerned with any kind of a positive outcome for Private Manning, I would not be so fast to separate him from possible defenses (e.g., "extreme emotional disturbance") that he may need at trial or at sentencing to avoid conviction on a charge, or a court declaration of a sentence justified by a clear showing of Private Manning's "political" motives for his actions.
The unbridgeable distinction between Private Manning and Mr. Ellsberg is that the latter committed his disclosures while he was a "civilian", not generally subject to penal sanction for voicing his opinion or contempt for his employment or employee duties; Private Manning's alleged criminal and potentially treasonous acts occurred while he was an enlisted member of the U.S. Army fully subject to the jurisdiction of "The Uniform Code of Military Justice" (UCMJ)(10 U.S.C.A. § 801 et seq.) I imagine that Colonel McCrystal's supporter's would have liked the situation to be seen as an effort to alert the nation to important aspects of the Vice President's performance evaluation. (Fat chance.)
Private Manning chose to commit his alleged crimes while fully enlisted and on duty in a military theater where his fellow soldiers were taking casualties from enemy actions. He should get down on his knees every day he is granted another day to live, and give "Thanks" (not only for having knees attached to his body) for not being summarily taken out to a field and shot.
In some ways, Attorney Madar, you are not to blame for the weaknesses of your presentation. It is not the representation that any competent attorney will make to the court with proper jurisdiction. It is your task to propagandize the "court" of public opinion.
peace & love
Thank you commentariat, Brian and all show staff. One point I would like to elaborate, on the distinction between Dan Ellsberg's leaks and Manning's alleged leaks. Many intellectuals and lawyers have worked overtime to draw up a valid distinction between the two acts that would maintain Ellsberg as a hero but justify locking up Manning. Ellsberg himself disagrees with these distinctions, and so do I. First, Ellsberg released tens of thousands of documents, not a laser-like precision leak at all. True, Manning released files on two wars, not one. I don't see a huge difference. What's more, each and everyone of them was classed as "top secret", whereas not one of Manning's alleged leaks reaches that high degree of classification. Everything that's being said about Manning's alleged leaks--that they are treasonous, that they endanger US lives, that they endanger foreign lives--was also said about Ellsberg's leaks, and is now believed by no one. I wish those who condemn Manning, particularly those liberals who condemn Manning, would have the honesty to also call for Ellsberg's head; after all, Ellsberg was never acquitted--his trial ended in a mistrial--and he is not barred by double jeopardy from prosecution. The main difference between Ellsberg and Manning's leaks is not the nature of their deeds but in the political climate of their respective eras. In Ellsberg's time, many Establishment media figures, academics and even members of Congress were willing to support his act of leaking, whose illegality he has never denied. We have drifted so far right in matters of national security in the past forty years that very few established media figures, jurists and intellectuals have stood up for Manning. I reckon this is because the pain of the past decade's failed wars has been spread even less evenly than the burden of the Vietnam War. Without a draft, middle-class intellectuals, media figures and academics really don't have to worry about their kids or family getting called up or stop-lossed indefinitely. Desensitized to the real costs of our past decade's wars, our intellectual class is remarkably ungrateful to the young man who (allegedly) has brought us such a great gift of important knowledge.
When we first invaded Iraq, there was considerable talkabout W.M.D.s. At the time, it was broadly understoodthat this refered to nuclear weapons (or perhaps alsobiological and/or nerve gas weapons).
Today, I've heard of someone being charged with planningan attack using W.M.D.s - by which they now mean - anyexplosive. By all means they should investigate andcharge them - but why the term W.M.D.s ? Is this aNewspeak attempt to justify what the Bush II administrationdid ? No doubt we found "WMD"'s matching the new definition in Iraq - every government owns some explosives - as do manylegitimate companies (mining, construction, etc).
What gives with the Newspeak ?
Where did this come from ?
Mannings mental health and sexual orientation are in question?
Cue the Insanity Defense!
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but the amount of data, along with the fact that nothing even remotely hazardous to national security was collected over such an apparently short period by such a young inexperienced low-ranking soldier, smacks of a set-up. Probably to embarrass Obama early on, but it could have been a Libertarian contingent making a point similar to your speaker. Not that Manning wasn't involved, just that he couldn't have done this himself, it doesn't add up. Mothers should teach their sons never to trust handsome older men bearing big hard drives.
Unfortunately the guest's passion led him to hypocrisy. He excoriates critics for questioning Bradley Manning's mental health, but it is the first attack he levels against the informant. You would think a self-proclaimed civil rights attorney would be a little more skeptical of the value of an involuntary commitment to a mental institution as a measure of the truth of what is being said.
"Of course not." says the supercilious Mr. Madar.
Manning's trial is ongoing at this time.His fate will be justly determined by the processes now underway.
There is really not much else that needs to be said or should be said about him at this time.
However, aren't there some kind of ethics about officers of the court commenting on ongoing trials?
Manning revealed with specificity what we all already knew generally: that our country engages in torture.
He had to have heard talk about our country's unsavory tactics prior to signing up for military service. And he signed up anyway.
Manning represents an American cultural flaw, that is, we will negligently ignore or accept wrong decisions until upon our individual caprice we decide to change our mind with righteous indignation.
Well said SamDee!
What a pompous ass this guy is. It was so incredibly presumptuous of Manning to have taken his initiative. As has been stated here, Manning took an oath as a member of the armed forces. Does every member of the armed forces have the right to expose anything they want to? It would result in complete chaos and as has been pointed out before it could have jeopardized people in undercover positions. This guy says you shouldn't expose things like missile codes- who gets to decide whedre to draw the line? Apparently this guy.
Hero or traitor..? Manning is a bit of both - The world is a much better place with those leaks. However, he was an active soldier and he knew or should have known what he was doing would have consequences for him. Fair or not.
We need WAY more Bradley Mannings in this world, and make sure that the psychotic power-mad nut cases that run this country are under extreme scrutiny at all times.
It's not what I'm saying. It's what U.S. law and universally accepted ethical standards require. Every soldier has an obligation to reveal war crimes. His or her oath is to defend the Constitution, not defend his or her superiors or the politicians back home, from embarrassment or prosecution.
Of course, in the U.S. today, it's only "embarrassment" folks at the top have to worry about. Prosecution is reserved for the likes of Bradley Manning.
So are you saying each soldier is to decide what he wants to disclose. Everyone in the armed forces is able to disclose anything he or she deems a war crime.??
@john from office:
His "excuse" isn't his claimed mental state or his homosexuality, and it's not clear who, other than those unsympathetic to his actions, are making such "excuses".
His "excuse", if he needs one, is that he had clear evidence of war crimes, committed or condoned at the highest levels, about which his superiors and American politicos would do absolutely nothing. In some places, acting on such information, instead of standing idly by, is known known as an "act of conscience" -- the sort of thing which distinguishes sheep from moral actors.
No matter what is said, by way of explaining Mr. Mannings actions, nothing can change the fact that he was a member of the armed forces and sworn to loyalty. He was not a reporter or a private citizen, he was and is a soldier.
The excuse that he was a troubled young man and possibly a homosexual does not excuse the behavior and is an insult to Gay serice members who serve with distingtion.
His actions are even more serious when the nation is at war.
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