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Bradley Manning Had Refused Plea Deal Requiring Him to Testify against WikiLeaks
On Wednesday, Pfc Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, while prosecutors wanted 60 years. On Thursday, Manning made a statement saying he wants to live as a woman named “Chelsea E. Manning” and wanted people to refer to him likewise.
In the populist frenzy of tarring Manning in every way possible, and to portray him as a traitor and being weak of character – one little thing is being glossed over by many:
Before his trial, and after his solitary incarceration and treatment (softening him up), that was categorized by U.N. personnel as “torture,” Manning was offered a plea deal for a shorter imprisonment, if he testified against the WikiLeaks in a running investigation in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Manning rejected the deal.
Most people criticizing Manning as weak may have readily agreed to give up their beliefs in exchange for a shorter prison term.
I am no one to judge whether Manning’s beliefs are right or wrong – but he is not the weakling he is being depicted as, across media outlets.
On Wednesday, itself, Manning’s attorney David Coombs read out a statement by Bradley Manning at a press conference.
The closing part of his statement mentions:
I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.
If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.
Manning stood by his actions and said:
Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power … As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people” …
Explaining his choice to leak the documents in an effort to stop the war, Manning said:
It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Referring to the present period in U.S. history, he said:
Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy – The Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps – to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.