I am Bradley Manning and you should be too!

Published: August 20, 2013
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He decided that when he took that oath, it was for his fellow people -- and the people deserved to know that they were being misled and lied to. PHOTO: REUTERS

As the sentencing hearing gets underway for Bradley Manning, who faces 136 years in prison after being convicted of 20 charges including espionage and theft, it’s hard not to feel that a travesty of justice is taking place.

Here is a person who had made a commitment to serve his country and was put in a difficult situation of deciding whether to follow protocol and turn a blind eye to abuses and war crimes being carried out in his country’s name, or to do the morally right thing and bring the atrocities to light.

Bradley Manning chose to follow his conscience, knowing full well the consequences of going against the military machine and political landscape.

He decided that when he took that oath, it wasn’t to serve his superiors in the army, or the politicians in Washington, but his fellow people – and the people deserved to know that they were being misled and lied to. This is why he allegedly leaked classified documents to Wikileaks that lifted the veil of secrecy on US foreign policy for the entire world to see, revealing the true nature of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For his efforts, he was placed in solitary confinement and meted with treatment bordering on psychological and physical torture. He also now faces spending the rest of his life in prison – a punishment significantly greater than that given to fellow soldiers convicted of murder and rape.

Rather than being appreciative of his sacrifices, he has become a pariah in a large segment of the United States population, being branded a traitor and terrorist sympathiser.

Similarly, Edward Snowden, who had to leave his life in the United States behind in order to bring to people’s attention that their privacy was being violated indiscriminately by their own government, has also been castigated both in the local media and in the larger population as a whole.

In both cases, rather than there being an outrage over this blatant abuse of power and trust by the government, and officials being held to account, it is the messengers that have been shot instead.

It is disconcerting to see how far the government has succeeded in brainwashing the masses to letting slide anything under the guise of national security. The American public that took pride in being the good guys cannot with a straight face claim the moral high ground any more, after revelations of illegal renditions, torture and large number of civilian casualties. In fact, after its treatment of whistle-blowers and prisoners of war, it would be highly impudent and hypocritical of the United States to lecture any country about its human rights record ever again.

This whole scenario is Orwellian in nature, evoking memories of his great cautionary tale, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which should be made mandatory reading for all young adults.

In the book, George Orwell described a dystopian world under omnipresent government surveillance, where the whole population had been controlled through propaganda and brainwashing.

Orwell’s concept of ‘doublethink’ which inspired the term ‘doublespeak’ is employed freely and without any irony by the current US government, describing torture as enhanced interrogation, classifying prisoners of war as enemy combatants, labelling any adult males in the vicinity of a drone strike as insurgents when counting civilian casualties, regardless of guilt, or referring to Snowden as a rogue contractor or spy rather than a whistle blower.

The media also takes a large share of the blame in shaping the public’s perspective. It seems that rather than learning a lesson from the run up to the Iraq war, where media organisations seem to be acting solely as a mouth piece to the United States government instead of actively investigating its claims, the local media in the United States once again seems to be repeating that very misstep.

Most of the local American media has been outright hostile to Snowden and Manning.

From Joe Scarborough claiming Snowden looks like a weasel and asking his face be covered up to David Gregory attacking a fellow journalist, asking Glen Greenwald on live television why he shouldn’t be charged with a crime for “aiding and abetting” Snowden, it seems as if the US media was engaged in their ‘Two Minutes Hate’ against the current Goldstein.

Despite the harsh treatment and all the hate directed towards those who have done so before them, there will always be people who will try to expose evil and bring attention to the truth.

We can only hope that there comes a time when the public is actually ready and willing to hear the reality of the situation. That will only be possible if the people are willing to look beyond the façade of national security and government secrecy, and demand from their elected representatives that the government not encroach on their constitutional rights.

In the immortal words of Benjamin Franklin,

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

This will also be dependent on journalists doing their jobs and focusing on reporting the facts.

History never looks kindly on cowards, deceivers and oppressors – and selling your integrity for whatever price will only bring sorrow and regret. As the melancholic song in Nineteen Eighty-Four goes,

“Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me.”

Bradley Manning does not deserve to go to jail. He stood up for what he believed was right and sacrificed everything in order to bring the people the truth, and that selfless action transcends all borders, nationalities and religions.

He is a hero for all of us who are fans of the truth, and a victim of an overzealous government trying to discourage future whistle blowers from exposing its wrong doings.

For this very reason, I am Bradley Manning, and you should be too.

Mani Khawaja

Mani Khawaja

A journalist and musician. He tweets @manikhawaja88 (twitter.com/manikhawaja88)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Noor

    Please..don’t even compare an honest man like Bradley who stood up to his mighty army’s dark deeds to an average Pakistani who worships his army and considers it a saviour even after its assosciations with OBL,taliban,LeT,JuD,Dawood Ibrahim ate exposed.The average Pakistani will haemorrhage his tax money on this holy army at the cost of his nations development.Recommend

  • Not fair

    How convenient… Disgracing the entire American public for Obama’s/Bush’s actionsRecommend

  • Captain Obvious II

    @Not Fair: And who elected those two? Besides, if you read the polls, the majority of people surveyed believe those two should be punished!Recommend

  • dancing troy

    you think wars are won by freedom and honesty… well surprise surprise, wars are won through violence and use and abuse of power… Bradley manning and snowden have good hearts.. but they are idiots. every super power stays a super power through it’s threat amd use of voilence..

    thats also how any country becomes a ssuperpower… ugly yet trueRecommend

  • Not fair

    @ capt.obvious II

    I haven’t read the polls.
    But not 100% of the public votes for anyone in an election…how will the opposition get votes ?
    Not everyone voted for Obama.
    That being said ,Obama hasn’t consulted each person who voted for him for his decisions…there must be many who aren’t happy with their presidents decisions. Covering an entire nation of ordinary people,under a blanket of judgement is a dangerous precedent.Recommend

  • darbullah

    First worry about Dr. Shakeel Afridi before worrying about Manning.Recommend

  • Captain Obvious II

    @Not Fair: Once again, let me be clearer, there were polls conducted of the American public to gauge their opinion on the matter, and the majority of them said that Bradley Manning and Snowden should be punished. Google is a very simple tool to use :)Recommend

  • Khushbakht Vaka

    I disagree. When you take an oath to serve your country, you should stand by it. Every country is guilty of war crimes and atrocities. Pakistan is responsible for murders and rapes of thousands of Bengalis in the 1971 war. However, one does not leak intelligence pertaining to one’s country. That is treason.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    BTW Author, would you consider a Pakistani citizen who (hypothetically) released all of Pakistan’s many government and military secrets to the world to be a Hero or Traitor????Recommend

  • observer

    He is a hero for all of us who are fans of the truth, and a victim of an overzealous government trying to discourage future whistle blowers from exposing its wrong doings.
    For this very reason, I am Bradley Manning, and you should be too.

    OK, Mr Manning of Pakistan, do give me the truth about

    A. Who killed Saleem Shahzad?

    B. Who brought OBL to Abbottabad?

    And,

    C. Who sired LeT, LeJ,JeM, SSP etc?

    Even one will qualify for the Manning prize.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @Author:
    I am Bradley Manning and you should be too!

    You can be – pls write your next blog on a certain state which continues to support the Taliban who have killed thousands, sheltered OBL for 5-8 years while taking money to defend the world against him, keeps Dawood Ibrahim as a guest of state, planned and executed the Mumbai attacks, gives covering fire to help send foolish radicalized young men to their deaths in Kashmir, hands out passports to Abu Jundul and Tunda, runs fake currency rackets to destabilize India, blew up the Indian embassy in Kabul (and claims it with pride) etc. You can then become Bradley Manning’s hero.Recommend

  • Dp

    @ numbersnumbers

    In a strange way,you’re completely right…

    @observer

    Very interesting. Recommend

  • Baig

    @ Blackjack

    Such information will reach the Pakistani commoner only if he’s educated and doesn’t get his weekly news updates from the friday sermons in his locality.The national psyche is so far indoctrinated that it can’t process such news.Recommend

  • mind control

    I am Bradley Manning and you should be too!

    Dr Shakil Afridi tried it.

    The consequences are not very pleasant. However, you are welcome to give it a shot.Recommend

  • Chawwal

    @BlackJack:
    Challo, why not you be the hero and tell us all then?Recommend

  • Grinch

    I find it more than a bit ironic that the “Head of Development for a multi national security firm” is authoring a piece advocating violation of national law and betrayal of trust. Remind me not to sign up for your servicesRecommend

  • Someone

    @ Chawwal

    Did you even understand everything blackjack wrote,or just taunted for nothing,since you can’t process the information.Recommend

  • Grinch Sminch

    @Grinch:
    And you are okay with the killing of innocent civilians and covering it up, and violating the public’s constitutional rights? Give me a break. Brainwashed sheep alert!Recommend

  • Saeeda Abubaker

    Before holier-than-thou blog about a country that he does not understand the laws a country that gives huge amounts of money to the politicians and its military force who cannot perform the basic duties in a nation where corruption is a family value, where Osama Bin Ladedn was living a sort of comfortable life in a military neighbourhood you have more problems that Bradley Manning you best clean your house before you rant about the rights of Bradley Manning. Recommend

  • Insaan

    For this very reason, I am Bradley Manning, and you should be too.

    A Pakistani can never expose illegal activities of Pakistan government and can never be Bradley Manning. Recommend

  • Sahar Khan

    @Not fair:
    OMG…. So you think, it is only Obama/Bush’s action that has led to this outcome….I am damn sure, its around 70% of the population that must have endorsed the treatment meted out to both of themRecommend

  • blinketyBlink

    Talk about blinkers!! In a nation that tortures and shoots down its Mannings, this is not a pretty wish to have.Recommend

  • Chawwal

    @Saeeda Abubaker:
    Your comment and unnecessarily dragging Pakistan into the conversation shows that you yourself have no idea about US laws and the constitution.Recommend

  • Naveed Aslam

    Bradley Manning says he wants to live as a woman, be called Chelsea.Recommend

  • I hope you know he’s now Chelsea Manning. Lets call her by her proper name.Recommend

  • BlaiseElias

    Sorry, but i’m not a freak. Don’t compare him/her to normal everyday people. Recommend