By Kevin Anthony Stod, Historian & Human Rights Activist
I am listening to news right now about the military trial of Bradley Manning, which is taking place in my homeland, the USA. Bradley Manning is on trial for “aiding the enemy”–an incredibly broad statute that can be abused–and has been misused historically by horrible regimes to put people–including soldiers–in prison.
At times the charge of aiding an enemy has led to execution of the person who has been charged with “aiding the enemy”. Theoretically, Bradley Manning can receive the death penalty from the military court he is now in. In many situations, like in the Bradley Manning case, the charge of “aiding the enemy” has actually been used by authorities to simply to make others shut-up, to make soldiers and citizens stop complaining, and stop being critical of the government.
Let me give you a real example of the way the Nazi regime and military brass abused the charge of “aiding the enemy”. This true tale was shared to me by an aging farmer whom I met in northern Germany on his own farm about three decades ago.
Vignette of Nazi Era Military Courtroom
The name of the farmer’s last name whom I visited in Germany some decades ago was Thoelking. His daughter, Monica Thoelking, had gone to my alma mater, BethelCollege to study English a few years earlier. A few years later, I myself studied in Germany starting. In late 1986, I visited the Thoelking family farm. …
By RT TV
Barack Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any of his predecessors, with Bradley Manning’s case part of the crackdown, but people will still break the rules to reveal the truth to the public, Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks spokesman, told RT.
The trial of the US army private, Bradley Manning, who handed classified military data to Wikileaks, is now underway in Maryland.
The whistleblower faces a list of charges – among them aiding the enemy, which could land him in prison for the rest of his life.
Kristinn Hrafnsson believes that Manning has already suffered enough and should be set free as no lives have been harmed due to the data he disclosed.
RT: Manning is on trial for providing information to your organization. You’re the ones who made it public – do you feel responsible for his predicament?
Kristinn Hrafnsson: We are a journalistic organization, who of course provide a platform for whistleblowers and sources to submit information to us anonymously. And the best way to secure the people – the whistleblowers – is by not knowing their identity. So, I can say that I first heard the name ‘Bradley Manning’ when I read in the papers that he has been arrested in May 2010. So, it’s worth emphasizing that nothing that WikiLeaks did led to his arrest and this trail.
RT: What is your organization doing to help him avoid life imprisonment for collaborating with you?
KH: We do support him in any way possible through the millions of people that have subscribed to our Twitter and our Facebook accounts. And we try to provide a mass of support to Bradley Manning because he, certainly, needs it and will need it in the future. This trial is very much a trial of the freedom of the press. And it’s worth noting that there are extremely serious steps taken by the US administration to pursue these extremely serious charges against young Bradley Manning for aiding the enemy, for basically treason, which carries the death penalty. It’s an extremely serious thing that should be considered by the general public and journalists as a serious threat.
RT: It turns out that by publishing Manning’s documents WikiLeaks aided the enemy as well. Should you also be prosecuted?
KH: It’s totally absurd. We work with more than 100 media organizations all around the world, including the New York Times, who published this information. So, did the New York Times aid the enemy? Would’ve it have made a difference if those soldiers who killed Osama bin Laden, found a copy of the New York Times in his house or online material? This is journalism.
RT: Many blame Manning for spilling state secrets without regard to those he might endanger. He deserves to be punished doesn’t he?
KH: Absolutely not. He should be set free. He ‘s suffered enough after three years in prison and one year almost under torturous conditions. Enough is enough. The information that was revealed by WikiLeaks was information on war crimes and corruption and information that should be in the public domain.
Of all the charges against Bradley Manning, the most pernicious — and revealing — is “aiding the enemy.”
A blogger at The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, raised a pair of big questions that now loom over the courtroom at Fort Meade and over the entire country:
“Would it aid the enemy, for example, to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government?”
“In that case, who is aiding the enemy — the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”
When the deceptive operation of the warfare state can’t stand the light of day, truth-tellers are a constant hazard. And culpability must stay turned on its head.
That’s why accountability was upside-down when the U.S. Army prosecutor laid out the government’s case against Bradley Manning in an opening statement: “This is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of classified documents and dumped them onto the Internet, into the hands of the enemy — material he knew, based on his training, would put the lives of fellow soldiers at risk.”
If so, those fellow soldiers have all been notably lucky; the Pentagon has admitted that none died as a result of Manning’s leaks in 2010. But many of his fellow soldiers lost their limbs or their lives in U.S. warfare made possible by the kind of lies that the U.S. government is now prosecuting Bradley Manning for exposing.
When I was young you didn’t have to clean up after your tyrannosaurus; cigarettes were okay; the bear was being trained to go in the woods, and human rights were worth fighting for.
When I was young they couldn’t do this to Bradley Manning.
There would be massive demonstrations. Bill Kunstler would volunteer to defend him. There would be “Free Bradley Manning
What happened to America? Are we that willing to give up everything because of 9/11?
It is openly proposed that we shoot Bradley Manning! We don’t need no trial for traitors. What is it that Bradley Manning has been convicted of? Do we have the right to torture American citizens without as much as a trial, or is he that lucky because he is a Marine?
Did Bradley Manning give away Top Secrets? Did Bradley Manning give away troop locations like Geraldo Rivera?
Is the Patriot Law being applied? Even Charles Manson got a trial.
Mr. Maddoff got a trial. And by the way, how come no one went to jail when the banks packaged all the bad loans? Isn’t stealing still a crime?
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