A U.S. Military Court has acquitted Bradley Manning of “aiding the enemy,” the most serious and controversial charge against him, but he has been convicted of espionage, computer fraud, and a host of other charges, leaving the 25-year-old whistleblower facing 136 years in prison. His lawyers have asked the judge to merge two of Manning’s espionage charges and two of his theft charges, meaning he could face 116 years in prison (the Associated Press, “Bradley Manning’s lawyers ask judge to merge convictions,” CBC, 31 July 2013).
The heavy-handed prosecution is all about maintaining secrecy, according to Daniel Ellsberg, the former U.S. military analyst who uncovered decades of presidential disinformation surrounding the Vietnam War in the now famous Pentagon Papers.
Manning’s conviction is about “shutting off any sources to investigative journalists from the Pentagon, NSA, CIA, the State Department,” Ellsberg said, claiming such secrecy to be “a kind of tyranny.” (Josh Richman, “Daniel Ellsberg speaks on Bradley Manning verdict,” the Political Blotter, 30 July 2013)
Manning’s exposure of America’s “bloodlust” revealed some surprising instances of abuse of power by the Canadian government too, including the warrantless wiretapping of civil protesters, direct threats from government agents, and disparaging views of the average Canadian by top security officials.
Thanks to Bradley Manning, we know that Mohawk leader and activist Shawn Brant, and others, had their telephones illegally tapped for government surveillance, related to an ongoing land dispute and peaceful protest back in 2007.
Even more alarming is the threatening call Brant received from OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino on the Aboriginal Day of Action, in which Fantino warned, “your whole world’s going to come crashing down,” while threatening to “do everything I can within your community and everywhere to destroy your reputation.” (CBC News, “Suspend OPP commissioner: native activist’s lawyer,” 19 July 2008).
A separate cable unearthed by Manning exposed disparaging views of Canadian attitudes by CSIS. According to the internal document, former CSIS director Jim Judd bemoaned “that judicial rulings and public naiveté were paralyzing his spies – specifically lamenting that Canadians were prone to ‘knee-jerk anti-Americanism’ and ‘paroxysms of moral outrage.'”
Canadians should recognize the contribution to freedom that whistleblowers like Manning have made, and commend the actions of everyone who stands up to odious government secrecy.
Email Maj. General Buchanan and tell him to reduce Manning’s sentence!
Photo credit: NPR