The Persecution of Bradley Manning 148

The thrilling development in the trial of Bradley Manning is that Manning has acknowledged he is the source of the leaked materials, but employed a whistleblower defence. His case is that he was exposing illegal acts and trying to arouse legitimate public debate. However in the kangaroo court trial the prosecution has objected to Manning’s proposed evidence, and claims that Manning’s detailed references to specific war crimes are irrelevant and should not be allowed to be made in court. In other words, the state is seeking to prevent Bradley Manning from presenting his defence, and doubtless the military “judge” will comply with the state.

In order to overshadow Manning’s defence, the government and corporate media brought out, the moment the news of Manning’s defence was announced, the “news” that the government will put in the stand an all-American hero, a US Navy Seal, one of the Zero-Torture-Thirty killers of Osama Bin Laden, who will give evidence that Bin Laden had a stash of the Wikileaks released cables in his home.

That the timing of this piece of propaganda theatre was deliberate to wipe out public perception of Manning’s defence – and his not being allowed to make it – there is absolutely no doubt. But what in any case is the real value of this evidence?

Well, it certainly adds to the mountain of evidence that the US government will go after Assange the moment he leaves the UK. But against Bradley Manning it adds nil. Who would have thought that Bin Laden would not read the Wikileaks cables? Nobody would have thought that. Hundreds of millions of people read them. Many Arab Spring protestors in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen were motivated in part by information in the cables. Is the US government going to bring evidence on that too?

The problem is, of course, that Bin Laden was never convicted of anything. If the Americans had not murdered him, evidence from him about his view of the cables and what he intended to do with them might have been interesting. It may even have helped the prosecution. But they killed him rather than prosecute or question him, so they do not have that.

Perhaps enough time has passed for people to be a bit more dispassionate about the strange killing of Bin Laden. There was absolutely no need to kill him. He had no weapon. His small compound was completely secured by US Marines. At the time they shot Bin laden, there was nobody on the compound who could fire back. Bin Laden was an elderly man in poor health. Trained navy seals could have hauled him alive into the helicopter without adding more than 10 seconds to their mission time – and it seems they had plenty of time, time to go searching for Wikileaks documents anyway. It is perfectly plain that the truth is that Obama had instilled an understanding Bin Laden was to be killed, not captured.

But that makes no sense. If the Americans really believe the entire al-Qaida narrative which has been banged out incessantly by the media this last decade, then Bin Laden alive would have been the most valuable intelligent asset in US history. To kill him needlessly with no attempt at interrogation would be absolutely extraordinary. There was no operational need to do it in the compound that night. Keeping him alive would in no way have further endangered the troops on the operation. They did not want him to talk.

Now for a state to use the alleged intentions of somebody as evidence, when the state killed that person to avoid him giving evidence, is rather remarkable. Only in the Bradley Manning kangaroo court does it make sense.

The US government’s problem is that it has spoonfed to mainstream media journalists for years the lie that the Wikileaks cables release endangered lives. There is then this appalling lie that Assange stated that the informers deserve to be shot – a statement which the host of the small dinner has sworn was never made, and Assange swears he never said. But despite all this propagnda, and despite the fact that they are extremely keen to do so, and every mainstream media organisation in the whole world has worked on it, nobody has produced one credible instance of an individual who was harmed as a result of being named in a Wikileaks cable – unless you include the dictators whose people turned against them.

Part of the reason for this is rather prosaic. The State Department cables were not intelligence material. The media likes to call them intelligence because it sounds exciting and sells papers, but it is not intelligence material. It is just diplomatic reporting. And it is not highly classified. None of it is Top Secret – it is just Restricted or Confidential.

If the release of any material would endanger the life of the source, that material would automatically get classified Top Secret. That is why nobody has been endangered. The system works, The Americans should celebrate that, rather than try Hollywood-linked stunts to demonise Manning.

148 thoughts on “The Persecution of Bradley Manning

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  • Mary

    Sign Daniel Ellsberg’s petition to free Bradley Manning!

    Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistle-blower
    Sign the petition to free Bradley Manning, the brave young whistle-blower who exposed war crimes and who has been unlawfully punished before trial.

    This petition to President Obama at the White House, as well as convening military authority US Army Major General Michael Linnington, was created by Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Bradley Manning Support Network.

    We ask that you join us by adding your name in support of transparency, democracy and justice.

    Petition to free human rights whistle-blower Bradley Manning!

    Bradley Manning has worldwide support because the information he released to the public uncovered human rights abuses and corruption, and contributed to peace and democracy. Nobel Laureates like President Obama shouldn’t send Nobel Peace Prize Nominees like Bradley Manning to prison for life! After more than 950 days of pre-trial imprisonment by the US military, and multiple instances of outrageous government conduct, it is time to drop the charges and free Bradley Manning!

    Sign Now

    persecution – the act of persecuting
    abuse, ill-treatment, ill-usage, maltreatment – cruel or inhumane treatment; subjugation – the act of subjugating by cruelty;

  • MJ

    Yes. Given that the US has yet to provide a single scrap of evidence in support of its account of bin Laden’s death and burial it is probably premature to suppose that that account is accurate in any respect.

  • glenn

    Why did the Americans murder Bin Laden? Perhaps because “kill it/him/them” is their answer to every problem. They don’t baulk at killing American citizens without a trial now, in absolute defiance of the Sixth Amendment, so certainly would not have a problem with killing their biggest, baddest terrorist ever. The Sixth Amendment, which provides the right to a fair and speedy trial, should also apply to Manning.

    After all, there were spontaneous celebrations in the street following the murder. Given he might have some very awkward testimony, it makes far more sense to do him in, and provide a traditional Muslim burial at sea to prevent any shrine developing.

    Incidentally, note how US targets of assassination oversees are referred to as “American born”, not “American citizens”. Killing their citizens anywhere without trial is strictly illegal, and saying “US born” rather than “US citizen” sounds more palatable, as if there were distinction between the two. There is not – anyone born there IS a citizen (unlike, for example, the UK, where citizenship is not an automatic birthright).

  • lwtc247

    Doubtless you were expecting such a question Craig, so here goes, but what makes you so confident that he was killed in this operation?

  • Richard

    Your article above has gremlins: Wikileaks / Wikipedia.

    Eye think you’re spell-chequer is two enthusiastic and makes miss-steaks.

  • Arbed

    From a report of Bradley Manning’s latest pre-trial hearing (in which the judge decided his trial had actually begun 910 days ago…):

    Morrow [US govt prosecutor] went over some of the portions in the statement that the government specifically objects to being read in court. One of them talks about “staying in contact” with Nathaniel and how Manning thought he was “developing a friendship.” They would talk about not only the publications WikiLeaks was working. He later realized he valued the friendship himself more than Nathaniel. (“Nathaniel Frank,” the name on the account the government has claimed was being used by WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, though no actual proof of him sending messages to Manning has been presented.)

    The judge asked how this would be prejudicial if he talked about it. Morrow said he couldn’t articulate why.

    First, the US government’s panicked objection to this section being read out by Bradley in the court room, then their refusal to explain why they objected indicates that it severely damages their Grand Jury case against Assange because the username ‘Nathaniel’ indicates that this ‘friendship’ Bradley Manning believed he had with his interlocutor (whoever that was) was entirely a subjective assessment from Bradley’s end of things.

    Nathaniel Frank, in real life, is a US Army veteran campaigner for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – it’s therefore not a username that Assange would choose, I think, but rather the kind of username Bradley would assign at his end of the chat window. Names can be overwritten in chat windows (which also – for the conspiracy theory-inclined – means someone other than Bradley could have put that name there, too).

    And the ‘disinterest’ shown by whoever this person Bradley was talking to he called ‘Nathaniel’ indicates much more the way a journalist might engage with an anonymous source. If that becomes apparent from the statement Bradley reads in court on Thursday, or from the as yet undisclosed (and therefore forensically untested) chat logs themselves, the US government’s case of “conspiracy” to commit espionage or of Assange ‘soliciting or encouraging’ Bradley to commit crimes falls apart. They clearly HATE the idea that it might come out that Assange simply treated Manning as a source (and why wouldn’t he if he didn’t know the person he was communicating with from Adam? – Wikileaks deals with anonymous sources).

    Bonus link: The signed statement by the host of the dinner at El Moro confirming that Assange never said “they’re informants – they deserve to die” (in fact a libel started by David Leigh of the Guardian newspaper):

  • CE

    I agree Craig that the treatment of Bradley Manning has been abhorrent and is a stain on the US that weakens their attempts to claim the moral high ground.

    And while I also agree that JA’s fears of extradition are not without foundation, I am confused when you say this proves the US will ‘go after’ JA as soon as he leaves the UK. Why wouldn’t they ‘go after’ him here, with our servile and one-sided extradition treaty?

    As for UBL, I’m glad to see you eschewing the conspiracy theorist element of readership again! I believe the SEALS were instructed to shoot to kill. I think it’s a bit of stretch to think he was killed purely to stop him testifying in the Manning case, although it way have been one of a number of factors involved, including the obvious one of what the hell would they have done with him?

  • Herbie

    I can’t imagine that any proper cross examination of this seal would be allowed.

    In a normal case you’d want to verify how the seal came upon the documents. You’d want evidence that placed him at the scene. You’d want to forensically examine the disk and establish a chain of evidence, indeed the prosecution would normally provide all this themselves, leaving the defence to challenge it.

    I don’t see any of this happening. I imagine it’ll be the usual anonymous, behind a screen bollocks. Could be anyone, making it all up. How would you know, other than by testing their evidence. I mean, is anyone serioulsy suggesting that the gangsters running the US are beyond lying.

  • Jemand - Keep Speech Free


    Spot on. Is this SEAL’s evidence to be treated as if he were a sworn officer of the law? Will his evidence demonstrate that the wikileaks material actually aided the enemy or will it simply show that it in their possession, along with a pile of New York Times?

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    The Bradley Manning persecution is just another heads-up to the ‘Hollywood’ type deception by the elite that permeates humankind.

    The real evidence of this deception is not ‘highly classified’ or in Wikileaks cables, it is in plain sight at a fundamental level and will affect us all (99%). My anticipated collapse of society is becoming real.

    Unrest, agitation and experience are signs come April this year a planned general strike will mean for instance dead bodies will remain unburied as gravediggers join the picket line and those stinking piles of rotting rubbish left towering at the end of British streets…

    Those lucky enough to have jobs will be required to swallow huge wage-cuts in another ‘three-day-week’ and shoppers will once again scour supermarket shelves by torchlight during blackouts.

    That’s not to mention the violent civil unrest, where thousands of the disabled, the unemployed and strikers clash with the police and riot control by the territorial army.

    For millions of British people trying to keep their hard-earned money secure, it it will be the inevitable nightmare.

    The housing lead recession was an important clue to the 2008 collapse yet the fine level of micro-accounting was grossly ignored by most, preferring to rely on IMF & World Bank economic models that moved credit risks off the balance sheets by financial skull-duggery such as derivative transactions or tradeable securities, another classic monetary concealment disclosed by financial whistle-blowers in the ‘dead space’ before the budget.

    The lull before the storm is key to becoming self-sufficient and protecting our families as best we can. We are entering a new dawn of private medicine, private pensions, more schools changed to business run academies, food, clothes banks and neighbourhood charity.

    The banksters (1%) have demanded black-mailed an interest rate rise else goodbye to retail banks, simple. That rise will mean of course the government debt would triple and become not just ‘in over our heads’ but six feet under.

    It is the reason for this new dawn of severe, inhumane and crushing austerity by a coalition intent on leaving the sick and elderly in the throes of death, family suicides and homeless abandoned children hanging out in dirt ridden play parks, empty shops and deserted high streets – on the excuse of frugality financing security, terror and preemptive war.

  • Scouse Billy

    The best evidence suggests Bin Laden died in December 2001.

    That might explain why he had to be “killed” and the “body” disappeared at sea.

  • craig Post author


    The americans were asked not to request Assange’s extradition here because, while the Lib De,s are happy to answer the ludicrous fminist dogwhisle and send him to Sweden on evidently spurious “rape” allegations, the Lib Dems would absolutely have opposed sending him to the USA for espionage – it would be a big strain the coalition really doesn’t want. It also might be the last nail in the coffin for that notorious extradition agreement.

    The reputation destroying Swedish “rape” allegations galvanise public support against him. A straight extradition to the US on espionage charges would have glavanised massive public support for him.

    If you think about that it is suddenly very obvious.

  • Ruth

    Fox News 26/12/01
    Usama bin Laden has died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended the funeral of the Al Qaeda leader.

    “The Coalition troops are engaged in a mad search operation but they would never be able to fulfill their cherished goal of getting Usama alive or dead,” the source said.

    Bin Laden, according to the source, was suffering from a serious lung complication and succumbed to the disease in mid-December, in the vicinity of the Tora Bora mountains. The source claimed that bin Laden was laid to rest honorably in his last abode and his grave was made as per his Wahabi belief.

    About 30 close associates of bin Laden in Al Qaeda, including his most trusted and personal bodyguards, his family members and some “Taliban friends,” attended the funeral rites. A volley of bullets was also fired to pay final tribute to the “great leader.”

    Daily Mail 11/9/09
    Has Osama Bin Laden been dead for seven years – and are the U.S. and Britain covering it up to continue war on terror?–U-S-Britain-covering-continue-war-terror.html

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Plus I think the the rule of priority in criminal procedure would apply anyway – the Swedes “wanted” him first, so to speak, so even if the US were suddenly to ask the UK to extradite him the UK couldn’t because there is a Swedish request to question him already on the table. Any lawyers around?

  • Herbie

    This is a purely political trial so I wouldn’t expect it to amount to much more than political theatre.

    This simple fact tells you all you need to know:

    “the Obama administration has since used the Espionage Act to prosecute more whistleblower leaks to the media than in all previous administrations combined.”

    That’s quite a record, and the reason for it points directly to the corruption and criminality of the state itself.

    This article provides a good backgrounder on the issues:

  • craig Post author


    Allow me to congratulate you on a number of really good comments on this blog lately; succinct, informed and relating directly to the topic being discussed.

  • Judy

    Osama Bin Laden born 10/03 /57 died 02/05/11…..”elderly ” ? getting on a bit maybe, elderly I think not, up to present I’ve ” lurked ” here and been informed and entertained…..please don’t spoil it with sloppiness or even worse, ageism !

  • Herbie

    That’s very kind, Craig. This is a very productive and collaborative environment with many great posters and yourself bouncing off of eachother, and long may it continue.

  • Mary

    O/T! Not content with rehabilitating Bliar, the BBC are trying the same with P Harry. They have unbelievably sent a reporter Peter Biles and film crew out to Lesotho to film him playing, cooking and dancing with the Sentabale children.

    Obomber spent the afternoon eulogizing on Rosa Parks, the black woman who stood up against racism in the South.

    No irony.

    ‘The nation’s first African-American president told SiriusXM radio talk show host Joe Madison last week it will be “a great honor” to pay tribute to Parks, whose defiance of Alabama’s segregation laws inspires global freedom movements to this day.

    “She was an inspiration not just to African Americans but to all people looking for justice,” Obama said.’

    Does he have any innermost thoughts on the crimes he is committing and on how he is denying justice?

  • Michael Stephenson

    CE he wasn’t just killed to stop him testifying at the manning trial. Much more importantly he was killed to prevent him testifying at his own trial. The US have no evidence tying him to 9/11 and that is seriously embarrassing. A trial would be a disaster.

  • CE

    Thanks Craig,

    I was more focused on the legal aspects regarding extradition and hadn’t really considered the court of public opinion. I can see the logic in your reasoning, but if the US does try to extradite JA it will have nothing to with the rape allegations surely? Their best hope will remain as you say, a concocted espionage charge. If you are arguing the rape allegations will make further extradition to the US more likely, I am still not so sure?

    However, Without wishing to rehash old ground again and again, I don’t believe you are helping yourself or JA by describing the rape allegations as evidently spurious. I realise you yourself were subjected to spurious claims of a similar nature, but that does not mean every claim against a whistleblower is spurious. As you honestly admit, whistleblowers are human and can make mistakes too.

    I’ve lost count now, but I think we are up to five separate Courts of Law in two different countries that have upheld the validity of the EAW, and I fail to see how anyone can read SW’s statement and say the allegation is evidently spurious.

    Wikileaks vital and excellent work(and the determination of many nations to silence them), should not excuse JA from the serious allegations he faces in Sweden. That has always been, and remains my belief.

  • craig Post author


    Before the rape allegations JA was the darling of the media and society. It would have been very hard indeed to extradite him for espionage when the vast majority of both public and chattering classes – and all the Lib Dems – supported what he did. it is only the rape allegations which have turned the tide against Wikileaks.

  • Arbed

    CE, 6.47pm

    “I fail to see how anyone can read SW’s statement and say the allegation is evidently spurious”

    Where in that statement does SW object to sex without a condom? Please point us to the sentences of SW’s statement to which you refer. Note: the normal procedure is to object at the time of the sex and to one’s sexual partner – objecting three days later doesn’t count.

    (Let’s assume for the moment, purely for the sake of argument, that unprotected consensual sex when a woman is still a little sleepy-eyed in the morning is the equivalent of rape.)

  • Jonangus Mackay

    The Iraq Invasion 10 Years On:
    Amazing revelation. Carne Ross, UK rep at UN security council (& colleague of Craig Murray during first Iraq War) tells me: ‘It made me an anarchist.’

  • CE


    I concur, a trial of UBL had the potential to be a disaster for the US. This was probably the main reason for his assassination.

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