Free Bradley Manning
PFC Bradley Manning is a 22-year-old US Army soldier accused of leaking classified information while serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. Manning has been in custody since May of 2010, and is currently facing up to 52 years in prison.
Specifically, Manning is suspected of leaking the “Collateral Murder” video to the whistleblower web site WikiLeaks, which shows a US helicopter killing unarmed Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists. He has also been charged with leaking classified Department of State cables, and is considered a person of interest in WikiLeaks’ “Afghan War Diary”.
The case has garnered much public debate, both supporters and detractors. Daniel Ellsberg, who released the infamous Pentagon Papers in 1971, has been quoted as saying, “If [Manning] has done what he is alleged to have done, I congratulate him.” On the other side, a Republican US congressman has been calling for Manning to be executed if found guilty, and he has been smeared by anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council as proof that allowing gays to serve in the military undermines America’s safety.
As of August 2010, Manning remains in solitary confinement at a military brig in Quantico, Virginia. He has been cut off from his family and friends, unable to even receive letters from his supporters around the world. Any prison is a frightening, lonely place- and Manning likely has a long ordeal ahead of him.
Whether ultimately found innocent or convicted of his charges, Bradley Manning is a brave young man who needs our support, and deserves to be freed. If he’s innocent of all charges, he’s a casualty in the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers, and if convicted, he’s a hero for exposing war crimes and the true civilian costs of our wars in the Middle East.