President Obama: As U.S. veterans, we demand justice for human rights whistle-blower Private First Class Bradley Manning.
Today, August 16, 2012, we occupy the President’s campaign office to raise awareness about the injustices facing military whistle-blower and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bradley Manning. We do not plan to leave until our demands, regarding the illegal treatment of our fellow soldier, have been met. As those who have spent years serving our country, we have faith that as Commander-in-Chief, President Obama will do the right thing in answering our request.
Our demands are as follows:
1. First, that President Obama apologize for the comment he made at a fundraiser in April 2011, regarding PFC Manning’s guilt. Commander-in-Chief Obama stated, “He broke the law,” a sentiment that was later echoed by General Dempsey. This constitutes Unlawful Command Influence, illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which precludes PFC Manning from receiving a fair trial.
2. Second, that President Obama ensures soldiers are free from illegal pretrial punishment. For the first eleven months of his detention, PFC Manning was held in solitary isolation. He was not allowed regular exercise or sunlight, and was even forced to stand at attention naked. UN Chief Investigator on Torture Juan Mendez has declared these conditions “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Just this last week PFC Manning’s defense revealed they have discovered e-mails which show orders to hold him in these inhuman conditions came from a three-star general who ignored the warnings of brig psychologists, and was likely acting with political motive. Though he’s yet to be convicted of any crime, PFC Manning has already been severely punished. We ask that President Obama pardon him of the remaining charges and seek to ensure the international human rights of other service men and women will be respected.
While we would defend the rights outlined above for any member of the armed services, we support PFC Manning especially due to the patriotic motivations behind the actions attributed to him, and the positive impacts that have come from them.
For example, we believe it would be appropriate for President Obama to acknowledge the role that those actions have played in ending the Iraq War. During the 2008 campaign, a majority of Americans, as well as a majority of those enlisted, believed that U.S. forces should be withdrawn from Iraq. Many people voted for President Obama because they believed that he would end the war.
Despite the wishes of the American people, President Obama sought to keep troops in Iraq past the originally planned 2011 deadline. Documents allegedly released by PFC Manning helped American citizens understand why the war had not ended sooner. These reasons included a failure of the command to adequately discipline soldiers who would discredit the U.S. military in the eyes of the world by wrongfully killing civilians.
The release of improperly classified documents via WikiLeaks provided an opportunity for President Obama to grant the new Iraqi government more independence as planned, and to bring American taxpayer dollars home and use them to treat traumatized veterans.
Bradley Manning served with conscience. Words attributed to him in May 2010 show he acted because he wanted “people to see the truth… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.“
President Obama made a similar statement in May 2011, when he stated, “In the 21st century, information is power; the truth cannot be hidden; and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens.” We now ask that President Obama honor those words by freeing American truth-teller Bradley Manning.