Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chelsea Manning: "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."

Chelsea Manning's  Aug. 21, 2013 statement, posted at Common Dreams:
The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war.  We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.  It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing.  It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity.

We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians.  Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture.  We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government.  And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power.  When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few.  I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States.  It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people.  When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.
US Army Private Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning leaked military and government documents to Wikileaks, including the "Collateral Murder" video, which showed a US Apache helicopter crew killing unarmed Iraqi civilians, including children and a 22-year-old Reuters photographer in 2007.  The soldiers laughed at their downed, crawling victims, trying to escape.  The helicopter crew also killed people trying to rescue the wounded. Under the Geneva Convention, these are war crimes.

The release of this video came shortly after the US military admitted special forces troops attempted to cover up the killings of three Afghan women in a February 2007 raid by removing the bullets from their bodies.

Manning's revelations also resulted in the "Afghan War Diary," published by WikiLeaks on July 25, 2010.  These documents revealed some of the hundreds of US (and Allied) killings and woundings of Afghan civilians.  They also revealed what can only be described as a culture of military sexual violence: US soldiers and US military contractors routinely committed rape, including upon children, with impunity.  One US contractor, DynCorp, supplied "peacekeepers" for the UN in Bosnia, where some of them engaged in trafficking, sexual slavery, torture and rape of women and children. Employees of the same company  also engaged in child prostitution in Afghanistan.  (This year, the Obama administration sent DynCorp to recruit police in Haiti, where UN "peacekeepers" have committed sexual assaults on children.)

"The Iraq War Logs" detailed US military and US contractor killings of civilians and also the use of torture.

The release of US diplomatic cables, known as "Cablegate" revealed some of  Washington's and Tokyo's recent machinations in Okinawa and that Tokyo was warned about earthquake threats to nuclear plant safety in 2008.h in U.S. History
reveals that concern about human rights abuses motivated Manning's actions.

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