Free Bradley Manning!

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 220 April/May 2011

Bradley Manning continues to be held in solitary confinement in Quantico prison, Virginia, for allegedly exposing the US’s dirty war crimes in the Middle East, via reams of data revealed on Wikileaks, supposedly accessed whilst serving with the US army in Afghanistan.

Manning was detained after video footage of a US Apache helicopter killing 12 Iraqi civilians in 2007, entitled Collateral murder, was released by Wikileaks in July 2010. The video, which went viral on internet sites like YouTube – it has been viewed over 11 million times – revealed the utter callousness and inhumanity of the US occupation.

Whilst Wikileaks founder Julian Assange awaits his appeal against extradition to Sweden, Manning remains locked up in a high-security jail cell 23 hours a day and stripped of his clothing at night. He faces 22 charges including ‘aiding the enemy’, which could carry a death sentence.

Manning is allowed visits only on Saturday and Sunday. During visits he is chained, and the prison is placed on total lock-down. He is fed a daily diet of antidepressant pills, forbidden to exercise in his cell and forcibly woken if he attempts to sleep in the daytime.

When Manning joked that he could hang himself with elastic from his boxer shorts, he was forced to live in his cell naked. Despite not having been bought to trial nor convicted of any crime, Manning is being punished and degraded by US authorities at every opportunity.

On 11 March, US state department spokesman PJ Crowley was forced to resign after commenting that ‘What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the Department of Defense’. President Obama was quick to exculpate the Pentagon of any wrongdoing, despite, by any measure, the treatment of Manning fitting the category of ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ banned under the US constitution.

British courts have agreed to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden for an investigation into alleged rape charges. If Assange loses his appeal he will be sent to Sweden within 10 days. He then faces possible onward extradition from Sweden to the US.

Assange has attacked the New York Times, the US media outlet for Wikileaks, for their tabloid-style coverage of him and what he considers the paper’s ‘absolutely disgusting’ profile of Bradley Manning, which tried to play down any political motivation for Manning’s alleged actions. Assange criticised NYT editor Bill Keller for being reluctant to publish stories which depict the US military in a negative way. Keller confesses that before publication he and his colleagues allowed their coverage of the ‘US Cables’ to be vetted by the US state department, CIA, FBI, Pentagon et al.

Wikileaks’ British media partner, The Guardian, is also accused of misleading headlines, censorship and redacting and framing the cables to fit their own agenda. In a recent interview Assange commented: ‘The Guardian has been redacting all sorts of things... For instance, [it] has been redacting claims about particular companies who are corrupt.’

Whilst those who commit crimes against humanity walk free, those who question or even provide evidence of these crimes are censored and persecuted. Freedom in the US and Britain is a bourgeois freedom, freedom for the oppressor to commit crimes against the mass of humanity and crush dissent to the regime. Manning has committed no crime, he is innocent, and principled. Free him now!

Anthony Rupert


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