FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

We Could All End Up Like Bradley Manning

by ERIN NIEMELA

“I wouldn’t want to end up like Bradley Manning.” Those words were the beginning of an outpouring this week by an associate of mine who claimed to have experienced government and corporate corruption that many only read about in alternative media reports. I sat for hours listening to stories of unbridled corruption on the taxpayer’s dime, conspiratorial advances of arms industries into consumer markets, sexually predatory behaviors deemed an acceptable part of institutional culture, and a resulting pessimistic world perspective that would make a seasoned peace activist cringe.
Having ostensibly had higher security access than common America, yet not nearly as open access as either our high-ranking politicians, our official military personnel, or some war-contracting corporate executives, my associate’s proclaimed experiences were tame in comparison to what’s likely happening at the very top, he explained. Although he felt morally inclined to report the abuses, he insisted he didn’t want to “end up like Bradley Manning.”

Among notable whistleblowers, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, on suspicion of leaking diplomatic cables, war logs and video footage of civilian murders by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to Wikileaks, remains a steadfast example of what happens when one blows the whistle on the American government. So, how did Bradley Manning end up? What would my associate so desperately wish to avoid?

Manning has been locked in detention for 1000 days without trial. One thousand days without due process, 1000 days without having his voice heard―arguably a fundamental human need―1000 days without the comfort of his friends and family. Birthdays, Thanksgivings, Christmases, New Year celebrations missed because his government, and fellow countrymen, declared him an enemy of the state―and, for what? For doing exactly what our foreign and domestic security policy demands: See something? Say something.

How did Bradley Manning end up? Enmified. He’s been called a traitor, treasonous. He’s dehumanized; as my associate says, “Bradley Manning is a rat.” How did he end up? Betrayed. His own country threw him into a deep dark cellar along with his supposedly God-given constitutional rights. Likely, it’s the same deep dark cavern where we place our collective guilt and shame for compliance in the very crimes he helped expose: the state-sanctioned murder of unarmed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

No, I don’t believe I’d like to end up like Bradley Manning, either. Then again, I have no whistles to blow. I am not suffering under the weight of my conscience every time I witness an abuse of power, war crime or illegal act that my acknowledgement of would lead to certain vilification. For those Americans who continue to witness the corruption and abuses our government officials commit on a daily basis, where do they turn? Supposedly, the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 provides a buffer from reprisal, despite the blatant weakening of a later “enhancement” in 2009. And yet, in the gutters of our hearts we all know this and other protections are as thin as the veil of propaganda that suggests our country is simultaneously and constantly in imminent danger and altogether safe.

We are living in an America where front-page headlines squawk of FBI sexting and CIA prostitution scandals, secret drone kill lists and indefinite detention bills. Completely ending government abuse and corruption is, of course, incredibly important. Until that dream is realized, we can at least take care of those fellow citizens who, feeling just as betrayed by those “in charge” as we are, have the integrity to identify wrongdoing and the courage to speak out. We can at least, in addition to upholding whistleblower protections and our constitutional rights, make certain that we care for such people and their families. Heroes and hero-enablers, respectively. We must yearn for an America where citizens are not afraid to report abuse for fear of “ending up” betrayed, enmified and isolated for 1,000 days―with the possibility of decades in a military prison cell, something we would loudly scorn and label tyrannical if done by North Korea or Cuba.

We could all end up like Bradley Manning. We don’t know what transgressions may arise in our presence. We don’t know if or when our “clearance” will offer us a glimpse into worlds, normally veiled in secrecy, that benefit few and harm many. But, should that day come, wouldn’t we like to know that our fellow citizens, leaders, and families supported and protected us?

Give Bradley Manning his due process – that’s the least of what he deserves. Better yet, free him. Show the world that America stands for accountability, integrity, and human rights. Unlike depriving a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, whistleblowing is not, and should not be, a crime.

Erin Niemela is a graduate student in the Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University and a PeaceVoice syndicated journalist.

Erin Niemela is a Master’s Candidate in the Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University and Editor for PeaceVoice.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail