Bush’s Iraq invasion caused present bloodshed, Chelsea Manning writes


This music video by David Rovics in the USA is called Song for Chelsea Manning.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

The US media and the debacle in Iraq

17 June 2014

A column written by Chelsea (Bradley) Manning from his cell in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas has done more to illuminate the real sources of the present debacle for US imperialism in Iraq than all of the lying and self-serving pieces produced by the well-paid pundits of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the other major news outlets combined.

The column by the imprisoned US soldier, published in Sunday’s New York Times, is directed at exposing the role of government secrecy and control of the media in foisting onto the American public a war of aggression launched on the basis of lies.

Manning insists that the sudden collapse of the US-trained and funded Iraqi army and the descent of the country toward a full-blown sectarian civil war only demonstrate that the concerns that motivated him to pass some 700,000 secret documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as US foreign policy skullduggery around the globe to WikiLeaks “have not been resolved.”

Breaking the wall of secrecy and misinformation maintained by the government and the media provoked the wrath of the US ruling establishment. The soldier and former intelligence analyst is now serving a 35-year prison term. In April, an army general rejected a motion for clemency.

Manning examines the US reaction to the 2010 election of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had been installed by the US occupation four years earlier. The American press, the imprisoned soldier recalls, “was flooded with stories declaring the elections a success,” aimed at creating the image of the US war having “succeeded in creating a stable and democratic Iraq.”

During this same period, he writes, he and other military analysts in Baghdad were receiving continuous reports of “a brutal crackdown on political dissidents by Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior and federal police,” acting on behalf of Maliki. Opponents of the US-backed prime minister “were often tortured, or even killed,” he notes.

Manning exposes the direct complicity of the US military in these crimes, reporting that he informed the US officer in command of eastern Baghdad that 15 individuals arrested for publishing a critique of Maliki’s government “had absolutely no ties to terrorism.” The commander responded that “he didn’t need this information; instead, I should assist the federal police in locating more ‘anti-Iraqi’ print shops.”

“I was shocked by our military’s complicity in the corruption of that election. Yet these deeply troubling details flew under the American media’s radar,” he writes.

This account gives the lie to the US media chorus that the present debacle in Iraq is “all Maliki’s fault.”

Manning attributes the sharp divergence between the developments in Iraq and the media’s portrayal of them in part to the Pentagon’s censorship of coverage of the war through the system of “embedded” journalists. Reporters who had good relations with the military and provided favorable coverage got access, while those who exposed scandals, crimes and lies faced blacklisting, he writes.

There is no doubt that this system of military censorship played a major role in concealing from the American people the grisly and criminal character of a war that claimed the lives of upward of a million Iraqis, while killing nearly 4,500 US troops and leaving tens of thousands more wounded.

However, the process of “embedding” began well before Bush ordered “shock and awe” to be unleashed on Baghdad, and included not just war correspondents, but the top columnists, editors and publishers of the major newspapers and other media outlets.

People like Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. and Bill Keller, who in 2003 rose from senior writer and leading war advocate to Times executive editor, lent themselves and their newspapers unreservedly to a massive campaign to pressure the American public to support a war of aggression against Iraq. They decided to parrot the government’s lies about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” and ties between Baghdad and Al Qaeda—both non-existent—and to eschew any critical investigation of the Bush administration’s war propaganda. On the contrary, through the sinister efforts of the Times and its correspondent Judith Miller, they embellished upon this propaganda, piling on their own lies.

Now, as the full extent of the debacle created by the wanton destruction of Iraqi society is revealed, those who served as media propagandists for the war are circling the wagons, looking to protect their own backsides. Columnists like the TimesThomas Friedman—who more than a decade ago wrote that he had “no problem with a war for oil”—and Nicholas Kristof have published pieces insisting that Maliki is solely to blame for Iraq’s disintegration, and the US had nothing to do with it.

They were followed Monday by a particularly foul column by Times columnist Roger Cohen entitled “Take Mosul back,” calling for US intervention to “drive back the fanatics of the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).”

Cohen uses the column to ridicule those playing “the blame game,” a breathtakingly cynical denunciation of any attempt to assign responsibility for a war that killed over a million people and destroyed an entire society.

“The facts are plain enough,” he writes “The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 because of its weapons of mass destruction. However, Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction.” Plain enough indeed—the war was based upon a lie, which Cohen helped disseminate.

He goes on: “There was no Al Qaeda in Saddam’s Iraq. The United States birthed it through the invasion.” Thus, another lie was used to justify the war, whose catastrophic consequences include the strengthening of extreme Islamist and sectarian tendencies in Iraq and throughout the region.

In his piece, Cohen demands that the Obama administration unleash “targeted military force” against the “fanatics” of ISIS. But he enthusiastically supported Washington’s use of these same “fanatics” in wars for regime-change first in Libya and then Syria. He waves aside any questions about the logic of such policies: “A logical approach in the Middle East is seldom a feasible approach.” The only “logic” is the use of whatever instrument is at hand to assert US hegemony and plunder the region’s resources.

“The blame game misses the point,” Cohen repeats. Both Iraq and Syria were “ripe for dismemberment” before “America’s hapless intervention.”

Whom is he kidding? The US intervention was anything but “hapless,” employing all of the firepower at the Pentagon’s command in a campaign that saw some 1,700 bombing sorties—including 504 using cruise missiles—in the space of three days.

One might just as well describe 1939 Europe as “ripe for dismemberment” and Hitler’s blitzkrieg as “hapless,” or dismiss the Nuremberg tribunals as a futile exercise in “the blame game.”

The reality is that real apportioning of blame has yet to take place. That requires that those responsible for planning and executing the war of aggression against Iraq—from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell to the top military commanders—be placed on trial as war criminals.

At Nuremberg, it bears recalling, standing in the dock—and ultimately on the gallows—with the surviving leaders of the Third Reich was Julius Streicher, the editor of the vile, anti-Semitic weekly Der Stürmer and later the daily Fränkische Tageszeitung. While the tribunal found that Streicher had no direct part in formulating war policy, he nonetheless played a vital role in poisoning the consciousness of the German people. Without Streicher’s propaganda efforts, the prosecution argued, the German generals “would have had no one to follow orders.”

In any genuine accounting for the crimes of the Iraq war, Cohen, Friedman, Keller and those like them, who enthusiastically served the Pentagon’s propaganda machine, would have to similarly be tried for their criminal promotion of aggressive war.

Under conditions in which US imperialism is planning a new military intervention in Iraq, while preparing far more terrible wars across the planet, the unrelenting struggle against the lies of the media becomes all the more urgent in developing a struggle against militarism and war.

Bradley Manning poem, by Peter Kennard


This video is called Art belongs in the Street- PETER KENNARD, The Festival of Dangerous Ideas.

Peter Kennard is a well known British visual artist.

This is a poem by him, on United States whistleblower Bradley Manning:

Private First Class

by Peter Kennard

Claw over the parapet
Voice raised
Is voice gagged.
The world as in fact it is,
Isn’t. In a Democracy of liars
Is a lock-up for facts.

Three blows of a whistle:
One in hiding, embassy, London
One in hiding, transit building, Moscow
One in prison, U.S.A., somewhere

The stars and striping
Are bruises and lashes
This is the land of the free -
Where the fee for whistling
Is 136 years.

Bradley Manning is born free and is
everywhere in chains
.

US prosecutors: Manning “does not deserve the mercy of a court of law”: here.

Bradley Manning Headed To Prison, While Those Who Presided Over Torture Go Free: here.

Michael Grunwald, Time Magazine Reporter, Sends Out Shocking Tweet About Julian Assange: here.

From Twitter:

Today is the 26th birthday of Chelsea Manning, who has now spent more time in custody than William Calley, leader of the My Lai massacre.

Attorneys for Wikileaks source Chelsea Manning begin working on the appeals process after the military finds her guilty under the Espionage Act, a statute the Obama administration has invoked more than all previous presidencies – April 20, 2014: here.

Bradley Manning’s torture-induced ‘confession’


This video is called Collateral Murder – Wikileaks – Iraq. The video, about occupation troops killing Iraqi civilians, was made available to the public by United States Private First Class Bradley Manning.

By Eric London in the USA:

Bradley Manning’s statement: A forced “confession” concludes a drumhead tribunal

15 August 2013

Army PFC Bradley Manning addressed the military tribunal at Ft. Meade, Maryland yesterday in the eleventh day of post-trial sentencing hearings. The 25-year-old whistleblower was found guilty last month on 19 counts, including six charges of espionage. He faces up to 90 years in prison.

Manning’s comments yesterday reflect the tremendous element of coercion in the entire proceedings. In all, the episode more closely resembled a Stalinist show trial than a democratic court of law.

“First, your honor, I want to start off with an apology,” he told Army Col. Denise Lind, the military judge overseeing the proceedings. “I’m sorry that my actions hurt people, and I’m sorry that it hurt the United States. I understand what I was doing and the decision that I made. I’m sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions.”

Noting that he would “have to pay a price for my decisions and actions,” Manning pled for a lower sentence.

“How on Earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over those with the proper authority? I know that I can and will be a better person. I hope that you can give me the opportunity to prove, not through words but through conduct, that I can return to a productive place in society.”

Manning delivered these comments in a visible state of despondency—he shook and grew tearful as he spoke. That a defendant in a legal proceeding is forced to apologize for and denounce his acts of opposition underscores the advanced state of decay of American democracy. Such sordid events bear the badge of a police state.

In fact, Manning’s actions did not hurt anyone but the politicians and military officials that have waged one illegal war after the next. In providing documents to WikiLeaks, he performed an immense service to the population of the United States and the entire world.

Moreover, in verbally repudiating the suggestion that he, as an individual, “could change the world for the better over those with the proper authority,” Manning implicitly condemns the state and the Obama administration. It is as if the American ruling class, through this confession, is seeking to convince the population, and itself, that opposition is useless.

That the state feels compelled to extract this mea culpa is a reflection of its own deep-seated fear. Those with the “proper authority” are well aware that they have committed grave crimes, even as they dare to stand in judgment of those who, like Manning, have revealed them.

Considering his past treatment, it is understandable that Manning wants to put an end to the entire antidemocratic charade perpetrated against him.

In his three years in captivity, Manning has been subjected to mental and physical forms of torture, including being placed for months in a 6 foot by 12 foot cell for 23 hours a day. This so-called pretrial detention was in direct violation of the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees the right to a speedy trial, and the Eighth Amendment, which bans cruel and unusual punishment of prisoners.

His sham military trial, like his imprisonment, has been a mockery of due process. Judge Lind has barred the utilization of any politically motivated defense by Manning. The court has drastically limited the rights of journalists covering the trial. The proceedings occur under censorship—the military has been able to limit access of key information to journalists and the public, ostensibly on account of potential damage to national security.

There is a sharp contrast between Manning’s comments yesterday and a statement he made in February, in which he asserted that the American people had the right to know the “true costs of war.”

“I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this that it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general [that] might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter-terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.”

In an attempt to neutralize Manning’s potential as an icon of opposition, both the prosecution and the defense have worked at length to portray Manning as mentally unstable and plagued with eccentric personal insecurities. The trial has been marked by an obsessive focus on Manning’s sexuality, his psychological motives. Photographs of Manning dressed in make-up, wig, and women’s clothing have been published.

One reads with sadness Manning’s verbal repudiation of his noble actions, a repudiation extracted through psychological and physical abuse and the threat of a life in prison. That the Obama administration and the state apparatus feel the need to extract such statements and to compel political prisoners to speak in this way only adds to their own moral degradation, giving further proof of the putrefaction of what passes for American democracy.

See also here.

Poem on whistleblower Bradley Manning


This video is called Collateral Murder – Wikileaks – Iraq. The video, about occupation troops killing Iraqi civilians, was made available to the public by United States Private First Class Bradley Manning.

From the site of the Stop the War Coalition in Britain:

Private First Class Bradley Manning

“more brave than me : more blond than you”

by Robert Ilson

Who, me ? No way ! I’m a real fraidy-prat :
The whistle that I’d blow would call Them to me
And what would happen is that They’d subdue me
And rough me up and jail me. That would be that.
But Manning dared to do what I would not :
He let the cats out of their bags, all right,
So that we saw them snarl and scratch and fight
For power and privilege. He just simply could not
Stand it. It made him sick. So he revealed
What he was not supposed to. Does it matter ?
The fat cats still seem to be getting fatter.
But they may be foiled now they’re unconcealed,
Since one man did not do as he was bid.
I’d not have had the guts. I’m glad he did.

Also from the site of the Stop the War Coalition:

Public Meeting in London

Friday 9 August 7pm

War and Whistleblowers: Why Bradley Manning Should be Free

Full details here.

Speakers include Tariq Ali, Peter Tatchell and Norman Solomon from the USA, who will be en route to present to the Nobel committee in Oslo a petition with over 100,000 names calling for Bradley Manning to be awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Bradley Manning demonstrations in Britain


This video from England says about itself:

10 July 2012

4th of July Independence FROM America demonstration at the US base at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, organised by CAAB: the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases. We hear a lot about US occupations of other countries, but little about the military occupation of Britain by the US. Menwith Hill is run by America as a spy base, with the ability to listen in to all our phone calls and intercept our emails, and claims the name ‘RAF Menwith Hill‘ rather than the more appropriate ‘USAF’ on account of its sole British military officer. All the rest are American.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Activists mark Manning‘s 1,000th day behind bars

Sunday 24 February 2013

World-wide protests took place on Saturday in defence of United States soldier Bradley Manning, imprisoned for allegedly leaking military information to the WikiLeaks website.

In more than 70 cities and other locations, his supporters gathered to mark the 1,000th day of Private Manning‘s imprisonment without trial.

Among the protests was a demonstration in Yorkshire, outside the US electronic eavesdropping centre at Menwith Hill.

The centre, which employs more than 1,000 US military and civilian staff, is part of a satellite-linked network gathering military, political and economic information which is fed back to the US.

Nominally named RAF Menwith Hill, the base is run by the US’s National Security Agency.

The demonstration there was organised by the Yorkshire-based Campaign for Accountability of American bases.

Campaign joint co-ordinator Lindis Percy, who has been arrested hundreds of times for actions at Menwith Hill and other bases, was among those at the facility on Saturday.

In the US there is growing public awareness of Pte Manning‘s case and an extensive support network has built up.

Pte Manning allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of documents, cables and images about US military and political activity.

Among the secrets said to have been exposed by the former military intelligence analyst were orders from Hilary Clinton to spy on United Nations diplomats, which is illegal under international law.

A video was also released to WikiLeaks showing a US helicopter gunship in Iraq opening fire on civilians, injuring two children and killing their father.

If found guilty of the 22 charges, which include leaking information helpful to an enemy, 25-year-old Pte Manning could face a lifetime in military custody.

His lawyers say he has already been driven to near-suicide by his imprisonment and treatment at the hands of the US military.

Bradley Manning Support Network’s Jeff Patterson said: “A heroic young man faces life in prison for exposing the truth.”

In addition to the demonstration at Menwith Hill, on Saturday there were protests in Australia, Germany, France, South Korea, Belgium and from coast to coast in the US.

Demonstrators picketed the United States electronic snooping base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire last night in protest at the treatment of 166 Guantanamo Bay hunger-strikers and at US drone assassinations: here.

The New York Times’ Bill Keller smears Bradley Manning: here.

US must prove that Manning knowingly helped Al-Qaeda – rules US judge: here.