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rights, freedoms and repression |
Thursday August 22, 2013 09:47 by Justin Morahan
sent by e-mail to US Embassy
Below is a letter to President Barack Obama on the occasion of a protest by Colm Roddy and me outside the US Embassy in Dublin, Wednesday 21 July before Whistleblower Bradley Manning was given a horrendous sentence for telling the truth.
Dear President Barack Obama
I write to you, through your Ambassador in Ireland, as the sentencing of a whistleblower, Bradley Manning is imminent. Bradley is a member of the United States Forces of which you, President Obama, are the Commander-in-Chief. What happens in the US Armed Forces is your responsibility.
When there is heinous wrongdoing happening within your army, you bear the ultimate responsibility for that wrongdoing. If a whistleblower reveals the heinous wrongdoing, it is your duty to protect the whistleblower, to shield her or him from harm and, if possible, honour her or him in order to encourage other whistleblowers and to protect the truth.
What happened in the Baghdad "air strikes" of July 12 2007 was heinous in the extreme. I have seen and perused the video at length but even your own official account is chilling to read.
"When the cameraman on the ground aimed his camera in the direction of Bravo Company 2–16, a pilot remarked "He's getting ready to fire". An Apache maneuvered around a building to get a clear field of fire and shot all nine men, killing eight. " (US Central Command release)
We know that subsequently when a van pulled up to take on board an injured civilian, the Apache opened fire on van and helpers and injured civilian, killing three and wounding two children inside the van. The footage of these events and the accompanying dialogue resembles what one might expect from a seriously deranged horror movie. Bradley revealed the truth of these events. Admittedly he did not report them to his superior officer and later regretted that. But why should that make any difference to you, Mr President? The truth was out. You would be glad that you would be able to stop similar outrages by your forces in the future. You would take the necessary steps to prevent any repetition of the evil-doing of July 12 2007. And you would credit Bradley Manning for helping you to take these steps. Because, as Commander-in-Chief, you do not stand over such atrocities.
Or am I wrong? What did you do?
You allowed (or maybe even ordered) Bradley Manning to be arrested and charged with, among other thing, "aiding the enemy" - an offence that could have draw down the barbarous execution of the accused person. You prejudiced his trial by telling a reporter "He broke the law" at a time when he was not declared guilty of breaking any law. In four words you denied him any chance of a fair trial. Yet, you allowed a trial to proceed.
Meanwhile Bradley Manning was kept under lock and key in chains, subjected to nudity, isolation, harassment, sleep-deprivation - all inhuman punishments bordering on torture. Only international protest ended this inhuman treatment of a prisoner not yet tried in any court.
Now he has been found by a military court to be guilty of lesser charges and today the prosecutors are requesting a sixty year sentence! It is another day of infamy for you and the United States.
Unless, that is, you salvage some credibility by pardoning him, after sentence.
That is my request to you today.
With best personal wishes
Justin Morahan, human rights activist, pacifist.