Manning’s attorney David Coombs Reads Manning’s statement after he gets 35 years in prison
OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: On Wednesday, August 21, 25-year-old Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act.
The Real News attended a press conference where Bradley Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, read a letter from Manning to United States President Barack Obama.
DAVID COOMBS, LAWYER FOR BRADLEY MANNING: He’s been accused of having blood on his hands. He’s endured three years in confinement, many of that in unlawful pretrial confinement that was specifically designed to break his spirit. He has endured what is now evident to everyone, a baseless aiding the enemy offense that at the time carried the death penalty and then carried life without the possibility of parole. Now he is enduring a 35-year sentence.
The time to end Brad’s suffering is now. The time for our president to focus on protecting whistleblowers instead of punishing them is now. The time for our president to pardon Pfc. Manning is now.
Early next week I will file, on behalf of my client, Pfc. Manning, a request that will be routed through the secretary of the Army for the president, a request that the president pardon Pfc. Manning or at the very least commute his sentence to time served.
And I want to share with you Pfc. Manning’s statement that’s part of this request. And so I’ll read it to you.
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 have 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 that our efforts to meet the 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 out any logically based dissension, it is usually an American soldier that is given the order 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, and the Japanese-American internment camps, to mention a few. I am confident that many of the 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. I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent 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.
If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all (and he puts in here) women and men are created equal.
Now, the family of Bradley Manning–. (applause)
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.