The Disproportionate Condemnation of Bradley Manning


Bradley Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents to Wikileaks. He was arrested in May of 2010 and has been imprisoned since then.

Manning, a U.S. army soldier, has yet to be charged with a crime. Thus, he has been held in prison for over 7 months. There are reports that he is being held in inhumane conditions:

From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement.  For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell.  Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions.  For reasons that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch).

I will not comment on the morality behind Mannings’ actions, if indeed he did unlawfully disseminate classified  information to Wikileaks.

In the United States, most of us have the motto “presumption of innocence” drilled into our collective minds.

I am not familiar with Military law, but surely there should be a similar application. If the Military intends to charge Manning with breaking a law, it should do so; the military should not imprison Manning indefinitely just because it can. Furthermore, given the powerful forces that  Manning is at odds with, I(and you should be too) am highly skeptical of anything that officials say in regard to whether Manning did or did not do something. Then there is the nauseating hypocrisy of our government.

Many will(with some justification) state that if Manning did indeed violate laws, he should charged with the crime he is accused of. But our government would be the one bringing the charges. The same government that, with the stamp of Obama, looked the other way when there was compelling evidence of U.S. officials who broke the law by engaging in torture. To wit:

This is a time for reflection, not retribution,” Obama said in a statement.

“We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”

Obviously, the decision to not prosecute U.S. officials for engaging in torture is due to political reasons of power. In other words, if Obama pursued torture prosecution, he would be stymied by a great number of other individuals in the government. Yet the law is the law, and if the government chooses to ignore its own violation of law, then it loses credibility when it accuses another of breaking a law, especially one as politically loaded as the one that Bradley Manning allegedly violated.

The U.S. government is disproportionately punishing Bradley Manning because he is a a threat to their modus operandi–secrecy, even if that secrecy involves egregious violations of U.S. and International Law.  Clearly, members of the military must be loyal to the military in order for it to have a modicum of efficiency. Yet here Manning is more of a symptom of inefficiency than the  cause of it.  The harm, in the end, is not done by Manning, but by those who are imprisoning him.




4 Responses to “The Disproportionate Condemnation of Bradley Manning”

  1. arbortech Says:

    I thought Manning was being held in regards to possible treason for leaking classified documents. As a member of the military, you give up many civilian rights and become subject to UCMJ, for which as you state you have very little knowledge of. Military rules are much different than those of civilian allegation. To equate this to torture doesn’t work as you have attempted. To think the Government is “disproportionately punishing” Manning is foolhardy at best, the soldier is lucky to not have been placed in front of a firing line as of yet.

  2. bjohns15 Says:

    I did not equate anything with torture regarding Bradley Manning. Rather, I used the impunity with which the government has committed torture as an example of the hypocrisy of the allegation of treason against Manning.

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