On Chelsea Manning and America

22 Aug

I am posting on this blog two important texts that deserve the widest public attention and deep reflection in the United States and elsewhere. In deference to Manning’s request, I am addressing him from now on as ‘Chelsea Manning.’ She has endured enough indignities to deserve respect for her preference as to name and gender. In addition, I would stress the following:

–the extraordinary disconnect between the impunity of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Yoo, and others who authorized and vindicated the practice of torture, were complicit in crimes against humanity, and supported aggressive wars against foreign countries and the vindictive rendering of ‘justice’ via criminal prosecutions, harsh treatment, and overseas hunts for Snowden and Assange, all individuals who acted selflessly out of concern for justice and the rights of citizens in democratic society to be informed about governmental behavior depicting incriminating information kept secret to hide responsibility for the commission of crimes of state and awkward diplomacy; a perverse justice dimension of the Manning case is well expressed in the statement below of the Center of Constitutional Rights “It is a travesty of justice that Manning who helped bring to light the criminality of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, is being punished while the alleged perpetrators are not even investigated.” And “We fear for the future of our country in the wake of this case.”

–the vindictive punishment of Chelsea Manning, a historically stiff imprisonment for the unlawful release of classified documents, a dishonorable discharge from military service that is a permanent stain, a demotion to the lowest rank, and imprisonment for 35 years;

–the failure of the prosecution or the military judge or the national leadership to acknowledge the relevance of Manning’s obviously ethical and patriotic motivations and the extenuating circumstance of stress in a combat zone that was producing observable deteriorations in his mental health;

–an increasingly evident pattern of constructing a national security state that disguises its character by lies, secrecy, and deception, thereby undermining trust between the government and the people, creating a crisis of legitimacy; it is part of the pattern of ‘dirty wars’ fought on a global battlefield comprehensively described in Jeremy Scahill’s book with that title;

–the mounting challenge directed at President Obama to grant Manning’s request for a presidential pardon, and to reverse course with respect to the further authoritarian drift that has occurred during his time in the White House; ever since Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech when he claimed American adherence to the rule of law, it has been evident that such a commitment does not extend to high level governmental violators at home (“too important to prosecute”) or to the sovereign rights of foreign countries within the gunsights of the Pentagon or the CIA or to the crimes of America’s closest allies; international law is reserved for the enemies of Washington, especially those who resist intervention and occupation, or those who dare to be whistle-blowers or truth-tellers in such a highly charged atmosphere that has prevailed since the 9/11 attacks; the opening of Manning’s statement below suggests the relevance of such a context to the evolution of his own moral and political consciousness;

–the noted author and public intellectual, Cornel West, offered a salutation to Manning relating to his announcement about his/her gender identity shift that I wholeheartedly endorse: “My dear brother Bradley Manning – and from now on sister Chelsea Manning – I still salute your courage, honesty and decency. Morality is always deeper than the law. My presence at your trial yesterday inspires me even more!”

–read Chelsea Manning’s statement and ask yourself whether this man belongs in prison for 35 years (even granting eligibility for parole in seven years), or even for a day; imagine the contrary signal sent to our citizenry and the world if Manning were to be awarded the Medal of Freedom! It is past time that we all heeded Thomas Jefferson’s urgent call for ‘the vigilance’ of the citizenry as indispensable to the maintenance of democracy.


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’ve 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 in our efforts to meet this 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 our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Japanese-American internment camps to name a few. I am confident that many of our 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, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the <a title=”United States”. It was never my intention 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 country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.


August 21, 2013 – Today, in response to the sentencing of Pfc. Bradley [Chelsea] Manning, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement.

We are outraged that a whistleblower and a patriot has been sentenced on a conviction under the Espionage Act. The government has stretched this archaic and discredited law to send an unmistakable warning to potential whistleblowers and journalists willing to publish their information. We can only hope that Manning’s courage will continue to inspire others who witness state crimes to speak up.

This show trial was a frontal assault on the First Amendment, from the way the prosecution twisted Manning’s actions to blur the distinction between whistleblowing and spying to the government’s tireless efforts to obstruct media coverage of the proceedings. It is a travesty of justice that Manning, who helped bring to light the criminality of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, is being punished while the alleged perpetrators of the crimes he exposed are not even investigated.  Every aspect of this case sets a dangerous precedent for future prosecutions of whistleblowers – who play an essential role in democratic government by telling us the truth about government wrongdoing – and we fear for the future of our country in the wake of this case.

We must channel our outrage and continue building political pressure for Manning’s freedom. President Obama should pardon Bradley [Chelsea] Manning, and if he refuses, a presidential pardon must be an election issue in 2016.

28 Responses to “On Chelsea Manning and America”

  1. Gene Schulman August 22, 2013 at 12:57 am #

    Bravo, Richard. You say what has to be said. I would add to your words those of Chris Hedges this morning at Truthdig: http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/bradley_manning_and_the_gangster_state_20130821/

    • Richard Falk August 22, 2013 at 2:29 am #

      Thanks, Gene, for calling Chris Hedges piece to my attention. I like his work, and consider
      him a kindred spirit. We have had contact in the past, but never managed to meet. Warm
      best wishes, and many thanks for your unwavering encouragement! Richard

  2. monalisa August 22, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    Dear Richard,
    thank you to bring this into the open.

    I am sure that we will witness in the near future more whistleblowers as those are more and more regarded as real heroes.
    Seeing how “democratic” states are handling it could spur on extremely well educated young people worldwide, I think.

    And the so-called “non-democratic” states will come more and more into play and will therefore undergo political/social changes as a logical consequence.

    I could be wrong in my way of thinking: time will tell.

    Take care of yourself,


  3. pipistro August 22, 2013 at 3:48 am #

    Thank you, Richard, for making crystal clear who is on the right side of History.

  4. oldguyincolorado August 22, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    Normally, I have grave difficulty with many of the positions of Professor Falk. This might not be one of those times. My initial reaction to what Manning did was: a soldier who intentionally fails to follow orders and thereby puts his “brothers” at risk deserves to be punished. In this case, I believe he did put his “brothers” at risk. But if the task assigned exposes or creates things which go against the foundations of our very being then “something” must be done. If we blindly follow “orders” do we not become like Nazi Germany and dehumanize ourselves? I think we all understand what that means. Is that where we are headed: blindly following orders? I wonder. That is why the Manning issue creates such a conundrum for so many (including me). Are we risking soldiers (I was one) or are we risking our country by changing the nature of our country? Which is more important? Perhaps there is no conundrum after all.

    Sometimes we are forced to risk our soldiers knowing that they will certainly be harmed, but we do so in order to create a greater good: here it is saving our way of life. That is the nature of this war. The problem here is that it was a soldier and not a “superior” who made this decision. The ultimate facts appear to be that the “superiors” seem to be the source of the problem. They may well have ill served us in their decision making process thus leaving a soldier with no apparent choice but to sacrafice himself (and some of his “brothers”) in order to correct the course set by his “superiors”.

    Manning obviously has a great number of “personal issues”; but in spite of those, I am beginning to believe that he did make the correct choice. The more I am now finding out about what is going on behind “closed doors” in the name of “saving” or “protecting” our country, the more I begin to question. We do need to have “secrets”, but we do need far greater “oversight” by people who have no “ax to grind”. We must not loose the character of our country.

    This should not “open the door” for every “wacko” in town to start spilling state secretes, but in this particular case, a presidential pardon and very “deeply probing” investigation of the “superiors” would be a wise course to follow, no matter where it leads.

    Richard, I think you have it right (this time).

    • oldguyincolorado August 22, 2013 at 7:10 am #

      Sorry for the errors in spelling and grammar – I just got up.

    • Richard Falk August 22, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      An impressive posing of the deep issue. I agree that there needs to
      be a balance struck between upholding military discipline/abiding by law and revealing information that should not be classified and kept from the public. Also, when high level violators are granted impunity while the lowly soldier, acting on conscience, is given a sentence for 35 years, which is called lenient because it could have been double, there is something serious wrong in the body politic.

      I appreciate your moral clarity and political sincerity even when we come to different conclusions. You write very well for someone who just awakened in Colorado!!

    • walker b percy August 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

      wow, old guy in colorado. I am moved by your commentary, which appears to be utterly sincere and, I assume, difficult to have summoned, given your previous responses on Richard’s blog. You are willing to tell it like it is, without considering how this undermines your previous statements. You will find that it is much less stressful to simply accept the obvious truth than to try, Fox News-style, to force every event into a pre-established narrative. Soon, you will be ready to accept the sad implications of what you are now able to see, that America has been intentionally steered into a catastrophic course of action, where we have murdered countless impoverished innocents, irreparably destabilizing delicate balances of power in a mad spasm of blood lust and war-profiteering. This has been deliberately carried out by a group of monsters intent on sabotaging world peace to satisfy their (short-sighted) obsession with profits and their own genetic supremacy.

      Bradley Manning is indeed an American hero, and his statement ranks with Nathan Hale’s, “I regret that I only have one life to give to my country”. Old Guy, congratulations. Maybe your conversion can inspire other bastards who spew Hasbarist nonsense, damaging their souls each time they intentionally lie or misdirect. The world is watching, beware neo-conservatives. Some of us, like Old Guy, have taken a bit longer to come around, but it is happening. The backlash will surprise you!

  5. Nora Gallagher August 22, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    Thank you, Richard, for this excellent summation. I am so glad that Private Manning was so eloquent in his statement. I’d like to add that it’s important to also read the NY Times Magazine cover story on Laura Poitras, the filmmaker who is documenting NSA violations and Edward Snowden’s leaks. Much love to you. N

    • Richard Falk August 22, 2013 at 8:28 am #

      Thanks, Nora, we miss you. Hope to see you in November. I did read the Maas story on Poitros, and have been deeply distressed by the Egyptian developments. Hope you are fine, and that you are both receiving an extra share of seasonal pleasures. We are happy here in Yalikavak. Come and see!!!

      • walker b percy August 23, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

        Yalikavak is beautiful, Richard. You are lucky to get to travel around everywhere! You have real power with this blog, Richard. Your voice is obviously unbiased and you are without any doubt an authority. Therefore, people will read and believe what you say, slowly. It cannot be forced, but we must reclaim our country and get out of this horrible situation with global terrorism before it ends our civilization. The real question that no one has yet been willing to raise, but that must be: what level of dismantlement of Israel must occur to satisfy the Muslim world, who have been legitimately harmed and betrayed by the creation and sustenance of Israel? When do we start negotiating with Egypt, Syria, Saudia, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Cypress, and all of the other neighbors who have been damaged by the actions of the Zionist entity? And how will Israel respond when America finally comes to its senses and withdraws its cash and influence? With pre-emptive nukes on all of the capital cities of Europe, fulfilling their threatened Sampson Option acheiving ultimate holocaust revenge? Why are we being put in the position of having to contemplate these horrors?

      • Kata Fiisher August 23, 2013 at 6:26 pm #


        About Nuclear issues: I just recently came across this article:


        …as you will see in the article, a video:

        About 4:00 minutes into the press conference, there is a reference to US war in Iraq (specifically, the use of Uranium) in Felusia and Bagdad, which has caused severe genetic mutations in baby’s, as medical staff (I believe) is reporting about 80% of babies born with some serious condition/deformation, and are advising women to stop reproduction due to obvious consequences.

        What are implications of “Nuclear war” in Iraq, as the medical doctor gives reference to?


      • Kata Fiisher August 23, 2013 at 6:33 pm #


        This is the link with the story of reference:


      • Kata Fisher August 23, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

        I wrote to Walker (twice).

        I have a question: I have placed a link of reference (twice) both comments were gone.
        Why would that be, especially if is a valid scholarly reference? (I looked at it, and I see no error).

      • Richard Falk August 23, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

        Kata: Your comments are posted, and will be always. Sometimes there are technical glitches, but nothing more sinister.

      • Kata Fisher August 24, 2013 at 7:08 am #

        Beloved Mr. Falk,

        I read that at military Instillations they are blocking access to the information on newest NSA controversial issues. I was thinking that similar capability of theirs is applicable to different sites. I was thinking this because I used some key-words that may have prompted erasing. However it must be the links that I have applied.

        I myself would not take responsibility for violating any national security, regardless of which country. I do not mind oversight; I receive it with gladness, especially in my spiritual condition that can be very difficult at times.

        At times I deal with pattern of taught that is not in my nature, and still is applicable to me, so that I have to ask questions, make confirmations and similar (simply because I do not have a spiritual director—or any thing like that). I usually do well, otherwise.

        With all warmth of the Spirit,


  6. fenevadka August 22, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    a presidential pardon must be an election issue in 2016.

    Sadly, it is unlikely that it will be. Nobody on the Dem side of the equation will want to risk the “soft on terrorism” label (even though this has nothing to do with that) and the Republican establishment is gearing up to try to beat at the insurgent libertarian strain (e.g., Rand Paul) to a pulp since it threatens their cozy relationship with the defense [sic] industry.

    I only see this becoming an issue if Rand Paul were to be the Republican nominee, but for many on both left and right that is a terrifying idea.

  7. Sergey August 22, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    Manning’s imprisonment is a disheartening and defining moment of Obama’s presidency – the audacity of secrecy and lies.

    What I wish people in the U.S. would understand is that it is not people who expose the crimes of the U.S. government that put the nation’s security at risk; rather it is crimes against humanity, torture and murder of innocent civilians perpetrated by the U.S. that ultimately threaten our collective security. Manning did absolutely the right thing by showing the entire world the true face of wars in the Middle East.

    • Richard Falk August 22, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

      Very well expressed, and exactly the central point I was trying to make, yet the persistence of the fear generated by the 9/11 attacks
      makes such a reversal of priorities difficult for most people to

  8. Kata Fisher August 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    I have a reflection:

    It is clear that US president is in shortfall when comes to the ways he is handling these things that were implemented by Christianity of crusades. He should apply all his power and authority to expose these things, and not to go along with works of those who implemented evil for the land and the world.

    I believe that he understands very well his appointment.

    He should not avoid his responsibility. He should not take responsibility for things that were shoved onto him, whit some explanations/lies that was necessary to sustain the war. By all means why is he taking responsibility for those things? (I see this).

    Sustaining war is error in their arguments, all together. Ending of all wars will be valid and more acceptable, and they should shift their efforts toward world’s security—drop all war on terrorism nonsense and go about more excellent things. People that are in military are quite often torpid, just by a dumb spirit.

    Liars do not do well with Church Charismatic that is valid—the Church gives them over to Satan and destruction just by Spirit.

    War on terrorism is a lie, just because evil Christians that are part of US population chose to terrorize Middle East, first. They are really no valid citizens—they never changed into a civil society—they are worse than barbarians ever were. They are just as their ancestors were thousands of years ago, but now even without simple moral law (valid conscience) that has power to guide all human beings in good things. Instead, as false Christians they are sealed into all evil and unrighteousness.

    There were other resources that were no option for them, as a good thing never is. It was important to those to use US military to secure their bloody business deals, and along with that to deliver shipments of Bibles in Muslim population. This is a grave abomination because lay-people do not have spiritual authority over the Secret texts, especially not when military, so that they can distribute Bibles to the population in any land. This is evil, but they have done that in the name of God and the Gospel of God. For this alone they were given over unto the Satan, and are accursed in the Name of God and in the name of the Gospel of God.

    While the same of kind chose to burn Quran, and cause all kind of civil and eccalistical distress, for this alone they are given over to Satan, and are accursed in the name of God. Have nothing to do with evil Christianity—this is the best approach, all together.
    Why was US military distributing the secret text of the Old and New Testament—this is illegal by the Gospel of God, alone.

    It is clear that US president Barrack is not balancing out on those issues, but is allowing for a point that is tipping over for a democratic government, far below reasonable standards for democracy. In this point in time, US have nothing to offer to the world and its partners, but grief and instability. As he (Barrak) has stopped the war in Iraq he should continue in the same works and bring to end all other things that are evil, apply sustainable works, all together.

    Barak’s role model for International leadership will suffer due to latest, and I believe that he was an excellent individual who could set example of world leadership by his unique background. He was much needed to the US in reference to the building of much stronger relationship with Middle East. He should separate himself from evil people here in US, and he should be supported in this by valid a Legal system that is still to be scrapped up somewhere here in US. These people, if any, should be activated for a good and no evil.

    When Church is moved to lay hands on someone, Church by Spirit expects to receive a full return on Spirituals. Did the Church mock God when they did that? So that it appears, so that there will be none of Spiritual harvesting at all, as these things are progressing.

    I am afraid that Church judgment will be applicable if these things taking place are not corrected as soon as possible; I just know this by Spirit of God. It will not be good because we have Charismatic prophets in the Church who judge by Language of the Spirit, by Spirit of God alone.

    It is terrible that they prosecute the soldiers in the same way a member of Nazi’s was prosecuted after the WWII, someone who in fact was alarming the world in this time of the same evil that Nazi did. What US government has done, and is still doing is illegal interference, and genocide in Middle East—nothing has changed with Anti-Semitic here in US. What was done during Bush administration, and still is going on should be stopped, immediately. It should be evaluated and placed before International court in Hague.

    Evil was done in the Middle East, and is still going on by counterfeit Christians that are in that same Nazi spirit, as they were.

    I hope that US president Barrak understand this, in a full understanding, and shake the dust that was brought on to him by the presence of the evil people. (I do hope for him and well being of his calling which is jeopardized very much, without doubt).

    We all need him as a strong world leader, and not in appearance of a child that is submitting to evil works of evil people that came before him, and are around him. We believe that he is in position and authority to break that off, and that he will receive all that he needs so that he can do that.

    I do hope to see him doing things that are acceptable—or otherwise he too will be disqualified, in a full measure. This is what Church Charismatic sees.

    By Gift of the Spirit,

    • Gene Schulman August 23, 2013 at 8:14 am #

      I used to be critical of Kata Fisher’s posts because they were always so full of religious pomp. Now I owe her an apology. What would we do with out her sense of humor exhibited in her defense of Obama, suggesting that he is not responsible for the evil that surrounds his administration. Apparently, Church Charismatic sees all. How does one join?

      • Kata Fisher August 23, 2013 at 10:30 am #

        Dear Gene, hi:

        We take no members, not in our will-power.

        We send all that are called (or feel called) to Vatican for questions and answers (as Church Charismatic-Catholic, we do that). It is really difficult to locate a valid Church-Charismatic priest, all together. Priest in Church Charismatic, are most excellent and are celibate—their ministry is unconditional. (One came from my home town, in Bosnia; I was very blessed by that). In fact, by that alone I was able to get rid of the spiritual attack that came through the church-charismatic, here in US (which at large is counterfeit charismatic Christianity, exceedingly evil).

        I trust in Fr. Carlo Maria Vigano, who is Ambassador of the Holy See to US in Washington to accurately direct one.
        When one asks Baptism in God’s Spirit, the Church is obligated, and is required to perform a Church ritual by which free fall of God’s Spirit is possible.
        That way one can only receive free fall of the Spirit by the will of God, by a free moving of the Spirit. This was the tradition of the first Generation of Christians. There is nothing of human agent—or human work that is involved (otherwise it is heresy and a violation of the Church order–things as forcing anointing by trickery and similar). Priest in Church Charismatic are also celibate and are not defiled with any other spirit when they touch someone/lay hands on someone so that anointing/or impartation of different gifts of God’s Spirit is possible.
        We (I by Spirit) do not believe in converting people and moving them from one congregation just to another. Only God himself can do that.

        A Note: Priest that are not charismatic in Church-Catholic will also hinder ministry of Charismatic priest, so I would not trust any of Catholic diocese to direct one in a valid way. (This may be the case as we have issues with this in Croatia and Bosnia betwixt diocese). Some priests do not get along.


      • Gene Schulman August 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

        No comment!!

    • Kata Fisher August 23, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

      Gene, There is something I must regret:

      Earlier today, I had a reflection and I disregarded it.
      I felt that I need to place here what I have written on some difficult parts of the Scripture: “Work of God’s Spirit”/difficult passages about God’s Spirit (in reference to the Church doctrine/age). It would in a full order answer a good part of your question.

      I did not want to do that because I myself do not believe in doing that (from a female’s position). Especially for it will look at some difficult points from theological perspective. Still, it is a Biblical study, and very accurate from New Testament Standard.
      Now I have regret, but I am still not moved to do it.

      Gene, do you think I should do it, anyway?

  9. Liam Tuffyu August 26, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    Thank you for speaking my mind! I am personally speechless and hugely impressed by the awful courage of Bradley Manning! I believe that his legacy will outlive his prosecutors!


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