Manning’s lawyer David Coombs reads statement from Bradley after being sentenced to 35 years for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic files to WikiLeaks.
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 Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, 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 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.
Manning can subtract more than three and a half years off of that sentence, for the time he has already served and the mere 112 days he was credited for enduring torture while detained at the Quantico Marine Brig. He will be eligible to reduce his sentence by 10% for good behavior.
The fight for Manning’s freedom is far from over. Supporters and attorney David Coombs will demand Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, Military of the District of Washington commander and Convening Authority of Manning’s court martial, to reduce the sentence, which he has the legal authority to do. The Bradley Manning Support Network will collect and deliver thousands of letters in support of Manning’s clemency to Maj. Gen. Buchanan.
Mr. Coombs is applying for a Presidential Pardon, and the case will be brought to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, to address several deprivations of Manning’s due process rights. He was detained without trial for more than three years, in violation of his Constitutional right to a speedy trial. He was only awarded four months off of his sentence for the psychological torture he suffered while in solitary confinement for more than nine months at Quantico, which fails to hold the Marines accountable for that treatment. President Obama declared Manning guilty in April 2011, more than two years before his trial began, which constitutes unlawful command influence, in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Finally, Military Judge Col. Denise Lind allowed the prosecution to change its charge sheet at the 11th hour, after both the government and defense had questioned their witnesses and rested their cases.