Army Whistleblower Bradley Manning Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
December 6, 2012
Members of the Icelandic Parliament & Ed Pilkington / The Guardian
In 2011, PFC Bradley Manning won the London Guardian's Reader's Choice poll regarding who should win the Nobel Peace Prize by a significant margin. This year, Manning has been re-nominated for the prestigious award by member of the Icelandic Parliament. Meanwhile, in the US, Manning's lawyer has described the soldier's treatment in solitary confinement at Quantico marine base as criminal and a blot on the nation's history.
Icelandic Parliamentarians Nominate Bradley Manning for Nobel Peace Prize
Birgitta Jónsdóttir /Member, Icelandic Parliament
Last year, as you may remember, PFC Bradley Manning won the UK Guardian reader's choice poll regarding who should win the Nobel Peace Prize by a significant margin. This year, he has been re-nominated for the prestigious award by The Movement of the Icelandic Parliament. The following article was originally posted on the blog of Icelandic MP member Birgitta Jónsdóttir.
February 1st 2012 the entire parliamentary group of The Movement of the Icelandic Parliament nominated Private Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize. Following is the reasoning we sent to the committee explaining why we felt compelled to nominate Private Bradley Manning for this important recognition of an individual effort to have an impact for peace in our world.
Our Letter to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee:
We have the great honor of nominating Private First Class Bradley Manning for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. Manning is a soldier in the United States army who stands accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
The leaked documents pointed to a long history of corruption, war crimes, and imperialism by the United States government in international dealings.
These revelations have fueled democratic uprising around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on our foreign policies, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all US troops from the occupation in Iraq.
Bradley Manning has been incarcerated for well over a year by the US government without a trial. He spent over ten months of that time period in solitary confinement, conditions, which experts worldwide have criticized as torturous.
Juan Mendez, the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, has repeatedly requested and been denied a private meeting with Manning to assess his conditions.
The documents made public by WikiLeaks should never have been kept from public scrutiny. The revelations -- including video documentation of an incident in which American soldiers gunned down Reuters journalists in Iraq -- have helped to fuel a worldwide discussion about America's overseas engagements, civilian casualties of war, imperialistic manipulations, and rules of engagement.
Citizens worldwide owe a great debt to the WikiLeaks whistleblower for shedding light on these issues, and so I urge the Committee to award this prestigious prize to accused whistleblower Bradley Manning.
Members of the Icelandic Parliament for The Movement
Bradley Manning Lawyer:
Soldier's Treatment a Blemish on Nation's History
Ed Pilkington / The Guardian
Washington (December 4, 2012) -- David Coombs, the civilian lawyer representing Bradley Manning at his court martial for supplying WikiLeaks with a trove of US state secrets, has described the soldier's treatment in solitary confinement at Quantico marine base as criminal and a blot on the nation's history.
Making rare comments outside the courtroom, Coombs addressed an audience of Bradley Manning supporters in a Unitarian church in Washington on Monday night and lashed out at the military hierarchy for allowing the intelligence analyst to be subjected to nine months of harsh suicide prevention regime against the advice of doctors. "Brad's treatment at Quantico will forever be etched into our nation's history as a disgraceful moment in time," he said.
"Not only was it stupid and counter-productive, it was criminal. An entire group of individuals, who I have no doubt were honourable, chose to turn a blind eye to how he was being treated ... They cared about something more: the media impact."
Coombs made his criticism in his first and what will probably his only speech in a civilian setting since he became Manning's lawyer two years ago. He explained to the audience that he has consciously avoided all public engagements and interviews with the press partly on Manning's instructions and partly because the soldier "deserved an attorney entirely focused on the courtroom".
Manning was arrested in May 2010 for allegedly handing hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables, Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and videos of helicopter attacks to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. He has effectively admitted to passing the information, but denies the most serious charge, that he "aided the enemy" by doing so.
The comments on Quantico are all the more poignant because the Article 13 hearing – a defence motion alleging unlawful pre-trial punishment of the WikiLeaks suspect – is still ongoing at the court martial in Fort Meade Maryland.
Coombs had timed Monday night's speech to mark the end of the hearing and the transition from the motion phase to the trial phase of the proceedings, but there has been such lengthy witness testimony, including two days in the stand by Manning, that it has been extended and will reconvene on Wednesday.
Despite his excoriating remarks on Quantico, Coombs painted a generally optimistic picture of Manning's state of mind now and of his hopes for the future. He described the jail facilities at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where Manning was transferred in April 2011 from Quantico, as having "magical waters" that had healed his client.
Asked about Manning's current state of mind, Coombs said: "He is very excited about having his case move forward. He is very encouraged at this point by the way things are going, and confident they will ultimately turn out OK for him."
Coombs recalled one conversation in which he had asked Manning what he wanted to do in future. "He told me his dream would be to go to college, and then into public service and perhaps one day run for public office. I asked him why, and he said: 'I want to make a difference.'"
He went on: "I hope that some day soon Brad can go to college and give back in public service. But he doesn't have to worry about making a difference -- he has made a difference."
Coombs spent 12 years in active military duty and is a lieutenant colonel in the reserves. He told the audience that given his extensive experience of military justice he was convinced that a court martial system was more likely than the civilian courts to give Manning a fair trial.
"People are often suspicious that the military judge may be subject to pressure and the the system is built to obtain a certain outcome, but having in the state and federal courts I can tell you the court martial system is by fair the fairest."
Coombs made a stern warning about the first charge facing his client -- "aiding the enemy" -- a clause of the espionage act that carries a maximum sentence in this case of life in military custody. Speaking generally, he called the charge a "scary proposition" as it held up the threat of prosecution of anybody who passed information to the press even if they had no intention of that information being used by the enemy.
"Right there, you will silence a lot of critics of our government, and that's what makes our government great – that we foster criticism and through it make changes. This is a very serious charge not just for my client but for all of us in America."
Coombs thanked on Manning's behalf the 72,000 people who have written personally to the soldier in custody, and the 14,000 people who have donated to his defence fund. One of those supporters, he said, was Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower from the Vietnam war era, who has spoken out on Manning's behalf.
History had judged Ellsberg very well, Coombs said. "I hope that history will judge PFC Bradley Manning in a similar light."
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Action You Can Take
I encourage everyone to contact the Nobel Peace Prize Committee with messages of support for the Bradley Manning nomination. The general e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
More ways to contact the Nobel Peace Prize Committee can be found on their contact page:
Here is the e-mail I sent to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee:
Dear Nobel Committee,
As an American citizen, I am writing to you to strongly support the nomination of Bradley Manning, the alleged Wikileaks leaker, for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mr. Manning is not a criminal, as my government spuriously alleges. He is a prisoner of conscience. He has been psychologically tortured for his courageous actions, and threatened with life imprisonment and even execution.
The release of the “Collateral Murder” video helped to call attention to American war crimes in Iraq. Cablegate documents helped to unleash the Arab Spring, one of the greatest freedom movements in world history. These documents also brought much-needed transparency to US government actions and called attention to the problem of over-classification of documents.
The chat logs compiled by Adrian Lamo show that Mr. Manning acted out of conscience, not to help any particular “enemy.”
Finally, I am not one of those people who criticized you for giving the Peace Prize to President Obama, even though I'm sure we can both agree he has been unworthy of it. You obviously hoped you could pre-emptively shame him into being a responsible world statesman, and it's not your fault that he has chosen instead to be a servile hireling of the US military-industrial complex.
Awarding the peace prize to Mr. Manning, however, would atone for your well-intentioned mistake. Those are my thoughts, and I appreciate your taking the time to hear me out.
So let them have a piece of your mind. And remember:
if the Nobel Peace Prize is good enough for Barack Obama, it's good enough for Bradley Manning!