Slay the messenger!! Who is the criminal here, he who exposes war crimes or those who commit them?

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“I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”

Bradley Manning has shown us once again that he is a hero. On Thursday, February 28, he made a profound and historic statement to a military court and to the world. Reading from prepared notes for over an hour, Bradley detailed how he released classified military and government documents to Wikileaks, and he explained why he did so.

I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan. It might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day…. I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”

What Manning released through Wikileaks was evidence of the regular killing of civilians by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the regular cover-up of these war crimes. The Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diaries also revealed that military and civilian leaders were lying to the U.S. people when they presented rosy assessments of the progress of those wars.

Would that we all had listened to these truths when Bradley revealed them almost three years ago. Perhaps we would not still have US Special Forces engaged in murder, mayhem and torture in Afghanistan today

Contrary to the misinformation being transmitted in many mainstream news reports, Bradley Manning did not make a plea agreement, and he certainly did not agree to go to prison for twenty years. Rather, he unilaterally pled guilty to 10 of the lesser charges against him, while maintaining his innocence to 12 more serious charges, especially Aiding the Enemy, which can be punished by life in prison and even the death penalty (Army prosecutors say they will not seek the death penalty – very gracious of them).

Rather than “rolling over” or “caving in,” Bradley has courageously chosen a path which allows him to tell the world the truth and to explain the meaning of what he has done.

Bradley Manning is a champion for peace and justice, for truth and transparency. He had the courage to follow his conscience and to do the right thing, regardless of the consequences. He showed us that courage again in the courtroom this week. The US government and military have already punished Bradley severely and apparently they will try to keep him behind bars for the rest of his life. Veterans For Peace will not allow this to happen.

We demand that the US Army drop all charges against Bradley Manning and release him from prison immediately. We intend to stand with Bradley every step of the way. We will escalate our support actions leading up to his court martial, which is expected to begin on June 3 and to proceed throughout the summer. We will show up en masse at Fort Meade, Maryland for the support rally being planned for Saturday, June 1. We will protest in our hometowns too, including at military recruiting stations. Bradley Manning represents everything that Veterans For Peace stands for and we will not stop until he is free.

Peter Mitchell

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