8.16.2013

bradley manning's apology: the triumph of torture

Earlier this week, Bradley Manning's defense ended its case in Manning's sentencing hearing. Manning made a statement to the military court: an apology.

Reading it, I thought of 1984, when Winston faces the terror of being eaten alive by rats, and he tells his tormentors what they want to hear. I read the apology and I thought, They have crushed him.

Manning has been tortured - physically and mentally. He has been through an ordeal that few of us can possibly imagine. No matter how much we admire him, no matter how we stand with him in spirit or in thought or by donating to his defense, no matter how many of us say "I Am Bradley Manning," only Bradley Manning is Bradley Manning. And he is alone.

Manning said:
First, your honour, I want to start off with an apology. I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I'm sorry I hurt the United States.

At the time of my decisions, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues, issues that are ongoing and continuing to affect me. Although a considerable difficulty in my life, these issues are not an excuse for my actions.

I understood what I was doing, and decisions I made. However, I did not fully appreciate the broader effects of my actions.

Those factors are clear to me now, through both self-refection during my confinement in various forms, and through the merits and sentencing testimony that I have seen here.

I am sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions. When I made these decisions I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.

The last few years have been a learning experience. I look back at my decisions and wonder how on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better […] on decisions of those with the proper authority.

In retrospect I should have worked more aggressively inside the system, as we discussed during the […] statement, I had options and I should have used these options.

Unfortunately, I can't go back and change things. I can only go forward. I want to go forward. Before I can do that, I understand that I must pay a price for my decisions and actions.

Once I pay that price, I hope to one day live in a manner that I haven't been able to in the past. I want to be a better person, to go to college, to get a degree and to have a meaningful relationship with my sister with my sister's family and my family.

I want to be a positive influence in their lives, just as my Aunt Deborah has been to me. I have flaws and issues that I have to deal with, but I know that I can and will be a better person.

I hope that you can give me the opportunity to prove, not through words, but through conduct, that I am a good person and that I can return to productive place in society. Thank you, Your Honor.
People of peace and conscience know that Bradley Manning has nothing to apologize for. He is not a criminal. He is a hero. This is the response from the Bradley Manning Support Network.
Nothing To Apologize For

As the defense closed its sentencing case yesterday, whistle-blower PFC Bradley Manning – facing 90 years in prison on six Espionage Act convictions – apologized to military judge Colonel Denise Lind for the way in which he exposed the horrific crimes and abuses he witnessed in America’s wars and diplomacy abroad. “I should have worked more aggressively inside the system,” noted Manning on the stand.

The defense’s cross-examination of prosecution witnesses in open court revealed that no deaths or casualties have been connected to WikiLeaks releases, despite soaring government rhetoric since 2010. The defense tried a number of times to get the judge to consider overclassification and other big picture issues affecting the case, but her ruling in the merits portion showed she was not willing to do so. In closed court, prosecution witnesses were allowed to talk about indirect harm—primarily the money and Government resources expended reacting to the release of the documents. Meanwhile, the Defense was barred from addressing the many positive outcomes of the releases. In that context, Manning stated, “I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I’m sorry I hurt the United States.” [Read more here.]
I wonder how many of us, if we could know what would happen afterwards, would have made the choices Manning did. In prison for three years before court martial, nine months of those in solitary confinement, at one point without even clothes, bedding or his glasses. And now he faces spending the rest of his days in prison.

I think most people could only make the moral choice in ignorance of the personal consequences - the suffering - it would bring.

4 comments:

West End Bob said...

Thought you might want to see Alexa O'Brien's piece on the apology if you hadn't already, laura k. She covered the trial from Day One, I believe.

Judge Lind's comments today don't bode well for Bradley, I'm afraid.

It's very sad how the Excited States treats its heroes . . . .

laura k said...

I don't see how anything could bode well for Manning. It's not a trial, remember. It's a court martial.

Truly, I doubt Manning will ever be viewed as a hero in the mainstream, in the rehabilitated manner of, say, Malcolm X.

I feel so inexpressably sorry for him.

allan said...

Chris Floyd: "I invite any critic of Bradley Manning's mitigation plea to stand in his shoes for two seconds and show us how 'tough' they would be. Manning is facing a lifetime of penal servitude in a system that has already tortured him, battered him, humiliated him, abused him. He is facing the prospect of spending decades -- decades -- in a system run by people who demonstrably despise him. He will be housed with people -- and more importantly, guarded by people -- who hate 'traitors' and 'queers' and 'weirdos' and 'sissies' with a violent, virulent hatred. This is what he faces: years and years and years of it. What are you facing?"

laura k said...

Thanks for posting that, A.

I cannot talk to anyone who does not have compassion for Manning or who would criticize him for doing whatever he needs to try to survive. I just can't fathom the lack of empathy.