When is it wrong to report a crime? When the U.S. military is the guilty party, of course.
Bradley Manning, a 23-year-old U.S. Army soldier, is currently being held in solitary confinement and withstanding unreasonable treatment for allegedly exposing cables documenting military war crimes.
Manning has been charged with downloading classified government documents and distributing them to unauthorized sources such as Wikileaks. He has also been charged with “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense that could be punishable by death.
Wikileaks began publishing the documents that Manning allegedly sent in February 2010. In April, the site released “Collateral Murder,” a video of U.S. soldiers firing on Iraqi civilians and celebrating their kills as if it were a video game. The next month, Manning was arrested and has been held in custody since.
The military’s treatment of one of its own is deplorable.
The military is currently holding Manning in the Quantico marine base in Virginia. Guards constantly monitor his behavior and are never more than a few feet away from his cell. He stays inside of the 6-by-12-foot cell for 23 hours a day. He is only allowed to leave to “exercise,” which entails walking around an empty room in shackles.
For his own “safety,” he is not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. They have even confiscated his prescription glasses, essentially leaving him blind.
As if that wasn’t enough, for the past several weeks guards have been requiring Manning to strip completely naked each night before bed and remain nude in his cold cell until morning. They asure this is also for Manning’s safety.
The way the military is treating Manning – who has yet to be convicted of a crime – is inhumane and unreasonable. Ten months in solitary confinement have passed, and he still does not have a trial date. All the treatment has done is lead to a decline in Manning’s health.
Visitors have reported a drastic difference in Manning’s physical and mental well-being as a result of the harsh conditions that he is enduring. By the time that his court date rolls around, it is unknown whether Manning will be in the proper psychological health to even withstand trial.
Even if Manning did release the information, the government’s treatment of the situation is not only unacceptable, but it is also torture. By criminalizing truth-tellers, the government is essentially trying to sweep its own war crimes under the rug.
The purpose of Wikileaks is to encourage anonymous sources to leak information that will lead to the exposure of injustices and corruption. It’s a way of bringing the power back to the people.
How are we supposed to expose corruption if the government is committing crimes against humanity on those who do so?
This level of punishment is instilling fear into those who may have the ability to leak more information. This inhumane behavior is an embarrassment to the U.S. military and the entire country.
Regardless of whether Manning was responsible, reporting war crimes should not be a crime.