When Bradley Manning was in the military, they let him use the computers. One time, while Bradley was doing his military thing on military computers, he saw some confidential documents that probably made him throw up a little. They detailed several instances of American soldiers killing civilians in the Middle East. A lot of children mentioned in there. Even some photos of dead toddlers. And one video of kids being blown up on their way to school one morning because our soldiers thought the news reporter next to them was holding a weapon. It was a camera with a telescopic lens. ANYWAY.
Bradley Manning freaked out. His chat logs from this point are available online. The documents were classified, but really disturbing, and he had to tell someone what was going on. Eventually he decided to put everything on a disk as fast as he could, and send it to Julian Assange at Wikileaks. Julian would sort through it and make public the gruesome war crimes the military tried to cover up.
But then, oops, Julian released all of the documents. 250,000 of them. They’re all online. They’re about lots of different things, like how we should keep an eye on Brazil for developing terror cells, and how a bunch of governments in Africa are corrupt. There’s official correspondence between nations where we act like we’re the best and shut up, and several thousand other boring but pretentious things that make the United States government look like a big jerk.
And then, of course, the dead children picture explaining that the kids were handcuffed and shot in the head. And the helicopter video. And the documents admitting they conducted air-strikes just to destroy evidence of their wrongdoing.
So, the United States is like, really embarrassed at this point. The UN could charge us with war crimes, but let’s be serious. Who pays the UN salaries?
MIlitary and government officials inform all the news outlets they can find that the release of these documents will surely lead to the murder of innocent Americans. How? Not important, don’t get sassy.
It’s May of 2010. The United States government finds Manning and detains him. And this is where it gets really uncomfortable.
Maximum custody, 6×12 foot cell. Guards come by every five minutes to make sure he can’t sleep between 5am and 8pm, so he doesn’t… hurt… himself? March of 2011, Manning finally tells the guards, “Look, if I really wanted to kill myself I could do it with the elastic waistband of my boxers. Or my flip flops!” The guards obviously take this as an actual suicide threat and start forcing him to sleep totally naked before waking up to an also totally-naked daily morning inspection. Sounds about right, right?
So one can assume Bradley Manning is feeling pretty bummed by this point. Supporters flock to his detainment site on the daily, but he can’t see them. International support flows in as somebody FINALLY spoke up about what the US was actually doing in the middle east. But since when does it matter what Europe thinks?
Since his arrest almost two years ago, Manning hasn’t even been charged with a crime (unconstitutional? why yes!) That is, until now.
1. Aiding the enemy — a capital offense, but they’re not seeking the death penalty.
2. Wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet — A charge they may have invented very recently, judging by the “over the internet” part.
3. Transmitting national defense information and
4. Theft of public property or records. (even though they still existed on the computers)
Never in my life have I seen such a polarizing public debate. Then again, I’m only 22. But let’s get into it. What do you think of Manning? Hero or traitor? And can we find a better word for “traitor?” It’s almost as bad as our undefined “terrorist” or “patriot.”