Finally: Hear Bradley Manning in His Own Voice
A full audio recording of the whistleblower is released
today despite a court prohibition on such recordings
by Glenn Greenwald
proceeding of Bradley
Manning has, rather ironically, been shrouded
in extreme secrecy, often exceeding
even that which prevails at Guantanamo military commissions.
This secrecy prompted the Center for Constitutional Rights to commence
formal legal action on behalf of several journalists and activists,
including myself, to compel greater transparency. One particularly
oppressive rule governing the Manning trial has barred not only
all video or audio recordings of the proceedings, but also any photographs
being taken of Manning or even transcripts made of what is said
in court. Combined with the prohibition on all press interviews
with him, this extraordinary secrecy regime has meant that, in the
two-and-a-half years since his arrest, the world has been prevented,
literally, from hearing Manning's voice. That changes today.
of the Press Foundation (FPF), the group I recently helped
found and on whose
board I sit, has received a full, unedited audio recording of
the one-hour statement Manning made in court two weeks ago, and
this morning has published
that recording in full.
Hear the full
audio here or in excerpts below:
In that statement,
Manning details at length what he did and, more important, the reasons
he chose to do it. I'm personally unaware of who made the recording
and am not aware of how it was made, but its authenticity has been
verified. Last week, the superb independent journalist Alexa O'Brien,
who has covered the proceedings from
start to finish, created the best transcript she could of Manning's
statement, which was published, among other places, in
the Guardian. But this audio recording provides the first opportunity
to hear Manning, in his own voice, explain his actions; that, presumably,
is why whoever recorded Manning's statement risked violating the
court-martial rules to do so.
morning, the FPF, along with the full audio, published
a statement of why it chose to publish this along with some brief
analysis. I'm posting below some of the most significant excerpts
of Manning's statement. The first excerpt is in the form of a 5-minute
video produced by the documentarian and FPF Board Member Laura Poitras,
highlighting Manning's explanation of how he reacted when he first
saw the video of the Apache helicopter gunning down Reuters journalists
in Baghdad and then those who showed up to rescue the wounded, including
a van with children in it.
The US government
and its military has carefully ensured that people hear about
Manning from the government, but do not hear from Manning himself.
It is way past time for Manning's voice to be heard:
the Apache helicopter video
In April, 2010,
made major news
around the world when it published its "Collateral Murder" video,
showing US soldiers in Baghdad gleefully
celebrating as they gunned down civilians, including two Reuters
journalists, and then showered their rescuers with bullets. Here,
in Poitras' video, is Manning, in his own words, explaining his
reaction when he first saw that video and the process that led him
to leak it to the world:
the Iraq and Afghanistan War logs
In July, 2010,
WikiLeaks began publishing tens of thousands of war logs detailing
various episodes in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Among other
things, these documents revealed 15,000
Iraqi civilian deaths than had been uncounted, a US
policy expressly barring US troops from investigating human
rights abuses by the Iraqi forces they were training, previously
unknown civilian deaths in Afghanistan at the hands of Nato,
proof that US government and military officials had knowingly lied
to the public about these wars. Here is Manning explaining his reaction
when he first saw these documents and why he decided to leak them;
listen on the player above.
time a blizzard bombarded the mid-atlantic, and I spent a significant
period of time essentially stuck in my aunt's house in Maryland.
I began to think about what I knew and the information I still
had in my possession. For me, the SigActs represented the on the
ground reality of both the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I felt that
we were risking so much for people that seemed unwilling to cooperate
with us, leading to frustration and anger on both sides. I began
to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves
increasingly mired in year after year. The SigActs documented
this in great detail and provide a context of what we were seeing
on the ground.
to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN
operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human
targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation
with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third
order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions.
I believe that if the general public, especially the American
public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I
and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role
of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word]
as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I also believed
the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by
different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate
the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism
and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics
of the people living in the effected environment everyday."
what caused him to question the Iraq War
In his chats
with the government informant who turned him in, Manning
who had been promised confidentiality by the informant who claimed
to be a journalist and a pastor described what first made
him disillusioned about the Iraq war in which he was serving. Specifically,
he described how he had discovered that many of the Iraqis whom
he was helping to detain were not insurgents at all, but simply
critics of the Malaki government. But when Manning alerted his superiors
to this fact, he was dismissed away, and realized then that using
the formal whistleblowing channels would result in nothing other
than his own punishment. Here is Manning elaborating on those events
and explaining why this led him to leak to WikiLeaks; listen on
the player above.
On 27 February
2010, a report was received from a subordinate battalion. The
report described an event in which the Federal Police or FP detained
15 individuals for printing anti-Iraqi literature. On 2 March
2010, I received instructions from an S3 section officer in the
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Tactical Operation
Center or TOC to investigate the matter, and figure out who these
quote "bad guys" unquote were and how significant this event was
for the Federal Police.
course of my research I found that none of the individuals had
previous ties to anti-Iraqi actions or suspected terrorist militia
groups. A few hours later, I received several reports from the
scene – from this subordinate battalion. They were accidentally
sent to an officer on a different team on the S2 section and she
forwarded them to me.
included picture of the individuals, pallets of unprinted paper
and seized copies of the final printed material or the printed
document; and a high resolution photo of the printed material
itself. I printed up one copy of a high resolution photo – I laminated
it for ease of use and transfer. I then walked to the TOC and
delivered the laminated copy to our category two interpreter.
the information and about a half and hour later delivered a rough
written transcript in English to the S2 section. I read the transcript
and followed up with her, asking her for her take on the content.
She said it was easy for her to transcribe verbatim, since I blew
up the photograph and laminated it. She said the general nature
of the document was benign. The document, as I had sensed as well,
was merely a scholarly critique of the then current Iraqi Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
corruption within the cabinet of al-Maliki's government and the
financial impact of his corruption on the Iraqi people. After
discovering this discrepancy between the Federal Police's report
and the interpreter's transcript, I forwarded this discovery to
the top OIC and the battle NCOIC. The top OIC and the overhearing
battle captain informed me that they didn't need or want to know
this information anymore. They told me to quote 'drop it' unquote
and to just assist them and the Federal Police in finding out,
where more of these print shops creating quote "anti-Iraqi literature"
believe what I heard and I returned to the T-SCIF and complained
to the other analysts and my section NCOIC about what happened.
Some were sympathetic, but no one wanted to do anything about
"I am the
type of person who likes to know how things work. And, as an analyst,
this means I always want to figure out the truth. Unlike other
analysts in my section or other sections within the 2nd Brigade
Combat Team, I was not satisfied with just scratching the surface
and producing canned or cookie cutter assessments. I wanted to
know why something was the way it was, and what we could to correct
or mitigate a situation.
"I knew that
if I continued to assist the Baghdad Federal Police in identifying
the political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki, those people
would be arrested and in the custody of the Special Unit of the
Baghdad Federal Police and very likely tortured and not seen again
for a very long time – if ever.
of assisting the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police, I
decided to take the information and expose it to the [WikiLeaks
organization], in the hope that before the upcoming 7 March 2010
election, they could generate some immediate press on the issue
and prevent this unit of the Federal Police from continuing to
crack down in political opponents of al-Maliki."
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© 2013 The