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The passion of Bradley Manning- the story of the suspect behind the largest security breach in US history

Sat 14th Apr 2012

An all American hero who deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom or a traitor to his country? Amongst his fellow Americans, supporters and detractors of Bradley Manning fall squarely into either camp, whilst so called ‘liberals’ in the US wag a stern finger, revert to their one dimensional collective consciousness of ‘sage paternalism’ and reproachfully state: ‘He broke the law’.

Private First Class Bradley Manning is recognised as the source of hundreds of thousands of documents that have appeared on the Wikileaks website, including the so called ‘Afghan War Logs’, the ‘Iraq War Logs’, the ‘Guantanamo files’, the ‘State Department Cables’. He faces twenty two charges in front of a military court, including violation of the Espionage Act (1917) and aiding and abetting the enemy, an indictment that permits use of the death penalty.

New York based attorney and writer, Chase Madar tells the story of Private First Class Bradley Manning, with careful attention to those details carelessly or purposely omitted by a mostly one sided US media. Madar’s book gives a glimpse of Manning’s early years and his exceptional scholarly potential- winning prizes at science fairs and representing his school in intellectual competitions, designing his first website aged ten and enjoying the admiration of his young peers. These details are purposely smudged out by those wishing to portray him as a loner with a chip on his shoulder, an anarchist, an attention seeker, or of unsound mind.

By examining Manning’s early life, his reasons for joining the army, his training as an intelligence analyst through to his disclosure of the files that have made him a public enemy in the US and a hero to much of the rest of the world, Madar allows the reader to develop an honest and intelligent depiction of the young soldier, far removed from the hype and propaganda that pervades through all media. Via sources who knew Manning as a youth, his fellow soldiers, and a glance at his instant messaging conversations, we learn that he genuinely believed that by enlisting he could use his talents to serve both his country and simultaneously help the people of Iraq. Early impressions depict Manning as a patriot, albeit a free thinker.

Manning’s further training as an intelligence analyst and his subsequent posting to the Sensitive Compartmentalised Information Facility (SCIF) at a remote base in the Iraqi desert gave him special access to classified data. He soon began to develop a crisis of conscience after being ordered to turn a blind eye to the routine arrests, torture and murder of Iraqi by the dreaded Iraqi Federal Police (IFP).

Despite instructions from the military leadership to report any torture of civilians they should witness, we learn that in reality American soldiers were ordered not to investigate civilian torture at the hands of Iraqi forces. Such instances of hypocrisy, as well as access to videos showing the less publicised aspects of the wars, led to Manning’s crisis of conscience, prompting him to undertake an act of great moral courage. Disturbingly, we learn that despite thousands of other service personnel having access to these files, it took years for the abuses to come to light.

Madar is a member of non for profit public interest association, National Lawyers Guild, which works to advance social justice and protect human rights. He explains that International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is often stacked in favour of an occupier, in some cases permitting the killing of civilians. These laws can be twisted to serve the interests of an occupying force, to justify its belligerence. Madar also points out that whilst many have displayed disgust about Manning’s solitary confinement and his treatment in custody, as if his case were an aberration, long term solitary confinement and prisoner abuse is common in the United States.

Some, including prominent politicians, have called for his execution. Barack Obama, despite promising to protect whistle-blowers has done the exact opposite, invoking the Espionage Act (1917) more times than all previous administrations combined. Madar’s book exposes the dark heart of a US administration willing to bend laws to sanction occupation and abuse, attacking those who live up to the American ‘values’ of democracy, openness and accountability so often preached by the same elite. The fraudulence of the American elite and their ‘do and I say not as I do’ attitude in imprisoning its own citizens and kidnapping those of other countries, draws more parallels to a Gulag era Soviet dictatorship than anything resembling democracy and a respect for human rights. Chase Madar does an excellent job at introducing us to a true American hero- a soldier who fulfilled a duty to his nation and to humanity. His courage will be remembered and respected by many more for far longer than the memory of any contemporary US President or official.

The passion of Bradley Manning- the story of the suspect behind the largest security breach in US history is published by OR books

Copies of the book can be purchased from http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/bradley-manning/
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