A Veteran's look at the upcoming court martial of Private Bradley Manning

manning trialNo matter how clean some Heads of State try to make it seem, war is always messy and it is often an intricate exercise in deceit, cunning, lies, and counter-lies. War by definition is a bloody, treacherous, horrible experience.

The men and women who fight our wars usually come from lower-class sectors of our society and in modern times, amount to no more than 1% of the civilian population. Almost all the men and women who sign on to wear the uniforms of the United States Military do so for a number of reasons.

Some join the military out of national pride or service, others join to better their lot in life by taking advantage of the educational opportunities offered in the services and there are those who join up to extricate themselves from poverty and/or the long arm of the law.

I am of the opinion that Bradley Manning fits none of these molds. An extensive write-up of his years before he joined the army can be found on his Wikipedia page. After reading his childhood and teen history, it is clearly evident that this young man had some unresolved issues well before the U.S. Army was on the horizon.

One characteristic that jumps off the page is his level of intelligence. Perhaps the reason he ended up in Military Intelligence was the army’s myopic view of personnel selection; he was after all highly intelligent in the digital world.

Evidence of his cleverness came just six weeks in to his basic training phase when he was nearly discharged from the Army. Low and behold though, he wasn’t discharged, but elevated to the point of having a very sensitive security clearance. That’s what our Military tends to do. I know from first hand experience.

He ended up being assigned to the 10th Mountain Division in Ft. Drum, New York and made his way on deployment from there to Iraq in 2009. On the legal time line, this is where the party begins.

Having been accused on twenty-two counts, pleading guilty to ten of them (the lesser charges), and pleading not guilty to the remaining twelve, this court martial should produce some very interesting takes on how our country wages war.

On April 2, 2013, all information about the pre-trial hearings was placed under a military “gag” order. No more information will be forthcoming and the Media will be barred from the court room for Manning’s Court Martial.

The judge, Col. Denise Lind, who currently serves as Chief Judge, 1st Judicial Circuit, U.S. Army Trial Judiciary, and a member of the New York bar has already addressed the detention issues that Manning has endured, and has effectively ruled in the Private’s favor. One small detail of his detention was that he was forced to stand at attention while his cell was being “inspected”. He was ordered to do this while buck naked.

Still, the question of “aiding and abetting the enemy” is the most egregious charge that will be addressed in court and it carries the death penalty in the code of military justice. And, as the legal system in the Military wrestles with that, there are some prominent voices praising the efforts of Private Manning, and entire “Wikileaks” network.

brad manning nobelAccording to former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, Bradley Manning promotes peace more than President Obama and Manning is more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. “While President Obama was starting and expanding unconstitutional wars overseas, Bradley Manning, whose actions have caused exactly zero deaths, was shining light on the truth behind these wars,” the former Republican presidential contender told U.S. News. “It’s clear which individual has done more to promote peace.” 

Prominent anti-war writer Glenn Greenwald who currently blogs for The Guardian thinks Manning is more deserving of the award as well. “Bradley Manning epitomizes what the Nobel Peace Prize was supposed to reward, while Barack Obama is the antithesis of it,” Greenwald told U.S. News.

“Everything Manning did was geared toward ending war by mobilizing public opinion against it. Most of what Obama has done with his power has been geared toward escalating and continuing U.S. aggression.”

Greenwald cited Obama’s use of drone attacks that kill civilians, the president’s so-called “kill list” and his continuation of the Afghanistan War. “By stark contrast, Manning risked his own liberty, really his life, to expose documents that he thought would expose the horrors of war and the serial deceit and corruption of the world’s most powerful factions,” said Greenwald.

Manning was nominated for the award in 20112012 and again earlier this year. President Obama won the award in 2009. There has to be a mechanism by which we can cease fire and stop waging wars. The Industrial/Military Complex would have to come tumbling down to achieve this; and, that is a rather daunting task. I still don’t know whether to hang him, or hug him. My gut feeling is that Bradley Manning will thrown to the lions, and, perhaps, Julian Assange will be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Stay tuned. On June 3rd the trial begins.

 Manning–Wikileaks timeline


Oct: Manning sent to Iraq.

Nov: Manning finds Baghdad airstrike video.

Nov 25Wikileaks (WL) publishes 9/11 pager messages.

Nov: Manning allegedly contacts WL.


Feb 18: WL releases Reykjavik 13 cable, purportedly from Manning.

Mar 15: WL releases Defense Dept report about WL, purportedly from Manning.

Mar 29: WL releases State Dept profiles, purportedly from Manning.

Apr 05: WL releases Baghdad airstrike video, purportedly from Manning.

May 21–25: Manning and Adrian Lamo chat.

May 26: Manning arrested in Iraq.

Jun 06Wired publishes partial Manning- Lamo chat logs.

Jul 05: Manning charged.

Jul 25: WL releases Afghan War logs, purportedly from Manning.

Jul 29: Manning transferred to the US.

Oct 22: WL releases Iraq War logs, purportedly from Manning.

Nov 28: Newspapers publish US diplomatic cables from WL, purportedly from Manning.


Jan: UN Special Rapporteur submits inquiry to US about Manning.

Mar 01: Manning charged with more offenses.

Dec 16Article 32 hearing begins.


Feb 03: Manning ordered to stand trial.


Jan 09: Trial due to begin June 2013.

Feb 28: Manning enters guilty plea for 10 of 22 charges….


  1. Thank you so much for this balanced approach to this conundrum…I haven’t quite known what to think of Manning except for that the military cannot have privates doing this and he is no role model in that way. However, how he has been treated while in custody doesn’t seem to be humane either. Looking forward to your next installment of this trial.

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