Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Bradley Manning and other veterans issues

 At The Daily Beast, Denver Nicks offers an excerpt of his new book on Bradley Manning:

While Brad expressed his frustrations with the military to Danny, he didn’t reveal to him anything near the degree of his alienation. By August, his behavior had deteriorated so far that his supervisor Sergeant Adkins said he showed signs of “instability” and referred him to a mental health specialist for anger management issues. Unable to confide in his army-appointed therapist due to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, however, Brad went to only one initial counseling visit. He sought therapy on his own off base, but even that was ineffective. Instead, Brad confided in friends back home. “His emotions could turn on a dime,” said Jason Edwards. “When he called from Fort Drum it was bad. When he called it was basically just this kind of screaming and crying, and there wasn’t a lot that he would say that was terribly coherent.”

Concerned that he could be “a risk to himself and possibly others,” according an official statement issued later, Adkins considered leaving Brad behind when the unit deployed. But there was a shortage of intelligence analysts in Iraq, and Brad’s temperament was showing improvement. The army weighed the risks of deploying Brad Manning with his unit, and the exigencies of a protracted war won out in the calculus.

Denver Nicks' new book is entitled Private: Bradley Manning WikiLeaks And The Biggest Exposure Of Official Secrets In American History.

Considering what will be his historical importance, you'd think there'd be more people writing books on the topic.  Putting your glorified blog postings together in a volume does not qualify as a book.  In fact, that only serves to question your long career in journalism.  But so does changing your blog posts to take out your mistakes and never stating you've corrected them.  And the cut and paster did that too many times (and we called him out for it and demonstrated he did it via screen snaps.  He's no journalist and it's no wonder he ended up at the beggar outlet that he's currently at.)

So who is Bradley Manning? The man pictured below. 


He has a court-martial scheduled to start September 21st.  Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December.  At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial.  Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.

Musician Cass McCombs has a song entitled "Bradley Manning."  Jon Pappo (Chart Attack) notes of the video, "Playing with American iconography, the video paints a rather damning portrait of the failings of supposed patriotism and all of its hypocrisies.  It's a narrative song through and through, with a specificity that allows it to avoid most of the trappings of 'government is bad,' 'Bush sucks,' 'Kony 2012,' etc."  Dan Raby (NPR's All Songs Considered Blog) writes about the video and observes, "The final shot of the twins running and shooting off exploding fireworks in the river becomes a strange blend of the joy of kids having fun and the high tension that comes from being in a war zone."

The song includes the word "s**t."  If that's a problem, don't stream the video below.

Bradley is an Iraq War veteran who was pulled out active duty and has been held for approximately two years and still the court-martial is months away.  You'd think there'd be more outrage over that instead the outrage appears to be over what he allegedly did and it goes to the all mighty ignorance imparted in the US that people who should know better rush to verdict before a legal body has.  What is known is that someone with known difficulties and in need of counseling was most likely wrongly sent to a war zone.  What is known is that a service member has not been given a fair and speedy trial.  What is known is that the commander in chief has pronounced Bradley guilty before a legal body's had the opportunity to.  All of that is outrageous.  He may have been the leaker, he may not have been.  That's not been established at this point.  Which, in America, is supposed to mean innocent until proven guilty.  You'd think there'd be more outrage over the mistreatment of Bradley.

In other veterans issues, Thomas Adams (Rochester Business Journal) reports US Senator Charles Schumer is calling for "the federal government to preserve funding for job training for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan."  Schumer stating, "Last year alone, over 3,200 local veterans from Monroe, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, and Wayne counties came to the center for job advice, résumé sprucing up, and most importantly, training in skills that local employers needed and wanted."  Additional job training is a non-controversial issue and one that is historically supported in this country.  That's not putting down Schumer.  In fact, to the contrary, it's wondering why other senators aren't joining his call because there's no downside to it with the public.   Finally, Mike Hedeen (YNN -- link is text and video) quotesGreg Welter (Chico Enterprise Record) reports on a new website, American Homecoming, which is up and sharing the stories of eight Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans.

The following community sites -- plus CSPAN, The World Can't Wait, The Bat Segundo Show, and Adm Kokesh -- updated last night and today:

Zed Books notes today's event has been postponed:

Unfortunately the event advertised below has had to be postponed. Courtney Griffiths Q.C. has urgent post-trial proceedings to address in the Hague.
We will communicate new dates for the event as soon as possible.

You are invited to discussion on
Charles Taylor and Liberia
Zed author Colin Waugh will be in conversation with Courtney Griffiths QC (lead defence lawyer for Mr Taylor) and Sourie Turay (Lawyer)
2nd May 2012
Room 6.29, Strand Campus
King?s College London, WC2R 2LS
The event will be chaired by Dr Funmi Olonisakin (Director, CSDG & ALC)
On Thursday 26th April 2012, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague delivered its judgement on the trial of the former President of the Republic of Liberia, Charles Taylor.
Mr Taylor was found guilty on 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes. The charges against Mr Taylor included crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996 until January 18, 2002 (the date when Sierra Leone?s civil war was officially brought to an end).
For most of that time, Mr Taylor was president of Liberia, democratically elected in an internationally supervised and accepted vote in July 1997.
This judgement by the SCSL, a hybrid court set up in early 2002 by the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone, is an historic one and bears wide implications for Africa and the international justice system.
Mr Taylor is the first former head of state convicted by an international criminal court since the Nuremburg military tribunal of Nazis after World War II.
This event will discuss the implications of Mr Taylor?s verdict. Some of the questions we will be looking to answer are as follows:
What are the implications for the victims of Sierra Leone?s civil war - closure or tokenism? What does the verdict mean for victims of Liberia?s civil war? Have they been overlooked as victims of the wrong war?
What are the implications for future indicted sovereigns in Africa? Will this verdict serve as a deterrent on the continent and especially in the global context putting a stop to impunity? And what does this trial say about the capacity of institutional and legal structures on the African continent to handle cases like this in the future? For how long will Africa need to rely on external structures to address its criminal justice challenges?
Natural resources played a fundamental role in Charles Taylor?s activities. Following this judgment, what will be done to address the institutions that encouraged Taylor's activities and also benefitted from the exploitation of these resources?
Finally, what will Charles Taylor?s legacy be? Will he be seen as a leader with an evil purpose or a valiant cause that ran out of control and out of luck?

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