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John Passant

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January 2011



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

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Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

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Defend Wikileaks! Free Bradley Manning!

In this world, war criminals liars and megalomaniacs are free and in power while heroes are imprisoned. Private Bradley Manning, a 22 year old intelligence analyst for the US army is such a hero.

Manning joined the military seeking meaning. However, he was rapidly disillusioned and frustrated – partly because of how he was regarded, and partly because of the damning material he had access to as an analyst.

In a private conversation, now made public, he described his feelings: “I’ve been isolated so long… (I’m) smart enough to know what’s going on, but helpless to do anything…”

Conditions of life in the military see many turn to substance abuse or sink into depression. Manning, however, decided to take a stand against the system. He started leaking information to Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

One of the first pieces of data released was a video now called “collateral murder”. The video stands alone as clear, unambiguous evidence of a war crime. In it, soldiers in an Apache gunship rain bullets down on a group of obviously unarmed Iraqis. They openly relish their bloody actions, and invent justifications – pretending to see weapons when it’s obvious that there are none.

Most damningly, the soldiers in question plead for permission to open fire on a medical team when it comes to evacuate the wounded. They are granted permission, and open fire a second time.

The video is a shocking document of barbarity, but it is important that it is seen by as wide an audience as possible. It is what the occupation of Iraq looks like.

At the time, the US army covered up the atrocity, claiming the dead were insurgents. It has since come to light that two of the dead were Reuters journalists, two of the wounded were children, and that none of them were armed.

By releasing this video Manning broke the law but did humanity a service. In his words, he felt that it was “…important that it gets out… I feel, for some bizarre reason . . . it might actually change something…”

When Wikileaks started publishing the hundreds of thousands of US Embassy cables that have now become so infamous, the governments of the world closed ranks against Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

The US government has been frantic to charge Assange; yet so far they have not found any legal basis upon which to do so.

Bradley Manning, however, has been charged with a number of offences relating to the leaked cables. At this stage it is unclear if he in fact released the cables, but he has nevertheless been imprisoned. He has also been charged for releasing the “collateral murder” video.

He has been kept in solitary confinement in the Quantico Marine Corps Brig in Virginia, USA. As of the time of writing, he has been imprisoned 228 days without trial; if found guilty he faces more than 50 years in prison.

The conditions of his imprisonment are barbaric. He is classified as a Maximum Custody Detainee at risk of harming himself. On this spurious basis, he has been kept in solitary confinement.

He is restricted to his cell for 23 out of 24 hours a day. It is roughly 6 feet by 12 feet, and contains only a toilet, a bed and a drinking fountain. He is only permitted one hour of exercise per day, during which he is only permitted to walk in a small room. He is not allowed outside and is forced to verbally respond to guards every 5 minutes.

He is barred from exercising in his cell, and if he attempts to do so, he is physically restrained. He has been denied adequate bedding – he has only been given a blanket, which so rough it is more like a carpet. He has no pillow, mattress or sheets. When he is permitted to sleep, he is forced to strip down to his underwear and turn his clothes over to the guards. This ensures that he is denied sleep by his bedding.

Despite having nothing else to do, he is not permitted to sleep between 5:00am and 8:00pm, and if he attempts to do so, he is forced to stand up by his guards.

His access to books and television is extremely limited. He is prevented from watching any news or current affairs program, and as such is effectively cut off from the world. He is denied the right to freely correspond, and his ability to receive visitors is restricted.

This is torture. Studies of victims of solitary confinement have found that prolonged solitary confinement can cause severe and lasting mental damage. Bradley Manning’s few visitors have reported that he is declining both mentally and physically.

These conditions are consciously designed to break his spirit. Many commentators have concluded with good reason that the US government is attempting to coerce Manning into testifying against Assange.

So far, it appears as though Manning has stood up to this pressure – and this is to his credit; it speaks of his ongoing bravery.

Protests have been organised across the United States in support of Manning and a campaign to raise awareness of his case has been organised through the website. It is also possible to donate to Bradley Manning’s defence fund at his website.

The treatment he has received at the hands of the US Military and the Obama administration illustrates the true nature of the capitalist system.

War criminals like Barack Obama command power and prestige. People like George Bush, John Howard and Tony Blair will likely never be brought to justice.

Meanwhile, genuine heroes like Bradley Manning – a man who took a moral stand against injustice – are imprisoned, tortured and have their lives threatened.

As we speak out in defence of freedom against the powers that be, we owe it to Bradley Manning to raise awareness about his case and to fight for his freedom. 

This article, by Daniel Lopez, first appeared in Socialist Alternative.



Comment from Ross
Time January 19, 2011 at 10:13 am

If anyone is in doubt of the fact that the USA is a facist state we only have to look at Bradly Manning.This is the Patriot Act and Preventative Dentention in operation.He has no legal recourse, can be held indefinitely without charge and tortured.

Our sedition laws enable our Govt to do likewise. People are oblivious to the reality.They think they live in a democracy.

Comment from Walter
Time January 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm

For the official record from Quantico:

“A maximum custody detainee is able to receive the same privileges that a detainee classified as general population may receive. … A maximum custody detainee also receives daily television, hygiene call, reading and outside physical activity without restraint.

Pfc. Manning, as well as every other maximum custody detainee, is allotted approximately one hour of television per day. He may view any of the available channels. … Pfc. Manning is allotted one hour of recreation time per day, as is every other maximum custody detainee. Depending on the weather, his recreation time may be spend indoors or outdoors. Activities may include calisthenics, running, basketball, etc. …Pfc. Manning, as well as all other detainees, is issued adequate bedding.”

You may note that the contradictary comments from the article above come from PFCs Attorney, who, with due respect, would say these things.

Have you ever heard an Attorney in high profile case say their client was being treated fairly and their conditions were appropraite?

Lastly, the issue with suicide is real. If PFC was to take his own life, don’t you think there would be an international outcry along the lines of Steve Biko and the rightful allegation he was not housed in a secure environment?

Comment from John
Time January 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Why is he in detention? That’s the question for me Walter. And then the torture. The UN is investigating, or allegedly making noises about that.

Comment from Walter
Time January 19, 2011 at 4:49 pm

After watching the Daniel Ellsberg documentary, I am not sure. But I do think that the Pentagon Papers are very different to Wikileaks.

For example, I understand some cables yet to be released are of a very personal nature and reflect on the ‘orientation’ of certain public figures. This isn’t right.

Amnning may well be the scapegoat here and I suspect he’s being punished as an example, but I am yet to be convinced that the material not related to US foreign policy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are relevent.

And any torture etc is just an example of how a smart, free and wonderful country like the USA can get it so wrong. It reeks of Vietnam and the ugly side of America.

Comment from Ross
Time January 20, 2011 at 8:41 am

Congratulations Walter.You are beginning to understand.

Just be aware that if a crisis like another treeorist attack in the USA happens,Obama has the power to suspend the Constitution and bring in martial law.Using Bush’s patriot Act and his own Preventative Detention laws he can gaol anyone even suspected of being a terrorist indefinetly without legal recourse.

Bradley Manning it seems can have legal council since has cannot be branded a terrorist yet.

The facists are on the march so create awareness.

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