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I am Bradley Manning

By Mani Khawaja

As the sentencing hearing gets underway for Bradley Manning, who faces 136 years in prison after being convicted of 20 charges — including espionage and theft — it’s hard not to feel that a travesty of justice is taking place.

Here is a person who had made a commitment to serve his country and was put in the difficult situation of deciding whether to follow protocol and turn a blind eye to abuses and war crimes carried out in his country’s name or to do the morally right thing and bring atrocities to light.

Bradley Manning chose to follow his conscience, knowing full well the consequences of going against the military machine and political landscape.

He decided that when he took oath, it wasn’t to serve his superiors in the army or the politicians in Washington, but his fellow countrymen who deserved to know that they were being misled and lied to. This is why he allegedly leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks that lifted the veil of secrecy on US foreign policy for the entire world to see, revealing the true nature of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rather than being appreciative of his sacrifices, he has become a pariah in the eyes of a large segment of the US population.

Similarly, Edward Snowden, who had to leave the US in order to bring to people’s attention that their privacy was being violated indiscriminately by their own government, has also been castigated.

It is disconcerting to see how far the government has succeeded in brainwashing the masses to letting slide almost anything under the guise of national security. In fact, after its treatment of whistleblowers...