Chelsea Manning: presidential pardon imperative in wake of CIA torture report

In a country where irony is allegedly uncommon the US Government, or at least its legal system, is responsible for one of the more profound examples in that the person who was probably the catalyst for the inquiry (and subsequent report) into CIA-led US torture was not hailed as a hero but sentenced just over a year ago to 35 years in prison. In recent weeks we have seen escalation in the demand for a Presidential pardon for Manning. Today, a week after the release of the Senate report into CIA torture, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning turned 27 years old and some of his many birthday greetings by prominent writers, artists and musicians worldwide were published in the Guardian.

One birthday letter was from the whistleblower Edward Snowden, who wrote, “You have inspired an angry public to demand a government that is accountable for its perpetration of torture and other war crimes…” In November, Snowden and fifty ‘celebrities’ signed a statement demanding Manning be pardoned.

Much of what Manning exposed was listed in the Senate inquiry report. However, the difference between the report and what Manning revealed via Wikileaks (and which was then published in the Guardian and other leading newspapers) is not in the content but merely of imprimatur in that the inquiry was officially sanctioned while Manning’s revelations were not. In other words, it’s not about truth but who controls the flow of information. This applies not just to the USA but to other countries, such as the UK, where the Government is turning secrecy (relating to war crimes/torture) into an art form.

It is plainly an insult to justice that the order-givers – George W Bush, Cheney, etc – and the perpetrators of torture, as well as those who devised these newer variations of torture – James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen – should escape prosecution within the USA while Manning still languishes in jail. That injustice can be in part mitigated if Manning is pardoned. President Obama must know that if another Bush (i.e. Jeb) wins the next election that possibility is even more remote and so he – Obama – should show courage and release Manning now as a matter of imperative.

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