Bradley Manning: One Soldier Who Really Did “Defend Our Freedom”

Originally written by Kevin Carson for the Center for a Stateless Society

When I hear someone say that soldiers “defend our freedom,” my immediate response is to gag.  I think the last time American soldiers actually fought for the freedom of Americans was probably the Revolutionary War — or maybe the War of 1812, if you want to be generous.  Every war since then has been for nothing but to uphold a system of power, and to make the rich folks even richer.

But I can think of one exception.  If there’s a soldier anywhere in the world who’s fought and suffered for my freedom, it’s Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Manning is frequently portrayed, among the knuckle-draggers on right-wing message boards, as some sort of spoiled brat or ingrate, acting on an adolescent whim.  But that’s not quite what happened, according to Johann Hari (“The under-appreciated heroes of 2010,” The Independent, Dec. 24).

Manning, like many young soldiers, joined up in the naive belief that he was defending the freedom of his fellow Americans.  When he got to Iraq, he found himself working under orders “to round up and hand over Iraqi civilians to America’s new Iraqi allies, who he could see were then torturing them with electrical drills and other implements.”  The people he arrested, and handed over for torture, were guilty of such “crimes” as writing “scholarly critiques” of the U.S. occupation forces and its puppet government.  When he expressed his moral reservations to his supervisor, Manning “was told to shut up and get back to herding up Iraqis.”

The people Manning saw tortured, by the way, were frequently the very same people who had been tortured by Saddam:  trade unionists, members of the Iraqi Freedom Congress, and other freedom-loving people who had no more use for Halliburton and Blackwater than they had for the Baath Party.

For exposing his government’s crimes against humanity, Manning has spent seven months in solitary confinement –  a torture deliberately calculated to break the human mind.

We see a lot of “serious thinkers” on the op-ed pages and talking head shows, people like David Gergen, Chris Matthews and Michael Kinsley, going on about all the stuff that Manning’s leaks have impaired the ability of “our government” to do.

He’s impaired the ability of the U.S. government to conduct diplomacy in pursuit of some fabled “national interest” that I supposedly have in common with Microsoft, Wal-Mart and Disney.  He’s risked untold numbers of innocent lives, according to the very same people who have ordered the deaths of untold thousands of innocent people.  According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Manning’s exposure of secret U.S. collusion with authoritarian governments in the Middle East, to promote policies that their peoples would find abhorrent, undermines America’s ability to promote “democracy, open government, and free and open societies.”

But I’ll tell you what Manning’s really impaired government’s ability to do.

He’s impaired the U.S. government’s ability to lie us into wars where thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of foreigners are murdered.

He’s impaired its ability to use such wars — under the guise of promoting “democracy” — to install puppet governments like the Coalition Provisional Authority, that will rubber stamp neoliberal “free trade” agreements (including harsh “intellectual property” provisions written by the proprietary content industries) and cut special deals with American crony capitalists.

He’s impaired its ability to seize good, decent people who — unlike most soldiers — really are fighting for freedom, and hand them over to thuggish governments for torture with power tools.

Let’s get something straight.  Bradley Manning may be a criminal by the standards of the American state.  But by all human standards of morality, the government and its functionaries that Manning exposed to the light of day are criminals.  And Manning is a hero of freedom for doing it.

So if you’re one of the authoritarian state-worshippers, one of the grovelling sycophants of power, who are cheering on Manning’s punishment and calling for even harsher treatment, all I can say is that you’d probably have been there at the crucifixion urging Pontius Pilate to lay the lashes on a little harder.  You’d have told the Nazis where Anne Frank was hiding.  You’re unworthy of the freedoms which so many heroes and martyrs  throughout history — heroes like Bradley Manning — have fought to give you.

C4SS Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.

34 thoughts on “Bradley Manning: One Soldier Who Really Did “Defend Our Freedom”

  1. Strongly agree. I really don’t understand how any logical person would want another human to suffer for any reason, let alone someone who was acting on good conscious. Throughout history its people who go against the status quo and often times put their lives and reputations on the line fighting for freedom who make history. Look at MLK Jr, he wasn’t popular in his day. Infact he was threatened, intimidated, and most likely murdered for speaking out against Vietnam. Unfortunately, Vietnam happens again and again and we’ll have to speak up everytime.

  2. As an ex-soldier of many battles, I salute Kevin Carson and this article. He has hit the nail fairly and squarely on the head…! Pfc. Bradley Manning is a brave hero and a good man – Julian Assange too. And there are others.

  3. I don’t disagree with the premise of your article (ie: I think Wikileaks will do more good than harm in the long run, and depends on the actions of whistleblowers & “leakers” if that is a word.) However, can you clarify this:

    What was WW2? Pearl Harbor? Stopping Hitler? I’m guessing this is an oversight, I don’t think you can seriously say WW2 was “expansionist”.

  4. Spot on, Kevin. Pfc. Bradley Manning should be honored, not scorned, for the sacrifice he has made in our name. I for one will strive to keep his actions from falling into historical insignificance. And to Pfc. Bradley Manning, may 2011 see you vindicated and ready to receive all the help you need to rejoin the society that you have pushed towards being a slightly less ugly place.

  5. Maybe the fights in World War 2 had a freedom defending side effect. At least we here in Europe got some freedom back and i am thankful for it. But today the consequence of US Wars are less freedom in many parts of the World including the USA.
    Bradley Manning shows that there is still hope for your society.

  6. I dont think Bradley Manning impaired the ability of the United States to play their money laundering game but he did the right thing as a person.

    Maybe good people are the cure for bad government.

  7. What about WWII? I think a strong argument can be made our freedom was in question. I agree our actual freedoms weren’t threatened DIRECTLY for Vietnam, Korea or the Gulf Wars, but WWII the US was definitely on the list of countries to conquer or subdue at least. This doesn’t take away from your over all argument of whether Pfc. Bradley is a hero or not (he isn’t he broke the law), but the statement our freedoms weren’t in danger since 1812.

  8. You need to read a history book or two.

    The soldiers who fought for American independence were duped into fighting so that rich slave owners could keep their slaves and avoid taxes. Sound familiar? The Evil Empire (Britain) actually abolished slavery well before the freedom loving Americans.

    As for 1812, the British were busy fighting Napoleon. The freedom loving Americans therefore thought they could use the diversion to grab Canada (for free). So the Brits came and burnt down Washington DC.

    Soldiers fight for the “freedom” of those who pay them – or at any rate promise to, just like factory workers work for the “freedom” of their bosses. Did you know that George Washington delayed paying his soldiers until most of them left to return to their farms? So he cheated them out of their wages.

  9. The author lost most of his credibility in my eyes as a proclaimed anarchist. Although intelligently written I feel as though his bias removes the power of his argument.

  10. Jim…
    He might be left wing loony and a bit of a anarchist, but what he said here is true.

    I am not biased and i can agree with most of his argument. In a true right wing society will have it foundation based on free will, of the markets and the people. The most important freedom we have is freedom of information… the truth.

  11. If the allegations of the US Department of Defense are true then Bradley Manning is following the higher law and deserves our deepest thanks for exposing the war crimes committed by our federal government and its military forces. I am a veteran and a retired superior court judge. I am disgusted with the conditions under which Bradley Manning is being held. I am embarrassed and ashamed that the US government is using the US Marine Corps to carry out its dirty work against a young man who has been convicted of no crimes and who should be afforded his Constitutional right to be physically and emotionally healthy as he prepares for trial against the prosecutorial might of the United States government.

  12. Bradley Manning is a real hero and I agree entirely with Retired Judge Art Brennan.
    Thank God for all Americans who are prepared to stand up for the values upon which the people’s nation was founded… values ensconced in the Constitution, values which have too often been corrupted or ignored by the U.S. Govt.

  13. Well said. Couldn’t agree more. Also don’t forget the Vietnam wars, Daniel Ellsberg and Watergate. History repeats itself, noting changes, still the same old corrupt governments like 2000 years ago.

    In my opinion we have to take the money out of the government – make governing non-profit – its the only logical way out of this mess. Obama’s re-election campaign will cost 1 BILLION Dollars. Who is going to pay for that? Who wants money back from Obama after re-election? And what chances have smaller Parties, like the US Pirate Party have with funding about 2 dollars? Think hard if you are still living in a Democracy.

    There is also a -massive- Discussion (618 comments) about this blog post going on at

  14. FTA: He’s impaired the ability of the U.S. government to conduct diplomacy in pursuit of some fabled “national interest” that I supposedly have in common with Microsoft, Wal-Mart and Disney. He’s risked untold numbers of innocent lives, according to the very same people who have ordered the deaths of untold thousands of innocent people. According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Manning’s exposure of secret U.S. collusion with authoritarian governments in the Middle East, to promote policies that their peoples would find abhorrent, undermines America’s ability to promote “democracy, open government, and free and open societies.”

  15. I agree, except on one point. The last war for freedom would have to be the civil war, unless freedom for slaves does not count as American Freedom. Some may tout the war was about economics, if freedom of a people was done because it was best for the bottom line, then it is still freedom, just done for the wrong reasons.

  16. Again… well written, and thank you for writing such a piece!!

    This young man deserves to be honored.

    I agree that terrible things like WW1, WW2, Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, 9/11 took place and we can NEVER get back lives we lost when these awful events took people FROM us we will NEVER be able to get back. us.

    All this young man is trying to say is its happening again under the name of FREEDOM! and we are letting it be “SWEPT UNDER THE **** RUG!!

    I stand with and by you Pfc.Manning!!!! Thank you for being a modern day Hero. Standing up to the man and fighting back with all your 23 year old bones know how to do it with.

    Truth. No better way.

  17. Sometimes, breaking the law is the RIGHT thing to do. He definitely *did* break the law, but it was a good thing he did for everyone. My disgust for Obama grows every day that he does not use his ability to grant a presidential pardon to free this great patriot. I know I sure as fuck would pardon him.

  18. While not an anarchist, in fact far from it, I agree with the thrust of your article.

    The handling of Private Bradley will be remembered long after the euphoria of the first African American incumbent has worn off and the polish of a peace prize has become dimmed by the dust of business as usual within the Beltway.

    The US government response has been more akin to the slovenly governance of the 60’s and 70’s.

    There was and probably remains an opportunity for some reflection by the powers that be to return towards a rational and moral position, one that stops treating it’s own constituents so dismissively and cynically.

    Private Bradley at the very least needs to be sympathetically heard, and allowed to justify his actions in the context of the US Constitution, if not the opening passages of the Declaration of Independence. His actions should additionally highlight the obligation of the oath/affirmation of a member of the US military and what conflict exists between exposing a coverup to the US population and the world, vs mute acquiescence.

  19. Just so you know: When the US proclaims that’s it’s going to fight for freedom, we in the rest of the world either makes a “vomit”-gesture, or run for shelter. Please stop doing that.

  20. Hitler was sponsored from Wall Street. Henry Ford, Standard Oil, and so on. Antisemitic Bankers from all aroud the World supported Hitler. But if Hitler had won the war, the whole World would have turned into a KZ so it was realy necessary to fight him. 1944 the Nazis planned the European Society and wanted to go on to turn the World into a KZ. The fight against Hitler is not over. I think the most US Army members are on the side of Bradley Manning, and if Apache Killers want to kill kids, it could make Marines so agressiv, that I cant give guarantee, that they don’t shoot their officiers themself. Here in Germany, we have a similiar case. Nazi Minister Hans Filbinger !

  21. Pingback: Bradley Manning and the Rule of Law |

  22. Bradley Manning is the martyr from the corrupted US goverment.

    The US goverment shows that it supports war crimes and murders on citizens by international law they are also responcible then for the war crimes, because they have an obligation to prosecute war criminals and murders on first complain.

    So by international law, the whole US goverment should be acused from war crimes.

  23. Pingback: The People Supporting Bradley Manning | The Lipman Times

  24. surely if anyone deserves to be tortured, it’s those that do the torturing? they’re obviously very sick perverted individuals, but that’s g-men for you!

  25. Those of you who are defending our involvement in WWII need to read “Rethinking the Good War” (at least!). Here’s a link–

    And the Civil War was NOT responsible for “freeing the slaves” as most have been brainwashed to spew. It’s too long to go into here but I suggest you watch this–

    Or don’t(!) and remain ignorant. But your opinion on the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you consider the Civil War will be easily dismissed by the few who know the Truth.

  26. And BTW, Mr. Carson, unlike a few of the knuckle-draggers on here, the fact that you’re an anarchist bumped your opinion up a notch or two even before I started reading the article. Well done, friend.

  27. I didn’t see one thing in this entire article that convinced me Private Manning isn’t a criminal. The author’s entire justification seems to be based on the fact that the US is run on a capitalist system. I would never advocate torture of any kind, but he put lives at stake. He knowingly took documents and released them, not knowing or caring if they hurt any of his fellow servicemen or women. My uncle and aunt were still living in Iraq at the time of the US invasion and they said it was chaos. But the only people detained were criminals and Baathists. My people are better for what the US did and I thank Allah every day that they came and delivered our nation from the horrors of Saddam and his pigs running the government.

    I am so thankful to be born an American and I agree that no man should be tortured. But nevertheless, this man felt no remorse for what he did and if it ever hurt on of the people that freed my country than I hope he stays in prison forever. I’m just sorry that you refuse to see that due to your disagreement with economic policies. The US freed a nation and I, at least, am forever grateful.

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