Army Pfc. Bradley Manning being escorted from court (Photo Credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images).
It has been a more than three years since the initial leaks of classified information were posted on Wikileaks. Bradley Manning has faced many issues during that three year span – not the least of which being the unnecessarily harsh conditions of his confinement when held in a brig in Quantico – and he will continue to face many more for the foreseeable future.
However, one issue has stood out above all others: being charged and possibly convicted for aiding the enemy, for releasing classified information to Wikileaks – information that Manning reasonably believed demonstrated human rights violations and potential war crimes by the U.S. government.
The charge seemed like a stretch from the get-go. But after hearing the evidence, the prosecution presented to support such a charge, it became painfully obvious that the government was trying to make an example of Bradley Manning: regardless of your motives, if you leak government information you will pay with your life, literally.
U.S. Pvt. Bradley Manning, 25, has lost his challenge against the charge of “aiding the enemy” (Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images).
By Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International
The decision by the U.S. military judge not to drop the charge accusing Private Bradley Manning of “aiding the enemy” is a travesty of justice. If he is found guilty of the charge, he faces a possible life sentence in military custody with no chance of parole.
What’s surprising is that the prosecutors in this case, who have a duty to act in the interest of justice, have pushed a theory that making information available on the internet – whether through Wikileaks, in a personal blog posting, or on the website of The New York Times – can amount to “aiding the enemy.”
By Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy, Amnesty International
Let’s face it: the reason Edward Snowden is stuck in limbo in Moscow is because he has revealed the unlawful behavior of the U.S. and other governments. They are trying to turn the tables and say he is the criminal when in fact it is the governments’ behavior that is unlawful.
“We think that Snowden will be in danger if he is given over to the authorities of the United States,” Amnesty International representative Sergei Nikitin said after he met with Snowden at the Moscow airport.
Indeed, the U.S. government is not only pursuing him, wanting to arrest him and charge him in the United States but they’re also obstructing his ability to claim asylum elsewhere. The Russian president has said if Snowden stays in Russia he has to shut up – but you cannot give somebody asylum and say that it is conditional on your relinquishing your right.
So what we need to do is keep heavy pressure on the U.S. government and others who are actively obstructing his right to seek asylum. We need to keep bringing the focus back to the unlawful activity of the U.S. government and other governments that he revealed.
The U.S. attempts to pressure governments to block Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum are all the more deplorable when you consider the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower could be at risk of ill-treatment if extradited to the U.S.
No country can return a person to another country where there is a serious risk of ill-treatment. We know that others who have been prosecuted for similar acts have been held in conditions that not only Amnesty International, but UN officials considered cruel inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of international law.
S. 744 as introduced by the “Gang of Eight” had its problems – such as bolstering flawed immigration enforcement, detention and deportation programs – but there were also many provisions which took concrete steps towards addressing human rights violations.
Activists demonstrate against indefinite detention and unfair trials at US Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (Photo Credit: Shawn Duffy).
Angry. That’s how I felt when President Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, despite containing terrible provisions that run afoul of human rights standards and have been used to justify indefinite detention at Guantanamo.
Well, the NDAA is back in the House of Representatives this week and the bad Guantanamo provisions are in it again. Will you join me in demanding that Congress support the human rights of all people?
On May 23, 2013, President Obama stated that history will cast a harsh judgment on the legacy of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center and those who fail to end it. Unfortunately, the current reality is that dozens of men are detained in Guantanamo despite being cleared for transfer. Here are just a few:
Yusef Abbas, Hajiakbar Abdulghupur, and Saidullah Khalik – Detained in Guantanamo for 10 years and 11 months. The three men are ethnic Uyghurs from China. They were arrested in Pakistan in late 2001. After they were given over to U.S. forces, they were transferred to Guantanamo in 2002. In 2008, they, along with 14 other Uyghurs, successfully filed writs of Habeas Corpus. While all the other Uyghur held at Guantanamo have been transferred, these three remain detained.
Shaker Aamer - Detained for 11 years and 4 months. Originally from Saudi Arabia, he was arrested in Afghanistan, where he was living with his family, in 2001. He was transferred to Guantanamo in February, 2002. Under President Bush he was cleared for transfer. Despite the U.K. government’s requests he be transferred to the U.K., Shaker Aamer remains in Guantanamo.
US President Barack Obama and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping last met in February. When they meet again this week, they should not shy away from the topic of human rights (Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).
As President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping of China begin discussions designed to forge closer personal bonds between the two nations, they should not shy away from uncomfortable topics.
President Xi says he wants a “new type” of great power relationship with the United States. President Obama says he welcomes China’s peaceful rise, provided that it occurs in a way that reinforces international norms and enhances security.These statements suggest that neither leader is comfortable with the relationship as it stands, and both are seeking greater clarity and trust.
The CIA knew neither the identity nor the affiliation of about one in four people it killed in drone strikes, an NBC News report released yesterday found. The news agency reviewed classified CIA documents describing U.S. strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan over a 14-month period starting in September 2010. The news report underscores the need for independent and impartial investigations into allegations of unlawful killings, as Amnesty has repeatedly sought.
In a major speech on national security last month, President Obama for the first time spoke at length about drone strikes. (See Amnesty International’s in-depth analysis, “Words, War, and the Rule of Law“). He called civilian casualties “heartbreaking tragedies” that will “haunt us as long as we live.” He said his administration had put in place a standard for using lethal force that “respects the inherent dignity of every human life.” These welcome words must be followed up by strong actions: greater transparency with the public, investigations of deaths, accountability for illegal killings, and compliance with the law.
Jeremy Scahill is an investigative journalist, author and producer. His latest film is the documentary ‘Dirty Wars’ opening in theaters on June 7.
I worked for the last three years on the film Dirty Wars to shed a light on the U.S. government’s “global war” theory used to justify killing people around the world, from Afghanistan, to Somalia, to Yemen, and beyond.
In this journey, I encountered many people who shared their personal stories with us, including painful memories of the killing of their loved ones in night raids, cruise missile attacks, and drone strikes.