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War Against War: A Meditation on Bradley Manning’s Mind

Posted on Jun 2, 2011
Associated Press

Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private suspected of being the source of some of the classified information disclosed on WikiLeaks.

(Page 3)

Obama told the whole nation, “He broke the law.” Well, say no more. Obama was once a teacher of constitutional law, but now he has become the Public Prosecutor in Chief against a prisoner, Bradley Manning, who had already been stripped naked under “suicide watch” in a military prison. Under increasing international protest and pressure, the authorities later transferred Manning from Quantico, Va., to Leavenworth, Kan.—by all accounts, a milder regime.

Under such conditions, Manning’s mind may truly fracture. If they keep him in jail for 10, 20 or 30 years—or for life under the charge of treason—yes, he may truly lose his mind. Or else he must cultivate patience and fierce clarity, even to survive day by day. Predictably, some folks on the far right (including that preacher of capitalism and Christian love, Mike Huckabee) have demanded Manning’s execution.

Concluding that Manning “was probably not fit for overseas duty” is breathtaking! Yes, this oracular wisdom comes from “progressive” venues such as “Frontline” and The Guardian, and was then paraphrased on Truthdig. As Susie Day, a lesbian writer who is no friend of empire, wrote to me, “The whole fakakta-osity of this b’cast wasn’t only showing Manning as infantilized and unstable; look at the ‘friends’ they got to talk about him—and his father’s the one who belongs in prison; he obviously has such contempt for a kid who, surrounded by such dolts, did well to survive.” Manning has indeed done more practical good in the fight against war and empire than the great majority of “pragmatic” bleeding hearts will ever do by voting as instructed by MSNBC, The Nation and deadbeat Democrats in Washington.

On May 27 I wrote back to Susie Day about the “Frontline” show, “If there were hours enough, I might write a short Truthdig piece pointing out that plenty of queer viewers (and smart straight folks) will NOT have seen Manning through that lens.” Little did I know then that the “Frontline” view of Manning would then become the basic story for a video reporter at The Guardian! When I got that piece of news through Truthdig, then I was obliged to make time to write this article—longer than I first had in mind, but I am now moved by further evidence and by indignation. And by real concern that Manning is being reduced to a figure viewed through the keyhole of the mass media. Indeed, The Guardian video opens with a s-l-o-o-o-w pan of Bradley Manning at a party full of hipsters and computer hackers, where he looks like a clean-cut choirboy.


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That bit of film was lifted from a video taken by someone at the party, and became one of the most telling moments in the “Frontline” story. An editorial decision was made at “Frontline” to slow down the moment when Manning looks at the camera and flirtatiously passes his hand over his hair. Given the slow-motion treatment and the voice-over commentary, Manning’s gender-bending bit of fun was then reframed as another piece in the puzzle of his troubled mind. Indeed, this becomes another piece of evidence that Manning was “unfit” to serve in the military. The Guardian simply could not resist opening its own story with the same slow-motion panning of Manning.

But is Manning truly “guilty as charged”? We do not really know for sure. After all, he has not yet had his “day in court,” though he has already done hard time in prison. If Bradley Manning broke ranks with war and empire, then thank God (and all the fairies in Bradley’s bonnet) that he was truly fit to tear down the public veil of illusions concerning Alpha Male high-tech killers and the commander in chief.

What makes any person “fit” to win the White House nowadays? From now till kingdom come—if we, the people, are too jaded or too distracted to care—the job description should be spelled out in bold legal print: “Only social climbers willing to rise on a mountain of corpses need apply.”

The first political group I ever joined was the War Resisters League. When I later became a socialist (after my anarchist years as a teenager), this call to action worked its way under my skin as I pondered the real implications of a class-conscious fight against imperial adventures of all kinds: “War against war!” What does war against war really mean? Not one bloody vote and not one bloody cent for the parties of war and empire! That is, for starters, the negative program.

War against war does not mean we volunteer to be shot down by offering the government the provocation of taking up weapons. Violence is an abyss, and we do not show courage by jumping into an open grave. Resistance, however, can take a thousand forms that do not depend on brute force. The war against war must therefore be grounded in ethics, and guided by daily enlightenment. War against war means this government can no longer depend—smugly and brutally—on the uncontested consent of the governed.

A class-conscious struggle against the corporate state is also a struggle against war and empire. If this government makes the free election of real democrats and of socialists impossible, then we, the people, have the right and duty to elect ourselves as public citizens; and to begin creating a new republic founded upon peace, social wealth, ethical obligation, ecological sanity, and the solidarity of labor across all borders. Every workplace is potentially a free council of workers; every street and neighborhood is potentially a public space of freedom.

In Europe, many thousands of working people have already taken to the streets against the austerity programs imposed by parties of the earnest right and the bogus left. What we may call the political warm spring in Europe may yet become a hot summer. In Greece, workers and students waged a general strike, and in Spain they still occupy public squares—recently braving an assault by riot police swinging shields and truncheons against citizens who peacefully linked arms in a mass sit-down protest in Barcelona. We, too, have a history of urban general strikes in this country, and of class-conscious struggles against war and corporate rule. This government depends on our obedience, but our lives depend on open rebellion. Start small and start now.

Footnote: When I speculate about possible detention at an airport, that may suggest paranoia even to some readers who consider themselves civil libertarians. Anyone with a political arrest record (mine is pretty long) has to consider the possibility. And in fact reality is way ahead of my speculation, as a report from Courage to Resist will confirm (click here). That story goes back to November 2010 and concerns an associate of Bradley Manning, David House, who hopes Manning gets a fair trial. House, who is also associated with the Bradley Manning Support Network, was detained at O’Hare Airport, and his laptop computer and other electronic gear were confiscated. The ACLU argued that House’s First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

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By patriot, June 3, 2011 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“democracy” is not and never was a “government”; a government must have 3 fully operating and functioning properly branches; JUSTICE has not existed in the usa since the year 1832; this is correct; since the year 1832: when at Yale university a “system” that allowed some people to have ALL the $ they wanted; this included the judges, and attorneys in the usa; this is why city, county, state not recognized nor authorized as government.
  Those in these area’s certain “families” so to speak, and certainly the “judges” exploited, and victimized and allowed crimnal actions done by those in the “circle” of kleptomaniacs so to speak: to get away with any/all criminal actions, while putting millions of innocents in jail. THESE folks put hundreds of billions of $ WEEKLY into their accounts; gleefully feed the REST of the MASSES of people their “fabricated fiction” that a government is even existing and any other BS they can come up with via the “media” and publishing companies;
  the so called “legislative” branch, changes laws 53 times a day or was it only 23 today; feeling that “laws” be fabricated fiction anyway; just for inferior beings not for such as themselves. This is done both state and nation wide.
  The “executive” which is just a puppet for this “system” as they refer to it; well, they “change” or set up what “rules and regulations” LAWS they want to allow, permit, follow; during their “administration” as stated by Sottomayer, in the Mahr vs Ashcroft trial: which got her promoted to Supreme Slug position; criminal and heinous acts are promoted;
  Kicked out by LAW: contract, any kind, whenever misrepresentation or deception is used: it is null and void. FRAUD; hundreds of millions of us Americans united and got them kicked OUT.
  They have NO LEGAL STANDING whatsoever to continue to “pretend” to be that which they have NEVER been: a government!
  We the PEOPLE in the LIGHT of all this coming out: lined up under Kenneth Copeland: representing the executive branch; Joyce Meyers, representing the legislative branch, and Kenneth Hagin, representing the judicial branch. THIS will be a fully functioning and properly run GOVERNMENT, and they will have a heck of a time trying to figure out the “laws” since they been falsified and deleted, back dated etc.
  Local government is going to be in Medford Oregon the Jerusalem Center Church; those who have done in TRUTH the most beneficial actions towards those in their communities.
  Like the Salvation Army folks: THIS is what government sole purpose is; to do that which is most helpful and beneficial to those in their communities, instead of exploiting them, vicitimizing them, and refusing justice to ever exist!
  SADLY the “pretenders” have taken this globally; using the military might of this nation & others to set up this same horrid system, wanting all nations to be set up and using the same corps; the same media manipulation and lies and deceit; and target and harm all in their countries, just like they have HERE.
  Hat’s off to those opposing the actions of these horrors; and opting to choose a better way of doing things.
  WE the PEOPLE are going to be going and resuing our fellow country man; you were told to put it on your calendar; because WE the PEOPLE are going to make SURE your actions in DC and else where do NOT continue.
  Bradley Manning: you are MY fellow country man. And we and others hopefully are going to be coming; I have cable ties for any and all still in the WH; or any congress person LEFT in DC if they are not already incarcerated, they will be when WE the PEOPLE get DONE.
  Hat’s off to all to REFUSE to permit this criminal actions and atrocities of tortures and more to be continuing.

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By divakarssathya, June 3, 2011 at 8:58 pm Link to this comment

I published the following comment appropos

“The US is not exactly covering itself with glory by
its treatment of young Bradley Manning - the Gandhi
with a laptop.

If our newspapers had any ethical sense, they would
use their considerable influence to dedicate a box to
a “Release Bradley Manning Now !” campaign with every
WikiLeak they published.

But our editorial classes are too full of their
spurious selves to ever have space for a
compassionate imagination.

The treatment of Vikram Buddhi by the US legal system
is profoundly unexemplary and resuscitates every fear
about our overbearing and double dealing American
“kindred spirits”

Truthdig would do decency a favour if it investigates
the treatment of the hapless Vikram Buddhi.

Your esteemed readers are welcome to:

Divakar’s Sathyagraha at

News and views from Divakar S Natarajan’s, “no
excuses”, ultra peaceful, non partisan, individual
sathyagraha against corruption and for the idea of
the rule of law in India.

Now in its 20th year.

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By Divinepoet, June 3, 2011 at 8:30 pm Link to this comment

I feel that US has lost its credibility as a friend and leader of the democracy and human rights. These days we see US believes in WAR instead of dilogue. So, they have waged war in different places in different countries. The fought war for 30 years in vietnam with out any gain except wasting US citizen’s monery.

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By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., June 3, 2011 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment

Bradley Manning is the poster boy for the death of the
U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Not looking too good, no?

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By Kronoberger, June 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As Jiddu Krishnamurti observed: 

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a
profoundly sick society.”

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By joentokyo, June 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment

Free Bradley Manning!!!

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By GI Resister, June 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm Link to this comment

Scott Tucker’s article on Manning is one of the best I’ve seen. I am a Viet Nam veteran and witnessed in the field opposition to the war, my brother also served in the same company and platoon. He was brought back home in a straightjacket and just passed away last July.

Manning is a hero and Veterans For Peace is strongly in support of his actions as a Whistleblower. Manning was caught in a Catch 22, silent complicity or to report possible war crimes and be charged with disobeying orders. We know he went to his chain of command to report his concerns but was brushed off or told to not rock the boat. He was in a lose, lose position in today’s climate of perverse and corrupted ethics. Yet, his conscience led him to rise above the cesspool of military “Yes Sir! Anything You Say Sir! mentality and follow the example of those in the documentary “Sir! No Sir!” and Daniel Ellsberg.

Not many have that kind of courage and history will honor him and too late if we do not maintain the pressure for his release, as well as for a fair trial.

While Corporate and Wall Street criminals are bailed out, given government positions of power to regulate the very crimes they committed, Obama and his administration wish to meed out harsh punishment for alleged crime even before Manning has been tried. This is a class war, as is our military interventions or inventions and occupation in the Middle East.

At least in the M.E. there is the “Arab Spring” nonviolent revolutions for Democracy with justice and liberty as is the calls of a people. People tired of their oppression by despots leading their nations. Unfortunately Obama and his cohorts would rather engage in despotism than democracy.

We too are becoming tired of our oppression and a new “American Spring” needs to blossom and one of our first demans will be to free Bradley Manning!

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By Cliff Carson, June 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment

Obama Lied

The innocent Cried

And decency Died

Bradly Manning is punished for shining the light on the immoral, unethical, corrupt Government that crucifies all the other nations of Earth - Save Israel, and the Israel/U S toadies.

When these criminals and criminal nations have faced the judgment whether it be on Earth or elsewhere, let there be closure for the heroes of humanity.  Manning will be in the front row.

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By berniem, June 3, 2011 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment

It is this sorry excuse for a civilized society that is pathological, not Manning! Listen to the ravings and psuedo-logic of the t-baggers, our illustrious two parties(manic & depressive), the greed merchants whose sole answer to everything is exploit and consume, and most unfortunately, the current POTUS who blatantly lied to so many to achieve his personal goal of status and wealth and there you will find the true pathology that is eating away at the very heart of our ideals! I am sickened each day when I hear of our pompous leaders berating other nations for their lack of human rights and crimes against their citizens or others under their dominance. What utter hypocricy!

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By BR549, June 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

I agree. Manning should receive a medal, but not from Obama or any of that sociopathic crowd of flag-waving legislative traitors who have no concept of what Manning’s objective was and who allowed him to go to prison.

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By Textynn, June 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bradley Manning faced grave danger to let the world know
that innocent people were being slaughtered and then their
deaths were covered up in the name of getting oil for the
fat cats on Wall Street that ordered the war. 

Manning is the fittest of all. Manning is the hero.
Whether he peed his pants or what, that is only more
testimony to his humanity.  The imprisonment and degradation of Manning is classic Orwellian double speak. 

Manning Must be saved. Manning is a hero.

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By Ray Comeau, June 3, 2011 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is a rare thing these days to find a journalist with the integrity, and GUTS of Scott Tucker. And to read this article has lifted my spirits.

How can the USA Wars and Imperialistic ill-adventures continue, with the support of both the Democrats and Republicans? And worse yet, by the courts and the media ? When will justice prevail ?

Bradley Manning should be given a Medal and those who are persecuting him should be tried , convicted and,incarcerated instead of him.

Obama is the biggest disappointment I have ever experienced , and will go down in history as the equivalent of Benedict Arnold in the hearts and minds of anyone who believes in real Democracy.

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By Michelle Tackabery, June 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Scott, great article with so many fabulous points. You are another reason I rely on TruthDig so much. Keep
writing the good write!

A fighter for Bradley,

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By gerard, June 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Once again, it is apt to call attention to how the popular unconsciousness is manipulated by government-dominated media into the classic bullying so characteristic of the current American psyche. Seems like there’s no limit to the insensate stupidity of the “militant” frame of mind—always in need of an enemy on which or whom to project fear, hatred and raw force—always the need to persecute questioners and objectors.

In order to keep the majority terrified, any opposition—racial, political, social—is victimized in the futile and bloody attempt to force conformity, deceit and preservation of the power-crazed status quo. And—doubly destructive—this process, when habituated, eventually closes all doors to foresight and change, resulting most likely in a
complete rout of common-sense. 

The thing we need to remember is that these manifestations of cruelty and abuse are all indications of weakness, not strength—of the obvious inability of brute force to withstand charges rising from human decency and the spiritual power of the human soul.

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By glider, June 3, 2011 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

Great article!!  It is highly refreshing to read a journalist who is someone who thinks for himself and does not accept unsubstantiated media propaganda. Thanks for cutting through the BS.

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By expat, June 3, 2011 at 11:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

do something constructive….

send Bradley Manning your support…

You can write letters of support to Private Bradley manning at the following address:

Bradley Manning 89289
830 Sabalu Road
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027

Any letters contain any of the following will be rejected:

Solicitations for gambling/lottery, business or pen pal correspondence.
Blackmail, threats or indecent subject matter
Plans or plots for escape

I sent him a couple postcards from Tahiti, it may not get to him, it may not be much, but then again it could be a piece of paper with a picture on it that helps him cling to life.

Pass it on.

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By gerard, June 3, 2011 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

Thank you for speaking truth, Scott Tucker.

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By litlpeep, June 3, 2011 at 6:13 am Link to this comment

Yes, the imperious government depends upon our obedience and there is nothing in today’s politics less respectable than belonging to the party that has reduced itself into a bucket of warm spit while calling itself democratic.

Thank you for this hearty paean to civic decency.  I hope this article gets read far and wide, but, alas, I fear the “left” is a figment of the imaginations of otherwise fractured souls.

If there is to be any civic revival on this continent it will hardly come from anywhere near the chronic, terminal, bipartisan hack parade.  It will come from the Bradley Mannings who are alert enough to see the opportunities, and courageously jump eagerly into these opportunities to turn the weapons of mass idiocy back upon the mass-manipulating idiots.

If there are any democrats in the democratic party, they are, like senator Sanders, calling for decency in politics, instead of joining the parade of hand wringers obsessing over a wayward fellow traveler’s wiener.

Thank you, again, Mr. Tucker, for a very hearty essay.  May you find yourself in comparably fine company should the ruling idiots’ goons march you off toward Manning’s fate.

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By Humanist, June 3, 2011 at 1:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bradley Manning reportedly has stated that he does not like being represented as “anti-war”. Some anti-war groups have been exploiting him for their own political causes.

Pfc. Manning may be against unjust wars or immoral wars, however defined, and he may be against war crimes, but he has never said that he is against war qua war. Just the opposite, in his December holiday letter to the staff at Quantico Brig, published online, he mentioned important military missions in Iraq. And the books that he requested to read while at Quantico included Karl von Clauswitz, noted for his concept of “total war” or war as an extension of diplomacy.

Pfc. Bradley Manning is not a simple person with a simple mind who can be easily categorized.

A minor point: The word “folk” is a plural noun, and the word “folks” is unnecessary, similar to fish and fishes.

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By drbhelthi, June 3, 2011 at 12:55 am Link to this comment

Thank you Scott Tucker an insightfully-accurate overview.

“Paranoia” is not an appropriate title for predictions based on an
empirical overview of recorded history.

The consistently inappropriate misuse of this term by psychops types,
regardless of religious persuasion- if any, attempting to scapegoat
messengers of truth, has demoted this word to the status of a
nonsequitur, outside of professional, psychology circles.

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By Marc Schlee, June 3, 2011 at 12:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The government can’t prove Bradley Manning did anything wrong so now they’ll try to show that he’s crazy and keep him in solitary until he undeniably is.



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By John R., June 2, 2011 at 10:53 pm Link to this comment

“... if we, the people, are too jaded or too distracted to care—the job description should be spelled out in bold legal print: “Only social climbers willing to rise on a mountain of corpses need apply.”

My thoughts exactly. And I’ve had them for many years now as the wars continue. 

Those whom will kill, versus those that will not.

IMHO humanity on this earth, and our actions, are being closely watched, by other race(s) in the universe, a universe that is so unmeasurably large, that scientists say “It would be conceded for us to believe we are alone.” 

Our chosen ignorance, of those committing murder without accountability will come back to haunt us.

Protest, blog, do something, the media on T.V. is bought and paid for by the corporations that have our government under their control. We have only the internet, at the moment, and our feet, and our numbers. 

It’s this time - right now -  our time - to protest against those who would rather ignore and let those in power bury truth.

I too am a registered Manning supporter, and will continue to do so.

Killing without accountability. We all know from history where that leads. There is a huge failure to recall what has happened in the history of the world, or, is it purposely being ignored?

If these events are new to you, or is it that they just couldn’t possibly be true - please investigate history, a simple skimming of 100 years will do.

After you learn the different points in history where truth itself is buried in the name of pride or greed or honor or (place noun here) you will understand the pattern.

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By johnnyfarout, June 2, 2011 at 10:03 pm Link to this comment


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