Some U.S. progressives are supporting a move by Icelandic politicians to nominate alleged WikiLeaks collaborator Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Manning was nominated for the prestigious prize by The Movement of Icelandic Parliament, a group of politicians in Iceland dedicated to empowering grassroots activism.
In its letter nominating Manning, the group wrote, “The leaked documents pointed to a long history of corruption, war crimes, and imperialism by the United States government in international dealings. These revelations have fueled democratic uprising around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on our foreign policies, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S. troops from the occupation in Iraq.”
The letter continued, “The documents made public by WikiLeaks should never have been kept from public scrutiny. The revelations — including video documentation of an incident in which American soldiers gunned down Reuters journalists in Iraq — have helped to fuel a worldwide discussion about America’s overseas engagements, civilian casualties of war, imperialistic manipulations, and rules of engagement.”
Manning, 24, is a U.S. Army private who is awaiting court-martial on 22 charges including aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records and transmitting defense information.
Although the most serious charge — aiding the enemy — carries a possible death penalty, prosecutors have said they won’t seek it.
He has been held in maximum security custody — essentially solitary confinement — since July 2010 at the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Va.
Manning is suspected of leaking more than 251,000 secret diplomatic messages from U.S. embassies worldwide to WikiLeaks.
Revelations in the documents include there were 15,000 previously undisclosed civilian deaths in Iraq after the U.S. invasion; U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered diplomats to spy on overseas leaders at the United Nations and elsewhere and try to collect their DNA; Arab leaders urged the U.S. to launch a preemptive attack against Iran to stop its nuclear program; a source alleged China launched a cyber-attack against Google; the Obama administration is waging a secret war using missiles against suspected terrorists in Yemen; and U.S. suspicions that Iran has received 19 long-range missiles from North Korea.
Firedoglake, the popular U.S. progressive blog, is endorsing the nomination. The blog has distributed an email asking people to sign an online petition to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which selects award recipients.
“What's more ironic than nominating Bradley Manning for a Nobel Peace Prize while he stands trial for allegedly ‘aiding the enemy,’ is that President Obama himself won the prize in 2009 — a few months before Manning was arrested in Iraq. This could be the first time a Nobel Peace Prize recipient has been inhumanely and unjustly imprisoned by a previous Peace Prize recipient,” said Firedoglake’s email.
It added, “As Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has said, Bradley Manning is a hero. If he really did leak these documents, we should recognize that there are likely few individuals who have made as great a contribution to justice and peace as Bradley Manning — and even fewer who have had to pay for it the way he has.”
There appears to be growing international support to award the prize to Manning. In October, he won a poll conducted by The Guardian newspaper in Britain, which asked who should win the Nobel. Manning received nearly 40 percent of the votes cast.
One respondent wrote, “If Bradley Manning is responsible for allowing the world to see the shenanigans that have been going on in the name of western democracy and responsible government, then he must be the first on the list. Those ‘shenanigans’ include horrifying acts of murder and torture.”
Even as Manning sits in solitary confinement for more than a year, the U.S. Army last week dropped all charges against the last of five soldiers to face a court-martial in the slaying of unarmed Afghan civilians.
Five members of the infantry unit formerly known as the 5th Stryker Brigade were charged with killing Afghan civilians in cold blood during random attacks staged to look like combat engagements, according to Reuters News Service.
The staff sergeant who led the attacks was convicted by court-martial in November of murdering three unarmed civilians. Although that mandates an automatic life prison sentence, he will be eligible for parole in 8 1/2 years. Three others involved in the case were sentenced to prison sentences of 24 years, seven years and three years respectively.