Did you know that one of the most protected rights in this country is the right of the government to lie to the people?
That is the essence of the persecution being carried out right now against Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.
Manning was a U.S. Army intelligence analyst based in Iraq when, in February 2010, she first sent incriminating internal documents about the war there to WikiLeaks, headed by Assange. She had earlier contacted the Washington Post and the New York Times, but they weren’t interested.
The information included 750,000 sensitive military and diplomatic documents on U.S. wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It included graphic photos and videos of U.S. torture and systematic abuse. It included a video showing a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan that killed scores of civilians.
All this punctured the sanitized myth the military and the U.S. government had created to justify their imperialist war crimes in the Middle East.
For opening these damaging documents to public scrutiny, Manning was jailed by the Army on May 27, 2010. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison and remained behind bars for almost seven years — where she was kept in a men’s prison and subjected to anti-trans abuse — until pardoned by President Obama.
The war hawks were furious about her release, and on May 16 of last year, with a more reactionary group now in the White House, she was rearrested for refusing to testify against Assange before a grand jury.
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, has now charged the U.S. government with using “severe measures of coercion” on Manning that amount to torture. (Guardian, Dec. 31, 2019)
Julian Assange, an Australian who founded WikiLeaks in 2006, has also been persecuted and threatened with arrest since 2010, when he made public the online materials liberated by Manning and others that showed the true character of the brutal U.S. war in Iraq. For six years he had to take sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
But the Ecuadorian government has since moved to the right. Last April, under U.S. pressure, Assange was forced to leave the embassy. He was immediately arrested and since then has been held in solitary confinement in Belmarsh, a maximum security prison in London. Now in seriously deteriorating health, Assange is fighting extradition to the U.S., where he could be sentenced to 175 years in prison or even given the death penalty.
The documents released by both Manning and Assange were not “fake news.” Even the current right-wing U.S. government hasn’t been able to accuse them of that. Their courageous release provided the public with the real news about what was going on in the world — coming right from the horse’s mouth in government documents that had been marked “Eyes Only” or “No Distribution.”
These documents refute the sanitized version of past and current wars, which are prettified in both government statements and corporate media news reports. The “crime” of Manning and Assange was to reveal the brutal and predatory nature of the U.S. billionaire class. The super-rich will get their politicians and generals to commit any crime against humanity if that helps pump up their super-profits.
Free Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange! Defend the right of the people to know the truth!