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Michael A. Ross, Hawley, Minn., Published June 12 2013

Letter: Young soldier’s crime: Exposing his government’s lies, atrocities

In today’s U.S. military, anyone who breaks rank, follows their conscience and does what is right could spend the rest of their life in prison. Pfc. Bradley Manning is one such soldier who has taken that risk. Manning’s attorney described him as a “young, naive, good-intentioned soldier whose struggle to fit in as a gay man in the military made him feel he needed to do something to make a difference in the world.” I do not support gay rights, marriage or serving openly in the military. I do, however, support Manning. I must also ask myself how many straight soldiers who murdered, raped and tortured people are free today while Manning was in solitary confinement for nine months, in a 6-by-8-foot cell with no window, sleep deprived and stripped naked at night. This before he had been convicted or even tried for anything.

And just what was young Manning’s horrible crime? Exposing the atrocities of his fellow soldiers and the crimes of his government in waging an illegal war propagated on lies. In his own words, he wanted to “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.” In truth, Manning fulfilled his obligation stated in military regulations to report all violations of the laws of war. Such crimes demand exposure, and all soldiers are legally obligated to reveal crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. These laws are basic to a free society. Prosecuting him mocks the rule of law and our Constitution.

As a Bible-believing Christian, I have watched in horror and disbelief as my fellow Christians cheer, wave the flag and sing “God Bless America” at the suffering of the Iraqi and Afghan people. Manning is an avowed “Humanist,” a fact stated on his dog tags. Yet he showed more concern for the Iraqi people than millions of Christians and all the flag-waving hyper-patriots on the homefront. Perhaps former Arkansas governor, Republican presidential candidate and “pastor” Mike Huckabee summed up this “righteous” fervor against Manning by calling for his “immediate execution” in 2010, three years before he even went to trial.

Prayerfully, the government’s case will be thrown out, Manning will be exonerated, set free, can get on with his life and will, in time, be remembered, along with other soldiers such as Joe Darby (the whistle-blower of Abu Ghraib), as a real patriot and the true American hero that he is.