Bradley Manning trial update

Yesterday was the second day of the Bradley Manning trial. Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network is summarizing the proceedings day by day (day 1 and day 2) and the transcripts can be seen here.

Here is part of the opening statement by Manning’s lawyer David Coombs, explaining how it came to be that Manning did what he did.

Defense lawyer David Coombs recounted a poignant turning point during Bradley’s time in Iraq. On Christmas Eve, 2009, an Army vehicle narrowly avoided injury after an explosive detonated. But in evading the explosive, the U.S. vehicle drove into a civilian car, carrying five Iraqis, including three children. His fellow soldiers celebrated into the night, cheering the U.S. soldiers’ survival, but twenty-two-year-old Bradley couldn’t forget about the injured Iraqis, who were immediately hospitalized.

“From then on,” Coombs said, “[Bradley] struggled.” Not your typical soldier, Bradley wore customized dog tags that read “humanist.” He strove to help his unit, wanting everyone to come home safely every day, but he wanted the local nationals to go home safely every day too.

Coombs reviewed how this overarching humanism inspired him to release each set of documents. He couldn’t read Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs without thinking of that first injured family in December ’09. He read them “with a burden.” He wanted to make a difference, and he believed this information should be public.

He watched the ‘Collateral Murder’ video, documenting the U.S. Apache killing of innocent Iraqis and Reuters journalists. He thought this video conveyed how the U.S. valued (or, didn’t value) human life, and since the Pentagon failed to follow through on its vow to make it public, he felt had to do so.


  1. trucreep says

    He is a brave individual – can’t imagine what he’s going through right now.

  2. Hamilton Jacobi says

    Playing up Manning’s humanism may not go over very well, given the prevalence of evangelical Christianity in the US military. It is surprising how many Americans don’t know what “humanist” means, thinking it is a euphemism for “Satanist.” They will think, why couldn’t he just be a good Christian soldier and accept the fact that God likes it when we slaughter unbelievers?

  3. Mano Singham says

    I don’t know. I think the defense has to make the case that Manning was driven by a moral imperative, not for fame or money or to aid the enemy. But what is the source of his morality? He cannot claim to be religiously motivated like some socially active nuns and priests. I think the defense had no choice but to use humanism. It is true that the word has this weird connotation in the US but his lawyer may be able to counter it. I hope so.

  4. Hamilton Jacobi says

    You are right that this is probably his only choice. And it would be nice if this results in a few more people learning what humanism really means.

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