[Marxism] Former Army specialist Ethan McCord speaks out for Bradley Manning

Fred Feldman ffeldman at verizon.net
Mon Jul 11 11:29:05 MDT 2011

Published on The Nation (http://www.thenation.com)


Ethan McCord On 'New York' Magazine Profile of Bradley Manning: It 
'Erases' His Political Motives
Greg Mitchell | July 10, 2011
For months I have followed the story of Ethan McCord, a former US Army 
specialist who took heroic actions to help save the two children in the 
van badly injured in the incident captured in the “Collateral Murder” 
video released by WikILeaks in April 2010. He has since spoken out 
against the Iraq war and is featured in a new documentary that won a top 
prize at the recent Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Now he has responded to the lengthy profile of Bradley Manning published 
in last week's New York magazine. On its site the magazine has printed 
brief excerpts, but we have obtained the full letter and here it is (below).


By Ethan McCord

Serving with my unit 2nd battalion 16th infantry in New Baghdad Iraq, I 
vividly remember the moment in 2007, when our Battalion Commander walked 
into the room and announced our new rules of engagement:

"Listen up, new battalion SOP (standing operating procedure) from now 
on: Anytime your convoy gets hit by an IED, I want 360 degree rotational 
fire. You kill every [expletive] in the street!"

We weren't trained extensively to recognize an unlawful order, or how to 
report one. But many of us could not believe what we had just been told 
to do. Those of us who knew it was morally wrong struggled to figure out 
a way to avoid shooting innocent civilians, while also dodging 
repercussions from the non-commissioned officers who enforced the 
policy. In such situations, we determined to fire our weapons, but into 
rooftops or abandoned vehicles, giving the impression that we were 
following procedure.

On April 5, 2010 American citizens and people around the world got a 
taste of the fruits of this standing operating procedure when WikiLeaks 
[1] released the now-famous Collateral Murder [2] video. This video 
showed the horrific and wholly unnecessary killing of unarmed Iraqi 
civilians and Reuters journalists.

I was part of the unit that was responsible for this atrocity. In the 
video, I can be seen attempting to carry wounded children to safety in 
the aftermath.

The video released by WikiLeaks belongs in the public record. Covering 
up this incident is a matter deserving of criminal inquiry. Whoever 
revealed it is an American hero in my book.

Private First Class Bradley Manning has been confined for over a year on 
the government’s accusation that he released this video and volumes of 
other classified documents to WikiLeaks — an organization that has been 
selectively publishing portions of this information in collaboration 
with other news outlets.

If PFC Bradley Manning did what he is accused of doing, then it is 
clear—from chat logs [3] that have been attributed to him—that his 
decision was motivated by conscience and political agency. These chat 
logs allegedly describe how PFC Manning hopes these revelations will 
result in “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.”

Unfortunately, Steve Fishman's article Bradley Manning's Army of One [4] 
in New York Magazine (July 3, 2011) erases Manning’s political agency. 
By focusing so heavily on Manning's personal life, Fishman removes 
politics from a story that has everything to do with politics. The 
important public issues wrapped up with PFC Manning’s case include: 
transparency in government; the Obama Administration’s unprecedented 
pursuit of whistle-blowers; accountability of government and military in 
shaping and carrying out foreign policy; war crimes revealed in the 
WikiLeaks documents; the catalyzing role these revelations played in 
democratic movements across the Middle East; and more.

The contents of the WikiLeaks revelations have pulled back the curtain 
on the degradation of our democratic system. It has become completely 
normal for decision-makers to promulgate foreign policies, diplomatic 
strategies, and military operating procedures that are hostile to the 
democratic ideals our country was founded upon. The incident I was part 
of—shown in the Collateral Murder video—becomes even more horrific when 
we grasp that it was not exceptional. PFC Manning himself is alleged to 
describe (in the chat logs) an incident where he was ordered to turn 
over innocent Iraqi academics to notorious police interrogators, for the 
offense of publishing a political critique of government corruption 
titled, "Where did the money go? [5]" These issues deserve “discussion, 
debates, and reforms” — and attention from journalists.

Fishman's article was also ignorant of the realities of military 
service. Those of us who serve in the military are often lauded as 
heroes. Civilians need to understand that we may be heroes, but we are 
not saints. We are young people under a tremendous amount of stress. We 
face moral dilemmas that many civilians have never even contemplated 

Civil society honors military service partly because of the sacrifice it 
entails. Lengthy and repeated deployments stress our closest 
relationships with family and friends. The realities, traumas, and 
stresses of military life take an emotional toll. This emotional battle 
is part of the sacrifice that we honor. That any young soldier might 
wrestle with his or her experiences in the military, or with his or her 
identity beyond military life, should never be wielded as a weapon 
against them.

If PFC Bradley Manning did what he is accused of, he is a hero of mine; 
not because he's perfect or because he never struggled with personal or 
family relationships—most of us do—but because in the midst of it all he 
had the courage to act on his conscience.


Source URL: 

[1] http://wikileaks.org/
[2] http://www.bradleymanning.org/learn-more/collateral-murder-video
[3] http://firedoglake.com/merged-manning-lamo-chat-logs/
[4] http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/bradley-manning-2011-7/

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