Bradley Manning and GI Resistance to US War Crimes
--An interview with Dahr Jamail
By Angola 3 News
Independent journalist Dahr Jamail spent nine months reporting directly from Iraq, following the US invasion in 2003. His stories have been published by Inter Press Service, Truthout, Al-Jazeera, The Nation, The Sunday Herald in Scotland, the Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus, Le Monde Diplomatique, the Independent, and many others. On radio as well as television, Dahr reports for Democracy Now!, has appeared on Al-Jazeera, the BBC and NPR, and numerous other stations around the globe.
Jamail is the author of two recent books: Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From An Unembedded Journalist (2008) and The Will To Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse To Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (2009). He also contributed Chapter 6, "Killing the Intellectual Class," for the book Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned and Academics Murdered (2010). Learn more at www.dahrjamailiraq.com
Angola 3 News: On April 4, 2010, WikiLeaks.org released a classified 2007 video of a US Apache helicopter in Iraq, firing on civilians and killing 11, including Reuters' photojournalist Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver, 40 year old Saeed Chmagh. No charges have been filed against the US soldiers involved.
In sharp contrast, a 22-year-old US Army intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning has been accused of leaking the classified video. Arrested in May and facing up to 52 years in prison for a range of charges, Manning is now being held under what lawyer/journalist Glenn Greenwald has termed "inhumane conditions."
Manning's support website declares that "exposing war crimes is not a crime." Indeed, the Nuremberg Laws, established after the horrors of WWII, declare that soldiers have a legal obligation to resist criminal wars. Let's please take a closer look at this issue of US war crimes. What do you think are the strongest arguments that have been made for why US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are criminal?
DJ: To be clear, while I've covered Iraq extensively, I've not covered Afghanistan. Thus, I'll keep all my answers in the context of my expertise, that being Iraq.
That said, the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq could not have more clearly violated international law. Even former Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, said in September 2004 that the Iraq war was illegal and breached the UN Charter.
An illegal war is thus the mother of all war crimes, for from that stem all the rest. What I've seen in Iraq has been a parade of war crimes committed by the US military: rampant torture, collective punishment (Fallujah is an example), deliberate firing on medical workers, deliberate killing of civilians for "sport," and countless others.
Then, there is the fact that both occupations are so clearly about control of dwindling resources and their transport routes, that the excuses given for them by the US government (both Bush and Obama) are both laughable and insulting to anyone capable of a modicum of critical thought.
A3N: How do you rate the corporate media's coverage of the Bradley Manning story?
DJ: It's been a farce. A classic case of "shoot the messenger." When someone becomes a soldier, they swear an oath to support and defend the US constitution by following "lawful" orders. Thus, they are legally obliged by their own oath to not follow unlawful orders. What Manning did by leaking this critical information has been to uphold his oath as a soldier in the most patriotic way. Now, compare that with how he has been raked over the coals by most of the so-called mainstream media.
A3N: How do they address the argument that "exposing war crimes is not a crime?"