Committing War Crimes is a Duty; Reporting Them is a Felony
William N. Grigg
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Bradley Manning is the only combat veteran of the Iraq war whose service is worth honoring. Like hundreds of thousands of servicemen, Manning carried out unlawful orders to participate in an illegal war. Unlike any of the rest, he took necessary action to expose discrete criminal acts committed in the larger context of that illegal enterprise.
While serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, Manning sometimes felt as if he were “watching nonstop snuff films,” according to a New York magazine profile. His job consisted of sitting at a work station and evaluating Iraqis as targets. This meant “reducing a human being to a few salient points. Then he made a quick decision based on imperfect information: kill, capture, exploit, source.”
Unlike countless other U.S servicemen who took refuge in the idea that obedience to superiors immunizes criminal behavior, Manning tried to discriminate between “insurgents” and innocent bystanders, only to find that such distinctions do not exist when one is fighting a war of aggression. When he expressed concerns about this to his superiors, Manning was told to choke down such questions and get back to the task of killing people who resented being occupied by a prohibitively stronger foreign power.