Bradley Manning and Adolf Eichmann » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Bradley Manning and Adolf Eichmann
Published June 12, 2013 on CounterPunch, reprinted in full here, original post linked above.

Are We All Really Bradley Manning?

The year 2013 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Hannah Arendt’s controversial critique of the trial of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, and her work remains unambiguously pertinent. Indeed, not only do the ghosts of the past continue to haunt Eichmann in Jerusalem; another ghost – a ghost from the future – is also detectable among her words. As one reads her text, Eichmann’s polar opposite, Bradley Manning, arises from Arendt’s pages like a photographic negative. Presently on trial for charges that include “communicating national defense information to an unauthorized source,” and “aiding the enemy,” Manning succeeded in accomplishing what Eichmann was tried and executed for failing to do; Manning refused to participate in the commission of crimes against humanity.

The reader must refrain from inferring that an equivalence is being drawn between the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime and those committed by the US. However shocking the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis may be, one must recognize that those crimes are not at all inconsistent with the genocidal aims that that regime repeatedly and explicitly espoused. To be sure, the US – which is also guilty of launching a war of aggression – never professed any genocidal intentions; However much it fell short, and however disingenuous it may have been, the rhetoric invoked by the US was that of the enlightenment ideal of human freedom. In this light, it should not be too contentious to maintain that the US ought to be held to a standard higher than that reserved for Nazis. No war crimes are acceptable, and the systematic denial of procedural justice, as well as outright torture, and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Yemen, Pakistan, and other places over the past decade are beyond reasonable dispute.

Acts such as those recorded in the video Collateral Murder (titled and released to the public via Wikileaks), for example, which depict US soldiers killing innocent civilians in clear violation of International Law, not to mention such war crimes as the unabating drone attacks on civilian targets, are among those that Manning intended to stop. That Manning is facing life in prison for his actions is nothing short of a perversion of justice – as perverse as the fact that had Manning meticulously followed the rules, like Eichmann had, Manning would have been more likely to be awarded a medal than a court martial. It is this injustice – the injustice that arises from the collective adherence to unjust laws, acceding to the inertia of injustice – that Arendt referred to as the banality of evil.

Arguably Arendt’s most familiar argument – and that which provides the subtitle for her piece on Eichmann – the banality of evil arose from her observation that Eichmann, rather than being some demonic, terrifying creature, one so instrumental in perpetrating monumental acts of horror, was just, as she put it, a “nobody.” Describing Eichmann as a habitual “follower,” in distinguishing his character from that of the stereotypical evildoer, Arendt wrote that Eichmann “not only obeyed orders, he also obeyed the law.” This was, in fact, Eichmann’s main defense – the same discredited defense invoked by the Nazi war criminals in 1945 at Nuremberg. Among Arendt’s observations regarding Eichmann’s “banal evil” was that, rather than scheming and plotting and intending to commit evil, Eichmann didn’t really think at all. “His inability to speak” she writes, “was closely connected with an inability to think.”

The proverbial cog in the machine, a tool more than a human being, Eichmann did not resist the inertial flow of the Nazi war effort. To the extent that this applies to Eichmann, though, the opposite may be said of Manning. In spite of the claims of the prosecution, Manning consistently demonstrated an ability to act according to clearly articulated reasons. Rather than thoughtlessly obeying unjust laws, as Eichmann did, as Manning put it in his testimony before a military court earlier this year, “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information … this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.” Manning may have violated unjust laws. However, as Martin Luther King Jr., citing Augustine of Hippo, put it in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, “an unjust law is no law at all.” To be sure, should a conflict arise between justice and law, justice ought to prevail.

This is not simply rhetoric. The Law itself recognizes that to the degree that it furthers injustice, a law is invalid. The precedents established by the Nuremberg Trials – now firmly entrenched in such pillars of International Law as Article 85 and Article 17 of the Geneva Convention, not to mention the US Army’s very own Field Manual – include the very principle that merely following orders does not exculpate someone from responsibility for war crimes. As Nuremberg Principle VII states, “Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI [which includes the murder of civilians, something which Manning repeatedly witnessed and attempted to obstruct] is a crime under international law.” That is, in addition to his conscientious resistance, Manning had a positive legal duty to resist collaborating with war crimes. That the enemy was not at all aided by Manning’s disclosure (unlike Bob Woodward’s repeated and uncensured disclosures of sensitive national security information) and that no harm came to anyone because of Manning’s acts is, though completely relevant, dismissed from consideration by the prosecution.

Of course, like history, “justice” is often determined by those in power. If Nazi-Germany had prevailed over the Allies in the second world war, for example, Adolf Eichmann would have most likely lived out the rest of his life in relative peace and obscurity. Likewise, had Bradley Manning followed the rules, as Eichmann meticulously followed those of the Third Reich, he would probably not be facing life in prison. In other words, had he not resisted, Manning would be guilty in fact – and in his heart, if not in a court of law – of some of the very crimes that Eichmann was found guilty of committing – and this is just how the US would have wanted it.

It is no hyperbole to remark that the precedent established in Nuremberg in 1945 is one of the most important and enduring lessons of the Holocaust. And though this lesson seems to have been lost on Barack Obama, and on many others, this lesson was not lost on Bradley Manning. Learning of the regular perpetration of war crimes, and finding himself in a position that demanded that he either do his job, like Eichmann, and become an accessory to these crimes, or resist, Manning made the decision to break this causal chain of injustice, to resist unjust laws and practices, and to act in accordance with justice.

While some of his supporters proclaim their solidarity with Manning by announcing that “we are all Bradley Manning,” insofar as his supporters are not in prison – and may be unwilling to go to prison for their beliefs – it is not entirely clear what such a proclamation entails. What is patently clear, however, is that, to the degree that we accede and conform to the dominating power of capital and the state (as opposed to the liberating power of resistance), we are all, every one of us, Adolf Eichmann.

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and contributor to He lives in New York City and can be reached at


5 Ways To Fight Back Against Army Whistleblower PVT Manning’s 35-Year Sentence

5 Ways To Fight Back Against Army Whistleblower PVT Manning’s 35-Year Sentence.

5 of the most important ways you can continue to support PVT Manning right now:1) Sign the petition AND Add your photo in support of PVT Manning’s request for presidential pardon

President Obama has already granted pardons to 39 other prisoners, and a White House spokesperson said he would give consideration to PVT Manning’s request. Showing public support for PVT Manning’s application is the best way to give her a real chance of being released in 3 years, or even sooner. Sign our petition on, and then submit your photo with a personal message at

2) Write a letter to Convening Authority Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan

Maj. Gen. Buchanan has the power to reduce PVT Manning’s sentence for the first 6 months after the trial. Convening Authorities reduce soldiers’ sentences when they believe the court martial failed to deliver justice. We think PVT Manning deserves clemency more than anyone, and we know it’s important to show it!

3) Write and call the White House

While our current focus is on the White House petition, that is only the beginning of our effort to demonstrate our support for military whistleblowing to the Commander in Chief. You can write to and call the White House in order to express your views in a more personal manner. You can also help by organizing a letter-writing drive with others in your community!

4) Donate to the appeals process

The legal appeals process is the most important avenue to hold the U.S. military to account for the many ways in which PVT Manning’s due process rights were violated throughout her trial, from the months of unjust and abusive solitary confinement to the utter failure to provide a speedy trial. PVT Manning’s legal defense will target appeals at all of the ways in which PVT Manning’s trial violated her rights under the U.S. Constitution and the UCMJ. Your donation can help support this crucial process.

By contributing, you’ll also be helping to uphold Americans’ right to a speedy trial, to be treated as innocent until proven guilty, and to be made fully aware of the nature of the charges against them without fear those charges may change midway through the trial.
5) Write to tell PVT Manning of your support!

Near the end of her trial, PVT Manning expressed gratitude to the countless numbers of supporters who’ve written her letters in prison. Now that the trial is over, she is looking forward to having the ability to write people back.

You can write to PVT Manning at the address below. While the outside of the envelope must be marked “Bradley Manning,” PVT Manning will be happy to accept letters that refer to her with her chosen name Chelsea on the inside (of the letter).

PVT Bradley E Manning
1300 N Warehouse Rd
Ft Leavenworth KS 66027-2304

via The Private Manning Support Network

» Write a letter supporting PVT Manning’s request for clemency! Private Manning Support Network

Write a letter supporting PVT Manning’s request for clemency!

Reblogged from the Private Manning Support Network

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Convening Authorities are granted the power to reduce or eliminate a convicted soldier’s sentence.  They use this power when they feel the court martial failed to deliver justice.  As Commanding General of the Military District of Washington, Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan is the only other individual besides President Obama with the power to ameliorate WikiLeaks whistleblower PVT Manning’s sentence in the immediate future.

We are now requesting letters from professors, law experts, human rights advocates, politicians, artists, veterans, and concerned citizens urging Maj. Gen. Buchanan to reduce PVT Manning’s sentence.  These letters will be submitted as part of an application for clemency from PVT Manning’s legal defense.  These letters, once completed, should be sent to

There are a few important guidelines to keep in mind as you compose your letter:

  • Your letter should be approximately 1 page long.
  • It should be composed on personalized letterhead -you can create this yourself (here are templates and some tips for doing that).
  • Pvt Manning’s recently announced that her preferred name is Chelsea, and that folks should use female pronouns. However, she also understands that for efforts such as these, it is most effective for supporters to use her legal name and military rank, “Pvt. Bradley E. Manning”, along with male pronouns.
  • The letter should focus on your support for PVT Manning, and especially why you believe justice will be served if PVT Manning’s sentence is reduced.  The letter should NOT be anti-military and/or anti-Buchanan, as this will be unlikely to help.
  • A suggested message: “Pvt. Manning has been punished enough for violating military regulations in the course of being true to his conscience.  I urge you to use your authority as Convening Authority to reduce Pvt. Manning’s sentence to time served.”  Beyond that general message, feel free to personalize the details as to why you believe PVT Manning deserves clemency.
  • Please send your letter to by November 1, 2013, and sooner if possible.  We will review these letters prior to forwarding them to PVT Manning’s legal defense, and may request that you make changes if necessary.

Courage to Resist, the organization sponsoring the Private Manning Support Network, has successfully convinced Convening Authorities to reduce the sentences of conscientious objectors in the past (see the cases of Travis Bishop and Cliff Cornell).  PVT Manning is unjustly imprisoned because the things she witnessed in the Iraq War compelled her to follow her conscience.  Now, through creating compelling and personal letters, it is time to call upon Maj. Gen. Buchanan to honor his conscience in turn.



Sunday August 18, 2013 Amnesty4Manning is asking you write to Pfc Bradley Manning a postcard or letter thanking him.

Why write letters?
Bradley Manning has done a great service to the word, and he potentially faces a sentence of up to 136 years for doing so. Bradley Manning has been imprisoned for over three years. He has been through so much. Prison is a very hard experience. Prisoners are isolated from their loved ones, family, friends, and their community. Letters are a way to make a connection between the prisoner and the outside world. A simple letter or postcard to Bradley Manning sends the message, “I support you. You are not forgotten.”

What can I send?

  • A postcard
  • A letter (up to 6 pages)

What can I not send?

  • NO cash, checks, or money orders
  • NO stamps or other tangible items like mp3 players or clothing
  • NO photographs *unless printed on copy paper and not cut out*

What can I write about?

  • Your day
  • The weather
  • Current events

What should I not write about?

  • The court martial
  • Anything that advocates escape, violence, disorder or assault
  • Anything that threatens the security, safety or order of the facility
  • Anything that contains: obscenity; contraband such as drugs, weapons, or postage stamps; blackmail; coded or otherwise undecipherable language

When will the writing campaign take place?

The letter writing campaign will take place on Sunday August 18, 2013. Letters should be placed for post the following day on Monday August 19, 2013.


  • If you haven’t written before because you don’t know what to say, don’t fret! Just sending a short letter or postcard sends Brad a message that you care
  • For more detail on how to write to Bradley Manning visits the BMSN site

What are the postage rates?

What is the address?

Commander, HHC USAG

Attn: PFC Bradley Manning

239 Sheridan Ave, Bldg 417

JBM-HH, VA 22211


On Sunday July 21, 2013 Amnesty4Manning asked that supporters of Pfc Bradley Manning take a stand against the aiding the enemy charge by participating in a Thunderlcap and twitterstorm declaring ‘it’s time to #DropTheCharge.’ The Thunderclap was a success, and had a social reach of 304,000 people.

The goal was to reach people who did not know about Manning, or the serious charge of aiding the enemy after Judge Denise Lind declined to acquit Manning of the charge on July 18. Manning continues to face the possibility of spending the rest of his life in military custody with no chance of parole. Supporters have voiced outrage at the decision.

#DropTheCharge trended in both the US, and worldwide.

AI Response RE: Bradley Manning 06/13/2013

Date: 13 June 2013 14:12:29 BST
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re; Bradley Manning

Dear xxxxxxxxxx,

Thank you for your call just now regarding Amnesty International and the case of Bradley Manning.

On behalf of Amnesty International UK please accept my sincere apologies that you’ve had to contact us more than once to receive an answer to your query; this is unacceptable and does not meet the
standards we expect of ourselves. I can confirm that I have logged your complaint, and your comments, as part of our feedback procedure so they will be read by senior staff and by the Board of Amnesty
International UK. If you have any further comments you would like to add after you’ve read this email, or any query about our policies and work, please don’t hesitate to contact us via email or call on
020 7033 1777.

First of all, regarding your query if there is an observer from our organisation at his trial, I can confirm that we do. We previously sent an observer to witness the pre-trial hearings and an observers continues
to observe key portions of the trial.

We have closely monitored Bradley Manning’s case throughout the legal process. From our calls on the US Government to alleviate the harsh, pre-trial conditions of his captivity, to our assertion that his
move to another prison in Kansas and the conditions there will be closely monitored by our organisation. We understand that his conditions improved considerably after he was transferred to a medium
security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in late April 2011. According to his lawyer, at Fort Leavenworth he has his own cell, furnished with a bed, table and chair, and access to a common area
where he can watch TV, talk to other detainees, shower and exercise. He is also allowed group outdoor recreation. He can receive visitors who are on his authorised visitation list, and can receive mail from
anyone. We believe that sustained public pressure, from Amnesty International and others, for the US government to treat Bradley Manning humanely, contributed to this. Most recently, on the 3rd of June, we
released a press statement declaring that Bradley Manning should be allowed to make a ‘Public Interest’ defence argument. You can read this statement here.

Deciding to designate someone a POC is a decision made by our teams of regional experts who make decisions based on individual cases, using policy outlined and agreed upon by Amnesty International’s law and policy professionals. There are many factors Amnesty International takes into account when someone is designated a POC. Our definition of a Prisoner of Conscience is;

A person imprisoned or otherwise physically restricted because of their political, religious or other conscientiously held beliefs, ethnic origin, sex, colour, language, national or social origin, economic status, birth, sexual orientation or other status – who has not used violence or advocated violence or hatred.

In Bradley Manning’s case we have considered the extensive scope and nature of the documents he released and have not, currently, designated him as a Prisoner of Conscience. We don’t believe that the prosecution is, as of now, violation his right to freedom of expression. This would be the case If Bradley Manning had only disclosed information relating to potential human rights or humanitarian law violations, his prosecution would be an infringement of the right to freedom of expression. But he made disclosures that went beyond just exposing potential violations. And in general, a government can place valid restrictions on employees to prevent unauthorised disclosure of confidential information.

If a government sought to punish a person for the act of releasing in a responsible manner and for reasons of conscience, information that he or she reasonably believed to be evidence of human rights violations that the government was attempting to keep secret, this would typically be a basis for Amnesty International to designate the person a POC.

We are not in a position to reach such a conclusion in respect of the charges in Bradley Manning’s case because of the scope and nature of the information he disclosed. That said, we will be looking particularly closely at any details that emerge relating to the disclosure of potential human rights abuses, including the release of the classified video of the 2007 Baghdad Apache helicopter attack.

Regarding the Apache helicopter attack: This charge relates to the leaking of a classified military video of the 2007 Baghdad Apache helicopter attack in which the US military killed 12 people, including a journalist with photo equipment; 2 children who were passengers in a van which arrived to rescue the injured were also wounded in the attack. The US army concluded shortly after the incident that the soldiers had acted appropriately in firing on a group they believed to be armed insurgents and that they had no way of knowing of the presence of the photographers. After release of the video footage in April 2010, Amnesty International called for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the attack.

It’s premature to draw firm conclusions before we see what transpires in the trial. What we can say at this point is that it’s very disturbing that Manning was not permitted to offer the defence that he acted in the public interest. Amnesty International believes that the judge sentencing him for the 11 charges for which he has already pleaded guilty should take into account the fact that Bradley Manning has said that he reasonably believed that he was exposing serious human rights and humanitarian law violations.

Given that the facts of this case seem to point to a mixed record of disclosures, Amnesty International believes that the judge should either dismiss the remaining charges in the interest of justice or, at a minimum, allow Manning to use a public interest defence.

In a case such as this one, the public interest in disclosure should be weighed against the government’s interest in maintaining the confidentiality of its information. In circumstances where disclosure is in the public interest—for example, if someone were to disclose information that he or she reasonably believes to constitute evidence of serious human rights violations that a government should not try to conceal—those circumstances should be considered and could outweigh the government’s interest in maintaining the confidentiality of its information

If the government decides to prosecute, the government employee should have the opportunity to present as a defence the reasons why he or she believes the disclosure was in the public interest..

It should also be noted that our organisation does not oppose the fact that Bradley Manning’s case is being heard in a military court. This is because Bradley Manning is a serving soldier charged under
military law for offences relating to the duties he owed to the US government as a member of the armed forces (all charges have been brought under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, although some of
the alleged offences involve violations of the Espionage Act). This case doesn’t involve the kinds of circumstances where we call for members of the military to be tried in a civilian court. It doesn’t involve
allegations that a member of the armed forces violated the human rights of a civilian, for example, nor does it involve charges of serious crimes under international law.

Thank you, once again, for your query. I do hope this clarifies Amnesty’s work on his case and explains why Mr Manning has not, yet, been classified as a Prisoner of Conscience.

Kind regards,
xxxxx xxxxxxxx

Supporter Care Team
Amnesty International UK
The Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard

AI Response RE: Bradley Manning 06/12/2013

From: <>
Date: 12 June 2013 17:37
Subject: Your query to Amnesty International
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Dear xxxxxxxxxxxx

Thank you for your enquiry to our International Secretariat. I am sorry for the delay in replying.

With regard to Bradley Manning, we have never stopped working on his case. We campaigned for an end to his inhumane treatment in pre-trial detention and we are continuing to monitor his trial. At the moment we are calling for him to be allowed to use a public-interest defence and you can read our latest press release on our website at;

You also asked about our position with regard to accepting funds from governments. I am afraid the information on our website is out of date and contradictory. We are in the process of re-launching our website so some of the information on our current site has not been updated as often as would normally be the case. The position is that in 2009, the Department of Education in Northern Ireland contributed £10k towards the cost of a cross-border human rights education project. As an international movement in 2011 we examined with regards to accepting funds from governments. Currently Amnesty International UK does not accept funds from governments and we have no plans to seek any at the moment.

Thank you again for getting in touch and if you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards

xxxxxx  xxxxxxxxx
Supporter Care Team
Amnesty International UK
The Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard