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Statement on the sentencing of Bradley Manning

The Oklahoma Center for Conscience has issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement of a 35 year sentence for Bradley Manning, marking the conclusion of his court-martial and the beginning of appeals and petitions for clemency/pardon. This statement can be published in full or part. Credit quotes from it to Rena Guay, OCC Executive Director.

The Oklahoma Center for Conscience, due to its mission of opposing the injustices and evil of war, has stood against the prosecution and punishment of Bradley Manning since his arrest in 2010. We joined the Bradley Manning Support Network and have worked alongside activists around the world to educate the public about the war crimes and government misdeeds that the Wikileaks documents helped expose. We have organized numerous events in Oklahoma to express this support, expand awareness and demand that the real criminals — those who perpetrated war crimes in the name of the United States — themselves be brought to justice. We believe that blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime, and neither is publishing information that the American public has a right to know.

Today we are angered and heartbroken at the sentence of 35 years meted out to Bradley Manning, a sentence far greater than any ever given to servicemembers who killed innocent civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan and disproportionate to punishment of Americans involved in torture.  Or, for that matter, who lied the country into an unnecessary and illegal war. By the end of 2013, Manning will have been imprisoned longer than was William Calley, who led the slaughter of 500 innocents in My Lai (and that was mostly house arrest).

We have taken on this work because of our heartfelt belief in the courage and heroic motives of Bradley Manning, and we were further spurred into action by being in Oklahoma, where Manning was born and raised. Because of our location, we have been contacted by media from around the world, while most Oklahoma media outlets ignored, trivialized or distorted what is doubtless an historic case with serious domestic and global ramifications, while also failing to recognize local support for Manning.

Tonight we will gather for a vigil in Crescent, Oklahoma, Bradley Manning’s home town. We will mourn what is, so far, a lost opportunity to re-orient our priorities as a nation to one that truly values truth and democracy, rather than only giving them lip service. We deplore the actions and words of our President and Congress, who have failed to fulfill their oath of office, and who have allowed this nation to succumb to fear, suspicion and the endless greed of war profiteers. We reject that national zeitgeist as necessary for our security, and with today’s news, we vow to continue to resist immoral policies and actions, regardless of who is administrating and advocating them.

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