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2 Mar, 2013 03:23

‘Manning is the purest form of whistleblower’

‘Manning is the purest form of whistleblower’

Bradley Manning has done the people a great service, at least those who have struggled to reveal the truth behind ‘collateral murders’ in Iraq, former MI5 agent Annie Machon, who has experience blowing the whistle on government wrongdoings, told RT.

RT:  Annie, you leaked criminal activities within intelligence agencies and paid for it with your career. Manning leaked classified military data and may spend much of his life in prison. Why is what he did, perceived as worse than what you did?

Annie Machon: I think it isn’t the perception that shifted since my whistleblowing years. What has changed has been the crackdown in the US government where we have so-called democratic democrat Barak Obama who has cracked down more on whistleblowers during his time in office than all the previous American presidents combined. So, he is using this espionage act to terrorize whistleblowers to stop this sort of leak.

And I have to say that everything I have heard from Bradley Manning statements has given me an impression that he is the purest form of whistleblower. He had very sophisticated analysis of why he had to do that as a duty to his fellow Americans to expose what their government was doing in their name, which was illegal and causing harm around the world. So, all credit to him. He is a modern hero.   

RT:  One of the most-shocking revelations was the so-called Collateral Damage video, showing the US helicopter attack of 2007, which targeted civilians, including children and journalists. Did it actually get enough response, apart from that of human rights activists?

AM: This was unfortunate, because this was a big story which really thrust WikiLeaks into the public consciousness. And a lot of the commentary afterwards focused pretty much on the munitions in the attacks.

Members of the Bradley Manning Support Group protest under the rain during a rally at the entrance of Fort George G. Meade military base in Fort Meade, Maryland on November 27, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mladen Antonov)

What people seem to forget is what the time was. This happened in 2007 and for years the families of the victims both of Reuters journalists’ families and traumatized Iraqi families pushed the Pentagon to find out what happened in that attack.

And the Pentagon lied for years, saying that there was no video, they did not know what happened. So, by exposing this Bradley Manning gave closure, gave peace, gave answers to these traumatized families, which have been lied to repeatedly by the Pentagon. 

RT:Manning is accused of endangering national security - as well as fellow soldiers' lives. Even if his intentions were good, his actions surely can't go completely unpunished?

AM: I think he has admitted that by pleading guilty to certain things. He does take responsibility for what he did.

But in terms of a bigger picture, in terms of his duty to his fellow Americans, he stated very clearly, not only in some statements to the court, but also when he was first in communication with the government snitch Adrean Lamo that his motive to do this was to expose information so that American people knew what their government was doing. Like I said this is the purest form of whistleblowing and it is a great service to the people of the planet to see what is going on.

And I think it is also interesting, another aspect around this is that he tried to give this information to other mainstream media to begin with - the Washington post, the New York Times and a political website. And he was dismissed, and the WP said that if it they were going to follow this information, it would need to be vetted on a senior level i.e. suppressed. What we are seeing is the old media did not respond to this amazingly brave push towards transparency to inform American people what is done in their name.

Police confront supporters of accused WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning during a protest in front of the Democratic National Committee headquarters, on September 6, 2012 in Washington, DC (Mark Wilson / Getty Images / AFP)

So he went to WikiLeaks. And I think it shows very clearly the role that WikiLeaks plays – it is a publisher of sensitive information and by publishing such sensitive information it allows the citizens of the globe to realize what’s done by governments and to hold these governments to account, and to try and push for justice; justice that the families of dead Iraqis and the Reuters’ families have been pushing for. So, this is an amazing service he has done for people. I really hope he will not pay to high a penalty for it.  

RT:  Among the 141 witnesses expected are those who'll testify that the leaks harmed US national interests. One is reportedly the Navy Seal involved in killing Osama bin Laden. Are we seeing prosecutors portraying Manning as a terrorist now?

AM: I am sure they’ll call him all sorts of things. But this man is whistleblower pure and simple. And he made it very clear that what he’s done is to inform the American public and the rest of the world of what was going on. It is amazing, thought isn’t it, that the people who actually committed those war crimes in the ‘collateral video’ have never been arrested, have never been charged, have never been court-martialed. It is the person who exposed war crimes who has got court-martialed.

This happens time and time again with whistleblowers. You shoot the messenger, but you protect the people committing the crimes.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.