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Former Commander of Headquarters Company at Quantico Objects to Treatment of Bradley Manning

2011-01-20 17 comments

Via WarIsACrime.org:


General James F. Amos
Commandant of the Marine Corps
3000 Marine Corps Pentagon
Washington DC 20350-3000

Dear General Amos:

As a former regular Marine Corps captain, a Korean War combat veteran, now retired on Veterans Administration disability due to wounds suffered during that conflict, I write you to protest and express concern about the confinement in the Quantico Marine Corps Base brig of US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Manning, if the information I have is correct, is charged with having violated provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice by providing to unauthorized persons, among them specifically one Julian Assange and his organization Wikileaks, classified information relating to US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and State Department communications. This seems straightforward enough and sufficient to have Manning court-martialed and if found guilty sentenced in accordance with the UCMJ.

What concerns me here, and I hasten to admit that I respect Manning’s motives, is the manner in which the legal action against him is being conducted. I wonder, in the first place, why an Army enlisted man is being held in a Marine Corps installation. Second, I question the length of confinement prior to conduct of court-martial. The sixth amendment to the US Constitution, guaranteeing to the accused in all criminal prosecutions the right to a speedy and public trial, extends to those being prosecuted in the military justice system. Third, I seriously doubt that the conditions of his confinement—solitary confinement, sleep interruption, denial of all but minimal physical exercise, etc.—are necessary, customary, or in accordance with law, US or international.

Indeed, I have to wonder why the Marine Corps has put itself, or allowed itself to be put, in this invidious and ambiguous situation. I can appreciate that the decision to place Manning in a Marine Corps facility may not have been one over which you had control. However, the conditions of his confinement in the Quantico brig are very clearly under your purview, and, if I may say so, these bring little credit either to you or your subordinates at the Marine Corps Base who impose these conditions.

It would be inappropriate, I think, to use this letter, in which I urge you to use your authority to make the conditions of Pfc. Manning’s confinement less extreme, to review my Marine Corps career except to note that my last duty prior to resigning my captain’s commission in 1959 was commanding the headquarters company at Quantico. More relevantly, during the 1980s, following a stint as a senior estimates officer in the CIA, I played a very public role as a “whistleblower “ in the Iran-contra affair. At that time, I wondered why Lt.Col. Oliver North, who very clearly violated the UCMJ—and, in my opinion, disgraced our service—was not court-martialed.

When I asked the Navy’s Judge-Advocate General’s office why neither North nor Admiral Poindexter were charged under the UCMJ, the JAG informed me that when officers were assigned to duties in the White House, NSC, or similar offices they were somehow not legally in the armed forces. To my question why, if that were the case, they continued to draw their military pay and benefits, increase their seniority, be promoted while so serving, and, spectacularly in North’s case, appear in uniform while testifying regarding violations of US law before Congress, I could get no answer beyond, “That’s our policy.”

This is not to equate North’s case with Manning. It is only to suggest that equal treatment under the law is one of those American principles that the Marine Corps exists to protect. This is something you might consider.


David C. MacMichael



  • Patrick Kalota

    Hello first .. my native language is german .. i beg for pardon, if my writing have errors.

    Dear David C. MacMichael

    I have read this letter from you .. and i cannot believe that this is possible in America .. the Land of the brave and of the Freedoom .. what the hell is going on, on this world . This country is getting more and more to North Korea or Burma. I´m wondering , about the millions of US citizens that they are not standing up … and say “NO MORE MR. OBAMA”, because .. “YES YOU CAN !!”.

    greetings from Germany, black forest

    Patrick Kalota

    2011-01-20 16:47
  • Sandra Peevers

    Dear Mr. MacMichael,
    Thank you for your well written letter. The treatment of Mr. Manning is unconscionable and we should not accept it blindly. It is time for Americans to stand up to all the injustices, loss of civil liberties, and misappropriation of our tax dollars that we are currently suffering. I hope you are doing all within your power to leverage pressure on those in charge of Bradley Manning’s imprisonment to provide him with a speedy trial and decent conditions until the trial occurs. He is an American citizen!

    Best regards,

    Sandra Peevers

    2011-01-20 18:30
  • save something

    Dear Mr.MacMicheal,
    Thank you so much for your attention for Bradely Manning.I am Canadian and I have so good friends in USA.Now to see a situation like that happening in your Country make me sad and disappointed.It is hard to believe that this young man is treat like that. Specially in it own Country. Manning doesn’t deserve a traitement that can alter his faculty to defend himself.
    Mr.MacMicheal,a Nobel Prize of Peace who do that to it own citizen like Mr.Obama doing with Private Manning,let me think the worst.
    Thank you again for you well write letter.

    2011-01-21 01:13
  • Naomi Colvin

    It’s really good to see Mr. MacMichael’s comments on this issue – his experience means that his views carry a lot of weight and to openly doubt that the conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention “are necessary, customary, or in accordance with law, US or international” is pretty strong stuff.

    2011-01-21 13:45
  • Californiawill

    Boycott the United States! Not only will we torture anyone we want, we have now embraced the system of apartheid, declaring a large number of workforce “illegal” to be used as slave labor with out rights. We stopped South Africa with economic sanctions, now it’s your turn to stop us.

    2011-01-23 11:08
  • Michael Daly, Artisr

    To David MacMichael:

    In this public letter to General James Amos you question the treatment of Pfc Bradley Manning and support his most clearly given and basic human rights. You bring your military experience to the fore. You provide concise information and make important points about military justice and UCMJ.
    I find the punishment, and may I say gradual torture, without trial or law of this young man to be dispicable and almost beyond words.
    But words must be gathered to help Bradley immediately, now ! – and to protect life and decency generally.
    You have mustered the words. And I see respect and a bond forming between myself and certain military personel like Bradley Manningand yourself. People who understand what a military uniform should be and could be in providing security for USA people and people beyond as such law, policy and behaviour is no different in protecting the rights of every human being regardless of nation.
    But such foundational “no-brainer” is not a given in the USA and the Obama Administration (and the world) will be revisiting the same awful process to define torture as President G W Bush was forced to do.
    There is nothing good in the Manning pre-trial story. Every thing of importance I read is a heart wrenching rip at the constitutional basis of law. We are living only with jungle law and selectively applied law which is sad, prejudice and dangerious.
    But one good thing I am feelig from all this:
    as a former VietNam war protester from Australia, and one intrenched with a belief that any person in a military uniform is stupid, a victum or hostile, I now find with surprise and delight “a few good men” in uniform who I can honour in a very high way. I felt good holding the image of Bradley Manning in uniform high in his support as I marched through Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu during Martin Luther King Parade.
    All my activist life, I have been cast as something of an outsider, and now having some support for certain military actions, allbeit at an individual level, fills a cry for social acceptance.
    Indeed isolation can be used as a tool of division and despair, can’t it? We fight out of emotional reaction, yet when the truth be known all we really want and need is reconciliation.

    Thank you.

    2011-01-24 03:42
  • Gary Joseph Chandler

    Still no charges against the trigger happy helicopter gunmen?
    As a Canadian, I wish I could sue them for the ugly pictures they put it in my mind and the lack of confidence they have engendered in for humanity and for America. Manning was morally correct, the World HAD to know what is going on. The REAL issue is murder, NOT whistle-blowing.

    2011-01-27 02:35
  • Peter Everts

    As a former combat infantry officer (Vietnam), I find this treatment of a soldier to be unconscionable. The UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) does not allow for inhumane treatment of prisoners. It also calls for swift adjudication and charges. The officers in charge of this charlie foxtrot should be brought up on charges, prosecuted and Manning either charged, tried and adjudicated or freed. This is disgusting and completely against America’s principles.

    2011-01-27 15:00
  • Jim

    I support Mr. Bradley Manning and his actions in exposing the murderous and illegal actions of the Officer’s corps of the u.s. army and marine corps. Manning is the HERO and his commanding officers are the Villains in this case and many more like it. Enlisted soldiers need to REVOLT against their officer corps and form ‘SOLDIERS COUNCILS’ like their British and Russian comrades have in the past!

    u.s. airforce veteran,…Jim

    2011-01-27 16:05
  • Bruce Ewen

    The American people have a right to know what is going on all around the world, and the lies we have been told to justify the wasting of our taxes and the lives of our fine young people in wars that have violated the freedoms of so many people around the world, like on 9/11/1973 – the U.S. – sponsored military coup in Chile, the assassination of General Letelier by the CIA, putting the fascist Agosto Pinochet in power to lead the coup, guided by radio messages from members of the U.S. Seventh Fleet off the harbor of Valparaiso. This was followed by a 20 year reign of terror against the Chilean people – a regime led by Pinochet that was cited by Amnesty International as the greatest violation of human rights since Adoph Hitler. It took 25 years for this information to be de-classified. The de-classification of this material resulted in no danger to the national security of the U.S. It made it clear the Henry Kissinger is a was criminal, just like Richard Nixon. Where is the trial, the solitary confinement, the “suicide watch” for Kissinger?

    Whatever the outcome of the trial, cruel and unusual punishment is not justified. I continue to be shocked by the inhumane treatment by the U.S. government of so many people. That is not what our country is supposed to be about. No fascism here! Justice for the real war criminals, the murderers, the torturers, and protect the rights of the whistleblowers. If it is found that a crime has been committed, let the court system determine the punishment, not the pre-trial officers.

    I tell you this, fellow Americans, if we do not stand up for what is morally right, we will pay dearly for this some day, when we will all be called to account for our crimes and our complicity in it, by the world court.

    2011-01-27 16:13
  • Nina Kethevan

    Dear General Amos,

    I find myself worrying daily about Bradley Manning.
    He has become part of my life although I have never met him.
    I cannot bear that he is being treated so inhumanely.
    People like him shed light onto a very dark world.
    Gandhi said: “There is no God higher than the Truth.”

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Nina Kethevan

    2011-01-27 22:34

    I am ashamed of our government over many things but the treatment of Bradley Manning is the worst. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? This has shades of natzi Germany, this is the change President Obama brought to our country? Shame on our country, no wonder the rest of the world hate us, guess they saw our country for what it is long before the people did. Why did the Bush administration walk away free?Why did Obama say he was not going to look back but ahead? Where does that apply to this young man, Bradley Manning?President Obama may enjoy high ratings in the polls but wait until the next election when the people speak up. FREEDOM OF SPEECH , yeah right! They spoke out ast the last election also.

    2011-01-28 09:44
  • Gary Joseph Chandler

    @ Peter, I would only change your last word from ‘principles’ to ‘ideals’, as this action followed the ‘standards’ of the America I have observed for 6 decades.
    @ Nina, the children in that van are etched into my mind. The men who did that, how many more ‘notches’?
    Gandhi also said, “It would be a good idea!” when asked what he thought of Western Civilization.
    Clarence Darrow, “A real patriot hates injustice, foremost in their own country.”
    Mark Twain, “True patriotism always supports its Nation, but its Government ONLY when it deserves it.”
    I wish America’s founding fathers could be ‘polled’ on how succesful they would rank their DREAM/nightmare. They would be on Bradley’s side!

    2011-01-28 21:22
  • Gary Joseph Chandler

    somebody could make a computer, put all of the writings of Franklin, Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Adams, and the rest and ask them what They think of the Bushes, the wars, and all. I wonder what they would say about the Palin’s FCS!?

    2011-01-28 21:35
  • Elsa Voelcker

    It is this kind of treatment that makes us doubt that we live in a democracy. ThIs treatment of people gives us no right to condem other countries actions.

    2011-01-28 22:51
  • Shelley Fox-Loken

    This letter was inspirational…and Right On! I would also like to point out that in addition to Pfc Manning being treated “differently” due to his “side” of an issue (as in, North was on the side of the then administration) there are countless instances of people being treated differently NOT because their BEHAVIOR was different, but because their motivations or belief systems were different. We see this in who is prosecuted for crimes (especially victimless crimes) and who is given a pass. This is where bias based on race, religion (especially if you are openly Muslim) and class comes into play in the criminal justice system (which I retired from after 20 years). But I have seen countless examples of the strong arm of the law bearing down on people ONLY due to their belief or stand on an issue. This is most clearly seen in peaceful protests where leftists/progressives are dealt with harshly, often being gassed and assaulted, while their counterparts in the right/conservative protests and get a police escort (all while many in the crowd are armed in some of them) and are NEVER arrested or assaulted. And this is NOT because they are more peaceful…

    We claim to have Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. But that freedom only extends fully to those who agree with the status quo. Those of us who disagree are shut down at every opportunity. Pfc Manning is but one (and one of the worst) examples of this. He is a hero, but he will be vilified by those who have a vested in keeping things as they are…a pro-war, pro-oppression country. This will soon loose for us what little respect we have left in the world.

    2011-02-01 13:27
  • Margaret Kennedy

    Dear Mr Mac Michael,
    Thank you for sticking your neck out and standing up for Bradley Manning and for what is right, however uncomfortable to Western governments.NO GOVERNMENT has the mandate from its people to torture ANYONE, let alone its own citizens in the ‘Land of the Free?’ Bradley Manning is a HERO in the true sense of the word. I am VERY PROUD OF HIM. I feel this is now the chance for all those in government to assess,what,how why they take ANY actions, passive, assertive or aggressive? Would they like THEIR son or daughter treated so cruelly? The answer to that will surly be a BIG NO. With that in mind, why not accept that rightly, we teach our children to THINK, ASSESS and DECIDE. Be proud that you have in your midst a young man who has done just that. Now is the time to learn from knowledge of the wrongs done in the past. There are MANY like Bradley Manning who wish a fair go in a HUMANE world..just talk to the young people of Egypt! My thoughts are with Bradley and those who have his fate in their hands who I wish the wisdom and compassion to learn POSITIVE HUMANE lessons as we are all part of this, it is OUR governments who support Bradley’s treatment We too can demand change for Bradley, for us all.
    Well done to all those speaking out against the treatment of Libyan protesters, including Hilary Clinton. How about the treatment of Bradley a US citizen…I OBJECT TO THAT TOO!!
    Love to all of you

    2011-02-25 23:10

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