Category Archives: Active Duty Dissent, Resistance and Whistleblowing
The Military Whistleblower Protection Act of 1988 provides limited protection of lawful disclosure by members of the United States Armed Forces. In order to assist servicemembers in understanding their rights under this law, MLTF has prepared the following fact sheet. It is also available formatted for download and printing (PDF). You are welcome to share this document. Contact us with any questions you may have.
What is the Military Whistleblower Protection Act?
The MWPA was created by Congress in 1989. The Act does two important things:
1) it states that no person may restrict a member of the Armed Forces from lawfully communicating with a Member of Congress or an Inspector General (IG), and
2) it protects military members who make disclosures of wrongdoing to Members of Congress or an IG from retaliation by other military members. (10 USC § 1034.)
In response to the MWPA, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued DoD Directive 7050.06 making the Act official DoD policy.
[Update]: In a public statement issued on 8/22/13, Pvt. Manning disclosed that her name is now Chelsea Manning, and that she is a female. Going forward, we will honor her request to use her new name and appropriate pronouns, in support of her transition.
Today, Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years for the “crime” of revealing the seamy underside of US diplomacy and war-making. The sentence is substantially less than 60 years the prosecution asked for, but greater than what the defense requested. It was predicated on alleged damage done to the US, though it remains unclear what actual damage, aside from embarrassment, occurred. Indeed, the idea that transparency is damaging is one that should shock the conscience of any patriot, if one defines patriotism as something other than blind obeisance to whatever one’s government says.
Manning’s defense attorney, David Coombs, told the court that “(h)is biggest crime was he cared about the loss of life he was seeing and was struggling with it.” That, in fact, is what drove the government in its excessive and relentless attacks, inside and outside the courtroom, on Bradley Manning. That is what Barack Obama’s promise of the “most transparent” administration in history has devolved into.
Everyone in the country; nay, everyone the world over, should be outraged at his prosecution and sentence. But for Manning, Reuters still would not know what happened to its correspondents, Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen, the day they were gunned down by an American air strike. And the world would not know the callousness of the Americans doing the killing, who had no regrets about also shooting a man and a young boy who came to assist the wounded and dead.
So, what is the legacy of Bradley Manning, his prosecution and sentencing? It dates back some 40 years and tells us more about the shift of power to an ever-more-secretive, imperial and imperious government from a population that has become less resistant and more pliable.
MLTF co-founder David Gespass recently gave a talk at Tulane University. Here’s the slide presentation on the Bradley Manning case he used. He compares the current reaction to Manning to the COINTELPRO revelations in 1971. Hint: 2013 doesn’t stack up well.
News Analysis by Marjorie Cohn
The court-martial of Bradley Manning, the most significant whistleblower case since Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, has begun. Although Manning pled guilty earlier this year to 10 offenses that will garner him 20 years in custody, military prosecutors insist on pursuing charges of aiding the enemy and violation of the Espionage Act, carrying life in prison. The Obama administration, which has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all prior presidencies combined, seeks to send a strong message to would-be whistleblowers to keep their mouths shut.
A legal duty to report war crimes
Manning is charged with crimes for sending hundreds of thousands of classified files, documents and videos, including the “Collateral Murder” video, the “Iraq War Logs,” the “Afghan War Logs” and State Department cables to Wikileaks. Many of the things he transmitted contain evidence of war crimes.
The “Collateral Murder” video depicts a US Apache attack helicopter killing 12 civilians and wounding two children on the ground in Baghdad in 2007. The helicopter then fired on and killed the people trying to rescue the wounded. Finally, a US tank drove over one of the bodies, cutting the man in half. These acts constitute three separate war crimes.
Manning fulfilled his legal duty to report war crimes. He complied with his legal duty to obey lawful orders but also his legal duty to disobey unlawful orders.
This message is from the Kimberly Rivera Support Committee.
We are writing to you on behalf of Kimberly Rivera, an Iraq War resister.
Kimberly, from Mesquite, Texas, deployed to Iraq in 2006. After several months, she found that she could not in good conscience continue to participate in the war. While in the US on leave, she and her family sought asylum in Canada. Unfortunately, the Canadian government denied her asylum and on September 20th, she and her family voluntarily returned to the US. She was arrested at the border and is currently at Fort Carson, Colorado, awaiting a decision by her command as to what her fate will be.
We are reaching out to you today to ask if you would be willing to write a letter of support for Kim.
Here is a bit of background about Kim, and below are guidelines for letters of support:
• Kim and her husband Mario have four young children: Christian, 10; Rebecca, 8; Katie, 3; and Gabriel, 18 months.
• Kim’s objection to the war grew out of her experience in Iraq, and her faith.
• Kim’s separation from her family is causing tremendous hardship for all of the family.
• Kim was diagnosed with PTSD following her tour in Iraq, and incarceration would only exacerbate her symptoms.
In peace and solidarity,
of the Kimberly Rivera Support Committee
GUIDELINES FOR LETTERS IN SUPPORT OF KIMBERLY RIVERA
Dear friends and supporters of Kimberly Rivera,
Kimberly Rivera is currently at Fort Carson, Colorado. She is part of a unit but her future is uncertain. She likely will face a military court-martial (and if convicted a lengthy prison sentence), but there are other options for command.
We are asking friends and supporters of Kimberly to write letters of support in the hopes of persuading the military authorities to not prosecute her, but instead give her a discharge.
Letters should be sent to Kimberly’s attorney at the contact point below. Her attorney will present the letters to her command as they come in, but also may use them as mitigating evidence for sentencing/clemency purposes if her case does go to trial.
– Address letters to “To whom it may concern.”
– Please be polite and civil in your letter. It is ok to express emotion, but angry/hateful letters will not be helpful.
– Please avoid political statements in your letters. The focus needs to stay on Kimberly and her plight.
– If you know Kimberly personally, please say so in your letter. (Please also be sure and tell stories that illustrate the kind of character she has and why she should be back home with her family).
– If you are military veteran, please say so in your letter.
– Please include your full name and contact information in your letter.
– Please state in the letter that you believe that Kimberly should be immediately discharged from the Army and not prosecuted.
Letters should be sent to:
James M. Branum
Attorney at Law
PO Box 721016
Oklahoma City, OK 73172
Email: girightslawyer(at)gmail(dot)com (please include “Kimberly Rivera” in the subject line)