Knappenberger went to the same intelligence school as whistleblower Bradley Manning and was assigned to similar duties as Manning in Iraq.
Prior that Bradley Manning allegedly sent 250 thousand diplomatic cables in 500.000 battlefield reports from Afghanistan and Iraq to Wikileaks in 2009 and 2010. So, by doing what he did Bradley Manning wanted to spark a public debate on the role of US military and foreign policy. In your opinion, did he get the debate he wanted?

I think he started it. I think that at least there have been some changes around the nature of classified information and the way that information is treated. I think he really hit the jugular on, the government source spot, he caught them with their pants down. I think he also has helped to spark some change. Arab Spring was the result of this, Freedom movements and the Occupy movement. I don’t think they would have happened without Bradley Manning.
Some call him a hero. Others call him a traitor. Which side of the debate are you on?
I think he is a hero personally.
Even though he broke military law?
Yes, the funny thing about that is, there are 2 mln people that had access to that information in a given time - 1400 government agencies and many of them were international, the Iraqi army also had access to all of this information even when we knew that Iraqi army had been compromised as far as information security was concerned. But I really don’t think that accusation of aiding the enemy or even really divulging sensitive information can stick very well in reality.
He pleaded guilty to 10 of 22 charges against him but not the most serious charge of course of knowingly aiding the enemy.
In this case the enemy I think is the American war and going to war, I guess it is not technically a war, just killing people on the lack of evidence. For me we are the real enemy, the American military policies and the foreign policy, the war itself, to me that is the enemy of both the American people and people of the world.
Ok, then why do some people call him a traitor?
There is perception especially among the veteran community in the US that you can’t break ranks, there is this tradition of silence in the military, and he was brave enough to stand up against that and for that he is condemned.
Ok, but what about the oath, I mean every soldier, when you join the military, you give an oath, right? And he broke the military law whatever way you look at it.
Technically I suppose he did break the military law but the military was breaking their own law by giving the sensitive information to Iraqi army for instance. So, the oath that he took to uphold the constitution, and I took the same oath in 2003, to uphold the Consitution of the United States and nowhere in there does it talk about killing innocent Iraqis and covering that up. So, I think you can make a case for defending Bradley Manning’s integrity with regards to that oath that he took.
Ok, how big is his support base? We know that Americans are divided on this case, as I already said earlier, some call him a traitor, others call him hero. So, how many people actually support him?
There is quite a number, in my experience, the other day we had a march, several thousand people showed up from all over the country. There is international support from dozens of countries, the UN and Amnesty International, European Parliaments have all pitched in to support Bradley, especially in regards to the revelation of his mistreatment the first year that he was held in prison. There is a huge international outcry about that, A-level people got fired for expressing their sympathy with Bradley.
What is this court martial then about?
I think it is really a show trial.
You think it isn’t about establishing his guilt or is it about the scale of the crime and rather what punishment he deserves? By the way, what punishment do you think he deserves if any?
I don’t think he deserves any. Amnesty International calling torture for months on end, I think that is punishment enough for him. I think he deserves to be granted pardon.
In the time that we have remaining, how do you think this case will pan out? What shall we expect to happen next?
I think they are going to put him away for a number of years. Like you said, he has pleaded guilty and I think that was a pragmatic move on his part. I honestly think this is a demonstration to soldiers and other would-be whistleblower not to follow Bradley’s footsteps and act on conscience. So, I think he is going to be put away for quite sometime. I would like to start see the groundwork being laid for a political pardon in the future for him.
Manning case proves US decided to hit whistleblowing and journalism with sledge hammer - expert
As US Army Private Bradley Manning is facing the trial for what is described as the largest intelligence leak in the history of the US, experts from various spheres of interest share their opinions on the freedom of information in the US, Manning's torture, and officers' accountability with the Voice of Russia.
According to Jesselyn Radack, a former ethics adviser to the United States Department of Justice,
"The war on whistleblowers is about to create the war on the media. In terms of covering, the Bradley Manning case has been very difficult for media and I give all praise to Alexa O'Brien and Kevin Gosztola and Nathan Fuller who had been there day in and day out.
The problem with that is that the theory of the Manning case is so incredibly dangerous that every journalist in this country and anybody who cares about freedom of information should pay close attention to that.
The theory of the government is that because news media ended up supposedly in the hands of Osama bin Laden that's what proves that Manning ended up the enemy. Therefore if Osama bin Laden or some other bad guy has any chance to read anything you wrote or posted on the internet or Facebook or wherever - you can be charged and end up the enemy. It's an absurd, dangerous, yet serious theory.
The whole world should be watching this trial. I know everyone has their own jobs and lots of other things to do, but if there's anyway you can come take part in any of it, that would be very appreciated."
Ms Radack first came to prominence as a whistleblower after she disclosed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) committed an ethics violation in their interrogation of John Walker Lindh (the "American Taliban" captured during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan) without an attorney present, and that the Department of Justice attempted to suppress that information. The Lindh case was the first major terrorism prosecution after 9/11. Her experience is chronicled in her memoir, Traitor: The Whistleblower and the "American Taliban".
Michael Ratner, Mr Julian Assnage's attorney, the President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and the President of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) said that if one wanted to think about the press and the war on whistleblowers one does not have to look much further than Mr Manning's case.
"The government has decided in the most repressive way possible to basically hit whistleblowing and journalism with a sledge hammer. And there's now tremendous amount of information available, so what the government wants to do is to send the message to all of us, all the people up here, people in the military, “You disclose our secrets and you will be punished with a sledge.”
And Bradley's case in particular carries a good chance for him to be convicted of charges that can get him a life in prison.
Ask yourself, why are they doing this? It's obvious. They don't want the truth disclosed. Some of the most crucial part of the trial was when Bradley Manning described his tortures. I was crying in the courtroom when I heard that.
And Bradley Manning articulated incredible reasons politically for each piece of information that he took off the computers and uploaded to WikiLeaks.
The media covered it hardly at all. What did they cover? They covered instead Bradley Manning's psychological state or Julian Assange's psychological state or what's going on personally for them."
Peter Van Buren, who served with the Foreign Service for over 23 years, c;aimed that he saw many of the same things that Manning did in Iraq.
"I had access to the very same database that Bradley Manning uploaded to WikiLeaks, as did thousands of U.S. government employees in Iraq.
And what I came to question is why didn't I do it? I didn't download the files.
All of us need to ask ourselves - when we're faced with this opportunity, faced with this challenge, will we be brave enough to risk our lives, our freedom, our fortunes? Will we do what Bradley Manning did, what Daniel Ellsberd did, what Thom Drake did?
Think about that and ask yourself that question."
Mr Van Buren received a Meritorious Honor Award for assistance to Americans following the Hanshin earthquake in Kobe, a Superior Honor Award for helping an American rape victim in Japan, and another award for work in the tsunami relief efforts in Thailand. Previous assignments include Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the UK and Hong Kong. He volunteered for Iraq service and was assigned to ePRT duty 2009-10. His tour extended past the withdrawal of the last combat troops.
Daniel Ellsberg, a former United States military analyst, said that while there were times when he could have told truth about what the government was doing, he did not do it.
"It risks embarrassment. And the idea of risking embarrassment kicks people from doing civil disobediences, from doing what they should be doing.
It took me a long time, longer than Bradley Manning which impresses me very much, to realize two things, that telling the truth to power A) didn't have any effect B) power knows the truth, they know what I was telling them.
So telling the truth of power to people who are denied it, giving them power is crucial. We have the champion of that - Medea Benjamin - here with us. It's not legal in this country yet to do that. But the people who heard that heard the truth on TV thought, "Thank you."
Actually there has been over the last few years a change in the attitude towards the word "whistleblower" in this country and one of the signs of that is that the government is arguing that Bradley Manning is not a whistleblower which is absurd. It shows that whistleblowing has somehow come of age as being the right thing to do.
I was given a whistleblower award a few years ago.
We're beginning to get a sense of why we need whistleblowers and what they do for us."
While employed by the RAND Corporation, Mr Ellsberg precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers. He was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2006. He is also known for a fundamental contribution to decision theory, the Ellsberg paradox.
“The problem for me is that no one is looking at the accountability of my own government for the crimes it committed. They are only focusing on ‘yes Bradley’ – ‘no, Bradley’,” says Michael Ratner, an attorney, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), in an interview with a Russian TV channel.
“I support Bradley Manning, I support what he did, I support the revelation of criminality of my own government and accountability for my own government,” Ratner is cited as saying.
“Why don’t they look at the torture centers they’ve set up in Iraq? Why don’t they look at the illegal drones they are using all over the world? That’s the accountability we’ve got to have. We shouldn’t be taking one soldier and trying to put him in jail forever, but revealing the secrets, criminality and hypocrisy of the US.”
‘I Am Bradley Manning’ campaigners demand dropping 'aiding the enemy charge' against Manning
“I Am Bradley Manning” social campaign is in full swing today. US Army Private Bradley Manning is to appear in court today over charges of releasing over 250,000 cables and 500,000 battlefield reports from Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks, which was later used by Al-Qaeda.
“Help us NOW to launch the biggest social media campaign yet for the most important whistleblower of our time… And protect the rights of future whistleblowers,” says Thunderclap who is organizing the campaign through the web-site
People are encouraged to join by sharing their Facebook posts and Tweets in support of Bradley Manning, as well as by sharing their photos.
Journalists, celebrities, veterans, and others have already uploaded their photos on which they are holding posters with "I Am Bradley Manning" written on them.
"This precedent would be disastrous for future whistleblowers who take great risks to aid our democracy," Thunderclap notes.
He left us seeds of peace and conscience, it is our role to grow them, says Manning’s supporter from South Korea
Hundreds of photos have been downloaded by the current moment on the web-site launched in support of US Army Private Bradley Manning. And they are still coming in.
Jae-pyeong Yang, a student from South Korea, has uploaded his photo on which he is showed as standing in a street with a poster reading some supportive words for Manning. “I stood for 1 hour in front of U.S.A embassy, holding a placard “Free Bradley Manning”, he commented on the photo.
It turned out it was the first time the young man was acting like this. “I was embarrassed to stand in front of people and it was not easy.”
The young student wrote that Manning “left to us seeds of peace and conscience… It is our role to grow the seeds.”
Afghan volunteers say ‘Thank you!” to Bradley Manning and call on people to do the same
Facebook community “Free Bradley Manning Minneapolis” ( established in support of US Army Private Bradley Manning posted a link to an article telling about Afghans who were sending their “Thank you!” to Bradley Manning and wishing that more people would find the courage to stand up to military and government forces, especially their own, and act as whistle-blowers.
Among such individuals are members of a small group called the Afghan Peace Volunteers.
Basir Bita, one of the group’s members, says he believes there are a lot of people worldwide who have Manning to thank for information they will need in struggles for freedom, security, and peace.
The Afghan Peace Volunteers members hold the opinion that people cannot make informed choices if their leaders deliberately withhold crucial information from them. Manning’s disclosures, they are assured, have brought desperately needed light to the U.S. and to countries around the world, including struggling countries like Afghanistan.
On June 1st an international week of support and solidarity with Bradley Manning started. People are encouraged to thank Manning via Facebook posts or Tweets (#ThankManning).

On Monday, US Army private Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking large numbers of classified documents to Wikileaks, is due to face court martial in Maryland, the United States.
The 25-year-old was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of classified US documents to the whistle-blower website Wikileaks.
It is considered the largest-ever leak of secret US government documents that include US State Department diplomatic cables, battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan and detainee files from the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison. Manning is also charged with leaking a classified video of the 2007 US Apache helicopter attack that killed scores of civilians in Baghdad, including a Reuters photographer.
Manning has pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges against him but not to the most serious charge of aiding the enemy.
If found guilty, he may face a maximum term of 154 years in jail.
Earlier this year, Manning told a pre-trial hearing that he divulged the documents to spark a public debate on the role of the US military and foreign policy.
Prosecutors, however, argued that the leaks damaged national security and endangered American lives.
An estimated 150 witnesses are expected to testify at the trial that experts say may last about three months.

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