I salute Private First Class Bradley Manning.
I salute him for withstanding the hideous mistreatment he faced in the 1,000 days he's been confined, often in solitary, sometimes naked, enduring sleep and sensory deprivation.
I salute him for being a soldier of conscience who was outraged by what he saw in Iraq, especially by the Apache helicopter attack on two Reuters journalists and on the van that came to assist them.
I salute him for recognizing, and agonizing over, "the seemingly delightful bloodlust" of the helicopter crew, as he put it, who "seemed similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass."
I salute him for trying to get the word out, first by contacting The Washington Post and The New York Times, but when they turned a deaf ear, then going to Wikileaks.
I salute him for exonerating Wikileaks by testifying that they didn't pressure him to divulge the documents.
I salute him for trying, in his words, to "spark a debate" about U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I salute him for taking responsibility for his actions, and for pleading guilty to 10 charges that could put him in prison for 20 years, without plea bargaining at all.
I salute him for standing up for what is right, no matter the consequences.
In short, I salute Private First Class Bradley Manning for being one brave soldier, one brave citizen.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "The Supreme Court's Push to Lift Campaign Limits."
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