You Have Nothing to Be Sorry For: An Open Letter to Bradley Manning

Jill McLaughlin | August 15, 2013

Dear Bradley,

I read your statement to the judge via an article I saw yesterday. I read it very carefully and a number of thoughts went through my mind about your apology… the most important thought being is that you have nothing to apologize for.

In your apology to the judge you mention the issues that you had to deal with at the time you decided to expose the crimes of our government. You mention you were going through a lot personally:

At the time of my decisions, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues, issues that are ongoing and continuing to effect me. Although a considerable difficulty in my life, these issues are not an excuse for my actions.

I can only assume that you are referring in part to the struggles with your sexual orientation. I came out to myself as a lesbian when I was 18. I had tried desperately to keep this secret from myself long before that…since the age of 14. It really wasn’t until I was 19 that I really accepted this fact about myself and even then it was a long road. Coming out for LGBTQ people is not a cut and dried process. There is a step forward one day and two steps back the next day for most of us in this process. You mention that these issues were not an excuse for your actions. Here is what I think: I think the struggle to accept yourself… to be who you really are in an environment and a society that still has a lot of prejudice toward LGBTQ people, especially transgender people, helped you to tap into the powerful gift of empathy. You could empathize with the thousands of people who have suffered under the murderous and torturous oppression of the U.S. wars for empire. While in the midst of your own personal struggle, you as an analyst who saw the crimes of this government, were open to see and feel the pain and suffering of thousands and you chose to make these crimes known to the world. When any oppressed person can lift their head beyond their own struggles to see the pain and suffering of others and take action to try to change that… well, that is truly a step toward emancipation.

The truth is this that no matter what your personal struggles were or are, it doesn’t make it any less true that what you were doing was exposing war crimes. It’s a classic page from the government playbook to vilify and demonize those courageous enough to expose its crimes. The government takes the most personal and intimate details of the lives of such courageous people and creates a narrative to try to isolate and alienate those people as a warning to the rest of us not to step out of line. Daniel Ellsberg and others can testify to that.

Write to Bradley!

You, too, can write a letter to Bradley and thank him for telling the truth about war crimes. Mail your letter to:

Commander, HHC USAG
Attn: PFC Bradley Manning
239 Sheridan Ave, Bldg 417
JBM-HH, VA 22211

Information on mail restrictions.

You apologized for harming the United States but the truth is that our government has caused harm to millions around the world in this so-called “war on terror” (really a war OF terror on the rest of the world). As Professor Dennis Loo pointed out in his article we learned many truths about our government’s actions because of you. Many people, though maybe not enough, have been galvanized to resist and oppose the crimes of our government. Let’s be clear there are many who know who the real criminals are and it is perhaps us who owe you an apology for not yet bringing into being a movement that could stop their war crimes.

Bradley, any shame or guilt you feel needs be lifted off your shoulders and laid at the feet of those who govern over us. Blood is on their hands not yours. To me and millions around the world you are forever our courageous whistleblower and we will always be grateful. I hope that we can demonstrate that gratitude by building a movement of millions to stop the crimes of our government.


Jill McLaughlin, World Can’t Wait Steering Committee