Letters: Manning deserves Nobel Peace Prize

These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, 2 August, 2013

Independent Voices
Thursday 01 August 2013 18:00

The basis of the Nuremberg trials was that it is the duty of every soldier to refuse to condone or be complicit in murder.

Without the amazingly brave Bradley Manning, we would never have seen film of the wicked rejoicing of that American helicopter crew as they brutally ended the lives of two Reuters news staff (among other innocents that day).

It is thus incumbent upon newspapers everywhere – as they depend on Reuters for much of their news – to lead the campaign for him to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr Obama.

Dai Woosnam, Scartho, Grimsby

In spite of Bradley Manning being referred to as a “whistleblower”, he passed to WikiLeaks for publication to the world no fewer than 700,000 pieces of information that he had taken an oath not to reveal.

It has not been suggested he read all these and assessed that they all had to be published for the good of humanity.

Why does the press apparently think that his abuse of his position of trust and his misuse of the internet is more defensible than what the hackers were guilty of when they tapped into and made use of people’s confidential information?

Tony Pointon, Portsmouth

Judge Lind in the Bradley Manning case obviously thought the charge of “knowingly helping enemies of the United States” to be a nonsensical charge, as she knows America always helps its enemies – whether arming the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s, arming Saddam Hussein, bombing to power the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (al-Qa’ida) two years ago, or planning to arm Islamic extremists in Syria.

Bradley Manning’s conviction is an inversion of justice.

Mark Holt , Waterloo, Merseyside

The conviction of Bradley Manning was a travesty of justice, reminiscent of a Stalinist show trial.

His crime was to expose the criminal nature of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US ruling elite were particularly affronted by the leaking of footage showing US forces killing unarmed people in Iraq.

While proclaiming Manning’s guilt, Barack Obama himself is guilty of numerous crimes. He has sent drones around the world to kill people on the basis of suspicion. Some of these people were US citizens, and thousands of civilians have been killed in “collateral” damage.

Obama is presiding over the force-feeding of inmates at the US gulag of Guantanamo in Cuba, and he has instigated acts of aggression against Syria and Libya.

Bradley Manning did what he was supposed to do and exposed wrongdoing. He will now spend the rest of his life in prison for daring to do what journalists do every day, namely hold the powerful to account.

He should be pardoned and released right away.

Alan Hinnrichs, Dundee

Whatever the rights or wrongs of what Bradley Manning did, it seems astonishing that a junior member of the US army in Iraq could have had access to such a wide range of information.

Whatever happened to the observation of the “need to know” principle? Have those who were responsible for the security of information been taken to task?

It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the US government’s internal security arrangements have been shown to be ludicrously lax.

Gordon Thynne, Coulsdon, Surrey

Fracking? How about Howell’s backyard

Does Lord Howell realise that there have been no applications for fracking licences in the North-east, as opposed to many other parts of England, and that this might suggest that there actually isn’t a lot of gas to be fracked in the region?

The fascinating aspect of the energy debate in the North-east is that the most rabid opposition to a few wind farms is from those local “grandees” whose inherited wealth trickled down from ancestors who exploited the region’s coal resources using the most appalling work practices, including child labour, with no thought for environmental considerations.

During the 1960s and 1970s, huge, toxic pit heaps of smouldering colliery waste created by their activity were eventually removed at the taxpayers’ expense.

In geological terms, the most attractive areas in the North for fracking are the beautiful Trough of Bowland and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Using the US experience as a template, the exploitation of the gas across this area would involve the drilling of up to 30,000 gas wells. Each US fracked well can involve up to 1,200 heavy truck movements.

If we must frack, let’s do it on Lord Howell’s lawn.

Aidan Harrison, Rothbury, Northumberland

Being a southerner who has happily lived in the North-east for 40 years, I have personal evidence of the Lord Howell style of ignorance.

A question posed by a visitor planning a trip from London: “Do they have taxis in Bradford?”

A question from a business man in Brighton: “Do you have Thai food in the North?”

A question from a teenager: “Can you get EastEnders in the North?”

Can I ask a question: “How wide is the Watford Gap?”

Michael Gough, Sunderland

Having lived 40 of my 50 years in the North-east, I can attest that nowhere in the vicinity is quite as desolate as the space between Lord Howell’s ears.

Mark Robertson, East Boldon, Tyne and Wear

I’m led to believe that there are shale gas deposits in areas of Cheshire that are not to be blighted by HS2 – what’s the problem?

R P Wallen, Nottingham

The ultimate in doublespeak

A man opens the hole in his face and makes sounds using verbal and grammatical constructions that we all recognise.

Cleverly, he manages to convey the exact opposite meaning of those sounds.

How else can you interpret Grant Shapps’ refusal to apologise to Peter Cruddas after his victory in the High Court? – “I think Peter Cruddas did exactly the right thing. He has pursued this through the courts and got the outcome that he wanted.”

Sometimes the slipperiness of political statements just makes you want to open the hole in your face.

James Vickers, Redcar

The truly fascinating and revealing thing about the Peter Cruddas case is that the Prime Minister appears to have immediately assumed the allegations were true.

Jim Bowman, South Harrow

No way to treat employees

Is Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps really saying that as the owner of a company he made up reasons to part company with his employees (“We need to make it easier for firms to sack workers”, 1 August)? And he thinks this is acceptable? Will people vote for him after this? No doubt they will.

Michael O’Hare, Northwood, Middlesex

Road to recovery?

My wife counted 64 “13” number plates on the drive from Oxford to London. An awful lot were Audis. Green shoots? Or is it just that Audi is doing something right?

AR Braithwaite, London NW3

Don’t cry for the past, Matthew

“Why bother about me? After all, I’m only a football fan?” (31 July) says Matthew Norman.

Matthew, do get a grip. It’s one thing to affect real tears for the thought of our fave player (Gareth Bale) leaving our fave team (Tottenham Hotspur FC) but please do not get carried away with phoney tears about money ruining today’s game. ’Twas always so.

Since 1885, when professional football came in, and even before that, when guineas were stuck in dressing-room boots to tempt star players away, money has dominated the game.

And do look up your history, pet, and stop repeating this myth that players weren’t mercenaries but “one-club servants “.

What about the Spurs cup-winning team of 1901? I always assumed you were there, as someone who endlessly tells us he is a Spurs fan. How many in that team came from London or even the South-east? Come on, you have 10 seconds.

The answer is rien, nada, nowt. There were five Scots, two Welshmen and one Irish, while the three Englishmen came from Maryport, the Potteries and Grantham. Mercenaries all – in it for the money.

Hunter Davies, London NW5

Heathrow chaos

Having accompanied my daughter and two small children through Heathrow Terminal 3 recently, the only question that occurs to me is: why in God’s name are we considering a fourth runway at Heathrow when we have neither the expertise, the staff, the space nor the management skills competently to run an airport dealing with passengers from three runways?

April Beynon, Mumbles, South Wales

Worse than gulls

Pete Dorey (Letter, 1 August) prefers crickets to gulls. I prefer either to the endless droning (and accompanying vibrations) of our local police helicopter going round and round and round... sometimes at one in the morning. No doubt it is all in the good cause of catching criminals, but sometimes I do feel as if I’m living in a police state.

Garry Humphreys, London N13

Pete Dorey epitomises our depressing failure to coexist with nature’s other animals because they pose a slight inconvenience to us. Gulls are not the only “deafening, screeching and squawking” species whose numbers are increasing.

Kevin Mutimer, London SE6

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