Bradley Manning was found guilty of six espionage counts and five theft charges. Manning’s maximum sentence of 136 years was cut down to 90 years.

The word martyr is used too loosely these days. Manning is a martyr, one who heroically revealed crimes of the American military without trying to use that information for personal gain or fame. Now, Manning will pay for this act of conscience with years of life in prison.

Manning revealed to WikiLeaks evidence of American military brutality in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in Guantanamo Bay. Perhaps most famous was the American helicopter attack on July 12, 2007, in Baghdad that made WikiLeaks significant.

You can watch the video here and here.

What a sad reflection on the moral state of our country, what a pathetic way to divert attention from the fact that the real criminals in this case are the war criminals in the U.S. government and U.S. military who have inflicted tens of thousands of casualties on civilian populations in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Yemen, and elsewhere.

We may never know the full extent of civilian loss of life. In Iraq alone, the documented civilian casualty is over 100,000. That of course is not including the crippling sanctions that spanned the two wars on Iraq, the ones that already had claimed over 500,000 Iraqi children’s lives by Madeline Albright’s own admission on 60 Minutes.

What of the drone attacks, started under Bush and amplified under Obama? The drones that have taken thousands of lives in multiple countries? No other country on earth would be permitted to kill thousands in multiple countries extra-judiciously, with no consequence.

Where are the courts to hold George Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney responsible and accountable for the blood on their hands?

The real casualties also include truth, honesty, integrity, transparency, and investigative journalism. We used to have a proud tradition of journalism in this country that was designed to reveal injustice. The prosecution of Bradley Manning is precisely designed to intimidate and silence all those who would dare to expose the brutality and injustice of the American Empire.

Ultimately, here is where Bradley Manning leaves us. We, in the United States, are faced to confront our own power and privilege in this shared planet. Are we going to be an arrogant Empire that bombs and destroys extra-judiciously, or we going to be a fair, compassionate, and responsible member of our only home?

It is not only the fate of private Bradley Manning that is at stake. Also at stake is the fate of our own imperfect beloved Republic.

Omid Safi is a leading progressive public intellectual in America. He is a professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his writings can be followed at and

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