The Freedom of the Press Foundation has secured the full audio recording of Bradley Manning’s court statement. Manning’s trial has been a closley guarded secret, and this release of the court statement is the first time we hear Manning explain his actions in his own words.

Hearing Manning’s statement reminds us that this is a 25-year old man who took on the arrogance, indifference, and imperial hubris of a world super power. They bring into stark light the fact the pettiness and hypocrisy of a government that has chosen to crush the life of one man, rather than confront the many illegal actions his leaks revealed.

This recording was illegally made. It is a leak. The person who recorded it risks being court-martialed. It is a reminder that despite the billions spent on propaganda and lies, the nation’s spirit of dissent and resistance remains alive and well.

You can hear the recording here:

The US Government has made sure that we never hear, nor see, the people it has detained, tortured, renditioned or even killed. They have done their best to ensure that these men and women remain nothing more than statistics, and avatars for our greatest fears. They have controlled the depiction of their victims who are always reduced to being ‘terrorists’, ‘imminent threat’, ‘insurgents’, ‘Al-Qaeda’ or ‘Taliban’ – the words that  have become the most effective weapons in the US government’s efforts to interrupt thought, erase critical analysis and reduce human morality.

One of the biggest challenges facing photographers working on the stories of those who have been crushed, and erased, in the wake of the ‘war against terror’ is to create a full and human portrait of them. Photographers need to remind the public that our government’s policies are not only erasing the life of those we kill and torture, but the lives of entire families. And that they are doing so through secret briefings and decisions, without any judicial oversight, and far from any war zone, or threat. That they are getting away with it is connected to an undelying bigotry and racism that allows us to kill the ‘Arab’ and the ‘Muslim’ because these people do not count in our arithmatic of humanity. Not only is this prejudice prevalent in our domestic policing and intelligence practices, it is definitly present in our ‘kill lists’ and ‘I have become particularly aware of this as I continue my work to exhume from this fate, this erasure of the human, the lives of the 33 Pakistani men languishing in Bagram.

So this is a rare opportunity to get a sense of Manning’s humanity, and to hear his own argument for why he revealed the crimes that he revealed. The fact remains that Manning is being tried in a kangaroo court, and will face severe punishment. Those whose crimes he revealed will never be confronted, and many may even go onto become top members of the military, government and political bureaucracy. Its the way the cookie crumbles. We can however, attempt to interrupt it in some small way, and spread the word, and inspire others to follow in Manning’s footsteps.

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