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An Open Letter About Pfc. Bradley Manning

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General Raymond T. Odierno
Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army
200 Army Pentagon
Washington DC 20310-0200

February 19, 2012

Dear General Raymond Odierno,

I would like to share my appreciation for your service to the United States. Without honorable and courageous individuals like yourself and those who serve with you, our nation would be left defenseless and unable to aid those in need of disaster relief. The brave soldiers who serve in our armed forces voluntarily face physical and mental peril, and these deeds should not go unnoticed. I am writing to call your attention to a particular act of unflinching patriotism that I believe should be rewarded.

Pfc. Bradley Manning has shown true courage at great cost to himself. Like all soldiers, he chose to serve knowing that he may die in combat, but he went above and beyond this duty by choosing to do what was right rather than what would make him popular. If the allegations that he leaked information to Wikileaks are true, he fulfilled his oath to protect and serve the citizens of the United States. Therefore, his actions should be celebrated just as we would recognize the deeds of any courageous service member.

There can be no doubt that the release of the "Collateral Murder" video, "Afghan War Diaries," and diplomatic cables have provided evidence of wrongdoing. As I am sure you agree, criminals should be punished, and any incidence of unlawful behavior, even among members of the military, should be taken very seriously. Because of the United States' involvement in foreign affairs, it is imperative that other nations view our representative organizations as law abiding. If servicemen and women are not held to a lawful standard and are not punished for their crimes, the high esteem in which we are held abroad will diminish.

The information released by Wikileaks and allegedly by Manning has provided the armed forces with an opportunity to prove that we are not a state of warmongers and that our soldiers are imbued with integrity and honor. If we are truly a nation built on a foundation of justice, our military should reflect this conviction, which is why I hope you will show appreciation for Pfc. Bradley Manning's heroism by supporting his release and advocating that the charges against him be dropped. Failure to release Manning and to try those involved in criminal activity sends a message that we do not uphold the values we claim to share with our allies, and it fuels our enemies who seek to prove that we are hypocrites.

Patriots like you must certainly see how actions that infringe on the inalienable rights of citizens like Bradley Manning and that oppose our nation's foundation of laws will weaken the United States. Therefore, I am certain you will choose to uphold our principles and values by supporting the patriotism of Bradley Manning. Thank you again for your continued service.

Respectfully,

Mary Keck