There was a painfully embarrassing exchange on Dylan Ratigan’s show regarding Bradley Manning’s rights earlier this week. Democratic Strategist Karen Finney, Republican strategist Susan Del Percio and “Washington Insider” (lobbyist for the Mortgage Banker’s Associationand and Morgan Stanley) Jimmy Williams were virtually indistinguishable in their opinion that since Manning was in the military, he had no rights.

In response, Ratigan received a letter from David P. Price, CAPT, JAGC, USN (Retired), who begged to differ:

It is true that military service is unique. The reality, however, is that military personnel do retain the essential rights and privileges of any citizen or lawful resident of the United States, although those rights are exercised within the context of the special demands inherent in military service, where the rights of an individual will often be of secondary concern to the needs of good order and discipline in the protection of our national defense.

Throughout history are instances where individuals have abused their authority. No law or regulation will ever prevent misconduct from occurring. What laws can do, however, is provide a mechanism for holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions, whether it be PFC Manning as concerns the allegations against him; or Brig Commander James Averhart and the accusations being made against him. What is essential is responsible leadership, at all levels in the military chain of command, up to the President, as Commander-in-Chief, if necessary; and through oversight responsibilities of the Congress to ensure that military personnel suspected of offenses are not being abused and that their rights are being protected.

I applaud Jane Hamsher, David House, and David Coombs (Manning’s attorney) for their advocacy and helping bring attention and light to this issue. A proper investigation should be conducted to inquire into these allegations. IF the allegations concerning mistreatment at the Brig are proved to be correct — then it is incumbent upon those in command to hold accountable those who have abused their positions of authority.

It is impossible to know what Bradley Manning did or didn’t do, based on the information that is publicly available. Yet the lobbyist was the only one on the panel who had the decency to qualify his statement with “if he has done what they say he has done.”

It was good of Captain Price to write to Ratigan and set the record straight.  I am hopeful that more military people step forward and speak about the importance of insuring a fair and accountable process.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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