Incarceration Nation

Write a Letter Supporting Pvt. Manning’s Request for Clemency!

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Convening Authorities are granted the power to reduce or eliminate a convicted soldier’s sentence. They use this power when they feel the court martial failed to deliver justice. As Commanding General of the Military District of Washington, Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan is the only other individual besides President Obama with the power to ameliorate WikiLeaks whistle-blower Pvt. Manning’s sentence in the immediate future.

We are now requesting letters from professors, law experts, human rights advocates, politicians, artists, veterans, and concerned citizens urging Major General Buchanan to reduce Pvt. Manning’s sentence. These letters will be submitted as part of an application for clemency from Pvt. Manning’s legal defense. These letters, once completed, should be sent to

There are some important guidelines you should follow to ensure we’re able to use your letter:

  • Your letter should be approximately one page long.
  • It should be composed on personalized letterhead.
  • The letters must be printed, signed, then scanned (so that they have the signature) in PDF format.
  • Pvt. Manning’s recently announced that her preferred name is Chelsea, and that folks should use female pronouns. However, she also understands that for efforts such as these, it is most effective for supporters to use her legal name and military rank, “Pvt. Bradley E. Manning,” along with male pronouns.
  • The letter should focus on your support for Pvt. Manning, and especially why you believe justice will be served if Pvt. Manning’s sentence is reduced. The letter should NOT be anti-military and/or anti-Buchanan, as this will be unlikely to help.
  • A suggested message: “Pvt. Manning has been punished enough for violating military regulations in the course of being true to his conscience. I urge you to use your authority as Convening Authority to reduce Pvt. Manning’s sentence to time served.” Beyond that general message, feel free to personalize the details as to why you believe Pvt. Manning deserves clemency.
  • Here is an example letter, written by Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist and the Pvt. Manning Support Network (yes, you can plagiarize).1
  • These letters will be formally submitted to General Buchanan by Pvt. Manning’s attorney David Coombs as part of a larger clemency packet.
  • Please send your letter to as soon as possible. We will review these letters prior to forwarding them to Pvt. Manning’s legal defense, and may request that you make changes if necessary.

Courage to Resist, the organization sponsoring the Private Manning Support Network, has successfully convinced Convening Authorities to reduce the sentences of conscientious objectors in the past (see the cases of Travis Bishop and Cliff Cornell). Pvt. Manning is unjustly imprisoned because the things she witnessed in the Iraq War compelled her to follow her conscience. Now, through creating compelling and personal letters, it is time to call upon Major General Buchanan to honor his conscience in turn.

1 Jeffrey Paterson

Project Director, Courage to Resist

484 Lake Park Ave. #41

Oakland, CA 94610 USA

Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan Commanding General, U.S. Army Military District of Washington

September 12, 2013

Dear Maj. Gen. Buchanan, I write to urge you to use your authority as the Convening Authority in the case of U.S. v. Bradley E. Manning to reduce Pvt. Manning’s 35-year confinement sentence to time served, and upgrade his “Dishonorable Discharge.”

As a former enlisted U.S. Marine Artilleryman, I understand the military s desire for good order and discipline. However, this is not an average case of misconduct. Instead, Pvt. Manning’s actions were motivated purely by conscience.

Pvt. Manning took responsibility for violating miscellaneous regulations covering the use of classified information. For those actions, he has already been punished having spent every day since May 29 2010 in military confinement.

Pvt. Manning was subjected to approximately nine months of illegal pre-trial punishment at the hands of the Marine command at Quantico, Virginia. Military judge Colonel Denise Lind granted Pvt. Manning 112 days confinement credit for this abuse; however, that is clearly inadequate given the lengthy sentence he was given.

Justice was not served when prosecutors were allowed to trample on Pvt. Manning’s rights to a speedy trial. Additionally, prosecutors were allowed to change the Charge Sheet to match the evidence presented—after both the prosecution and defense rested their cases!


Jeff Paterson

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484 Lake Park Ave #41

Oakland, CA 94610