Free Bradley Manning
[Update – Listen to the Music(video)! Graham Nash:Â Almost Gone (The Ballad Of Bradley Manning )
On Friday, the [Article 32] militaryÂ trial of Bradley Manning began – he is the solider accused of blowing the whistle on US military war crimes (e.g. the video tape of the US helicopter slaughter in Iraq, infamously known as “Collateral Murder” – over 12 million hits).
Manning also is accused of downloading and providing more than 200,000 other secret documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and State Department diplomatic cables to Wikileaks.
Manning has been held for 19 months, at times in solitary confinement and subject to psychological abuse, that some argue itself was a war crime.
From what I have read about the case, Manning is a classic whistleblower and hero. He Â was loyal to the truth and his sworn oath to uphold the Constitution, not obey and protect the military chain of command.
He upheld the highest ethical standards and honored the US military code of conduct.
When he witnessed evidence of war crimes and other wrongdoing, he acted to disclose it, at great risk to himself.
He is alleged to have supplied the information to Wikileaks, whose disclosures have changed the world. Â Famous Vietnam War Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has praised Manning.
His case raises significant First Amendment issues (see this for excellent discussion).
He should get medals, not jail time.
I went down to Fort Meade (Maryland) to support Manning and attend a protest as the second day of the pre-trial hearings.
It was a brisk cloudy day – and the turnout was small, about 300. Unfortunately, two of my heroes, Daniel Ellsberg and Ray McGovern, could not make it. Although many people I talked to thought the police response was excessive, it was far less numerous and hostile that the response I’ve seen in NY at Occupy Wall Street.
Here’s some scenes from the day: