Sunday, December 18, 2011

Watch The Bradley Manning Case!

March and Demonstration At the Gate of Fort Meade, Maryland

For the second day of Bradley Manning's Preliminary Hearing

Marchers Send Manning Happy Birthday Greeting

By the time Bradley Manning supporters set off on Saturday for the two mile march from the main gate of Fort Meade to the gate nearest the hearing site, they numbered at least 300 people. The group was quite spirited and, despite Anne Arundel County Police efforts to keep marchers on the sidewalk, there were too many of them and they were too determined to spread out into the street. The police, wisely, let the marcher have some space. A friend and I had driven down from Philadelphia and arrived a little early. At the local Dunkin Donut we found ourselves in line behind two Anne Arundel County officers there to pick up their daily allotment of donuts. They were friendly and we chatted about being there for the Manning hearing. They proudly told us the department had provided two porta-potties for the convenience of demonstrators. They told us to be safe and stay on the sidewalk.

A witness to Friday's opening day of the hearing said, despite the nasty and shameful treatment by the military early on in his captivity, Manning looked healthy and chatted easily with his attorneys. He notably made no eye-contact and did not in any way recognize the many sympathizers in the courtroom. This seemed a prudent decision of his attorneys. Manning's attorneys made a number of motions, all or most of which were rejected. I was told only two of 38 requested witnesses for Manning were allowed by the military judges. When the hearing was over and people were filing out, VFP national board member Nate Goldshlag hollered "Bradley Manning is a hero!" This sort of thing was frowned upon and he was told not to return in the future.

Following the spirited two mile march, a number of speakers addressed the crowd. Saturday was Bradley Manning's 24th birthday, so following the last speaker singer-songwriter Dave Rovics led the group in singing Happy Birthday to Manning. Here was a courageous young man who fits all the criteria of a "whistleblower" who (allegedly) provided The New York Times and dozens of other mainstream news outlets with cable information and details on how the government we pay taxes to acts around the world in our name. Since WikiLeaks released all this cable traffic, a week has not gone by that at least one New York Times reporter has not cited some bit of WikiLeaks information inside his or her story. While Manning rots in prison and has to fight for his life, mainstream media reporters continue to use the material he allegedly provided. Yet, many of them are essentially just letting him hang out to dry. If that's not bad enough, what's really absurd is after all this material has been made public members of the military are under orders to act as if it's still a big secret -- sort of like making everybody in uniform act like Sergeant Shultz in Hogan's Heroes: "I see nothing!" Let's just say, the situation seems to get more absurd every day.

Everyone demonstrating on Saturday outside the Fort Meade base made it clear they felt Bradley Manning is an American Hero. The hearing is expected to last maybe a week or more.

1 comment: