Monday, June 3, 2013

Bradley Manning, Global Citizen, And The Thirst For Truth

Portland, Maine Jnne 1, 2013
This weekend rallies across the planet marked the beginning of the court martial trial of global citizen-soldier Bradley Manning, who leaked the truth via Wikileaks about a multitude of war crimes and dirty dealings by the U.S. government.

In Maryland outside Ft. Meade where Manning's trial will take place, around two thousand people gathered to hear speakers like retired Army officer Ann Wright who resigned from the State Dept. when the U.S. invaded Iraq. A global citizen, she has just returned from peacefully meeting with women in China and Ireland among other places. Ann said that in every country she found Bradley Manning support groups. Rather than seeing Americans only as warmongers, they also want to see Americans as like Bradley Manning:
whistleblowers, the people that tell the truth...the people that hold the government accountable... (he) has stood for more honesty and justice in our country than the senior leadership of this whole country.
Source: Bradley Manning Support Network -- March in Ft Meade, Maryland June 1, 2013
In Portland, CODEPINK Maine chapters staged political theater in Congress Square Park. An Obama  character jailed multiple Bradley Mannings, and silenced them by taping their mouths shut. Later, the president was placed under citizen's arrest and put in jail for war crimes at Guantanamo, with drones, and against whistleblowers like Manning.

Jon Gaither of the ACLU of Maine provided an overview of the legal implications of Bradley Manning's arrest and treatment to date in violation of the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Kara Oster of Occupy Portland Maine spoke about the value of truth and free speech in a democracy, and how hard it is for us to speak truly in today's society. I read the anti-war statement I had seen Iraq Veterans Against War (IVAW) spokesperson Stephen Funk give in response to the San Francisco Pride Parade director removing Bradley Manning as a Grand Marshall of the SF Pride Parade. Later, my Codepink associate Janet Weil told me that IVAW member Funk was the first Marine to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq.
Activists in Portland, Maine prepare signs for a rally on June 1, 2013 while a livestream broadcast from Istanbul's protests plays in the background.
Street theater in Portland, Maine June 1, 2013
The Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers thanked Bradley Manning and Wikileaks earlier this week for having the courage to tell the truth about U.S. actions in Afghanistan. As reported by Kathy Kelly:
I often hear Afghan individuals and groups express longing for a far more democratic process than is allowed them in a country dominated by warlords, the U.S./NATO militaries, and their commanders.  In the U.S., a lack of crucial information increasingly threatens democratic processes. How can people make informed choices if their leaders deliberately withhold crucial information from them?  Manning’s disclosures have brought desperately needed light to the U.S. and to countries around the world, including struggling countries like Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Press Freedom Foundation raised funds to pay for a court stenographer "for the people" as the U.S. government declines to release a transcript, and the military judge speaks so rapidly as to defy accurate reporting. (A clandestine audio recording of Manning's only public statement in three years may be found here.) The judge has ruled that twenty-three of the government's witnesses may testify in secret.

The majority of applications for press credentials to attend Bradley Manning's trial have been denied. As reported by Scott Galindez and Mark Ash of Reader Supported News, one of the press organizations being denied access:
According to the Army, 350 reporters applied for credentials to the trial of Bradley Manning. Fewer than 100 received credentials, meaning over 250 were denied. Reader Supported News was one of the publications denied. The Army in its notification of denial said, "The U.S. Army Military District of Washington made every effort to ensure a variety of media were credentialed to provide the public (local, national, international) a continuous news feed of the legal proceedings." However the criteria for approval remains vague at best.

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