Private first class Bradley Manning is alleged to have leaked thousands of classified documents revealing massive war crimes committed upon the civilian populations of Iraq and Afghanistan by the U.S. military. He was arrested, placed in solitary confinement and allegedly tortured. After spending 18 months in prison, Manning will finally appear Friday before a military judge at Fort Meade, Md., for a pre-trial hearing under Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The proceedings are expected to last about five days.
The very same dissenting voices that are demanding equality for “the 99 percent” in the various Occupy movements around the country also are demanding justice for Bradley Manning, and that support is crucial. He and his legal team cannot do it alone. He needs our voices and our bodies in the streets in solidarity and support, demanding that he be freed and recognized for putting his conscience and loyalty to America ahead of the Pentagon’s interests. Otherwise, those forces determined to put him away for life will prevail.
Dec. 17 — Saturday -— is an international day of solidarity for Manning (It also happens to be his birthday). Supporters from all over the country, including people from the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy DC movements will be converging on Fort Meade that day. There will also be rallies and vigils held all over the country, including one in Triangle Park in Manhattan starting at 3 p.m.
The government and the people should be examining what’s contained in the leaked war diaries — page after page of wanton and unconscionable killings of innocent civilians, numerous cover-ups, and the arrogance with which the world’s second largest democracy and its mighty military went hand-in-hand with corporations into these countries, displacing millions of people — rather than focusing on the act of leaking the documents themselves. The Obama administration, the Pentagon, the mainstream media and the corporations are the forces at play here, feeding off one another in order to keep the public in a state of constant fear.
The most serious charge Manning faces is of “aiding the enemy.” But is this allegation no more than a coward’s mask behind which the world’s biggest superpower is attempting to hide, ignoring the war crimes revealed in the leaked documents? It really depends on how one views the “aiding the enemy” allegation. If you view it through the lens of the military machine, then he is guilty of that. But if you view it as an ordinary American, Afghan or Iraqi citizen — the real victims of state-sponsored terrorism — then it looks very different. Who really is the enemy here? We are not talking about bona fide terrorists that the United States might have caught and killed or tortured, and whom you can count on not very many fingers. We are talking about the thousands of civilians who have either died or suffered horribly because of these wars. If the “enemy” in “aiding the enemy” is an Iraqi mother or an Afghan child then, yes, Manning is guilty. And if “aiding” in “aiding the enemy” means letting it be known to the world who really are the victims of these war crimes then yes, he is guilty.
When I read that thousands and thousands of pages have allegedly been released by Manning, including the Army’s own diaries and diplomatic cables, I think of the thousands and thousands of people of Iraq and Afghanistan who have suffered and the many thousands of new enemies — real ones this time — that America is creating for itself in its path to fighting terrorism. Both American democracy and Bradley Manning are on trial here. And the world is watching.
Priti Gulati Cox, a Salina resident, is the Kansas organizer for the anti-war group CODEPINK and the Bradley Manning Support Network and one of the organizers of the rally Saturday in Triangle Park in support of Pfc. Manning.