Posted by CODEPINK Staff
“The United States vs. Bradley Manning.” Instantly this framing infuriates me. Hearing the prosecution being referred to as the United States makes a mockery of a conveniently ignored truth and one of the foundational slogans here at CODEPINK, “Dissent is Patriotic!” Are we not all the United States? I, for one, do not recall signing on to this lawsuit and it is high time we all begin to play closer attention to how often our collective name is haphazardly being used to silence truth tellers. Members from the CODEPINK coalition, alongside other dedicated truth seekers and whistleblower supporters, have been attending the Bradley Manning trial since its conception. I have only had the honor of attending three trial days thus far (July 1st, 2nd, and 8th).
The 1st and 2nd marked the last two days of the prosecution case and it is no surprise that over the weekend defense attorney David Coombs filed motions to dismiss up to seven of the total 22 charges. I personally attribute this to the prosecution’s terrible argument and a lack of cohesive strategy. The stipulation read by the prosecution on the basis of aiding the enemy can be summed up in a nutshell, “Al Qaeda has been using the public internet since the 1990’s.” Of course Al Qaeda is on the internet, along with the vast majority of people and groups on this planet! If that is the best the “United States” can do to prove Manning aided the enemy (enough to land him in prison for a lifetime) maybe we should chalk it up as a win for the defense. It at least explains why Coombs has included the charge of aiding the enemy in his list for dismissal. It seems the prosecution has thrown the 22 charges at the wall with hopes that some will stick.
David Coombs is a wonderful human being and deserves a shout out. When the trial closes for the day he goes into the waiting room to meet with the people at the trial, thank them for attending, and have generally relaxed conversation with everyone present. It is remarkable how calm and amiable he is, on top of his notable way with words, despite the crushing pressure he is under from supporters and condemners alike.
Then of course, there are numerous closed sessions where classified information gets discussed and the public is kicked out. Due to the progression of the trial and the lack of a substantial prosecution case, I am left to believe that the information discussed has no real impact. But I guess we will never know! Oh the beauty of secret/privileged knowledge.
July 8th sparked a new energy in the courtroom, one that reminded us all of the genuine historical importance of this particular trial. Now that the defense is running the show, I expect more organization and better arguments all around. This shift already became noticeable as the defense took the floor. After all, it does not hurt that transparency and general truth are both on Manning’s side. For the first time the overflow trailer was full of people, many rocking their “truth” t-shirts and “Free Bradley Manning” stickers that Fort Meade so graciously let us keep on (post car search and general rudeness from the majority of the fort entrance security). Coombs began by showing the ‘Collateral Murder’ video Bradley gave to Wikileaks. Sighs, gasps, and general disgust could be heard audibly in the courtroom and the viewing trailer, the images reminding us all of the US military policies and actions that have normalized indiscriminate death and disconnected warfare to the point where soldiers are taunting the people on their screen to grab weapons so they have a reason to kill them. This is the truth that we can thank Bradley Manning for putting on trial.
An observant individual can walk into the blocked off location of the trial (and the base in general for that matter) and feel the emotion. I have spoken with people who are overwhelmed by Bradley’s courage and experiences to the point of tears. After my first day at the trial, I broke down uncontrollably, the solemnity completely overwhelming me. If supporters are feeling such depth in emotional response to the trial and embodying the intensity of solidarity to this degree, one can only imagine how Bradley Manning has felt every day for close to four years.
There is a trial being conducted in our name, one that is open to the public but not being recorded for outside viewing. Where are the people?? It has been nothing short of inspiring to meet the individuals who have flown or driven in from all over the country to pay tribute to Manning’s act of bravery and show him their love and support. But where is everyone else? I realize it is much easier to support from afar and for many it is not practical to leave work/daily responsibilities to attend the trial. So if that is the case, write him letters, do your research, connect with support networks, call the US Department of Defense (703.571.3343 then click 5) and use your voice. Bradley Manning has spent more than three years paying for his act of bravery, much of that time in solitary confinement and under terrible conditions with the threat of the most powerful imperialist in the world looming over him, all to give the public access to the reality of the atrocities being committed as a greater representation of ourselves and the nation we are tied to. Beyond that, Manning walks into the Fort Meade courtroom every day exuding professionalism and respect with his head held high. A small act of solidarity is the least we can do. The culture of whistleblowing is being defined before our eyes, especially in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks and the seemingly never-ending manhunt that has followed. It is our responsibility to direct and control this undetermined (for now) shift to one we as a nation formed on dissent can be proud of instead of letting the “United States” do it for us.
For daily court updates and more information, visit bradleymanning.org. Do it. I am hearing now that Nathan Fuller, the witness from today, July 10th, spit some truth and blew it out of the water for the defense. Go check it out!
Jessika Seekatz will be entering her last year at San Diego State University this fall, studying Women's Studies as well as International Security and Conflict Resolution. She is currently interning with CODEPINK in DC for Summer 2013.