ABC News reports: “A large crowd is expected at Fort Meade this weekend for a mass demonstration in support of Army Private First Class Bradley Manning.
“Manning is accused of leaking classified information to the website WikiLeaks. He is charged with aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage Act. His trial is set to start on Monday, June 3.”
MICHAEL RATNER, mratner at ccrjustice.org, @justleft
Available for a limited number of interviews, Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. He said today: “The Manning trial is occurring in the context of perhaps the most repressive atmosphere for free press in recent memory. It was bad enough that the Obama administration prosecuted twice the number of whistleblowers than all prior administrations combined. Then it went after logs and records of journalists and publishers: AP; Fox reporter James Rosen; and of course it targeted WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The administration response to the outcry: Obama suggests a new shield law and now Holder has some new rules that ‘may’ restrict government overreach [New York Times: “New Rules May Rein In Prosecutors in Leak Investigations“.] My response to this: LOL. Laughing out Loud. Let’s start without abstractions: End the persecution of Bradley Manning, Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown; release whistleblowers from prison; stop spying on journalists; and end its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.
“The trial of Bradley Manning beginning Monday is an egregious mix of secrecy, persecution and repression. He has already pleaded to 20 years. What kind of inhuman government do we have, continuing a prosecution with the goal of life in prison for this American hero who exposed the criminality and venality of the U.S. war and diplomatic machine. But it’s all part of a piece: Jail truth tellers like Bradley Manning, Jeremy Hammond and go after the journalists and publishers like Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as well. Ultimately the truth will out, but the truth tellers are paying a high cost for taking on the secrets of American domination and empire.” See Ratner’s recent interviews with The Real News.
Ratner will be speaking with Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, and others at a panel discussion: “Manning and the Media” in Washington, D.C. at Sunday, June 2, 2013, from 5 to 7 p.m. For details and information on other events and protests around the trail of Manning, see bradleymanning.org.
GERRY CONDON, firstname.lastname@example.org
Media coordinator for Veterans for Peace, Condon can arrange interviews with other activists. The group released a statement: “Military veterans are turning out in force to show support for PFC Bradley Manning this Saturday, June 1, 1 p.m. at Fort Meade. …
“What Manning released through WikiLeaks was evidence of the routine killing of civilians by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the routine cover-up of these war crimes. The Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diaries also revealed that military and civilian leaders were lying to the U.S. people when they presented rosy assessments of the progress of those wars. …
“PFC Manning has been held in prison for over three years, much of it in solitary confinement and under other abusive treatment, as documented by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.
“The Army’s court martial of Manning, which begins on Monday, is expected to continue throughout the summer, with the prosecution presenting over 100 government witnesses, many of them in secret testimony. Veterans For Peace will participate in a daily vigil outside the front gate of Fort Meade.”
Veterans for Peace highlighted what Manning said on Thursday, February 28, explaining his motivations: “I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan. … I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”
The group added: “One of the most moving aspects of Manning’s testimony was his explanation as to why he released the so-called ‘Collateral Murder‘ video, which shows the gunning down in Baghdad of two Reuters journalists and bystanders by American soldiers in a U.S. Apache helicopter. Manning described being deeply troubled by the video, especially the crew’s ‘lack of concern for human life’ and lack of ‘concern for injured children at the scene.'”