U.S. whistleblower and international hero Bradley Manning has just been awarded the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award by the International Peace Bureau, itself a former recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, for which Manning is a nominee this year.
A petition supporting Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize has gathered 88,000 signatures, many of them with comments, and is aiming for 100,000 before delivering it to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo. Anyone can sign and add their comments at ManningNobel.org
The International Peace Bureau (IPB) represents 320 organizations in 70 countries. It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1910. Over the years, 13 of IPB’s officers have been Nobel Peace laureates. See ipb.org
The Sean MacBride prize has been awarded each year since 1992 by the International Peace Bureau, founded in 1892. Previous winners include: Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisian blogger) and Nawal El-Sadaawi (Egyptian author) – 2012, Jackie Cabasso (USA, 2008), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka, 2007) and the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2006). It is named after Sean MacBride, a distinguished Irish statesman who shared the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize, and is given to individuals or organisations for their outstanding work for peace, disarmament and human rights.
The medal is made of “peace bronze,” a material created out of disarmed and recycled nuclear weapons systems, by fromwartopeace.com The prize will be formally awarded on Sept. 14 in Stockholm, at a special evening on whistleblowing, which forms part of the triennial gathering of the International Peace Bureau. See brochure at: PDF.
IPB’s Co-President Tomas Magnusson said, “IPB believes that among the very highest moral duties of a citizen is to make known war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is within the broad meaning of the Nuremberg Principles enunciated at the end of the Second World War. When Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the U.S. military he did so as an act of obedience to this high moral duty. It is for this reason too that Manning has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In more general terms it is well known that war operations, and especially illegal ones, are frequently conducted under the cover of secrecy. To penetrate this wall of secrecy by revealing information that should be accessible to all is an important contribution to the struggle against war, and acts as a challenge to the military system which dominates both the economy and society in today’s world. IPB believes that whistleblowers are vital in upholding democracies – especially in the area of defense and security. A heavy sentence for Manning would not only be unjust but would also have very negative effects on the right to freedom of expression which the U.S. claims to uphold.”
Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire recently wrote: “I have chosen to nominate U.S. Army Pfc Bradley Manning, for I can think of no one more deserving. His incredible disclosure of secret documents to Wikileaks helped end the Iraq War, and may have helped prevent further conflicts elsewhere.”
Maguire explains how far-reaching Manning’s impact has been: “While there is a legitimate and long-overdue movement for peace and non-violent reform in Syria, the worst acts of violence are being perpetrated by outside groups. Extremist groups from around the world have converged upon Syria, bent on turning this conflict into one of ideological hatred. In recent years this would have spelled an undeniable formula for United States intervention. However, the world has changed in the years since Manning’s whistleblowing — the Middle East especially. In Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, and now Turkey, advocates of democracy have joined together to fight against their own governments’ control of information, and used the free-flowing data of social media to help build enormously successful non-violent movements. Some activists of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring have even directly credited Bradley Manning, and the information he disclosed, as an inspiration for their struggles.
“. . . If not for whistleblower Bradley Manning, the world still might not know of how U.S. forces committed covert crimes in the name of spreading democracy in Iraq . . . Now, those who would support foreign intervention in the Middle East know that every action would be scrutinized under international human rights law. Clearly, this is for the best. International peacekeepers, as well as experts and civilians inside Syria, are nearly unanimous in their view that United States involvement would only worsen this conflict.”
Won’t you add your name to the petition now?
Mairead Maguire adds: “Around the world, Manning is hailed as a peacemaker and a hero. His nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is a reflection of this. Yet at his home in America, Manning stands trial for charges of espionage and ‘aiding the enemy’. This should not be considered a refutation of his candidacy — rather, he is in good company. Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo were each awarded the prize in recent years while imprisoned by their home countries.”
With thousands of articles being written about Edward Snowden, many of them repetitious, we must remember another whistleblower who is presently on trial. Bradley Manning must not be forgotten.
Private Manning is being court-martialed for giving secret information to WikiLeaks in 2009 and 2012, while he was a junior intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq. Government prosecutors claim that Manning had obtained 700,000 files, combat videos, and diplomatic transmissions.
The prosecution’s case ended today, Tuesday. The defense will begin on Monday.
Julian Assange, an Australian, says the charges are reprisal for WikiLeaks’ publication of information embarrassing to the U.S. and other governments.
Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, an author and peace prize winner, believes that Manning should receive the ‘Nobel Peace Prize.’ She believes he should be credited for helping to end the war in Iraq, and keeping the United States from participating in other conflicts.
Ms. Corrigan-Maguire says this about peace: “Peace is more than simply the absence of war; it is the active creation of something better. Alfred Nobel recognized this when he created alongside those for chemistry, literature, medicine and physics, an annual prize for outstanding contributions in peace. Nobel’s foresight is a reminder to us all that peace must be created, maintained, and advanced, and it is indeed possible for one individual to have an extraordinary impact.”
I’ve never read a better definition.
Ms. Corrigan-Maguire recently returned from Syria. She spoke with refugees, rebels, and Syrian security forces. She says that hawks such as John McCain are wrong about assisting the rebels. The majority of the extreme violence is the product of outside military components on both sides. She said that the ‘true rebels’ and Syrian forces, all want to find a way to a peaceful end to the conflict.
She said that before Manning’s actions, and a growing condemnation of our continued presence in Iraq by the American people, Syria would already have been invaded by a number of U.S. forces.
Transparency of crimes against humanity is prevalent in the Middle East today. She said if Manning had not taken actions, the world would not have known the truth about the atrocities inside Iraq. US forces committed covert crimes in the name of spreading democracy in Iraq, killing innocent civilians in incidents such as the one depicted in the “Collateral Murder” video, and supported Iraqi prisoner torture.
She points out that Manning is the only one on trial. None of those who committed inhumane acts during the Iraqi conflict have been brought up on charges.
Ms. Corrigan-McGuire’s final words: “I hope American leaders will embrace the U.S. constitution, and base their national and foreign policies on ethical values, human rights and international law.”
Alfred James reporting OP-ED
As a peace prize winner myself, I am nominating Manning for this honor for his work to help end the Iraq War and other conflicts
Peace is more than simply the absence of war; it is the active creation of something better. Alfred Nobel recognized this when he created alongside those for chemistry, literature, medicine and physics, an annual prize for outstanding contributions in peace. Nobel’s foresight is a reminder to us all that peace must be created, maintained, and advanced, and it is indeed possible for one individual to have an extraordinary impact. For this year’s prize, I have chosen to nominate US Army Pfc Bradley Manning, for I can think of no one more deserving. His incredible disclosure of secret documents to Wikileaks helped end the Iraq War, and may have helped prevent further conflicts elsewhere.
I recently visited Syria, where I met a few of the millions of refugees and internally displaced people whose lives have been torn apart by the ongoing conflict in that country. I learned from those I spoke to, both within the government and in opposition groups, that while there is a legitimate and long-overdue movement for peace and non-violent reform in Syria, the worst acts of violence are being perpetrated by outside groups. Extremist groups from around the world have converged upon Syria, bent on turning this conflict into one of ideological hatred.
In recent years this would have spelled an undeniable formula for United States intervention. However, the world has changed in the years since Manning’s whistleblowing — the Middle East especially. In Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, and now Turkey, advocates of democracy have joined together to fight against their own governments’ control of information, and used the free-flowing data of social media to help build enormously successful non-violent movements. Some activists of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring have even directly credited Bradley Manning, and the information he disclosed, as an inspiration for their struggles.
In a Middle East newly dedicated to democratic flow of information, those who would commit human rights violations can more easily be held accountable. If not for whistleblower Bradley Manning, the world still might not know of how US forces committed covert crimes in the name of spreading democracy in Iraq, killing innocent civilians in incidents such as the one depicted in the “Collateral Murder” video, and supporting Iraqi prisoner torture. Now, those who would support foreign intervention in the Middle East know that every action would be scrutinized under international human rights law. Clearly, this is for the best. International peacekeepers, as well as experts and civilians inside Syria, are nearly unanimous in their view that United States involvement would only worsen this conflict.
Around the world, Manning is hailed as a peacemaker and a hero. His nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is a reflection of this. Yet at his home in America, Manning stands trial for charges of espionage and “aiding the enemy.” This should not be considered a refutation of his candidacy — rather, he is in good company. Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo were each awarded the prize in recent years while imprisoned by their home countries.
Last week at Manning’s trial, the public learned that at the time Manning released his information, WikiLeaks stated they wanted to publish “the concealed documents or recordings most sought after by a country’s journalists, activists, historians, lawyers, police or human rights investigators.” Manning’s disclosures to Wikileaks only “aided the enemy,” as his prosecutors charge, if the enemy is international cooperation and peace itself.
Manning is the only one on trial, yet what of those who committed the atrocities he revealed? The United States, the most militarized country on earth, should stand for something better than war. Its government must be open to “debates, discussions and reforms” concerning its foreign policy, to use Manning’s own words. By heeding Pfc Bradley Manning’s message on the importance of transparency, America’s government can once again rebuild its image in the eyes of the world, and spread democracy not through foreign invasions, but through setting a strong example.
I hope American leaders will embrace the U.S. constitution, and base their national and foreign policies on ethical values, human rights and international law.
Mairead Corrigan-Maguire was awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her extraordinary actions to help end the deep ethnic/political conflict in her native Northern Ireland. She shares the award (more…)
It has now been a year since I entered this embassy and sought refuge from persecution.
As a result of that decision, I have been able to work in relative safety from a US espionage investigation.
But today, Edward Snowden’s ordeal is just beginning.
Two dangerous runaway processes have taken root in the last decade, with fatal consequences for democracy.
Government secrecy has been expanding on a terrific scale.
Simultaneously, human privacy has been secretly eradicated.
A few weeks ago, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on an ongoing program — involving the Obama administration, the intelligence community and the internet services giants — to spy on everyone in the world.
As if by clockwork, he has been charged with espionage by the Obama administration.
The US government is spying on each and every one of us, but it is Edward Snowden who is charged with espionage for tipping us off.
It is getting to the point where the mark of international distinction and service to humanity is no longer the Nobel Peace Prize, but an espionage indictment from the US Department of Justice.
Edward Snowden is the eighth leaker to be charged with espionage under this president.
Bradley Manning‘s show trial enters its fourth week on Monday.
After a litany of wrongs done to him, the US government is trying to convict him of “aiding the enemy.”
The word “traitor” has been thrown around a lot in recent days.
But who is really the traitor here?
Who was it who promised a generation “hope” and “change,” only to betray those promises with dismal misery and stagnation?
Who took an oath to defend the US constitution, only to feed the invisible beast of secret law devouring it alive from the inside out?
Who is it that promised to preside over The Most Transparent Administration in history, only to crush whistleblower after whistleblower with the bootheel of espionage charges?
Who combined in his executive the powers of judge, jury and executioner, and claimed the jurisdiction of the entire earth on which to exercise those powers?
Who arrogates the power to spy on the entire earth — every single one of us — and when he is caught red handed, explains to us that “we’re going to have to make a choice.”
Who is that person?
Let’s be very careful about who we call “traitor”.
Edward Snowden is one of us.
Bradley Manning is one of us.
They are young, technically minded people from the generation that Barack Obama betrayed.
They are the generation that grew up on the internet, and were shaped by it.
The US government is always going to need intelligence analysts and systems administrators, and they are going to have to hire them from this generation and the ones that follow it.
One day, their generation will run the NSA, the CIA and the FBI.
This isn’t a phenomenon that is going away.
This is inevitable.
And by trying to crush these young whistleblowers with espionage charges, the US government is taking on a generation, and that is a battle it is going to lose.
This isn’t how to fix things.
The only way to fix things is this:
Change the policies.
Stop spying on the world.
Eradicate secret law.
Cease indefinite detention without trial.
Stop assassinating people.
Stop invading other countries and sending young Americans off to kill and be killed.
Stop the occupations, and discontinue the secret wars.
The charging of Edward Snowden is intended to intimidate any country that might be considering standing up for his rights.
That tactic must not be allowed to work.
The effort to find asylum for Edward Snowden must be intensified.
What brave country will stand up for him, and recognize his service to humanity?
Tell your governments to step forward.
Step forward and stand with Snowden.
At its core, the ongoing military trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the admitted conveyer of three-quarters of a million classified U.S. government documents to Wikileaks, is about the evolution of big data into a relentless and almost certainly unstoppable social force. Pfc. Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst arrested in May 2010 and charged with 22 offenses involving the passing of information to Wikileaks, is seen by many as a whistleblower whose actions revealed mendacious covert actions of the U.S. government in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and elsewhere.
Many consider Manning a hero on the level of Nobel Peace Prize laureates Martin Luther King Jr/ or Polish champion of democracy Lech Walesa. In fact, some 65,000 people already support a petition to award Bradley Manning the Nobel Peace Prize for the way the information he passed to WikiLeaks contributed to withdrawing troops from Iraq. Others see him as a traitor whose leaks have materially aided and abetted enemies of the U.S., noting that among the documents found with Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan hideaway, were a trove of the documents Manning leaked about U.S. actions against Al-Qaeda.
Manning has pled guilty to ten of the charges against him with a maximum sentence of 16 years. But the Obama administration, clearly alarmed at the ease of such a classified info hemorrhage, is continuing to try Manning on the other 12 charges. Wikipedia (which has no connection to Wikileaks) reports that the most remaining serious charge is “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense, though prosecutors have said they would not seek the death penalty. Still if convicted on that charge Manning could face life imprisonment.
The Financial Times, which has been covering the trial, comments that “The problems of balancing a free press with keeping secrets is bedeviling the Manning trial, with prosecutors estimating about 30% of proceedings will be shut, to protect classified evidence and the identity of witnesses.”
The judge in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning has said that she will close portions of the trial to the public to protect classified material, a ruling that is likely to frustrate civil liberties groups that have alleged that the case is being shrouded in secrecy.
In civilian court such a closed trial would not be permissible, and an attempt to bar disclosure of secrets might result in a dismissal. But Manning’s court-martial is conducted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which grants the military judges the discretion to close trials to protect sensitive information. That means Manning could be imprisoned for life without the public knowing precisely why.
So, big data?
In part, the Manning incident only points out the virtual impossibility of protecting secrets in a social cosmos of instantaneous communication and universal access to information. No matter how harsh a punishment the court visits upon Manning, the documents he leaked are out there everywhere in the cloud, impossible to recall. Anybody who has stupidly posted an embarrassing photo on Facebook knows the futility of trying to rebottle that genie.
The emerging kerfuffle over the National Security Agency’s surveillance and data mining of most internet communications from foreign nationals, looking for traces of information suggesting communications between terrorists or others threating harm to the U.S., is an example of government worry over this phenomenon. (Paranoia? Maybe, but as the old saw goes, even paranoids have enemies). The fact that China apparently has a sophisticated information espionage operation directed against government and corporate IT systems in the U.S. is similarly a big worry. Many other countries are likely doing similar information espionage and making similar efforts to plug information leaks. (Fast systems today can quickly examine and mine usable information from exabytes of data – an exabyte is a million times the storage contained in your home computer’s 1 terabyte hard drive.)
The computing power of the fictional super computer of the TV series Person of Interest — capable of tracking what every human on earth is doing in real time — is probably only a couple of Moore’s generations from reality. With that in mind it is clear that Bradley Manning’s leaks are only a splash in a much large ocean of issues about the control and dissemination of information in this new age of big data. We are rapidly approaching a time when we will be able to instantaneously discover the details of everything occurring in the world. Sadly, what seems still far away is an equally powerful filter to differentiate between what we need to know and what we need to keep private.
An aphorism attributed to Mark Twain (and others) goes that a lie can travel halfway around the world in the time it takes for truth to get its boots on. Apply that to the flow of information and you might say that embarrassing facts can travel everywhere in the world in less time than it takes for the data cops to know those facts have been stolen.
So, whether Pfc. Bradley Manning is a traitor or a hero to you, he is only among the first of a new breed of information Robin Hoods stealing information from the knowledgeable to give to a world hungry to be informed.
Of all the charges against Bradley Manning, the most pernicious — and revealing — is “aiding the enemy.”
A blogger at The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, raised a pair of big questions that now loom over the courtroom at Fort Meade and over the entire country:
“In that case, who is aiding the enemy — the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”
When the deceptive operation of the warfare state can’t stand the light of day, truth-tellers are a constant hazard. And culpability must stay turned on its head.
That’s why accountability was upside-down when the U.S. Army prosecutor laid out the government’s case against Bradley Manning in an opening statement: “This is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of classified documents and dumped them onto the Internet, into the hands of the enemy — material he knew, based on his training, would put the lives of fellow soldiers at risk.”
If so, those fellow soldiers have all been notably lucky; the Pentagon has admitted that none died as a result of Manning’s leaks in 2010. But many of his fellow soldiers lost their limbs or their lives in U.S. warfare made possible by the kind of lies that the U.S. government is now prosecuting Bradley Manning for exposing.
In the real world, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, prosecution for leaks is extremely slanted. ” Let’s apply the government’s theory in the Manning case to one of the most revered journalists in Washington: Bob Woodward, who has become one of America’s richest reporters, if not the richest, by obtaining and publishing classified information far more sensitive than anything WikiLeaks has ever published,” Greenwald wrote in January.
He noted that “one of Woodward’s most enthusiastic readers was Osama bin Laden,” as a 2011 video from al-Qaeda made clear. And Greenwald added that “the same Bob Woodward book [Obama’s Wars] that Osama bin Laden obviously read and urged everyone else to read disclosed numerous vital national security secrets far more sensitive than anything Bradley Manning is accused of leaking. Doesn’t that necessarily mean that top-level government officials who served as Woodward’s sources, and the author himself, aided and abetted al-Qaida?”
But the prosecution of Manning is about carefully limiting the information that reaches the governed. Officials who run U.S. foreign policy choose exactly what classified info to dole out to the public. They leak like self-serving sieves to mainline journalists such as Woodward, who has divulged plenty of “Top Secret” information — a category of classification higher than anything Bradley Manning is accused of leaking.
While pick-and-choose secrecy is serving Washington’s top war-makers, the treatment of U.S. citizens is akin to the classic description of how to propagate mushrooms: keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit.
In effect, for top managers of the warfare state, “the enemy” is democracy.
Let’s pursue the inquiry put forward by columnist Amy Davidson early this year. If it is aiding the enemy “to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government,” then in reality “who is aiding the enemy — the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”
Candid answers to such questions are not only inadmissible in the military courtroom where Bradley Manning is on trial. Candor is also excluded from the national venues where the warfare state preens itself as virtue’s paragon.
Yet ongoing actions of the U.S. government have hugely boosted the propaganda impact and recruiting momentum of forces that Washington publicly describes as “the enemy.” Policies under the Bush and Obama administrations — in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and beyond, with hovering drones, missile strikes and night raids, at prisons such as Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo and secret rendition torture sites — have “aided the enemy” on a scale so enormous that it makes the alleged (and fictitious) aid to named enemies from Manning’s leaks infinitesimal in comparison.
Blaming the humanist PFC messenger for “aiding the enemy” is an exercise in self-exculpation by an administration that cannot face up to its own vast war crimes.
While prosecuting Bradley Manning, the prosecution may name al-Qaeda, indigenous Iraqi forces, the Taliban or whoever. But the unnamed “enemy” — the real adversary that the Pentagon and the Obama White House are so eager to quash — is the incessant striving for democracy that requires informed consent of the governed.
The forces that top U.S. officials routinely denounce as “the enemy” will never threaten the power of the USA‘s dominant corporate-military elites. But the unnamed “enemy” aided by Bradley Manning’s courageous actions — the people at the grassroots who can bring democracy to life beyond rhetoric — are a real potential threat to that power.
Accusations of aid and comfort to the enemy were profuse after Martin Luther King Jr. moved forward to expose the Johnson administration’s deceptions and the U.S. military’s atrocities. Most profoundly, with his courageous stand against the war in Vietnam, King earned his Nobel Peace Prize during the years after he won it in 1964.
Bradley Manning may never win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he surely deserves it. Close to 60,000 people have already signed a petition urging the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the prize to Manning. To become a signer, click here.
Also, you can preview a kindred project on the “I Am Bradley Manning” site, where a just-released short video — the first stage of a longer film due out soon — features Daniel Ellsberg, Oliver Stone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Phil Donahue, Alice Walker, Peter Sarsgaard, Wallace Shawn, Russell Brand, Moby, Tom Morello, Michael Ratner, Molly Crabapple, Davey D, Tim DeChristopher, Josh Stieber, Lt. Dan Choi, Hakim Green, Matt Taibbi, Chris Hedges, Allan Nairn, Leslie Cagan, Ahdaf Soueif and Jeff Madrick.
From many walks of life, our messages will become louder and clearer as Bradley Manning’s trial continues. He is guilty of “aiding the enemy” only if the enemy is democracy.
Born Lhamo Dhondup, July 6,1935 in the Taskar region of Northeast Tibet. At the age of two, was recognized as the re-incarnated 14th Dalai Lama, now Tenzin Ygatzo. Fled Communist China imprisonment in 1959. Awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Received USA‘s Congressional Gold Medal )
In it’s chaotic history, one of the most enlightened moments that our American Congress has ever had, was when they awarded our Congressional Gold Medal to the much admired (and exiled) Tibetan head of state! This missive is meant to add my congratulations and thanks.
Not many in America know that you were born first, then later you were re-incarnated. Not many here know that your name is now Tenzin Ygatzo, not Dolly Lama. This is our collective loss, so you can see, you still have much to teach us! Kinda like when Buddha said: ” When a student is ready……a teacher will appear! ” Please teach us to become more aware.
I too, want autonomous government in Tibet. Ever since “An Officer and Gentleman” anything Richard Gere wants concerning you and the people of Tibet, is OK with me! Maybe you might hire a political consultant to help with that here. I hear Karl Rove and James Carvelle both need jobs.
By the way, I’d like to ask a favor of you. Could you…would you ask all of those other Dalai Lama(s) inside your head, of which I believe you are the most recently re-incarnated…Please give all of them my best…and ask them for me…if anyone has ever trod the path to enlightenment wearing red shoes? A timely answer here could save me a lot of hassle, Thanks!
Also, some questions I have about spirituality and religion need expert help, and I consider you an expert in both. I was raised as a Christian, flirted with Mormonism, and dabbled in both Catholicism and the Blue Oyster Cult. After I turned thirty, mostly I’ve tried to live as a Buddhist, struggling with my own personal search for universal oneness. I believe we should all love one another. With all the extremists of the world’s religions in such dangerous and violent conflict, I look to you, Master Tenzin. I want you to show me the way! (Please forgive me for quoting Peter Frampton again?)
Here’s my question: Do you think…is it possible…could it be….that Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Vishnu, and Buddha were ALL THE SAME GUY??
So many of their teachings are quite similar, it makes me wonder if this same guy visited Earth at different times and places, teaching his truths to different people? Or maybe… I’ve just seen way too many episodes of “Star Trek”.
So, using a techno-talk metaphor: Is His Holiness hot-wired to the preceding Dalai Lama(s) and, or, any of these respected prophets?? Can you talk with these venerable souls? If so, would you please ask these esteemed persons three questions for me, please? Or, maybe you could just text my questions to them.
1) How does laughter heal human bodies?
2) What is the meaning of Coca-Cola?
3) When one finds happiness, how’s the best way to share it?
If you can get me these answers, I’ll tell everybody! And I mean EVERYBODY!
Anyhow, Congrats on getting our Congressional Gold Medal! And, if you need any help with those pesky Chinese folks, Richard Gere and I would be glad to help you.
Happy 78th Birthday! May a warm light shine on your path!
The Comic (still searching for enlightenment) In Red Shoes
PS: I saw that you shook hands with our President. If you wash your hands long enough, most of him will come off!
One of the greatest deceptions the world has witnessed is the Dalai Lama pretending to follow Ghandian non-violence – a pretence that won him the Nobel Peace Prize – when in reality he supports violence.
Part 1 The US embassy and state department notes make this totally clear- See Below
Part 2 Torture and Punishment in the Dalai Lama’s Tibet in pictures- Nothing could be further from the truth than the popular myth of pre-invasion Tibet as a Shangri-la. These photos show horrific and inhumane punishments regularly meted out by the ruling classes right up to the time when the Dalai Lama fled his homeland. Part 3 below The Nazi buddies of the Dalai Lama Part 4 below The Dalai Lama enjoying the high life with Chairman Mao and other Chinese notables Part 5 The Dalai Lama and Shoko Asahara
The Dalai Lama Cables: Follow the Money Recently declassified US State Department cables reveal the workings of the Dalai Lama and his inner circle. Throughout the 1950s the Dalai Lama negotiated with the US government for military and financial assistance. In the State Department document ‘United States Policy Concerning the Legal Status of Tibet – 1942 – 1956’, a summary of the US government’s response is given: ‘The United States was prepared to provide light arms, but it was not prepared to pay the expenses of the Dalai Lama and his retinue if they sought asylum abroad, because it assumed that the Dalai Lama had enough treasure to pay his own expenses.’ When the Dalai Lama finally did flee Tibet in early 1959, he sent his brother, Gyalo Thondup, to ask for financial and military assistance. Gyalo Thondup let it be known that: ‘The Dalai Lama did not bring out any treasures from Tibet and consequently was very hard up financially’. The declassified documents show that the Dalai Lama received a personal subsidy from the US government – a covert payment arranged by the CIA – of 180,000 US Dollars per year from 1959 through till at least 1974. To put this in a modern context 180,000 dollars in the 1950s would be worth nearly 1.5 million today, and 180,000 dollars in the seventies would be worth nearly 800,000 today. Considering the US intended not to support the Dalai Lama financially that’s a pretty generous subsidy to have squeezed out of them.
Camp Hale Colorado where the CIA Trained Tibetan guerrillas
The Dalai Lama with Tibetan Guerillas
Old Buddies meet up -John Kenneth Knaus, the CIA station chief who ran these covert actions in the late 1950s and 1960s. Above Photo approx 1995
Dalai Lama inspecting troops 1972
Torture and Punishment in the Dalai Lama’s Tibet in pictures Nothing could be further from the truth than the popular myth of pre-invasion Tibet as a Shangri-la. These photos show horrific and inhumane punishments regularly meted out by the ruling classes right up to the time when the Dalai Lama fled his homeland.
This photograph shows a Tibetan whose eyes were gouged out with the kinds of instruments that were used for this kind of punishment. Anna Louise Strong describes torture implements she saw when visiting Tibet in 1959: “There were handcuffs of many sizes, including small ones for small children; there were instruments for cutting off noses and ears, and other instruments for breaking off the hands. There were instruments for gouging out eyes, including a special stone cap with two holes in it that was pressed down over the head so that the eyes bulged out through the hole, in which position they were gouged out and hot oil poured in into the sockets.”
This photograph shows bKra-shis, a herdsman, whose foot tendons were taken out as punishment. Anna Louise Strong describes the torture instruments she saw in Tibet in 1959: “There were instruments for slicing off knee-caps, after which boiling oil was applied there. other instruments sliced off the heels or hamstrung men, making permanent cripples. there were instruments for sealing the forehead with a red hot brand. there were various kinds of whips for flogging, with wooden paddles, or with ropes or wires. there were special instruments for dis-embowelling.”
Stuart and Roma Gelder met Tsereh Wang Tuei in Tibet in 1962. He told them his story: “Without emotion he told us that he was born a serf of Drepung in the village of Peichang, on the edge of the grasslands where we met him. He became a herdsman, looking after sheep and yaks. when he was twenty years old he stole two sheep belonging to a petty official of the monastery, named Gambo. For this crime he was taken before the monastic magistrate who ordered that both his eyes should be put out. Tsereh Wang Tuei drew his hand across his face as he described how one was gouged with a knife and the other sucked from its socket with a half-hollowed ball. Then adding a little private punishment of his own, Gambo instructed the ‘executioner’ to tie up Tsereh’s left hand with rope and twist and pull it until parts of two fingers came off. To complete the torture, the bleeding hand was wrapped in salted yak hide. When the leather had shrunk it was permitted to be removed. What was left was a useless piece of flesh and crushed bone. we asked Tsereh Wang Tuei, ‘Are you a Buddhist?’ ‘I was,’ he said. ‘But not now?’ ‘No,’ he replied. ‘When a holy lama told them to blind me I thought there was no good in religion.’”
In her book, Tibetan Interviews, Anna Lousie Strong, recounts: “A herdsman, speaking at the big mass meeting with arms uplifted to show that the hands were long since broken off at the wrist. But the strong face spoke now neither of pain nor of horror but only of judgement as the man said: “This lord took away my wife and I never again saw her. He beat off my hands when I opposed him. He also beat of the hands of my younger brother, who was weaker than I and who died of shock and loss of blood. My sister died of the terror. My old mother is ill ever since.”
Public Torture in Lhasa These Tibetans are terrified as they await punishment. They were frontier guards who – following their standard proceedure – shot and killed some foreigners who were trying to enter into Tibet. Unknown to them a letter from the Tibetan Government was making it way to them instructing them to greet these foreigners and show them the highest respect. Unfortunately for these guards and the three men they killed, the letter arrived too late. As Frank Bessac, one of the surviving foreigners reported: ‘The leader was to have his nose and both ears cut off. The man who fired the first shot was to lose both ears. A third man was to lose one ear, and the others were to get 50 lashes each.’ The Tibetans were saved from mutilation only by one of the Americans they had shot at. Bessac tells us: ‘I felt that this punishment was too severe, so I asked if it could be lightened. My request was granted. The new sentences were: 200 lashes each for the leader and the man who fired the first shot.’ This 1950 photograph shows their public whipping in Lhasa. After their public whipping the leaders were then put in cangues indefinitely, unable to feed themselves they would only be able to eat through the kindness of others.
Public Whipping in Lhasa This 1950 photograph shows their public whipping in Lhasa. The Tibetans were saved from mutilation only by one of the Americans they had shot at. Bessac tells us: ‘I felt that this punishment was too severe, so I asked if it could be lightened. My request was granted. the new sentences were: 200 lashes each for the leader and the man who fired the first shot.’
Public Torture in Lhasa After their public whipping the leaders were then put in cangues indefinitely. Unable to feed themselves, they would only be able to eat through the kindness of others.
A Tibetan in cangue “A murderer at the prison of Muli. Permanent iron clamps hold the boards of the cangue together; he will wear this for five years, should he live so long. His hands cannot reach his face, so he must be fed a ball of barley flour twice a day by a monk.”
While the Dalai Lama enjoyed his 1000 room mansion the Potala Palace, at its foot was the Potala Shol prison were Tibetans would be tortured and even executed. This photograph shows a Tibetan in the cangue. Sometimes they would remain in the cangue for the rest of their lives.
The Prison below the Potala Palace Underneath the Dalai Lama’s luxurious Potala Palace, Tibetans languished in stocks.
Another prison photo under Potala Prison Another photo of Tibetans in stocks in the Potala Shol prison beneath the Potala.
Below The Nazi buddies of the Dalai Lama
The Dalai with Jorge Haider
In 2006 and 2007, the Dalai Lama publicly gave Jorg Haider his blessings with a ceremonial white scarf (Katag). Haider had been the leader of the Far-Right Austrian Freedom Party (FPO), and known for publically airing his appreciation of the policies of Nazi Germany. So much so that when his party was brought in to form a coalition government in Austria the European Union imposed a diplomatic boycott on Austria because of the FPO’s extreme views.
Dalai Lama with Miguel Serranao
Another Nazi friend of the Dalai Lama was Miguel Serrano head of the Nazi Party in Chile and the author of several books that elevate Hitler to a god-like status. Whilst working as the Chilean ambassador to India between 1959 – 1962, Miguel Serrano, although openly a supporter of the Nazis, kept quiet about his view of Hitler as a god on earth… but even after he published books expounding these views in 1978 and claiming their close connection with Tantric Buddhism, the Dalai Lama maintained a close personal friendship, inviting him to private meetings in 1984 and 1992.
The Dalai Lama with Heinrich Harrer
The Dalai Lama maintained a warm relationship with Heinrich Harrer and both tried to play down his Nazi links. Gerald Lehner’s investigated the matter and found: “In his curriculum vitae for the SS, Harrer mentions his SA membership twice. Handwritten. Furthermore he was friends with and brother-in-law to the Gauleiter of Styria, the mass-murderer Siegfried Uiberreither. Both married the daughters of the German polar explorer Alfred Wegener who at the time had taught in Graz. Furthermore during his time at the Indian internment camp, Harrer boasted to have been there when the Graz synagogue was burnt down in the Crystal night. His contacts to the SA troup came about through the ‘Graz Gymnastic Club’ which was spearheading the (at the time) illegal Nazis in Austria. He remained a member of this club until his death.”
Heinrich Harrer with Hitler
Heinrich Harrer was a tutor to the young Dalai Lama in Tibet, and remained close to him through the decades in exile. Vanity Fair described him as the Dalai Lama’s ‘western guru’. Here he is standing next to Hitler. Harrer was a sergeant in the SS, Hitler’s elite soldiers. For more details about Heinrich Harrer’s nazi past, read Gerald Lehner’s book on the subject.
Another Pal Bruno Berger
nother close Nazi friend of the Dalai Lama’s was Bruno Beger, a war criminal convicted for his ‘scientific research’ on jewish prisoners at Auschwitz. Beger was convicted in 1970 for his part in a mass murder at the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp. This was part of the ‘Ahnenerbe’ (‘Ancestry Heritage’) programme run by August Hirt – one of the most repulsive parts of the Nazi’s grim history. Beger insisted to colleagues that they needed Jewish skulls and so 86 of his subjects were murdered. They were 29 women and 57 men who were transported from Auschwitz and gassed in August 1943, in a special chamber about sixty kilometres south-west of Strasburg, in the Vosges mountains, near Hirt’s headquarters. Beger had X-rayed their 86 skulls and determined their blood types, and after their murder, did work on their skeletons.
Bruno Berger during the war crimes tribunal
The Dalai Lama has maintained a close relationship with Bruno Beger despite his conviction as a Nazi war criminal. In exchange for the legitimacy the Dalai Lama’s friendship bestows on the Nazi scientist, Beger has in return offered writings on Tibet that support the Dalai Lama’s position:
This photo shows Reting, the regent of Tibet, with Bruno Beger, a key member of the SS expeditions to Lhasa.
Below The Dalai Lama enjoying the high life with Chairman Mao and other Chinese notables
The Dalai Lama shaking Chairman Mao’s hands on Oct 13, 1954
The Dalai Lama voting at a Communist Party Convention In March 1955, the Dalai Lama attended the first session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing and was elected vice chairman of the NPC standing committee. In April 1956, he was also appointed the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet.
The Dalai Lama with Deng Xiaoping in 1954
he Dalai Lama having dinner with Chairman Mao and Zhou Enlai. Stuart and Roma Gelder visiting Tibet in 1962, commented that the Dalai Lama and his public statements (such as ‘Learn from the Soviet Union and Construct Our Socialist Fatherland’ and ‘Strive for a Glorious Leap Forward in Tibet’) had been ‘Mao’s most valuable ally in Tibet’.
Part 5 –
The Dalai Lama and Shoko Asahara Good friend of Dalai Lama and praised by the Dalai Lama after giving over a million dollars to Dalai Lama. Also an admirer of Adolph Hitler. Convicted of mass murder by placing poison Sarin gas in the Tokyo subway. The Dalai Lama lobbied for Shoko Asahara to be recognised as a Buddhist leader in Japan
No individual has done more to push back against what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism” than Bradley Manning. The United States is the leading exporter of weapons and itself spends as much preparing for more wars as the rest of the world combined. Manning is the leading actor in opposition to U.S. warmaking, and therefore militarism around the world. What he has done has hurt the cause of violence in a number of other nations as well.
And right now, remaining in prison and facing relentless prosecution by the U.S. government, Manning is in need of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Alfred Nobel’s will left funding for a prize to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
The intent of the prize was to fund this work. As a result of enormous legal expenses, Bradley Manning is in need of that funding, unlike some other peace prize recipients. In addition, his secret trial — with a potential death sentence — could use all the attention that can be shined on it.
The people of the United States and the rest of the world have learned more about the intentions of the U.S. government from Bradley Manning than from anyone else. “Thanks to Manning’s alleged disclosures, we have a sense of what transpired in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have an image of how Washington operates in the world,” author Chase Madar wrote in his book about Manning’s whistleblowing.
“Thanks to those revelations we now know just how our government leaned on the Vatican to quell opposition to the Iraq War. We now know how Washington pressured the German government to block the prosecution of CIA agents who kidnapped an innocent man, Khaled El-Masri, while he was on vacation. We know how our State Department lobbied hard to prevent a minimum wage increase in Haiti, the hemisphere’s poorest nation.”
Manning revealed a secret U.S. war in Yemen, U.S. records of massive civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, video of a U.S. helicopter attack on civilians and their rescuers in Baghdad, and facts about the corruption of numerous governments including those of the United States, Tunisia, and Egypt. In those last two nations Manning’s revelations contributed to nonviolent pro-democracy movements.
Among the revelations made by Manning through WikiLeaks is the extent of time and energy the U.S. State Department puts into marketing U.S. weapons to the world’s governments. We all have a better understanding of the work that is needed for peace as a result of this exposure of “diplomacy” as consisting so greatly of weapons selling.
The Guardian newspaper and BBC Arabic detailed last week how the United States armed and trained Iraqi police commando units that ran torture centers and death squads. Maggie O’Kane, executive producer of the documentary, said: “I hope this film will be a legacy that actually says, ‘If you want to go to war, this is what war means. It means 14-year-old boys being hung up and tortured. It means men being turned on spits. And that’s called counter-insurgency. . . .’ This would not be coming to light if it hadn’t been for Bradley Manning.”
Not only has Manning done the most to resist militarism, but he has done it for its own sake, and not by chance or for any ulterior motive. This is made clear by his recent statement in court and by his earlier communications in the chat logs that have long been a part of his case. Manning was horrified by crimes and abuses. He believed the public should know what was happening. He believed democracy was more important than blind subservience in the name of a “democracy.”
Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Movement in the Icelandic Parliament, the Pirates of the EU; representatives from the Swedish Pirate Party, and the former Secretary of State in Tunisia for Sport & Youth. The nomination states, in part: “These revelations have fueled democratic uprisings around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on the foreign and domestic policies of European nations, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S. troops from the occupation in Iraq.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee ( send them a note ) can either begin awarding the peace prize to opponents of war or continue on its current course — one which already has many questioning, not whether Manning is worthy of the prize, but whether the prize is worthy of Manning.
David Swanson’s books include ” War Is A Lie .” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org . He hosts Talk Nation Radio . Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook .
In the popular imagination, Tibet is a land of snow-capped mountains and sweeping vistas, fluttering prayer flags, crystal blue skies, saffron-robed monks spinning prayer wheels, and, perhaps most of all, timelessness. And likewise, the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet and its chief emissary to the West, is a man of abiding wisdom and compassion, an inspiration and moral compass, a beacon of calm in a frenetic modern world. Set aside the fraught politics of this contested region. If one word sums up what Tibet means to the West it is this: purity.
That sensibility was entrenched long before Hollywood stars like Richard Gere and Stephen Seagal made Tibetan freedom a cause célèbre — most famously in the 1933 British novel Lost Horizon, a fictional account of excursions among lamaseries in the Himalayas, where the protagonist encounters a people who are forever happy, mystically content, slow to age, and isolated from most ills that trouble the human race. Author James Hilton (whose other notable work is Goodbye, Mr. Chips) depicts “Shangri-la,” a monastery nestled in a misty mountain valley; its name has since become synonymous with earthly paradise.
Tibet’s enduring hold on Western minds — together with the energetic, globe-trotting advocacy of the Dalai Lama — helps explain why the concerns of the region’s minority population are so familiar to so many so far away. (By comparison, it took violence in the streets of Urumqi to awaken foreign readers to the agitation of another of China’s minority groups, the Uighurs.) In the Washington, D.C., neighborhood where I live, more than a few homes have decorative Tibetan prayer flags strung sentimentally across balconies and backyard porches. This week, U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to meet with the Dalai Lama in the Oval Office — over the inevitable protests of Chinese authorities.
Besides being the spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama is also the author of dozens of religious and self-help books, from The Art of Happiness to The Universe in a Single Atom, published in multiple languages; he drops in to visit political leaders in European capitals and entertainment moguls in Los Angeles. He has received the Nobel Peace Prize and twice been named to Time magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” The first in his lineage to ever travel to the West, the Dalai Lama has managed to build an impressive multinational media and public relations. (Such is his fame and prestige that some recent awards to His Holiness appear motivated largely to bring good publicity to the donor; the town of Wroclaw, Poland, offered the Dalai Lama honorary citizenship in 2008; Memphis, Tennessee, extended a similar offer last September.)
But how much do Westerners really know about the Dalai Lama? His advocacy of an ethos of compassion and environmental protection are popular among his largely left-leaning Western admirers, while his more socially conservative views tend to be either unknown, or selectively ignored. (Christopher Hitchens is one of the few to have taken exception.) He is basically anti-abortion (except in rare circumstances) and ambivalent about homosexuality; his 1996 book, Beyond Dogma, was strikingly explicit in its sexual prohibitions: “A sexual act is deemed proper when the couples use the organs intended for sexual intercourse and nothing else.” In recent years, his remarks on the subject have somewhat softened: he told an audience in San Francisco that while Buddhist teachings historically discourage gay relationships, such prohibitions only apply to Buddhists. (He has also written, rather confusingly, “Homosexuality, whether it is between men or between women, is not improper in itself. What is improper is the use of organs already defined as inappropriate for sexual contact.”)
As for Tibet itself, it’s no Shangri-la.
Various politicians — MPs and former MPs from Iceland and Tunisia, two Pirate Party MEPs from Sweden — have nominated Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize. Anyone can nominate anyone else for the prize, but this is a particularly good one, especially given the torture Manning faced for his brave efforts, and the ongoing persecution he is experiencing. As the nominating letter points out, Obama has already publicly announced his belief that Manning is guilty, which makes rather a mockery of a fair trial.
Manning is a soldier in the United States army who stands accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The leaked documents pointed to a long history of corruption, war crimes, and a lack of respect for the sovereignty of other democratic nations by the United States government in international dealings.
These revelations have fueled democratic uprisings around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on the foreign and domestic policies of European nations, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S.troops from the occupation in Iraq.
Bradley Manning has been incarcerated for more then 1000 days by the U.S. Government. He spent over ten months of that time period in solitary confinement, conditions which expert worldwide have criticized as torturous. Juan Mendez, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, has repeatedly requested and been denied a private meeting with Manning to assess his conditions.
A week ago today, Pfc. Bradley Manning surprised both detractors and supporters by reading a thirtysomething-page statement articulating the specific Whats, Hows and—most importantly—Whys of his disclosures to the popular media site WikiLeaks. In the week since Manning’s dramatic statement, media coverage of the case has shifted from a trickle to a steady storm as even mainstream outlets such as the Guardian, X and Y now echo the message of the 25-year-old army private’s supporters. With no public record or transcript of court proceedings, it is indeed these grassroots supporters who have kept an important faith, serving as a bridge in between the mainstream media’s rare spikes of coverage and its more frequent lulls.
In wrestling with outright propaganda from the government and skepticism from a poorly informed public, Manning supporters have grappled to find converts and their own meaning to this somewhat enigmatic young man willing to give up his own life for the common good of believers and critics alike. If the description sounds like something out of the “Acts of the Apostles” account of the early church, the parallel is somewhat fitting—this past Thursday was their Pentecost. For if the three years since Manning’s arrest have been marked by the dogged determination of underdogs, last week’s qualified admission of “guilt” has mushroomed his following into a bigger movement than ever.
“It’s a rather dramatic moment in the history of his own case and our own country’s history,” says former NSA executive and fellow whistleblower Thomas Drake. “The statement he read completely contradicts the government’s allegations and assertions. He was privy to war crimes, privy to the dark side of diplomacy, government lies and malfeasance and a massive abusive of even the projected national security state oversees. He was eye witness to evidence, he was eye witness to atrocities. He chose to stand up and do something about it. It was an incredibly courageous act that he performed in the public interest. That is the classic definition of whistleblowing.”
Hearing this claim from Manning himself has seemed to make all the difference for both the media and sectors of the public formerly undecided on the issue. Of course, support for Manning previous to this was far from obscure: the Bradley Manning Support Network to date has raised nearly $1M for his defense; no less than three Nobel Peace Prize laureates (including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu) have petitioned fellow laureate Barack Obama for justice for Manning; and, in addition to the usual whistleblowers, critics and peaceniks like Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, Michael Ratner, Jesselyn Radack, Peter van Buren, Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, and others, musicians such as Graham Nash and Conor Oberst, as well as actor Jon Cusack and U.K. comedy icon Graham Linehan have publicly commented on Manning’s behalf.
Although the initial WikiLeaks publications made headlines, along with Manning’s arrest and treatment—triggering strong reactions from some of the country’s leading legal academics and the resignation of an Assistant Secretary of State, the subsequent stretch of incremental pre-trial hearings, trial schedule delays and character assassination has often allowed mainstream media outlets to reduce or forego their coverage. Testimony from Manning himself late last year and, more recently, this past Thursday has helped humanize him for those following the case less closely. “This put a human face on Manning and undermined the corporate media and military false description of him,” says attorney and Bradley Manning Support Network steering committee member Kevin Zeese. “His most recent courtroom testimony, where he took responsibility for his actions, explained how he took care not to hurt the military or government and explained the rationale for his actions. All of this from the arrest until today has resulted in a building of his prominence. When the court martial trial is held there will, of course, be more.”
“Bradley Manning Served Democracy…” (Independent UK), “GI’s WikiLeaks Admission Energizes Supporters…” (Associated Press), The U.S. Press Failed Bradley Manning” (Firedoglake), “The Face of Heroism” (The Guardian)—these are just a few of the headlines that popped up in the hours after Manning’s statement in court on Thursday, February 28. Since then, he has been nominated for a third year in a row for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“The coverage has changed because it’s the first time we’ve heard straight from Bradley what his motivations were,” says New York playwright Claire Lebowitz, 30, who has attended several sessions at Fort Meade. “If you’ve just been following the government propoganda which the mainstream media mostly does, they’ve been trying to pathologize him for the past three years. But now people can actually talk about the issues because it’s clear he felt a sense of moral obligation and outrage and that people needed the information.”
The turnaround we are seeing now in the media, however, might not have been possible without the dedicated witness of Manning’s supporters in the military courtroom itself. Clad in a matching uniform of black T-shirts bearing the word “Truth”, the spectators have earned themselves the nickname of the “Truth Battalion” from Manning’s lawyer. Ranging in age from the late teens to the late 70s, members of the “Truth Battalion,” and their civvy-dress counterparts are a constant in the pre-trial hearings held at Fort Meade. While Manning is prohibited from engaging members of the gallery, he has on numerous occasions passed on his appreciation for the supporters packing the courtroom; and although all supporters have shown total respect to the “dignified proceedings” and courtroom decorum, many have concluded particularly grueling sessions with some verbal thanks and encouragement to Bradley.
“I’m here because I think it’s a historic trial,” says retired university professor Blaine Stevenson, who has twice traveled all the way from Michigan to attend the hearings. “It’s a secret trial. It’s very difficult to get in sometimes, and there’s security involved to get into the base and to the courtroom. The number of seats are restricted, there’s no public transcript. The judge reads her rulings very quickly and doesn’t speak clearly all the time. This reminds me of the civil rights era in some ways because there’s a question of justice. There are problems with the government being on the wrong side of history.”
While some supporters are continuing a habit of activism, others, such as Bill Wagner, 74, say they have become galvanized within the past several years by issues related to the case. A retired manager from NASA’s astrophysicist program, Wagner has attended nearly every session so far, and is determined to continue throughout the court martial this summer. “I hung on the outskirts of protests and political events like that for my whole career,” he says. “I couldn’t do that and raise a family at the same time, maintaining the jobs I had. I retired about five years ago and I feel like I owe it to the world. I feel embarassed that we’re leaving the world as it is for our kids, between the economy going down the tubes, and the environment, and the things our govt is getting away with, in terms of the democracy problem.”
The regulars and a revolving cast of newcomers have made for a vibrant supporters community, says Emma Cape, national organizer of the Bradley Manning Support Network. With little prior introduction, members of the gallery attend vigils, help coordinate transportation and housing for each other, ensure all are outfitted with a “Truth” T-shirt, and translate the legalese of the proceedings for the rookies. “It’s a great place to be in the middle of it all,” says Wagner. “Besides, the supporters are a fun group to be with.” Some claim they are motivated by humanitarian and demilitarization concerns; for others, the case highlights a critical time for government transparency and the freedom of the press.
A common concern throughout the gallery is the troubling lack of transparency in the hearings. With no public transcript of the proceedings, the historical record has so far been largely set down by supporters’ hand-written notes and the WPM-wizardry of sympathetic journalists like Alexa O’Brien and Nathan Fuller. Although public pressure recently forced the Pentagon to bow and begin publishing select court motions and briefs, these documents are often redacted, incomplete or released months after the fact. Even Manning’s public statement, game-changer that it may be, is for now restricted. The transcripts that do exist come courtesy of supporters and journalists.
“It’s outrageous that a statement given by the defendent, read in an open court, wouldn’t be available to the public,” says retired army Colonel Ann Wright, an outspoken critic of the military’s treatment of Manning.
Sharon Stevenson, who has twice made the long journey from Michigan with her husband Blaine, says she is disappointed by Judge Lind’s decision to restrict what evidence can be presented to the public due to their low classified status. “Let’s just have an open discussion about these damages that are supposed to have happened as a result of the release of these documents,” she says. “Let’s have a full discussion, despite the fact it may be very embarassing to the State Dept and the military.”
Although their backgrounds and motivations may vary in shades, one thing spectators all agree on is that you attending the hearings are the best way to get a real sense of what’s happening in the Manning case. “You can’t get a flavor for it unless you’ve been there once and seen the set-up,” says Wagner.
Lebowitz, who has written and begun staging a play based on the case, echoes this sentiment, noting, “The suspicions I had about him, based on my research, have been confirmed. I have such respect and great admiration for him. The only way to get a true sense of what’s going on is to be in the courtroom. I think it’s historical. So, being a first hand witness, I feel like I’m better informed.”
The Bradley Manning Support Network has appealed to supporters to make a special effort to attend the first days of the court martial, scheduled to begin June 3. To get things started on a spirited note, they and a number of allied organizations will be holding what they hope will be the largest rally to date at Fort Meade on June 1.
“You need to be there,” says Zeese. “You will see an important part of history and can help get the truth out.”
Michael McKee, a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network, is covering the Manning trial for CounterPunch. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org