Protesters tell Obama to free Bradley Manning

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GUARDIAN PHOTO BY YAEL CHANOFF

Led by veterans from Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, supporters of army PFC Bradley Manning protested in some 35 US cities tonight. The protests were planned to coincide with the Democratic National Convention, to demand that President Obama pardon Manning.

They also demanded that the President “retract and apologize for remarks made in 2011, in which he said Bradley Manning ‘broke the law.’” 

Manning allegedly released more than 700,000 classified files to Wikileaks, including the “Collateral Murder” video which depicts over a dozen Iraqis, including two Reuters employees, being shot without provocation from an Apache helicopter. 

Manning was arrested in Iraq in May 2010, and remains in jail, awaiting trial. His court martial may begin in February.

In San Francisco, supporters of Manning called for his release at a rally at 16th and Mission plaza. Speakers also decried Obama for wars that the United States continues to fight, for drone strikes, and for failing to close Guantanamo Bay.

Several veterans spoke to the crowd of about 60.

Jeff Paterson, founder of the war resister and conscientious objector support network Courage to Resist, spoke about the group's work on Manning’s behalf.

“We ended Bradley’s torture at Quantico base,” Paterson said. The group also raised more than $200,000 for Manning’s legal defense fund.

Paterson told the crowd they won’t stop until Manning is free. 

“President Barack Obama can end this today by pardoning Bradley Manning,” Paterson said.

Paterson is known as the first US soldier to refuse to fight in Iraq. He was a Marine from 1986-1991, refusing deployment when he was stop-lossed in 1990. He was jailed for three months.

Joshua Shepherd, who served in the Navy for six years ending in 2008, also spoke at the rally.

"Our foreign policy is built upon lies," said Shepherd. "Bradley Manning was instrumental in exposing our generation's lies."

Shepherd said that he began to question US foreign policy on a port visit in Nagasaki during his deployment.

“As far as I was concerned, we were pulling in for three days to enjoy our time in Nagasaki. And we were in a war ship,” Shepherd remembers.

But as they pulled into the shore, Shepherd said, “I saw the shore packed with protesters and they were terribly angry that we were there.” A visit to the Atomic Bomb Museum during his time in Nagasaki also influenced Shepherd, who now organizes with Iraq Veterans Against War. 

“It’s a process to turn around once you’ve joined the military and committed so much of yourself to this institution,” Shepherd told protesters today.

Shepherd was one of six veterans arrested at Obama campaign headquarters in Oakland Aug. 16. 

After the rally, protesters marched and protested a group watching Obama’s DNC speech.

“I find it hypocritical that Obama promised to protect whistle blowers four years ago,” said David Zebker, a San Francisco CPA who attended march.

While campaigning in 2008, President Obama promised to protect whistleblowers, saying their "acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled."

“No person was harmed from the information he released,” Paterson said of Manning. “He’s a whistle blower in every classic sense of the word.”

Comments

Yael Chanoff incorrectly said the "'Collateral Murder" video depicts over a dozen Iraqis and two Reuters employees being shot without provocation from an Apache helicopter. That’s Julian Assange nonsense!

The video shows two Apaches arriving after being called in by three soldiers in a Humvee (Hotel 2/6) that were being attacked by combatants from two different positions (intersections) in that nearby courtyard. An open courtyard where eighteen men were standing when the helicopters arrived.

At the very beginning one pilot (Crazyhorse 1/8) targeted the van (rescue vehicle) while, simultaneously, the other pilot (Crazyhorse 1/9) targeted the photographer (Namir) - “a guy [target fifteen] with a weapon.” This 45 second clip revealing these facts was edited out of the short version by Assange.

You can accept the Assange version and believe - excluding the ones with an AK47, RPG and RPG round - the men in the courtyard were innocent civilians. Or, believe the men in the courtyard were enemy combatants who, like insurgents in a dozen or so gun-site vides posted on the internet, hid their weapons nearby and walked around pretending to be innocent civilians.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUhS2phBe0I

P.S.
Eleven men were killed and two children wounded in the first engagement. We heard a great deal about the Reuters employees, van driver and his children - all local citizens. Not one word about the other seven men also reported to be local citizens? Two of whom, among ten, survived the initial engagement.

Posted by Bill Cromer on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 2:58 am

Yael Chanoff incorrectly said the "'Collateral Murder" video depicts over a dozen Iraqis and two Reuters employees being shot without provocation from an Apache helicopter. That’s Julian Assange nonsense!

The video shows two Apaches arriving after being called in by three soldiers in a Humvee (Hotel 2/6) that were being attacked by combatants from two different positions (intersections) in that nearby courtyard. An open courtyard where eighteen men were standing when the helicopters arrived.

At the very beginning one pilot (Crazyhorse 1/8) targeted the van (rescue vehicle) while, simultaneously, the other pilot (Crazyhorse 1/9) targeted the photographer (Namir) - “a guy [target fifteen] with a weapon.” This 45 second clip revealing these facts was edited out of the short version by Assange.

You can accept the Assange version and believe - excluding the ones with an AK47, RPG and RPG round - the men in the courtyard were innocent civilians. Or, believe the men in the courtyard were enemy combatants who, like insurgents in a dozen or so gun-site vides posted on the internet, hid their weapons nearby and walked around pretending to be innocent civilians.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUhS2phBe0I

P.S.
Eleven men were killed and two children wounded. We heard a great deal about the Reuters employees, van driver and his children - all local citizens. Not one word about the other seven men also reported to be local citizens? Two of whom, among ten, survived the initial engagement.

Posted by Bill Cromer on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 3:05 am

Obama in 2008:

Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is
an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage
and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather
than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration. We need to empower federal employees as
watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to
protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that
federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to
courts and due process.

Obama in 2012:

Fact check: President Obama has aggressively pursued and addressed national security leaks

August 16, 2012

As Commander-in-chief, President Obama has taken a firm approach to protecting our nation’s security and guarding information regarding operations that involve or affect our military and our allies. As the President has said, “we don’t play around with” the confidentiality, safety, and security of our military members, their families, and the American people.

But a new conservative Super PAC, Special Operations Speaks (SOS), is deploying Swift Boat tactics against the President by claiming that his administration is deliberately leaking national security information and risking American lives in the process. This founder of SOS, Larry Bailey, was one of the “cadre of veterans” who led the Swift Boat attacks against Sen. John Kerry in 2004.

But this manipulative and unfounded attack flies in the face of reality. President Obama has done more than any other administration to forcefully pursue and address leaks of classified national security information. Here are the facts:

The Obama administration has prosecuted twice as many cases under the Espionage Act as all other administrations combined.

Under the President, the Justice Department has prosecuted six cases regarding national security leaks.

Before he took office, federal prosecutors had used the Espionage Act in only three cases.

As the reporters who wrote the stories in question have continually made clear, the suggestion that President Obama’s White House has deliberately leaked information is simply untrue. One Reporter who wrote on purported sensitive programs for The New York Times said the idea that “the White House calls you up and says, ‘Why don’t you drop by. We’ll tell you about our most compartmentalized program’ … That doesn’t happen.” Another colleague called the idea that the White House had promoted the story “absurd.”

Posted by marcos on Sep. 07, 2012 @ 8:26 am

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