During the last week of March, more than 30,000 people signed a petition urging the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Bradley Manning. While the numbers continue to mount on the petition website, so do the comments from individual signers.
Thousands have already written personal notes to explain their support for the petition. I hope the Nobel committee reads the comments carefully when the petition arrives in Oslo later this spring.
As a U.S. Army private -- seeing massive evidence of official deception, human rights abuses and flagrant killing of civilians -- Bradley Manning did not just follow orders. Instead, he became a whistleblower, supplying vast troves of documents to WikiLeaks, exposing duplicity that had enormous impacts from Iraq and Afghanistan to Egypt and Tunisia.
Manning, now 25 years old, could be in prison for the rest of his life. But while the U.S. government tries to crush him, it's clear that many Americans love him -- and would be thrilled to see him win the Nobel Peace Prize. The following samples of comments from petition signers begin to explain why:
"Bradley Manning knowingly risked his freedom in order to bring the true facts of war to the public. The courage and insight of such a young person is worthy of the highest recognition."
-- Sheila C., Kings Park, NY
"Manning is a U.S. political prisoner being persecuted for blowing the whistle on war crimes by the powerful, including his own corrupt government. He should be given the Nobel Peace Prize."
-- Ruth K., Greenbelt, MD
"If you are looking to regain your reputation after giving the award to a warmongering president, I can think of no more important or honorable figure than this political prisoner."
-- Catherine C., Santa Monica, CA
"This poor, incredibly brave person has been scapegoated nearly to death for his extraordinary heroism in revealing just a bit of the truth behind the ideological gloss of war and politics. Please give him the support and recognition he deserves -- you may save his life and you will certainly support a higher consciousness in many if you do so."
-- Cathy C., Boulder, CO
"Wall Street bankers who looted our nations go scot free. Petro chemical companies who poison millions go free. A young man who releases truth in a democracy is terrorized endlessly by his government. We must stand up for truth tellers."
-- W.D., Overland Park, KS
"Manning has done more for peace in our time than any other individual. He risked his freedom to inform the world of war crimes and other wrongdoing by his country."
-- William P., Prescott Valley, AZ
"He has done more than anyone to challenge the hubris of a government's foreign policy that is based on belligerence and aggression."
-- Myles H., Baltimore, MD
"Please give the peace prize to those who truly merit it, like Manning, not to politicians who further militarism and war."
-- Albert R., Naperville, IL
"The Norwegian Nobel Committee will need courage even to consider awarding Bradley Manning the Peace Prize."
-- Robert B., Honolulu, HI
"It's about TRUTH!"
-- Mary P., Center Moriches, NY
"Bradley Manning is a hero in the deepest and truest meaning of that word."
-- Jennifer A., Dickson, TN