(Article changed on June 2, 2013 at 22:37)
"Men make history, not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. " - Harry S. Truman
Veteran For Peace wearing Manning sticker, flag showing distress by Marianne Hoynes
This is a critical time in US History, when the US Government, desperate to cover up war crimes it is committing in the Middle East and Africa, are imposing the most cruel and illegal torture against members of the US military; the sons and daughters of this nation who stepped up to fight for what they believed to be wars for our freedom. The US Government lied to them then, just as the US population is being lied to now by our government, that these wars are anything other than a profit machine for a few rich men. But now we are waking up.
June third our American son Bradley Manning, after 4 years in prison, will be court martialled. That is military speak for, he will be tried and convicted for leaking war crimes perpetrated by the US military; crimes that he found to be so egregious, so disturbing in their injustice and violence, that he could not remain silent. He has been tortured, denied due process and was declared guilty by the President of the US, Barack Obama, before he ever stood in front of a jury of his peers.
Saturday, June 1, days before this trial is set to begin, Americans came from all over the US, to stand for Bradley Manning. One of the largest groups present were Veterans For Peace. These are our surviving veterans of the wars in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. These are former "boots on the ground"; the young and the old, soldiers and officers who know the full price of war, know the rules and how warfare is waged, know how to keep troops from harm"s way, and all believe that the only justice for Bradley Manning is to set him free.
Dave Hancock, Vietnam army veteran from N.J. arrived at Fort Meade with a group called The Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War. Dave said that he had lived at Fort Meade, so this was a little bit like coming home to him.
Dave Hancock, Veteran for Peace by Marianne Hoynes
"I want to let the US Military know that to keep Manning locked up now for 4 years is an embarrassment to me and a travesty for the US Army", Hancock said. "Manning did not get due process of a swift court martial, and if that can happen to that man, it can happen to everyone. That is scary."
Hancock went on to say, "Fort Meade is the home of the NSA. That is why they are holding Manning here - because the home of the National Security Administration has the highest level of super security. The NSA will know who we all are before we leave here today. This bus load of people do not know what heroes they really are. "
The Americans who did come to Fort Meade were slowly circled all day long by helicopter. As this helicopter made constant, languid circles around the parade of about one thousand strong, there was much speculation among the crowd that it was probably using the latest military facial recognition technology to gather the identities of every protester there. Of course the government has many ways now of warrantlessly tapping our phones, taking all of our information from the internet without our consent, and tracking us wherever we go. The United States calling itself the "Land of the Free" is a joke, and the comedian is the US Government, from the President himself on down to the entire US Congress.
Supporters surrounded by police and military on foot and ATV,in car & helicopter by Marianne Hoynes
From a place of our now lost civil liberties, laws passed without the consent of the American population in the last years like Citizen's United and NDAA, this theater of the absurd is going to condemn a young Bradley Manning to many more years of cruel and unjust incarceration.
US Veteran Lt. Daniel Choi, no stranger to conflict, spoke for Bradley Manning on Saturday. Lt. Choi is a West Point graduate with degrees in Arabic and engineering. He served in combat in the Iraq War as a US infantry officer. He challenged America's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, when he came out publicly as a gay officer, and was discharged against his will from serving in the US military.
Lt. Daniel Choi by Marianne Hoynes
On behalf of Bradley Manning Choi had this to say. "The definition of terrorism is the threat of fear of the use of violence towards the society in order to implement political goals." Choi was talking about the Obama administration, and its use of fear tactics towards Americans who wish to speak out or act against the illegal actions of the US Government; these endless wars for profit that we are waging across the globe.
Kevin Zeese had words for the sons and daughters of America who are still being sent into harm's way, to fight the wars of the rich man for profit, while human lives are just an expendable commodity. Kevin told the sons and daughters of this nation who are now serving, "You do not have to go to Afghanistan if you have come to the conclusion that war is immoral. If you are currently serving, you can apply for a discharge as a Conscientious Objector".
Kevin Zeese by Marianne Hoynes
Jeff Paterson was the first such soldier who refused to fight in the Iraq war for this reason. He spent some time in jail but was eventually released.
Of Manning's actions, he had this to say. "If you are a 22-year-old kid from Oklahoma, and you find yourself in a dark room in Iraq, watching grainy videos of possible war crimes and actually sharing your concerns with your supervisors, and they're telling you to look the other way, shut up, your life will become miserable if you keep talking about this stuff, it's easy to see how somebody could actually look at the big picture and think maybe I could, in some small way, change the world for the better."
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