Editor's Note: Even while preaching the gospel of Internet freedom and democratic transparency to the rest of the world, the U.S. government continues an aggressive campaign to intimidate American anti-war whistleblowers and their supporters.
Perhaps most remarkable has been the harsh treatment of accused WikiLeaks leaker, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, and the government's paranoid reaction to people objecting to the maximum-security-style incarceration of this non-violent suspect, as activist Kevin Zeese describes in this first-person guest essay:
On March 20, Americans, in a vet-led assembly, gathered to support PFC Bradley Manning who is accused of leaking documents to WikiLeaks and who has been held in solitary confinement at the Quantico Marine Base for seven months.
We worked successfully with the Prince William County Police in Virginia for a safe and peaceful event, but one aspect of the event was in dispute -- a veteran-led flower laying ceremony.
It seemed like something that should not have been controversial -- a ceremony to remember the war dead at a replica of the Iwo Jima Monument. [The original monument is in Arlington, Virginia, across from Washington, D.C.]
The replica of the iconic monument of Marines raising the American flag at Iwo Jima is located at the entrance of the Quantico base and is open to the public every day of the year. But the Marines insisted on closing it to prevent a flower-laying ceremony by veterans on that Sunday.
We wanted to remember the war dead and emphasize that transparency saves lives as deception has been the basis of so many wars.
The Iwo Jima Memorial, also known as the U. S. Marine Corps War Memorial, is dedicated to all personnel of the Marines who have died defending the United States since 1775.
The saying "Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue" is on the memorial and refers to the strength of mind and spirit that was shown by Marines in World War II who encountered danger with firmness.
Bradley Manning, if he is guilty of what he is accused, has shown uncommon valor by sharing documents that show crimes and other misdeeds by the U.S. military and State Department. The inhumane treatment he is receiving is proof of the courage he has shown.
I wrote two memoranda to Colonel Daniel J. Choike, the Quantico Base Commander prior to March 20. In them I explained our intent, the constitutional rights we were exercising and offered to find a way to exercise our rights safely.
I concluded both memos saying "We ask you to please work with us in good faith and dignity to make this event work as it should under the Constitution, statutes and laws we all honor and respect. I stand ready and willing to work with you or your representatives, to make this work appropriately, and may be contacted for this purpose at any time, day or night, in furtherance of that goal."
We received no response from the Marine Command. The one time I called the Marines, I was told the monument is open every day of the year but would be closed because of our presence.
On the morning of the assembly, the Prince William police offered a compromise: we could send five people to the monument to lay flowers on the memorial.
While some among the Bradley Manning supporters were unhappy with this compromise, we decided to accept it in order to have a peaceful event that allowed us to show our respect for those who have died in war. In the end, the police allowed six people to approach the monument with flowers.
Among the six were two who had been awarded the Purple Heart, one from World War II and the other from Iraq.
Jay Wenk, an army veteran received the Purple Heart when he was a member of the 90th Infantry Division, part of Patton's 3rd Army in Germany.