Archive for August, 2010

Supporting Bradley Manning on Times Square

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Manning.jpg  Bradley Manning

Right in front of the military recruiting center on Times Square and beneath a gigantic (and temporary) statue of a WWII era sailor kissing a girl (South Pacific has been revived on Broadway), we stood with signs demanding Bradley Manning’s release, demanding the end of US aggression and murders in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the many other places they occur.  We passed out information about Bradley Manning and how to make a stand on his behalf and on behalf of the freedom to speak the truth.  We listened to brief remarks about Manning from Debra Sweet, director of the World Can’t Wait and representatives of Iraq Veterans Against the War,  and Veterans for Peace.

Times Square Recruiting Center

The event was organized by World Can’t Wait, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Code Pink, and the Answer Coalition, which all work for peace, the return of all our military personnel to the US, and the end of the use by the US of mercenaries called “contractors” by the US media to hide the real role of these killers unaccountable to us.

My function was to pass out flyers and talk with people.  It was interesting to see who of the many people passing through Times Square at that time (between 5:30 and 7:00) were interested in the flyer.  Men in suits, going home from work in the buildings in the area where  finance, media, etc. are run, refused with one exception.  I was not surprised.  On the other hand, it was gratifying how many young people were interested as well as large numbers of just folks passing through.  A group of young people from the Answer Coalition were on the other side of the square passing out flyers as well.  It is good to see the young making a stand.

I was glad to see a legal observer from the National Lawyers Guild present as well.  She wore the green cap that identified her and stood pencil and notebook in hand to help keep the many police officers present aware of our rights.

Bradley Manning is accused of being the source of the video of the helicopter raid by US Army Bravo Company 2-16 which killed and wounded civilians in Bagdad including two Reuters journalists and two children. The footage was released by Wikileaks under the title Collateral Murder.  Wikileaks has not revealed who the source of that video is, but Manning was reported to have been turned in to military authorities by a paid informer with whom he communicated.

What has been missing is this kind of evidence of what the US military is actually doing in Iraq and Afghanistan and other countries, including Pakistan and Syria with whom it is not “at war.”  The role of journalists should be to let the public know what is really going on, not disseminate statements from the government as news.  The absence of such evidence has been disastrous in terms of stifling public outrage and debate about these costly and illegal wars and atrocities.

The facts are that the US “rules of engagement”, the conditions under which military personnel can shoot and kill people, invade their homes, round them up, etc. are atrocious.  Routinely, soldiers and marines fire on and kill civilians who are just going about their lives.  The brutalization of our armed forces which is the result of their training is not the least of the horrors of these wars.

The US media have covered up, turned a blind eye, valued “access” to political and military sources more than the truth. The result is that we fail to see what is done in our name and with our tax money.

I for one say, “Stop, no more!”  I do not want to pay for death and destruction in order to extend an empire.  I say free Bradley Manning, free all our military personnel from the hell of their service and bring them all home to help rebuild this pitifully decaying country.  Instead of death and destruction abroad, let us be determined to bring life and health and education and jobs here to all who want them.

For less than what it costs to keep our armies in air conditioned tents and vehicles running on gas that costs $400.00 a gallon there, we could see our young people engaged in rebuilding here.

Stop this insanity, including the imprisonment of a 22 year old service man who may or may not have passed that video to Wikileaks.  Let us hold accountable instead the people whom we know have authorized and continue to direct these illegal invasions and occupations and the torture, death, destruction. Let us recognize that this country has been badly wrong, but commit to change.  Let us make peace, not war.