FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Arraignment of Bradley Manning

by MISSY BEATTIE

Placing my coat and purse on the bench, I heard something like, “No sleeping, no sunglasses, no tampering with gadgets.”  I looked up as the soldier continued, “If someone has the urge to sleep, please stand up.”

Then, I saw him, the young hero with pale skin, short hair, and those eyeglasses. He sat nearby, about eight feet from me.

Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused WikiLeaks whistleblower and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, was arraigned at Fort Meade, today, February 23rd.

I was writing yesterday—a piece I almost finished. About Santorum and a Santorum supporter’s suggestion for female contraception—an aspirin placed between two tightly closed knees impossible to pry open for sex.  About extremism.  I abandoned it.

Because I took a detour to check email and saw an announcement about Manning.  Immediately, I called Baltimore peace and justice activist Max Obuszewski for information.  Max said he planned to be outside the gate at Fort Meade, at a rally for Manning.  When I told him I wanted a courtroom seat, he said he’d contact someone who was going early enough, a friend who, also, wanted to observe the arraignment.  Early morning, David Eberhardt, a published poet and antiwar activist, phoned.  We made plans to leave at 10:00.  Security would be search-and-seizure rigid.

During the drive, David talked about his incarceration at Lewisburg Federal Prison. He, along with Father Phillip Berrigan and two others (the Baltimore Four), poured blood on draft files in 1967 to protest the Viet Nam war.  I told David about nephew Chase and my participation in the peace movement.

After going through one checkpoint and arriving at the court parking lot, David and I were surprised to see only one other person waiting to secure a seat. Michael Ratner, an attorney and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, introduced himself. A few minutes later, William Wagner arrived, followed by Cathie Phelps. By the time we reached another security checkpoint, several others had gathered.

“I’m here as a mom and to support whistleblowers who make a difference,” Cathie told me.

“I’m here as a mom.” I said this over and over as I watched Manning. And, then, I wondered what he was thinking, feeling.

What are you thinking, right now?  What are you feeling? You look so innocent, so young.  Like a little boy.  You look too young to have a driver’s license, too young to enlist, too young to be on trial, too young to think about the implications of a life sentence.  You could be my son.  You could be anyone’s son.  Over and over.  And, then, you are my son.  You are my son. I would be proud to say that you are my son.

The military legalese, briefly, would interrupt my thoughts—article 104 or 134. But I’d return to “you are my son.”

And, then, an external voice penetrated, this time with words recognizable, yet unfathomable.  One of Manning’s attorneys talked about the trial date and that Manning has spent 635 days in confinement.  That by the time Manning stands trial, the number of days may exceed 800. This I understood with vivid clarity.  And it belies due process.

Finally, I heard “recess.”  Were we going to take a break and return for more of this?  I asked David.  He didn’t think so, and as we stood to leave, he shouted, “Judge, isn’t a soldier required by law to report a war crime?”

She didn’t answer.

Missy Beattie creates memories in Baltimore.  Email:  missybeat@gmail.com.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail