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

May 23, 2017
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
Gerry Condon
In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard
Weekend Edition
May 19, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Getting Assange: the Untold Story
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Secret Sharer
Charles Pierson
Trump’s First Hundred Days of War Crimes
Paul Street
How Russia Became “Our Adversary” Again
Andrew Levine
Legitimation Crises
Mike Whitney
Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State 
Robert Hunziker
Early-Stage Antarctica Death Rattle Sparks NY Times Journalists Trip
Ken Levy
Why – How – Do They Still Love Trump?
Bruce E. Levine
“Hegemony How-To”: Rethinking Activism and Embracing Power
Robert Fisk
The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia
Christiane Saliba
Slavery Now: Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Chris Gilbert
The Chávez Hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a Strategic Project
Howard Lisnoff
Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain
Brian Cloughley
Propaganda Feeds Fear and Loathing
Stephen Cooper
Is Alabama Hiding Evidence It Tortured Two of Its Citizens?
Sheldon Richman
The Real Danger From Trump is Ignored
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail