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

Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
Robert Koehler
Stop the Killing
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and “Debates”
Yves Engler
The Media’s Biased Perspective
Victor Grossman
Omens From Berlin
Christopher Brauchli
Wells Fargo as Metaphor for the Trump Campaign
Nyla Ali Khan
War of Words Between India and Pakistan at the United Nations
Tom Barnard
Block the Bunker! Historic Victory Against Police Boondoggle in Seattle
James Rothenberg
Bullshit Recognition as Survival Tactic
Ed Rampell
A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Kristine Mattis
Persnickety Publishing Pet-Peeves
Charles R. Larson
Review: Helen Dewitt’s “The Last Samurai”
David Yearsley
Torture Chamber Music
September 22, 2016
Dave Lindorff
Wells Fargo’s Stumpf Leads the Way
Stan Cox
If There’s a World War II-Style Climate Mobilization, It has to Go All the Way—and Then Some
Binoy Kampmark
Source Betrayed: the Washington Post and Edward Snowden
John W. Whitehead
Wards of the Nanny State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail