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Standing With Private Bradley Manning

The peace movement needs to stand with Bradley Manning and Wikileaks in their efforts to let Americans see the truth about what the military is doing in our name. We can handle the truth! Indeed, we need to hear the truth, not propaganda about how great the U.S. military is performing, in order to be responsible citizens.

The news from Afghanistan and Iraq is not good, but Americans are not even told all the news – especially when it includes abuses, even war crimes, committed by the U.S. military. The U.S. is supposed to have civilian control of the military, as President Obama recently demonstrated when he fired General McChrystal, but the people are supposed to be ultimately in charge in a representative democracy. We need to know the truth in order to do our job as citizens and hold elected officials responsible.

Those who oppose war and militarism need to stand with Bradley Manning, the 22-year old Army private, who believed he saw war crimes being committed by the U.S. military and shared the information so the American public could know what the armed forces were doing. The most famous leak from Manning was the “Collateral Murder” video shared on the Wikileaks.org website. The video he reportedly leaked showed an Apache Helicopter attack by the U.S. military killing a dozen civilians and wounding two children.

Manning allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and emails that have yet to be published. He said that the documents showed horrible “crimes” and his goal in releasing them was to “hopefully [spark] worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms, if not . . . we’re doomed as a species.” His goal was for “people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

Now Manning is being held in custody in a prison in Kuwait, without access to private legal counsel facing 52 years in prison. The video he allegedly released started a much-needed discussion about the horrible truth about the killings that U.S. wars entail. He should be a national hero similar to whistle blowers like Daniel Ellsberg who exposed the truth of the Vietnam War. He deserves the support of the American people. Indeed, people like him should be getting medals and promotions, not people like General Stanley McChrysal (Cheney’s Assassin) and James N. Mattis (“sometimes its fun to kill people”).

Thankfully, the peace movement is starting to speak up for Private Manning. We need to see a massive campaign of support for Bradley Manning. Courage to Resist, Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Veterans for Peace and Courage to Resist, along with my organization Voters for Peace, have spoken out in support of Manning. So, people can now take action to support Manning. Here are some options:

– Write President Obama, with copies to to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates calling for the release of Private Manning and allowing him access to civilian legal counsel. Click here to act now.

– Sign the petition at World Can’t Wait in support of Manning. Click here now to act.

– Visit www.BradleyManning.org and sign their petition, write to Manning and let him know you appreciate his courage and doing what you can to release him.

These wars, fought with corporate mercenaries are killing civilians at very high levels and undermining U.S. security. Secrecy allows illegal actions to continue – in our name. The importance of citizens like Manning and organizations like Wikileaks becomes more evident when the behavior of the corporate media is noted. For example, The Washington Post’s David Finkel reportedly had possession of the Apache helicopter video two years ago but never released it to the public. Wars are able to hide behind the protection of a media that is too willing to not report their crimes. This is one example of many of corporate media cover-up that show the need for others to force transparency so the public knows what is being done in its name.

Let President Obama know you want to hear the truth. What is the U.S. military doing? Are prisoners being held without charges? Is torture continuing? How many civilians is the U.S. military killing? All these actions by the U.S. military are undermining our security. They are creating enemies for all of us.

Stand with Private Bradley Manning. Help to work for his release. He is a hero, not a criminal.

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Kevin Zeese is an organizer at Popular Resistance.

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