This afternoon, in a coordinated action across three major U.S. cities, veterans entered Obama campaign offices, demanding a letter be faxed to the central office, calling for freedom for WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning. Shortly after the veterans made their demand, a large crowd of allies and occupiers marched to the doors to lend support. Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, in Oakland, said, “Bradley had the courage to step up and do what was right. He blew the whistle. It's time for veterans to stand up for him now, and that's what we're doing today. It's time President Obama ensures that Bradley's mistreatment is accounted for.”
Veterans in Oakland, Portland, and Los Angeles, and at some recruiting centers in Las Vegas and Seattle, are demanding that President Obama retract and apologize for remarks made in April 2011, in which he said Bradley Manning “broke the law.” Defense lawyers argue that because President Obama is commander-in-chief, this constitutes unlawful command influence, violating Article 37 of the UCMJ, and prevents Bradley from receiving a fair trial. If President Obama doesn’t respond to their requests, the veterans are calling for further protests at the Democratic National Convention.
Furthermore, veterans call on President Obama to pardon the accused whistle-blower, taking into consideration the brutal and abusive pretrial conditions he’s suffered already at Quantico. UN torture chief Juan Mendez called Manning’s treatment “cruel and inhuman,” as it included nine months of solitary confinement despite Brig psychiatrists recommending relaxed conditions. Last year, President Obama told the public that the Pentagon had assured him that Bradley’s treatment was “appropriate.” Newly revealed emails, however, contradict that claim, meaning either Obama lied about the treatment or the Pentagon lied to him.
Bradley’s lawyer, David Coombs, will make that argument in court on October 1, with a motion that he said will “shock the conscience of the court.” He’s bringing in the oversized smock, suicide blanket, and mattress Bradley was forced to use at the Marine base, and he’ll question an official from Ft. Leavenworth, where Bradley was brought after international outcry over his Quantico conditions. Bradley will return to court at Ft. Meade before that however, on Tuesday, August 28. Supporters plan to hold a vigil that morning.