Wikileaks Revolution: Tunisian Army Refuses to Fire on Protesters. Bradley Manning Update.
What they found out through Wikileaks was even too much for the Tunisian Army, the levels of corruption and wealth-plundering as Tunisians.struggled daily with sky-high unemployment and rising food prices. This is amazing. For once the army, accustomed to simply following orders, refused to turn its guns on the people, forcing the dictator to flee.
"The national army did not betray the people and the nation," said one of the many with new pride for the military, theatre critic Ahmed El Hadek El Orf. "And it is the first time that I have used the word 'national' for the army,"
The lifting of the cover over the way governments do business and conduct wars is resulting, said an NPR commentator I heard last night, in a "Jasmine Revolution" which could serve as a model across the Arab world, which rejects both corrupt ruling regimes and Al Qaeda. The Tunesian commentator said "unisians are very educated and are not about to transfer their new-found freedom to Islamic fundamentalists, in utterly remarkable Diane Rehms interview. It would be wrong to say that Tunisians were not aware of the corruption long before Wikileaks, but apparently heavy-handed action by the regime in trying to block the information played a role in sparking the protests. Observers say the Wikileaks cables were not the cause, but a catalyst, confirming beyond the shadow of a doubt what Tunisians already know.
Breaking: There is hope.
Others spoke of a warm relationship between the protesters and military during the height of the tensions, when violent street riots erupted with cars and tyres set alight, buildings sacked, police opening fire with tear gas and ammunition.
"I saw fraternisation between the people and the army, which did not fire on them," said Abdel Wahab Maalouch, a lawmaker for the opposition Unionist Democratic Union.
A resident of the Ariana suburb in the north of the capital said: "Women prepared a big couscous for the soldiers who came to our area, and the youngsters offered them beer, but the soldiers said they were not allowed to drink on duty."
Meanwhile the young man accused of leaking the documents and diplomatic cables sits in Quantico Marine base under tortuous isolation, designed to break his mind, already thoroughly blogged in these pages. Bradley Manning is in a 6ftx 12ft cell, not allowed to do a push up or a sit up (if he begins he is forced to stop,) 23 out of 24 hours a day. The military says he is allowed to exercise in a weight room but visitors have flatly contradicted this, reporting that, at last update, Bradley was still only allowed to walk (not run) figures eights in a room for an hour, in shackles. Manning has been convicted of nothing and is still presumed innocent.
The day after over 100 supporters held a protest action outside the gates of Quantico, he was placed on a punitive suicide watch (which requires him to be stripped to boxer shorts and held in 24 hour confinement) for two days. Suspicions are that Bradley was being punished for the protest.
Other interesting tidbits revealed by the documents allegedly leaked by Manning are that the Pentagon has been lying about the Taliban not having surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) when in fact it does, which have already shot American helicopters out of the sky over Afghanistan. As well, an Apache gunship video allegedly leaked by Manning revealed a bona fide war crime, killing wounded and those attempting to evacuate them.
As Commander in Chief this is all Obama's call. he can issue a direct order to take Manning off the punitive "prevention of injury" watch which requires guards to wake him from his sleep if he turns so they cannot see his face, prohibits all personal items such as photos of loved ones, and denies him a clock, daylight, or any sense of the passing of time, for eight months now. His visitors report that Manning's physical appearance and behavior has deteriorated markedly, and that he now seems to have trouble focusing.
Yet even under these conditions, Bradley sent the following message to his supporters last Christmas:
I greatly appreciate everyone’s support and well wishes during this time. I am also thankful for everything that has been done to aid in my defense. I ask that everyone takes the time to remember those who are separated from their loved ones at this time due to deployment and important missions. Specifically, I am thinking of those that I deployed with and have not seen for the last seven months, and of the staff here at the Quantico Confinement Facility who will be spending their Christmas without their family.
The Army wouldn't shoot. In a country like Tunisia, of all places. We shall overcome someday.
The Quantico commandant's name is General James F. Amos
Tunisian Army Soldiers