by Debra Sweet US Government Begins 12 Week Military Trial of Bradley Manning Read reports, view photos/videos from protests around the country.  Saturday, we gathered at Ft. Meade for the largest support action for Bradley Manning during the three+ years of his imprisonment before trial. I saw MANY subscribers to the World Can’t Wait e-newsletter list, donors to the recent New York Times “Close Guantanamo” ad , activists from years of opposition to US wars, and younger people who have come forward mainly because they are inspired by the integrity and honesty of Bradley Manning.
Protesting for Bradley Manning at the gates of Ft. Meade
Bradley, at the center of the most important political trial of this century, is an extraordinary person, motivated (as we now know ), by the wish to get people living in this country to see what the government is doing. The high stakes here described by Revolution  Newspaper are:
“This system is out to inflict extreme punishment on Bradley Manning—to jail him for a long time, perhaps life, and to use this cruel punishment of a brave person as an example to anyone else who would dare expose the crimes of empire. The courage and resilience with which Manning has withstood years of solitary confinement and almost a year of torture are a testament to his strength.”
Emma Kaplan, in Free Bradley Manning: The World is Not the Enemy  quotes Bradley in explaining how much he learned:
“I also recall that in early 2009 the then newly elected president, Barack Obama, stated he would close Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and that the facility compromised our standing over all, and diminished our, quote unquote, “moral authority.” After familiarizing myself with the DABs, I agreed….
“The more I became educated on the topic, it seemed that we found ourselves holding an increasing number of individuals indefinitely that we believed or knew to be innocent, low-level foot soldiers that did not have useful intelligence and would’ve been released if they were held in theatre.”
Attorney Michael Ratner, this morning on Democracy Now! , explained the breadth of the Espionage statute, where the government does not have to prove either intent to aid the enemy, or actual aiding of the enemy, to convict Bradley of six espionage charges (which carry the death penalty, although the government says it is “only” seeking life in prison for Bradley). Chillingly, the government, in its opening statement yesterday, referred frequently to Julian Assange and Wikileaks, likely targets of prosecution. Assange wrote Monday on the “Kafkaesque” nature of the trial:
“It is fair to call what is happening to Bradley Manning a “show trial.” Those invested in what is called the “US military justice system” feel obliged to defend what is going on, but the rest of us are free to describe this travesty for what it is. No serious commentator has any confidence in a benign outcome. The pretrial hearings have comprehensively eliminated any meaningful uncertainty, inflicting pre-emptive bans on every defense argument that had any chance of success.
“Bradley Manning may not give evidence as to his stated intent (exposing war crimes and their context), nor may he present any witness or document that shows that no harm resulted from his actions. Imagine you were put on trial for murder. In Bradley Manning’s court, you would be banned from showing that it was a matter of self-defence, because any argument or evidence as to intent is banned. You would not be able to show that the ’victim’ is, in fact, still alive, because that would be evidence as to the lack of harm.”
The New York Times, finally reporting on the trial , related part of the opening arguments from Bradley’s attorney, David Coombs, explaining how Bradley was motivated to leak evidence of U.S. war crimes:
“Mr. Coombs said Private Manning started sending files to WikiLeaks later, in January 2010, after a roadside bombing in Iraq on Dec. 24, 2009. Everyone in his unit celebrated, Mr. Coombs said, after learning that no American troops had been seriously hurt, and their happiness did not abate — except for Private Manning’s — when they learned that members of an innocent Iraqi family had been injured and killed. From that moment, Mr. Coombs contended, things started to change and he soon “started selecting information he believed the public should see, should hear” and sending them to WikiLeaks.”
See video and photos, and read reports from Ft. Meade, Seattle, Hawai’i, and Chicago: