September 20, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut
Free Bradley Manning Rally – San Diego, CA, September 19, 2010
On April 5, 2010, Wikileaks.org released an Apache helicopter’s 30mm cannon gun-sight video that shows US military personnel in Baghdad in 2007 kill 2 Reuters reporters, 9 other men, and then shoot up a van that happened to contain 2 children and their father. The video includes audio from the radio chatter between ground forces that came onto the scene following the attack and the two Apache helicopters that carried out the attack display an amazing amount of disrespect to the people they had just, and were about to kill, and not caring at all that two children had just been subjected to the 625 round per minute spray of 30mm bullets from the cannon of the Apaches’ fuselage gun. The audio also lets us hear the Apache pilots say that the men they want to open fire on are holding AK-47 machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. The only problem is that this video, which has come to be named, “Collateral Murder” shows the men were actually unarmed, and were just talking in the street when the Apache pilots asked for permission to engage. The boiled down, succinct version, complete with subtitles is below, and I would advise that you watch it if you are not familiar with it and it will also help to give some context to this post because the content of the video is only the first part of this story.
Who Can Argue With That?
So now the world has a video that shows Apache helicopter pilots lying about circumstances in order to… Well, murder some people. This is why the man pictured above had this sign at the rally. Truth equals democracy. That means that everyone, including the government has to be held accountable for the truth. If these helicopter pilots, working as agents of the government lied to facilitate killing people, then as a democracy, we the people have the right to know the truth and the truth should also be used to meter out justice. Simple, right?
Flags At The San Diego Rally To Free Bradley Manning
So why is it then that people are gathering under so many different and colorful flags in sunny San Diego, holding signs reminding us that the government isn’t allowed to lie to us and to “Free Bradley Manning”, and who is Bradley Manning? He is in the United States Army and he is the man that gave the video above to Wikileaks.org, who subsequently decrypted and released the video to the world.
Who Is Bradley Manning And Why Does He Need To Be Freed?
You see, back in 2007, before the video was released, the United States military said the following about the attack:
“American troops were conducting a raid when they were hit by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The American troops called in reinforcements and attack helicopters. In the ensuing fight, the two Reuters employees and nine insurgents were killed.”
Bradley Manning is the young intelligence analyst who saw this was a video that showed Apache pilots lying in order to kill unarmed people, and that also disputed the official story released by the Army. He had evidence of multiple murders and a cover-up, so he gave the video to Wikileaks.org.
Three months after the video was released on the internet, Bradley Manning was arrested and charged with releasing the video. But why? Why would agents of the federal government arrest a United States army analyst for releasing a video that shows a war crime in the form murder, and subsequently exposing the lie that covered it up afterward? Because the video was CLASSIFIED. That means that Bradley Manning broke the law by giving classified US government property to an unauthorized person, in the form of Wikileaks.org. People on both sides of the fence are very unhappy about this. Because of the video, the world has seen US Army personnel kill unarmed people, and the world also now knows that the American government covered it up afterward. To the government, the content is not the issue, it’s the fact that the video is a piece of classified government property they take umbrage at.
What that means is that there is a young man in jail right now because he blew the whistle on the whole thing, and there are a lot of people that believe he should be protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act, including the good San Diego people featured in this post. This is a very odd situation since classified government property (as opposed to corporate, private sector property) were the tools used.
I will just go ahead and say it… I think the video was classified in the first place because it shows Apache helicopter pilots committing multiple murders. Rather than have an incident that could damage the war effort, the military stamped it as classified never to be seen again and released their cover story.
If the video had come from anywhere other than the depths of the United State’s military industrial machine, Bradley Manning would be regarded as a hero by all, instead of incarcerated by his own government. The government does not like that they will have to answer questions like why the video was classified to begin with and why they want to prosecute a man that brought transparency to an event should never have happened.
Is it all right to commit a crime in order to expose a crime? Releasing classified government videos is a crime, we all know that, just like we know murdering people is also a crime, but in this case, only the person that released the video and not the person committing murder IN the video has been charged with a crime. That does not seem right. To me, this is not a case of the ends justifying the means or justifying one crime with another… This is about making the United States, my country, accountable for something we did that was wrong. If our government would just own up to a mistake in a timely manner and then take steps to prevent the mistake from happening again, we would earn some worldwide credibility, and that is something America needs right now. When you are big and tough, as America has become, you can forget that it makes you a much bigger person to admit when you’re wrong.
America – We Need To Learn From Our Mistakes
This brings us to the Free Bradley Manning rally all the photos for this post came from, one of 19 held worldwide to show support for and call for the freedom of Bradley Manning. It was held on the north side of Horton Plaza, right in the middle of downtown San Diego on September 19, 2010. It was well attended and it was very interesting to listen to what the speakers had to say. There were a lot of veterans and San Diego’s LGBT community was also well represented. There were many calls for the need for transparency in the government on all levels, and calls to keep politicians accountable and to actually do what is best for the country, not most profitable. One common theme that I think all the speakers stressed was the need to organize. The way location is most important in real estate, getting organized is most important for grassroots movements like this. Forcing the United States to release some one from custody will not be easy and it will be impossible if the movement is not organized. That is what I took away from the rally most, so that is what I am going to say now… After you read this blog, do what you can to help the movement get organized so we can get Bradley Manning out of custody and allow him to receive the credit he deserves.