Kansas City AFSC staff, members of the AFSC Area Program Committee and volunteers participated in the June 4th “Rally for Bradley” and a march and vigil in Leavenworth, KS near the Military Prison where Bradley Manning is being held.
The event was the first large public rally since Bradley Manning was transferred to Fort Leavenworth in April 2011.
Manning has been accused of leaking information to WikiLeaks including details of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The leaks contained information many think should have been part of the public domain. Supporters view Manning or whoever leaked the information as a “whistleblower” revealing information the public needed to be able to assess and judge U.S. policy and actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many experts also believe that the diplomatic cables released helped catalyze the democratic revolution across the Middle East and North Africa.
Although incarcerated since May 2010, Manning has not yet had a public court hearing. Until being moved to Fort Leavenworth, he was held under conditions that Amnesty International described in a letter to Defense Secretary Gates as "inhumane," "unnecessarily harsh and punitive" and a "breach the USA’s obligations under international standards and treaties."
The Saturday, June 4th Rally, March and Vigil demonstrated strong support for the observance of Manning’s human rights, his right to receive due process and his status as “whistleblower” not “traitor.” Over 200 people attended from the Leavenworth area and across the country.
Ira Harritt, KC Program Coordinator, was asked to speak at the rally and reminded those gathered of President Eisenhower’s warning, “The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without...” He went on providing context to Manning imprisonment stating:
"We, not the terrorists, not an enemy out there, have destroyed too much of what we value in America. It has long been recognized that the first casualty of war is the truth and this is being acted out on a daily basis. Too many lies, too many secrets and too much misinformation have been foisted upon the American public in the pursuit of war."
(Correction / clarification to Ira Harritt's comments: Charges have been filed against Bradley Manning. However, as of the June 4th, 2011 he has not had an Article 32 hearing, which in the military is comparable to a grand jury proceedings. An Article 32 hearing is designed to be a thorough and impartial investigation of charges and specifications and is required to be completed before Manning could be referred to a court-martial.)
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