2,000 protest as Manning’s trial opens at Ft. Meade

Ft. Meade, Md. — Despite police roadblocks hampering access to the rally site, nearly 2,000 supporters of U.S. Army Pfc. B. Manning rallied and marched at Fort Meade, Md. People came from as nearby as a farm in Mayberry, Md., and as far away as Chicago, northern California, Britain and Denmark.

Despite temperatures in the nineties under a blazing sun, a predominantly older crowd walked distances of up to two miles this June 1 just to reach the rallying point for the march. Roadblocks set up by Army police and Anne Arundel County cops hampered access to the site.

The Army did what it could to stop the soldiers at the base where Manning is to be put on trial from seeing and hearing any of the demonstration. Inside the base fence there was not an active duty soldier in sight as marchers, in high spirits, chanted as they walked the perimeter of the base.

The trial at Ft. Meade started June 3. It is expected to last most if not all of the summer.  According to WikiLeaks, the “overwhelming majority of court records filed in the Manning case have been kept secret by the court” from journalists and Manning’s defense counsel.

Per a report on the radio and TV program Democracy Now!, there are 150 to 175 witnesses lined up by the prosecutors to testify against Pfc. Manning.

The government is charging Manning with indirectly “aiding the enemy” for releasing hundreds of thousands of war logs, diplomatic cables and military videos to the website WikiLeaks.org.

Pfc. Manning said his intention was to “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.” (couragetoresist.org) He has certainly succeeded by unveiling many of the crimes the U.S. government committed that the Pentagon and CIA tried to keep under cover.

Despite three years of imprisonment, Manning is standing strong with no intention of backing down. He expresses the firm belief that letting the entire world know the truth was the right thing to do.

If there were evenhanded justice, U.S. government and military leaders would be sitting in the dock facing war crime charges, not Manning. The young soldier has courageously provided us with “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”!

Participating in the march and rally were many anti-war and anti-imperialist organizations, including Iraq Veterans Against the War, Code Pink, Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace and the World Can’t Wait.

Among the many speakers giving expressions of total support were LGBT activist and U.S. Army Lt. Dan Choi, retired U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright and Daniel Ellsberg, who like Manning brought to light a secret Pentagon document. Ellsberg showed that the 1964 “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” used by President Lyndon Johnson to win a congressional blank check for action against Vietnam was based on a total lie.

Details of the trial and support actions are at BradleyManning.org, in addition to WikiLeaks.org and numerous other websites.