Free Bradley Manning

 Last week when over 100 veterans chained themselves to the White House gates, protesting passage of a Defense Appropriations Bill and resulting in one of the largest mass arrest in years, there was hardly a whisper in the news.  ROP Leader, Mike Edera shares this thought piece for the ROP and progressive community:

The third week of December was dominated by raging debate over extending the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, 
which will cost the nation $150 billion over two years. The liberal websites were awash in outrage. Meanwhile, in the same week, the House and  Senate passed a $725 billion 2011 Defense Appropriation Act, which included almost $160 billion to continue the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Doing a Dec 18 search of Commondreams, Buzzflash, Truthout, and Truthdig, the only discussion I find of the Defense Appropriation Bill is about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (allowing gay people to serve in the military), and the Dream Act (helping undocumented immigrant youth to attend college, and to serve in the military), which were both originally included in the Defense Appropriation Bill (The Dream Act was stripped from the Bill. The abolition of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell passed as  separate legislation). 

I had to go the The Army Times website to find an upfront report on the new ‘Defense’ Bill:


Without debate, House approves war funding


By Anne Flaherty – The Associated Press

Posted : Friday Dec 17, 2010 18:19:48 EST

WASHINGTON — The House on Friday passed legislation that authorizes the Pentagon to spend nearly $160 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this budget year without major restrictions on the conduct of operations.

The 341-48 vote on the defense authorization bill came after House and Senate Democrats agreed to strip several provisions, including one that would have allowed gays to serve openly in the military and another that would have authorized abortions at overseas military facilities.

The provision that would have overturned “don’t ask, don’t tell” was approved as a standalone bill in the House earlier this week and awaits a vote in the Senate.

The spending bill covers the 2011 budget year, which began Oct. 1. The Senate was expected to approve the measure as one of its final acts before adjourning this year.

Congress considers the defense authorization bill to be its primary chance to sway Pentagon policy. While it does not transfer money into Defense Department coffers, it does serve as a blueprint for the defense appropriations bill by authorizing spending levels.

This year’s bill agreed to $725 billion in defense programs, including $158.7 billion for overseas combat.

The Democrats in Congress have stopped opposing the wars, or even noticing them. And the same can be said for most of the progressive movement. This slide began in early 2007 when the newly elected Democratic Congress failed to face down Bush over war spending. So, just for the record, let’s  look at how much US taxpayers have spent on war, occupation, and what polite folks call ‘Defense’ since 2007, when the latest bout of national amnesia began to take hold:

2010 – $663 billion
2009 – $653 billion
2008 – $656 billion
2007 – $557 billion

I could go on about what this kind of spending means  during this period, which coincides with the greatest economic collapse since the 1930’s. Actually, I saw exactly what this spending means just yesterday, while doing my Holiday shopping at Portland Saturday Market. There on the street corner, amidst the flurry of last minute shoppers was a whole homeless family, mom, young children, teens, with their stuff in a couple of push carts, begin eyeballed by a couple of ‘security personnel’ who looked about a paycheck away from joining them.

When Obama was elected, the wars suddenly became ‘our’ wars. Obama promoted a phony Iraq ‘withdrawal’ that only a chump could believe in, and then ESCALATED the Afghan disaster. Around that time, I had an e-mail exchange with someone in the Washington County Democratic Committee who actually told me that we should support Obama’s Afghan policy ‘because the President has more information than we do".

The President doesn’t have more information than we do. Thanks to Wikileaks, we all are getting the information together. It’s important to remember that Wikileaks is a website for whistleblowers, people inside the system who still remember their oaths to uphold the US Constitution. Every crime documented by Wikileaks proves that the lawbreakers are the authorities, starting at the top of the chain of command with the Commander-In-Chief.

Ironic that one of the greatest blows struck against the high and mighty may have been delivered by one of the lowliest ranked members of the Armed Services – Private Bradley Manning. Manning is alleged to have leaked hundreds of classified documents to Wikkileaks regarding the Iraq and Afghan occupation when he worked as an Army clerk in Kuwait. One of his alleged leaks was enough for me – a real-time video/audio of a US helicopter gunship crew clinically shooting down unarmed Iraqis  on the streets of Baghdad.

Private Manning is presently undergoing solitary confinement in the Brig at Quantico Virginia. He is being court-martialed for his alleged crime of exposing the crimes of war and occupation. If his jailers had been members of a Mexican drug cartel, they could not be worse criminals than the Government of the United States. Vice President Joe Biden, on Meet the Press, called Wikileaks spokesman Julian Assange a ‘high tech terrorist’ because Wikkileaks was ‘interfering in our ability to do business’. It is time to screw these people’s business up, no matter what party they claim to adhere to. You can start by supporting Private Bradley Manning’s defense.

Go the    –  the organization of GI resistance.

There you will find the Bradley Manning Defense Committee. Donate – alot of money. There is a menu of other actions to take to bring this case to the attention of our compatriots. Most of all, we need to revive the anti-war work of ROP’s Human Dignity Groups. Start the discussion. Devise action to raise awareness. Don’t wait for ‘orders from afar’. Figure it out. The year-in year-out $700 billion war spending is ready to flush America’s economy down the same drain that our moral reputation has already disappeared into. Act before it is too late. 

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