CHASE MADAR OVER FROM THE STATES 7th – 15th MAY
For the background on Chase and his excellent and thoroughly informative book The Passion of Bradley Manning see this post.
And here now follows a brief round-up of the listed events, which the publisher and various people from the campaign managed to put together – and props to Jenny at Verso for involving us all!
Well, Chase didn’t quite manage ALL of W.I.S.E., but he didn’t do badly considering he was only over for little more than a week, taking in Scotland, Wales and England in person, and Ireland (it is rumoured – more to follow) via radio…
SCOTLAND, EDINBURGH: WORD POWER BOOKS, TUES 7TH, 6.30pm
First call was Word Power Books, the radical online and in the flesh book shop in Edinburgh, which, at its premises on West Nicolson Street, is also a venue for great, mind stirring events.
Here Chase gave a talk about Bradley and the background to the leaks drawn from the information in his book, which covers Bradley’s history, what happened, and what the information was that he released into the public domain, but which also clearly describes the backdrop against which Bradley’s act took place.
And this information about the American political background (and, to a certain extent in terms of knock on effect, also the ‘world’ political background) is some of the most useful information for us over here, as it is stuff we are perhaps not very familiar with. And it clarifies how Bradley’s decision to give the information to WikiLeaks so that the public could be informed really makes a whole lot of sense.
You should get the book! Order it from Word Power, or find it in your local bookshop – it is now available published over here for the first time in a revised 2nd edn by Verso Books , whereas previously it had to be ordered it from the States.
There’s a great review here from Jeff Sparrow in The Age if you need more convincing!
Chase later told us that he was impressed by the support for Bradley he found amongst people he met unconnected with the events through this tour, and how Bradley’s story seems better known over here in general. One example of this he cited came from this visit to Scotland, where, he said, the bartender and waiter of a fish restaurant were both engaging him about the case, and already familiar with it.
ENGLAND, LONDON, THE CENTURY CLUB, WEDS 8TH, 7.00pm
So, on to England, and The Century Club in Shaftesbury Avenue, who kindly agreed to host a free event in honour of Bradley Manning. This was a fab evening all round, but especially helpful for anyone hoping to make connections between Bradley’s act of resistance and the good effects of the information being outed and made public.
Jolyon Rubinstein of BBC 3’s The Revolution Will Be Televised (to whom congrats are due for the recent BAFTA win – and pls take note when you click on that link that Jolyon was dutifully wearing his newly acquired BRADLEY MANNING badge to collect the award – great stuff there, J!!) chaired a packed (both with people and information!) evening that ran well over the scheduled time to no-one’s dismay, billed as WikiLeaks: The Bradley Manning Story –
In this event at the Century Club in London’s Soho, we will discuss the issues raised by this case. Two years on, what have the WikiLeaks disclosures really told us about journalism, diplomacy and warfare? And what are the ramifications of the legal case itself?
setting up at the Century Club event
We had a very animated panel of Chase, Ben (Griffin) and Andy Worthington all experts in their respective fields, but none of whom could ever be described as purely academic in their expertise; three very passionate people and not a dull word!
Chase, for a start, makes no bones about his advocacy for Bradley, and indeed his book, though highly pragmatic and fact/information based, actually begins by offering a raft of reasons why Brad deserves the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ (NOTE: don’t hold yer breath on this one…).
He did not disappoint, treating us to a caustic exposure of just what is wrong with current governmental policy, and why it is a matter of simple expedience, if nothing else, to be people who know what our governments are up to. A tweet from Verso giving a Chase quote:
The idea that state enforced cluelessness will make a nation safer has led to calamity
Ben is always very ‘lively of manner’ (!) when you get him going on the wars, his experiences in Iraq, and Brad and Julian, and this was no exception! He spoke to us of how Bradley had made a great contribution in shattering the ‘disconnect’ between what we get to hear about re war (and what we, as a public, are visualising), and what is actually happening on the ground.
Chase was particularly tickled by his description of the msm’s changing attitude to the situation and their discarding (and worse) of Brad and Julian, as they returned to a sort of ‘submissive to the authorities’ default position, and he tweeted later:
which gives you a pretty good insight into the flavour of the evening all round!
It was brilliant to hear from Andy as he has made such excellent use of the material in the Guantanamo Files that Bradley gifted to us through WikiLeaks, in his massive project documenting Guantanamo.
And both poignant and highly pertinent, of course, to be discussing Gitmo at this time, when so many of the remaining 168 prisoners there are taking part in the hunger strike, now past its 100th day. To turn to Chase’s tweets again, we have this on Andy:
With a mike in his hand
@GuantanamoAndy is the same paragon of calm, relentless probity that he is on his blog
And as if all that wasn’t enough, we were also treated to a video link from Julian, during which he spoke to us about the nature of the forces we are up against in the struggle for a more just and honourable world.
#BradleyManning‘s show trial sends clear message to anyone inside government system who might defy authority…………… One of biggest show trials we have seen in the west since the 70’s’ ……..There is no doubt #BradleyManning is a hero. Media have tried to strip him of all intelligence & understanding
In a veritable feast of Bradley Manningites, we then had Peter Tatchell (who will be speaking at our US Embassy demonstration for Brad on Sat 1st June) also making a brief appearance, talking powerfully about Bradley’s courageous act and the reprisals he has faced because of it (again thanks to Verso tweets):
#BradleyManning accused of being unpatriotic. He is in fact a patriot to the values of international humanitarian law… Patriotism is not about unquestioning obedience, it’s about standing true to the values that inspired the formation of US…… BradleyManning took a stand against the terrible things being done in the name of American people
and finally ‘kickass National Treasure’ Dame Vivienne Westwood (thank you, David!), sporting the giant sized badge of Brad that attracted media attention at the recent Met Punk Exhibition in New York, spoke of the plight of Bradley and his prospect of a lengthy imprisonment, mentioning also various other people, including Leonard Peltier.
Later she took the mic again and spoke of how really these issues are all connected, even her own special concern – climate change – links in; it all comes down to the fight for justice. Which just about sums up the ‘let all who care about this world and its grief, join hands and thank Manning’ part of the ‘coming together’ theme of our 1st June gathering at the US Embassy.
And finally she reminded us that nothing changes about governments; you just should NEVER trust them…
Aisha from London Guantanamo Campaign gave out an announcement about the actions on Guantanamo planned for the weekend 17th – 19th May, specifically about Saturday 18th at the US Embassy, and Hamja Ahsan spoke very briefly about his brother Talha, currently enduring the US pre trial prison regime after having been unjustly extradited (he is a British citizen) there.
The evening was a great coming together in many ways – linking people from different campaigns, and even people in the Wise Up network itself encountering one another ‘in person’ who frequently meet only ‘online’, and in general both the atmosphere and the content were inspiring.
There WILL be a video but, because the evening was really such a fest, it’s gonna take some editing to make it digestible, so it will be posted here asap.
WALES, CARDIFF, THURS 10TH, 12 MIDDAY
Moving on to Wales, we were very grateful to Bethan Jenkins AM (thank you, Bethan!) for sponsoring a lunchtime meeting in the Media Screening Room in the Senedd (Welsh Assembly), so that Chase could give a public talk on Bradley, answer questions and meet AMs.
After some hiccup about the start time (sorry all who had to hang around!), Chase treated us to his welcome expertise on Brad and the case, explaining how gratifying it was to see any politicians wanting to engage on the subject of Bradley Manning and the situation he now finds himself in, since, in Congress, he said, there are only two members who have supported him. Chase later tweeted:
He explained again about over classification, and also how the very large no of individuals in the US (1.4 million) that have clearance actually indicates that this apparent level of secrecy is not even very secret, just dystopian and ‘theatre’.
It was really good to see a no of AMs, notably Plaid Cymru, wanting to find a way to help, and this included Party Leader Leanne Wood, who specifically asked to be kept in touch with the network and the developments in the case.
It was also great to meet up again with friends from National Theatre Wales planning the run of The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as part of the prestigious British Council Showcase (well done, yous!). This should be happening towards the end of Brad’s trial if this pans out as as expected – the show will run from 6th to 25th August at St Thomas Aquinas High School. ***And if you can help with campaign activities around the play during this time, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH!!***
ENGLAND, LONDON, AUDIO DISCUSSION FRI 10TH 10.30am
The next day four of us gathered in a studio in Marylebone for a discussion in which we looked at how we know what we know about Brad, and what we each glean from these sources about the person he is and the nature of this amazing story.
As four Brad enthusiasts we weren’t short of words and the conversation flowed freely. Hopefully we managed to include a reasonable amount of factual information as well as our opinions, but the intention was also for us to approach the discussion from a personal view point and be expressing what it meant to each of us.
We four were myself as a supporter from the campaign, Chase, and two of The Molino Group, who are putting on Desert (a play about Bradley Manning) at The Bike Shed in Exeter and then for one night at Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden. We were essentially looking at representations of Bradley in different forms of media, so, for instance, referring to their play (and The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning), Chase’s book, the chat logs, msm reports, reports from journalists at the court etc.
Podcast will be posted asap
ENGLAND, LONDON, THE RADICAL BOOKFAIR SAT 11TH 10am – 5pm
Several of us then met up at the London Radical Bookfair the next day, where The Passion of Bradley Manning was available for sale. We gave stallholders representing suitable bookshops flyers about Sat 1st June to take back with them to display in their shops, and then leafleted people as they left, giving out our Wise Up info sheet on Brad and the BMSN postcards. These were all also laid out on a table in the entrance with everyone else’s promotional material.
ENGLAND, LONDON, FRONTLINE CLUB MON 13TH 7.00pm
The last but one event was another (more formal) panel event chaired by Richard Gizbert of Al Jazeera, with Chase, Naomi (Colvin) and David Leigh. Topic was
the questions raised by this case about the fate of whistleblowers and the future of relationships between journalists and their sources
Coulda bin tricky, you might well be thinking! Hmm.
Here’s the audio:
And the m_cetera critique follows. It’s titled
David Leigh’s disgraceful performance at Frontline Club’s Bradley Manning panel (which should give you a clue..)
On May 13, 2013, London’s Frontline Club held a panel entitled “The Case of the U.S. vs Bradley Manning”.
On the panel was Chase Madar, author of “The Passion of Bradley Manning”, former Guardian investigations executive editor David Leigh, and campaigner Naomi Colvin. The discussion was moderated by Richard Gizbert of Al Jazeera’s Listening Post.
David Leigh is well-known to those familiar with WikiLeaks, mainly due to his publicationof the Cablegate password in his and Luke Harding’s book, “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy”. This led to the release of all 251,287 unredacted State Department cables in September 2011.
Throughout the hour-and-a-half long discussion, David Leigh put a great deal of effort into downplaying the significance of the what WikiLeaks has released, thereby downplaying Bradley Manning’s sacrifice. His comments show a broad range of insensitivity, misunderstandings, and grand understatements. For someone whose career has relied heavily on WikiLeaks in the past few years, and for someone who was invited onto a panel due to his prior experience with WikiLeaks, his attitude is contemptible….OK that’s it on here so now continue reading …
And here’s the video:
ENGLAND, BRISTOL, FESTIVAL OF IDEAS, TUES 14th 7.45pm
This was more or less another talk by Chase, but it took the form of a question and answer prompt session and was a Bristol Festival of Ideas event at The Watershed, which is a splendid venue, but sadly has a policy of not permitting any campaign literature to be either distributed or displayed. Some people did actually ask for further info and so some literature was nevertheless given out.
Chase gave a run down of Bradley’s history and the story of his historic act, again referring to the madness of dystopian levels of secrecy and also the contradictory nature of this being extremely badly protected; the ‘theatre’ of the show of security which is actually devoid of real security.
He illustrated this with more of his dry humour by telling us about the hardened gang of criminals who recently managed the fantastic feat of breaking into a nuclear facility, which one might have hoped would be fairly secure. Not so…
…these expert ‘criminal minds’ were actually an 83 year old nun, a painter and decorator, and someone who described himself as a ‘drifter’, he told us, yet they managed to penetrate to the area of the facility supposed to be the most secure and actually spend two hours there undisturbed. They were then discovered by chance!
(A shameful postscript to this story serves as a pertinent reminder – cf Brad, Julian – that the US authorities will do their utmost to make an example of those by whom they are embarrassed – Sr Megan Rice, the nun (such a wicked person), along with her other defendants, has just been convicted of damaging a defense facility under the sabotage act and causing more than $1,000 damage to government property (both vastly inflated charges), and is now facing 20 years in prison...and she’s 83)
There were questions from the audience and one in particular sticks in my mind. A woman from Pakistan wanted to know why we were so, well, basically, apathetic and complacent in the West…a very good question…
Several pre-recorded radio interviews also resulted from the tour, and we will give you notice when they are due to air.
For those of us trying to up the ante in the last few weeks before the actual trial begins (not to mention through it), this visit was a timely boost for the campaign over here – and thanks are due to Verso for still being prepared to publish truthful books in a world where spin pays more, to Jenny for involving the campaign, and to Chase for what was a pretty tiring schedule. The tour served as a great peg for awareness raising events and has hopefully left us focused as we go into the next stage. Cheers, Chase!