Report from Bradley Manning’s arraignment: David Eberhardt

Downtown Abbey is not the only thing! is it?

biased report from a yank

On 2/23/12, Bradley Manning was arraigned at Fort Meade, Maryland- meaning his case will proceed to court martial in June or August and he will be tried on 20 + counts- including leaking classified documents (to wikileaks), unauthorized use of these documents, theft of same, aiding the enemy and so many others (they’re piling on to try and get Assange- wikileaks founder, perhaps). He could receive a life sentence.

Of course, one of the items he leaked was a video of an Apache helicopter attack on Iraqis where civilians, including children, and Reuters newspersons were murdered by U.S. gunners (a documentary on this entitled “Incident at Bahgdad” is now being shown (see Washington Post article of 2/22 in the Style section). The documentary is apparently up for an Oscar.

I – David Eberhardt, peacenik, socialist and Code Pink member from Baltimore, Md.(I poured blood on draft files in 1967 with Father Berrigan to protest the Vietnam War and am now 70) was able to address the court at the end of the proceedings and say

“Judge? Isn’t a soldier required by law to report war crimes?”

There were many other stretches of silence during the quite boring and routine procedure of arraignment- in which prosecutors, defense, and even Bradley all nod their heads in agreement with the Judge- but, besides wondering if Bradley’s defense really wants loud demonstrations, many other occasions where I could have shouted out this message – but- I was glad not to be hustled out of the courtroom, let alone arrested. I seem to be on a role lately- having disrupted Karl Rove royally twice with no consequences.

I chatted with Michael Ratner, down from New York from the Constitutional Law Center and looking after Julian Assange’s (wikileaks director) interests (Michael has much experience as a lawyer defending radical defendants – whether Bradley is one or not).

I asked him if he had see the movie about the “White Rose”- the student group executed in Nazi Germany – had he seen the courtroom scene? I can’t say this scene was too similar – what with the female Judge so unlike Herr what was his name, who screamed out insane Nazi proclamations at the Scholls – but, still… the comparison was unavoidable.

The courtroom – with its spiffy US uniformed bailiffs – had an eerie, horrible feel- as if a humongous train was bearing down on the petite Manning – it had the feel of a gas chamber entrance with all its hypocrisy (too strong)?

Press was there in abundance – possibly more from the rest of the world than the sleepy US which would rather not be bothered about war crimes. I would say – in the courtroom – 20 media and 15 civilian. There may have been more media present in another room (watching on tv).

A representative from the Austrailian Embassy was there (Assange’s a native) as well as representatives from the Bradley Manning Support Committee. I do not know if Manning’s relatives were present. I wish I had asked.

Bradley has not expressed a great deal of political involvement- perhaps wise given the sentence he faces. But – the whole world is watching. I wish I had said that also.

so that you know i am a bit of a humorist- go MILLWALL

dave eberhardt

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