Report on Washington, DC Protest: Letter Hand Delivered to DNC for President Obama Calling for Pardon of Bradley Manning
On September 6th, 2012 supporters of Bradley Manning protested outside of the national headquarters of the Democratic National Committee which is working with the campaign to re-elect President Obama.
Approximately 20 supporters of Manning attended the event on a rainy morning, on the day President Obama will accept the nomination for his re-election. The purpose of the protest, which occurred along with 32 other protests at Obama campaign offices throughout the country, was to tell President Obama to free Bradley Manning. In Washington, DC activists sought to deliver a letter to the president through the Democratic Party that highlighted Obama's mistaken claim that Manning is guilty, the lengthy solitary confinement-torture that Manning suffered and urge President Obama to pardon Manning.
When we arrived we were chanting "President Obama Free Bradley Manning." Kevin Zeese an attorney who is a member of the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network explained why the charges against Manning should be dismissed and why we were focused on President Obama. He noted that the decision to hold Manning in solitary confinement was made by a three-star general at the Pentagon and it would be surprising if he acted without the approval of the president, Joint Chiefs of Staff or Secretary of Defense, in other words the decision to illegally torture a U.S. soldier being held in pre-trial detention was made at the highest levels of government.
There was an immediate conflict with the police. They did not want us standing in front of the DNC headquarters, claiming it was private property. We argued that this was the office of a political party and we merely wanted to deliver a letter to President Obama.One officer tried to intimidate Malachy Kilbride into leaving the DNC entrance but Malachy peacefully stood his ground as others told the officer not to touch him and back-away.
DNC security called the Capitol Hill Police who joined in asking us to move. In all seven police vehicles came to the DNC headquarters. Later the Metro DC Police were called. We explained that we were peaceably assembling in exercise of our First Amendment rights and merely wanted to deliver a letter to the president through the DNC. We said we understood this was private property, but it was the property of a political party that represented the people of the United States and we had a right to communicate with them and deliver a letter to the president. We told them we had no intention on leaving until the letter was delivered.
After a brief discussion between the police led by Max Obuszewski, Malachy Kilbride and Jane Zara, joined in by other Manning supporters, we agreed on a compromise, we would stay on the DNC property but make sure to leave room for people who wanted to enter or exit the building.
We explained to DNC officials that we would stay on their property until someone met with us, took our letter and agreed to deliver it. In about ten minutes an official from the DNC came to speak to us. Deputy Chief Operations Officer Arnold Skretta came outside. We delivered the letter to him and he agreed to share it with higher officials in the Democratic Party. We insisted that we wanted President Obama to receive the letter since he had the power to end the court- martial of Bradley Manning. We also told him we would stay until he returned to confirm delivery of the letter.
Photos by Ted Majdosz
Skretta returned about 10 minutes later and confirmed that the letter had been delivered.
Bellow is the letter we delivered.
September 6, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Hand delivered to the Democratic National Committee
Dear Mr. President:
As members of peace and justice organizations opposed to your continuation of the Bush administration’s failed wars, we are writing to urge you to do the right thing on behalf of Private First Class Bradley Manning. As you know he has been imprisoned and, at times, tortured during his incarceration. It is alleged he leaked documents to Wikileaks and possibly other material, including a video of U.S. soldiers committing war crimes in Iraq . It is ironic that none of the soldiers who killed unarmed Iraqi civilians have been charged with a crime, but Pfc. Manning is charged and accused of releasing documents which were embarrassing to the U.S. government, as they showed diplomatic and military support for a number of dictatorships in the Middle East .
It is very important that you retract your statement made at a fundraiser in April 2011, regarding PFC Manning’s guilt. It was astonishing to hear you say, “He broke the law.” How can Pfc. Manning receive a fair trial when his commander-and-chief convicts him prior to a court martial?
As you know, for the first eleven months of his detention, Pfc. Manning was held in solitary isolation. He was not allowed regular exercise or sunlight, and was even forced to stand at attention naked. The U. N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, has declared these conditions “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Recently, Pfc. Manning’s defense revealed they have discovered emails which show orders to hold him in these inhuman conditions came from a three-star general who ignored the warnings of brig psychologists, and was likely acting with political motive.
Though he’s yet to be convicted of any crime, PFC Manning has already been severely punished. If for no other reason, you could pardon him of all charges. This would call attention to the need for respecting the international human rights of all prisoners.
There was no harm done by the release of the Wikileaks documents. In fact, the documents helped ignite the Arab Spring.
And it can be argued that the document release played a part in bringing an end to the Iraq War. During the 2008 campaign, a majority of citizens believed that U.S. forces should be withdrawn from Iraq . Many people voted for you because they believed that you would end the war.
Unfortunately, you sought to keep troops in Iraq past the originally planned 2011 deadline. Documents allegedly released by PFC Manning helped U.S. citizens understand why the war had not ended sooner. These reasons included a failure of the command to adequately discipline soldiers who would discredit the U.S. military in the eyes of the world by wrongfully killing civilians.
Bradley Manning has a conscience. Words attributed to him in May 2010 suggest he acted because he wanted people to see the truth because without information, you cannot make informed decisions. You made a similar statement in May 2011: In the 21st century, information is power; the truth cannot be hidden; and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens. We now ask that you honor those words by freeing American truth-teller Bradley Manning.
Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 East 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218/410-366-1637 or mobuszewski [at] verizon.net
Mary Lou Anderson, board member, Nevada Desert Experience, Las Vegas, NV; Medea Benjamin, cofounder, CODEPINK; Nelson Betancourt, Orlando, FL; Art Brennan, Veterans For Peace, 618 Concord Stage Road, Weare, NH; Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director, Western States Legal Foundation; Ed Cloonan; Jack & Felice Cohen-Joppa, the Nuclear Resister newsletter, nukeresister.org; Catarina Correia, Riverdale, MD; Patrick Cullinan, DC immigration lawyer; Robert Cunningham; Ingrid Dean; Dr. Gwen DuBois, Baltimore; Jenefer Ellingston, ACLU, DC Statehood Green Party; Alda Fers, Chevy Chase, MD; Margaret Flowers, co-director ItsOurEconomy.us; Phil Fornaci, Washington, D.C.; Ellen Franzen, Berkeley, CA; Danielle Greene, Code Pink D.C.; Kay Guinane, Derwood, MD; Jim Haber, coordinator of Nevada Desert Experience, Las Vegas, NV; Riley Hamilton; mary e harding; Melvin Hardy, The New Beginning Initiative; Harland Harrison, chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County, CA; David Hartsough, PEACEWORKERS, San Francisco, CA, San Francisco Friends Meeting; Kathleen Hernandez, Veterans For Peace Los Angeles; Marilyn Hoff, PO Box 295, El Prado, NM 87529; Catherine Johnson, MA, Vashon Island, WA; Walda Katz-Fishman; Tarak Kauff, VFP; John Kelly/DC Metro Science for the People; Judith Kelly, Pax Christi Pentagon Area; Kathy Kelly, Chicago; Malachy Kilbride; Michelle Kline, National Lawyers Guild; Bonnie Korman, peace and justice advocate, Taos, NM; Barbara Larcom, Baltimore; Margo LaZaro with Global Family; Sharon and Jay Levy of Takoma Park, MD, Veterans of Foreign Peace (U.S. Peace Corps); Francine Lindberg, The Taos Group. El Prado, NM; Henry Lowendorf, chair, Greater New Haven Peace Council, New Haven, CT 06515-0205; Paul Magno; Alfred L. Marder, president, US Peace Council; Allan Masri; Debbie Michaels, vice president, AFSCME Local 1459; Earle M Mitchell, LCDR, USN (ret); Bill Montross, D.C. Chapter, National Lawyers Guild; Luci Murphy,cultural worker; Denise K. Murray; Rabiah Al Nur, Spring of Light, firstname.lastname@example.org; Richard J. Ochs, Baltimore; Cynthia Papermaster, Berkeley, CA, www.voterocky.org, www.justicepartyusa.net, Justice Party National Steering Committee; Doris Rausch, Columbia, MD 21044; Graciela Razo; Marcel Reid /ACORN8; Law Office of David R. Saffold, Immigration Legal Services, WDC 20006; Leslie Salgado, chair, Howard County Friends of Latin America, 6336 Sandchain Rd., Columbia, MD 21045; Helen Schietinger, Washington, D.C.; David Schwartzman, DC Metro Science for the People; Linda Seeley, San Luis Obispo, CA Mothers for Peace; Wendy Rambo Shuford, 1 Hamill Court, Baltimore, Md 21210; Sonia Silbert, director, Washington Peace Center; Alice Slater, New York, NY, www.abolition2000.org; Ann Suellentrop M.S.R.N., Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC; Kathleen Sullivan, PhD, Brooklyn, NY; David Swanson, Charlottsville, VA; Eve Tetaz, Washington, D.C.; Walter Teague; John Tharakan; Debbie Tolson, Potomac, Maryland, Veterans For Peace, Washington, DC, Bradley Manning Support Network; Rebecca M. Trussell, 3622 Petersville Road, Rosemont, Maryland 21758; Arturo J. Viscarra, Esq.; Sofia C. Vivero; Loring Wirbel and Bill Sulzman on behalf of Citizens for Peace in Space, Colorado Springs; William J. Wagner; Rachel Witwer, New Orleans; Angelina Bonilla Zara;; Jane Zara, board member, Washington Peace Center; Kevin Zeese, steering committee, Bradley Manning Support Network and co-chair, Come Home America
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