By Wednesday, it is expected that the world will know the fate of whistleblower/ traitor (depending on how you see him) Bradley Manning, who faces the possibility of life in prison for releasing hundreds of classified military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks.
While the prosecution has called Manning a “glory-seeking traitor” and the defense is calling him a “naive whistleblower,” these descriptions are representative of many Americans' views — there is significant debate over Manning's crimes and the punishment he should face. However, with the end of the trial fast approaching, more people are rallying in his favor, and protests which have been dubbed "International Day of Action" have gone global.
But though Manning knew what he was doing when he leaked the information (he's already admitted guilt to lesser crimes in this case), the possibility that he could be sent to prison for life or even a few decades would send the wrong message about what type of actions we should be accepting from our government. Though leaking confidential information could result in a dangerous situation for national security, the military must also must be held accountable for unethical practices.
In support of Manning, some of the most notable protests have taken place in London, Brussels, Perth, Australia, and in Germany, where demonstrations were staged in at least 40 cities.
St Martin's in the Fields, London
photo credit: demotix.com
Ft. McNair, D.C.
photo credit: Flikr account, savebradley
photo credit: Flikr account, ds-foto :: bembelkandidat
Among all the chants and quotes heard and read in these demonstrations, one that stood out most was that of the Bradley Manning Support Network campaign organizer, Emma Cape.
“It’s time we reclaim the word ‘patriot,’” Cape stated in a speech delivered at Ft. McNair. “The kind of patriot we need today is not someone who defends all of our country’s history and actions, it’s someone willing to stand up for our country’s future, taking risks to ensure it’s a just one.”
Cape’s statement represents exactly what our country must focus on in cases like these.
Manning may not have completely been in the right but understanding the value of having the courage to identify and speak out against indecency is something that we as Americans and people, whether we are Manning supporters or not, should be able to agree is important for the future of the balance of power between citizens and their respective governments.