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US-Regierung hält Jean Ziegler für untauglich
von Simon Hehli –

Der frühere SP-Nationalrat Jean Ziegler soll für die Schweiz in den Uno-Menschenrechtsrat. Nach Schweizer Bürgerlichen und jüdischen Kreisen wehrt sich nun auch Washington gegen diesen Schritt.

Jean Ziegler hat sich in seiner langen Karriere viele Feinde gemacht: Den Bürgerlichen in der Schweiz gilt der 79-Jährige als Nestbeschmutzer, weil er das Land und seine Banken gern auch im Ausland laut kritisierte. Zudem soll er die Nähe zu Diktatoren wie Fidel Castro und Muammar Gaddafi gesucht haben – was Ziegler stets bestritten hat. Israel wiederum nimmt ihm sein Engagement für die Palästinenser übel.

Die Obama-Vertraute Samantha Power hält Ziegler für ungeeignet.

Deshalb kommt es bei den Kritikern schlecht an, dass Ziegler im September in den 18-köpfigen beratenden Ausschuss des Menschenrechtsrates gewählt werden soll – in ein Gremium, dem er bereits von 2008 bis 2012 angehört hatte. Die offizielle Schweiz unterstützt die Kandidatur. Die «Jerusalem Post» titelte deshalb letzte Woche: «Die Schweiz nominiert Hisbollah-Advokat für Menschenrechtsrat», die israelfreundliche Nichtregierungsorganisation UN Watch sprach von einem «Skandal»: Ziegler habe extrem anti-israelische und anti-westliche Ansichten.

Klare Worte der US-Botschafterin

Mittlerweile hat sich auch die US-Regierung deutlich gegen Ziegler ausgesprochen. Uno-Botschafterin Samantha Power, die als Vertraute von Barack Obama gilt, schrieb auf Twitter: «Dr. Ziegler ist in der Tat ungeeignet für eine weitere Amtsperiode.» Auch die «Washington Post» griff das Thema am Sonntag auf.

Auf diese neuste Entwicklung hin will Ziegler demnächst Stellung nehmen. Letzte Woche noch sagte er als Reaktion auf die Angriffe von rechts und aus Israel, das sei Courant normal. Die Polemik um ihn zeige bloss, dass der Kampf für die wirtschaftlichen, sozialen und kulturellen Menschenrechte viele Feinde habe, zitierte ihn der «Tages-Anzeiger».

«Die Schweiz in den Dreck gezogen»

Am Dienstag wird sich auch die Aussenpolitische Kommission des Nationalrates (APK) mit der Causa Ziegler befassen. Vertreter aller grossen bürgerlichen Parteien haben ihren Unmut bekundet. FDP-Mann Walter Müller sagt, Ziegler habe die Schweiz international in den Dreck gezogen und könne deshalb die Interessen des Landes in der Uno nicht vertreten. «Zudem polarisiert er einfach zu stark, um vermittelnd zu wirken, was im Menschenrechtsrat eigentlich das Ziel wäre.»

Doch selbst wenn sich die APK-Mehrheit gegen Ziegler stellen sollte, dürfte das kaum Auswirkungen haben: Das Parlament hat zur Vertretung im Uno-Menschenrechtsrat nichts zu sagen.

http://www.20min.ch/schweiz/news/story/16206942

Schweiz
Wer hat Angst vor Jean Ziegler?

Israel und die USA wollen dem Genfer eine weitere UN-Amtszeit verweigern. Von Peer Teuwsen

Er liebt diese Zeiten, denn es sind Zeiten des Kampfes. Die öffentliche Kontroverse, die über seine neuerliche Kandidatur für den beratenden Ausschuss des UN-Menschenrechtsrates in Genf entbrannt ist, befeuert Jean Ziegler: “Wenn ich nicht gewählt werde, habe ich verloren, weil ich die Unterernährung der palästinensischen Kinder angeprangert habe. Und das ist es mir wert.”

Es ist in der Tat möglich, dass der weltberühmte 79-jährige Genfer Soziologe Ende September nicht mehr gewählt wird. Denn er hat mächtige Gegner. Israel nimmt ihm übel, 2003 als UN-Sonderberichterstatter für das Recht auf Nahrung die schlechte Ernährungslage im Westjordanland und im Gazastreifen dokumentiert zu haben. “Seitdem hasst mich die Likud-Regierung”, sagt Ziegler. Aber zu seinem Erzfeind gesellt sich eine unerwartete Gegnerin. Die neue UN-Botschafterin der USA, Samantha Power, hat per Twitter verlauten lassen, Ziegler sei “unfit”, also “ungeeignet” für eine weitere Amtszeit. Das ist ein hartes Verdikt, stammt es doch von einer Frau, die Ziegler nahestehen müsste, jedenfalls im Geiste. Die enge Vertraute Obamas, die den US-Präsidenten schon zu seinen Zeiten als Senator außenpolitisch beraten hat, ist wie der Genfer eine Gerechtigkeitsfanatikerin. Sie hat als Journalistin aus Krisengebieten berichtet und später, als Harvard-Professorin, wesentlich dazu beigetragen, dass die USA beim Bürgerkrieg im Sudan nicht mehr weggeschaut haben.

Nun hat sich Power (und mit ihr die US-Regierung) offenbar auf die Seite der israelischen Regierung und des American Jewish Committee geschlagen. Diese machen Front gegen den Schweizer, indem sie ihn als einen Freund des Bösen hinstellen, etwa als Unterstützer von Gaddafi. Ziegler, der sich ein paar Mal vom libyschen Ex-Machthaber zum Palaver einladen ließ, will dazu nur sagen: “Ich habe mit diesem blutrünstigen Massenmörder nichts zu tun.”

Für die Schweizer Diplomatie sind solche Fragen von Gut und Böse aber höchstens sekundär. Ihr geht es darum, wie und mit wem sie am besten ihre Ziele verfolgen kann. Und dafür braucht sie eigene Leute in den wichtigen internationalen Gremien. Deshalb unterstützt die offizielle Schweiz die neuerliche Kandidatur Zieglers, und nur deshalb. Kein anderer Schweizer hätte eine Chance, in diesen Ausschuss gewählt zu werden. Was man hierzulande gerne unterschätzt, ist das enorme Ansehen, das Ziegler in der Dritten Welt genießt. Diese Staaten haben vor allem als Vereinigung der Blockfreien innerhalb der UN ein großes Gewicht. Und auf sie setzt Ziegler: “Die Blockfreien werden gemeinsam für mich kämpfen.”

Ohnehin, meint Jean Ziegler, nütze das Ganze seinem Kampf für Gerechtigkeit. Sein Buch Wir lassen sie verhungern ist gerade in den Vereinigten Staaten erschienen.

http://www.zeit.de/2013/35/schweiz-kommentar-jean-ziegler

Kommission gegen Kandidatur von Jean Ziegler
Die Aussenpolitische Kommission des Nationalrates (APK) beurteilt die Kandidatur von Jean Ziegler als Experte für den Beratenden Ausschuss des UNO-Menschenrechtsrates kritisch. Sie erachtet die bundesrätliche Unterstützung der Kandidatur als «unangebracht».

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Jean Ziegler erhält von der Kommission keine Unterstützung (Archiv).

Bild: Keystone
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Bern. – Die Kommission hat sich mit 12 zu 10 Stimmen bei 2 Enthaltungen für diese Stellungnahme ausgesprochen, wie die Parlamentsdienste am Dienstag mitteilten. Die Kritik der APK ist für den Bundesrat nicht bindend: Die Kommission wird zu solchen Fragen lediglich konsultiert.

Die Kandidatur Zieglers hatte die Schweiz im Juli bekannt gegeben. Als renommierter Experte mit exzellenten Kenntnissen im internationalen Recht habe sich Professor Jean Ziegler immer durch Unbefangenheit ausgezeichnet, schrieb die ständige UNO-Vertretung der Schweiz in Genf.

Die Schweiz streicht auch die Erfahrung und das Engagement des alt Nationalrates als UNO-Berichterstatter für das Recht auf Nahrung zwischen 2000 und 2008 heraus. Die Wahl ist für die nächste Session des Menschenrechtsrates im September vorgesehen.

Der Genfer Soziologe hatte dem Ausschuss bereits früher angehört. Eine Wiederwahl ist nach einem Jahr Unterbruch möglich. Die 18 Experten im Beratenden Ausschuss geben Empfehlungen zuhanden des Menschenrechtsrates ab. Sie sind unabhängig, obwohl jedes Land eine eigene Kandidatur präsentiert. (sda)
Quelle: sda
Datum: 20.08.2013, 16:13 Uhr
Webcode: 2970002

http://www.suedostschweiz.ch/politik/kommission-gegen-kandidatur-von-jean-ziegler

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“I have a dream”: Tausende gedenken “Marsch auf Washington”

24. August 2013, 22:53

Vor 50 Jahren marschierten Hunderttausende in Washington für die Gleichberechtigung der Schwarzen

Washington – 50 Jahre nach dem “Marsch auf Washington” für die Gleichberechtigung der Schwarzen haben in der US-Hauptstadt tausende Amerikaner an das historische Ereignis erinnert. Mit einem Demonstrationszug machten sie zugleich darauf aufmerksam, dass es trotz vieler Fortschritte auch heute noch in den USA Diskriminierungen ethnischer Minderheiten gibt. Außerdem protestierten sie gegen Waffengewalt, Armut und Arbeitslosigkeit.

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Zahlreiche Bürgerrechtsinitiativen hatten zu der Demonstration am Samstag aufgerufen. Sie hofften auf bis zu 100.000 Teilnehmer. Vor 50 Jahren waren es 250.000.

“I have a dream” – Ich habe einen Traum – hatte der schwarze Baptistenprediger Martin Luther King den Menschen bei dem Marsch am 28. August 1963 zugerufen. Die Worte wurden zum Symbol des Kampfes gegen die Trennung von Schwarzen und Weißen. King wurde nur 39 Jahre alt. Der Rassist James Earl Ray erschoss den Friedensnobelpreisträger am 4. April 1968 in Memphis auf dem Balkon eines Motels.

Rassismusdebatte

Erst vor kurzem hatte der gewaltsame Tod des schwarzen Jugendlichen Trayvon Martin erneut eine Debatte über Rassismus im Land ausgelöst. Der unbewaffnete Martin war im vergangenen Jahr in Florida vom Mitglied einer Bürgerwehr erschossen worden. Der Schütze wurde im Prozess freigesprochen. Auch ein Urteil des Obersten Gerichts löste jüngst teils heftige Kritik aus. Mit ihm wurden Prozeduren zur Überwachung des ungehinderten Wahlzuganges für alle in mehreren südlichen Bundesstaaten abgeschafft.

Bürgerrechtler Jesse Jackson knüpfte am Samstag an die historische Rede Martin Luther Kings an. “Träumt weiter”, rief er den Menschen vor dem Lincoln-Denkmal zu. Dort hatte damals auch Martin Luther King gesprochen. Justizminister Eric Holder, der Afroamerikaner ist, rief dazu auf, Kings Werk im Namen der Gerechtigkeit fortzusetzen. “Heute … bekräftigen wir, dass dieser Kampf weitergehen muss und wird”, sagte Holder.

An dem Demonstrationszug vom Lincoln-Denkmal zum Washington Monument im Herzen der Stadt nahmen auch Kings Sohn, Martin Luther King III., und Trayvon Martins Eltern teil.

Höhepunkt der Feierlichkeiten sind die Reden des Präsidenten Barack Obama und der beiden Ex-Präsidenten Jimmy Carter und Bill Clinton am 28. August, dem eigentlichen Jahrestag. (APA, 24.8.2013)

http://derstandard.at/1376534535633/I-have-a-dream-Tausende-gedenken-Marsch-auf-Washington

Martin Luther King

“Wenn wir nicht lernen, miteinander als Brüder zu leben, werden wir als Narren miteinander untergehen.” Nach wie vor sind Martin Luther Kings Worte brandaktuell. Armut, Krieg und Rassismus sind Probleme, die unsere Welt ins Wanken bringen. Der bedeutendste Anführer der amerikanischen Bürgerrechtsbewegung glaubte mit friedlichen Mitteln eine gerechte Welt erkämpfen zu können. Einige hielten ihn deshalb für einen harmlosen Träumer. Andere fürchteten ihn – nicht nur das FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation).

Rassenunruhen (2’46”)

Mehr zum Artikel

Kings Wurzeln

Martin Luther King kam am 15. Januar 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, zur Welt. Auch wenn er als eines der wenigen schwarzen Mittelstandskinder aufwuchs, kannte er Rassismus von Kindesbeinen an. Durch das Gesetz der Segregation waren Schwarz und Weiß strikt getrennt. King durfte weder die gleiche Toilette benutzen noch vom gleichen Wasserspender trinken wie die Weißen. Für seine Mutter, die Lehrerin Alberta Christine Williams King, war es unmöglich, in Schulen für Weiße zu unterrichten. Sein Vater, Martin Luther King Senior, als Baptistenprediger unter Schwarzen eine Respektsperson, wurde “Boy” gerufen.

Christliche Grundsätze und Bürgerrechte spielten nicht nur für den Pfarrer, sondern auch für seinen Sohn Martin eine wichtige Rolle. Der Junge war intelligent. Schule und Studium meisterte er mit Bravour. 1948 schloss er sein Soziologiestudium ab, 1951 das der Theologie. Neben siegreichen Teilnahmen an Redner-Wettbewerben stellte er bereits seit dem 17. Lebensjahr als Hilfsprediger des Vaters sein außergewöhnliches Sprachtalent unter Beweis. Seine Art zu reden überzeugte nicht zuletzt auch Coretta Scott, ihn zu heiraten, denn ursprünglich wollte sie nicht die Frau eines Pfarrers werden. Gemeinsam zogen sie 1954 nach Montgomery. Dort übernahm Martin Luther King seine erste eigene Gemeinde, die “Dexter Avenue Baptist Church”.

Schwarzweiß-Foto von Martin Luther King, der aus einem vergitterten Fenster blickt.Verhaftungen gehörten zu Kings Alltag

Prediger und Vorkämpfer

Montgomery war eine typische Stadt in den Südstaaten. Obwohl ein Drittel der Bevölkerung schwarz war, besaßen die Schwarzen kaum Rechte. Zehn Monate nach Kings Amtsantritt verstieß am 1. Dezember 1955 die Afroamerikanerin Rosa Parks gegen die Rassentrennung in öffentlichen Verkehrsmitteln. Sie weigerte sich, im Bus von einem für Weiße reservierten Sitz aufzustehen und wurde verhaftet. Die Folge war der “Montgomery Bus Boycott”. Die Schwarzen weigerten sich, aus Protest gegen die Rassentrennung, mit dem Bus zu fahren.

Martin Luther King, politisch noch ein unbeschriebenes Blatt, wurde zum Anführer des Boykotts gewählt. Für den erst 26-Jährigen eine gewaltige und, wie sich schnell herausstellte, gefährliche Aufgabe. Weiße Rassisten bedrohten ihn und seine Familie massiv. “Ich wollte den Kampf aufgeben. Ohne den Kaffee anzurühren, saß ich am Küchentisch und grübelte darüber nach, wie ich von der Bildfläche verschwinden könnte, ohne als Feigling zu erscheinen. In diesem Zustand äußerster Mutlosigkeit legte ich Gott meine Not hin… In diesem Augenblick erlebte ich die Gegenwart Gottes wie nie zuvor. Mir war, als hörte ich eine innere Stimme, die mir Mut zusprach: ‘Stehe auf für die Gerechtigkeit! Stehe auf für die Wahrheit! Und Gott wird immer an deiner Seite sein!’ Ich war bereit, allem ins Auge zu sehen.” So erinnerte sich King später an die Zeit. Auf Personenschutz sollte er aber Zeit seines Lebens verzichten, denn sein Entschluss, notfalls sein Leben für die Gerechtigkeit zu opfern, stand fest.

In Montgomery bestieg knapp ein Jahr lang kein Schwarzer mehr einen Bus. Schließlich bestätigte der Oberste Gerichtshof, dass Rassentrennung verfassungswidrig und in Bussen aufzuheben sei.

Schwarzweiß-Aufnahme: King, in hellem Anzug, läuft geduckt. Rechts neben ihm ist ein Schwarzer mit Hut zu sehen, der abwehrend seine linke Hand hebt.King wird im August 1966 mit Steinen beworfen

Der Kampf gegen die Rassentrennung

Nach Montgomery folgten andere Städte wie Albany, Birmingham oder Selma, in denen Schwarze für ihre Rechte kämpften. Martin Luther King, inzwischen Vorsitzender der “Southern Christian Leadership Conference” (SCLC), entwickelte sich zum charismatischen Anführer der Bürgerrechtsbewegung. Beständig reiste er durchs Land, um Protestaktionen zu organisieren oder an ihnen teilzunehmen. King glaubte zutiefst an Gerechtigkeit und an die Macht der Moral. So wurden direkte gewaltfreie Aktionen wie Märsche, Sitzblockaden und Gebetskreise seine Waffen im Kampf gegen Rassismus. “Ich bin der Gewalt müde, die ich zu oft gesehen habe. Ich habe diesen Hass auf den Gesichtern zu vieler Sheriffs im Süden gesehen… Ich werde mich nicht auf ihre Ebene herab begeben. Wir haben eine Kraft, die man nicht in Molotowcocktails finden kann.”

Bereits während des Studiums war King von Mahatma Gandhi fasziniert, besaß aber keine fundierten Kenntnisse über das Prinzip des gewaltfreien Widerstands. So wurde Bayard Rustin, der bereits sechs Monate auf den Spuren des Inders dessen Heimat bereist hatte, ein wichtiger und enger Mitarbeiter des Bürgerrechtlers. Aber auch der Kommunist Stanley David und die drei Pfarrer Wyatt Walker, Ralph Abernathy und Andrew Young wurden enge Freunde und Helfer.

Schwarzweiß-Aufnahme: Der schwarze Bürgerrechtler Martin Luther King steht auf einem Balkon in der rechten Bildecke. Seine rechte Hand hat er zum Gruß erhoben. Links unter ihm sind hunderttausende Menschen zu sehen. Die Menschenmenge erstreckt sich bis zum Washington Monument, einem hohen Obelisk im Bildhintergrund.King fasziniert in Washington die Massen

Die Traum-Rede

“Ich habe einen Traum, dass eines Tages auf den roten Hügeln von Georgia die Söhne früherer Sklaven und die Söhne früherer Sklavenhalter miteinander am Tisch der Brüderlichkeit sitzen können.” Diese berühmte Rede hielt Martin Luther King 1963 auf dem Höhepunkt seiner Popularität. 250.000 Menschen, die friedlich in Washington DC gegen Rassismus und Armut demonstrierten, lauschten seinen Worten. Siege schienen greifbar nah: 1964 wurde per Gesetz die Rassentrennung aufgehoben, King erhielt den Friedensnobelpreis und ein Jahr später trat ein neues Wahlrecht in Kraft, durch das alle schwarzen Amerikaner zur Urne schreiten konnten. “Ich besitze die Kühnheit, daran zu glauben, dass alle Menschen drei Mahlzeiten täglich für ihren Körper haben können, Bildung und Kultur für ihren Geist, und Würde, Gleichheit und Freiheit für ihre Seele.” Den hoffnungsfrohen Worten seiner Nobelpreis-Rede zum Trotz bröckelte Kings Optimismus zu dieser Zeit aber bereits.

Mehrere Schwarze stehen auf oder vor einer Terrasse. Ein Mann sitzt in einem Schaukelstuhl darauf. Der Fußboden ist aus Holz und an mehreren Stellen schadhaft. An die Terrasse schließt eine ärmliche Holzhütte an.Die meisten Schwarzen waren arm

Zielscheibe der Kritik

King musste einsehen, dass auch die neuen Gesetze die Situation der Schwarzen nicht wirklich ändern konnten. Die meisten Schwarzen waren deutlich ärmer als die Weißen. Gelder für Förderprogramme wurden durch den Vietnamkrieg verschlungen. King erkannte, dass Rassismus, Armut und Krieg untrennbar miteinander verbunden waren und dass Ungerechtigkeit kein nationales, sondern ein internationales Problem war. Er entschloss sich, für alle Unterdrückten, egal welcher Hautfarbe, zu kämpfen: “Jahrelang mühte ich mich ab mit dem Gedanken, die bestehenden Institutionen der Gesellschaft zu reformieren… Jetzt bin ich ganz anderer Meinung, ich denke, eine Revolution der Werte ist notwendig… Ein Gebäude, dass Bettler hervorbringt, muss neu gebaut werden…Man beginnt die Frage zu stellen: Wer besitzt das Öl?… Wer besitzt das Eisenerz?”

Sein Protest gegen den Vietnamkrieg und die Kampagne gegen die Armut sorgten auch in den eigenen Reihen für Kritik. Ehemalige Mitstreiter befürchteten, dass Spendengelder ausbleiben würden. Im Weißen Haus wurde der einst umworbene Nobelpreisträger zur unerwünschten Person erklärt. Die amerikanische Bundespolizei FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) brachte Tonbänder in Umlauf, auf denen der verheiratete Baptistenpfarrer mit seinen Geliebten zu hören war. Doch nicht nur deshalb wirkte King in der Öffentlichkeit immer häufiger niedergeschlagen und deprimiert. In Amerika formierte sich eine gewaltbereite schwarze Bewegung, die den Bürgerrechtler und seine Methoden verhöhnte.

Kings Tod und Vermächtnis

Am 4. April 1968 hielt sich King in Memphis auf, um an der Seite schwarzer Müllarbeiter für besseren Lohn zu kämpfen. Als er den Balkon seines Hotels betrat, hallten zwei Schüsse über den Parkplatz. Der Bürgerrechtler, in Hals und Nacken getroffen, brach zusammen und starb – im Alter von gerade einmal 39 Jahren. Offiziell wurde der weiße James Earl Ray als Einzeltäter verurteilt. Um die Hintergründe des Attentats ranken sich jedoch bis heute zahlreiche Theorien.

In Gedanken an seinen Tod sagte King: “Ich werde kein Geld hinterlassen. Ich werde keine vornehmen und luxuriösen Dinge hinterlassen. Ich möchte nur ein engagiertes Leben hinterlassen.” Kings Engagement hat bis zum heutigen Tag Spuren hinterlassen. Nicht nur die Situation der Afroamerikaner in den USA hat sich deutlich verbessert, sein gewaltfreier Kampf diente anderen als Vorbild – auch in Deutschland. Er inspirierte die Bürgerrechts- und Friedensbewegung der ehemaligen DDR und spielte so eine maßgebende Rolle bei der Wiedervereinigung beider deutschen Staaten.

http://www.planet-wissen.de/politik_geschichte/persoenlichkeiten/martin_luther_king/index.jsp

Watch the complete interview conducted Wednesday by independent journalist Alexa O’Brien with Pfc. Bradley Manning’s attorney, David Coombs–his first time speaking to the media after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, and ahead of Manning’s gender transition announcement Thursday.Portions of this interview aired Thursday on Democracy Now!.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Mr. Coombs, Bradley Manning was convicted of 20 offenses and just sentenced to 35 years. What is your reaction?

DAVID COOMBS: Well, I look at the sentence, and I can’t believe that that was actually the sentence he received. Anyone who sat through the hearing, heard all the evidence, even in the closed sessions, there is not evidence there where you would think 35 years would be the appropriate sentence. I wonder now, if there had actually been damage, or if he had really intended to harm the United States, or if he wanted to obtain personal gain from selling classified information, just what the sentence would have been, because this was a person who had true intentions. He wanted to help America. He wanted to get people to think about what was going on in Iraq. And he didn’t have an evil motive in what he did. You heard from the sentencing his background, his story. And yet, that was the sentence he received.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: And how is Bradley Manning?

DAVID COOMBS: Interestingly, he was the person who had probably the most cheerful mood afterwards. There were a lot of people who were very upset. He said, “Hey, it’s OK. It’s all right. I know you did everything you could for me. Don’t cry. Be happy. It’s fine. This is just a stage of my life. I’m moving forward. I will recover from this.” So it was odd that I wasn’t the person who was trying to comfort him. It was just—just the opposite.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: My sense—I don’t know Bradley Manning, but my sense is that he has grown up through his court-martial process. He is actually quite a strong character in the courtroom. And he is—and I’ve described him as being incredibly earnest. I really think, you know, it’s the best way I can describe the sort of sense of sincerity that I get from hearing him testify. What’s your sense of Bradley Manning? How have you seen him grow through this process? Or—

DAVID COOMBS: Oh, he definitely has matured. When I first met him three years ago, it was a young man who—still very idealistic, but, you know, when he had to explain certain things of what his thought process was, he had sometimes trouble articulating how he was feeling. It was clear he had these feelings, and it was clear he was sincere, but he couldn’t really talk about it. He also wasn’t a person who really knew how to connect with others, because he was so used to being judged. So, even though very caring, he would have difficulty whenever you got onto a personal level with them. I think over the years, the three years that I represented him, I’ve seen all those barriers break down. He is not just a client, he is a friend. And to see him mature over the last three years gives me great hope for him in the future. And that’s really why I believed an appropriate sentence would have been one that got him back to society sooner rather than later, because he has so much to offer. He is really somebody who in life didn’t have a lot of opportunities, didn’t have a lot going for him, and in spite of that, he turned out to be the type of person that he is, somebody who puts people first, who cares about people—even when these people don’t care about him. And that’s the amazing thing when you see what he does. His conduct really does back up his beliefs.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Let’s talk about what 35 years means, the sentence, because a lot of people are talking about mitigating factors like, for example, the Clemency and Parole Board. In realistic terms, what does a 35-year sentence look like to you?

DAVID COOMBS: Well, he’ll have several opportunities to lessen that time. Because it’s more than 30 years, he’ll be eligible for parole after 10. And so, that will be the first time they’ll look at him for parole. And then every year thereafter he’ll get a look. From my perspective, he would be an excellent candidate for parole, because he’s not a risk of recidivism. He’s not going to have access to classified information, clearly. His crime was not violent. It was not for personal gain. He has no anti-person—antisocial personality problems. So, this is a person who could be put in society today and be fine. So, my hope is that at the 10-year mark, which he gets time—credit for the time that he’s served, so really that’s seven years from now, roughly—that he would be somebody who is paroled. Every year thereafter, if he’s not granted parole, then he has another hearing. Although that’s not my specialty, I’m going to make it my specialty, and I’ll be there in 10 years.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Great.

DAVID COOMBS: Or, actually, seven.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Yeah. And this would be part of time off for good behavior? Is that what you’re talking about? Or separate from parole?

DAVID COOMBS: Separate from that. So when he goes into confinement, he will get two dates. They will figure out his maximum release date and his minimum release date. So the 35 number really doesn’t mean that’s the number you serve. You’ll get two different dates. And he’ll find that out within the first week that he’s there. He’ll convey that to me. I’ll make sure that that’s accurate. And then I can give some more information as to the possible release dates for him.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: I really want to talk to you about this case, because this case has been obscured from the public, from closed sessions, not having a public access to court documents. And before we get into sort of aspects of the case, I want to ask you how has the way the government has prosecuted this case or Manning’s conviction been unprecedented.

DAVID COOMBS: Well, I think that, for starters, you go with an offense of aiding the enemy, and that offense really is unprecedented. When you look at how that was used in the past and how the government tried to use it in this case, they had to go back to an 1800s case to even make an argument, a colorable argument, as to why you would go after somebody who gave information to a journalist and say that they aided the enemy. That is an unprecedented aspect of this case. Not only there, but in every other charging decision that they made, they pushed the envelope of, and even strained, any realistic reading of what the law is. And yet, they seemed to not have a problem with that. It was almost a win-at-all-costs mentality. And I think that ultimately will be something on appeal that will get reviewed, and perhaps at that point Brad will get some relief, even on appeal.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Now, Manning wasn’t convicted of aiding the enemy. Do you think that the fact that it stood up as long as it did in the prosecution sets any kind of precedent?

DAVID COOMBS: I do. I mean, I think, if I were a journalist, or, for that matter, somebody who is a concerned citizen who has access to information, is considering being a whistleblower, I think this sends a chilling message. And that message is one in which, even when your theory is you had no intent to get this information to the enemy, it was not your belief, there’s no evidence to show that you would have actual knowledge—and that was the key aspect there—that the enemy would receive this information, and yet you’re going to be charged with this, it’s going to survive motions to dismiss, even after the government’s presentation of the evidence, which then it became clear they had no evidence. It survived a 917 motion, which is a motion to dismiss based upon a failure of proof. That, to me, was amazing. I could not believe that the offense survived that long. And it does send a chilling effect and chilling message to anyone who may think about releasing information for the betterment of America, or any journalist who might think about receiving that information, because it’s not a far step to go from the person who gave it to the person that received it, the journalist. And I think, recently, with Glenn Greenwald’s significant other being stopped—I think if Glenn was with him, he would have been stopped, as well—I think that is an indicator that just because you’re a journalist, the government is not going to turn a blind eye to the fact that you’re part of that process.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Is Manning aware of the Snowden releases and current events around that?

DAVID COOMBS: He is. And every morning we give him what’s called the Early Bird. In the military, it is a collection of all news stories of any significance of the day, broken down by region of the world and stories of interest for the United States. That’s the intel analyst in him. He has an insatiable appetite for information. So we kept him appraised of everything, so he was fully aware of what was going on with Snowden, what was going on in the world.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Has he ever—are you aware of his thoughts or feelings around that issue?

DAVID COOMBS: We haven’t really talked about like his personal feelings on that. I think, just from my perspective, I can say that having that occur during the trial had its pros and cons. Pros being at least the press became now aware of the case again and started paying attention to the case. And obviously the cons were that WikiLeaks was somewhat involved with Snowden, at least getting him to a safe passage, and concern of how that might influence perception of Bradley Manning.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Do you think that it—do you think that the Snowden leaks were on the judge’s mind?

DAVID COOMBS: I don’t know. I would find it hard to believe that she’s shielded herself from all news and information during a three-month trial. So, obviously, she never would mention that to me, but I find it hard to believe that she wasn’t aware of Snowden.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Snowden came up in a closed session. I know that because in the next day, in the open record, there was a discussion of one diplomat talking about causal effects, and then the judge actually talked about Snowden very, very briefly. So…

DAVID COOMBS: That’s correct. And in that aspect, it was some information to suggest that countries who might have forgotten about the leaks of the diplomatic cables now, because of Snowden, would remember that. So you’re correct. She was at least aware that there was something else that happened in the world regarding Snowden.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: I want to talk to you about the espionage charges, because a lot of the press focused on aiding the enemy, because it was such a grave charge, but here we have Manning convicted on six espionage offenses, or Espionage Act offenses. Manning was convicted on probable harm at trial, and it wasn’t really until the sentencing phase that we got to really discuss if there was any damage at all. So, I wanted to ask you just sort of point-blankly: Did these disclosures damage national security?

DAVID COOMBS: Not from my perspective, no. And that’s the other difficult aspect of this case. We would expect to see some damage that they could articulate, given the amount of information. Understanding the type of information—and that information usually would not have something in there that would be harmful, given that most of it’s dated. It’s looking backwards instead of forwards. The one exception might be the diplomatic cables. So, I fully anticipated seeing something that even I, from my perspective, would have to say, “Yes, that is damage,” and that’s going to affect his sentence. But we didn’t see that, and didn’t see that in the open session, did not see that in the closed session. And so, because of that, that’s another reason why I have difficulty accepting the outcome in this case.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Do you think that that issue of the lack of damage will come up on appeals?

DAVID COOMBS: I don’t know if it will. We certainly have created a good appellate record, though. I think there are plenty other issues that are going to get second-guessed and looked at, so I don’t think the lack of damage will be an issue, no. But from a outside-of-the-appeals standpoint, from just the American public looking at it, I hope there comes a day where even those people who believe today that there was damage from this see that that’s not the case. And if they see that and they believe that, because time has gone by and we can all see now this has not caused damage, then they start to question the initial cries from our government of the sky is falling and that Bradley Manning and others have blood on their hands.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: How would you characterize the evidence that the government presented at sentencing, the aggravation evidence? How would you describe—

DAVID COOMBS: Speculative. I’d say it’s pure speculation. They got individuals to come up who were so-called subject matter experts in their field to essentially espouse their personal opinion as to some potential harm in the future. When asked to give concrete, you know, specific examples, something where we could say, OK, this person was hurt, or this person was harmed, or, God forbid, this person was killed, none of that came out from any of these witnesses. And because of that, that really kind of changed our position on what we wanted to try to do in our sentencing case. Initially, we were thinking on offering the damage assessments from the respective agencies. And our thought process behind that was, when you read the damage assessments, you get a sense of some potential harm at a particular time, but the long-term harm, when they’re looking at this from the damage assessment standpoint, is even in there speculative. And they start to say there’s a potential for this, but it’s remote, or it’s unlikely. And so we initially thought those damage assessments would be vital in order to impeach the witnesses that the government would call. At the end of the day, we saw that the witnesses that they called gave even worse testimony than what was in the damage assessments, from the standpoint of harming. And so, what looked initially to be our—one of our better mitigating circumstances, the damage assessments, actually would have been harmful, so we decided not to offer that. And I fully expected that the government then would offer the damage assessments, because it actually did a better job of capturing speculative damage in a more convincing manner than their witnesses did.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: I want to talk to you about the closed sessions. I mean, you know, I’ve sort of graphed out all the critical evidence as it relates to certain elements, for the espionage charges, for aiding the enemy, and into sentencing. And most of the critical evidence in this trial is classified. And, you know, we got into the sentencing phase, and the public sort of wanted to know: You know, was there any damage? And most of these sessions were closed, especially in the sentencing phase. So I want to talk to you about how the prosecutors may have used classification. Do you think that they used classification to hide their case from public scrutiny?

DAVID COOMBS: I don’t think so. And that might be a surprising answer. I don’t think they used classification to hid their case from the public. I think they used classification to try to convince the public that there was something in there that was harmful, so harmful that you, the public, could not hear it. But reality, there wasn’t.

Classification in this case was really used to hide information from the defense. The fact that it was a classified evidence case really hurt our ability to discover information that in any other case I would be able to have access to. When you have to rely upon the government—and this is the government counsel—to look through evidence and determine what information should the defense receive in their preparation of their defense, you have a problem. I had a security clearance. I had the ability to see any of the information. I should have had equal access to everything the government looked at. And then I could make an intelligent argument at that point why I needed certain classified information. Instead, I had to rely upon a trial counsel, whose job obviously is not to look after the best interests of Pfc. Manning, to look through information and say, “No, you don’t need to know this; this is not going to be helpful to your defense.” I am certain that there was classified information that would have been helpful to the defense that we did not receive.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: You sort of answered my next question, but I’m going to ask it in a little bit of a different way. Do you think that there’s any information that you know of, or it doesn’t even have to be classified information, that—that if it were known more widely by the public or understood by the judge would have affected Manning’s sentence or even his conviction in a favorable manner?

DAVID COOMBS: I think so. And I think that—that is the type of information that, in any other case, I would have the ability to go search for within the government’s records. I am confident that there are government members who talked about the SIGACTs, the detainee assessment briefs, the cables, and said, “This stuff is not harmful. It’s embarrassing. It might put us in a bad light. But long-term effects? Not so much.” And I’m confident that that stuff exists, and yet I never had access to that. And had I had access to that, and the judge saw that, maybe that would have influenced her to come to a more reasonable sentence.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: I want to talk about declassification now, because, you know, here we have 700—roughly 700,000 charged documents, and all of them are still classified, although they’re widely available in the—on the Internet. And the government chose to declassify two sets of documents—one from the raid of Osama bin Laden, and the other was a U.S. Army counterintelligence memo from 2008 on WikiLeaks that was sourced from public reporting—to use in their case for both aiding the enemy and wanton publication. And wanton publication has never been used in military law before; it’s not tied to any existing federal violation or punitive article under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Do you think that this selective use of declassification prejudiced Manning?

DAVID COOMBS: I think so, because, again, this is another example of the government being placed in a position of determining what information can we freely talk about in a courtroom. And let’s use the two examples that you selected. The Osama bin Laden raid, declassifying certain information from that—is there any doubt why you would do that? You would certainly do that in this case so that the information gets out to the public, that Osama bin Laden had information that was leaked to WikiLeaks. That’s the only reason you wanted that to get out, to influence how people perceive Pfc. Manning and this case.

Now, with regards to the second document, the ACIC document, this was the Army’s counterintelligence report, how they viewed WikiLeaks as a threat. The defense asked on multiple occasions to declassify the information charged in this case. And the reason why that would be helpful is then we could freely talk about it, I could give it to witnesses, we could talk about it open in open court, everyone could see what was happening. The government said no consistently. Right before trial, they said they were going to declassify the ACIC report. And had they done that before, I could have covered that in more detail with Professor Benkler. But they didn’t do that. And, again, the reason why they wanted to do that was to show that the Army viewed WikiLeaks as a threat and that Pfc. Manning should have known that, and therefore he had actual knowledge that the enemy would go to WikiLeaks. The fact that the government can pick and choose what information it wants to declassify so it can use it in an easier manner shows you again the unfairness in the system when you’re dealing with classified information.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: And Mr. Benkler was Professor Yochai Benkler, a defense witness who testified for defense against the aiding-the-enemy charge, and he testified about the networked Fourth Estate, and he’s from the Harvard—sorry, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. I want to talk to you also about—before we get into a couple other things, I want to talk to you about how political the choice was for what they charged. There were five detainee assessment briefs from theSOUTHCOM database, which are known as the Gitmo Files. And three of those—I mean, you can’t tell me what they are, but it’s pretty clear from public reporting and from defense testimony that they are likely the Tipton Three. So, without asking you that directly, can you tell me, in your opinion, do you feel that what the government charged was a political choice?

DAVID COOMBS: I think that might be giving them too much credit, to be truthful. I looked to try to see some rhyme or reason in what they selected for the 793 offenses. And at the end of the day—

ALEXA O’BRIEN: The espionage offenses.

DAVID COOMBS: Exactly, the espionage offenses. At the end of the day, though, looking at it, I couldn’t come to a rhyme or reason for why they would select certain things. There was—with regards to the detainee assessment briefs, many of the ones that they charged, the five that they charged, were found on Pfc. Manning’s computer. So that would be kind of a logical connection. The other documents, though, that they selected, conceivably, you would think, would represent the absolute worst examples for the government of damage, like this is—this is the smoking gun for damage. And yet, none of them, in my opinion, showed any damage. So, why they would select those, I don’t know.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: I should say, just to sort of—for the public, that the Tipton Three are three U.K. citizens who were released from Guantánamo Bay after no charges, no trial, and they do make anti-Guantánamo Bay documentaries. And the government considers them terrorist recidivists for these documentaries.

Throughout the beginning of the discovery process, in the motions part of the trial, you know, there was an attempt by defense to get communications between Russell Travers, who was a senior official at the National Counterterrorism Center, who was picked essentially to be the National Security Staff’s senior adviser for information access and security—and the White House Press Secretary called the investigation of WikiLeaks and Manning administration-wide. So, I really want to talk to you about this case in a larger context. And have you found any evidence that the investigation or the prosecution of Manning or WikiLeaks was being coordinated by the National Security Council or the White House?

DAVID COOMBS: I haven’t, but I would have no doubt that multiple agencies, certainly Department of State, FBI and other agencies of the alphabet soup-type example, would have some involvement in this case. It was clear that every day we had a group of people behind the prosecution, that just sat there. Occasionally they would pass notes to the trial counsel. Obviously I don’t know what was on those notes. During some of the breaks, I would walk up and introduce myself, say, “Hi, I’m David Coombs. How are you? And what do you do for a living?” And they would never answer that question. So, from my perspective, clearly there were outside influences. And it would explain why the government did take the position that it did of essentially win at all cost. They never deviated from pushing the envelope, where I would think a trial counsel who’s really kind of concerned about not only getting a just outcome, but having that outcome stand up on appeal, take certain steps to eliminate appellate issues. In this case, the government was never concerned about any of those.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Let’s talk about what—what you just said in terms of you said that there were definitely other interests around this prosecution. Can you—can you tell me what you think those are, or what purpose the trial counsel’s case or objective was in this military prosecution beyond punishing Bradley Manning or deterring other people from following in his footsteps?

DAVID COOMBS: Sure. I think you don’t really have to look any further than the 2008 ACIC, the Army counterintelligence report, to get the answer to that. It was important that once the government found a whistleblower, somebody who was leaking information to a journalist, to make an example of them. It was important that that example be a very loud message to show that you couldn’t have the belief of safe disclosures, even to an organization like WikiLeaks. And that goal was to destroy that mentality of I can give stuff in an anonymous fashion that I think is beneficial for the world to know without risk to myself. Manning’s case is the case that tries to destroy that belief in order to essentially deter any other person from ever following in his footsteps.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: In late July 2010, the FBI joined the case officially, with the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice. At the time—during the pretrial, a special agent from the Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit said that Neil MacBride had been helping the Department of Defense from the beginning in Iraq. And MacBride, of course, is in charge of the grand jury that’s empaneled investigating civilians in this case, including the founders, owners and managers of WikiLeaks. That’s what the special agent said at the pretrial. A few weeks after the FBI joins the case, Colonel Stephen Henley, who was appointed the president of a Guantánamo military commission, designates a lifelong Department of Justice prosecutor to be Bradley Manning’s investigating officer at his Article 32. On the first day of that Article 32, which is like a military form of a grand jury, you asked him to recuse himself, and he didn’t. Almanza eventually refers all 22 charges, including aiding the enemy, to a general court-martial for Bradley Manning. Do you still believe that the way in which the government has prosecuted this case, in addition to deterring whistleblowers and destroying any kind of sense of trust between a media organization and a whistleblower—do you think that the way in which the military prosecuted this was to actually plea your client out?

DAVID COOMBS: I don’t know if it was necessarily to plead my client out. You would expect, if that were the goal, that you would have a reasonable government on the opposite side offering a reasonable outcome to the case. When I first came on to this case back in 2010, I knew many of the key players from the government side. And at that point, rather foolishly, I had the optimistic belief that I could obtain a very favorable outcome for Bradley. Reality, though, set in pretty quickly after that. They were not interested in pleading the case, certainly not when they made the offers to us of what they would support. Those offers were so far out in the stratosphere that even today’s outcome looks outstanding compared to what they were offering us. So, from my perspective, I don’t believe they ever wanted to plead this case. I believe they wanted to make an example of Pfc. Manning.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: How important was it to defend Bradley Manning against the Garani airstrike video, which was a video of a May 2009 airstrike or cluster bomb bombing in the Farah province of Afghanistan? Manning was found not guilty of this charge. The government came forward with trying to assert a November transmission date.

DAVID COOMBS: That was—it was pivotal to our defense that the judge did not believe that Pfc. Manning was working for WikiLeaks, because he wasn’t. It was pivotal for our defense that the judge did not believe that he started to do his leaks in November of 2009, because he didn’t. The government wanted to show that he started at that timeframe for their argument that within two weeks of coming to Iraq he turned his back on his soldiers, his fellow soldiers, and went to work for WikiLeaks. That could not be further from the truth.

The reality of the situation was, nothing happened in November. He did find out about WikiLeaks, like a lot of other people, when they released the 9/11 pager messages, and he paid attention to WikiLeaks at that point. He did go on to IRC chats and spoke with other people both working for and with WikiLeaks and other people who were just interested in WikiLeaks. And he found fellow like-minded people there that could talk about issues of not only computers and programming, but also important issues that are important for the world to be discussing. And that’s the December time frame.

So, in January is the first time that he actually discloses anything, and that’s the SIGACTs, the significant activity reports. From our perspective, it was pivotal that the judge believe that, because had the judge believed that he went to work for WikiLeaks in November 2009, I think the chances of being found guilty of aiding the enemy would have been significantly higher.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Did public statements by U.S. government officials affect the treatment of Manning or influence the handling or outcome of this trial?

DAVID COOMBS: I think they certainly impacted the treatment of him. You know, if you go back to the time when he was at Quantico, you have the president, prior to that, saying that Pfc. Manning broke the law. You also have the president saying, “I’ve been briefed as to his conditions. I’ve been assured that they’re lawful.” And he essentially blesses off on the conditions that Pfc. Manning was held in. Well, reality, even with the judge that we have here, the reality of the situation, she found that to be unlawful, how he was being held. Certainly, the marines at Quantico, when they hear from the commander-in-chief that they’re holding him in a proper fashion, that certainly impacts his treatment. They took the perspective there that they were not going to have anything happen to him on their watch, and the best way of assuring that was to hold him in his cell 23 hours out of the day and essentially deprive him of the very basic rights that a detainee should have, when—especially when they haven’t been found guilty of anything. So, certainly the treatment has been impacted.

I think also, from the trial perspective, yes, it impacted how this case was tried. I’ve tried over a hundred court-martial cases. I’ve gone against trial counsel that, in my mind, are unreasonable. But there’s always been someone in that process that’s the voice of reason, the voice of common sense. And in this situation, there was no one. And the reason why is you had a groupthink and a group buy-in as to what they were doing. And I think the only reason you would ever have that is if it was something that was blessed all the way to the highest levels.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Everyone was expecting you to do a motion related to unlawful command influence. Manning opted to be tried by a military judge. Is that the reason why that motion didn’t go forward?

DAVID COOMBS: In part. I would have filed an unlawful command influence motion if I thought we actually had evidence of that. I certainly wasn’t shy about filing motions, so I would have filed that motion, as well. But I’ll tell you that when I knew we were going with a judge alone and not a panel, it basically eliminated the issue from the defense’s perspective. Now, you can still have unlawful command influence when it deals with a military judge, but I did not believe that we had any evidence of that in this case.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Let’s talk about the choice to go by military judge. In the pretrial record, there was evidence of the government basically objecting and blocking to defense putting questions in, or additional questions in, to determine the bias of any potential panel member towards gays in the military or towards transgender people. Was there a sense that Manning could get a fair trial with a panel?

DAVID COOMBS: I would say no. No. And from my perspective, the reason why is twofold. The first is, a panel—granted, I have had very favorable outcomes with military panels, but there are certain types of charges where you just don’t want to take that in front of a military panel. For starters, they don’t have a lot of experience. Usually a typical panel will do a couple cases before they’re replaced. So, from their perspective, this would represent the worst case they’ve ever seen. And so, I was fearful that you would have a very harsh sentence if we went in front of a panel.

I also thought, once we got the case here at Fort Meade—which was no mistake. Fort Meade is the home of intelligence and intelligence products for the military. You have the NSA here at Fort Meade. So any potential panel member would likely have a security clearance, for sure, and probably be handling classified information on a daily basis. So, from my perspective, one could argue that any unlawful disclosure of classified information would make these panel members essentially victims of that crime. And so, you would be asking somebody who, from their perspective, might be a victim to judge the outcome in this case. So, I—we never really seriously entertained the option of a panel. We always knew we would probably go with a judge.

But that voir dire process really was used not to see what potential panel member we might get, but to influence the thinking of the military judge. Many of the motions that we filed, many of the things that we did, was to try to get information in front of the judge that would hopefully educate her in some way about a nuance of the case that she otherwise would not see. So, for the voir dire example, she had to read the questions that we put there. I knew most of those questions weren’t going to survive, but she had to read them, and we have to argue them. And so, when we do that, hopefully we’re educating the judge, as well.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Let’s talk about your feelings or your reaction to her ruling on Manning’s treatment at Quantico, only giving him 112 days sentencing credit. What’s your sense of that?

DAVID COOMBS: Too little. A hundred and twelve days doesn’t do anything, when you think about that. If you are a commander of a confinement facility, and you hold somebody for nine months in the conditions that they held Pfc. Manning in, and at the end of the day you hear that he gets 112 days, what does that do for you? Does that cause you to lose any sleep? No, it doesn’t. The outcome in this instance should have been something that either gave him years—not days, but years—of credit, or it should have eliminated certain offenses. I think a prime offense at that point would have been the aiding-the-enemy offense. That’s when you get the attention of those who would in the future potentially do this. The government always argues about deterrence. “We need to do deterrence. You need to give a harsh sentence to convince others not to do the same crime.” Well, the same argument would apply in something like this. If you know somebody has unlawfully punished an individual prior to trial, you need to give substantial credit for deterrence. A hundred and twelve days is not deterrence.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: What issues are going to come up on appeal, as you see them? What are the sort of major mistakes of fact or legal understanding that are going to come up on appeal?

DAVID COOMBS: I think the biggest one is speedy trial. The fact that we demanded speedy trial relatively early on in the case and yet still had to wait well over a year to get Pfc. Manning to his day in court, I think will be one of the bigger issues.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: And Manning was held longer than any accused awaiting court-martial.

DAVID COOMBS: To my knowledge, yes. And, you know, when you look at the speedy trial issue, the government avoided that problem by just simply going to their—the first-level commander and asking for him to just say, “I’m going to exclude this time. This time will not count against you for any future speedy trial issues,” and did that time and time again. And when you think about that, if that’s all it takes to wipe the slate clean for the clock, the speedy trial clock, then there is no speedy trial clock. And in this instance, that’s all the government really had, and yet it was condoned. So I think speedy trial will be a huge issue.

I think the unlawful pretrial punishment will be a big issue. I think the judge’s rulings on the 1030 offense, the exceeding authorized access on a computer, will be a huge issue. Her last-minute allowing the government to change the larceny offenses, the 641 offenses—

ALEXA O’BRIEN: To change the charge sheet.

DAVID COOMBS: To change the charge sheet—

ALEXA O’BRIEN: After the closing of it.

DAVID COOMBS: —to change the nature of the offense, to change what was charged, after the close of evidence, will be a huge appellate issue. So there are several issues that I think will give the potential for relief on appeal.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: What’s your sense—I mean, in the middle of this trial or towards the end of it, Colonel Denise Lind, the military—the presiding military judge, was promoted to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, which will be the court of appeals that this case will go to. What’s your sense of that?

DAVID COOMBS: Well, it is a promotion from the standpoint of going from a trial level to the appellate level, although it’s not atypical. So, I’ll say that in the past judges have gone from the trial level to the appellate level, and then they go even back down to the trial level. So, she wasn’t promoted from the standpoint of rank. I don’t think it had really any bearing on the case. She certainly won’t be the appellate judge listening to the case. So I’m hopeful that the other judges that are on the Army Court of Criminal Appeals will look at the issues and see what we litigated and hopefully come to a different conclusion.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Was Manning scapegoated for any kind of leadership or policy failures within either his 2nd Brigade Combat Team or within the Department of Defense or even the U.S. government?

DAVID COOMBS: I don’t know about scapegoated, but he was a—and in my opinion, when I argued, also in sentencing, he was a victim of a very poor chain of command. One of the things that you would expect from a chain of command, especially from the non-commissioned officer side, is that they take care of soldiers. That is the very first thing that any NCO learns, and that’s the first thing that they think of every given day that they get up, put the uniform on: How do I take care of my soldiers? In this case, Pfc. Manning was not taken care of by his unit. Had they taken care of him, they would have realized that he was struggling with something, struggling with issues, and they would have addressed those issues. I’m not to say—and that’s not to say that this wouldn’t have happened still, but it’s certainly, if he had a caring command, if he had an NCO leadership that looked out for him, they would have recognized, at least in December of 2009, that there were some issues with what—his behavior and what he was struggling with, that—

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Which was?

DAVID COOMBS: At that point, it was his gender identity, I believe. And you have him reaching out for help, actually crying out for help. And those cries go unnoticed. I don’t think his gender identity had any bearing on his actions. I think his actual actions were the product of firmly held moral beliefs of what is the right thing to do. But if you see somebody struggling, you need to take some action. And the chain of command should have taken action, and they didn’t.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Why do you think they didn’t.

DAVID COOMBS: I think he had a poor chain of command. And it also does bring up other issues of an Army that’s stretched to its limits, fighting two wars at the time. You’re in a position where you’re taking everybody, not everybody that should deploy. You’re just taking everybody. And that’s problematic, because we owe it to basically every other soldier that everyone who deploys should deploy. When we’re taking sons and daughters to the battlefield, there should be no concern about anybody there having any issues that would detract from their ability to do their job, because their job is life and death. And that’s where a strong chain of command comes into play, saying, “Look, if we have somebody who shouldn’t deploy, and even if we need the numbers, even if we need that person to deploy, if they should not deploy, we’re not going to deploy them.” That takes strength of character. That takes a strong leadership. Those were things he did not have.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: I want to talk to you about your client. Your client has—you know, in the court record, has had personal issues that they have struggled with that are a part of this case. They’ve also had gender identity issues or—that have come up at the sort of the climax of the sentencing case. And Bradley Manning came forward and offered an apology to the presiding military judge. Could you give the public a context for all of those issues and how you saw they fit into the case, and your concerns as a defense attorney as to how you were going to handle those issues?

DAVID COOMBS: Sure. I mean, I think to minimize Brad and say he is one thing and only one thing is not to do justice to him and how complex he is as a person. I think, from the defense’s perspective, we had to look at the entire picture of why he did certain things. And it was clear—and you can see that from the Lamo chats—why he would leak certain information, believing that this information was important for the public to know, believing that it might spark reforms, it might spark debate, it might make a difference in the world. Those are firmly held beliefs that we embraced, obviously, as part of his defense. But you wouldn’t do justice to what he was going through without recognizing that he had those beliefs at the same time that he was struggling with a very, very personal issue that was really at the center and core of who he was and who he hoped to be. And he was in a position now of dealing with that in a deployed environment, where he couldn’t reach out for help, where he couldn’t turn to the next person and say, “Hey, I’m struggling with this issue. Can you help me?” because if he did that, he would no longer be in the military. So, early on, we had to address that issue. And even though it was uncomfortable for him, and even though at the time he didn’t want it to come to the forefront, I told him that we needed to embrace that part, because that was part of the narrative, that was part of what was happening, and that was the truth, and we needed to bring it out.

But at the same time, we also really wanted to make sure that people knew that we weren’t offering that as an excuse. We weren’t saying that because of the struggles, he chose to leak this information; because of his personal issues, that that led him to share information with WikiLeaks. The two are not related. But because they happened at the same time, it’s important to understand that, because that provides context. And certainly, as we all know, when you’re under a lot of stress, and when you’re under a lot of pressure, and when you’re dealing with personal issues, that does affect your judgment. That does affect how you might internalize things. And so I think it had an impact on him. It didn’t cause him to do his actions. But it was important, from the defense’s perspective, that the military judge got that full picture. And our hope was, if she got that full picture, she would understand that who she was sentencing was a good young man, a moral young man, a man with probably one of the stronger moral compasses of what is right and wrong. And he has that compass in spite of his childhood, in spite of his upbringing, in spite of how other people treat him. And this is the type of person that you have in front of you.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: How did other people treat him?

DAVID COOMBS: Well, you have people treating him as essentially a pariah, as an outcast. They recognized from the beginning he doesn’t fit the typical mold. And so he has very little friends. And one of the aspects that came out, through some of the people who would talk about him, was even those people who were rude to him, even those people who belittled him, made fun of him, he was still kind to, he was still respectful to. So, you see a person like him, and you think, you know, if only he had somebody who was a strong leader, if only he had somebody that he could go to and talk to, things might have been different.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Do you think things might have been different meaning that these would not be released as they were released?

DAVID COOMBS: I don’t know. I mean, I think even if Brad didn’t have these issues, I think when he deployed and he started to see the things he was seeing, and when he started to read about the things that were being done, I think, from a moral standpoint, he would have had that problem and still would have had that issue. And I think that’s where we get to the apology, where he says, “Look, you know, I could have done other things.” I think if he had a strong leadership, he would have explored other options. He would have explored what the mainstream would say you would need to do: go through your traditional channels, through your elected leaders, through your internal inspector general who would investigate anything that you believed was unethical or illegal. He would have at least explored those. I don’t know if he would have gotten any relief going through that, and so ultimately he might have done the same thing. But it would have maybe delayed his actions.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: What was the most damage done in this case?

DAVID COOMBS: I—personally, I think the most damage done in this case was the sentence that my client received. If you’re talking about damage from a standpoint of what he released, embarrassment. Embarrassment was the most damage. It’s not—when you look at the SIGACTs, when you look at the other charge documents, all that stuff is, as I said before, something that looks to past acts. It’s kind of an historical record. I don’t believe any of that gave away anything that was sensitive.

The diplomatic cables, on the other hand, I think the damage there was an embarrassment of having other people see that we don’t always do the right thing for the right reasons as the United States, which might come as a surprise to some people. You would think that when we deal with other countries, when we deal with people who are less fortunate than our country, that we’re doing so in a way that helps everybody, that’s in everyone’s best interest. But that’s not always the case. And, in fact, frequently we do things that are in our own national interests, and sometimes that is to the detriment of people who are struggling to have what we have here in America—a democracy, a free and open press. And that’s a little disheartening when you see that. And I think that’s probably the biggest damage, because if people actually look to these documents, they will see that we don’t always do what we should do, and we are not always the country that we should strive to be.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: What drove Manning to release these documents?

DAVID COOMBS: I think what he was seeing, and the amount of time that he had to deal with this. If you’re in a deployed environment, which I have been several times, you have nothing else but your job, and perhaps going to the gym to work out, to eat, to sleep, then you go back to your job. And for him, I think what probably caused this to accelerate was that’s all he had to think about. And because of his moral compass, because of what he was hoping to achieve when he went there—you look back at the Laura McNamara chats, the now—back then she was called Zachary Antolak—you look at those chats, and you see a young man hoping that when he gets there, he can make a difference, he could hopefully save lives, hopefully get people back safely. How disheartening it must have been when he got there to see that that really wasn’t always the mission. And we didn’t always just kill bad people. Sometimes we just killed people because they were in the wrong place. And no one asks questions. And no one investigated to see did we do something wrong. And when we did do something wrong, we didn’t come forward with that information. We didn’t readily admit the mistake, say we’re sorry, and show how we’re going to prevent this from happening again in the future. We owe that to American public. We owe that to the publics that we go to protect and to help them build a good country. And yet we didn’t do that. And so, for Brad to see that, I think that probably is what accelerated his belief that the public needed to see this information.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: This is my last question for you. You have said in the past that a court-martial is the best, most fairest courtroom for Bradley Manning. Has this trial, in your experience through it, changed your perspective on the military justice system?

DAVID COOMBS: It hasn’t changed my perspective on the justice system, but what it has done is it has brought to the forefront—for me, at least—problems with our justice system, things that need to change. And the first thing that needs to change is Rule for Court-Martial 806. That’s the rule that prevents cameras from coming into the courtroom. We need to change that rule. We need to have cameras in the courtroom. We need to have the media have access to see what happens at every moment inside the courtroom. Hopefully this could be aired on C-SPAN or some other network where the average public person could tune in and see what is going on in a court-martial. And the reason why I think that’s important is, majority of the things that happened in this trial I don’t think would have happened if you had the eyes of the public firmly fixed on it. And in this case especially, if you had cameras in the courtroom, you would have had more media. You would have had journalists there. You would have had Nancy Grace, I’m sure, would have been live from Fort Meade every day talking about this case. It would have been on the front page of newspapers.

And people would then see for themselves what I know, and that is there is a good young man who received 35 years, and he didn’t need to receive 35 years. There’s a good young man who did what he thought was morally right, and for the right reasons, and he was sentenced the way we would sentence somebody who committed murder, the way we would sentence somebody who molested a child. That’s the sentence he received. So, yes, I still believe military justice is fair. I still am very proud to be a member of the military. But I can recognize where there are problems. And cameras in the courtroom, we need to have that. We need to change that aspect of the system.

And then, secondly, classified evidence cases—the rules are not balanced. The government has too much power over what is discoverable, over what will be shared, over how things are given to the court and not to the defense. Those rules need to change. Also in this case, you get a situation where I’m asking for witnesses that are clearly relevant. I’m asking for people to come testify that would be beneficial to my client, and yet I have to go through the government to ask for that. I have to get their permission. And when they deny it, then I have to go seek relief from the judge. That’s wrong. We shouldn’t have that aspect of the system. We should have equal access to witnesses, the ability to bring them in without having a trial counsel say yes.

ALEXA O’BRIEN: Did Bradley Manning receive a fair trial?

DAVID COOMBS: I think Bradley Manning received a trial in which people will look at it and say, “I don’t think so.” And that’s really the question that people should be asking now: Did he receive a fair trial? In my perspective from his legal representation, I would like to think he received a fair trial. But I have to admit, when you look at this and you see the outcome and you see what came out, it would be hard for somebody to say that this was fair. And at the end of the day, whether or not it’s fair, perception is what matters. And the perception is, no, he didn’t receive a fair trial. And that should be problematic for people. That should be problematic for our military, and hopefully that will be problematic for the president of the United States, and he’ll do something about it.

GUESTS

Alexa O’Brien, independent journalist who has covered the Bradley Manning trial extensively.

David Coombs, attorney for Army Private Bradley Manning.

http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2013/8/22/watch_full_extended_interview_with_mannings_attorney_after_35_year_sentence

50 Years Later, the Untold History of the March on Washington & MLK’s Most Famous Speech

RELATED STORIES

GUESTS

Gary Younge, author, broadcaster and award-winning columnist for The Guardian and The Nation. His book, The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream, has just been published. His previous books include No Place Like Home: A Black Briton’s Journey Through the American South,Who Are We—And Should It Matter in the 21st Century?and Stranger in a Strange Land: Encounters in the Disunited States.

William P. Jones, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison specializing in civil rights and labor history. His new book is The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights. He’s also the author of The Tribe of Black Ulysses: African American Lumber Workers in the Jim Crow South. His recent article for Dissent magazine is “The Forgotten Radical History of the March on Washington.”

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One week out from the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — and just days away from a major march this Saturday commemorating the event — we spend the hour looking at much of its forgotten history. More than a quarter-million people came to the nation’s capital on August 28, 1963, to protest discrimination, joblessness and economic inequality faced by African Americans. Many now consider the march to be a key turning point in the civil rights movement. We explore the largely untold history behind the march and how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, like his own political legacy, remains widely misunderstood. “I think today, the way the speech and the march are understood is wrapped in the flag, and seen as one more example of American genius, when in fact it was a mass, multiracial, dissident act,” says Gary Younge, author of “The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream.” “The powers that be really did not want this [march] to happen. The march was policed like a military operation.” We also speak to historian William P. Jones, author of “The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights.” “It really had a very profound effect on shifting the national conversation, even within the civil rights movement itself, toward a major focus on the connections between racial equality and economic justice,” Jones says.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: One week out from the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and just days away from a major march this Saturday commemorating the event, we spend the hour looking at much of its forgotten and even misunderstood history. More than a quarter-million people came to the nation’s capital on August 28, 1963, to protest discrimination, joblessness and economic inequality faced by African Americans. Many now consider the march to be a key turning point in the civil rights movement. It came in a pivotal year. In June, NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers was gunned down outside his home in Mississippi. Less than a month after the march, four young girls were killed when a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church. The next year saw the Civil Rights Act pass, followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

AMY GOODMAN: The most famous speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was delivered by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who had been arrested that April during anti-segregation protests in Alabama and wrote his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” This is an excerpt from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more on the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 50 years later, we’re joined by two guests. In Madison, Wisconsin, William Jones is a professor at the University of Wisconsin specializing in civil rights and labor history. His new book is just out, The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights. His recent piece for Dissentmagazine is “The Forgotten [Radical] History of the March on Washington.”

And in Chicago, we’re joined by Gary Younge, an award-winning columnist for The Guardian and The Nation. His book, The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream, has also just been published.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Gary Younge, let’s begin with you in Chicago. What is most important to understand about this speech, that we will hear played certainly as we lead up to this March on Washington? What do we not know about the context of this speech?

GARY YOUNGE: Well, I guess the first thing to know is that it wasn’t as though most Americans at that time were in love with the speech, or even the March on Washington, that the March on Washington polls show was not a popular thing to be doing. Most white Americans certainly believed that the push to civil rights was moving too fast. And in that moment, civil rights as a concept, integration as a concept, was still somewhat controversial, and how America got there was not a foregone conclusion. And I think today the way the speech and the march is understand is wrapped in the flag and seen as one more example of American genius, when in fact it was a mass, multiracial, dissident—dissident act.

And just a couple of examples of things that took place around that time to show that people really—the powers that be really didn’t want this to happen, Kennedy tried to talk them out of the march. The march was policed like a military operation, literally—it was called Operation Steep Hill. And they had boxcars and helicopters ready to go. They stopped all elective surgery in Washington that weekend. They stopped the sale of alcohol, no baseball games, and said that the courts were going to run all night, thinking that there would be a large number of arrests, which there weren’t. But also, quite suddenly, on the day, the sound system had been tampered with by the Justice Department, and they had put a kill switch, because they feared that someone would take to the mic and call for mass insurrection—clearly not really listening to anything the civil rights leaders had been saying over the previous year. And if that were to take place, then the plan was to effect the kill switch, kill the mic and play a record of Mahalia Jackson singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, and, Gary Younge, in that context, Martin Luther King wasn’t even a headline speaker at the event, was he? He wasn’t like the main draw. Could you talk about how his speech evolved then to become this iconic—this iconic pronouncement of the civil rights movement?

GARY YOUNGE: Well, yeah, it’s—I mean, it’s intriguing. I mean, King is the last speaker, and so, to that extent, one can say he’s the keynote. But that he delivers this speech—anybody who knew King well, who had seen him speak many times, you ask any of them, “So, did you think we would be talking about this speech in 50 years’ time?” and they say, “Really, no. I mean, it was a great speech, but great speeches was what he did.”

But here’s what I argue in the book, and here’s what I believe. I think there were two reasons why this speech became iconic. The first is that after ’63 King gets the Nobel Peace Prize, he’s the Man of the Year on Time, I think, but then his star begins to wane as he starts talking about class and poverty and government intervention to address issues of poverty. People say, “You know, you’re stepping off the reservation here. You stick to what you know, which is race and civil rights.” Then he starts to talk about Vietnam, and he opposes the Vietnam War, and after that, everything really gets tough for him. His unfavorability ratings, twice as many Americans have an unfavorable view of him than a favorable one. And if you think of how favorable African Americans viewed, then that’s a whole lot of white people at that time that really think he’s not a great guy. And then he’s assassinated.

Well, how do we remember this man then? And they did try to forget him, but they can’t forget him, so how do we remember him? Well, we can’t remember him as the man—nationally, as a national figure. He can’t be remembered as the man who said that America was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” because, arguably, America still is, and that issue has not been resolved. They can’t remember him as the man who railed against poverty and for further government intervention, because we’re still having that argument. So, none of those things raise him above the fray; they actually insert him into it. But they can remember him as the man who gave the most eloquent articulation of this superb moral moment in America’s history, I argue the last great moral act that America has achieved which is still a consensus, which is the end of segregation. And the end of segregation, this is the speech—it doesn’t—it’s not the speech that ends segregation, but as Andrew Young said when I interviewed him for the book, he said, “Imagine somebody got in the Arab—in Egypt a couple years ago and managed, in a 15-minute speech, to articulate what the Arab Spring was all about.” Americans didn’t understand it. King explained it. And we have it to listen to. And that’s really part of his power.

I think the other thing that it does is it—there was enough in the speech for everybody. It’s a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. It starts in the shadow of Lincoln and ends with a Negro spiritual and pays homage to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. You don’t get much more patriotic than that, if patriotism is what you’re after. It’s delivered in the black vernacular on this brilliant day at the March on Washington. Progressives love it. And conservatives usually take one line, “that my children will be judged, not by the color of their skin, by the content of their character,” and they use that one line. I’ve seen Glenn Beck do it, Ronald Reagan do it, opponents of affirmative action do it. They take that one line to say, “Here you go. Let’s ignore the legacy of racism. Let’s pretend to be colorblind. And let’s assume that racism is over, that the way to understand racism is to ignore its legacy.” So, depending on what you want to misunderstand or understand, there is something in that speech for everybody.

AMY GOODMAN: Gary, when he turned to his advisers the night before in Washington to get, you know, suggestions on what to talk about, isn’t it true that Wyatt Walker, one of his closest advisers, said, “Don’t talk about the dream, Martin”?

GARY YOUNGE: That’s right. That’s right. The night before this—the dream segment is not in the text of the speech. The night before, he’s casting around, looking for ideas, and Wyatt Tee Walker, one of his main aides, says, “Don’t do the ‘I have a dream’ thing. It’s trite. It’s cliché. You’ve used it many times before.” And King was aiming for a Gettysburg-type address. And he had indeed used the speech—that refrain many times before. That year alone, he had delivered 350 speeches, or around that. He’s not delivering a new speech each time. And he’s a preacher. Clarence Jones, when I interviewed him, he said he had this ability to cut and paste, even as he’s speaking, and, in the American Baptist tradition, to draw on the mood and the response of the crowd. And that’s what he’s—and that’s what he’s doing. So, he umms and ahs about whether he’s going to put it in it. He decides to leave it out. It’s not in the text.

When he gets to the podium, for the most part he’s quite faithful to the text. And if you listen to the speech—and I think it’s the most loved, least well-known speech that I can think of, so most people, they say they love it, but they’ve rarely listened to it. And I advise your viewers and listeners, just take 15 minutes out of your life in the next four or five days and give the speech a listen. If you listen to the speech, he’s winding down: “Go back to Mississippi. Go back to South Carolina.” And behind him is Mahalia Jackson, his favorite gospel singer. He used to call Mahalia Jackson when he was down and on the road and ask her to sing to him, so they had a very intimate connection. Mahalia Jackson shouts, “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” because she had heard him give that speech in Detroit a few months earlier. King continues. Mahalia Jackson shouts again, “Tell them about the dream!” And then, just about that time, King—in the words of Clarence Jones, he puts the text to his left, and Clarence Jones says, in his body language, he shifted from a lecturer to a preacher. And then Jones turned to the person standing next to him and said, “Those people don’t know it, but they’re about to go to church.” And then King starts on his “I have a dream” refrain.

Now, we don’t know for sure whether King heard Mahalia Jackson, though Clarence Jones said he must have done, because he heard [her] and he was 20 feet from both of them. King has never said that he did, but we do know that she said it, and we do know that around the time that she said it, that is the direction that he took the speech. And it’s within the tradition of the Baptist Church, a sermon or a speech is crafted—it’s drafted by the preacher, but then it’s crafted as you go along in response, call and response, to the crowd. And this was definitely not in the words that was written before him at the time.

AMY GOODMAN: We’ve been talking to Gary Younge. He’s author of The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream. And we’re going to come back with Gary, as well as Will Jones, author of The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights, because, of course, this march didn’t just come out of that day or that year. In fact, William Jones takes this back decades to talk about the organizer of the March on Washington—there was Bayard Rustin, there was A. Philip Randolph—and his attempt to hold a march on Washington in the 1940s, and how he took on FDR. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with both men in a moment.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “How I Got Over,” sung by Mahalia Jackson at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, that video taken from the documentary King: A Filmed Record_. You can see more from the film on our website at democracynow.org, along with related coverage of the civil rights movement, the March on Washington and the struggle for jobs and freedom, then and now, on ouron”>special page. That’s democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Our guests are William Jones, The March on Washington is his book; as well as Gary Younge, The Speech is his. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, let’s go to an excerpt of union leader A. Philip Randolph’s speech at the 1963 March on Washington. He was the first speaker after the archbishop of Washington delivered the invocation.

A. PHILIP RANDOLPH: We know that we have no future in a society in which six million black and white people are unemployed and millions more live in poverty. Nor is the goal of our civil rights revolution merely the passage of civil rights legislation. Yes, we want all public accommodations open to all citizens, but those accommodations will mean little to those who cannot afford to use them. Yes, we want a fair employment practice act, but what good will it do if profit-geared automation destroys the jobs of millions of workers, black and white?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was A. Philip Randolph, the first speaker at the March on Washington in 1963.

We’re also joined by Will Jones, who’s a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison specializing in civil rights and labor history. His new book, just out, is The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of [Civil Rights]. He’s also the author of The Tribe of Black Ulysses: African American Lumber Workers in the Jim Crow South. His recent piece for Dissentmagazine is “The Forgotten [Radical] History of the March on Washington.”

Well, William Jones, talk to us about the importance of A. Philip Randolph and some of the historical events and attempts of African Americans to organize a march on Washington decades before.

WILLIAM P. JONES: Right. Well, the roots of the march really go back 20 years earlier to a march that A. Philip Randolph called and then canceled at the last minute in 1941. The purpose of that march was to protest employment discrimination in the defense industries and also segregation and discrimination in the armed forces. This was actually the point before the U.S. actually entered the war. But President Roosevelt had called on the United States not to enter the war directly, but to serve as what he called an “arsenal of democracy.” And what he meant by that was that the U.S. had a special role in protecting democracy by providing weapons, equipment for the Allied governments in Europe and in Asia. And as part of that call to become an arsenal of democracy, President Roosevelt promised that in exchange for supporting the war effort, Americans could expect a more robust sense of social citizenship and economic citizenship. He famously said that Americans should be rewarded with what he called the four freedoms, which included a guarantee of a decent standard of living, decent wages, decent work.

And so, A. Philip Randolph and many other black leaders said, well, this is a great ideal, and we support this ideal of the arsenal of democracy and the four freedoms, but African Americans were almost completely shut out of jobs in the defense industries. And it’s important to remember that this was a moment when the mobilization for the war had really ended the Great Depression for many Americans. These were—this was the first time in which many working-class Americans in over a decade had access to decent paid, often unionized, jobs. These were jobs that the union movement rose very quickly in. And so, a number of civil rights activists, including A. Philip Randolph, said, “We really need—this is really a critical issue that we need to confront.” And they called on Roosevelt to ensure that African Americans could have access to these jobs. They also pointed to the fact that African Americans were being drafted into essentially a Jim Crow army. They were being forced to serve in an army that segregated them, excluded them from any officer positions. And so, they put a great deal of pressure on Roosevelt.

And Roosevelt really refused to deal with them at all. He just completely ignored their complaints—until this idea of a march on Washington emerged in 1941. It emerged at a mass meeting in Chicago, where A. Philip Randolph was the speaker, and was proposed by an anonymous black woman. We don’t know who she was, but she stood from the floor and proposed a march on Washington. Randolph really liked this idea, and he took it up. And by the spring of 1941, he estimated that 100,000 people were going to join him in meeting at the Capitol building and marching down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, past the War Department, which had not yet moved into the Pentagon, and ending, symbolically, at the Lincoln Memorial, where there would be a mass rally. And I think, you know, many of—all the listeners will recognize that this really formed the basis for the march that was called in 1963.

The 1941 march was called off because, at the very last minute, President Roosevelt finally relented. He called Randolph and other leaders to the White House, and he agreed to issue an executive order banning discrimination by defense contractors. This was not their whole demand, but A. Philip Randolph and many others considered this the most important demand. This executive order at the time was extremely important. It was compared, actually, to the Emancipation Proclamation as the first time since Reconstruction that the federal government had really intervened in a decisive way on behalf of African Americans.

And this really established—this victory really established A. Philip Randolph as the primary leader of the civil rights movement that would emerge in the postwar period. It also set off, in many ways framed the goals of that movement as this connection between, on one hand, attacking legal segregation, demanding legal equality, but then also insisting that none of that would be effective without access to decent paid job, without economic security. So the connection between economic justice and civil rights was really there from the beginning. And A. Philip Randolph was really there from the beginning and would emerge and remain at the center of the leadership. He was known as the “dean of black leadership” up until the—through the 1960s.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Professor Jones, one of the things that has gotten very little attention is the role of the press in stirring up hysteria to that—against that 1941 march. The Washington Postbegan a series of articles in the weeks before the march about crimes, a crime wave in Washington, D.C., obviously focused on African Americans, while the black press was the main instrument of mobilizing people to Washington. How does the role of the press play in, for instance, in the ’63 march that you document in your book?

WILLIAM P. JONES: Well, in many ways, it’s similar. I mean, there’s a lot of parallels, not just from the press, but the response from the White House, which is really alarm, the concern that having this many people—this many black people in Washington was inevitably going to lead to violence, to riots, and the idea that this was really a national emergency. The executive order that A. Philip Randolph called and—issued in 1941 was explicitly an emergency war order saying that ensuring equal access to these jobs, we need enough people to work in these plants, was essential to the mobilization for the military effort.

And so, there was this sort of military response that we saw again in 1963. If you look at the press coverage of the march leading up to the march, the headlines are all, you know, “Washington Gets Jittery over the March,” “Washington Is Preparing for an Assault,” the reports of the—as Gary talked about, the troops being staged across the river, on alert, ready to be flown in at the last minute, emptying the city jails. So this was really seen as, one reporter called it, a siege on the city.

I think one thing that’s really remarkable is the really dramatic shift just before and after the 1963 march, where after the march the press is sort of ecstatic at the fact that there wasn’t violence, that this was a successful march. And I think that actually—that really, I think, accounts for some of the power that the march had, the fear and then the sense of relief.

AMY GOODMAN: Will Jones, I wanted to go back for a minute to the ’41 march and its cancellation. Didn’t this lead to a big rift between A. Philip Randolph, the leading organizer, and Bayard Rustin? And these were the two organizers of the 1963 March on Washington. Bayard Rustin, who we just talked about in a previous show, a remarkable figure in the 20th century, he was gay, he was black, he was a pacifist, and he was the major organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, but split with Randolph 20 years before over canceling the march in ’41.

WILLIAM P. JONES: Yeah, there was a considerable controversy over Randolph’s decision to cancel the march. He accepted really half the demands, which was an end to discrimination in the defense industries. The executive order did nothing to address segregation and discrimination in the armed forces. The executive order was also extremely weak in two ways. The president provided very little money to actually enforce this issue, and, really, enforcement depended on the ability of civil rights activists to mobilize around hearings, to mobilize mass marches, to pressure defense contractors to live up to the executive order. So it was really more of a moral statement than a legal statement. The executive order also expired at the end of the war. So, immediately, people sort of wondered, how are we going to get something really substantial out of this?

A number, particularly young activists—actually, the most vocal critics of Randolph at the time were Adam Clayton Powell, who at the time was a young minister—he would later become a congressman from New York—and Richard Parrish, who was the leader of a black student organization in New York City that endorsed the march and did a lot of mobilization for the march, and he was really upset that he felt that Randolph had sort of unilaterally cancelled the march without consulting people who had put a lot of time and investment in it.

I’ve actually heard the story about Bayard Rustin and looked into that, and the only thing I could find was actually that Bayard Rustin was actually not in the United States during the first march. He was on a Quaker peace delegation in Puerto Rico. And he was involved in the mobilization—

AMY GOODMAN: Which is the U.S.

WILLIAM P. JONES: —but he was not actually directly involved with A. Philip Randolph until after the march, when he played a very important role in helping Randolph build what was known as the March on Washington Movement, which was a nonviolent civil disobedience movement that was aimed essentially at upholding this executive order. So the moment of Randolph and Rustin really coming together happens in 1942 after the march was called off. And that was—that formed a relationship that would remain really close over—really over a lifetime, and I think a partnership that was really essential to the emergence of the postwar civil rights movement.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Malcolm X into this discussion, or refer to where he was, and play a remarkable moment. It was, oh, a year and a half before the march, January 23rd, 1962. Bayard Rustin, the organizer of the March on Washington the next year, debated Malcolm X on the question of separation or integration at a church in New York City. This is an excerpt of that debate, featured in the film Brother Outsider. It begins with Bayard Rustin.

BAYARD RUSTIN: The problem can never be stated in terms of black and white. And any movement which begins by blocking out the active cooperation of the best minds, many of which are white as well as black, is fighting a losing battle.

MALCOLM X: South Africa doesn’t preach freedom. Russia doesn’t call itself the leader of the free world. It’s America that looks upon herself and represents herself as the leader of the free world, while she has 20 million black people here who aren’t even citizens. It is for this reason that America is doomed, and it is for this reason that we who follow the Honorable Elijah Muhammad feel that our only hope is not integration with a doomed society, but complete separation from a doomed society.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Malcolm X debating Bayard Rustin. Let’s bring Gary Younge back into the conversation, author of The Speech. Where was Malcolm X on August 28th, 1963, the day of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom?

GARY YOUNGE: Well, he was in—he was in D.C., and he was not at the march. He kind of—the night before, in particular, he kind of prowled the lobby of the Statler Hotel, I think—it may have been the Willard Hotel, but one of those two hotels—and he called it the “farce on Washington.” And he was kind of mocking people, kind of somewhat gently, but saying, you know, “You’re all going to this picnic. It’s going to be, you know, a big—it’s going to be a big waste of time,” talking to lots of reporters, and really kind of having quite a good time poking fun of the whole thing. But then, that night, Ossie Davis says, the night before the March, Malcolm X goes to his room, his hotel room, and says to him, “Regardless of what I’ve said, I’m there. If you need me, I’m going to be here. And call me,” and by which I think he was referring to, and certainly Ossie Davis understood it this way, if there is violence, then it could be that my voice may be able to quell some of the more militant elements in a way that King’s may not.

But there are two good things that come out of that that I think are quite important, because of the manner in which—the flawed manner, I think, in which King and Malcolm X are juxtaposed—one meek and mild, the other one bold and defiant. It was King that year who went to jail. It was King who led the protests. It was King who really put his life on the line that year, in a way that, I would argue, Malcolm X did not. So King was a militant. There’s no doubt about that. And he was an uncompromising, in many ways, an uncompromising activist. Malcolm X, on the other hand, is portrayed as this firebrand who only knows black and white. And in that interchange with Ossie Davis, in the fact that he’s in D.C. but not at the march, you see that he’s far more strategic than people give him credit for. Malcolm X understands that the March on Washington, if it fails on its own terms, that’s bad for everybody. Even if he doesn’t agree with its central demand of integration, he understands that it can’t be seen to fail, and that if it succeeds, it succeeds for all black people—so, a far more complex character, actually, than people give him credit for.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion. We’re talking to Gary Younge, author of The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream, and, as well, Will Jones. He’s author of The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. Back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” by Marian Anderson at the March on Washington. You remember, the Justice Department had control of the mic, as Gary Younge, our guest, describes it, and they planned to shut down that mic, unbeknownst to the speakers, if there was a call for insurrection and play, not Marian Anderson singing, but Mahalia Jackson singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” a recording. As we continue today our conversation on the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 50 years later, this is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, let’s turn to another clip from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at the March on—in Washington on August 28th, 1963.

REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: In a sense, we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men—yes, black men as well as white men—would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Gary Younge, this issue of the insufficient funds, the emphasis on jobs, not just freedom, could you talk about that aspect of not only King’s speech, but of the thrust of the march?

GARY YOUNGE: Yeah, I mean, because it’s interesting that it is known as the “I Have a Dream” speech and, for example, not the “Bad Check” speech. And that metaphor comes from a moment in Birmingham when a large number of young kids, some as young as six, are in jail for protesting, and a segregationist judge raises the bail money, and the SCLC, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, don’t have the money. Via Harry Belafonte, Clarence Jones gets a call from Rockefeller, the New York governor, I think, at the time, Nelson Rockefeller. And he goes to his bank vault, and there’s Clarence Jones, Rockefeller, a bank functionary and a security guard. He hands over a huge amount of cash, and he says, “You must sign this promissory note.” And Clarence Jones says, “I don’t have that money. We don’t have that money.” He says, “No, you’ve got to sign it to take it out of the vault. Everything’s going to be fine.” Clarence Jones signs it, takes the money down to Birmingham, the kids are bailed out. He comes back to New York. A messenger comes, and on the promissory note it’s stamped “paid.” And Clarence Jones gets to thinking, where there’s a will, America could do this. America has the money. It has the resources. It’s the most powerful country in the world. If America wanted to make this happen, if the political culture wanted to make this happen, it would happen. There are the means; there is not the will. And so, he writes this refrain, which King sticks to very faithfully.

What’s interesting about that is that the dream segment—which I do love, because I think that it’s important to dream. I think it’s important. King could have gotten up there and said, “I have a 10-point plan for how we get from here to somewhere else in, you know, the most reasonable manner.” But he didn’t. He stands in the middle of the most vile racism, and he dreams of a world where racism no longer exists. And I think it’s very important for progressives to have those dreams, to keep in mind—we talk about immigration reform—this dream of a land with no borders, for example. And so, I like that section. But it allows people to step out of the now and to get very airy-fairy about it.

And what the cashed check does, or the bad check, is it brings it back to brass tacks and says, “Look, we have to make good on the promise of this nation.” And there is—when people ask—you know, it’s one of the least interesting questions about the speech, I think, is, “Do you think his dream’s been realized?” And I think the likelihood that King would come back, look at our jails, look at our schools, look at Congress, and say, “My work here was done,” is very unlikely. That check is still a bad check, and it still needs to be—it still needs to be honored. And so, in many ways, it brings those issues back to light.

Black unemployment is still twice the rate of white unemployment, as it was in ’63. The disparities in median income, still very similar. Look around at Trayvon Martin or the Zimmerman case, look at the attempt to gut the Civil Rights Act, and you can see ways in which this moment and the victories of this moment are being shelled out and being gutted and how the history of that moment is being rewritten, not as a victory against codified segregation, which it was, but as a victory against racism as though racism is something of the past, not a live, real thing, but a discrete, historical moment that America has actually overcome, which clearly it hasn’t. And in that nature, the speech is not—is misunderstood as an artifact instead of what it is, which is a living, breathing document that still speaks to the realities of today.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’d like to ask Will Jones, this—the issue that you’ve raised in your book that the March on Washington in 1963 was one of the culminating moments of the American left and of the issues of economic injustice being raised on a national scale—could you talk about that and also the lessons for today of what a movement means in terms of addressing some of the issues that Gary Younge raised?

WILLIAM P. JONES: Yeah. Well, I guess, picking up on Gary’s comments, I think another thing that’s important to remember about King’s speech is that it was the last speech. And there’s a — The New York Times’ coverage, actually, pointed this out the next day. It said, you know, it’s ironic that King, who, as Gary pointed out, had actually suffered the most of all—he was the one who had been in jail, who had been beaten, he had been really in the trenches—he was the most optimistic and uplifting of the speeches. And as The New York Times pointed out, the other speakers really focused and concentrated on the struggle at hand, and they were—they spoke in “tough language,” was the language of The New York Times. So, I think we need to remember that by the time Martin Luther King came on stage, there had been nine other speeches that were very specific, over and over and over again, particularly, I would say, about the importance of economic justice.

And I actually think it’s possible that by the time Martin Luther King got on stage, he felt that the struggle in the South against legal segregation had actually been ignored a bit, that people had downplayed the significance of it. A lot of the—a lot of the speakers, like Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Walter Reuther, they all said, “Well, it’s important to deal with legal segregation, but if we don’t deal with the jobs issue, none of that matters.” And I think King might have actually felt that he had to bring the attention back to the importance of fighting segregation, fighting for voting rights in the South. And if anybody had sort of gotten caught up in King’s speech and forgotten the specifics of the struggle, A. Philip Randolph came back right immediately and listed the full—read the full list of demands, and then Bayard Rustin led everybody in a mass pledge to go home to their communities and uphold them.

So, I think we’ve often forgotten the economic issues that were really central to the march, in hindsight. But at the time, they were—they were really unavoidable. So I think that’s something that we need to remember as we remember this march, that it really was—and I think had a very profound effect on shifting the national conversation, even within the civil rights movement itself, toward a major focus on the connections between racial equality and economic justice.

I think, also, as we remember this, we need to remember that it was a product of, really, over two decades of organizing, starting with the labor movement in the 1930s, gaining very important support from the women’s movement, particularly black women’s clubs who had been really fighting on the front lines of fighting poverty in black communities since the 19th century. The importance of the movement that Martin Luther King led in the South in terms of sort of legitimizing mass protests, demonstrating the effectiveness of Gandhian nonviolence, and the way in which the march really brought those various strands of black radicalism, which I think the left really needs to claim as its own—I mean, it’s really an indigenous American leftism that I think—

AMY GOODMAN: And voting rights—

WILLIAM P. JONES: —has been lost to many.

AMY GOODMAN: Will Jones, I mean, of course, after this march, you had—Kennedy assassinated in November, but then the Civil Rights Act was passed, the Voting Rights Act was passed. Where this fits in, especially Section 7, very quickly?

WILLIAM P. JONES: Well, a central demand of the march was to limit congressional representation in any state where citizens were deprived the right to vote. I think the important thrust of the march was actually not to make a moral statement about the superiority of racial integration or racial equality, but to call for strong federal programs aimed at upholding that ideal. And in the most recent Supreme Court case, we saw exactly that. We saw an affirmation of the validity of racial quality, but then a stepping back from the enforcement measures, which I think was really the issue in 1963, and I think it’s the issue we face today.

AMY GOODMAN: Final comments, Gary Younge, as we go out of this discussion about this day and what wasn’t understood about August 28th, 1963? Of course, the Life magazine cover after was not a picture of King, but a picture of the organizers, A. Philip Randolph, the great labor organizer, and Bayard Rustin.

GARY YOUNGE: I think two things are important. The first is to rescue this speech and this moment from those who would argue that this is just one more example of America’s relentless move towards progress. Large numbers of people—the majority of Americans, in fact—did not want this march or this speech to happen. It was a mass act of dissidence, one that spoke to people around—around the world. I was born and raised in Britain. My parents are from Barbados. I knew about the speech as a young child and heard it at school in England at the age of 12 or 13. This is a world speech.

And it’s, secondly, America’s favorite speech. This is America’s favorite speech, alongside the Gettysburg Address, was delivered by a black man, a preacher, who was calling for racial equality and who was assassinated for making those demands. That is, in a sense, is the achievement. The achievement is that through the—through the forward march—

AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds.

GARY YOUNGE: —of the push for civil rights and racial equality in this country, this speech has been kind of forced into the mainstream and is now America’s favorite speech.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you both for joining us.

GARY YOUNGE: That tells you a lot about the speech and a lot about how far we’ve come, even if—

AMY GOODMAN: Gary Younge, author of The Speech; Will Jones, as well, the author of The March on Washington.

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/21/50_years_later_the_untold_history

Edward Snowden, Anatoly Kucherena

Edward Snowden, third right, leaves Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow with his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, second right. Photograph: AP/Russia24

Russian senator Ruslan Gattarov has begun a campaign to raise funds for Edward Snowden‘s investigation into the security of Russians’ personal data, claiming that the whistleblower is running out of money.

Gattarov, a member of the ruling United Russia party, has said he will open a bank account and create a website to gather donations for the National Security Agency leaker, who was last week granted temporary asylum in Russia. Gattarov told the Izvestiya newspaper that the domain name helpsnowden.ru had been registered and volunteers from several IT companies were developing the website.

The site will be available at helpsnowden.net for international donors. Neither website was working on Wednesday.

Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told Izvestiya that the whistleblower would “gratefully accept the help” of donors in Russia and other countries. “Edward is not a rich man and his own funds won’t last for long,” she said.

Gattarov reportedly started the fundraising initiative at the behest of several bloggers. Anton Korobkov-Zemlyansky, a blogger and member of Russia’s Civic Chamber, has promised to donate 30,000 rubles (£600) to the Snowden appeal.

On Tuesday, Kucherena said that Snowden had registered his new place of residence with the authorities, as all foreigners must do, although the location is being kept secret. He has already been offered a job by Pavel Durov, the founder of Russia’s most popular social network VKontakte.

Meanwhile, Gattarov has renewed his call for Snowden to assist a working group investigating US intelligence agencies’ access to the personal information of Russian users, launched by the senator in light of his revelations. In an interview on Tuesday with the National News Service, Gattarov said Snowden would help the working group to find “gaps in the storage of Russians’ personal information” by western internet companies. He argued that providing such information wouldn’t harm the US and therefore wouldn’t violate the condition for the whistleblower’s stay, as set by President Vladimir Putin.

“Snowden will help protect the constitutional rights of Russian citizens,” Gattarov said.

Several local human rights activists have noted the irony of Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia, where government agencies have the ability to surveil virtually all phone and internet communications.

In a sarcastic letter to Snowden published on the website of radio station Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow), opposition activist Roman Dobrokhotov told “Ed” that he “can make a wonderful career” exposing US government wrongdoing in Russia.

“I would only advise you not to forget which government you’re fighting against,” Dobrokhotov wrote. “Because if you mix it up in the heat of the moment, you’ll have to return to a capsule room (and this one probably won’t be in the airport).

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/07/russian-senator-edward-snowden-personal-data

Bradley Manning’s Convictions

Amy_column

By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

“What a dangerous edifice War is, how easily it may fall to pieces and bury us in its ruins,” wrote Carl von Clausewitz, the 19th-century Prussian general and military theorist, in his seminal text “On War,” close to 200 years ago.

These lines came from the chapter “Information in War,” a topic that resonates today, from Fort Meade, Md., where Pfc. Bradley Manning has just been convicted of espionage in a military court, to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lived for more than a year, having been granted political asylum to avoid political persecution by the United States, to Russia, where National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum.

Manning’s conviction sparked momentary interest among members of the elite media in the U.S., who spent scant time at the two-month court- martial, located just miles north of Washington, D.C. Manning’s supporters expressed relief that he was found not guilty of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, which would likely have carried a sentence of life in prison. He was convicted on 20 of 22 charges, and could face up to 136 years in prison. The sentencing hearing is underway.

“Bradley Manning’s alleged disclosures have exposed war crimes, sparked revolutions and induced democratic reforms,” Assange said from the embassy. “He is the quintessential whistle-blower.”

Interestingly, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote about the leaks to Sen. Carl Levin in 2010, saying, “The review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by this disclosure.”

Manning made a statement at the start of the court-martial, wherein he took responsibility for the leaks, but, importantly, expressed his motivation. He commented specifically on the Apache attack helicopter video that recorded the slaughter of a dozen civilians in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. Two of those killed worked for the Reuters news agency, cameraman Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, a father of four.

We can listen to Manning in his own words, thanks to an unauthorized audio recording of his statement, anonymously leaked. He said: “The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemly delightful blood-lust the aerial weapons team seemed to have. They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life, and referred to them as quote-unquote ‘dead bastards,’ and congratulated each other on their ability to kill in large numbers. … For me, this seemed similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.”

One of the charges for which Manning was found guilty was “wanton publication.” It’s unprecedented in military law. Manning’s lawyer called it a made-up offense. The real offense, for which no one has been charged, is the wanton disregard for human life that Manning exposed.

Manning’s leak gave Reuters, and the world, a graphic view of the horror of modern war, of the violent death of two media workers in the line of duty.

As the young soldier also said in his eloquent statement, “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained [in the leaks], it could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Indeed, he did spark such a debate.

Read the rest of this column at The Guardian.

http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2013/8/1/bradley_mannings_convictions