Monday, July 1, 2013

Tour de Peace Punks the US Army by Cindy Sheehan


Tour de Peace Punks the U.S. Army
Cindy Sheehan
Cutout Brad, Jodie Evans (CODEPINK) and Cindy Sheehan


I, like many of you, first heard about Wikileaks through the release of the “Collateral Murder” video on April 5, 2010. My first contact from that video was Army veteran Ethan McCord who is seen helping to rescue two children out of a van that was strafed by an Apache helicopter. Ethan risked his life, but what did one of the “brave” troops in the Apache say, “well, that’s what you get when you bring your kids to a war zone.” Fine talk brought to you by one of the tools that brought an unnecessary war zone to Iraq.

The Collateral Murder video was released the day after the sixth anniversary of my son’s murder in Iraq and on what would have been his 31st birthday, May 29th Bradley Manning was arrested in Iraq for allegedly leaking information to Wikileaks.

After that, many of us watched the case with interest and I raised money for his defense and supported him as much as I could. Still in 2010 when I spoke at events, there would be little pockets of Obama supporters who had never even heard of Bradley Manning, much less the fact that he was being tortured in a military gulag under the Obama regime.

Now, over three years later, Bradley was finally able to go on trial, or court-martial. I have been riding my bike across the nation starting on April 04, 2013 and Manning’s court-martial began on June 1st. Tour de Peace was finally able to catch up to Ft. Meade two weeks ago, but when we arrived on Wednesday, June 19th a local news report informed us that the court-martial was going on recess until the following Tuesday!

The next time Tour de Peace was able to go to Ft. Meade was on Wednesday, June 26th and we joined many lovely activists and the Bradley Manning Support Network for a vigil in front of the post, then the three of us piled in the Peace Van to drive through security to go on post for the trial.

That first day, despite all of our antiwar and pro-justice posters and magnets, we sailed through security and were able to go to support Manning…and then as detailed in my recent article, Constitution? What,Constitution? by Friday of that same week, the Peace Van was prevented from going on post BECAUSE of the posters and magnets. We were told that the Bill of Rights “does not apply” on a "Federal installation" while the guards were holding weapons to subdue us if we were to get out of hand.

So, on Friday after we had been denied, and me being me, I formulated a plan to rent a car and put some anti-Manning propaganda on it and try to go back on Monday, which is today as of this writing.

That’s what we did: we rented a car and in big capital letters using yellow window paint, Malcolm Chaddock wrote: MANNING IS A TRAITOR. Believe me, it was tough for us to do even to make the opposite statement. It hurt hard!

In Virginia
 The three of us: Malcolm and Dan Levy (Tour photog), and I drove up to the visitor’s entrance with butterflies in our tummies. I told the guys to dress as conservatively as possible and we were waved up to the security bay by two fresh-faced young MPs. I rolled my window down and cheerily said, “Good morning, Captain, how are you?” I wouldn’t know a Captain from a recruit, but I was pretty sure someone who looked to be about 20ish is not a “Captain.”

On previous visits, our IDs and car registration were taken and we had to get out, open the all the doors, hood and trunk so the car could be inspected. A mirror that looks like a giant dentist's tool is also run along the bottom of the car. As if I had never been there before, I started to read the instructions on the sign, and the young man said, “Oh ma’am, all that won’t be necessary!”

He handed me back our IDs and paperwork without running a check and asked us where we wanted to go. I said, “we heard the prosecution (I almost said “persecution” like I usually do) is resting its case today in the Manning court-martial and we just couldn’t miss it!” He smiled and said, “Ma’am, I know all this doesn’t apply to you, but I am under orders to tell everyone who goes into the court-martial this…” Then he proceeded to tell us “no demonstrating, no recording, no photos, no passing out of propaganda and no sight-seeing.” All through the little speech, he kept saying, “I’m sorry, Ma’am, I know this doesn’t apply to you.” (He certainly DID NOT know who I am).
Car with anti-Manning Prooaganda on Post

Then I asked for directions to the court, since I had theoretically never been there before, and sadly, we drove on to the post with our MANNING IS A TRAITOR still written on the back window. Although we had punk'd the US Army, we felt a little sick to our stomachs. It is now obvious beyond a shadow of a doubt that Free Speech is protected only when it jives with the prevailing meme of whoever is allowing or denying it. Poor Bradley!

We scraped the crap off ASAP
The persecution is wrapping up its case, and what we the public were able to witness today in court was a so-called expert witness on counter intelligence who works for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) give his CV to try and qualify to be an expert witness and then we civs were banned from the court for two more hours. Poor Bradley—it’s not a trial it’s a witch-hunt and I am certain that the government is already building the pyre.

A few other tidbits of interest:

The persecution routinely gives the judge the numbers of people observing and the number of press that are there—the two make sure that Manning knows that the reserved space (the court, the overflow trailer and a nearby theater) are not filled. In my opinion, they should be. I do believe the court-martial resumes on July 8th, if it’s possible go to support Bradley. It’s history, people and he deserves our support!

Before the judge entered the courtroom today, we were given permission to speak amongst ourselves, so I and Gayle Murphy of DC CODEPINK started to talk in loud inside voices of how much we loved Bradley and what a hero he is. Then other people timidly joined us as we said things like, “I admire Bradley so much I rode my bike all the way from California to be here to support him.” All of his supporters there were happy we did that, because Bradley is forbidden from looking at his supporters, however, I know he could hear us and he needs to know that we are there.

At lunch, I met Manning’s attorney, David Coombs and told him about our experience trying to get in, and while we both agreed that the security seems arbitrary and arbitrarily enforced, our treatment seemed to be “special” when we were supporters and supposed opponents.

Like I said, Bradley Manning is a hero and courageously stepped up to do the right thing, support him if you can!

Two demands of Tour de Peace are: to stop the persecution of whistleblowers AND prosecute the real war criminals (Bush, Cheney, Obama, ad nauseum), so we we were very honored to be able to be there to support such a hero.  

I refuse to allow the constant crimes and oppressions from the US government get me down. Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and all of us working so hard every day for peace and justice are pulling the mask off of the Empire on a daily basis.

I am excited to see what's next! 


Bradley Manning Support Network
www.BradleyManning.org

Cindy Sheehan
Ft. Meade, Maryland
1 July 2013

2 comments:

  1. What an amazing report! Thank you for your dedication and personal sacrifice in the cause of liberty, Cindy. You're reaching many more than you realize <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bradley Manning is a true American hero, a rare commodity indeed in a time of corporate slavishness by a President and a Congress.

    RickD

    ReplyDelete

Any comment that does not include death threats, threats of harm, or name-calling will be approved.