Tuesday, July 30, 2013

GUEST ARTICLE: Why did Washington hate Hugo Chavez?; Interview with author and revolutionary Eva Golinger By Mike Whitney




 1---There was very limited coverage of Hugo Chavez's death in the United States. Can you briefly describe the reaction of the Venezuelan people?

Eva Golinger--Chavez’s death was devastating for Venezuelans. Despite knowing about his illness, most Venezuelans thought he would win the battle against cancer like so many other battles he won before. The reaction was a collective cry of deep despair and sadness, but also of love, profound love for this person, this man who gave every last breath he had to making his country a better place for all. Ten days of mourning were officially declared in the country and Chavez’s casket was placed for millions to pay respects to before the final funeral occurred. People spent up to 36 hours waiting in line to say goodbye to Chavez at the Military Academy where his political consciousness came to life, and where his casket was placed temporarily after his shocking death. Then, on the tenth day, a mass parade of people accompanied Chavez’s funeral procession to the hilltop “Cuartel de la Montaña” (Barracks of the Mountain) across from the presidential palace Miraflores in Caracas, where he was laid to rest in a strikingly beautiful tomb called “The Four Elements”. The Cuartel de la Montaña is where Chavez launched his political career in February 1992 during an attempted military rebellion against a corrupt and murderous neo-liberal president. He failed at that attempt and went to prison, but his message and charisma reached millions, who joined his movement that later led to his election as president in 1998.  Chavez’s tomb site, “The Four Elements”, includes his casket resting on top of a beautifully sculpted lilypad on fresh water and clean earth. It sits in the open air with a burning eternal flame. Still to this day hundreds of Venezuelans visit the site, hoping for a chance to be close to their beloved president.

2---Chavez was an inspirational and charismatic leader who was able to push through progressive policies that benefited the majority of people.  Will the Bolivarian Revolution continue under current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro or has there been a shift in direction?

Eva Golinger--The Bolivarian Revolution is continuing with President Maduro, there has been no shift in direction. Despite winning the presidential election in April with a narrow margin, Maduro has not altered Chavez’s policies in any significant way, in fact, he is trying to consolidate them further. He did change many cabinet members, but this was viewed as a positive move, especially because he brought in a lot of younger, unorthodox people instead of sticking with those who had been shuffled around Chavez’s administration for years. He did keep many of Chavez’s people, because of course Maduro is one of them, but he brought in fresh blood to show he was willing to make some necessary changes. For example, he named a frequent critic of Chavez’s community-based policies, Reinaldo Iturriza, as Minister of Communes, which is a ministry dedicated to helping organized communities with resource management and project development. Iturriza himself was a grassroots organizer and he replaced a bureaucrat. Maduro has so far kept the economic policies of Chavez’s government, though he changed the cabinet members in charge of them. He has cracked down harder on government corruption and crime. Dozens of public officials have already been arrested for corruption and he militarized high crime areas in order to get violence and insecurity under control. So I would say he picked up where Chavez left off and accelerated.

3---Could you sum up some of Chavez's most important achievements as President?

Eva Golinger--Chavez’s achievements as President are vast and numerous. He transformed Venezuela from a dependent, cowardly nation with no national identity, mass poverty and stark apathy to a sovereign, independent and dignified country, full of national pride, cherishing its rich cultural diversity. He also reduced poverty by well over 50%, implemented successful, quality free universal healthcare and education programs and diversified the economy with the creation of new industries in the nation and thousands of new small business owners and cooperatives. One of his greatest achievements has been the collective awakening of consciousness in the country. Venezuela was so apathetic before Chavez became President, worse than the United States. Today it is a place where elections draw over 80% voluntary participation. Everyone talks about politics and issues of importance to the nation. Youth want to participate in the construction of their country, their future. Over the past few years the youngest members of Congress (National Assembly) have been elected in history, with legislators as young as 25 years old. Half of the members of Maduro’s new executive cabinet are under 45. There are new youth movements, student movements – both opposition and chavista – that are active and participating in political life. And there is no question that Chavez’s social policies and over 60% investment of the national budget annually in social programs made a massive difference in everyday Venezuelans’ lives. Today there is more consumer power, Venezuelans enjoy better nutrition, have more dignified homes and Chavez also propelled worker-friendly laws that guarantee a living wage (the highest minimum wage in Latin America) and strong workers’ benefits. There are many things he was unable to complete, but what he did achieve is extraordinary for a bit more than a decade in power, considering he also had to transform corrupt, inefficient and broken state institutions and face a US-backed opposition with immense economic power.

4---You have written extensively about US intelligence agencies and NGO covert activities in Venezuela. Do you see any sign that the meddling has decreased since Chavez died?

Eva Golinger--No. US intervention in Venezuela has progressively increased each year since Chavez was first elected in 1998. During the April 2002 coup d’etat against him, which was defeated by the people and loyal armed forces, the US was backing the opposition, but with moderate aid considering what they are doing today. Each year, funding for anti-Chavez groups has increased by millions, coming through USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the State Department, and other US-funded agencies, such as Freedom House, International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). In fact, Obama not only increased the funding to anti-Chavez groups, he made it even more official by openly including such funding in the annual Foreign Operations Budget. There is a special paragraph dedicated to funding for Venezuelan opposition groups, or as they call it, “democracy promotion”. I have extensively proven in my investigations that this funding has gone to finance destabilization and very undemocratic organizations and activities in Venezuela. We know from documents released by Wikileaks and more recently by Edward Snowden, that US espionage in Venezuela increased exponentially this year, as Chavez’s health worsened. The US threw a massive amount of economic and political power behind losing presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, and has been the only nation to refuse to officially recognize President Nicolas Maduro’s electoral victory in April. Washington will continue to back the opposition in hopes that Maduro’s term can be recalled in a referendum in three years, when he’s reached the halfway point of his six-year term and constitutionally can be held accountable in a recall referendum. The US is banking on achieving his ouster then, if not before through other undemocratic means. Several leading opposition members have been caught recently in plots to attempt a coup against Maduro, as well as plan his assassination. All of them frequently travel to Washington for “meetings”. The Venezuelan government also recently ended a dialogue established with Washington that began in January after offensive statements made by incoming US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. Maduro’s administration, like Chavez’s, longs to have a respectful relationship with the US government. But they will not stand for aggression, meddling, or otherwise interventionist behavior. The US seems unable to engage in a mature, respectful relationship with Venezuela.

5---Here's something that Barack Obama said in an interview with Univision when Chavez was on his deathbed. He said, "The most important thing is to remember that the future of Venezuela should be in the hands of the Venezuelan people. We've seen from Chávez in the past authoritarian policies, suppression of dissent."

Was there a reaction to Obama's comment in Venezuela?

Eva Golinger--Definitely there was a very strong reaction. First of all, the comments were viewed as completely disrespectful to the nation and government at a time when Chavez’s health was deteriorating.  They clearly indicated that the Obama administration is ignorant about Venezuela and has no concern for the massive, collective emotional difficulties millions in the country were experiencing due to Chavez’s failing health. President Chavez’s number one objective – which he achieved to a great extent – was transferring power to the people. Obama’s hypocrisy in such a statement overshadows his own failure to comprehend Venezuela’s reality. More people in Venezuela participate in political life than ever before, and many more than in the US (percentage-wise). In an era of mass espionage, selective assassinations, drones, secret prisons, grave human rights violations and other repressive policies led by the US, Obama should think twice about characterizing another nation’s government that he only knows about from talking points uninformed analysts provide him with. In sum, Venezuelans were outraged as Obama’s insensitive and disrespectful remarks, but they were not surprised. Those comments are typical of Washington’s hostile position towards Venezuela throughout the Chavez administration.

6---Why did Washington hate Chavez?

Eva Golinger--I suppose Washington hated Chavez for many reasons. Of course the oil is a primary source of Washington’s aggressive attitude towards Chavez. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves on the planet and before Hugo Chavez was elected, governments were subservient to US interests. In fact, Venezuela was on the verge of privatizing its oil industry, along with everything else in the country, right when Chavez was elected. So the fact that a head of state sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves – which the US needs to maintain its excessive consumer model in the long term – would not be subordinate to US agenda was maddening for Washington. Chavez not only reclaimed and transformed the oil industry to redistribute the wealth and ensure foreign corporations abided by the laws (paying taxes and royalties, for example), but he also nationalized other strategic resources in the country that the US had its hands in, such as gold, electricity and telecommunications. Clearly Chavez was a major thorn in Washington’s economic interests in the region. Once Chavez spearheaded the creation of Latin American integration and cooperation, that converged into organizations such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as PetroCaribe, Telesur (the region’s first television network) and many more initiatives, Washington quickly began to lose influence in the region. This also led to more hostility towards Chavez, since he was the major leader and driving force behind Latin American independence and sovereignty in the XXI century. Washington, and the Venezuelan elite, also couldn’t stand Chavez’s mannerisms and direct way of telling things like they are. He was afraid of nothing and no one and never stood down, he always remained firm and said what he believed, even if it wasn’t the diplomatically correct thing to say. And Washington hated him for bringing back the evil concept of socialism to today’s world. They tried to hard to rid the planet of anything remotely like communism in the XX century, so Chavez’s “Socialism of the XXI Century” was a slap in the face for old school Washington, which still holds the reigns in the US.

7---Would you like to add your personal thoughts about Chavez's passing?

Eva Golinger--Chavez’s death is impossible to accept. He was such a vibrant, motivating force, full of love and genuine affection for people and life. He had an extraordinary capacity of communication and could connect with anyone in a sincere embrace of humanity. He was a brilliant visionary and a maker of dreams. He helped people see the potential within themselves and realize our capabilities. He adored his country, its rich culture, music, diversity, and he truly gave every piece of himself to building a dignified, strong and beautiful Venezuela. I was one of the fortunate ones to be his close friend and share many exceptional moments with him. He had weaknesses and imperfections, like we all do, but his capacity to love and care about all people led him to overcome many difficult – almost impossible – obstacles. He really believed he would defeat cancer, and of course we all hoped he would. His passing leaves a deep emptiness and profound sadness for millions. His energy was so infinite, it’s hard to not feel it everywhere still, around us, leading and guiding the revolution he helped build. That’s why it’s so difficult to accept his leaving, because he is still so present in our lives, and of course in every inch of Venezuela. Chavez became Venezuela, la patria querida, and his legacy will continue to grow and flourish as Venezuela blossoms into its full potential. 

Eva Golinger, winner of the International Award for Journalism in Mexico (2009), named “La Novia de Venezuela” by President Hugo Chávez, is an Attorney and Writer from New York, living in Caracas, Venezuela since 2005 and author of the best-selling books, “The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela” (2006 Olive Branch Press), “Bush vs. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela” (2007, Monthly Review Press), “The Empire’s Web: Encyclopedia of Interventionism and Subversion”, “La Mirada del Imperio sobre el 4F: Los Documentos Desclasificados de Washington sobre la rebelión militar del 4 de febrero de 1992” and "La Agresión Permanente: USAID, NED y CIA". Since 2003, Eva, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and CUNY Law School in New York, has been investigating, analyzing and writing about US intervention in Venezuela using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain information about US Government efforts to undermine progressive movements in Latin America. Her first book, The Chávez Code, has been translated and published in 8 languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Farsi & Turkish) and is presently being made into a feature film.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. Whitney’s story on declining wages for working class Americans appears in the June issue of CounterPunch magazine. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.
 

 

Cindy Sheehan's book about Hugo Chavez and the 
Bolivarian Constitution
Click Image for Ordering Info 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Art as Revolution: Guest, Anthony Freda (Soapbox Podcast: July 28th, 2013)

"Missing Peace" by Anthony Freda

Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
28 July, 2013

Guest: Anthony Freda
www.AnthonyFreda.com

Cindy chats with revolutionary artist,
Anthony Freda, about his art, activism,
and political activism.

Anthony's art has been frequently featured on 
The Soapbox.

We will allow Anthony's art to speak loudly for itself.

Some examples:


 






CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE SHOW
 

I Left My Marbles in San Francisco: The Scandal of Federal Electoral Politricks

I Left My Marbles in San Francisco:

The Scandal of Federal Electoral Politricks

Cindy Sheehan

I Left My Marbles in San Francisco is an insider's view of the US political climate told with the honesty that Cindy Sheehan is famous for and humor that surprises everyone. 

Marbles is Cindy's account of her surprisingly successful run against Nancy Pelosi for Congress, her observations about the corrupt electoral process and her recent run for VP with comedian/actor/author/activist, Roseanne Barr.

The book is being formatted at this time and will be available to purchase soon.

Many people sponsored the writing of the book and will get the first autographed copies, fresh and hot off the press as soon as possible.

If you would like to pre-order your autographed copy, the cost is only $10 including autograph, shipping/handling.

 CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW FOR ORDERING INFO

Cindy Sheehan in campaign office circa 2008

 OR SEND A CHECK/MONEY ORDER

FOR $10 TO

CINDY SHEEHAN'S SOAPBOX, LLC

PO BOX 6264

VACAVILLE, CA 95696

 

**********************************

 

 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Indefatigable Peacemongers? (Soapbox Podcast, July 21, 2013)

Tour de Peace
Community Conference Call

Henry David Thoreau 

About one dozen peace mongers joined us this week on
the Tour de Peace Community Conference Call
to assess our recent journey and to discuss how we
can move ahead to build a movement to confront
Empire, not just tiny chunks of it (although that 
is also important).

We have formed a loose committee to talk about what we heard and where we are going and we are committed to lay the foundations
for an effective pro-peace and pro-environment movement.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE CALL!

CLICK IMAGE 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Walk in peace and beauty, Helen Thomas


"Israel should get the hell out of Palestine"
Helen Thomas, intrepid White House reporter, died at age 92.
Helen had to suffer for her integrity, so I really identified with her and I was so honored to have been able to interview her for 
Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
Read story HERE


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO SOAPBOX
INTERVIEW OF HELEN THOMAS! 

Prayer of Passage

Oh Goddess
There is great sadness
A cherished one has gone

Emptyness engulfs me
Loss languishes within
Help me bear this grief

Accompany their spirit
Comfort we who grieve
Let us rejoice in their life

May their essence be recorded
In the Great Book of Shadows
Renew our remembrance with joy

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Hide Errbody [sic]" Tour de Peace wrap-up by Cindy Sheehan



Tour de Peace begins on April 7th in Santa Monica

 The cross-country cycling leg of Tour de Peace ended on July 3rd with a very small protest in front of the White House, but, I must admit, it is taking me far longer than I expected to recover from the 90-day odyssey in quest of peace and justice.

Cindy is on "first-name basis" with DC police state


 I travel a lot and my life has been one protest or long action after the other since my son was killed; I even camped in a ditch in Crawford, Tx for one hot August. Why has the end of Tour de Peace caused me so much exhaustion and, let’s face it—mild depression? There are a few obvious answers, and some subtle ones.



First of all, I must face the fact that I am not a super-human. I am a middle-aged woman trapped in a rapidly degenerating skin bag, in slightly above average physical condition, who just rode her bike 3000 miles in all kinds of weather and terrain. That feat is one that I will marvel at and admire about myself forever, but one that did take its physical toll. Now, my impulse is to keep going “full-steam ahead,” but every fiber of my being is screaming out, “REST!” I am trying to compromise with myself by resting AND continuing to ride my bike—I have to, I have no car—and doing activities that I love, like swimming and walking.



Secondly, I think the mild emotional depression comes from the fact, that while the Tour exceeded many of my expectations, it woefully “deceeded” others. Although Tour de Peace was wonderfully hosted in a couple of dozen of communities across this nation with crowds ranging from 10 to 200, I was dismayed to find that there is very little anti-war sentiment out there besides the anti-drone work—which is important, but not comprehensive. By focusing on drones we forget about manned aircraft and there has been very little opposition to the US and its putrid allies arming and training the "rebels" in Syria. The violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan continues and the use of drones is just one part of the imperial project of world domination.



Most people we encountered are rightfully concerned about what will happen to Pfc. Bradley Manning (in fact, the Tour went tohis court martial in Ft. Meade several times to support him), but not up in righteous arms about what he revealed. The Edward Snowden revelation happened at the end of our Tour, but there was no resulting storming (used metaphorically) of the NSA or the White House?  How do we get stuck on the cause célébre, but not the cause?



Also, during the final weeks of the Tour, Obama was in Europe and Africa on his Tour de War—with very little commentary on how AfriComm is digging it’s vicious hooks into that continent to exploit and steal its vast stores of oil and other precious natural resources. In fact, Obama joined the last undemocratically elected CEO of USA, Inc, in Tanzania and good ol’ George W. thinks Obama is doing a fine job. Now, there’s an endorsement for the Obama lovers, eh? Anyway, I digress.



I think part of my depressions stems from the fact that I am trying to figure out how to be a “peace” activist when there seems so little energy to forcefully and with integrity confront the fact that The Empire grinds on and over people no matter who is the president?



I know that “peace” encompasses so many important issues, such as economic justice, but how can we advocate for that when The Empire spends trillions of dollars per year maintaining said Empire?



I realize that “peace” also encompasses criminal justice, but how can we even begin to address that issue here, when the US wages these racist wars for Empire all over the globe? After the recent Zimmerman verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, the lead Executioner himself, Obama, appealed for “calm” reminding everyone that the US is a “nation of laws.” It’s so nice to hear Obama say that, since he routinely breaks the law by murdering people abroad with his hellfire missiles and spying on all of us (to name two of his crimes)—now his fan club can look at themselves in the mirror after they hear their abusive father tell them, “do as I say, not as I do, I know what’s best for you.” It must all be true because Obama is the smart one and he can pronounce “nuclear.”



I cannot say that I am even close to coming to a conclusion in my struggle for a relevant path to be on. I would like to circle my wagons and start growing my own food and producing my own energy, but I have a very deep seated revulsion to the fact that the Empire I live in is murdering innocent people and stealing their land and natural resources. I want to be involved in a movement of people who fight against the same thing, but dozens does not a movement make.



I said in the beginning that this leg of Tour de Peace ended in front of the White House with a small protest—by “small” I mean less than 20 people. I had hoped that some of the large antiwar orgs would mobilize some people and I realize it was a Wednesday (when the buildings aren’t actually empty in DC)—but that “turn out” was obviously a "turn down" and it actually may have demoralized me more than any recent event, or non-event, I guess. The only thing that keeps the hope flickering in me is that people joined us West Coasters from from upstate Pennsylvania, New York, Iowa, Florida, and New Jersey to be there.



One of our goals when we reached WashedUp, DeCeit was to hang the banner on the White House fence that we liberated from the fence at 29 Palms Marine Base and we did it. I was surprised that we got it back with the mild admonishment to “don’t do that again.” The sign motivates the title of this peace because it read, "Hide your daughters. Hide your wife. Hide errbody [sic]. The 2/7 is back in town." We on the tour were rightfully outraged and appalled by that banner and that's why we tore it down. Being that the Obama family fits the threat implied in the sign (by the 2/7 Marines), we decided to bring it to DeCeit with us to show Obama what his troops do in the field and at home. 

Cindy and Bob Witanek (Tour de Peace, New Jersey) with banner before hanging on the fence



I am going to write a book about the experience, (which was absolutely magnificent, no matter how letdown and exhausted I seem right now), called: 2013, A Bike Odyssey: Tales from Tour de Peace, and I am anxious to get started after I finish the book that’s been on the burner for awhile now, I Left My Marbles in San Francisco (almost finished, by the way). We are also working with the strong core of people who supported the Tour to keep the small, but mighty, energy going. Riding bikes is good for peace because it’s good for the environment and our own health. Gotta love that!

I will be traveling back to the DeCeit area for a trial with the rest of the CIA 6. We all were arrested on June 29th at the CIA protesting its participation in the US drone program and we decided to fight the charges. More info on that as it becomes available! 


Again, a huge THANKS to everyone who supported Tour de Peace along the way! I will be okay and soon, I always am! 







Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tour de Peace Community Conference Call: Where do we go from here? Tuesday, July 16th 6pm (PACIFIC)



Tour de Peace
Where do we go from here?

Community Conference Call
(Recorded for Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox)

When: Tuesday, July16

Time: 6pm to 7pm (PACIFIC)
7pm to 8pm (MOUNTAIN)
8pm to 9pm (CENTRAL)
9pm to 10pm (EASTERN)

CALL IN NUMBER:
218 632 0995

CODE:
73223 (PEACE on the dial)

*6 TO MUTE YOUR PHONE

EMAIL CINDY WITH ANY QUESTIONS, 
OR IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE
A COMMENT:

CINDYSHEEHANSSOAPBOX@GMAIL.COM 

Respect Existence or Expect Resistance (Soapbox Podcast: 7/7/13)

Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
July 7, 2013

On this week's Soapbox, Cindy chats
with two young men who have
done great things, achieved great victories and
are still struggling against the status quo.


Brendan Mauslaskas Dunn 
was a member of
Port Militarization Resistance in Olympia, WA
which had great success stopping weapons of war 
from being shipped out of the ports that were targeted...now, 
he and his colleagues are fighting a legal battle
against the military and police state.

Read more about it here:


 
Ethan McCord
 
That's Ethan carrying the young Iraqi Girl
 
Then Cindy welcomes Ethan McCord back to the Soapbox.
 
Ethan is seen rescuing Iraqi children in the Collateral Murder
video that was released by Wikileaks in 2010.
 
Ethan has some extraordinarily good news recently and he
returns to the Soapbox to share it with our listeners.
 
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE SHOW
 
 

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