For Immediate Release
Chicagoans Respond to "Trial of the Century," Bradley Manning Verdict & Sentencing
While rejecting ridiculous "Aiding the Enemy" charge, with other charges, court escalates Obama administration's war on civil liberties and public's right to know
WASHINGTON - At 5 PM today at Federal Plaza, Adams & Dearborn Streets, Chicagoans will join people around the world in expressing their anger at the harsh "justice" being meted out to Pvt. Bradley Manning in a Ft. Meade, MD military courtroom.
While yesterday Judge Denise Lind rejected the prosecution's attempt to treat sharing secret government information with the media as "treason" – something every administration in modern history themselves have done – by upholding five espionage charge, she extended the Obama administration's streak of prosecuting more whistle-blowers than all previous U.S. administrations in history combined.
After his February 28th admission to many of the government's charges on the grounds that he was exposing far greater government crimes, and yesterday's disposal of the government's "Aiding the Enemy" charge, today's sentencing is now the main event. With a maximum of possible of 360 years still on the table, Judge Lind could do through the back door what the prosecution failed to do with the "Aiding the Enemy" charge.
The verdict additionally poses grave repercussions for freedom of expression and freedom of the press in the United States.
"The WikiLeaks cables have been credited with hastening the end of the war in Iraq and as well of providing inspiration for numerous democratic uprisings in the Arab World. Countless news organizations have used the documents released by Manning," said Occupy Chicago activist Michael Ehrenreich.
"What this case really highlights is the utter hypocrisy of the U.S. state in the face of whistle-blowers and independent journalism," said journalist Jeremy Scahill.
We're in a moment when journalism is being criminalized by this administration, by the Justice Department, where the Espionage Act is being used, where reporters are having their phone records seized. We're all paying attention to the case of Jim Risen of the New York Times who has been ordered now to testify against one of his sources, and I think that the Manning case really dramatizes that people who blow the whistle, and who are participates in or are observers to what they believe are war crimes, when they blow the whistle on it, they are going to face either death or life in prison. But those who are sort of stenographers for the powerful get invited to do interviews with the President or play super-soaker fight on Joe Biden's lawn. I think it's a devastating commentary that Bradley Manning may got to prison for many many years, if not his entire life, while you have legitimate war criminals walking around free, who built up a torture apparatus under the Bush administration, and this administration refuses to prosecute the torturers who operated with impunity for the eight years of the Bush era.
Besides the infamous "collateral murder" video which, until Manning leaked it, the Obama administration successfully covered up despite legal action by Reuters, Manning is credited with a number of other human rights accomplishments:
*** Publicizing the invading governments' determination to keep troops in Iraq, despite their public pronouncements. The leak embarrassed the al-Maliki government into insisting that foreign troops leave;
*** Helping spur the “Arab Spring” of rebellions across North Africa, according to World Affairs Journal, by exposing the alliances of the Bush and Obama administrations with dictators and oligarchies in the region;
*** Showing that the Obama administration knew of the impending coup against Honduras's elected government  in 2009, yet did nothing to stop it, let alone the wave of violence initiated by the coup regime once it took over.
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/306836339461431/
FRIENDS: Now More Than Ever
Independent journalism has become the last firewall against government and corporate lies. Yet, with frightening regularity, independent media sources are losing funding, closing down or being blacked out by Google and Facebook. Never before has independent media been more endangered. If you believe in Common Dreams, if you believe in people-powered independent media, please support us now and help us fight—with truths—against the lies that would smother our democracy. Please help keep Common Dreams alive and growing. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder