When Army Private Bradley Manning sent the website WikiLeaks video of soldiers in Iraq allegedly gunning down civilians, including two employees of the news agency Reuters, the government arrested him for violating Army policy. Currently held on a military base at Quantico, Manning is also widely thought to be the source of 90,000 pages of additional classified documents obtained by the anti-war website.
But Seattle Veterans for Peace President Gerry Condon calls the soldier a hero and is organizing a rally outside Ft. Lewis tomorrow calling for the release of the whistle-blower. "We will literally be blowing whistles at the rally tomorrow," he says.Veterans for Peace has 120 chapters across the U.S. Condon himself enlisted in the Army in 1967 but later refused to go to Vietnam and spent six years avoiding arrest in Sweden and Canada.
The Manning video was especially poignant, Condon says, not just because it exposes a possible war crime but shows Americans "that's the nature of the war."
WikiLeaks researcher and Seattleite Jacob Appelbaum was recently detained by federal agents but hasn't faced any charges.
Condon, who is one of the organizers of the online effort to muster support (and legal defense money) for Manning, says doing everything online made it easy to put together a weekend of events supporting the soldier in cities across the country.
The local event starts at the Freedom Bridge outside Ft. Lewis at 2 p.m.