The recent reports of secret NSA surveillance reveal the important role the whistleblowers play in uncovering government wrongdoing. Edward Snowden is the latest whistleblower to face the Obama administration’s wrath for uncovering executive branch criminality. But another victim of the administration’s War on Whistleblowers is Private Bradley Manning. Manning currently faces charges of “aiding the enemy,” and was tortured in solitary confinement for months on end, all for releasing documents to WikiLeaks.
While there is no evidence that anyone was harmed by these leaks, the good they have done is enormous. Manning exposed a litany of US war crimes, most famously US troops shooting innocent civilians in the Collateral Murder video. Manning’s disclosures helped end the US occupation of Iraq by revealing “evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence.” The leaks also played an important role in helping start the Arab Spring.
But not everyone appreciates Manning’s courageous stand for truth, justice, peace, and liberty. Lisa Williams, president of the board of San Francisco Pride, said that “even the hint of support” for Manning’s actions “will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride.” This even though Manning is a courageous member of the LGBT community, and has been praised by famed gay rights activist Lt. Dan Choi.
The San Francisco Pride Festival is this weekend, and freedom fighters across the country are uniting to show far more than a “hint” of support. The Bradley Manning Freedom Torch Parade began this weekend in San Francisco, and will feature solidarity events across the US. We at the Center for a Stateless Society were among the first organizations to sponsor this effort to defend whistleblowers. If there is an event near you, I urge you to participate. If not, I suggest you organize one.
Whistleblowers like Manning risk their lives and liberty to shine a light on abusive state power. It’s time for us to stand in solidarity with them.