Malachy Kilbride is a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network

A group of about 20 local DC area people, who are affiliated with the Bradley Manning Support Network,arrived at the DNC headquarters to meet with a representative of the Obama 2012 campaign to deliver our letter with our concerns for Bradley Manning (see below).

We were met at the main entrance of the DNC by security who refused entrance to about 4 people from the group who wanted to go inside and deliver our letter and to request that it be faxed to President Obama. The security guards told us to get off the front steps as were on private property. We explained that we were there on business. They refused us entry. We said we would not leave. Police were called. US Capitol Police showed up in four police cars and one police wagon. We talked with the police and explained were there with important business we needed to engage the campaign with and President Obama. After a while the US Capitol Police all left presumably because they didn’t want to get involved, probably telling the security guards that it wasn’t their jurisdiction and that we hadn’t broken any laws.

Police Arrive to confront Bradley Manning supporters

A little while later a representative from the DNC came out listened and spoke with us. He agreed to take the letter inside to his superiors. I asked who his superior is and he told me it is a secret. He went inside. He told us to wait and we did. The security guard again demanded we leave the main entrance but we still refused. A DC Metropolitan Police squad car arrived with one police officer. He asked us to leave and we refused explaining that we had just had meeting and were told to wait. A little while later the DNC representative returned, said he had scanned the letter, and was awaiting word from his secret superior if he could fax it on to President Obama.

Text of letter:

September 6, 2012

President Barack Obama, The White House, Washington , D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As members of peace and justice organizations opposed to your continuation of the Bush administration’s failed wars, we are writing to urge you to do the right thing on behalf of Private First Class Bradley Manning. As you know he has been imprisoned and, at times, tortured during his incarceration. It is alleged he leaked documents to Wikileaks and possibly other material, including a video of U.S. soldiers committing war crimes in Iraq . It is ironic that none of the soldiers who killed unarmed Iraqi civilians have been charged with a crime. But Pfc. Manning is charged and accused of releasing documents which were embarrassing to the U.S. government, as they showed diplomatic and military support for a number of dictatorships in the Middle East .

It is very important that you retract your statement made at a fundraiser in April 2011, regarding PFC Manning’s guilt. It was astonishing to hear you say, “He broke the law.” How can Pfc. Manning receive a fair trial when his commander-and-chief convicts him prior to a court martial?

As you know, for the first eleven months of his detention, Pfc. Manning was held in solitary isolation. He was not allowed regular exercise or sunlight, and was even forced to stand at attention naked. UN Chief Investigator on Torture Juan Mendez has declared these conditions “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Recently, Pfc. Manning’s defense revealed they have discovered emails which show orders to hold him in these inhuman conditions came from a three-star general who ignored the warnings of brig psychologists, and was likely acting with political motive.

Though he’s yet to be convicted of any crime, PFC Manning has already been severely punished. If for no other reason, you could pardon him of all charges. This would call attention to the need for respecting the international human rights of all prisoners.

There was no harm done by the release of the Wikileaks documents. In fact, the documents helped ignite the Arab Spring.

And it can be argued that the document release played a part in bringing an end to the Iraq War. During the 2008 campaign, a majority of citizens believed that U.S. forces should be withdrawn from Iraq . Many people voted for you because they believed that you would end the war.

Unfortunately, you sought to keep troops in Iraq past the originally planned 2011 deadline. Documents allegedly released by PFC Manning helped U.S. citizens understand why the war had not ended sooner. These reasons included a failure of the command to adequately discipline soldiers who would discredit the U.S. military in the eyes of the world by wrongfully killing civilians.

Bradley Manning has a conscience. Words attributed to him in May 2010 suggest he acted because he wanted people to see the truth because without information, you cannot make informed decisions. You made a similar statement in May 2011: In the 21st century, information is power; the truth cannot be hidden; and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens. We now ask that you honor those words by freeing American truth-teller Bradley Manning.

Photos by Ted Madjosz