Activist defends WikiLeaks whistleblower Manning

Emma Cape is a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network. (Photo courtesy of Seiichi Villalona)

By Mark Marsella
Correspondent

Students interested in the fate of alleged WikiLeaks “whistleblower” Bradley Manning had the chance to meet with Emma Cape, a staff member of the Bradley Manning Support Network, on Tuesday, Sept. 20 in the Brower Student Center.

The purpose of “Free Bradley Manning: A Talk with Emma Cape,” organized by the Progressive Student Alliance, was to hear Manning’s story and learn why the Bradley Manning Support Network believes he was wrongly imprisoned.

Mark Azic, senior math and economics double major and PSA vice president, had learned that Cape would be in the area and jumped at the chance to bring her to campus.

“I feel strongly about the issue and what it pertains to on a larger scale: freedom of information,” Azic said.

Manning, a former soldier who served in Iraq, was arrested in May last year for leaking classified information to the website WikiLeaks. Included in this information was the widely circulated “Collateral Murder” video of a U.S. Apache helicopter firing upon and killing 11 Iraqi civilians, two of whom were Reuters photographers holding cameras that were mistaken for weapons.

After Manning’s arrest, he was held in solitary confinement — a treatment Cape argues is unnecessarily harsh for a detainee awaiting a trial — and is currently charged with “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense, and 21 other charges.

Cape spent the session showing a PowerPoint presentation to the group while presenting the facts of Manning’s alleged crimes, arrest and imprisonment, as well as the nature of the sensitive information he leaked. The hotly debated incident brings up the issue of the public’s right to information, and Cape, along with the Bradley Manning Support Network, questions whether or not Manning did anything wrong in the first place by giving the information to the public.

“Who is the ‘enemy’ that he was allegedly aiding?” Cape asked during her presentation. “How was he aiding them? There have been no consequences reported as a result of Manning’s actions.”

Students who organized the meeting agreed with what Cape had to say.

“Bradley Manning being held in solitary confinement just for releasing information is unethical and probably illegal,” said PSA President George Boff, senior psychology and political science double major. “I’m interested (in Manning’s story) because I’m pro-WikiLeaks, so I’m pro-information … WikiLeaks has obviously furthered the ability for normal people to access information they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.”

Many students who attended the event said they believed that Manning’s imprisonment is unethical and his charges groundless. Many also noted how impressed they were with Cape’s presentation.

Sarah Walsh, senior deaf education and history double major, said she knew little about the story before attending the event.

“But I do think it’s important,” she said. “I think it’s wrong that he’s being detained.”

Cape believes strongly in educating college students about Manning’s story and encouraged those who attended to get involved.

She explained that the Bradley Manning Support Network is planning many events before Manning’s first hearing, emphasizing “creative actions” such as flash mobs and demonstrations in Washington, D.C.

“Our official goal is to get him acquitted of all charges,” she said.