September 6 was a national day of action for Bradley Manning. Some larger cities hosted civil disobedience arrests for trespassing via sit-in. The focus of the actions were mostly Obama campaign headquarters, though the Democratic Party headquarters in Washington, DC was the location of a tense letter delivery to president Barack Obama. A full report of the delivery of the letter to the national office is available here.
The letter being delivered to the party headquarters was signed by eighty-three individuals representing a variety of organizations. Included in the list of signers is Art Brennan, a veteran and former New Hampshire district court judge who scheduled his own action to occur at the Concord Obama campaign office on September 6. He had notified the office that he would be reading his letter aloud and delivering a copy for Mr. Obama. When Mr. Brennan arrived with a small group from Veterans for Peace and NH Peace Action, the doors were locked and the lights were off.
Art Brennan then hung a home made banner outside of the office reading, “Free Manning for America”. He read a letter that he had personally composed to Barack Obama. The text of the letter is below the embedded video of its reading.
I voted for you, President Obama, and I went to your inauguration. Like most US voters, I hoped for change and believed your promises. I thank you for your positive accomplishments toward equality for all. But your negative acts, including the NDAA, the extrajudicial killing of American citizens, your attempt to keep US soldiers in Iraq, the kill lists, the drone attacks, and the continuing war in Afghanistan, have been bone-chilling for Americans who believe in peace and freedom. You can’t be blamed for all of our nation’s problems or for failing to solve them in four years. Nevertheless, it is a fact that the United States of America is locked in a dangerous stall of violence and economic inequality. The political system must be changed. But President Obama, you have thrived in this system and you share a negative trait with other thriving US politicians — you are a master at intellectual dishonesty.
Indeed, one of your most breathtaking personal characteristics is the breadth of your intellectual dishonesty. Unfortunately, you have given us many dangerous examples, but I believe the contrast between your lenient treatment of the suspected torturers and liars of the Bush Administration, versus your petty cruelty to Private Bradley Manning, a young American soldier, is one really dramatic example.
In January of 2009, after you promised there would be no prosecution for war crimes by CIA interrogators who were “just following orders,” you signalled publicly that you did not intend to enforce the law and that there would be no accountability. You said, “I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward… My orientation is going to be to move forward.” Just last week, the final Department of Justice investigation of torture by the Bush Administration was dropped without a single person being charged with anything: “the department (Department of Justice) has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.” I wonder what an unbiased judge and jury would have decided?
In marked contrast, your vigorous pursuit of Private Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking confidential evidence of US war crimes, belies your sincerity about the law and about “moving forward.” When you were asked about the allegations that Bradley Manning leaked evidence of US war crimes, you made no mention of “looking forward,” instead you responded “We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make decisions about how the laws operate. He (Bradley Manning) broke the law!”
After many months in the prison at Quantico, public pressure forced you to move Manning to the Army prison at Leavenworth and decent living conditions. But at Quantico, Manning spent months in a state of sensory deprivation, without sleep, in virtual solitary confinement, under humiliating conditions — and you knew it. You cast a blind eye on the abuse of a man who has been convicted of nothing. In 2009, you consciously decided not to apply the law to the evidence of crimes by the Bush Administration. You gave those miscreants a virtual pardon. President Obama, please look to your conscience, cast aside your intellectual dishonesty, and do the right thing pardon Private Bradley Manning.
After the letter was read, phone banking volunteers began arriving at the office. Suddenly from inside, a man unlocked the door to allow one person in. When Brennan approached the open door and said, “Hello, we’d like to come in,” the worker said “sorry,” then closed and locked the door. It was another few minutes before a group arrived looking for tickets to the president’s upcoming appearance on the seacoast. This time, a woman came to the door and quickly closed it as soon as she was done speaking with the ticket seeker. Some of the group knocked on the door for a few minutes before another volunteer arrived. After a short conversation with the staffer, who explained that she was not authorized to accept the letter, the door was left open, and the group went in.
The staffer who left the door open did not wish to respond to requests to accept the letter. Volunteers present agreed with protesters, “I think you should take the letter.” The staffer responded, “We’ve, we’ve been; we can’t.” It had been suggested that the national campaign had ordered local offices not to accept any communications from supporters of the imprisoned Bradley Manning.
Art then walked farther into the office and asked a man he found (whom had closed the door on him earlier) if he would accept the letter. The man said, “Sure.” After a brief dialogue, the protesters left the office. The man saw everyone out of the door, and then closed it behind them.
This article originally published at freeconcord.org.