‘Byron Bay to Bradley’ was held last week at the Community Centre as part of the Global Days of Actions. It was in solidarity with US Army Private Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking the WikiLeaks ‘Collateral Murder’ video.
It made international headlines in April – though it was filmed in 2007 – and depicts three airstrikes from a US Apache helicopter in New Baghdad. At least eleven people were killed in the airstrikes, including two journalists working for Reuters. The US army has kept Manning in isolation since his arrest on May 29, according to www.bradleymanning.org, and he needs at least $50,000 to defend himself. He is facing 52 years imprisonment and is under suicide watch.
Leaking footage of US soldiers wilfully killing unarmed civilians is more than a military PR nightmare – it highlights humanity’s futile endeavours with wars that are invariably over religion, sovereignty, resources and ideology. US national security was not threatened by this action, however The New York Times reported that Manning is also accused
of leaking over 240,000 classified intelligence reports and diplomatic cables involving the war in Afghanistan. That is a threat to US national security, and most likely the reason he will be jailed for most of his life. WikiLeaks defended disclosure of the material, saying transparency is essential to democracy.
‘The Taliban have already stated they are reading the documents, looking for names and will go and kill any Afghan listed as being an informant or connected to those who worked with/for NATO,’ a forum contributor to Manning’s site says. ‘With this security leak, informants now see that they are not safe and fewer – or perhaps none – will be willing to come out with information.’ So is Manning hero or villain?
Arguably one of the images that was instrumental in changing the American public’s views on the Vietnam War was of the execution of a Viet Cong guerrilla by South Vietnam’s national police chief. Mainstream media (NBC and AP) captured that moment in 1968, and the comparison with Manning’s helicopter footage is evident.
New technologies have the ability to spread over larger areas of population than ever before. It can be dangerous and is a powerful tool, and one that should always be used with extreme care so it doesn’t endanger lives.
Anything that ends wars, un-winnable or not, is in humankind’s ultimate interest. It’s probably the reason the mothership hasn’t arrived from outer space yet.
As George Carlin said, ‘we are but monkeys with baseball caps and machine guns.’