Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Berkeley City Council: Good News for Bradley Manning; Not So Much for Gitmo Detainees

By Ellen Cushing
Wed, Feb 16, 2011 at 3:21 AM

In a marathon meeting Tuesday night, Berkeley's City Council split on two controversial resolutions, unanimously approving a measure in support of alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning, but narrowly voting down one that would invite former Guantanamo detainees to settle in the city.

Neither measure — both of which have drawn national attention, not to mention making Berkeley quite a few friends at Fox News and its ilk — was even discussed before the four-hour mark, but when they were, it was about as much of a nail-biter as a city council meeting can be.

A slightly revised version of the Manning measure, which still called for an end to the alleged mistreatment of the Army private but broadened the language to clarify support for all human rights, not just Manning's, passed unanimously. (That version was itself a revised edition: the original, which was introduced in December, called Manning a "hero," but was since watered down.)

The second measure — which called for an end to the US's policy disallowing Guantamo detainees from living in the United States and invited two unspecifiied detainees (who'd been cleared of wrongdoing) to settle in the city —didn't fare so well, however. After another long public comment session, at which all but one person expressed unequivocal support for the measure, Councilmember Linda Maio, with three minutes left on the clock, introduced a substitute that essentially acknowledged the incompatibility between Berkeley's proposed measure and the US government's stance and amended the measure to say that the council would re-examine the matter when it was possible to take action under federal law.

After the meeting, Maio told The Express that she proposed the substitute precisely because of the outsize scrutiny the city and the council has been getting. "I wanted the media to get a message from Berkeley that wasn't a one-liner," she said.

Regardless, Maio's substitute failed, and the original measure was then put to a vote. It was defeated — four yeses, four abstentions, and one no — in the very last minute of the meeting.

Just another day at the rodeo, y'all.

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