Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No Hero Status for Wiki Whistleblower

By Judith Scherr
Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 10:11 AM

Fox News and the right-wing blogosphere won't be bashing Berkeley again anytime soon because the city has decided to not honor alleged Wikileaks whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning as a hero. Manning is imprisoned for allegedly leaking to Wikileaks hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including a video depicting an Army helicopter attack on Baghdad that killed 11 civilians.

In turning down the resolution, 8-0 with one abstention, authored by the Peace and Justice Commission to "support and free Pfc. Bradley Manning and proclaim him a hero," several council members pointed out that Manning never admitted to leaking the documents and hero status could even hurt his efforts to get out of jail. The council tabled the resolution, leaving the option of coming back to address a rewritten resolution, a new version that Councilmember Linda Maio said could not be used as "fodder for a media message."

The draft resolution brought dozens of supporters to the council chambers — and a few detractors. Danny Gonzalez, with Move America Forward — one of the organizers of large rallies against Berkeley's widely-publicized opposition to the downtown Marine Recruiting Station a couple of years ago — presented the council with two boxes of what he said were 4,600 petitions opposing the resolution, which he characterized as "calling this traitor Bradley Manning a hero."

But Jeff Patterson, an anti-war veteran with Courage to Resist, which has collected $100,000 towards Manning's defense, told the council: "We simply can't wait for Bradley to be convicted and sentenced to a life in prison."


When the question came to the council, a number of council members praised the action of whoever leaked the documents. Council member Kriss Worthington contrasted the whistleblower — a legal obligation under international law, he said — to those who "illegally" got us into the Iraq war. But Worthington and other council colleagues didn't support the resolution because Manning has not said that he leaked the documents.

Council members Susan Wengraf and Gordon Wozniak opposed the resolution because they said the discussion was a distraction from the hard business of governing a city.

Mayor Tom Bates, however, said the council was working hard at addressing local issues and that the resolution had triggered an important debate locally and worldwide over the leaked documents. "That's a very positive thing in itself," he said.

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