Whistleblowing is Not a Crime

by Tommi Avicolli-Mecca‚ 25 August 2010

I’m old enough to remember when Daniel Ellsberg blew the whistle on the lies of the Johnson administration about the Vietnam War and became an instant poster child for the antiwar movement. Ellsberg’s “Pentagon Papers,” which included top-secret documents he had access to as an employee at the RAND Corporation (a military think-tank), revealed that then-President Lyndon Johnson knew that the war could not be won and that many more lives would be needlessly sacrificed.

Bradley Manning displays a self-made LGBTQ equality poster

Bradley Manning displays a self-made LGBTQ equality poster

Now, another alleged  whistleblower has become a poster child for the antiwar movement. He is Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old private in the U.S. Army who stands accused of amassing the largest unauthorized pile of military classified info ever, some of it already posted on WikiLeaks, a website for whistleblowers. Manning, a former intelligence analyst in Baghdad, is also reputed to be gay and came out on Facebook against the military’s ridiculous Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy.

Manning’s allegedly leaked material includes a disturbing video of an Apache helicopter firing on 11 men, among them a Reuters news photographer and his driver, all of whom died, none of whom had any bombs or other weapons. Two children were also wounded in that attack. One crew member callously quips afterwards, “Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards.” The 2007 video is called “Collateral Murder”.

Formally charged by the military, Manning now faces a court martial and a possible 52 years in prison. The soldiers who murdered the 11 innocent people in the video are facing no charges.

At a recent rally in support of Manning, peace demonstrators shouted “Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime.” The slogan also appears on buttons and posters produced by Courage to Resist, a group based in Oakland that is coordinating with the Bradley Manning Support Network to raise money to hire an attorney to defend Manning. Documentary maker Michael Moore (director of “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “SiCKO”, among many others) has given $5,000.

Project Director Jeff Paterson told AP: “I think we have an imperative to support those people who’ve seen the horrors of battle and want to share that reality with the American people.”

I couldn’t agree more. But that support needs to come from the queer community as well.

Already, right-wingers are using the fact that Manning is gay as a way to discredit him and reinforce their opposition to eliminating DADT. One conservative “news” source (One News Now) has characterized Manning as “an open homosexual who apparently held a grudge against the U.S. military for its law excluding homosexual military service.” The statement has no basis in reality.

The same article asserts that Manning “is not only openly homosexual but also considering a sex change.” As if being transsexual is worse than being gay.

LGBT community leaders should speak out in favor of Manning and denounce the obvious homophobia and transphobia of these right-wingers.

They should join the growing list of supporters of a brave man who is helping to show the world what’s really going on in war zones with embedded reporters who long ago lost any sense of what it means to be journalists. Even when their fellow reporters are gunned down in cold blood because a camera is mistaken as a bomb.

Queers should support Manning not only because he’s gay and blowing the whistle is the right thing to do, but also because we can’t condone the atrocities being perpetrated in all of our names.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca is co-editor of Avanti Popolo: Italians Sailing Beyond Columbus, and editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation, which was nominated for both an American Library Association and a Lambda Literary award. His website is www.avicollimecca.com.

9 thoughts on “Whistleblowing is Not a Crime

  1. The first time I read or heard about PVT Manning’s unfortunate situation, I tought of him as a true hero, because when some one enlists, he/she swears to uphold the Constitution. Not the generals, not the president, but the Constitution and from where I sit, that means that law and order trump political agendas or special interests, but later on I also read that his motives were not that pure, but that his sexuality was the real motive and that cheapened his stand. That said, I’m also against him being jailed. He, if any thing, should be given a letter of reprimand. It’s unbelievable to see some one in jail and our war criminals let go free. Something is definite rotten in today’s America and cases like this one that reminds me that the slippery slope that America is embarked on is not where we should be heading. Democracy is best in the worst of times. Let’s bring back the Constitution.

  2. Dear Mike Gogulski,
    Thank you for your heroic efforts.
    Are you in Slovakia for security from the
    Pentagon’s Perpetual War Machine?
    (or ChristMass/Channukah?
    Are there downloadable POSTERS for rallies?
    I am sending out an appeal for $ to
    Members (1600+)on behalf of Bradley Manning.

    • Thank you, Bill. I don’t feel heroic, just gratified that I’m part of a big group of people doing something that desperately needs doing.

      I’m in Slovakia because I live living here. More information about that can be found, easily, by googling my name. I try not to mix my other politics with the work I do toward Bradley Manning’s cause.

  3. More people should support PVT Manning. I am surprised that money has to be raised to find him a lawyer, certainly there must be at least one lawyer in the US with a conscience!
    As for the fact that they are brining in claim of him doing it because he is “GAY”, that truly means they have nothing against him and only trying to make him look/sound less heroic. Any person, news reporter, judge that brings claims against him for his sexuality, is not looking at the facts. From what I have read, the US should not allow him to be locked up or stand trial.
    I have read the news reports and this article, and from what I can gather is that he leaked information to news agencies, therefore he did not leak info to the enemy. If the news reporters have leaked the info, they should stand trial to.
    I would like to hear the President of the US comment on PVT Manning’s ordeal.

  4. I just watched a video of private life of Braley, and knonw more about him.
    Though he was rebel in his early age, he became a real man now, the hero for fighting, Equality, Freedom, gay and lesbian rights.
    Just hold on, man, the weight of the world will you the strength to! ;)

  5. Why do people need to judge a man not by his actions, which definitely caused by patriotic feelings, but by his personal qualities, such as sexual orientation? Yes, some of LGBT people support Manning because he stands against DADT policy. But when others say “Oh, he’s just a f**, why do we need to hear about him?”, I start to think that there’s something wrong with people if they have such pity reason to dislike.

  6. America has fallen off the wagon of moral values and has devalued those “American values” than ever before. Nixon was forced to resign for obstruction of justice, now not ever war crimes register on our moral radars and to add salt to injury, those who try to defend are prosecuted like terrorist, when in reality should be given medals and promotions, while at the same time, our war crminals are allowed to roam free and collecting socialist for life pensions. And to make matters worse, we torture those who defend this frail democracy of ours. Let Manning go, let Julian Assange go and America the beautiful will thank you for. We need more liberty, not less, we need more transparency, no darkness, we need more democracy, no tyranny.

  7. I’ve had the privilege of hearing Daniel Ellsberg speak on the Bradley Manning case in Berkeley and hope to interest more people in it where I live; will talk about this tomorrow at a ‘Write for Rights’ in the Unitarian-Universalist Church in NOrth Hatley.

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