Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission still wants to bestow hero label on WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning

Caroline May | Reporter

Though the Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to indefinitely delay a resolution submitted by the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission (PJC) calling for the release of alleged WikiLeaks leaker Private Bradley Manning from military prison and proclaiming him to be a hero, the PJC says the resolution was still a success because it kept Manning’s name in the news.

Robert Meola, PJC commissioner and author of the Manning hero resolution, told The Daily Caller that the publicity generated by the resolution was a victory in and of itself.

“It has gotten people talking about Bradley Manning and Wikileaks and the right to this information,” Meola explained. “It’s created a very good public debate, both in the town and media. We had international media here, Canadian Broadcasting, Japan TV, everybody was very excited about the whole thing, so the fact that people are discussing it is a good thing for Manning and democracy.”

The city council put off consideration of the motion citing concerns that it was premature to proclaim Manning a hero as he has yet to actually admit to the allegations that he is the leaker. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Councilman Kriss Worthington believed whoever leaked the information was a hero, however.

“I think this should come back to us if he actually says that he did it,” said Worthington.

The chairperson of the PJC, Wendy Kenin, said that even though they did not settle on a resolution specifically about Manning, it is undeniable that the Berkeley City Council sees whoever disclosed the information as a hero.

“The majority of the council members clearly expressed appreciation for whoever leaked these documents. So I know the council is not afraid to take a position and they realize they are not on the defensive at this point,” Kenin told TheDC.

Phoebe Sorgen, the longest serving commissioner on the PJC, said that while she would have liked to see the city council be more aggressive, she understands why the city council took this more cautious approach.

“On the one hand I fully understand their taking the safe way and tabling the issue,” Sorgen said. “I am of the mind that I wish that the city council had passed something they could have edited the resolution, instead of tabling it, and that would have been a more courageous stand, more in the tradition of Berkeley being at the forefront of these issues,” she continued, explaining that if the council had changed the wording of the resolution they could have alleviated some of the concerns that the council members had about it.

“I think down the line in a few months, when Bradley Manning gets his so-called [day in] court, it is possible that he could end up telling the world that — hypothetically — that it was him and plead defense of necessity, that it was because of international law of conscious and the greater good,” Meola said. “In which case these same people in Berkeley would then be able to say that Bradley Manning was a hero.”

Manning faces 52 years in federal prison for illegally disclosing classified information to WikiLeaks. Over the past several months, WikiLeaks has released sensitive, classified documents about military activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, and confidential diplomatic cables.

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