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article image'I am Bradley Manning': High-profile Americans take to YouTube

By Anne Sewell     Jun 5, 2013 in World
The court martial of Bradley Manning is underway and protesters are physically demonstrating on the streets against his trial, a group of celebrities and journalists are getting together to support the whistleblower and get him his Nobel prize.
It is now three years since US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning was arrested in Iraq and accused of providing WikiLeaks with 700,000 intelligence documents and videos, many of them classified. Finally his court martial has begun and 25-year-old Manning faces possible life in prison if convicted of aiding the enemy, among 21 other charges relating to the leak of the information.
A group of influential Americans, including celebrities, journalists and international activists who oppose the American wars in the Middle East and beyond are putting together a video.
The video trailer above is for the "I am Bradley Manning" campaign, and it features several American celebrities along with public thinkers, all pledging and voicing support for Manning.
The video urges viewers to consider if they themselves would have the courage to do what he did, to disclose military video footage of war crimes in order to stop the carnage.
Award-winning journalist Chris Hedges  I am Bradley Manning
Award-winning journalist Chris Hedges "I am Bradley Manning"
Among the celebrities are actors Russell Brand, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Wallace Shawn along with Oliver Stone, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, and journalists Chris Hedges and Matt Taibbi.
We hear from a fellow whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, former US Defense Department employee who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War.
Whistleblower Daniel Elsberg  I was Bradley Manning
Whistleblower Daniel Elsberg "I was Bradley Manning"
In the trailer we hear them ask, “If you saw incredible things, awful things, things that belonged in the public domain and not in some server stored in a dark room in Washington, what would you do?”
We are asked, "When you join the military, are you asked to keep any war crimes you see secret?"
"You see something that is so wrong, its very hard for a lower level soldier to turn on his officers and say, "There was a war crime.""
Referring to the cables released by Manning, award-winning journalist Chris Hedges tells us, "I think we have to be clear that the cables were not top secret documents."
The video urges anyone watching to sign a petition encouraging the Nobel Committee to award Manning the Nobel Peace Prize.
By the second day of Manning's trial on Tuesday, nearly 60,000 people have signed the petition, which was organized by Roots Action. The group describes describes itself as “an online initiative dedicated to galvanizing Americans who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights, civil liberties, environmental protection – and defunding endless wars.”
At the start of the trial, protesters headed for Fort Meade military base in Maryland to show their support for Manning and their frustration about the trial itself. And now, on top of the protesting, major celebrities and journalists are also doing their bit to rally support for Manning.
According to the Daily Beast, Michael Thurman, a former US Air Force member, spoke to them outside the main gates of Fort Meade. where he flew in to personally witness the event.
”I think what Bradley Manning did was pretty heroic and selfless, and I want to do everything I can to support someone who is willing to sacrifice everything so we can all know the truth about US foreign policy and what this government is doing,” Thurman said.
“When I was in the military, I was able to see it for what it was. I came to the conclusion during my enlistment that it wasn’t an organization benefiting anyone, it was a business venture that benefited a few very elite people,” Thurman continued. “I saw the corporate collusion and found out about the civilian casualties, the racism, the seizure of resources, and basically the nature of US policies. I thought it was wrong, and I became opposed to it, and that’s why I’m supporting Bradley Manning, who exposed all those things.”
On the I am Bradley Manning website, they state:
Amidst courtroom secrecy, whistleblower and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bradley Manning is on trial after three years of confinement.
The information that Bradley gave to the public has been a catalyst for pro-democracy movements in the Arab world, exposed the unjust detainment of innocent people at Guantanamo Bay, shown us the true human cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and changed journalism forever.
There is no evidence that anyone died as a result of the leaked information, yet Bradley faces life in prison or possibly death. The greatest charge against him is that of “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense. As the public who benefited from this information, does that make us the enemy? What price will future whistleblowers pay?
On this page of their website, photos of thousands of Bradley Manning supporters can be seen, holding the sign "I am Bradley Manning."
And a quote is included by Manning himself:
“I want people to see the truth, because without it you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
- Private First Class Bradley Manning.
The  I am Bradley Manning  Campaign trailer.
The "I am Bradley Manning" Campaign trailer.
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