Why does a Scotsman want to tell Hillary to free Chelsea?
A month ago, on the 10th of May, I launched my own bid to get Chelsea Manning out of jail. Readers can see it at tinyurl.com/zwlnrgq . I now have 71 signatures, four from the US, two from Oz, three germans and the rest brits. It will be a long haul to get enough to draw the attention of the lady will be your next president, Hillary Clinton, but I am known for being an obsessive campaigner. I aim for a million.
There has been another petition, to Barack Obama, but it ran out of steam a couple of years ago when it became clear that Obama wasn’t listening. Efforts to end Chelsea’s 35-year prison sentence in Fort Levenworth are ongoing; she recently lodged an appeal, but I fear it will founder.
Just a few days ago, I and five other campaigners, a motley crew of health service workers, an Italian, an oil rig designer, an ex-traffic warden and lovely Transgender campaigner, descended on the US Consulate in Edinburgh. We were almost outnumbered by the 3 policemen who turned up to greet us, so nervous was the US Consul that we were going to smash the window-boxes and lay waste to the bin bags. But we were a peaceful mob and the nice bobby who received our petition let us tie our banners to US Property.
Readers can view the 6-minute video of proceedings, including a lovely speech explaining why we’re there, at https://youtu.be/SOQ_Z1pwqJk
This is just the first of four deliveries of signatures that I have planned to deliver to the US Consul over the next eight months, until Hillary is crowned queen of the US. Here is the text of my Petition letter to Ms Clinton, which accompanied those 66 names:
You will likely be US President in 6 months. Make your first act the release of Chelsea Manning. She is doing 35 years in Fort Levenworth, Kansas, for exposing cowboy killings by US troops of innocent people and journalists from a helicopter gunship- and a host of other US abuses and suspected war crimes committed against Iraqi and Afghan people. She deserves to be celebrated as a hero for helping get your troops out of those places. Yet she languishes in in army prison with her hair kept at regulation 2" length.
You may know her better as Bradley Manning. The US Army permit no photographs — or to let her even use a word processor — so when her best friend read her acceptance speech when she won the Inaugural Blueprint Whistleblowing Award for Enduring Impact at Thomson Reuters in London on the 9th May, no pictures were shown and he could only recount words dictated by Chelsea down the phone. Chelsea suffers in a US army jail with few books and must be freed.
Chelsea has been forgotten about since her cell door clanged shut and her sex-change plans made public. Show your commitment to fair play and open government. You are presently contesting Bernie Sanders for the nomination and both you and I know that Bernie would also release Chelsea, if he could. You need to give folk a reason for choosing you, Hillary. Make this the one.
Please help underline the contribution whistleblowers make to society by releasing Chelsea, who only did what you or I would have done, when confronted by the slaughter of innocents. For this is how all humans should act. And by promising to release Chelsea, show the world you would never tolerate US forces repeating those excesses against arab people again.
35 years is a vicious and unreasonable punishment for someone who risked their own life, freedom and future to save others. Hillary- redress this act as soon as you take office, and give the US back its dignity. Promise to release Chelsea come January 2017.
This is the first of four tranches of signatures of this petition. We shall give you the next tranche in July. And one early November. And the final total when you become president on the 17th January
Pete Gregson and everyone else who signs this petition
More at www.kidsnotsuits.com
PS Read the Sunday Times article of 15th May which is the first media coverage of this cause
Read the Herald of 17th May which says more of why we do this now
The Free Chelsea Manning Website has a petition to President Obama too that you can sign
I bet that most NYT readers will reckon, by now, that I am deranged. Why would Ms Clinton, who oversaw Chelsea’s incarceration, release her? Well, you must all know that this is a pincer movement that involves both Hillary and Barack. If you, dear reader, join with me and sign this petition, eventually enough signatures will draw her attention and — more importantly, the attention of your media. And I want your media to put one question to Hillary (and Donald the Trump, and Bernie, if possible) and it is this one:
What would you have done, Hillary, had you been in Chelsea’s shoes that day when she witnessed the cockpit footage of the slaughter of innocents? You most surely would not be so naïve as to just report it to your commanding officer, then go back to your duties. If you are so dim, you cannot seriously think you might lead a country of 323 million people, including the US armed forces (which includes too many gunslinger cowboys).
Would you, Ms Clinton, have sat on your hands, when said commanding officer let those in the ‘copter gunship go scot-free (as indeed they have done)? Might the US not want to elect a president with a conscious, one who would stand for the rule of law?
And surely, Ms Clinton, Chelsea should be getting congratulations for helping get the US boys back from a pointless and insane conflict? Not double-pops of porridge and the prospect of not getting out of nick until she is my age, 58 years old, having lost her best years to carpentry (for that is what she does all day).
And I think that if we all get together, and become a right pain in the ass to Hillary, that, come January 2017, there is a chance that Obama will dig out his presidential pardon paper and use the fading days of his reign to remove a future problem for Ms Clinton, whilst doing something that might truly reflect his respect for one of the bravest people in the US: Chelsea Manning.
For I bet not many readers would sacrifice their lives to get the truth out. Folk say she put people’s lives at risk by releasing so much data- but we should remember that it was Assange that did that, not Chelsea. For she was not exactly in the position of being able to go through a gazillion bits of data before she handed her intel over to Wikileaks. She did what any of us would have done, she dumped all she could get onto a disc, then left it up to Assange to decipher. I doubt she had the time to go through the lot, given she had a pretty stressful job as an Intelligence Analyst.
So it was Assange that put those interpreters lives at risk, not Chelsea. And I am not calling for Assange’s free passage out of the Colombian embassy. I am just hoping that our involvement in the middle east will be recognized, by Chelsea’s release, for the disaster that it has become. And it was we British that made the US invasion possible, for whilst we took the south of Iraq, you guys took the north. And I am angry that I was duped by Tony Blair when I voted (as a Labour Party man) for his selection as leader in the 90s, then worked so hard for his election in ’97. For who would have thought his hunger for acknowledgment would lead to the gruesome spectacle of a crafty pretend socialist hobnobbing with an extremely dim republican, George Dubya Bush, as they jointly plotted world domination from a golf buggy in Florida.
And that is on account of the misplaced trust we had in these two, that caused a crazy conflagration in Iraq, which has led to the implosion of Syria and, by a series of truly awesome miscalculations (no Ba’athists to be re-employed in the Iraqi Army, for example) that have led to ISIS and the displacement of millions. I actually think things might be even worse if it had not been for Chelsea Manning drawing the world’s attention to what was really going on in Iraq.
Elections are a good time to ask questions of leaders. Whilst on the campaign trail, they must speak to the press on the press’s terms. Once elected, the tables are turned, and the press can only print their utterances. So please, dear US brothers and sisters, use the next six months before you go to the polls, to sort out where your future president might take you. Hopefully not into more pointless wars. And say to Hillary with me: Free Chelsea!!!