Berkeley tables resolution on calling Manning a hero

The Berkeley City Council is expected to vote on a resolution to support an Army private suspected of leaking data to WikiLeaks.
December 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will stay jailed in London for at least a couple more days while Swedish prosecutors challenge a decision to release him on bail related to a sex crimes warrant. This is happening as the city of Berkeley again wades into international waters with a proposal to honor the military whistleblower who fed classified information to Assange, but by the end of the night, Berkeley officials said they want a little more time before they make a decision.

Controversy is no stranger to the city of Berkeley, but on Tuesday night the majority of the council hinted that it's too early to take a stand on the issue, so they tabled it indefinitely.

They took the vote after a heated debate over a man who was called a hero by some and a villain by others.

"One man dared to show the truth behind what's really going on. He did this for us, he did this for this nation. We have the responsibility to return the favor to him. He is a hero. He needs our support," said Berkeley resident Nathan Pitts.

The proposed resolution would honor Army Pfc. Bradley Manning for leaking sensitive information and causing an international embarrassment for the U.S.

"I'm urging you not to vote for this resolution to call this traitor, Bradley Manning, a hero. If he has done what he is accused of doing, he has endangered his fellow troops," said Danny Gonzales from Move America Forward.

Manning is currently in a military jail facing a 52-year prison sentence for illegally downloading 92,000 sensitive documents that were posted online by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

"Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus Christ himself was persecuted for the truth that he told. This man is in that tradition," said Berkeley resident Cynthia Papermaster.

The majority of documents are not top secret, but one of the most crucial leaks is a video of a U.S. helicopter attacking and killing 11 civilians in Afghanistan.

Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission, which drafted the resolution, says it exposes a government cover up, and sheds light on war crimes and corruption.

"The State Department would like us to believe he has unleashed a danger to our troops, but yet they haven't pointed to a single person that's been harmed by these releases," said Jeff Patterson from Courage To Resist.

But retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Monroe, who lives in Berkeley, says it's a matter of honor.

"We take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. Most of us take that seriously," said Monroe.

This resolution is part of Berkeley's tradition of chiming in on international issues. Some say the city should stick to filling potholes, while others argue that this is what makes Berkeley... Berkeley.


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