Commission praises WikiLeaks' whistleblower


Bob Meola wears a t-shirt calling for the release of U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning. Manning is in a military jail, accused of leaking video of U.S. military operations in Iraq, dubbed collateral murder by some, and U.S. documents from the Afghanistan war to the WikiLeaks website.

He is on Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission. He authored a resolution honoring manning and recognizing Manning as an American hero.

"Just as Daniel Ellsberg is an American hero for releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, I believe whoever leaked this collateral murder video is also a hero," Meola said.

Meola's resolution passed by a vote of 7 to 4 and the City Council votes on it next week. For now, Meola does not speak for the city, but just its Peace and Justice Commission.

Commissioner Thyme Siegel was one of the four 'no' votes.

"Considering what we have all heard about the Taliban, I think it's highly likely someone's been murdered over these leaks," she said.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is in a London jail on rape charges from Sweden. Last month, the site published more than 250,000 classified State Department documents. With calls for his prosecution on espionage charges in the U.S., the Electronic Frontier Foundation has launched a campaign supporting WikiLeaks.

"We don't take any position on whether what WikiLeaks is doing is right or not. I think it is a very complex question; people have a lot of different opinions about it. What we support is the right of people to have that debate and it's very hard to have that debate if WikiLeaks doesn't have the right to publish," EFF attorney Marcia Hofmann said.

The State Department says WikiLeaks puts the nation at risk.

"It is irresponsible and I think that is exactly the concerns we've had from the outset where we indicated very clearly that the release of this information puts lives and interests at risk," State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley said.

Berkeley's mayor says he thinks it's premature for the city to take a position on WikiLeaks or anyone associated with it. The City Council vote on the commission resolution is next Tuesday.

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