Manning supporters put up billboard in DC

Supporters of accused traitor Bradley Manning (or, Breanna if you prefer) are keenly aware that a decision is upcoming – likely on Monday – by the Army as to whether or not he/she will be moving on to court martial on a variety of charges. With that in mind, they’ve decided to take their message to the good people of Washington, DC by… putting up a billboard?

Supporters of the Army private accused of providing a trove of U.S. government secrets to WikiLeaks have erected a billboard along New York Avenue NE in advance of an investigating officer’s recommendation on whether Manning should face a court-martial. “Free Bradley Manning,” reads the billboard, with a tag­line: “Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime.”

“The military would like to characterize Manning as someone who broke military regulations and should be jailed for the rest of his life for doing so,” said Jeff Paterson of the Bradley Manning Support Network, which paid for the billboard. “We obviously have a different opinion.”

Right off the bat, I’m sure we can all agree that this is a great idea. Time are tough in Washington and everyone, including the outdoor advertising industry, is in need of work. The listed cost of this particular display is $16K per month, so that might help keep a few more people employed. Good job!

As to the message, it’s a nice sound bite, but anyone who has actually been following the story is unlikely to be swayed. “Blowing the whistle on war crimes” may sound good for a mic check on the occupy protest lines, but it’s not terribly applicable to what he allegedly did. Had Manning only released the one video of an attack which resulted in collateral damage, you might have a case to make on that front. (Though the military would still disagree, as it was not the call of a private to make.) But he allegedly released an additional three quarter of a million documents in a scatter-shot fashion with no regard for the contents or the consequences. Many had nothing to do with the war.

And finally, one has to wonder about the mental state of people who find it a worthwhile investment of their hard earned cash to put up a billboard to sway the public in a case like this. That’s a fine plan if you’re trying to sell a product or sway voters in an upcoming election. But there is no element of public support which plays into this. The Army is going to follow the regulations and proceed as the facts dictate. Nobody gets to “vote” on what happens in the next phase of these proceedings.

But, as I said… thanks for pumping a little extra cash into the economy, guys. Oh, and next time you do one of these, you might look for a better graphic of Manning. That one looks sort of like a bad Japanese anime knockoff.