In less time than it took for the U.S. government to lock up Private First Class Bradley Manning in solitary confinement and accuse him of treason for leaking documents to WikiLeaks, Manning’s invitation to lead the San Francisco LGBT Pride parade (in abstentia) has been rescinded . . . if it existed at all.
Manning’s announced selection to be an honorary grand marshal of the June 29-30 event was “a mistake and never should have happened,” Pride Board President Lisa Williams wrote in a prepared statement. Apparently, a rogue group of 15 former parade grand marshals, known collectively as the SF Pride Electoral College, voted to extend him the invitation.
“SF Pride repudiates this vote,” Williams wrote, “because it would be an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country.” She decried “even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform—and countless others, military and civilian alike.”
Manning pleaded guilty in February to misusing classified material when he gave WikiLeaks access to 251,287 State Department cables, 91,731 reports from the war in Afghanistan, 391,832 reports from the war in Iraq and footage of an air strike in Baghdad on July 12, 2007, that killed 11 people, including two Reuters journalists.
Although the documents revealed myriad questionable actions by the government, statements from then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, President Barack Obama and other federal officials said they posed little or no threat to U.S. national security.
Glenn Greenwald, a writer for The Guardian, however, wonders if the same could be said for the parade’s official sponsors. The list “includes AT&T and Verizon, the telecom giants that enabled the illegal warrantless eavesdropping on US citizens by the Bush administration and its NSA, only to get retroactively immunized from Congress and thus shielded from all criminal and civil liability.”
He finds it odd that Manning would be considered a threat to the country, but not sponsor Bank of America, which is “now being sued for $1 billion by the US government for allegedly engaging in a systematic scheme of mortgage fraud which the US Attorney called ‘spectacularly brazen in scope.’ ” Ditto for Clear Channel, “the media outlet owned by Bain Capital that broadcasts the radio programs of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck,” all gay bashers.
Manning, who was arrested in 2010 and is jailed at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia, was unavailable for comment on the parade or any other issue.