I. My efforts to get a rational response to Bradley's mistreatment from Alaska U.S. Senator Mark Begich, who sits on the Armed Forces Committee have not only gotten nowhere, it doesn't appear they will. Last weekend Mark was in the Mat-Su Valley several times, as he spent over a week travelling around Alaska. At two of the events in the Valley, I might normally have been part of the crowd. As a former Begich volunteer and contributor, an active local Democrat and strong 2008 supporter, I would normally have been invited to these two happenings. Here's how I related this to some friends:
I delivered a letter [to Begich], co-signed by many here at fdl, to his Wasilla office on March 8th. His response, on March 10th, was delivered to a dead address, so I never got it.Times like that make me want to leave the Democratic Party, but they're stuck with me for now.
Meanwhile, I interviewed Begich’s predecessor in the US Senate, Mike Gravel, who appealed to Mark to do the right thing.
Last week, as I was hoping to set up a meeting with Sen. Begich while he is here in Alaska, I finally discovered the existence of the undelivered letter. I hoped to be able to meet with Sen. Begich while he was attending events in the Mat-Su Valley associated with organizations I either support or am a member of. When I inquired about meeting with Begich at two of these, I was asked by local Democrats to please not attend, as I would be unwelcome.
I tried to get in touch with Sen. Begich through his Wasilla staff person, Mary Kvalheim, a long-time friend. She was told not to return my calls. His press secretary, Julie Hasquet, who used to be a friend, wrote me, informing me that she is the sole person with whom I should attempt to set up any contact with the Senator (I’ve had to deal with Begich’s Wasilla and DC staff, since Julie wrote to me in 2010, saying that she doesn’t intend to forward any of my letters to Mark).
Here’s what Julie wrote to me yesterday:
If you are ever seeking an interview or time to ask Senator Begich some questions, please call me to arrange.
Staff does not set up time with media, that all goes through me.
Frustrating, because in the past, she has told me I don’t qualify as “press” as a “blogger.” I wrote back:
What I would like to do is sit down with Mark, show him Mike Gravel’s appeal to him, go over the NYRB law professor letter with him (the salient points related to Mark’s responsibilities as a member of the Senate AFC), the refusal by the DoD to allow either Rep. Kucinich or the UN rapporteur on human rights visit Manning without monitoring, and get his response on video. All the items I describe have happened since Mark wrote his reply to me, so it is all new.
Julie replied an hour ago:
Should Sen. Begich change his views in regards to the case of PFC Manning, other than what was relayed in his recent letter, we will let you know.
At this time, he has nothing to add to what he wrote to you a few weeks ago.
II. On Tuesday a Pentagon leaker let it out that Manning was about to be transferred from the Marine Base Quantico brig to the large Army prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Before Manning's attorneys even were legally informed, the Pentsagon held a short press conference in Washington DC:
Reaction to the announcement has been mixed. Here's Rep. Dennis Kucinich stating "I don't believe anything they say when it comes to Bradley Manning:
Here's MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan discussing Manning's transfer with P.J. Crowley (who left the State Department over Manning's treatment) and firedoglake's Jane Hamsher:
This morning at a DLC fundraiser in San Francisco, some true Democrats and patriots confronted Obama with a song, flashmob style:
Thanks to everyone who helped here at at fdl by signing the letter to Sen. Begich.