2011-04-23 My trip to the "Free Bradley Manning Rally" ... six weeks early

Authored by Jonathan Getzchman

So I drove down to Leavenworth, Kansas today for a "Free Bradley Manning Rally" ... that was happening six weeks from now. I had a funny feeling something was wrong when I got to the address for the protest an hour late, and no one was there. The next funny feeling I had followed re-reading the two links I had seen about the rally ... I had read them both incorrectly.

Soooo ... Leavenworth. I'm here ... in a clash of decisions I sung, "Should I stay or should I go?"

I meditated for a bit, creating space to find out why I was here ... then a thought hit me: I wonder if I can ask for and receive an impromptu interview with Bradley Manning ... ask, sure ... receive? Hmmm ...

I took several deep breaths and decided I was doing nothing wrong, so no ill could befall me if I tried. I remembered that our brothers and sisters in the military are human beings like the rest of us, and they would understand my reasons.

I pulled up the driveway into the Leavenworth Prison (1300 Metropolitan ... where the rally was to be ... six weeks from now) passed the sign saying, "Vehicles may be subject to search/you must show ID" and accepted it as a possibility, parked and walked up the hill to the "Visitor processing center".

I opened an old school, screen porch door and looked inside to find a sharply dressed, black prison guard at a desk.

"Hello, I'm Jonathan Getzschman from RevolutionTruth.org. There is a "Free Bradley Manning" rally here on June 4th, and I was wondering if I could interview Mr. Manning before then ... like now."

"Who is Bradley Manning?" asked the guard.

After some explaining, the guard said, "You mean that military kid? He's two miles up the road at Fort Leavenworth Prison."

HAH! The rally was scheduled at the wrong address ... no longer my fault.

I asked the guard if he thought there was ANY chance I might have of interviewing Manning.

"You never know," he responded. "Good luck sir."

Obviously a sign from God, I proceeded to the military base. On the way in, as I passed more signs that now said, "Vehicles WILL be searched and you MUST have ALL forms of ID necessary," I accepted the now inevitability that my personal belongings would be rooted thru ... breathing ... breathing ...

As I approached the first "check point" there were guards in shiny uniforms swarming the road blocks asking for and receiving papers ... that I didn't have. Three of them then approached me ... two younger white males and an older one.

"What are you here for?" asked one of the younger guys.

"My name is Jonathan Getzschman of RevolutionTruth.org and I was wondering if there was anyway I could interview Bradley Manning before the rally on June 4th." The two younger guards looked at each other, and their furrowed brows turned into an expression "already-always-knowing" that I was another one of "those people."

"Ok sir ... we're going to need you to turn off your vehicle, open all the doors, the hood, the trunk and stand in front of it."

I didn't argue. "I was just throwing it out there ... just in case there was a way I could get a chance to talk to him."

"Where did you drive from?" asked the first guard, as I prepared my van for inspection.

"St. Louis."

"You drove all the way from St. Louis to ask us if you could do an interview?" the guard asked eyeing me suspiciously.

"Yeah." Although a complete lie, my ego was still fragile from having my own "already-always-knowing" moment about the date of the rally, so I stuck to it. "I just want to hear his story. I don't mean to mess with your schedule or be a bother."

"Yeah ..." the guard said. "Why don't you show me your ID and proof of insurance and stand in front of your vehicle."

The other, younger guard searched my vehicle, looking through my bag first. "People who want to find out about a guy who tried to mess up our country makes it our job to find about you."

"Well, I love our country," I said, "and I wanted to hear his side of the story."

As they continued to inspect my van, I heard one of them say, "Why does this keep happening?" and the other said, "Something must have gone down that we haven't heard about yet." (Huh?) Yeah, something like that ... but what an interesting exchange.

"What's this group you're with?"

"RevolutionTruth.org ... it's a "Free Press" activist organization," I responded, "that seeks to insure that the People's rights aren't violated by intimidation or government censorship." It was at that point that they pulled out my protest sign, "AMNESTY for TRANSPARENCY," made eye contact with each other ... and both rolled their eyes.

"Oooooookaaaaaay ..."

"Is he clean?" the older guard asked as he approached us.

"Yeah, he's clean. Mr. Gechezmenn? I'm sorry about having to put you through that sir, but it's protocol. You can't just drive into a military base and ask to speak to high level security risk like that kid."

"Who would I need to ask permission from?"

"The Staff Judge Advocate ... you'll have to call him and schedule an appointment."

"Can I write his name down?" I asked. I wasn't sure if I could leave the front of the vehicle yet. He motioned over, and I grabbed my journal.

"Staff ... Judge ... Advocate ... you ever watch 'JAG' on TV?" one of them asked.


"That's the guy you gotta get ahold of. Don't do it this way again."

"Yes sir." I was led to the exit gate by the older guard, and he gave me back my license on the way out. Only about fifteen minutes had passed ... I could breathe again ... that was the longest breath I ever held.