Protestors interrupt Obama fundraiser to sing for Bradley Manning


Supporters of WikiLeaks source suspect Bradley Manning crashed an elite private fundraiser for President Obama Thursday morning in San Francisco, and interrupted his remarks with a song. From Wired:

As Obama was speaking at the $5,000-a-plate breakfast fundraiser, an unidentified woman at one of the tables (above) reportedly began humming and singing a modified version of the song "Where's Our Change?," before she removed her blazer and shirt to reveal a t-shirt with a picture of the young Army intelligence officer who is suspected of leaking a massive cache of classified and sensitive documents to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks. As the rest of the group at the woman's table joined in with her song, they held up signs that read "Free Bradley Manning," according to MSNBC.

"Each of us brought you $5,000 -- we'll vote for you in 2012, yes that's true. Look at the Republicans, what else can we do," the group reportedly sang (see video below). As White House aides escorted the woman from the room, she said, "Free Bradley Manning. I'm leaving. I hope I don't get tortured in jail."

An Oakland, California activist named Naomi Pitcairn told The San Francisco Chronicle that she paid $76,000 to get the protesters tickets to the event, which was held at the swanky St. Regis hotel downtown.

A viral marketing/activism group calling itself the Fresh Juice Party organized the action, and promises to pay protesters various amounts of money if they video themselves singing the song in public forums and handing out "Fresh Juice Party Bucks."

More at, here's an item at the SF Chronicle, and see related item at

Video below.


    1. Maybe, but what about the tea party? It seems like the classic run of the mill, get out on the street doesn’t work anymore — unless you have some capital behind it. The Tea Party got where it got, in large part because of the support of Fox News (along with $$ from… what is that group the Koch brothers run… I can’t remember now). Everything seems to be mired in capital at this point — charity and protest are just becoming part of the trend…

      1. True, the Tea Party is hardly running on a shoestring, but the stuff they do at street level is probably about as inexpensive per person as the tens of thousands gathered in Madison WI over the past many weeks. I think the teabaggers spend their big money buying elections.

        But this bunch is something different: they pay $5000 to Obama’s reelection campaign for the privilege of disrupting a private event. What could that money have done outside the hall?

  1. Good for them. At least he wasn’t a jerk about it… but it would have been better if he had talked to them instead of having them hauled off. Bah…

    1. Good for them. At least he wasn’t a jerk about it..

      “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Let’s see what happens next time they try to fly, or go through Customs, or any number of ways that Obama can mess with them. The dude has a thin skin.

  2. Change they can believe in. I find it fitting that she’ll donate and continue to fund her POTUS who Predator drones American citizens to death with no court order, doubles down on wars she thinks are evil and starts a new one in Libya. Stupid and a bit of a glutton for punishment.

    And whatever one thinks of Manning… he obviously and knowingly broke the law… so “Free Manning” should be replaced with “Treat Manning Humanely”. He will never go free if guilty. That’s the consequences of whatever the hell Assange sold him on.

    These folks are tools in every sense of that word.

      1. No, no! No trial yet. It’s only been a year since he was arrested. It’s not like he has a constitutional right to a speedy trial or anything.

      2. We just decided not to bother with a trial. He’s in the birg already – why risk screwign that up?

        $76,000 / $5,000 = how many tickets? Did someone get their food to-go?

      3. Re read my post and you will see the words “if guilty”. I teach Criminal and Con Law — don’t need primers on reasonable doubt and the presumption of innocence.

        IF he’s legally guilty then he will most likely never see freedom again. That’s hardly a controversial concept in criminal law.

    1. You were doing so well until,
      “… whatever the hell Assange sold him on”, where you spoil it with a demonstration of your own toolness.

      1. You really believe Assange didn’t use Manning? Naive much? Assange got what he wanted out of Manning and left him to take the fall while Julian gets book deals, a film deal (I’m sure) and all sorts of adulation from the BB set.

        He did pick up the bogus rape charge. See how that works? I think Assange is scummy. What I don’t think though is that the Swedes should use bogus criminal charges to get him. He’s committed real crimes — those are sufficient to bring him in for trial.

        1. In message #51, you claim you “teach Criminal and Con Law”, followed by this statement that “Assange is scummy” (I will agree, but not for the reasons you put forth – I simply think he’s an arrogant, self-serving puss-nodule) and … the real kicker “He’s committed real crimes — those are sufficient to bring him in for trial.”

          What crimes are these of which you speak? If he has committed “crimes”, I’ve seen no mention of them in the news… no warrants issued… no real discussion of this, other than right-wing talking heads calling him a “traitor” (to a country he’s never been a citizen of) and calling for his execution.

          So, Mr. “Criminal and Con Law teacher”, care to explain this overt contradiction – you can’t be a “law teacher” while spewing unfounded propaganda… oh, wait… I guess you obviously can, because you just DID. Or maybe you’re not a law teacher at all – just someone trolling the intarwebs with astroturf.

    2. “Free Manning” should be replaced with “Treat Manning Humanely”.

      But unfortunately we’re now the Torture Nation, so we don’t do that “humanely” thing any more. I do wish more people had gotten involved in the School of the Americas protests back in the day…

      He will never go free if guilty. That’s the consequences of whatever the hell Assange sold him on.

      The villain of this piece is probably Lamo, certainly not Assange and probably not Manning. Manning, who is/was a troubled and confused young man, was persuaded to release state secrets by Lamo, who then conveyed them to Assange, right? So Manning thought he was doing the right thing (you can argue the morality and legality of that as you wish) and Assange was definitely doing what he thought was the right thing (ditto) but Lamo just basically sold them both out.

      Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

      I’d like to have a military with nothing shameful to hide. A military that court-martials and executes torturers and rapists instead of whistle-blowers.

    3. Who else is she supposed to support that has a realistic shot? When you don’t like the Democratic option and don’t bother to vote, you get something much worse – a Republican. If you don’t vote for the lesser of two evils, you get the worse of two evils.

      1. Who else is she supposed to support that has a realistic shot?

        The premise of your question is that you aren’t willing to vote against torture, if it means it might cost you the next election. You have to have a longer attention span than that to be a serious political force.

        Here’s what the right wing understands that the left doesn’t: you organize around principles, and get beat a few times in the course of building up a constituency that agrees with those principles. Then you win. Did Ronald Reagan move to the center after getting beat in 1976? No, he kept saying the same batshit-crazy stuff until he accumulated a following. The teabaggers aren’t moving toward the center, they are moving the center. People who think torture is a crime have to do the same.

        The Democratic Party can count votes, and they are counting on all liberals to shut up and vote Democrat while Obama moves ever rightward. Nothing will change until the liberals refuse to do that, and instead vote for a left third party.

    4. Ah, another internet blowhard who likes to jump to conclusions and tout his or her credentials to give credence to their argument.

      I am personally appalled by the treatment of Manning but happy knowing that there will always be others like him to scare this rotten system.

    5. “And whatever one thinks of Manning… he obviously and knowingly broke the law… so “Free Manning” should be replaced with “Treat Manning Humanely”. He will never go free if guilty. That’s the consequences of whatever the hell Assange sold him on.”

      The Nazis weren’t allowed to use the “I was only following orders” defence at Nuremberg, they were expected to have objected to their orders and refused to carry them out…

      Manning found evidence of duplicity and possible warcrimes and got the information out… and now he’s being punished for it… yet if he were a citizen of another country that we deem to be unfriendly and had done something similar by releasing information on that country’s misdeeds, then we’d be clamouring for his release…

      Manning is a prisoner for committing a crime of conscience… he’s broken American law to reveal evidence of Crimes being committed by the American State

  3. Major kudos to the organizers and the donor. A smaller compliment to the President for not losing his cool. He should have talked about it, if he had anything useful to say, but maybe he does not.

    I am unsure that a small group of muzhiks petitioning a czar for redress of grievances has ever had any effect, though. Perhaps it will get the President to address the issue: he does not, apparently, want to be a czar.

    I do think we need to make it clear to all Americans that this incident (which is not an isolated occurrence) shames us before the world community, and takes all strength from US comments about other rogue states.

    1. I think I disagree about Obama not having anything to say on this matter. He should have something to say, since Manning’s prosecution comes from the executive branch, right? It’s his policy we’re talking about here, not Bush’s and not Congress. It’s on him, as far as I’m concerned. It’s illustrative of how whistler blowers are going to be treated now going forward (not necessarily Manning’s treatment, but just getting tougher on them).

      1. Mindysan33, I said the President may not have had anything useful to say, meaning anything that would move the discussion beyond the fact that he is doing something that the protesters (and others) object to. He may be ambivalent about it himself, he may even disagree with what has happened. He may think it’s the right thing to do (for whatever reasons), but knows that many people find it indefensible.

        I don’t think that the President, unlike many politicians, considers blather to be a useful response. Sometimes, especially when you’re wrong, it’s smarter to keep your mouth shut until you know what you want to say — and the President is a very smart man.

        I would hope that this protest and others makes it clear to him that this is a big fucking deal, and he needs to stop it, or to let people who find it criminal know why he is allowing it.

  4. Wait so one person contributed $76,000 to a presidential campaign? And the protestors donated money that didn’t belong to them? Isn’t all this illegal?

    1. There’s absolutely no way this cost $76,000. I worked at one of these in Atlanta last August and it was $1,000 a plate. Maybe they step it up a little for San Fransisco, but even at $5,000 a plate that’s only $50,000.

      $76,000 does happen to be exactly twice the legal limit (per person) for donating to the DNC. I think a husband and wife wanted to show their support and send a message at the same time.

  5. “Each of us brought you $5,000 — we’ll vote for you in 2012, yes that’s true. Look at the Republicans, what else can we do,”

    I hate to trot out the old Simpson’s quote, but “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.” It’s only a binary choice as long as you let it be one.

  6. Making the Democrat party aware that they’re not safe from criticism, even at a San Francisco fund-raiser, is probably worth every penny.

  7. Y’all need to read up on Jim Bell’s concept
    of Assassination Politics.

    And then, implement it.

    Serious scholars can check out and
    the cypherpunks archives.

    Have a nice day.

    1. Usually, I don’t even have a clue what you are talking about. Which is fine. But when you address the group as y’all, well I just wonder why. What is “Y’all” supposed to convey? Are you from Alabama? Do you miss Bush (or even Clinton for that matter)? What? Maybe I’m in the minority, but the use of southern/hick slang makes me even less likely to follow your links. Sorry.

  8. Holy shit – I knew Naomi Pitcairn like 10-12 years ago when she lived in New York. She’s cool. I love this protest – we paid our dues, now where’s our change is a great double entendre.

    Rock on Naomi, and if you happen to read this email me at gmail.

  9. If this is the best use of $76 large the progressive movement can come up with, we’re humped.

  10. It never fails to amaze and disturb me when I see people who are otherwise insightful and critical thinkers fall into the ‘guess he shouldn’t have broken the law + state secrets are sacred’ narrative. Some of the comments to this thread seem to reflect this.

    It will *always* be against the law to expose the duplicity and corruption of powerful state actors. And state crimes will *always* be covered by a perfectly legalized veil of official secrecy. History is instructive.

    The system is designed to ensure that people like Bradley Manning are cast out, crushed, and made examples of. But it isn’t the deprivation of liberty, torture, and persecution alone that translates his experience into a piece of public pedagogy – it’s the chorus of voices proclaiming ‘He broke The Law. I sympathize with him, but he knew what he was getting into. State secrets are sacrosanct!’.

  11. I too know Naomi Pitcairn. She is awesome. Glad to see Pitcairn money going towards some good causes.

  12. It’s funny to see Wired report on this given that their own correspondents are responsible for his torture.

  13. This is why we get nowhere- blowing 75k on pointless action. Change happens when those in power are forced to change. Activists are horrible strategists. Find the longest lever and reef on that.

  14. A bit pendantic, but Bradley Manning is not an “intellegence officer” he is however in the intellegence field and his rank is e-3 Private First Class.

  15. Anon @24

    Before deciding to commit an act of civil disobedience (publicly or in private), one should be prepared to face the consequences if caught.

    Manning has every right to demand humane treatment. And it’s absolutely appropriate to demand he be treated humanely. But demanding he simply be “freed” will produce no results. Only a jury will be able to do that.

    Which is not to say that I don’t encourage these demonstrators. The more people who are willing to prove that the “anti-war” movement was not merely an “anti-Bush” movement, the better.

    1. This is a good illustration of my point (no. 24).

      I think that Manning was well aware that his actions could have consequences. And I don’t think that the way forward is to be found in an approach that simply calls for the state to ‘Free Bradley’.

      However, it’s equally unproductive to suggest that the legal system will resolve this matter justly or in keeping with broader principles of accountability and transparency. That’s not the way that the system is built. It’s built in a way that allows the elite to create regimes of coercive interrogation, indefinite detention, military commissions, and so on. All very official.

      So when I see people suggest that it is enough to allow due process of law to run its course, I interpret it as a recipe for status quo maintenance. Real justice will happen (if it does) despite – not because of – official processes.

    2. You’re right, only a Jury can free him, and only a Jury can throw him in prison.

      Isn’t is safe to assume that since the gov’t doesn’t need a Jury to throw somebody in prison, we the people don’t need a Jury to get him out?

      But in this day and age where the gov’t runs rampant, they clearly don’t think they need a trial.

      Expect Us.

  16. so they paid $76k to get in there so they could sing a song about how they’re going to vote for him anyway, then had a laugh and resumed sitting quietly and listening to his bullshit? this is stupid and useless.

  17. “Each of us brought you $5,000 — we’ll vote for you in 2012, yes that’s true. Look at the Republicans, what else can we do,”

    True, a republican president might unilaterally start a war, curtail civil liberties, allow corporations to devastate the environment, or help the rich at the expense of the poor. We must re-elect Obama. We have no choice.

  18. As commander in chief of the military and chief executive Pres. Obama can constitutionally have Manning freed with the stroke of a pen.
    Anyone who thinks any change will come from the big finance big business oligopoly campaign funding system are naive. In campagn finance last cycle the biggest donor was Fannie Mae+Freddy Mac thit top recipeints were:
    This so called bushel of cash and a protest song make me angry, what a way to say that you have done wrong Mr. president, have some candy.
    I don’t even know how to fix the media playing field to level at this point but what we have now only lets the 5-10 biggest friends of industry, finance, and the super wealthy compete for the two realistic choices on most national ballots. We have been well trained.

    1. Agreed. We’re fucked.
      I’m seriously thinking of moving to some island in the South Pacific. I mean they already tested all the nukes there, so maybe that’ll be the last place to go.

      I’m sick of this shit.

      1. I’m seriously thinking of moving

        Don’t you mean we’s fixin’ to move? Don’t be so fancy.

  19. This was pointless.

    So is much “protest” in any case. Noise that changes no one’s mind.

    And all for some fall guy who probably wasn’t the real source anyway.

  20. Um, I dunno. Can’t we at least get Manning a trial? How are they justifying holding him this long without one? Does he even have a lawyer? I used to like President Obama, but now not so much. Why can’t he even talk about this issue?

    I know… this is all going in to my permanent record.

  21. If we know where he’s being held, wouldn’t it just be easier for a few thousand people to go fetch Manning from the base in Kansas? A direct action to infiltrate the base, unarmed and collectively, would provoke the military to make difficult decisions about whether or not continue detaining Manning.

  22. Whistle blowers are protected under many countries constitution as they are an important part of keeping a democracy open. What Manning did is no different from what Mordechai Vanunu did in Israel or Daniel Ellsberg did in the US before. That the US no longer is willing to protect its whistle blowers is setting a dangerous precedent. It scares me that so many think “Free Bradley Manning” is a ridiculous request.

    1. I’ve worked in places where employees are protected under various whistleblower laws. In general they work like this:

      (1) Employee has evidence of a crime being committed, or is directed to participate in a crime or coverup. (Note: it has to be a crime. “Employee finds the policy objectionable” does not count)

      (2) Employee brings the issue to a higher level of management, or (if fearing retaliation) does it via an attorney.

      (3) If employee is fired or harassed as a result of (2), employer has violated the whistleblower statue and is subject to prosecution.

      (4) If the criminal behavior is not appropriately corrected and disclosed as required by law, employee may further appeal to the D.A. or to the legislature. The same protections as in (3) apply.

      What Bradley Manning appears to have done is to create his own step (1), which in my job situation would equate to:

      (1) Step into the boss’s file room after hours. Grab a couple of armfuls of maybe incriminating, maybe just embarrassing stuff. Post it all on the Web immediately.

      This would not be defined as protected whistleblowing under any law I’m aware of. Please feel free to link to any law which does so define it.

      1. There is a difference. In my examples I cases of international treaties had been broken and the whistleblowers brought this to light. It wasn’t tax fraud in some unknown corporation, it was a government breaking the law.

        Ellsberg was commended for the Pentagon Papers. Why then is Manning a traitor for leaking the documents who told us the US supports the use of torture in Iraq and child prostitution in Afghanistan? From the fact that a man of his rank had access to the files, this was common knowledge. Bringing it to his superiors would have changed nothing, as we can see by the fact that no one have been punished for what Manning reviled.

        1. “Ellsberg was commended for the Pentagon Papers.”

          Not by the Pentagon. Nor by the Supreme Court. Ellsberg was freed by mistrial, not because he didn’t violate the Espionage Act.

  23. Say I were a soldier, pretty much any nation, at any time in the world. If I broke into the most secret safe in any country and found a huge file called “all our nation’s secrets that we don’t want our allies and enemies to know”. Then I posted them up on walls all around the world. Would you then expect to happily write a book and do talk shows? If that nation found me, I would then either expect to be tortured and killed, or else expect to live the rest of my life in a deep dark hole. There are billions of folks around the planet trying to live a life. There’s lots of troubles all around. Not really feeling sorry for this guy. Yeah, US does lots of things wrong, bunch of things right. Diplomacy sometimes involves not telling everyone everything. If you disagree, imagine if someone forwarded everything you ever wrote, email/note/text to everyone you ever knew. Nobody who you’ve talked to who might know a bad guy and take advantage of the situation? You wouldn’t have anything to explain to anyone? Some things were good to reveal, some things revealed damaged relationships, some things increased our nation’s risk, some things may prevent future diplomacy that would have stopped a war.

    1. The U.S. sucks d*** just like every other country.

      Manning is a moron for doing what he did, plain and simple, especially with the level of pointlessness of all the leaks. He should stay in solitary just so his stupidity isn’t allowed to procreate and further water-down the human race.

      Obama is equally moronic for running on a platform of ‘Change’ that would never work as more than just a broken promise. Who did he think he was, the Buddha?

      Everyone that votes is also pretty damn stupid.

      Good Day!

    2. If I broke into the most secret safe in any country and found a huge file called “all our nation’s secrets that we don’t want our allies and enemies to know”. Then I posted them up on walls all around the world. Would you then expect to happily write a book and do talk shows? If that nation found me, I would then either expect to be tortured and killed, or else expect to live the rest of my life in a deep dark hole.

      I snipped most of your post to make it less appalling.

      Manning didn’t break into any safes – he was legitimately given access – and what he revealed was not just “secrets” it was evidence of evils done with US taxpayer dollars. He answered to higher moral values than you seem willing to acknowledge.

      Furthermore, if the file in your metaphor contained evidence of immoral criminality executed as policy I damn well would expect you to post it on the walls around the world. Your responsibility to your species outweighs any imagined responsibility to criminal overlords who’ve wrapped themselves in your flag.

      1. To anon @50:
        Is this the first time you knew that large governments did evil things in times of war? Please give me the exception from history when a government did not do horrible things in war. Or in peace for that matter, when it was trying to decrease the likelihood of wars. Had it been the filtered process that journalists do it would be one thing. Had he leaked 10, one could argue he’d read through them. He released over 250,000 documents. To imagine that he and wikileaks had the resources to forsee benefit vs. harm based on this release of data is naive.

        Paraphrasing Churchill, I firmly we believe we (the US) have the shittiest government possible, except for the Chinese, Russians, and every other less democratic government. We are also less shitty than terrorist groups. Releasing that number of documents likely aided the shittier governments to the detriment of what I believe to be a significantly less shitty government.

        Were wikileaks able to easily penetrate Russia, China and every other less democratic government as well as the terrorist cells, and release data about all parties equally, it’d be one thing. Unfortunately, they’re going to do better at releasing data in the more free societies like ours. Again, the net effect is the more free countries will be less effective in war and diplomacy.

  24. A true waste of money, accomplishing nothing other than giving a horrible party another 76 grand. Give it to me and I’ll gladly spend the next year of my life combating government corruption however i can.

    “We’ll vote for you in 2012” hardly sounds like a protest. They just gave Obama the excuse he needed to ignore them. Let’s try not voting for either party next time around, which is just about the best, and only, real protest there is.

  25. So no one is gonna mention obama’s condescending remarks and attitude? “Haha, you silly little people, you and your opinions mean nothing!” Yeah, basically the equivalent of spitting in someone’s face. Of course it didn’t help that someone screamed they love him, or the stupid applause that followed, that really undermined the whole thing.

    He should have been booed, but it wouldn’t have mattered to his smug self anyway. He’d just smile, chuckle, and give a slick spiel that he’s so good at giving.

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