It's a fair enough question. The always self-aggrandizing and publicity-hungering Michael Moore, a guy who had no bones about telling the world in SiCKO he'd cut a check to his most vocal antagonist so his wife could get surgery (because he loves the fucking 1st Amendment so much), came out and cross-posted on literally half the internet and then went on Olbermann's Countdown to brag about kicking in for Julian Assange's bail.
The biggest differences between Julian Assange and Bradley Manning is that Assange was hardly in prison long enough to get penciled into anyone's dance card and he was in Britain, where they tend to treat inmates a little more civilly.
Manning has been locked up in a little cell at the FBI training facility/Marine base at Quantico (after two months in Kuwait) and has been living in solitary confinement for five months. Wikileaks, which pledged $20,000 for Manning's defense fund, has yet to come up with a dime for the kid's legal fees (citing a pending German audit that could temporarily freeze its assets).
So how come there's no internet push and no celebrities to help out Manning, who is essentially on a suicide watch and being treated as if he was a terrorism suspect at Gitmo? Why is his name bandied about far less than Assange's and how come Assange is being accorded renegade celebrity status while Manning has been all but forgotten and is this century's answer to the prisoner of Zenda?
Let's get one thing straight: Manning gave Wikileaks the scoops they've enjoyed since last spring. Wikileaks would hardly be anything more than another crank site claiming moderate, intermittent scoops if it wasn't for Manning taking the risks he had (and for which he's paying the ultimate price, considering he hasn't even been charged with any crimes).
Assange merely hit the enter key by proxy and is reaping the rewards, being compared to a real hero like Daniel Ellsberg (who, like Manning, was actually an insider and had a lot to lose, including family). Without Manning, Assange is just another activist, a glorified blogger who never actually writes anything.
Attorney Glenn Greenwald at Salon is one of the few major bloggers who even seems willing to acknowledge that Manning even exists, writing this today:
Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months -- and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait -- under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture.
Let's remind ourselves that Manning, irresponsible, immature and stupid though he may have been in cockily bragging about leaking the first video to Wikileaks, is still an American citizen. He had killed or harmed no one, sold no secrets to the enemy and has been a model prisoner during his entire detention.
Yet we're treating him as if he's Jose Padilla (another American citizen subjected to cruel and unusual punishment such as sensory deprivation even while being transported to a dentist's office) or any one of dozens of largely invisible terrorism suspects at Gitmo or Bagram. He is what Donald "Shit Happens" Rumsfeld would call "the worst of the worst."
Manning is our secret embarrassment, bringing to mind other spies like Robert Hanssen and Kim Philby, rats who sold out their nations' national security secrets for money and power (both to the Russians). Manning, if you want to go a little out on a limb, is like Prometheus, except this particular thief took the fire of hundreds of thousands of documents from the hands of the secretive and gave it back to the hands of those who deserved it: We, the People of the United States of America. We finally have a treasure trove of truth and the truth is our nation's security even at the highest levels is shoddy. The truth is that our government has been lying to us from the beginning.
Yeah, big shock, I know. But now it's documented and disseminated and we're seeing for the first time how slipshod, arrogant and disingenuous our government truly is and exactly where and how. We love the message but hate or ignore the messenger. And it wasn't Manning who was nominated for Time's Person of the Year. It was Assange. As for Manning, it seems a cruelly fitting irony that he is now the victim of the same extra-legal brutality that he'd largely exposed for the world to see. Our government has learned absolutely nothing since the Pentagon Papers and never will.
So, Mr. Moore, have you kicked in anything toward his defense fund? Or would that be too controversial even for you and potentially impact on future book sales and box office receipts?