There's only one way to free Bradley Manning
From Brother Ivo:
Last Saturday Brother Ivo witnessed a demonstration outside St Martin-in-the-Fields: a collection of single, hand-lettered placards proclaimed FREE BRADLEY MANNING.
Sometimes the message was delivered in anagram form as protesters mixed themselves up chatting to their friends, going for coffee, taking comfort breaks etc.
Then they held an impromptu meeting as whether they should re-assemble next week to re-write the backs of their placards to protest FREE SHAKIL AFRIDI or FREE YOUCEF NARDARKHANI. You will be shocked to learn that Brother Ivo made the last part up - that just isn't going to happen.
Why the protesters thought Bradley Manning might be imprisoned in the National Portrait Gallery is beyond Brother Ivo, but these deep-cover security operatives can be devious coves, so it is probably just as well to think outside the box and get away from Grosvenor Square from time to time.
Master Manning is an unfortunate young twerp seduced by juvenile idealism and the lure of cult celebrity status into betraying his nation's secrets. He handed over data in the form of some 700,000 classified documents to be published indiscriminately and unread by another narcisist, Julian Assange (who probably, by now, wishes he were incarcerated in the National Portrait Gallery).
Both assert that their actions served some greater good, though neither could possibly have read or evaluated that which they cheerfully turned over to friend and foe alike. Who knows what was contained therein?
It could be anything: it could even be something the US mainstream media really doesn't want to be published - like 'Where was Barack Obama and what was he doing for 24 hours whilst his ambassador and his staff were being murdered in Benghazi?'
Surprisingly, the CIA and St John's Gospel are in agreement that 'The truth will set you free', but it is also sensible to recall that sometimes it makes sense for the right hand not to know what the left hand is doing. Just because everything can be known in this digital world, does not mean that it is prudent to bring it about.
This simple fact appears to elude the protesters.
There was once a GCSE history examination paper which asked 'Why did the Allies keep the date and place of the D-Day landings secret?' The answer - 'Because if they did not, the Germans would have been ready to shoot all the soldiers - would have got you a grade C. Maybe the protesters opted out of history as a GCSE subject. Or maybe they did take the exam, but couldn't work it out.
Masters Manning and Assange did not and could not assess either the risks of disclosure or make any informed judgement about who might be harmed by it. They do not have a clue whose security might be compromised by the information they released un-read. It is this perfect disregard for the consequences of their actions that removes such behaviour from the sphere of the moral protest. It is as reckless in its way as loosing off a volley of shots into a school building. Both actions are utterly reckless as to whether others may be killed or injured in consequence.
Unfortunately Saturday's protesters do not understand this. The release of secrets might harm Western interests. That is a sufficient justification in their eyes. We do not see Wikileaks releasing Chinese, Russian or Iranian classified data. Had this been attempted, Mr Assange would doubtless be waving a Geiger-counter over each guinea-pig fricasse as it is delivered to his room.
The strongest suspicion is that within all such demonstrations there is a heavy bias against a theoretical notion of America. We may all smile at Middle-Eastern protests about 'the Great Satan', but many in Europe have a speaking sympathy for the notion even as many would cheerfully take up the offer of a Green Card if one were offered tomorrow.
One suspects that the Islamic fundamentalist and modern PC puritans alike have an innate dislike and distrust of a nation that uniquely places 'the pursuit of happiness' as a living objective in its foundational documents.
Yet, it is nearly always a complex relationship because there is within the demonstrating class a strong dimension which loves the USA - its music, films, technology etc. Although it jarred with anyone with half an education, there was something to be said for the old rendering of the 'enemy' in the iconography of the 60's radicals as 'Amerika'.
With that formulation adopted, it was possible to continue to like psychedelic music, the Civil Rights movement, James Dean, and Jane Fonda, while calling down hatred and intolerance on everything about the leader of the free world of which one did not approve.
'Amerika' was the USA minus the good bits: you could never offend your progressive friends protesting 'Amerika'. Everyone knew it was evil incarnate.
It was rather like racism in the UK in the 1950s where many disliked immigrants in general but personally liked, defended and accepted the individuals with whom they worked or lived in community.
In a country that then criminalised homosexual behaviour, the Royal Family had many gay friends and staff. There really is none so queer as folk.
Jesus (a northerner) never said that - but he probably thought it from time to time.
If our new generation of demonstrators were to adopt this scapegoating of an amorphous 'Amerika' approach - which adds up to little more than 'Down with everything I disapprove of' - Brother Ivo might have offered to put in a shift or two. The problem, as always, is when you get down to specifics.
There seems to be is a widespread distrust of the US security services. Yet plainly the success of their earlier incarnation helped to save European freedom from both Hitler and Stalin. Doubtless there was much double-dealing and violence involved, yet on balance Brother Ivo is old-fashioned enough to be grateful.
Similarly, we all approved (well, most of us) when Bin Laden was tracked down, though we cheerfully betray the man who made it happen. We wanted the London 7/7 bombers and the histories of their Boston and Woolwich counterparts swiftly traced to prevent repetitions.
Yet those responsible for such successes, together with the methods they use to answer our questions so swiftly, are treated as value-less when they are betrayed by the likes of Manning and Assange.
The early Christians attributed Judas' betrayal of Christ as rooted in greed. Today many would probably root the explanation in a desire for some greater good. Judas Manning and Assange all display a degree of that profoundly anti-Christian sin of pride. At least Judas showed a degree of regret rather than contacting a reputation management consultant.
Our demonstrators express their hatred of our security and financial institutions in terms of protesting 'the state', yet, paradoxically, many of them will simultaneously support an expansion of that same state on both sides of the Atlantic.
In Brother Ivo's day, 'anarchists' marching against 'government cuts' would have been the stuff of Citizen Smith comedy.
In US terms, this absurdity takes the firm of supporting Obamacare or the pork-barrelling of failed Green technologies like Solyndra or the Chevrolet Volt motor car. Protesters will howl at bail-outs when bankers misbehave, yet complain if anyone dares to suggest that the autoworkers of Detroit should be denied similar indemnity against the consequences of their own equally irresponsible actions.
Above all, everyone knows that Richard Nixon was evil and had to go when he was implicated in bugging a single room in the Watergate complex. Hillary Clinton started her legal career on the investigation of that crime, yet now it appears the President Obama is collecting data on everyone who uses a telephone or the social media, and moreover his associates appear to have used the Inland Revenue Services to target groups who opposed him.
Libertarians point out that this is malfeasance on a scale of which the hapless Nixon could only have dreamed. Yet somehow there is a simultaneous dislike of such actions coupled with an inability to conceive of holding the executive branch responsible to account. There is scarcely a connection between the policies and the politician. That is where celebrity politics leads.
We are seeing industrial scale abuse of executive power by the poster boy of the young, yet they seem utterly without interest.
In such a context, Free Bradley Manning? Why not? 'What difference does it make?' as someone recently asked with all the cynicism of Pilate washing his hands.
It is all very confusing.
Yet if the young are looking for the healing of a confusing and complicated world they would have done better to have turned around and entered the building where they had gathered for protest. There, they could have learned of the consequences of betrayal, encountered the exercise of true power through humility, the finding of ones real identity in quietness, and seen liberation expressed in the crypt, where the homeless are welcomed and assisted daily with greater personal acceptance than any anonymous government programme.
The Bible, and the actions it inspires, is as unknown to many of those protesters as the content of the Manning data. Perhaps if we all spent more time evaluating the one rather than publishing the other, the world might be the happier place which the protesters so earnestly desire.
It might also comfort, inform and free the unfortunate Bradley Manning as he faces, as we all must, the consequences of our actions.
Brother Ivo is the Patron Saint of lawyers.