Video: Hometown turns back on suspected leaker

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    >>> the american army private who was the alleged source in the wikileaks case is now awaiting court-martial in what's described as a massive cust -- nbc's mike tiabbi explains.

    >> reporter: bradley manning was the undersized sax player in the band, the straight a student, and his lifelong friend jordan davis who says he often got under classmates words. now he's the alleged source in the middle of the wikileaks firestorm, an army intelligence officer entrusted with downloading and distributing classified documents made public by wikileaks . in his hometown of crescent, oklahoma some are already judging him, like former marine roger campbell.

    >> i think he should be executed for doing what he did?

    >> reporter: and if he did it, why? a former computer hacker says he had a -- i want people to see the truth, manning wrote about war strategy, air strikes that killed civilians in iraq and about all those cables in the state department database. it belongs in the public domain , he said repeatedly, he says i couldn't be a spy, spies don't post things for the world to see.

    >> he described himself at one point to be a hacktivist.

    >> reporter: he sometimes refused to say the pledge of allegiance at school.

    >> that was one of the things that was a little different about him.

    >> reporter: he talked about his parents divorce, about a boy who joined an army who would not allow him to serve as a gay man. i was the only one in town who was nonreligious, i am godless.

    >> if found guilty, he deserves all he gets.

    >> reporter: given the current charges he faces, that could be 52 years. for today, mike tiabbi, nbc news, crescent, oklahoma.

updated 12/15/2010 12:48:37 AM ET 2010-12-15T05:48:37

The Berkeley City Council put off a vote on whether to bestow hero status on a soldier who allegedly released classified information to WikiLeaks.

The city council of this famously liberal Northern California city voted Tuesday to indefinitely postpone a decision on a resolution praising Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst at the center of the Wikileaks furor.

Some council members were concerned about the way the resolution was written and wanted more time to investigate.

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Others said it was premature to hail Manning a hero when he has not admitted to being the source of the leaks.

Manning has become a hero to some anti-war activists who believe the 22-year-old soldier performed a valuable public service.

Some consider a soldier's alleged release of classified information to WikiLeaks an act of treason.

The resolution would have been the latest in a long line of provocative political statements by leaders in Berkeley, a city of 100,000 across the bay from San Francisco that was the epicenter of the anti-war movement in the Vietnam era.

The city put a measure on the 2006 ballot calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and more recently tried to declare Marine recruiters "unwanted intruders."

The resolution proposed by the city's Peace and Justice Commission praises Manning for exposing "war crimes" by allegedly leaking a 2007 video of a laughing U.S. Apache helicopter crew gunning down 11 men in Baghdad, Iraq, including a Reuters news photographer.

"The United States Army covered up the evidence and declared this war crime 'justified' and now claims that exposing the massacre is criminal," the resolution reads. "Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime."

Military investigators also suspect the Army intelligence analyst downloaded hundreds of thousands of classified Afghan and Iraq war reports and an untold number of secret U.S. diplomatic cables onto a Lady Gaga CD and a computer memory stick while stationed in Iraq. WikiLeaks published the war reports earlier this year and began releasing the cables late last month.

The soldier has not commented publicly on whether he is the source of the leaks. But anti-war groups have rallied behind him and are raising money for his defense.

"We obviously think Manning's a hero," said Jeff Manning, a project manager for Courage to Resist, the group that authored the resolution as part of its mission of supporting anti-war members of the U.S. armed services. "If he's going to have a shot at justice in a military courtroom we have to move more people to think the same way."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has won similar support from anti-war groups, including documentary maker Michael Moore, as he appeared before a British judge Tuesday in hopes of getting released on bail on a sex-crimes warrant.

The WikiLeaks controversy is reminiscent of the uproar in Berkeley over Marine Corps recruiters in the city's downtown. A resolution declaring them "unwanted intruders" also was proposed by the Peace and Justice Commission, which is described on the city's website as advisers to the council.

The council reversed itself on the Marine Corps resolution following protests by conservative and veteran groups.

At least one such group had already condemned the Manning resolution.

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"It's tragic that the same rights and liberties afforded to Berkeley's citizens through the sacrifices of our service members and veterans can be manipulated and exploited for such an absurd purpose," Ryan Gallucci, a spokesman for the veterans' service group AMVETS, wrote on the organization's blog.

Berkeley officials have argued in the past that the city government's penchant for tackling major geopolitical issues alongside potholes and traffic is in keeping with the diversity of the city's residents, who come from around the world to attend the University of California, Berkeley.

But the city is also not shy about taking up causes that don't deal with foreign wars.

For example, when the Rev. Jerry Falwell attacked the purse-toting Teletubby "Tinky Winky" as a homosexual role model in 1999, Berkeley passed a proclamation that read "Long live Tinky Winky."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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