FORT MEADE, Md. — Clark Stoeckley is Bradley Manning's most visible supporter at the soldier's court-martial. He arrives each day in a white box truck with bold words painted on the sides: "WikiLeaks TOP SECRET Mobile Information Collection Unit." The provocative gag even has a nonworking satellite dish and two fake security cameras on it.
Stoeckley, a 30-year-old art instructor at a New Jersey college, is among the more colorful of the 10 to 20 supporters who regularly attend Manning's trial, which resumed this week. The loose-knit group of mostly retirees or self-employed workers sits through hours of sometimes bland testimony at Fort Meade, a military installation near Baltimore. They take notes, make courtroom sketches or write blogs, posting their drawings and articles on websites designed to inform people about the court-martial and raise money for Manning's defense.
They do so because they are united in skepticism of the U.S. government and the belief that Manning exposed wrongdoing by leaking hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports and State Department cables, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan war video.
Stoeckley, who teaches at Bloomfield College, is spending his summer sketching the courtroom drama, making colorful drawings of the Army private in his dress blue uniform; witnesses in their Army fatigues and Manning supporters in their black T-shirts with the word "truth" across the chest.
Stoeckley got involved after seeing a video Manning gave to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. The video showed a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed at least eight people, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.
The Pentagon concluded the troops reasonably mistook the camera gear for weapons and that the journalists were in the company of armed insurgents. Stoeckley calls it a war crime.