Norman Solomon, a West Marin author and political activist, met with a Nobel Prize committee official in Oslo, Norway this week to make a case for awarding the peace prize to Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Manning, 25, is facing up to 90 years in prison for leaking 700,000 government files to WikiLeaks. His trial is scheduled to resume Friday at Fort Meade Army base outside Baltimore.

On Monday, Solomon presented Nobel committee member Asle Toje with a petition with more than 100,000 signatures endorsing Manning for the peace prize. Among those signing the petition was Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire. The signatures, many of which were accompanied by comments, were collected by RootsAction.org, which Solomon co-founded.

"We printed out close to 5,000 pages. I brought the petitions in two boxes in a wagon," Solomon said. " Mr. Toje was very cordial while he didn't give me the impression he was all that happy with the petition."

Typically, the committee receives between 150 and 200 different nominations each year, according to the official website of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Solomon said he told Toje that many of the people who signed RootsAction.org's petition said they believe the Nobel committee needs to redeem itself after giving the peace prize to Obama in 2009. Solomon said Manning richly deserves the peace prize since his actions helped to shorten the United States military involvement in Iraq.


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"He exposed diplomatic cables showing a massacre of Iraq civilians, including many children, that had been covered up by the U.S. military, as well as the now infamous so-called collateral murder video that he also provided to the public through WikiLeaks," Solomon said.

The video Solomon referred to featured a sound track of banter as U.S. service members in a pair of gunships fired on civilians in Baghdad. Solomon said the leaks motivated the Iraqi government to insist on legal jurisdiction over alleged criminal acts by U.S. troops.

"And for the Obama administration that was totally unacceptable, so that compelled a swifter, full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq," Solomon said.

Solomon said Manning's disclosures also paved the way for the beginning of the Arab Spring by revealing the corruption of the government in Tunisia, and it's collaboration with the U.S. government.

On Wednesday, Manning, who has been found guilty of 20 of the 22 charges of spying and disobeying orders lodged against him, apologized for the "unintended consequences" of his actions and said, "I'm sorry that my actions hurt people." His defense attorney presented witnesses who made the case that Manning's actions were influenced by confusion over his gender identity and other psychological factors.

Solomon said, "They're in the sentencing phase now and Manning is looking at the possibility of life in prison. It is an attempt to reduce the sentence. I believe Manning is a casualty of war."

Contact Richard Halstead via e-mail at rhalstead@marinij.com