On June 1, my friend, a retired naval aviator, and I drove to Fort Meade, Md., to show support for a genuine American hero. Local, county, state, federal and military police were out in force to barricade the area roads to prevent the people from exercising their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

At 5 feet 2 inches tall and no more than 106 pounds soaking wet, Pvt. 1st Class Bradley Manning has the empire quivering in its boots. What transformed an ordinary 22-year-old kid into a hero was his viewing a military video in his job as an Army intelligence analyst. He saw a deadly U.S. helicopter missile attack on unarmed journalists, which was followed by a second missile killing the rescue workers. This illegal murder scene convinced Manning to release the video to Wikileaks.

Manning was not interested in money for his information. His only interest was to let the American people know the truth as to what "our" government was doing in the name of the American people. He hoped that this information would open up a real dialogue and stop the senseless killings of both American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

Despite the police presence, it was a wonderful day thanks to the inspiring speeches. A young woman spoke of her role in Army intelligence. She had access to the same video. When she and others brought their concerns to commanding officers they were told to keep their "mouths closed and just follow orders." She then started to cry and said, "Thank God for Bradley Manning's courage."

The keynote speaker was Daniel Ellsberg, whose release of the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times exposed the U.S. government's lies and helped end the Vietnam War. Ellsberg felt a very close connection to Manning. Both men were moved by conscience and love of their country to expose the lies of their government.

Ellsberg elegantly exposed the government's major charge that Manning's action cost American lives as being another lie. In reality, Ellsberg explained, the intelligence exposed actually saved both American and Iraqi lives. Rather than prosecution, this heroic young man deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

STEVEN FENICHEL

Ocean City