WikiLeaks update: Boston hacker brigade rallies to "Reboot Democracy"

As the WikiLeaks saga marches on, federal investigations creep closer to home. And while the courts still have yet to determine how much whistle blowing is and isn't legal, Boston activists are speaking out -- and coming to the defense of Bradley Manning.

Manning, the US Army private accused of downloading and transferring classified government information to WikiLeaks, attended a party in Boston University's "hacker space" just three months before WikiLeaks published the now-infamous "Collateral Murder" video footage evidencing the US military in killings of Reuters journalists and Iraqi civilians.

Last Wednesday, the founder of the Boston University Information Lab and Design Space [BUILDS], was brought before an Alexandria, Virginia, grand jury to be questioned regarding criminal charges filed against Manning. That local computer scientist, David House - who also helped start the Bradley Manning Support Network - arranged the January 2010 BUILDS event that Manning attended. He's one of several area individuals subpoenaed as part of the WikiLeaks federal grand jury investigation.

Early Wednesday evening, the day of House's scheduled grand-jury session (and, strangely enough, two days after the 40th anniversary of the official publication of the Pentagon Papers), a group of 40 friends, supporters, and activists calling themselves Civic Counsel gathered in Government Center to call attention to the need for whistle-blower protection and a free press in the preservation of democracy.

Around 6:30 pm, news came out that House had refused to testify, relying on Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination - "the right to remain silent." A baby-laden guitarist started a "J-U-S-T-I-C-E" sing-a-long for WikiLeaks, setting the crowd a bit soft. Seventeen-year-old BU Academy student M.C. McGrath - a friend of House and a driving force behind Civic Counsel - passed out vibrantly hand-painted "Reboot Democracy" signs, a message linking the tech-based charges filed against Manning with an over-arching concern for the future of journalism and US politics.

House is fighting the executive branch in a case that promises major implications for the way our government regulates the free flow of information, as well the lives of everyone involved. He's not alone. The day after House's grand-jury appearance, McGrath posted his pledge of alliance on Twitter: "No matter what happens, even if I am targeted, I will keep fighting! Some of us have to take the risk. #wlsup"

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