by Kevin Zeese at www.bradleymanning.org
excerpts – read full article here
Last week I spent two days in court for a pretrial motions hearing in the court martial of Bradley Manning, the private accused of leaking documents to WikiLeaks that showed widespread unethical and illegal behavior by the Department of Defense and State Department. Manning has suffered the fate the Queen put on Alice when she was in Wonderland, “Sentence first — verdict afterwards.” By the time his court martial is actually held he will have been incarcerated for more than two years, one of those years was spent in solitary confinement. But, that is only one of many obvious injustices Manning is being subjected to.
In fact, just before the pretrial motions were heard the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez completed a 14 month investigation and published a lengthy report on torture and otherwise abusive punishment. He wrote: “The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence.”
Further, Mendez concluded that the US military was at least culpable of cruel and inhumane treatment in keeping Manning locked up alone for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period in conditions that he also found might have constituted torture.
Coombs specifically wanted to know whether the prosecution alleged that Manning had hacked into the SIPRnet, or stolen a password, or simply used the access he already had. Judge Lind interjected herself, asking an Alice in Wonderland-Queen like question: “Does the government have to prove how he did it?” Coombs responded that this type of specificity is what the Bill of Particulars was designed for, explaining, “I don’t want a trial by ambush.”
PWNED: Adrian Lamo – Part 1 here
by ADAM KLASFELD
MANHATTAN (CN) – A lawyer from a civil libertarian group representing Wikileaks and Julian Assange urged a military judge to release records related to the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged source for the biggest leak in U.S. history.
”As the Manning court-martial purports to be a public trial, we cannot understand why critical aspects of the proceedings are being withheld from public view,” the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Michael Ratner wrote in a three-page letter released Thursday.
Manning has been held in pretrial detention since May 2010 on suspicion that he sent Wikileaks hundreds of thousands of files exposing global diplomatic cables, incident reports from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and footage of a July 12, 2007, Baghdad airstrike that killed 11 people, including two Reuters journalists.
Last December, Manning stepped into a court in Fort Meade, Md., for the first time in an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury.
The government has not released motions, rulings and transcripts of those and subsequent proceedings.
In a March 12 letter to Pentagon lawyer Jeh Johnson, more than 40 news organizations wrote that the government showed greater transparency with the cases of Guantanamo detainees than with that of Manning.
“As such, the coalition respectfully urges the government to implement similar reforms in its regulations governing court-martial proceedings generally and that of Manning specifically to ensure that military personnel tried stateside have the same rights to a public trial as those afforded accused terrorists,” the letter states.
Ratner, on behalf of Assange and Wikileaks, joined that effort on Thursday, in a letter to the presiding military judge, Col. Denise Lind, which he copied to the Pentagon.
The letter quoted 6th Circuit Judge Damon Keith’s grim warning, “Democracies die behind closed doors,” from an opinion in the case of Detroit Free Press v. Ashcroft, which forced immigration courts to open proceedings of defendants with suspected ties to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Ratner said that it is difficult for even lawyers to follow the Manning court-martial without access to these records.
“For example, undersigned counsel attended the motions hearing on March 15, 2012, and determined that it was not possible to understand fully or adequately the issues being litigated because the motions and response thereto were not available,” he wrote.
Ratner appeared at several hearings in the Manning case to see how they might impact his client, Assange, who may already be named in a sealed federal indictment.
“Mr. Assange notably has a particular personal interest in this case because it appears that federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia have obtained a sealed indictment against him concerning matters that, based on prior official statements, will likely be addressed in Pfc. Manning’s court-martial,” Ratner wrote.
Ironically, Assange found out about the possible existence of this indictment from emails between employees for the private intelligence firm, Stratfor, which Wikileaks recently made public.
The integrity of military law and constitutional law is also at stake, Ratner added.
“We do not understand how a court-martial proceeding can be deemed to comply with the [Uniform Code of Military Justice] or the Constitution unless its proceedings are accessible in a timely fashion,” he wrote. “The public and our clients must be given access to the legal filings when filed and prior to arguments before the court.”
Ratner also criticized Judge Lind’s decision at pretrial hearings last week to argue classification matters in her chambers, rather than in court.
“In addition, substantive legal matters were argued and decided in secret,” Ratner said in a statement. “It’s shocking that secrecy should be the order of the day in one of the most important cases of the last half-century.”
Courthouse News placed a Freedom of Information Act request on Feb. 23 requesting several rulings related to Manning’s Article 32 hearing. The FOIA office that received that request replied the same day that it had forwarded the request to U.S. Army Investigation Command.
On Thursday, a specialist from that office returned the second follow-up phone call about that request, which he said was never received. He added that the original recipient should have forwarded the original request to the U.S. Army Judiciary, and indicated that he had sent a renewed request there for processing.
Ratner’s letter seeks an order making such rulings publicly available without resorting to FOIA. He asked the judge to make such a ruling, or otherwise reply to his letter, by March 30.
excerpt reposted from http://www.bradleymanning.org
Bradley Manning exiting the Ft. Meade courtroom.
U.S. official pushes back on Manning’s “aiding the enemy” charge. Three current and one former U.S. national security officials, speaking anonymously, are questioning the prosecution’s decision to charge Bradley Manning with aiding Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula:
these officials said they had no information about how specific items acquired by WikiLeaks might have aided AQAP.
“The alleged disclosure of classified information, while deplorable, does not in and of itself constitute an act of terrorism,” said one current official.
The “aiding the enemy” charge, the most severe, carries a potential death sentence. The government is seeking to prevent damage assessments, concluding little to no harm came from WikiLeaks’ releases, from coming to light in Manning’s trial. (Read more…)
Juan Mendez is interviewed, reporting on Manning’s abusive treatment. UN torture chief Juan Mendez’s statements shed more light on the heinous nature of solitary confinement, and the U.S. government’s efforts to block him from visiting Manning:
An appeal from Ethan McCord for Bradley Manning’s defense
March 16, 2012
Ethan McCord appears in the “Collateral Murder” video released by WikiLeaks–the subject of the 2012 Academy Award nominated short documentary “Incident in New Baghdad.” Bradley Manning, who is accused of providing WikiLeaks with the video, sits before a hearing this morning at Fort Meade (near Washington DC) that will determine the time line for his upcoming court martial. Please join Ethan in supporting Bradley by making a tax-deductible donation today to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund.
From Ethan McCord. March 15, 2012
Serving with my unit 2nd battalion 16th infantry in New Baghdad, Iraq, I vividly remember the moment in 2007, when our Battalion Commander walked into the room and announced our new rules of engagement:
“Listen up, new battalion SOP (standing operating procedure) from now on: Anytime your convoy gets hit by an IED, I want 360 degree rotational fire. You kill every [expletive] in the street!”
We weren’t trained extensively to recognize an unlawful order, or how to report one. But many of us could not believe what we had just been told to do. Those of us who knew it was morally wrong struggled to figure out a way to avoid shooting innocent civilians, while also dodging repercussions from the non-commissioned officers who enforced the policy. In such situations, many of us fired our weapons into rooftops or abandoned vehicles, giving the impression that we were following procedure.
On April 5, 2010, American citizens and people around the world got a taste of the fruits of this standing operating procedure when WikiLeaks released the now-famous Collateral Murder video. This video showed the horrific and wholly unnecessary killing of unarmed Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists.
I was part of the unit that was responsible for this atrocity. In the video, I can be seen attempting to carry wounded children to safety in the aftermath. I carried a young girl and a young boy away from the horrible scene. Both were shot and severely wounded. Much later, after WikiLeaks released the video, I saw both of them interviewed on television—they both survived. But they lost their father. The video released by WikiLeaks belongs in the public record. Covering up this incident is a matter deserving of criminal inquiry. Whoever revealed it is an American hero in my book.
Private First Class Bradley Manning has been confined for nearly two years on the government’s accusation that he released this video and volumes of other classified documents to WikiLeaks, and ultimately to the public.
If PFC Bradley Manning did what he is accused of doing, then it is clear—from the chat logs that have been attributed to him—that his decision was motivated by conscience and political agency. These chat logs allegedly describe how PFC Manning hopes these revelations will result in “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.”
The contents of the WikiLeaks revelations have pulled back the curtain on the degradation of our democratic system. It has become completely normal for decision-makers to promulgate foreign policies, diplomatic strategies, and military operating procedures that are hostile to the democratic ideals our country was founded upon. The incident I was part of—shown in the Collateral Murder video—becomes even more horrific when we grasp that it was not exceptional. When soldiers have a hard time swallowing the horrors of the realities we are regularly ordered to operate within, we are told to toughen up—and there are repercussions if we don’t.
When I spoke with my sergeant after the incident, he berated me, telling me that I needed to suck it up, and a lot of other horrible things. There aren’t adequate mechanisms for soldiers to take issues higher up the chain of command. Bradley Manning allegedly described (in the chat logs) an incident where he was ordered to turn over innocent Iraqi academics to notorious police interrogators, for the offense of publishing a political critique of government corruption titled, “Where did the money go?” His commander told him to shut up and do his job.
We have to change these kinds of policies and operating procedures. To do so, we need to know the truth about what’s really happening. We need information. That’s why we need whistle-blowers.
We all need to speak out for Bradley. We can’t let our government punish a true hero because they are embarrassed by the truth.
For more information about the defense fund click here.
Thank you for supporting PFC Bradley Manning.