Category Archives: War
SOLDIERS who failed to meet Afghan death targets are to be sacked.
Apaches are for closers
The Ministry of Defence said the armed forces will offer taxpayers better value for money if resources are focused solely on those troops who are consistently good at killing people. A spokesman said: “There is no point in buying someone a brand new gun if they keep missing. “And you would not believe the cost of an Apache helicopter. You can’t just hand them out to anyone who’s not related to the Queen.” The MoD is to introduce a commission-based pay structure with new recruits receiving no basic salary but 40% of the value of each dead Afghan. The spokesman added: “The platoon commander will also receive commission for each brown person killed by one of his troops, with the formula being continued all the way up the chain of command. In a good year a brigadier general could take home the best part of £1.5m.” “These days it’s all about ‘ABC’, Always Be Closing…. Afghans. “My watch cost more than your car.” Corporal Roy Hobbs said: “I had a good month in April. Booked six grand worth of Afghans and came top of my section. They gave me two free tickets to the snooker.” But former soldier Nathan Muir added: “I could have closed about 20 Afghans last month but the leads were shit. You get told to close someone but then it turns out they’re fucking miles away. “It’s all politics.” via Redundancy for soldiers who didn’t kill anyone.
A red light sits between the military judge and the court security officer. If any information considered “classified” is disclosed in court, either man can press a censor button and the red light will flash.
An audio feed broadcasting the proceedings to a public gallery on a 40-second delay is cut. White noise is fed into the gallery speakers where observers sit behind three panes of soundproof glass, blocking out sound from the courtroom.
Welcome to the Guántanamo military commissions. This week the court has been hearing pretrial motions in the death penalty cases against the five men accused of planning the hijackings of four commercial aircraft in the September 2001 attacks that led to the deaths of 2,976 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Reporters, two sketch artists and non-government organisations watched proceedings from the public gallery this week. Five family members of the 9/11 victims and two New York firefighters injured at the World Trade Center also attended.
The courtroom set-up leads to comical moments. The delay in the audiovisual feed means the gallery can see the judge sitting down in court while his seat remains empty on the television screens for 40 seconds.
Testimony taken from witnesses appearing via a sketchy video-link from the US adds even more comedy, and delays – many, many delays.
The blizzard of acronyms and numerical codes to identify each motion, coupled with rigorous security procedures to be followed in and around the court, turns this US military legal action into a Kafkaesque other world.
There was confusion in court yesterday when defence lawyers claimed the audio feed to the gallery and to the interpreters translating the proceedings for the defendants was cut off briefly. (It later transpired that a prosecution lawyer forgot to press their microphone button when they spoke.)
Analysis of intelligence
Prior to the interruption, Guántanamo’s former commander, Admiral David Woods, was being questioned by navy commander Walter Ruiz, who represents the alleged money courier to the 9/11 hijackers Mustafa al-Hawsawi, on the collection and analysis of intelligence at the US naval base.
Prosecutors become jumpy when the subject of intelligence is raised in the hearings.
At pretrial hearings in January a mystery censor triggered the alarm when the hearings turned to the secret CIA “black sites” where the 9/11 accused were held until their transfer to Guántanamo for trial in September 2006.
Yesterday, one of the prosecution lawyers, Joanna Baltes, raised concerns about Ruiz’s line of questioning. Ruiz facetiously told the judge that he could use the term “the agency who shall remain nameless,” if it was preferred, referring to the CIA, the constant elephant in this courtroom and the government agency that runs the secretive Camp Seven on the base that holds the so-called high-value detainees including the 9/11 five.
After conferring privately with Baltes and another prosecutor, Ruiz returned to the microphone, somewhat agitated.“I will not be threatened by the prosecution; I will not have that in court,” he said.
The proceedings then broke off for a private session. Any time information deemed potentially “classified” (secret to everyone else) is mentioned, the proceedings move to a private session to decide whether the evidence can be heard in open court. This is called a “505H” hearing.
Yesterday defence lawyers again objected to the accused being excluded from the private hearing but the judge overruled them.
Deciding what is classified or not in a case involving five men who were detained, interrogated and tortured in secret prisons over several years can grind these proceedings down to a snail’s pace. This, along with the five attorneys representing each of the defendants responding to each issue, can prolong already complex hearings.
Pretrial hearings this week were dominated by defence arguments that the accused should be entitled to participate in their defence, that they should not be excluded when the CIA’s “rendition, detention and interrogation programme” was discussed and that the military commissions system was meddling in their sacred attorney-client relationship.
On Monday and Tuesday the defence questioned Admiral Bruce MacDonald, who ran the military tribunals until March, about his lack of experience in death penalty cases and complained that he gave defence lawyers inadequate resources and time to mount a defence and mitigate the capital charges.
The defence also sought confidential reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross on the confinement conditions of the five accused, a move resisted by the humanitarian group on the basis that it would undermine its work.
David Nevin, lawyer for self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Mohammed Sheikh Mohammed, objected to the prosecution’s attempt to exclude the accused from certain pretrial hearings relating to their interrogations.
Mohammed should – under the eighth amendment right to protect against cruel punishment – be allowed to hear classified information if the prosecution was seeking the court’s authority to kill him at the end of his trial, he said.
James Connell, a lawyer for the alleged 9/11 co-conspirator, Ammar Al Baluchi, Mohammed’s nephew, told the court that the rules on classified information blocked him from discussing with his client the FBI’s account of an 2007 interview with him on which much of the evidence against him is based.
‘This is justice’
“The process would have to be a lot different, a lot more inclusive, participatory and transparent before we can trust that whatever comes out of this is justice,” Connell told reporters.
Prosecutors want the trial to start in late 2014 but that could be optimistic. Ruiz said this week that the defence believed it could be between three and five years before the trial starts.
When the military commissions system was changed by legislation in 2009 President Barack Obama said the revised court system would protect “sensitive sources and methods of intelligence-gathering” while upholding America’s “deeply held values” – values that any accused should be entitled to a fair trial.
The tug-of-war between the prosecution and the defence this week in “Gitmo” on pretrial issues reflects the tension between these two conflicting forces.
The military trial in the case of Wikileaker Bradley Manning continued earlier this week. An interesting legal point in the case has arisen, as Manning’s defense lawyers pushed back against tweets that the prosecution wanted introduced as evidence.
Allow me first to provide a little bit of background on why the tweets in question are even being discussed in the case.
One of the key issues in the case has been the relationship between Army Private First Class Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, and its founder Julian Assange. Prosecutors have alleged that Manning was influenced by Wikileaks to leak some of the confidential documents. (Manning has already admitted to leaking the documents, but has denied more serious accusations, including that he knowingly aided the enemy).
Previously released chat logs between Manning and ex-hacker Adrian Lamo, who earlier testified in the case, have established that Manning had been in contact with Wikileaks, but there remains contention between prosecution and defense about to what extent and when that contact occurred. They also continue to argue over whether or not Manning’s actions were influenced by Wikileaks, or if there was any collusion between the two. This has been a crucial point as well for federal prosecutors seeking to build a case against Julian Assange.
On Tuesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys argued over a couple of tweets in particular. One of those tweets, alleged to have been posted from the Wikileaks Twitter account on 7/8/2010, asks for the public to assist in providing .mil email addresses to Wikileaks. Another on 1/8/2010 posted by Wikileaks referenced having an encrypted video of a U.S. air attack (referring to what we now know was the “Collateral Damage” video, one of the items in the files leaked by Manning and later edited and published by Wikileaks). Prosecutors argue that this further emphasizes evidence of a leak, and that it should be admissible as part of its broader argument on the point.
Special Agent Mark Mander of the Army Criminal Investigative Command testified about how he went about determining the tweets were from Wikileaks’ account. In the past, he first went to the Wikileaks Twitter account directly and saw the tweet personally; then he more recently collected it from a Google cache version and the content in both was the same. Mander testified that Google cache is something that he has used regularly in his capacity as a CID agent investigating computer intrusions and computer crimes. He also explained a variety of other steps he took, in addition to obtaining cached versions of the tweets, to cross-check the authenticity of the tweets as being that of Wikileaks.
But Manning’s defense attorneys challenged the authenticity of such tweets.
“Anyone can create a Web page…that looks like WikiLeaks or that looks like Twitter,” argued defense attorney Captain Joshua Tooman when the government sought to admit a May 7, 2010 tweet from WikiLeaks seeking military Internet addresses, and the Web page of the Internet archive site archive.org that showed a 2009 WikiLeaks “Most Wanted” list of items it was seeking from the public.
Tooman said a government investigator had accessed the tweets indirectly, through Google, rather than directly through Twitter or WikiLeaks. He said the evidence failed to meet the test of authenticity since there was no way of knowing what the website looked like when the tweet or page was published.
The argument from the defense about the tweets’ authenticity raises an interesting legal point that could potentially influence similar arguments in civilian cases.
While it’s accurate that anyone can create a web page that mimics a legitimate site – in fact we’ve seen this in other circumstances that have been the subject of recent news reports, such as when Wikileaks Punked the NY Times – there surely needs to be some acceptable standard for authenticating tweets and other content that has since been archived and may no longer be available online. Most would assume that the standard tools regularly used to find archived content, like Google cache and the Internet Archive (formerly the WayBackMachine), would be acceptable in these instances, coupled of course with additional cross-checking. But the Manning defense team argues that it’s not.
If the judge determines that Google cache and other such tools are not an acceptable way to authenticate archived tweets, it poses an interesting question about how this might influence similar arguments going forward (not necessarily as precedent, but just as a general point).
You can read the entire day’s testimony in this particular argument in the unofficial court transcript for 6/18 provided by Freedom of the Press Foundation.
It will be interesting to see what the decision is on this matter. Proceedings resume in the Manning trial on June 26th.
Bradley Manning’s Trial, Day 8 (Live Updates)
12:08PM EST Government defends admissibility of evidence that it thinks shows that Manningconspired with WikiLeaks. For an in-depth look at this point during today’s proceedings, read here. 11:08AM EST Prosecution argues that if WikiLeaks has a plan …
See all stories on this topic »Russell Brand Says Bradley Manning Is A Hero
“I happen to believe that Bradley Manning has the right to a fair trial; it seems clear to me that some of the charges against him are mendacious and duplicitous from the outset … The things I’d say I’m highly qualified to talk about are drugs and …
See all stories on this topic »I am Bradley Manning (full HD)
Peter Sarsgaard Angela Davis Moby Molly Crabapple Tim DeChristopher. LT Dan Choi Bishop George Packard Russell Brand Allan Nairn Chris Hedges Wallace Shawn Adhaf Soueif Josh Stieber Michael Ratner Copyright: Bradley Manning Support Network …
See all stories on this topic »From Afghanistan, Thank You Bradley Manning!
The 75,000 Afghan War Logs, which Bradley Manning gave Wikileaks to ‘help document the true cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan’, can help all of us evaluate whether the Afghan war is cost-effective. Bradley Manning had also handed Wikileaks a video …
See all stories on this topic »Speed of Bradley Manning Trial Masks Prosecutors’ Struggles
Bradley Manning’s court-martial was already in weekend recess as of midday Tuesday, marking the third consecutive week the court has finished far ahead of schedule. Since the court-martial began, the court’s week has never gone later than Wednesday …
See all stories on this topic »Whistleblowing 2.0 — from the Pentagon Papers to Bradley Manning to PRISM
With computer technician Edward Snowden’s bombshell revelations about the extent of state snooping — coupled with the ongoing court martial of Private Bradley Manning — 2013 is the year of the whistleblower. These ongoing cases also highlight the …
See all stories on this topic »“A Different Kind of Patriotism”: Russell Brand on Bradley Manning
Today marks the eighth day of Bradley Manning’s court-martial for leaking more than 700,000 United States government documents to Wikileaks. Although the 25-year-old former Army intelligence analyst has confessed to disclosing classified information, …
See all stories on this topic »Manning WikiLeaks case in recess until June 25
Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court-martial over giving massive amounts of classified material to WikiLeaks has gone into recess until next week. The prosecution and defense will spend the next week negotiating written statements from some 17 witnesses, in …
See all stories on this topic »Manning WikiLeaks case in recess
US soldier Bradley Manning’s trial for giving massive amounts of classified material to WikiLeaks has gone into recess until next week. The prosecution and defence will spend the next week negotiating written statements from 17 witnesses, in lieu of …
See all stories on this topic »Manning WikiLeaks case in recess until June 25 while attorneys negotiate …
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, left, is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Monday, June 17, 2013, after the start of the third week of his court martial. Manning is charged with indirectly aiding the enemy by sending troves of classified …
See all stories on this topic »Public access fight over Manning docs in Md. court
BALTIMORE (AP) — A government lawyer said Monday the U.S. Army has released the vast majority of court records in Pfc. Bradley Manning’s case and told a civilian judge the dispute over the records had become moot. A lawyer for a constitutional rights …
See all stories on this topic »Manning’s Team Questions Secrecy of Leaked Data
Courthouse News Service
MEADE, Md. (CN) – The “secret” profiles of Guantanamo detainees disclosed by Pfc. Bradley Manning contained information that may have been publicly available for years, government witnesses testified by stipulation. The nearly 800 documents published …
See all stories on this topic »Court hears public access fight over Manning records
The Star Democrat
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning steps out of a security vehicle as he is escorted into a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Monday, June 17, 2013, for the start of the third week of his court martial. Manning is charged with indirectly aiding the enemy by …
See all stories on this topic »Government Defends Admissibility of Evidence That It Thinks Shows Manning …
Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is on trial at Fort Meade for releasing United States government information to WikiLeaks, does not face any conspiracy charges. However, this morning there were arguments on a motion that related to defense objections over …
See all stories on this topic »siliconANGLE » Manning, Snowden Cases Highlight the Importance of Basic …
Army Pfc Bradley Manning is facing a military judge in a court-martial procedure that will endure over many weeks. Be aware that rights and procedures in a court-martial are quite different than that of a civilian trial. The issue at hand is the public …
See all stories on this topic »Disputed Tweets May not Fly in Manning Trial
Courthouse News Service
MEADE, Md. (CN) – Prosecutors fought Tuesday to use Twitter postings they hope will depict Pfc.Bradley Manning as a WikiLeaks foot soldier, rather than its journalistic source. Months before his trial, the 25-year-old soldier acknowledged he uploaded …
See all stories on this topic »Manning trial focuses on whether tweets meet evidence standards
Lawyers for Private First Class Bradley Manning, 25, who is accused of providing more than 700,000 files to the anti-secrecy website in the biggest breach of classified U.S. data in the nation’s history, argued on Tuesday that Twitter postings offered …
See all stories on this topic »Guardian Weekly Letters, 21 June 2013
Fitting that Bradley Manning’s photo should be juxtaposed in World Roundup (7 June) with the famous shot of the Tiananmen Square tank stand-off, on the occasion of the release of the last “counter-revolutionary”, Jiang Yaqun. Our 19th-century idea “My …
See all stories on this topic »Medina Roshan, REUTERS
London Free Press
U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (C) is escorted in handcuffs as he leaves the courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland, in this June 6, 2012 file photo. (REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana/Files). Tweet · Bookmark and Share. Change text size for the story.
See all stories on this topic »Obama’s One-Way Mirror
There is something very wrong with this picture: Today I am in a federal court arguing that the press and public have a right to have access to daily transcripts and court documents in the trial of whistleblower Bradley Manning; meanwhile, Verizon is …
See all stories on this topic »China: Snowden Case Like Shawshank Redemption
China: Snowden Case Like Shawshank Redemption. Xinhua also compared the NSA leaker to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. by. Bridget Johnson. Bio. June 18, 2013 – 11:00 am. Page 1 of 2 Next -> View as Single …
See all stories on this topic »Sphere of Influence says Insider Threats are Detectable
The Herald | HeraldOnline.com
Sphere of Influence, a technology company specializing in advanced “Big Data” analytics and behavioral analysis, is informing organizations that losses from insider threats, such as those caused by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, can be reduced or …
See all stories on this topic »Ai Weiwei on his incarceration: “They never looked away from me, 24 hours a day”
The three men she singled out from the stage – Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden – all pasty-looking, unlikely Robin Hoods of classified information, are acquiring the cachet of rock stars. So too is Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei …
See all stories on this topic »Issue 25: Fashion Issue
Baltimore City Paper
In Mobtown Beat, Van Smith looks into a lawsuit to make the evidence in whistleblower Bradley Manning’s court-martial case open to the public and Edward Ericson Jr. details the tax incentives the city gives to millionaire developers. In City Folk, Bret …
See all stories on this topic »Julian Assange Timeline Of Events Leading To Ecuadorian Embassy Refuge Bid
Huffington Post UK
In 2009, Bradley Manning, a United States Army Intelligence Private, allegedly contacted Mr Assange and is later accused of leaking classified information. In 2010 Manning is charged with leaking secret diplomatic cables and is held in prison in the US.
See all stories on this topic »Public enemy
The News International
A good example is the recurrence of phrases like ‘endangered our national security’ and ‘aided the enemy,’ in reference to leaks by people like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. These intend to evoke certain associations in the minds of listeners …
See all stories on this topic »Without Waiting for Proof, Edward Snowden Foes Begin Spreading Smears
Let me suggest an alternative explanation: Bradley Manning. The trial of the man who handed over classified information to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is a cautionary tale for all wannabe whistleblowers. While being held for nearly three years …
See all stories on this topic »9/11 Case Motions Hearing: June 18 Session
Dew glistens on the lawn just outside Fort Meade’s Burba Cottage—-our usual haunt, Smallwood Hall, being unavailable on account of the ongoing Bradley Manning trial. Lawfare is in the house for a second day of CCTV-broadcasted motions hearings in …
See all stories on this topic »SF Examiner President Talks Free Michelle Shocked Concert
While Vogt seems to be claiming that he is giving the squawky singer an opportunity to be held accountable for her actions earlier this year, any attempt to paint this as a noble effort to support journalism, or Gay Pride, or Bradley Manning or even ad …
See all stories on this topic »One room, 10188 tweets and £9000 on takeouts: Julian Assange’s year in the …
In one of the chatroom conversations of May 2010 that now form the basis of his court-martial, US Army private and WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning referred to Julian Assange as “a crazy, white-haired Aussie who can’t seem to stay in one country very …
See all stories on this topic »Julian Assange Has Been Inside for a Year
It’s a sort of absurdist parallel narrative to the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning. The two figures are inextricably linked, and together, their saga reads like Miltonic poetry. Or a blockbuster film. Indeed, in Alex Gibney’s recent documentary We Steal …
See all stories on this topic »Open and Shut Case
Baltimore City Paper
On May 22, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a suit asking for a court order to end pervasive secrecy surrounding the court-martial proceedings against another leaker, U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who in 2010 …
See all stories on this topic »
Center for Research on Globalization
Gulf Daily News
South China Morning Post
|” AUDIO/TRANSCRIPT: Interview with ‘Pentagon Papers’ Whistleblower Daniel …
Brad Blog (blog)
And whether we were willing to continue that, continue our careers, which might be very comfortable in his case and mine (much more than Bradley Manning’s, for example) or do something to inform the public that would undoubtedly confront us with …
See all stories on this topic »
To Have a Constitutional Public Trial, Don’t You Have to Let the Public in?
Public access to the Bradley Manning court-martial doesn’t exist in any meaningful sense, despite the demands of the U.S. Constitution or the Manual for Courts Martial United States (MCM) published by the U.S. Dept. of Defense, which is the prosecutor.
Court-martial judge Col. Denise Lind hasn’t exactly banned the public — or reporters, who are part of the public — from the courtroom or its extensions, but she has presided over a system that, so far, seems designed to protect the public’s right to know as little as possible.
It’s a scripted con game, a kind of judicial three-card monte in which the public is expected to keep believing it has a chance to know. The following excerpts from the script, the unofficial court transcript, illuminate how the military plays the shell game of doing injustice while trying not to let injustice be seen to be done.
The comments here are all by Judge Col. Lind from the June 10 morning session:
“Just for the record, while the court is not interested in getting into the area of who is credentialed and who isn’t credentialed as it’s beyond the scope of this trial, the court does note and so advised the parties in the RCM 802 that rules of court-martial are not structured to provide a contemporaneous transcript of proceedings.”
Nice distraction, putting attention on “who is credentialed” when the substantive issue us who gets access. The Judge‘s MCM has no index listing for “press” or “media.” There is a listing for “public,” which by definition includes all reporters, as well as all military personnel. That’s in Role 806(a), which also sets the primary expectation that “courts-martial shall be open to the public.”
That “shall” in the rule means that it’s a judge’s primary obligation to open the court-martial to the public, not an option, although the rule provides limited exceptions under exigent circumstances. The rule’s discussion section states: “However, such exigencies should not be manipulated to prevent attendance at a court-martial.”
RCM 802 is a jargon reference to pre-trial hearings that have already been held.
The provision of a “contemporaneous transcript” is another distraction that leads attention away from the need for a meaningfully public trial.
That “the court is not interested” in all this bespeaks a disdain for the public that one would expect to be better concealed.
And that the court has, in effect outsourced its responsibility to control the courtroom and access to it, as described in Rule 806(b)(1), suggests possible dereliction of duty.
Turning to Reader Supported News’s motion, without identifying it beyond “the request for public access or in the alternative motion to intervene to vindicate right to public access,” Judge Col. Lind made findings:
“One. The proceedings have been open to the public since the start of the trial”.”
This may be technically correct and short of a false statement, but it suggests a non-existent state of affairs sharply at odds with the widely-observed restraints put on public access by the judge, the government, or its contractors. “The court martial of Manning,” observed the Huffington Post, “has been surrounded by secrecy and security .”
An example of what amounts to military doublespeak is that the court says it’s not “structured” to provide a daily transcript, as if that wasn’t something other courts do and the Army could do if it wanted to. Worse, even though the Freedom of the Press Foundation is paying for its own stenographers, the judge continues to tolerate interference with the stenographers’ ability to do their job.
“Two. Neither the court nor anyone acting pursuant to order of the court has specifically excluded any person from observing the proceedings either in court or in a designated overflow area.”
One might argue that this is another technically correct statement in the furtherance of falsehood, but it’s more deceitful that that. Dozens if not hundreds of members of the public have been excluded, by apparent design, either implemented or tolerated by the court.
But they have not been “specifically” excluded and that “specifically” has a serious lawyerly purpose in the worst sense of the word. Rule 806(b)(1) says, in part: “When excluding specific persons, the military judge must make findings on the record establishing the reason for the exclusion, the basis for the military judge’s belief that exclusion is necessary, and that the exclusion is as narrowly tailored as possible.”
Here, where the court is allowing large-scale, random exclusions there’s no need for findings on the record of the basis for the exclusion, or concern that the exclusion is narrowly tailored. The exclusion is not narrowly tailored and thus gives the appearance of bad faith.
“Three. Reasonable policies and procedures for media registration and credentialing have been established and published by the Military District of Washington as set forth in appellate exhibit 561.”
That there are “reasonable policies and procedures” is not self-evident and continues to be widely challenged.
More importantly, Rule 806 does not provide for the judge to outsource her responsibility for the courtroom to a third party who is neither answerable nor accountable in reasonably timely manner within the time-pressure of a court-martial.
“Four. 806C prohibits photography and broadcasting to include audio and video recording.”
This is absolutely true, but only if you stop after the first sentence of Rule 806(c).
The second sentence begins, “However, the military judge may, as a matter of discretion permit contemporaneous closed-circuit video or audio transmission”.”
By making this finding, Judge Col. Lind effectively admits that she has chosen to use her discretion to severely limit public access to the court-martial under conditions explicitly anticipated in the rule — “when courtroom facilities are inadequate to accommodate a reasonable number of spectators.”
In what way are the judge’s deliberate truncating of public access not clear violations of at least the First and Fourth Amendment rights of the public and the press?
“Five. The two parties to this trial are the United States and PFC Manning. Unless authorized by the rules for court-martial, or in special circumstances recognized by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, only parties to the
trial have standing to file motions to be considered by this court. ABC Inc. versus Powell, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, 1997.”
The opinion cited is not on point, as it deals with an investigative hearing, not a court-martial, and the issue leading to closing the hearing to the public was the protection of women whose sexual histories were likely to be explored during their testimony.
The question of parties to the trial is not at issue in the opinion cited. The petitioners in the case were media companies (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, and the Washington Post). They filed a Writ of Mandamus requesting the court to open the hearing in question to the press and public.
The court, in both its preliminary order and final order, ordered the hearings open to the press and public. The court noted in passing that “we have consistently held that the Sixth Amendment right [to a public trial] does apply to a court-martial.”
So what is Judge Col. Lind talking about? Certainly not the fact that one of the parties in the case is also her employer.
“Ruling. The court declines to consider [the request for public access] as it is from three individuals who are not parties to the trial and who under the circumstances lack standing to file a motion with the court.”
Done and done. The ruling ignores the clearly, repeatedly stated intent of both Rule 806 and the opinion cited to give primacy to the openness of the proceedings.
It might be tempting to think that petitioners who are not parties to a case might be perpetrating a fraud upon the court, but that would be a stretch. Here, it’s much less of a stretch to consider that perhaps the court is perpetrating a fraud on the public.
“Quia volo” is a seldom-used term in legal circles for judicial decisions of this nature. It means, “Because I want to.”
Often drawing parallels between the suffering of Jews and Palestinians, Muslim leaders from around the world made emotional visits last week to Dachau, Auschwitz and other European sites as part of a Holocaust awareness program. Imams recited the Janazah, the Muslim prayer for the dead, inside the crematorium at Dachau, and held afternoon prayers in front of Auschwitz’ infamous, bullet-hole-riddled “Wall of Death,” where many thousands died.
“What can you say? You’re speechless. What you have seen is beyond human imagination…Whether in Europe today or in the Muslim world, my call to humanity: End racism, for G-d’s sake, end anti-Semitism, for G-d’s sake, end Islamophobia for G-d’s sake, end sexism for G-d’s sake… Enough is enough.” – Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America.
It seems that our corrupt, lying leaders in Washington are at it again. Just moments ago, the Administration said that Syria “Has crossed the Red Line” by using chemical weapons against the opposition. That isn’t what is driving this train.
According to international sources, the opposition is swiftly folding against the Army of Bashir al-Assad and this is unacceptable to the U.S. and its proxy Israel. You can read about the rebel fallback here on OEN.
This is also obfuscating the current news about the unwarranted NSA spying on all American citizens. Obama seems to be losing his credibility with his Progressive base over what they feel are their loss of privacy and 1st Amendment as well as 4th Amendment rights.
Americans are being railroaded into another lose/lose situation in the Middle-east to stop the political hemorrhaging here in America. This is unacceptable and Americans should see this as just what it is. War in order to keep dissent to a minimum is an old trick. People need to look at this for what it really is, something thrown into the mix to keep our eyes off the ball.
Senator John McCain was on CNN recently and was very satisfied that America was now going to send heavy weapons into Syria. We should not feel as pleased. Tensions will be getting even higher in the region and it could erupt into another World War. That would take the American peoples mind off of how badly their government has failed them.
Former Chairman of the Liberal Party of America, Tim is a retired Army Sergeant. He currently lives in South Carolina. A regular contributor to OpEdNews, he is the author of Kimchee Days or Stoned Cold Warriors. Tim’s political book, “From (
US Army Private Bradley Manning is being persecuted for exposing war crimes committed by the Bush and Obama administrations. Like any criminal, the US government wants its wrongful acts to remain secret; it wishes to make the truth illegal.
On June 3rd, the trial of Manning began. He previously pled guilty to 10 offenses that could collectively bring 20 years in custody, but the military prosecutors were not satisfied. They pursued the capital offense of “aiding the enemy” which can be punished by execution or life imprisonment. This is Obama’s warning to anyone else who is tempted to speak truth to power.
WHAT YOU ARE TOLD IS ON TRIAL
Bradley Manning was arrested in May 2010 for passing restricted material to the WikiLeaks site, which is dedicated to the free flow of information. The material included videos of American airstrikes on Baghdad and Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables that became known as the Iraq and Afghan War logs.
The American government and military were acutely embarrassed. For example, one video consisted of cockpit gunsight footage from a US helicopter that was involved in the series of July 12, 2007 airstrikes on Baghdad in which an estimated 18 people were killed, including two Reuters war correspondents. The military claimed the dead were armed insurgents, and at least two of them had weapons which is common practice in Iraq. The Pentagon buried the footage by refusing a Freedom of Information request from Reuters. When the video was leaked, it showed an indiscriminate slaughter. Its audio captured the unalloyed joy of the Americans as they killed and an absolute lack of remorse when they realized young children were among the dead.
This video was a turning point for Manning who was shocked by the soldier’s remarks. At his pre-trial hearing, he stated of the leaked material, “I felt I had accomplished something that allowed me to have a clear conscience based upon what I had seen and read about and knew were happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan every day.”
The 1971 leak of the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg was a turning point in the Vietnam War because it revealed the depth of lies being told by the American government to the American people. Manning’s act was a turning point in the Iraq and Afghan wars but it had far wider impact. For one thing, it was instrumental in sparking the Arab Spring; one diplomatic cable discredited the Tunisian government by verifying the raw corruption of the President and his family.
MANNING’S UNFORGIVABLE SIN
Indiscriminate slaughter and the torture of detainees do not disturb the Obama administration; talking about them does. Manning not only talked but he backed everything up with data. For exposing and embarrassing them, government wishes not merely to punish Manning but to crush him utterly so that his example does not inspire others. To do so, it must make transparency into treason.
The accusation of aiding and abetting the enemy is a drastic and dangerous expansion of the Espionage Act. The exact wording of the charge: “Knowingly giving intelligence to the enemy through indirect means.” Traditionally, direct means have been required; that is, a person directly and intentionally provided intelligence to “the enemy.” The prosecutors now contend that the transfer can be indirect and unintentional. They argue Manning should have known Al Qaeda could access the information; his intention of revealing a war crime to the world becomes irrelevant. The New York Times observed, “This would turn all government whistle-blowing into treason: a grave threat to both potential sources and American journalism.”
The civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald explained further, “[The new legal theory] would basically mean that any kind of leak now of classified information to newspapers, where your intent is not to aid the Taliban or help them but to expose wrongdoing, is now considered a capital offense and considered aiding and abetting the enemy….And that’s an amazingly broad and expansive definition…” The expanded theory becomes a de facto gag order, especially in the hands of Obama who has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous Presidents combined.
There is no question that Manning broke the law. The fault lies not in Manning but in the military. No person nor organization has the right to force a man to surrender his conscience and mutely watch the slaughter of children. He has an inalienable right to speak the truth. To claim otherwise is to argue that a soldier is literally property, a slave of the military and no longer a man.
In Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau declared, “Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right….Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.” Speaking specifically of soldiers who surrender their conscience, Thoreau continued, “They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? [B]ehold a marine, such a man as an American government can make…a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity…”
Manning has already spent 1110 days in prison, much of it in solitary confinement and other conditions that human rights organizations call torture. Even for the most military of men, 1110 days and the prospect of 20 years more should be enough punishment for the ‘crime’ of retaining a conscience.
WHAT THE TRIAL MEANS ABOUT AMERICA
Roger Williams, the Puritan founder of Rhode Island, was America’s first revolutionary. He created the American soul by inextricably linking individual liberty with freedom of belief. In the 1640s, Williams argued passionately for “soul liberty” – that is, an individual’s conscience should be free from outside interference and control. “[T]o force the Consciences of the Unwilling is a Soul-rape,” he declared bluntly. Drawing upon Williams, the contemporary American philosopher Martha Nussbaum further defined “soul-rape” as forcing people “to affirm convictions that they may not hold, or to give assent to orthodoxies they don’t support.”
Williams won the argument, and the First Amendment was the ultimate result. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” The amendment was first in the Bill of Rights because freedom of conscience and speech is the most fundamental of human rights. Around the world, Americans became renowned as a people who bowed their heads and beliefs to no one; they spoke and believed freely. And, so, the world gravitated toward America because of the hunger within human beings to think and decide for themselves. It is a hunger for human dignity.
The persecution of Manning is an attempt to destroy the core of what it means to be American by destroying freedom of conscience and speech. The police and surveillance state of America wants to control information down to the level of reaching inside people’s minds to instill a fear of speaking or deciding for themselves.
Obama is raping the soul of America.
Wendy McElroy is a frequent Dollar Vigilante contributor and renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of twelve books, the latest of which is “The Art of Being Free”. Follow her work at http://www.wendymcelroy.com.
Whistleblower Bradley Manning is now on trial. Military prosecutors are pursuing the charges of aiding the enemy, violation of the Espionage Act, and “putting the lives of fellow soldiers at risk.” Likely sentence: life in prison, but the death penalty is possible.
A strong message is being sent by the Obama Administration: repress dissent, stifle critique, and punish those who challenge the prerogatives, or expose the crimes of the powerful. The assault on democracy continues apace.
Manning is accused of sending classified files (none “Top Secret”) and videos, including the infamous “Collateral Murder” video, to Wikileaks. Some of the material contains heart-wrenching evidence of war crimes (a small trove in a mountain of war crimes perpetrated). Soldiers are under a legal obligation to report war crimes. Manning upheld that duty.
An Apache helicopter gunship kills 12 civilians (including two AP reporters) and wounds two children, then fires on and kills those trying to rescue the wounded. A tank drives by and cuts a body in half. In mockery, the killers laugh. That is the “Collateral Murder” video (CMV). Watch it and scream. These are war crimes, three among thousands, many far worse.
These war crimes follow from what at Nuremberg was called “The Supreme International Crime,” i.e. the crime of international aggression, for which no U.S. leader has been held legally accountable. The U.S. president is therefore not upholding his Constitutional obligation to enforce the law. We should note it is the leaders (the planners and perpetrators of aggression) who “put the lives of soldiers [and civilians] at risk.”
Manning brought his concerns to his superiors. Violating their legal and moral obligation, they refused to investigate the war crimes and other “war porn” about which Manning was concerned. Manning said, “I was disturbed by the response to injured children” and bothered by soldiers who “seemed to not value human life.” Caring for life is the crime.
The assault on democracy continues apace.
Manning is accused of “aiding the enemy” and there is truth in the accusation when we understand that the real enemy of (and only real threat to) destructive U.S. power is the people of the U.S. Manning aided the people in gaining wider knowledge and a clearer understanding of the mass horrors and egregious destruction imposed on the Iraqi people by U.S. power.
In short, Bradley Manning aided democracy, and will likely be punished severely for it. The victims of U.S. crimes in Iraq already know those crimes, so that “enemy” is not aided by repetitive information. Those aiding the so called “enemy” are the originators and perpetrators of the crimes: the aggression, the missile strikes, the drone strikes, the torture, and renditions, etc.
“Every violation of the law of war is a war crime” (U.S. Army Field Manual). The “law of war” contained in the Geneva Conventions tells us that making the civilian population the object of attack is a grave breach. The CMV reveals a vicious breach.
Harming those caring for the wounded violates Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions: “No one shall be harmed . . . for such humanitarian acts.” The Apache helicopter in the CMV fires on and kills civilian rescuers.
A soldier’s obligation to report violations of the “law of war” is enshrined in the “US Army Subject Schedule.” The Uniform Code of Military Justice places soldiers under a duty to refuse to obey unlawful orders. Therefore, an order to suppress clear evidence of war crimes is an unlawful order. In essence, Manning is accused of not suppressing the evidence. By following his legal (and moral) obligation he is accused of illegal action.
Imagine the U.S. under monstrous attack by a massive superpower carrying out egregious war crimes against us, killing and maiming millions, and destroying much of our society. Then, imagine a brave soldier inside that “other” superpower releasing documents to the public to educate them about the atrocities being perpetrated against us with the hope that the revelations might assist in stopping the brutality and suffering. Would we laud that soldier as a great hero or denounce them as a criminal?
Manning believed his heroic actions would assist in helping the people of the U.S. both understand the situation of the Iraqi people and also reconsider the systemic and serial nature of U.S. power’s aggression against other countries and people.
But truth-tellers in criminal enterprises, in a world of systemic deceit, surveillance, and misinformation, are always a threat. Again, the real enemy in a warfare state is democracy, i.e. the people. It is a lesson for all.
Doug Morris grew up in Harrisburg and now teaches at Eastern New Mexico University.He spends summers and holidays in Mechanicsburg. Readers may e-mail him at email@example.com.
In his latest book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield (Nation Books, April 2013), Nation journalist Jeremy Scahill takes us inside America’s new covert wars. The foot soldiers in these battles operate globally and inside the United States with orders from the White House to do whatever is necessary to hunt down, capture, or kill individuals designated by the president as enemies. How did the president come to hold this much power in his hands, and what can be done about it?
Join Nation Books and The New School on Friday, May 31 at 7pm EST for a special presentation, Jeremy Scahill in conversation with Spencer Ackerman, a national security reporter and blogger for Wired magazine. Tune in here to watch the full live stream.( Click link below(
After more than three years in custody, Pfc. Bradley Manning’s trial finally began on June 3. The 25-year old Oklahoma native has already pled guilty to ten charges, but faces prosecution on 12 more relating to the 2010 release of restricted government documents to Wikileaks.
For his ten guilty pleas, Manning can face up to 16 years in prison. But the 12 additional charges could send Manning to jail for the rest of his life. Although he is charged with “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense, prosecutors will not seek the death penalty. While Manning’s actions were in defiance of U.S. government secrecy, his trial will be almost completely shrouded in it.
Less Access Than Guantanamo Bay Proceedings
Court documents are being withheld and redacted and pretrial hearings have been closed off from public view. It is estimated that 30% of the trial’s proceedings will be conducted in secret to protect witness identity and national security information. Other, more ridiculous secrecy measures have also taken place. Photographers are denied a clear shot of the defendant and his supporters were forced to turn their pro-Manning t-shirts inside out.
The government has even refused to provide transcripts of the proceeding. In response, the Freedom of the Press foundation attempted to hire stenographers to attend the public portions of the trial in order to give the world the most accurate possible picture of the events. This measure was denied at first but the government relented after a few days.
This level of secrecy at trial is not surprising if one examines the history of the case. After being arrested, Pfc. Manning was held in solitary confinement for 11 months at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia under conditions which led the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to say that the U.S. government was guilty of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
While Manning was locked away, the government gave minimal access to his lawyers and other concerned groups. In May 2012, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a petition for extraordinary relief filed with the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, and a subsequent writ-appeal filed with the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, arguing that the First Amendment ensured public and press access to the government’s motion papers, the court’s own orders, and transcripts of proceedings, which had remained hidden from view. The petition was denied in a 3-2 decision.
A letter signed by more than 40 news organizations was sent to Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson claiming that less access was given to reporters in the Manning case than cases involving Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Constitutional Protections for Speedy and Public Trial Flouted
This begs the question of the appropriate level of secrecy in such a high profile case. The 6th Amendment demands that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” Military law generally requires a trial within 120 days. The court martial of Bradley Manning is certainly a criminal trial, yet the military is allowed to deny access to significant portions of it. This has led some to question the constitutionality of the proceedings.
According to the Rule of Court Martial 806, the 6th Amendment guarantee of a public trial is preserved but is “not absolute.” Closure is possible if, (1) there is a substantial probability that an overriding interest will be prejudiced if the proceedings remain open; (2) closure is no broader than necessary to protect the overriding interest; (3) reasonable alternatives to closure were considered and found inadequate; and (4) the military judge makes case-specific findings on the record justifying closure. But why do we accept this watered down version of the Sixth Amendment for members of the military accused of crimes? The Sixth Amendment exists in order to protect defendants from “malicious prosecutions, corrupt judges and dishonest jury members.” Military service men and women are as deserving of these protections as everybody else.
Military judge Army Col. Denise Lind, who also presided over the closed pretrial hearings, has denied public access to testimony by some of the 24 witnesses in order to protect “classified information.” Defense lawyers offered alternatives to closing public accesses, but Judge Lind found those alternatives to be insufficient to guard the overriding interest of secrecy. Others have argued that Judge Lind’s confidentiality measures are designed to “minimize distractions and maintain law-and-order.” Eugene Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale Law School stated “people do occasionally act out in courtrooms, both spectators or witnesses or the accused, but I’m sure that the Army knows how to maintain order, and I’m not sure that it’s necessary to do it with as heavy a hand as seems to be implied here.”
What is the Government Afraid Of?
Even if we accept that criminal cases in military courts can be closed more easily than civilian courts, it does not appear that there is strong justification for closure in the Manning trial. Chase Madar of The Nation, pointed out seven myths that have surrounded Manning’s release of sensitive documents, his prosecution, and the media’s coverage of these events. He reports the fact that none of the documents Manning released were “top secret.” In fact, “more than half of the diplomatic cables are not classified in any way, and neither was the infamous helicopter gunfight video that shows an Apache gunship slaughtering a dozen Iraqis, including two Reuters news agency employees.”
Secondly, Madar asserts that there is no evidence to prove that Manning’s leaks resulted in the death of any American or damage to national interests. If the information released by Manning was not so secret and did not result in any destruction of American lives or interests, why must his trial involve evidence so secret that it warrants public closure?
The government can always offer the same line of national security interests to justify keeping the public blissfully ignorant of the crimes it commits. The same argument was proffered by the government to stop the release of the Pentagon Papers which included explosive revelations about the U.S. war in Vietnam. The release of the papers did no harm to American interests, but rather informed people of the crimes perpetrated in their name and the lies told to the public by the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson.
First Amendment law expert Floyd Abrams, who represented the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case and Yochai Benkler of Harvard Law School, wrote about the significance of the Manning trial for whistle blowers in America in a Times op-ed entitled “Death to Whistle-Blowers?”
If found guilty on serious charges, “the prosecution will establish a chilling precedent: national security leaks may subject the leakers to a capital prosecution or at least life imprisonment,” the two wrote. “Anyone who holds freedom of the press dear should shudder at the threat that the prosecution’s theory presents to journalists, their sources and the public that relies on them.”
The Freedom of the Press Foundation continues to provide crowd-funded professional stenographers for the Manning trial. Learn more here and access the transcripts here. Also related to this story CMD’s SourceWatch articles on Wikileaks and Julian Assange.