Fort Meade, MD – The United States has had, clearly, a bit of an issue with whistleblowers in recent years. The newest and biggest one, perhaps the most damaging, is still ongoing but there is still another one playing out in the courts, the saga of Bradley Manning which is rapidly coming to a conclusion.
After weeks of testimony and legal finagling, yesterday Judge Denise Lind retired to her chambers to deliberate in the remaining charges against Manning. Some of the initial crime with which he was charged Manning has pled guilty to, but others still stand and many of them are very, very serious.
Now Manning will await his fate, judge by a single person and not by a jury of his peers, this being a military court and all, which could very well result in a conviction for the 25-year old Manning. Actually, given the politically charged atmosphere of the case and there really being no other option, it’s pretty much guaranteed that he will be found guilty on all the charges, heck there’s no real reason to even bother with the deliberation, it’s going to happen.
“He’s not seeking attention. He’s saying he’s willing to accept the price. That is a whistleblower, period. That is somebody who wants to inform the American public,”said Manning’s lawyer David Coombs upon concluding his case.
Really, little of what Manning leaked mattered all that much save for a single video showing U.S. troops gunning down Reuters reporters, which was a little embarrassing.
Despite a willingness to take responsibility for his actions, it’s believed that Manning would still prefer to not go to jail for the rest of his life.
“I think it’s pretty clear what the judge’s decision is going to be since this case is what it is. I mean this is no small thing, not tiny little event that just happened to happen. Aside from the trouble that it cause, giving him release could give other people so inclined to do the same thing, and that is not something anyone wants I would think,” said Scrape TV Legal analyst Gabe Hawthorne. “This is one of those cases where the law is actually not totally relevant to the outcome, what matters is what people want and people want Manning to go to prison for a long time. Manning obviously not but he doesn’t really get a say.”
Manning has said on multiple occasions, perhaps even to the judge, that he would prefer to stay out of prison if that is possible.
“It’s really a sticky situation where what is right legally is not necessarily in lock step with what people seem to want. Often that results in people getting angry, but that is unlikely here because Manning acted against the government. Perhaps if the information belonged to a young black kid if Florida he would be okay, but the U.S. government is a different animal,” continued Hawthorne. “That is really what has gotten him in the most trouble, who he went up against. A lesser agency and everything would have been fine because what he did wasn’t really that bad, but he made the government look bad and when that happens they will seek revenge, and have it most likely.”
The judge is believed to be just waiting around to announce the decision she made before the trial started
The prosecution in the Bradley Manning court martial rested their case on Tuesday of this week, well ahead of schedule, taking only 14 days in the courtroom. A casual observer might think the prosecution finished early because they have an easy job: Manning has admitted to leaking the vast majority of documents in question, and he’s already pleaded guilty to a list of crimes on his charge sheet that could get him 20 years in a military prison.
But Manning and his defense team argue his actions don’t warrant the most serious charges against him, the most controversial being ‘Aiding the Enemy.’ That could get him life in prison.
In its opening statement, the prosecution put a graphic up on a courtroom screen— It was the Wikileaks “Most wanted list,” a wish list posted on their website in 2009, the year before Manning began leaking documents. Chief prosecutor, Captain Joe Morrow, said the government would show that Manning used it as a ‘shopping list,’ and they would show even more direct coordination between Manning and Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange. But we saw little of that in court.
“They have no forensic evidence connecting that- what they have is circumstantial evidence,” according to Adam Klasfeld, who has been covering the court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland, for Courthouse News. He says the prosecution’s own experts have been unable to deliver evidence Manning had followed directions, even in-directly, from Wikileaks. The forensic analyst called by the prosecution “didn’t find any visit to the [Wikileaks] URL,” on Manning’s computer, and didn’t find any evidence of communication in the “unallocated space,” on Manning’s computer, the area where deleted e-mails would remain. Klasfeld says the prosecution argued the lack of material in the unallocated space was suspicious. “So in the absence of that evidence, the government’s theory was that Manning had wiped his computer, and so that’s why it wasn’t found there,” he says.
What the government did show was uncontested evidence that the leaked material made it into the hands of Al Qaeda, citing Al Qaeda propaganda, and records recovered from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound. But Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale law school says even this connection is indirect.
“I think the government’s effort on the aiding the enemy charge was basically predicated on circumstantial evidence,” he says. “And if you connect—if you could put enough dots on the chart—the theory is that the Military judge would almost inevitably connect them.”
But as Fidell points out, the prosecution has not been able to provide as many dots as promised in their opening statement. “One thing that teaches is the danger of making promises in an opening statement that you can’t keep,” he says. “As it played out, I think the government may have concluded it either had made the demonstrated by circumstantial evidence or it decided it hadn’t, and couldn’t, and that may explain why they didn’t call many of the witnesses they said they were going to call and why they… wrapped up the prosecution case well before anyone anticipated.”
Bradley Manning’s team is scheduled to begin their defense on Monday, but Fidell expects that over this holiday weekend they will be drafting a new motion to dismiss the charges against the 25-year-old private.
Banner at Cardiff Castle
Cor Cochion: Not in My Name
Saturday 1 June is an international day of action for Welsh-American WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning, facing Court Martial on over 20 charges including ‘Aiding the Enemy’ and a possible sentence of life without parole or even potentially the death penalty if convicted. The trial starts on 3 June and is expected to last over two months. Bradley Manning dared to reveal the truth about US-led wars, US interference around the globe and much more, hoping that this information would trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms… if not… then we’re doomed as a species.” He went on to say “I will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens.”
Brad still has many family members living in Wales. Cardiff Reds Choir/Cor Cochion Caerdydd is organising a solidarity event in Cardiff on 1 June. In London, there will be a protest outside the US Embassy . Worldwide events listed at bradleymanning.org.
Saturday 1 June: Cardiff
Cor Cochion Caerdydd Saturday Sing on June 1st 2013 is for Bradley Manning. Singing songs of freedom from around the world.
Saturday 1 June, from 11.30am – 2pm.
Join us to give out leaflets, let people know about what’s happening to Bradley, and to raise funds for Bradley’s legal campaign.
For more information, call 01495 220400.
Solidarity actions needed everywhere
See also wiseupaction.info.