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.
Revenue will ruthlessly bring to bear the full arsenal of laws at its disposal to enforce the new tax.
If necessary Revenue will deduct the tax directly from the salary, pension or bank accounts of those who fail to co-operate.
People can only judge for themselves Revenue’s record for pursuing people…We have very extensive data. We will pursue. We’ve done it in the past.
Well I’d like to accept Ms. Feehily’s invitation and judge her organisation’s record of pursuing people.
A report in last Sunday’s Independent reveals that not one person has been prosecuted over the Ansbacher tax criminality.
Ms. Feehily extends three excuses for her organisation’s disgraceful failure in bringing the Ansbacher white-collar criminals to account.
Excuse one: A lack of original documentation.
An essential requirement for a successful criminal prosecution is original documents. There were very few original documents available and there was no legal mechanism to compel Caymen entities to produce such documents.
This excuse is, of course, bullshit. There is a mountain of good quality evidence available to Revenue if it had a mind to prosecute.
The reason this good quality evidence has never been used is simple – it would most likely result in damaging the interests of very influential and powerful people.
Excuse two: Time elapsed has made prosecutions impossible.
While many cases passed the serious evasion test to be considered for prosecution, the time elapsed – typically in excess of 10 years since the alleged offence occurred – meant it would not be possible to mount a successful prosecution.
Ms. Feehily’s admission that many cases passed the serious evasion test for prosecution directly contradicts her first excuse re original documents.
The ‘time lapsed’ excuse is the most powerful strategy employed by state agencies when it comes to protecting influential and powerful people.
It is no accident, in my opinion, that almost every major white-collar scandal is strung out over many years in order to benefit from the ‘time lapse’ excuse.
Excuse three: Some of the criminals were too old or too dead.
Being too old will not be accepted as an excuse by Revenue for failing to pay the property tax. This excuse is strictly reserved for influential and powerful people.
Neither will death be accepted as an excuse. If an ordinary citizen undervalues his property and the property is sold on after his death the tax due, with interest, will be extracted from the new owners.
Influential and powerful people are exempt from such exacting laws. For example, when the criminal politician Haughey died his wealth was passed on to his family with no response from Revenue.
In functional democracies such ill-gotten wealth is heavily taxed or even seized outright.
Returning to Ms. Feehily’s invitation to people to judge Revenue’s record of pursuing people I think the following sums up what most ordinary people think.
The very fact that so called law enforcement agencies like Revenue and the Financial Regulator are incapable or unwilling to enforce the law when dealing with white-collar crime but are more than efficient in enforcing the law against ordinary citizens suggests that there is indeed one law for the rich and another for the peasants.