I’m shocked — shocked! — that Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge who ruled in February that Bradley Manning could be tried on various charges even after being held prior to arraignment for more than five times the absolute longest time specified in the US Armed Forces’ “speedy trial” rules, has now also ruled that Manning can be convicted of aiding an enemy that does not exist.
Yes, you read that right: There’s only an “enemy” to aid, in any legal sense, if the United States is at war, a state created by a congressional declaration. There’s been no such declaration since World War II.
Lind had only one legal duty as judge in this case: To dismiss all charges due to the government’s failure to meet the “speedy trial” deadline. If the United States was, as John Adams put it, “a government of laws, not of men,” that’s exactly what she would have done.
“Any person subject to this chapter who –
“(1) is responsible for unnecessary delay in the disposition of any case of a person accused of an offense under this chapter; or
“(2) Knowingly and intentionally fails to enforce or comply with any provision of this chapter regulating the proceedings before, during, or after trial of an accused; shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”
No, I’m not really shocked that none of this happened. It’s par for the course. Laws, including the “supreme law of the land,” aka the US Constitution, are for us little people. The US government doesn’t need or want them, except for use as camouflage. It does whatever it wants to do (or rather whatever the ruling members of the American political class tell it to do).
The only reasonable takeaway from the Manning trial is that American “rule of law” is a sham. The US government doesn’t operate within the Constitution’s constraints on state power, nor does it honor that Constitution’s list of enshrined individual rights. It never has done so absent extreme compulsion and it never will do so on anything like a regular basis.
The corollary: If the US government isn’t bound by its own alleged rules, why on Earth would anyone else be?
The prosecution rested its case Tuesday in the court martial of Bradley Manning, the Army private who has admitted to leaking 700,000 documents exposing US military atrocities and other crimes to the WikiLeaks web site in April of 2010.
The prosecutor, Major Ashden Fein, dropped one of the 22 charges against Manning. That charge alleged Manning had leaked intelligence to an “enemy” whose name is classified.
Over the course of five weeks, the prosecution has sought to establish by means of circumstantial evidence that Manning intended to send classified information to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations and conspired with WikiLeaks journalists to do so.
In charging Manning with “aiding the enemy” under Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the US government is equating the publication of classified information about its secret and illegal activities with espionage, treason and aiding terrorists. It is doing so on the spurious grounds that such information can end up in the hands of forces considered by the government to be hostile.
In fact, as the Obama administration and the military well know, Manning released the information to inform the American people of war crimes being carried out by the US government in Iraq and Afghanistan and diplomatic intrigues targeting many other countries.
The clear implication of the government’s case is the position that any publication or organization that publishes leaked classified information or defends whistleblowers such as Manning is itself engaging in criminal and treasonous acts. The prosecution acknowledged as much in January when it argued that its case against Manning, which implicates WikiLeaks in treasonous and pro-terrorist activities, would apply equally if the Army private had passed his information to the New York Times .
This sweeping attack on First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and the press occurs in the context of threats to prosecute journalists such as the Guardian ’s Glenn Greenwald for publishing former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s exposures of US government spying, and revelations that the government seized the phone records of Associated Press reporters and tapped into the email of Fox News’ James Rosen, who was named a co-conspirator by the Justice Department in relation to State Department leaks.
Proceedings in the court martial will resume next Monday with defense motions to dismiss many of the remaining charges for lack of evidence.
Prosecutors claimed that Manning was in direct contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that the latter directed Manning in the selection, downloading and transmission of classified documents. As evidence of this supposed coordination, the government showed the court a WikiLeaks web posting of a “most wanted list” of government secrets, though there was no evidence that Manning took a cue from this list, or ever saw it. The same was true with a tweet encouraging the collection of military emails by WikiLeaks.
Prosecutors also allege that Manning knowingly violated protocol for handling classified information, but cross-examination of a prosecution witness revealed that the Army had lost the document Manning signed acknowledging that he understood the terms in question. The Army’s failure to produce this document may result in dismissal of some of the charges.
In its effort to establish that Manning leaked information out of “evil intent” to “aid the enemy,” the prosecution alleged that he first leaked a classified video of a US air strike in November of 2009, within days of his arrival in Iraq, and not, as Manning states, in April 2010. Manning admits that he leaked the video, but says he did so following a change of conscience in late December of 2009, when he saw a video of a roadside bomb killing civilians whose vehicles were forced off the road by a US military convoy.
A prosecution witness had to admit that the copy of the video allegedly transmitted by Manning in 2009 did not match the version found on Manning’s computer.
Even if Manning did not intend for Al Qaeda to have access to the leaked information, prosecutors contend, he still should have known that WikiLeaks was a threat to the US Army. The evidence offered to show this was a 32-page intelligence report by military counterintelligence on WikiLeaks, which concluded that sensitive or classified information WikiLeaks received “could be of value to foreign intelligence and security services (FISS), foreign military forces, foreign insurgents, and foreign terrorist groups for collecting information or for planning attacks against US forces, both within the United States and abroad.”
Manning allegedly leaked this very report, which WikiLeaks made public in March 2010. Since Manning leaked the document, prosecutors allege, he must have read it.
Manning has not denied his leaking of documents to WikiLeaks and has offered a guilty plea to charges relating to this. Prosecutors have rejected the plea offer.
Manning strictly denies the charge of “aiding the enemy,” which carries a possible death sentence.
The entire trial is a travesty of justice aimed at silencing and punishing those who expose criminality by the US government rather than those who are responsible for war crimes and crimes against the democratic rights of the American people.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
At its core, the ongoing military trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the admitted conveyer of three-quarters of a million classified U.S. government documents to Wikileaks, is about the evolution of big data into a relentless and almost certainly unstoppable social force. Pfc. Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst arrested in May 2010 and charged with 22 offenses involving the passing of information to Wikileaks, is seen by many as a whistleblower whose actions revealed mendacious covert actions of the U.S. government in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and elsewhere.
Many consider Manning a hero on the level of Nobel Peace Prize laureates Martin Luther King Jr/ or Polish champion of democracy Lech Walesa. In fact, some 65,000 people already support a petition to award Bradley Manning the Nobel Peace Prize for the way the information he passed to WikiLeaks contributed to withdrawing troops from Iraq. Others see him as a traitor whose leaks have materially aided and abetted enemies of the U.S., noting that among the documents found with Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan hideaway, were a trove of the documents Manning leaked about U.S. actions against Al-Qaeda.
Manning has pled guilty to ten of the charges against him with a maximum sentence of 16 years. But the Obama administration, clearly alarmed at the ease of such a classified info hemorrhage, is continuing to try Manning on the other 12 charges. Wikipedia (which has no connection to Wikileaks) reports that the most remaining serious charge is “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense, though prosecutors have said they would not seek the death penalty. Still if convicted on that charge Manning could face life imprisonment.
The Financial Times, which has been covering the trial, comments that “The problems of balancing a free press with keeping secrets is bedeviling the Manning trial, with prosecutors estimating about 30% of proceedings will be shut, to protect classified evidence and the identity of witnesses.”
The judge in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning has said that she will close portions of the trial to the public to protect classified material, a ruling that is likely to frustrate civil liberties groups that have alleged that the case is being shrouded in secrecy.
In civilian court such a closed trial would not be permissible, and an attempt to bar disclosure of secrets might result in a dismissal. But Manning’s court-martial is conducted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which grants the military judges the discretion to close trials to protect sensitive information. That means Manning could be imprisoned for life without the public knowing precisely why.
So, big data?
In part, the Manning incident only points out the virtual impossibility of protecting secrets in a social cosmos of instantaneous communication and universal access to information. No matter how harsh a punishment the court visits upon Manning, the documents he leaked are out there everywhere in the cloud, impossible to recall. Anybody who has stupidly posted an embarrassing photo on Facebook knows the futility of trying to rebottle that genie.
The emerging kerfuffle over the National Security Agency’s surveillance and data mining of most internet communications from foreign nationals, looking for traces of information suggesting communications between terrorists or others threating harm to the U.S., is an example of government worry over this phenomenon. (Paranoia? Maybe, but as the old saw goes, even paranoids have enemies). The fact that China apparently has a sophisticated information espionage operation directed against government and corporate IT systems in the U.S. is similarly a big worry. Many other countries are likely doing similar information espionage and making similar efforts to plug information leaks. (Fast systems today can quickly examine and mine usable information from exabytes of data – an exabyte is a million times the storage contained in your home computer’s 1 terabyte hard drive.)
The computing power of the fictional super computer of the TV series Person of Interest — capable of tracking what every human on earth is doing in real time — is probably only a couple of Moore’s generations from reality. With that in mind it is clear that Bradley Manning’s leaks are only a splash in a much large ocean of issues about the control and dissemination of information in this new age of big data. We are rapidly approaching a time when we will be able to instantaneously discover the details of everything occurring in the world. Sadly, what seems still far away is an equally powerful filter to differentiate between what we need to know and what we need to keep private.
An aphorism attributed to Mark Twain (and others) goes that a lie can travel halfway around the world in the time it takes for truth to get its boots on. Apply that to the flow of information and you might say that embarrassing facts can travel everywhere in the world in less time than it takes for the data cops to know those facts have been stolen.
So, whether Pfc. Bradley Manning is a traitor or a hero to you, he is only among the first of a new breed of information Robin Hoods stealing information from the knowledgeable to give to a world hungry to be informed.
America honors its worst. It persecutes its best. Manning is heroic. He risked great personal harm. He did so to reveal vital truths. People have a right to know. Washington has no right to conceal them.
Secrecy, lawlessness, and contempt for humanity define US policy. Evidence vital to Manning’s defense is prohibited. Information refuting charges of “aiding the enemy” is barred from trial proceedings.
Claiming it’s not relevant or harmful to national security doesn’t wash. Excluding it reflects police state justice.
On June 3, United States v. Bradley Manning court-martial proceedings began. Pre-trial, Obama pronounced him guilty by accusation. Doing so denies any possibility of judicial fairness. His word is final.
“We are a nation of laws,” he claimed. “We don’t let individuals make decisions about how the law operates. (Manning) broke the law.”
No nation spurns inviolable laws more egregiously than America. Obama reflects the worst of US governance. He rules by diktat authority. He does so secretly. He’s waging war on humanity. He does so at home and abroad.
With a stroke of his pen he could free Manning. Pronouncing guilt by accusation assures his conviction. Doing so publicly leaves no doubt.
So do secret trial proceedings. They violate constitutional law. The Sixth Amendment states:
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”
The Constitution mandates ALL criminal prosecutions. Pentagon ones aren’t exempt. Especially high-profile cases like Manning. If convicted, he faces possible life in prison. At issue is convicting him for doing the right thing.
Manning’s trial proceedings will be secret, not public. Doing so violates constitutional law.
It mandates the right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury. He’s denied both. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) calls for trial within 120 days of restraint and arraignment.
The Rule for Court Martial (RCM) 707 mandates the same thing. It’s to assure speedy trial proceedings. Manning’s been held over three years without trial.
He’s been isolated throughout much of it. Doing so violates Eight Amendment protection against “cruel and unusual punishments.” US statute laws were violated.
So was UCMJ’s Article 13. It prohibits pre-trial confinement conditions “any more rigorous” than what’s minimally needed to ensure the accused appears for court hearings.
America should be on trial, not Manning! He revealed war crimes too egregious to be kept secret. He should be honored for doing so. Top culpable civilian and military officials should be held fully accountable. Justice demands no less.
Manning faces 22 charges. He pleaded guilty to 10 lesser ones. He denied 12 greater ones. He called war logs given WikiLeaks “some of the most important documents of our time.” He chose ones he believed “wouldn’t cause harm to the United States.”
He hoped a national debate would follow his revelations. It’s sorely needed more than ever.
America’s “obsessed with capturing and killing people,” he said. “Collateral murder” is policy. US helicopter pilots gunned down innocent civilians.
They murdered anyone trying to help them. Shooting wounded victims was like “a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass,” he said.
He wanted everyone to know. It’s their right. At issue are high crimes of war and against humanity. They’re too grave to ignore.
Manning’s charges include 1917 Espionage Act violations. Doing so contradicts the law’s intent. It doesn’t deter Justice Department or Pentagon officials from using it. It passed shortly after America’s entry into WW I. Over time, it’s been amended numerous times.
Originally it prohibited interfering with US military operations, supporting the nation’s enemies, promoting insubordination in the ranks, or obstructing military recruitment.
In 1921, its most controversial provisions were repealed. In 2010, Manning was wrongfully charged under the Act. Technically its under Articles 104 and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). It includes parts of the US Code.
Colonel Denise Lind is both judge and jury. Official transcripts of proceedings will be kept secret. Weeks earlier, Freedom of the Press Foundation “launched a campaign to crowd-fund a court stenographer.”
Manning’s trial “will have an enormous impact on press freedom and the rights of future whistleblowers,” it said. “The government refuses to make its transcripts available to the public.”
Floyd Abrams is a constitutional law expert. Yochai Benkler is Harvard Law School’s Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies.
In March 2013, their New York Times op-ed headlined “Death to Whistle-Blowers?”
At issue is Manning’s trial. 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.”
“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.”
Former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black one said:
“The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.”
What’s more destructive than imposing capital penalties or imprisoning heroic whistleblowers for life for doing the right thing.
According to Abrams and Benkler, Manning’s “leaks included important disclosures (and) their publication is protected by the First Amendment no less than the publication of the Pentagon Papers was.”
“We cannot allow our concerns about terrorism to turn us into a country where communicating with the press can be prosecuted as a capital offense.”
Both contributors agreed. WikiLeaks is part of the Fourth Estate. It’s right to publish is no less than any other media organization or contributor.
Over 350 media sources submitted applications to witness Manning’s trial. Only 70 got permission. In other words, those considered safe may do so. Others are prohibited.
Claiming space limitations denies others doesn’t wash. Proceedings can be held anywhere. According to the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF):
“In previous hearings, the Army has opened a public overflow theater with live audio and video streaming of the hearing.”
“Additionally, the Army has sole discretion over which room(s) to designate as media rooms – including how many rooms to make available.”
FPF enlisted a reputable court stenographer firm. With permission, its stenographers will work in shifts.
Doing so will provide a public record. All media sources will have access. Independent alternative ones are most important. People will learn what otherwise they won’t know.
On June 1, FPF headlined “Crowd-funded Stenographers Denied Press Passes to the Bradley Manning Court Martial.”
It said three of its media partners were denied them. It remains to be seen if FPF’s request discussed above will or won’t fare better.
Manning’s trial will be held at Fort Meade, MD. On June 2, Bradley Manning.org headlined “Nearly two thousand rally for Bradley Manning at Ft. Meade.”
They did so on June 1. Washington charged Manning with indirectly “aiding the enemy.” Saying so defies reason. It mocks fundamental constitutional rule of law principles.
Manning’s a political prisoner. Amnesty International (AI) claims otherwise. It refuses to name him a prisoner of conscience. From January 2012 – January 2013, former Hillary Clinton aide Suzanne Nossel headed AI USA. She’s an imperial insider.
Interim co-executive directors Bob Goodfellow and Frank Jannuzi replaced her. They’ve acted no less irresponsibly than she did.
According to Francis Boyle:
“Amnesty International is primarily motivated not by human rights but by publicity. Second comes money.” It relies on corporate foundations and other dubious sources to provide it. Services rendered in return are expected. Conflicts of interest are rife.
The Bradley Manning Support Fund is “100%” responsible for his legal expenses. Around 20,000 supporters contributed over $1.25 million.
David Coombs represents Manning. On June 2, he said:
“On behalf of both myself and PFC Manning, I would like to thank everyone for their continued support over the last three years.”
“I especially appreciate the the tireless fundraising and awareness efforts of Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network.”
“Finally, a special thank you to those journalists who have been reporting on PFC Manning since the beginning and who have brought worldwide attention to this important case.”
“I AM BRADLEY MANNING.”
We’re all Bradley Manning! His fate is ours!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net.
Bradley Manning by Julian Assange
If truth is treason, then those that claim the treason are criminals. I understand that Bradley Manning betrayed the trust that he was given by his country. I have been thinking about this for a long time. Let me tell you a story;
When I was in the Army in 1969, I was against the Vietnam War. I was a thorn in the side of my commander, a captain of a battery of Nike-Hercules unit. We were about 200 soldiers isolated some 50 miles from our headquarters on a mountaintop in rural Korea.
I wrote a letter to a mother from my hometown that had lost a son in Vietnam. The letter was given to the newspapers. I received mail back from that mother and from others that supported my stance against the war. I talked to other people in my unit and gradually became a focal point for dissent against the war in my unit. Needless to say, I was singled out for harassment.
I was busted from E-4 to E-3 a month after going to a promotion board for E-5. The charge was that I had left my duty station on top of the mountain to attend a party in the Administration Area at the bottom of the mountain (I was guilty). I accepted the demotion.
The next Friday at Reveille (the lowering of the colors), I was told to attend the formation. I was on duty at the top of the mountain cleaning space-heaters and was covered in soot. I protested, but was sent down to formation, looking like a chimney sweep.
At the formation, the First Sergeant bellowed, “Persons to be promoted, front and center!” The section chief of the other crew pushed me and said “Get up there Gatto!” I went up front hesitantly. I was wondering if the Captain was going to publically bust me in front of the unit.
To my surprise, he walked up to me as I was standing at attention, covered in soot, and pinned Sergeant Stripes on my collar. I was, needless to say, astonished. When this was done, he whispered in my ear, “I’ll get those Stripes back, Gatto,” Then I realized that I really WAS getting promoted.
After the Colors were lowered and the formation was over, I was told to go to the Orderly Room. I went over and was told to report to the Commander. I walked into the Commanders office and saw the Battalion Commander sitting at the Captains desk. I reported, saluting and standing at attention, black faced in soot. He told me to take a seat.
The Colonel explained that I was promoted to Sergeant the day before I was busted to E-3. Since a Captain can’t bust a Sergeant, the Article 15 was thrown out. The Army is a stickler for regulations.
He then went on to tell me that he knew about my activities against the Vietnam War. He then told me that there was a difference between living in a democratic society and being in the Army. In the Army he told me, I no longer had constitutional rights. I was under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He said there was a difference between a democratic government and a democratic army. He told me about the Soviet army in the 1930’s that tried to establish a democratic army.
They elected their leaders on a regular basis. The experiment was a disaster. He told me that the Soviet Army was so disorganized that Finland kicked their ass. He also told me that he didn’t really support the war in Vietnam either, but that as an officer in the Army he was expected to be apolitical. He said that the people of the United States should dictate what the Army does and that right now they are saying we should fight in Vietnam. When the will of the people changes, we will stop the war. Still he said, we took an oath and that means as long as we wear the uniform, we do as we are told. He also told me that I shouldn’t stop thinking; I should just stop talking in uniform.
I told him that I understood. It made sense. I knew about how the Japanese Army dictated policy to the government that led to war with the United States. I thought long and hard about the military and its role. From that point on, I decided that I would only do my protesting when off-duty and out of uniform, and that’s what I did. (Except when I went to the Stop the War Rally in Washington DC in my fatigues and John Kerry and his boys picked up my firebird and got me out minutes before the Federal Marshalls on horseback arrived, but that’s another story).
Which leads me to Bradley Manning., he was a PFC in the Army with a security clearance. He too had taken an oath. This is the Oath that we took:
“I, XXXXXXXXXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
So in reality, Bradley Manning violated his oath. Remember, this is coming from someone that also violated his oath, and not only that, I fully support what Bradley manning did. I expect that PFC Manning knew exactly what he was doing, and exactly what the consequences would be. This does not mean that I believe he should be exonerated. In fact, I believe he should be charged for leaking classified information because that is exactly what he did. The facts are the facts.
I don’t think that the information that was leaked was harmful to our national security. In fact, I think that the information that Manning leaked actually enhanced our national security. The truth is something that needs to be told. Manning, I believe, is ready to accept whatever punishment is doled out, but I believe that the punishment should be measured. The truth is that Manning put his personal security at risk to tell the public what the truth really was. This is an exceptional person. I don’t believe he is a traitor, rather I think of him as a patriot.
The Center for Constitutional Rights along with several journalists, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, asked the court to ensure members of the press and public have access to court documents and transcripts in Manning’s case.
With Manning facing a possible life sentence for the charges against him, about a third of the upcoming trial is expected to be held behind closed doors. The trail is set to begin on June 3, 2013.
Manning, a 25-year-old private first class, admitted in late February to having sent the secret-busting website the largest intelligence trove in U.S. history.
The leaked filed included hundreds of thousands of incident reports from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Guantanamo detainee profiles, and, most famously, footage of a Baghdad airstrike.
Last year, Col. Denise Lind, the military judge presiding over Manning’s trial, declined to grant media outlets open access to government records and judicial opinions in the case. The case went to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces after the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Lind’s decision in June.
At a hearing to have the military appeals court widen public access to these proceedings, the five-judge panel questioned whether they had jurisdiction to grant such relief.
Though the judges seemed to see the merit in ordering transparent proceedings, they killed the appeal, 3-2, Wednesday on jurisdictional grounds.
“Here, the accused has steadfastly refused to join in the litigation, or, despite the Court’s invitation, to file a brief on the questions presented,” Judge Scott Stucky wrote for the majority. “We thus are asked to adjudicate what amounts to a civil action, maintained by persons who are strangers to the court-martial, asking for relief expedited access to certain documents that has no bearing on any findings and sentence that may eventually be adjudged by the court-martial.”
The majority distinguished Manning’s court-martial from that of the 1997 case ABC Inc. v. Powell, where the accused “joined the media as party in seeking a writ of mandamus to vindicate his constitutional right to a public trial something which had immediate relevance to the potential findings and sentence of his court-martial.”
In the Manning case, “we are not foreclosing the accused from testing the scope of public access, but he has not done so here,” the ruling continues.
The two dissenting judges insisted, however, that “the general public has a qualified constitutional right of access to criminal trials,” and this includes access to filings.
“Congress did not intend for military judges to operate without review when applying the Rules for Courts-Martial or the Military Rules of Evidence,” Chief Judge James Baker wrote, joined by Judge William Cox. “Neither did Congress intend that review to come in the form of collateral appeal to Article III courts in the context of ongoing courts-martial. That would not provide for a uniform application of the law between services and between courts-martial. It would also be unworkable.”
Appellate jurisdiction is certainly available to review a military judge’s application of Rule for Courts-Martial (R.C.M.) 806, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which explains the right to public trial, according to the dissent.
They said the majority opinion will have the unintended consequence of barring “this court from exercising jurisdiction in an appeal arising from an accused’s assertion of his R.C.M. 806 right to a public trial.”
“The majority’s interpretation leaves collateral appeal to Article III courts as the sole mechanism to vindicate the right to a public trial found in R.C.M. 806 beyond the initial good judgment of the military judge,” Baker wrote. “This is unworkable and cannot reflect congressional design or presidential intent. Among other things, such a reading would result in the uneven application of the law depending, as it would, on the fortuity of the geographic locale where a court-martial is convened. In the case of overseas courts-martial it is not clear how this would work at all.”
Judge Cox wrote a separate dissent, joined by Baker, where he highlighted the “responsibility” of military judges “to insure that a military court-martial is conducted so that the military accused and the public enjoy the same rights to a fair and public hearing.”
The military judge’s confusion as to what authority she possesses over trial documents is evident from the record. In the same Article 39(a), UCMJ, 10 U.S.C. § 839(a) (2006), session, the military judge approved the publication of defense motions, pursuant to an agreement with the government, on a defense website, yet then stated she does not possess the authority to authorize release of court documents in response to appellants’ original request before the court, a request which included documents filed with the court such as defense motions. ”
Along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Assange, the plaintiffs in the case are Salon.com writer Glenn Greenwald, Democracy Now writer Amy Goodman; The Nation writer Jeremy Scahill; Kevin Gosztola of The Dissenter; and attorney Chase Madar.