Plan to come to Fort Meade outside of Washington, D.C. on June 1st for an international day of solidarity with Bradley before his scheduled June 3rd trial.If you can’t make it to Fort Meade plan a solidarity event locally in support of this brave whistle-blower.
Stop The Media Blackout of The Bradley Manning Trial
Beginning in September 2011, in order to publicize Private Manning’s case locally, there have been weekly stand-outs (as well as other more ad hoc and sporadic events) in various locations in the Greater Boston area starting in Somerville across from the Davis Square Redline MBTA stop on Friday afternoons and later on Wednesdays. Lately this stand-out has been held each week on Wednesdays from 5:00 to 6:00 PM at Central Square, Cambridge, Ma. (small park at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Prospect Street just outside the Redline MBTA stop, renamed Manning Square for the duration of the stand-out) in order to continue to broaden our outreach. Join us there in calling for Private Manning’s freedom. President Obama Pardon Private Manning Now!
Those who have followed the heroic Wikileaks whistle-blower Private Bradley Manning’s case over the past year or so, since about April 2012 when the pre-trial hearings began in earnest, know that last November the defendant offered to plead guilty to a few lesser included charges in his indictment, basically taking legal and political responsibility for the leaks to WikiLeaks that had been the subject of some of the government’s allegations against him. Without getting into the arcane legal maneuvering on this issue the idea was to cut across the government’s pretty solid case against him being the leaker of information and to have the now scheduled for June trial be focused on the substantive question of whether his actions constituted “material aid to terrorism” and “aiding the enemy” which could subject Private Manning to life in prison. We noted then that we needed to stay with Bradley on this and make sure people know that what he admitted to was that he disclosed information about American military atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan and other diplomatic high crimes and misdemeanors and only that. We also noted that he was, and is, frankly, in trouble, big trouble, and needs our support more than ever. Especially in light of the following:
After enduring nearly three years of detention, at times under torturous conditions, on February 28, 2013 Bradley Manning confessed that he had provided WikiLeakswith a trove of military and diplomatic documents that exposed U.S. imperialist schemes and wartime atrocities. Private Manning’s guilty plea on ten of 22 counts against him could land him in prison for 20 years. A day after Bradley confessed, military prosecutors announced plans to try him on the remaining counts, including “aiding the enemy” and violating the Espionage Act. Trial is expected to begin in early June, now scheduled for June 3rd.
In exposing the secrecy and lies with which the American government cover their depredations, Bradley Manning performed a great service to workers and oppressed around the world. All who oppose the imperialist barbarity and machinations revealed in the material he provided must join in demanding his immediate freedom. Also crucially important is the defense of Julian Assange against the vendetta by the U.S., Britain and their cohorts, who are attempting to railroad him to prison by one means or another for his role in running WikiLeaks.
In a 35-page statement he read to the military court after entering his plea (written summary available at the Bradley Manning Support Network and an audio transcript as well), Manning told of his journey from nearly being rejected in basic training to becoming an army intelligence analyst. In that capacity he came across mountains of evidence of U.S. duplicity and war crimes. The materials he provided to WikiLeaks included military logs documenting 120,000 civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and a formal military policy of covering up torture, rape and murder. A quarter-million diplomatic cables address all manner of lethal operations within U.S. client states, from the “drug war” in Mexico to drone strikes in Yemen. He also released files containing assessments of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. These documents show that the government continued to hold many who, Manning stated, were believed or known to be innocent, as well as “low level foot soldiers that did not have useful intelligence.”
The Pentagon and the Obama Administration declared war against WikiLeaks following the release of a video, now entitled Collateral Murder and widely available, conveyed by Manning, of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter airstrike in Iraq that killed at least 12 people, including two Reuters journalists. American forces are then shown firing on a van that pulled up to help the victims. Manning said he was most alarmed by the“bloodlust they appeared to have.” He described how instead of calling for medical attention for a seriously wounded individual trying to crawl to safety, an aerial crew team member “asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage.”
By January 2010, Manning said, he“began to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year” and decided to make public many of the documents he had backed up as part of his work as an analyst. Manning first offered the materials to the Washington Post and the New York Times. Not getting anywhere with these pillars of the press establishment, the latter apparently not considering war crimes of its government, as opposed to all manner of foreign state activities, news fit to print in February 2010 he made his first submission to WikiLeaks. He attached a note advising that “this is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of twenty-first century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day.”
The charge of “aiding the enemy”—i.e., Al Qaeda—is especially ominous. This used to mean things like military sabotage and handing over information on troop movements to a battlefield enemy. In Manning’s case, the prosecution claims that the very act of publicizing U.S. military and diplomatic activities, some of which took place years before, amounted to “indirect” communication with Al Qaeda. Manning told the court that he believed that public access to the information “could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.” He hoped that this “might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the affected environment every day.” But by the lights of the imperialists’ war on terror, any exposure of their depredations can be construed as support to the “terrorist”enemy, whoever that might be.
The Pentagon intends to call no fewer than 141 witnesses in its show trial, including four people to testify anonymously. One of them, designated as “John Doe,” is believed to be a Navy SEAL who participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. “Doe” is alleged to have grabbed three disks from bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound on which was stored four files’ worth of the WikiLeaks material provided by Manning.
Nor do charges under the Espionage Act have to have anything to do with actual spying. The law was one of an array of measures adopted to criminalize antiwar activity after U.S. imperialism’s entry into the First World War. It mandated imprisonment for any act deemed to interfere with the recruitment of troops. Among its first and most prominent victims was Socialist Party spokesman Eugene V. Debs, who was jailed for a June 1918 speech at a workers’ rally in Canton, Ohio, where he denounced the war as capitalist slaughter and paid tribute to the leaders of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Dozens of Industrial Workers of the World organizers were also thrown into prison.
In the early 1970s, the Nixon government tried, unsuccessfully, to use this law to go after Daniel Ellsberg, whose release of the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times shed light on the history of U.S. imperialism’s losing war against the Vietnamese workers and peasants. Obama has happily picked up Nixon’s mantle. Manning’s prosecution will be the sixth time the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act against the source of an unauthorized leak of classified information—more than the combined total under all prior administrations since the law’s enactment in 1917.
The Private Bradley Manning case is headed toward an early summer trial. The news on his case over the past several months has centered on the many pre-trial motion hearings including defense motions to dismiss for lack of speedy trial. Private Manning’s pre-trial confinement is now well over 1000 days. That dismissal motion was ruled on by Military Judge Lind. On February 26, 2013 she denied the defense’s motion for dismissal, the last serious chance for Bradley Manning to go free before the scheduled June trial. She ruled furthermore that the various delays by the government were inherent in the nature of this case and that the military authorities, except in one short instance, had been diligent in their efforts to move the proceedings along. For those of us with military experience this is a classic, if perverse, case of that old army slogan-“Hurry up, and wait.” This is definitely tough news for Private Manning although perhaps a good appeal point in some future civilian court review.
The defense had contended that the charges should be dismissed because the military by its own statutes (to speak nothing of that funny old constitutional right to a speedy trial guarantee that our plebeian forbears fought tooth and nail for against the bloody British and later made damn sure was included in the Amendments when the founding fathers“forgot” to include it in the main document) should have arraigned Private Manning within 120 days after his arrest. They hemmed and hawed for almost 600 days before deciding on the charges and a court martial. Nobody in the convening authority, as required by those same statutes, pushed the prosecution forward in a timely manner. In fact the court-martial convening authority, in the person of one Colonel Coffman, seemed to have seen his role as mere “yes man” to each of the government’s eight requests for delays without explanation. Apparently the Colonel saw his role as a mere clearing agent for whatever excuse the government gave, mainly endless addition time for clearing various classified documents a process that need not have held up the proceedings. The defense made timely objection to each governmental request to no avail.
Testimony from military authorities at pre-trial hearings in November 2012 about the reasons for the lack of action ranged from the lame to the absurd (mainly negative responses to knowledge about why some additional delays were necessary. One “reason” sticks out as a reason for excusable delay -some officer needed to get his son to a swimming meet and was thus “unavailable” for a couple of days. I didn’t make this up. I don’t have that sense of the absurd. Jesus, a man was rotting in Obama’s jails and they let him rot because of some damn swim meet). The prosecution, obviously, argued that the government has moved might and main to move the case along and had merely waited until all leaked materials had been determined before proceeding. The judge saw it the government’s way and ruled according as noted above.
The defense had also pursued a motion for a dismissal of the major charges (espionage/ indirect material aid to terrorists) on the basis of the minimal effect of any leaks on national security issues as against Private Manning’s claim that such knowledge was important to the public square (freedom of information issues important for us as well in order to know about what the hell the government is doing either in front of us, or behind our backs). Last summer (2012) witnesses from an alphabet soup list of government agencies (CIA, FBI, NSA, Military Intelligence, etc., etc.) testified that while the information leaked shouldn’t have been leaked that the effect on national security was de minimus. The Secretary of Defense at the time, Leon Panetta, also made a public statement to that effect. The prosecution argued, successfully at the time, that the mere fact of the leak of classified information caused irreparable harm to national security issues and Private Manning’s intent, even if noble, was not at issue.
The recent thrust of the motion to dismiss has centered on the defense’s contention that Private Manning consciously and carefully screened any material in his possession to avoid any conflict with national security and that most of the released material had been over-classified (received higher security level than necessary). Much of the materials leaked, as per those parts published widely in the aftermath of the disclosures by the New York Times and other major outlets, concerned reports of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan and diplomatic interchanges that reflected poorly on that profession. The Obama government has argued again that the mere fact of leaking was all that mattered. That motion has also not been fully ruled on and is now the subject of prosecution counter- motions and has been a cause for further trial delay.
A defense motion for dismissal based on serious allegations of torturous behavior by the military authorities extending far up the chain of command (a three-star Army general, not the normal concern of someone so far up the chain in the matter of discipline for enlisted personal) while Private Manning was first detained in Kuwait and later at the Quantico Marine brig for about a year ending in April 2011 has now been ruled on. In late November and early December Private Manning himself, as well as others including senior military mental health workers, took the stand to detail those abuses over several days. Most important to the defense was the testimony by qualified military mental health professionals citing the constant willful failure of those who held Private Manning in close confinement to listen to, or act, on their recommendations during those periods
Judge Lind, the military judge who has heard all the pre-trial arguments in the case thus far, has essentially ruled unfavorably on that motion to dismiss given the potential life sentence Private Manning faces. As she announced at an early January pre-trial hearing the military acted illegally in some of its actions. While every Bradley Manning supporter should be heartened by the fact that the military judge ruled that he was subject to illegal behavior by the military during his pre-trial confinement her remedy, a 112 days reduction in any future sentence, is a mere slap on the wrist to the military authorities. No dismissal or, alternatively, no appropriate reduction (the asked for ten to one ratio for all his first year or so of illegal close confinement which would take years off any potential sentence) given the seriousness of the illegal behavior as the defense tirelessly argued for. And the result is a heavy-handed deterrent to any future military whistleblowers, who already are under enormous pressures to remain silent as a matter of course while in uniform, and others who seek to put the hard facts of future American military atrocities before the public.
An important statement in November 2012 was issued by three Nobel Peace Laureates (including Bishop Tutu from South Africa) calling on their fellow laureate, United States President Barack Obama, to free Private Manning from his jails. (Available on the Support Bradley Manning Network website.)
On February 23, 2013, the 1000th day of Private Bradley Manning’s pre-trial confinement, an international day of solidarity was observed with over seventy stand-outs and other demonstration held in America and internationally. Bradley Manning and his courageous stand have not been forgotten. Go to the Bradley Manning Support Network for more details about the events of that day. Another international day of solidarity is scheduled for June 1, 2013 at Fort Meade, Maryland and elsewhere just before the scheduled start of his trial on June 3rd. Check the support network for updates on that event as well.
6 Ways To Support Heroic Wikileaks Whistle-blower Private Bradley Manning
*Come to our stand-out in support of Private Bradley Manning in Central Square, Cambridge, Ma (corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Prospect Street near MBTA Redline station) every Wednesday between 5-6 PM. For other locations in Greater Boston, nationally, and internationally check the Bradley Manning Support Network -http://www.bradleymanning.org/ and for details of the current status of the case and future event updates as well. Also plan to come to Fort Meade outside of Washington, D.C. on June 1st for an international day of solidarity with Bradley before his scheduled June 3rd trial.If you can’t make it to Fort Meade plan a solidarity event locally in support of this brave whistle-blower.
*Contribute to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund- as the trial date approaches funds are urgently needed! The government has unlimited financial and personnel resources to prosecute Bradley. And the Obama government is fully using them. We have a fine defense civilian lawyer, David Coombs, many supporters throughout America and the world working hard for Bradley’s freedom, and the truth on our side. Still the hard reality of the American legal system, civilian or military, is that an adequate defense cost serious money. So help out with whatever you can spare. For link go to http://www.bradleymanning.org/
*Sign the online petition at the Bradley Manning Support Network (for link go to http://www.bradleymanning.org/ )to the Secretary of the Army to free Bradley Manning-1000 plus days is enough! The Secretary of the Army stands in the direct chain of command up to the President and can release Private Manning from pre-trial confinement and drop the charges against him at his discretion. For basically any reason that he wishes to-let us say 1000 plus days is enough. Join the over 25,000 supporters in the United States and throughout the world clamoring for Bradley’s well-deserved freedom.
*Call (Comments”202-456-1111), write The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, e-mail-(http://www.whitehouse.gov’contact/submitquestions-and comments) the White House to demand President Obama pardon Bradley Manning- The presidential power to pardon is granted under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution:
“The President…shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in case of impeachment.”
In federal cases, and military cases are federal cases, the President of the United States can, under authority granted by the U.S. Constitution as stated above, pardon the guilty and the innocent, the convicted and those awaiting trial- former President Nixon and former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, for example among others, received such pardons for their heinous crimes- Now that Bradley Manning has pleaded guilty to some lesser charges and is subject to further prison time (up to 20 years) this pardon campaign is more necessary than ever. Free Bradley Manning! Free the whistleblower!