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The 'Railroading' of Bradley Manning continues while the people watch American Idol
by ronnie Friday, May 25 2012, 1:51pm
international / injustice/law / commentary

The outcome of Manning's trial is a foregone conclusion, guilty ...

America abandoned justice when it legalised torture; so it comes as no surprise that the railroading of Manning is being conducted in secret. Various bodies have requested more transparency, however, all applicants have been placed on a watch list for possible indefinite detention in the near future -- welcome to America, home of the slave, land of the God knows what?

Prisoner of conscience, denied rights and due process
Prisoner of conscience, denied rights and due process

Report from The Guardian UK follows:

Bradley Manning military trial: group petitions for a more open court
by Ed Pilkington

The military trial of the WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning is being conducted amid far more secrecy than even the prosecution of the alleged 9/11 plotters in Guantanamo, a coalition of lawyers and media outlets protest.

Led by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, the coalition has petitioned the Army court of criminal appeals calling for the court-martial against Manning to be opened up to the press and public. The group complains that the way the trial is being handled by the trial judge Colonel Denise Lind is a violation of the First Amendment of the constitution that requires public access unless the government can specifically demonstrate the need for secrecy.

The petition lists the many ways in which the public are being kept in the dark over the prosecution of Bradley Manning, who faces 22 charges related to the leaking of a vast trove of US state secrets to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. He was arrested in May 2010 at a military base outside Baghdad where he was working as an intelligence analyst on suspicion of passing hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables as well as warlogs from Iraq and Afghanistan to the site.

The army has allowed the publication of not one single motion submitted by the prosecution to the court-martial, nor any prosecution replies to defence motions, not even in redacted form. None of the orders issued by the court have been made public, and no transcripts have been provided of any of the proceedings – not even those that were fully open to the press.

The petitioners include Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, as well as news outlets and individuals such as the Nation, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald. They say that the lack of openness is all the more serious given the gravity of the charges and the high-profile nature of the court martial which they liken to the trial of Lt William Calley for the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the legal tussle over the publication of the Pentagon Papers.

Members of the Bradley Manning support network who have attended each of his pre-trial hearings have castigated the "outrageous obfuscations" of the Obama administration over the trial. "Why has the administration spent two years trying to hide basic facts from the defense, the press and the American people?" said Jeff Paterson, a co-founder of the network.

The only documents that have emerged from the proceedings so far are those that have been published by Manning's defence lawyer, David Coombs, on his blog. Coombs has consistently protested about the lack of transparency in the conduct of the court-martial.

In a new post to his blog, Coombs has published the latest set of defence motions ahead of a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade military base in Maryland scheduled for 6 June. In one of the motions, Coombs complains that over the past two years Manning has been denied the opportunity to take part in his own defence in any meaningful way. He has had no chance to review some 7,000 documents handed to the defence team by the army because no arrangement has been made to allow him secure access to the files from his location in custody.

The only accessible documents are stored in Rhode Island and Maryland, far from where he is being held in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Another motion that will be put to the June hearing calls on the judge to dismiss many of the most serious charges against Manning on the grounds that the language used in them is unconstitutionally vague. The defence objects to phrases such as "to the injury of the US or to the advantage of any foreign nation" which it says are problematically broad in scope.

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Bradley Manning, America's martyr for open government
by Birgitta Jónsdóttir via stan - Guardian UK Friday, Jun 1 2012, 9:59am

Little did I know when I was helping with the preparations for making public the historic leak "Collateral Murder" – the 2007 footage of a US Apache helicopter firing at and killing a group of people claimed to be insurgents, which included a Reuters journalist, released by WikiLeaks in 2010 – that the person possibly responsible for the courageous act of bringing the war crimes exposed in that video into the public domain, where it belonged, would end up in a military prison, even subjected to torture for months. Today marks two years of imprisonment of Private Bradley Manning. Two years out of his 24 years is a long time in military prison. His treatment has been highly controversial, every step of the way.

Following every bit of information available during the first few months of his ordeal made it clear that the US government was going to use Manning as a warning to anyone else who might feel compelled to report on war crimes, or any other crimes they witness from within the system. Blow the whistle, goes the warning, and you will be buried alive by the state, shredded by the same secrecy machine a whistleblower would try to expose.

Because of courage and creativity of activists, Bradley Manning has not been forgotten, even if that was the aim of authorities, and he never shall be forgotten. His case has been largely shunned by most of the mainstream media, especially in the US. This needs to change, because if he is indeed found guilty of being a whistleblower of such magnitude that it shook the entire secrecy machine of our world out of its comfort zone, his acts would need to be honored as an inspiration to change the way governments hide the reality of their actions from the people they are supposed to be serving and informing.

Manning should not be convicted in secret: the media should be given access to the court filings; and the media should be pushing harder for the first amendment of the US constitution to be honored in the Manning case. The state should acknowledge its responsibility towards its citizens and honor the promises of the current president, Barack Obama, of a more transparent state. Let the sunshine in, Mr President: if you have nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear.

Reporter Kevin Gosztola describes the bizarre situation at the Manning trials in his article "Why I am Challenging Secrecy in Bradley Manning's Court Martial":

"Reporters have come together multiple times during hearings in the past months to compare notes because we are unable to reference anything after the proceedings for the day are over to verify that what we heard was written down properly. The scene is like one you might see in a high school classroom when students are asking each other if they were able to get down what the teacher said because it might be in an exam.

"Of course, members of the press don't need to know this information to pass any test. They want to know this information so the public can know what is happening in one of the most significant cases in US history."

One of Manning's most visible supporters is the world's best known whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg. It is worth remembering what he did and why, and at what level, because there has been much confusion about the parallels between the two. This was clearly demonstrated by President Obama when he said the cases were "not" similar because "Ellsberg's material wasn't classified the same way." The fact of the matter is this: the material disclosed in the Pentagon Papers leaked by Ellsberg was designated "top secret", the highest secrecy designation under law, whereas the material allegedly leaked by Manning to WikiLeaks was marked "secret" or "classified" – among the lowest-level secrecy designations. Yet Obama himself declared that Manning "broke the law" – months before the pre-trial hearings. It is obvious to anyone who cares to look into the Manning case that he will not get a fair trial if for no other reason than that the head of state has already declared he is guilty.

It is of the utmost importance that we do not cave into the fear the US government is trying to impose against whistleblowers and WikiLeaks. The main lesson in this saga is that governments should be open, be accountable, and understand they are not to govern but to serve those who put their trust in them. The trial, Manning's treatment, and the lack of accountability of those who have had their crimes exposed by the digital files Manning is accused of leaking, has put the US in the same global category as China, with its authoritarianism, secrecy and fear-mongering.

The land of the free has long gone into a cloak of dark secrets which most people in America would never accept if they knew. If freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of information are taken from the marginalized few, you will never know when you will be next: do nothing and when they come for you, there will be no one left to defend you.

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