President Obama Makes a Fair Trial of Bradley Manning Impossible By Declaring Him Guilty
Authored by Kevin Zeese
The credibility of the military justice system is being undermined by the prosecution of Bradley Manning. His abusive punishment without trial violates his due process rights; his harsh treatment in solitary confinement-torture conditions violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment; and now the commander-in-chief has announced his guilt before trial making a fair trial impossible. A Bradley Manning exception to the Bill of Rights is developing as the Obama administration seeks Manning’s punishment no matter what constitutional protections they violate.
On Thursday April 21, 2011 in San Francisco a group of Bradley Manning supporters protested the prosecution of Manning at a Barack Obama fundraising event. One of Manning’s supporters was able to question the president directly afterwards and during the conversation, Obama said on videotape that Manning was guilty.
Can you imagine if the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamene’i, pronounced an Iranian military whistle blower “guilty” before any trial was held? Khamene’i is the commander-in-chief of all armed forces in Iran, just as President Obama is the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed services. Would anyone in the United States think that a trial before Iranian military officers that followed such a pronouncement could be fair? The U.S. government would use the situation to make propaganda points about the phony justice system in Iran.
The tenth episode of "This Week in WikiLeaks" features Iraq war veteran Ethan McCord and Bradley Manning Support Network Steering Committee member Kevin Zeese. McCord and Zeese have both appeared on "This Week in WikiLeaks." They are part of this week's episode because I recorded them talking at an event in New York City organized by World Can't Wait to promote a new short documentary, "Incident in New Baghdad."
Run time is about 1 hour for the episode.
To listen, click on the play button on the widget below:
Authored by Jonathan Getzchman
So I drove down to Leavenworth, Kansas today for a "Free Bradley Manning Rally" ... that was happening six weeks from now. I had a funny feeling something was wrong when I got to the address for the protest an hour late, and no one was there. The next funny feeling I had followed re-reading the two links I had seen about the rally ... I had read them both incorrectly.
Soooo ... Leavenworth. I'm here ... in a clash of decisions I sung, "Should I stay or should I go?"
I meditated for a bit, creating space to find out why I was here ... then a thought hit me: I wonder if I can ask for and receive an impromptu interview with Bradley Manning ... ask, sure ... receive? Hmmm ...
I took several deep breaths and decided I was doing nothing wrong, so no ill could befall me if I tried. I remembered that our brothers and sisters in the military are human beings like the rest of us, and they would understand my reasons.
I pulled up the driveway into the Leavenworth Prison (1300 Metropolitan ... where the rally was to be ... six weeks from now) passed the sign saying, "Vehicles may be subject to search/you must show ID" and accepted it as a possibility, parked and walked up the hill to the "Visitor processing center".
I opened an old school, screen porch door and looked inside to find a sharply dressed, black prison guard at a desk.
"Hello, I'm Jonathan Getzschman from RevolutionTruth.org. There is a "Free Bradley Manning" rally here on June 4th, and I was wondering if I could interview Mr. Manning before then ... like now."
"Who is Bradley Manning?" asked the guard.
After some explaining, the guard said, "You mean that military kid? He's two miles up the road at Fort Leavenworth Prison."
HAH! The rally was scheduled at the wrong address ... no longer my fault.
I asked the guard if he thought there was ANY chance I might have of interviewing Manning.
Rally for Bradley Manning
Obama spokesman denies Obama expressed the view he expressed
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor denies that US President Obama was "expressing a view as to the guilt or innocence of Pfc. Manning specifically" when he said, regarding Bradley Manning, "He broke the law."
Regarding Obama's further statement that he has to abide by the laws as well as Manning, Steven Aftergood, a classified information expert at the Federation of American Scientists, agreed with the point made earlier by WL Central, “There are rules and procedures governing the de-classification process, but those rules also are based in presidential authority. The president has supreme authority over what is classified.”
While the White House is playing down the significance of the president's statement, Manning supporters are not. UK Friends of Bradley Manning writes: It is not surprising that the White House is keen to play down this incident. Military case law indicates that “pretrial publicity itself may constitute unlawful command influence” (United States v. Simpson, 58 MJ 368) and, if this is raised at court martial, the US Government will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the case has not been prejudiced. (United States v. Reed, 65 M.J. 487) Should unlawful command influence be proven, incidentally, then dismissal of the case is possible “as a last resort.” (United States v. Douglas, 68 M.J. 349)
Obama on Manning: “He Broke the Law”
At a fundraiser for President Barack Obama at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco, a group of progressive supporters of Bradley Manning paid tens of thousands of dollars to attend and disrupt the event. Oakland activist Naomi Pitcairn personally paid for tickets so people from her group could attend. The group sang a song with lyrics they wrote expressing their disgust with the way the Obama Administration has responded to Manning’s inhumane treatment.
Someone with the group also managed to confront President Obama on Manning. Obama’s handlers may have been preoccupied because in this clip that runs about a minute Obama opens up about what he thinks about what Manning did.
“People can have philosophical ideas about certain things,” President Obama explains. “But, look, I can’t conduct diplomacy on open source.” He then goes on to add that he has to abide by certain classified information rules or law and if he had released material like Manning did he’d be breaking the law.
Now, here is the remark that deserves the most attention: “We’re a nation of laws. We don’t individually make our decisions about how the laws operate.” He adds, “He broke the law.” Finally, before removing himself from the conversation, he says Manning “dumped” information and “it wasn’t the same thing” as what Daniel Ellsberg did because what Ellsberg leaked “wasn’t classified in the same way.”
The Pentagon’s decision to transfer the alleged whistleblower to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, caught Manning’s defense by surprise. Manning’s move was not reported to his defense counsel until “twenty minutes before the Pentagon’s press briefing.” The way his defense learned of the move was the same way most citizens of the world did: by reading the information that was leaked to the Associated Press just before the briefing. Supporters of Manning are now watching closely, planning to call attention to any new violation of his rights that might occur.
David E. Coombs, Manning's lawyer, says the Pentagon had been thinking about moving Manning for a long time. So, the timing of the move did not surprise Manning’s lawyer David E. Coombs. He blogged:
The defense recently received reliable reports of a private meeting held on 13 January 2011, involving high-level Quantico officials where it was ordered that PFC Manning would remain in maximum custody and under prevention of injury watch indefinitely. The order to keep PFC Manning under these unduly harsh conditions was issued by a senior Quantico official who stated he would not risk anything happening “on his watch.” When challenged by a Brig psychiatrist present at the meeting that there was no mental health justification for the decision, the senior Quantico official issuing the order responded, “We will do whatever we want to do.” Based upon these statements and others, the defense was in the process of filing a writ of habeas corpus seeking a court ruling that the Quantico Brig violated PFC Manning’s constitutional right to due process. See United States ex. rel. Accardi v. Shaughnessy, 74 S.Ct. 499 (1954) (violation of due process where result of board proceeding was predetermined); United States v. Anderson, 49 M.J. 575 (N.M. Ct. Crim. App. 1998) (illegal punishment where Marine Corps had an unwritten policy automatically placing certain detainees in MAX custody). The facts surrounding PFC Manning’s pretrial confinement at Quantico make it clear that his detention was not “in compliance with legal and regulatory standards in all respects” as maintained at the Pentagon press briefing.
The Bradley Manning Support Network, which formed to “provide prisoner support” during his imprisonment, put out a press release indicating concern over the move. Kevin Zeese, an organizer with the Support Network, says his “transfer from Virginia to Kansas limits his access to his civilian attorney David Coombs of Rhode Island. It also severely limits visitation opportunities by his East Coast family and friends.” Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist and the Support Network says, “It wasn’t a secret that we were preparing to rally one to two thousand for an upcoming DC-area pre-trial hearing.”
Is it possible he is being moved because the Bradley Manning Support Group has been successfully mobilizing people to protest his detention at Quantico? On March 20, a day that was declared Bradley Manning International Support Day, hundreds turned out for a protest at Quantico, just one day after the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. Reports from Firedoglake indicated “the ratio of police to protesters was disproportionate.” About one hundred regular police officers were present, six on horseback. Dozens of riot police with police dogs and then about a half-dozen military officers with gas masks carrying automatic weapons and tear gas were there. And, prior to the protest, the base the director of operations raised “the specter of infrastructure damage, vandalism or harassment to USMC personnel” through a “Threat Advisory” issued just prior to the planned protest.
President Obama recently stated that Private Manning’s conditions comply with the Pentagon’s basic standards. Given that those standards apparently permit Private Manning to be subjected to plainly unconstitutional conditions, it is clear that the Department of Defense must adapt its standards to meet the demands of the constitution. - American Civil Liberties Union
“AGAINST VIOLENCE UNDER THE CLOAK OF CARE”
Second open letter to the president of the American Medical Association
Dear Dr. Wilson,
There has been a disappointing and disturbing silence in answer to the registered letter I sent to you and the American Medical Association you represent. In this letter, sent on February 23rd, 2011, I asked the AMA to take all measures in their power to stop the abuse of medical terminology and the medical profession assisting in torture. More specifically, I asked you to speak out against the sale of the torturous ‘prevention of injury’ procedure used on Bradley Manning to the greater public as a form of justified “care”.
We know from professional literature on extreme forms of abuse that it is attractive to many perpetrators to shift labels to conceal the real nature and seriousness of their actions. These relabeling techniques help them to shrug off responsibility, to maintain their position in society and to further disempower their victims by confusing them (see professional literature on e.g. the phenomenon of gaslighting). The following three articles show us how important it is to continue to correctly label the treatment of Bradley Manning as torture and as inappropriate:
Acting Deputy Department Spokesman Mark C. Toner was confronted during a briefing with a few members of the press, who chose to confront the State Department on its handling of human rights especially the current detention and treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning on April 11.
In a video of the briefing, Matt Lee, a reporter for the Associated Press, asks about “the annual ritualistic dance” of the State Department’s release of the Human Rights Report, which China immediately condemned. He wonders if the annual report, which he considers to be an “annual exchange of vitriol,” will have any constructive effects on the State Department's April 11 & 12 meetings with China.
Toner responds saying he doesn’t consider the annual exchange to be vitriolic at all. And adds, “We are candid in our exchanges with China about human rights concerns both from the podium and in our private meetings with them. And certainly, we don’t regard it as an interference in our internal affairs when any foreign government or individual organization monitors our human rights practices. And we are proud to say that our system of government allows for that kind of comment without fear or without fear of recrimination. And it speaks to the value of our system, we feel.”
Lee seizes on Toner’s answer to ask a canny follow-up question, “Can you explain why, if the United States is proud of its human rights record, that the UN special rapporteur has complained that you’re not allowing him independent access to Bradley Manning?”
Stop Wikileaks Torture - Sign the petition
To President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:
We call on you to immediately end the torture, isolation and public humiliation of Bradley Manning. This treatment is a violation of his constitutionally guaranteed human rights, and a chilling deterrent to other potential whistleblowers committed to public integrity.
Right now, Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning is being tortured in a US military prison. Manning is subjected to utter isolation that can drive many people insane, with short periods each day where he is stripped naked and abused by jeering inmates.
Manning is awaiting trial for releasing secret military documents to Wikileaks – including a video of US soldiers massacring Iraqi civilians. And his brutal treatment appears to be part of an intimidation campaign to silence whistleblowers and crack down on Wikileaks. The US government is split on this issue, with diplomats publicly criticizing the military for Manning's treatment, but President Obama has stood aside so far.
Obama cares about the US's global reputation - we need to show him that it's at stake here. Let's build a massive global call to the US government to stop torturing Manning and uphold the law. Sign the petition below -- our message will be delivered through hard-hitting ads and actions in Washington DC as soon as we reach 250,000 signatures.
Sign the petition here.
Other petitions on WL Central for Bradley Manning are here.
The popular mag invites readers to: "Cast your votes for the leaders, artists, innovators, icons and heroes that you think are the most influential people in the world. The winner will be included in the TIME 100. Voting closes on April 14" (Source: TIME Magazine).
As WL Central reported on Tuesday, in an adjournment debate in the UK House of Commons on Monday evening, Henry Bellingham, parliamentary undersecretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, confirmed that Bradley Manning acquired British citizenship at birth.
The video of the debate is now available here.
The opening argument of MP Ann Clwyd (Labour - Cynon Valley) is notable for emphasizing that Bradley Manning's citizenship is not the sole reason a government of laws should be concerned about his treatment. She had earlier raised the interpretation of the British Nationality Act with the foreign minister in committee and in the Commons, but in this address, she reminds the government of its commitment to speak out against human-rights abuses everywhere, regardless of the victim's nationality. She also asks for assurances that Manning's British family will receive UK consular assistance in their future attempts to visit him at the US Marine base at Quantico, Virginia.
Bellingham responds affirmatively on all three counts -- on the strict interpretation of the Nationality Act (with qualifications based on Manning's right to privacy), on the commitment of the UK government to make formal representations to other nations concerning human-rights abuses, and on the willingness of the government to assist Manning's family in their attempts to visit him.
Previous WL Central coverage of Bradley Manning
WL Central action page for Bradley Manning
As reported by the UK Friends of Bradley Manning, the British Government has tonight recognised that Bradley Manning is a citizen of the United Kingdom.
Ann Clwyd MP, spoke of Manning in parliament just after 10PM, a continuation of her previous efforts to raise Manning's case in the UK. On March 16, Ann Clwyd raised the question of Manning's treatment with Foreign Secretary, William Hague, during his testimony before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. (The exchange between Clwyd and Hague appears in the last several minutes here.). The next day, Ann Clwyd formally requested during Business Questions in the Commons that a debate be held on the conditions of Manning's detention. She explicitly compared Manning's treatment to that "meted out" to prisoners at Guantanamo.
Tonight she was answered by Henry Bellingham MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who, while defending the US “effective and robust judicial system,” and stressing the limitations of UK involvement, also noted some very important points:
At the end of today's sitting, the UK Parliament at Westminster will debate the treatment of Bradley Manning, a debate that will be opened by Ann Clwyd (Labour-Cynon Valley).
Clwyd has raised Manning's plight and the concern for him of her constituents in Wales before in committee and in the Commons, and has received considered and relatively positive responses from both the foreign secretary and the leader in the Commons, as we reported here. Manning's mother is a Welsh citizen of the UK.
No time is given for the start of the debate. It is scheduled to go on until 10:30 pm or for half an hour, whichever is later.
Via @GregMitch on Twitter.
ARREST OBAMA ON IRISH SOIL FOR TORTURE RELATED CRIMES
This campaign and petition is for the arrest and prosecution of Barack Obama pursuant to international law on the prevention of torture and cruel and inhumane treatment of human beings, during his state visit to Ireland on May 22nd. Visit the site here.
Basic goals and principles
From the petition page:We the undersigned, wish to express our support for the following statements: That, pursuant to a universal respect for human rights, and pursuant to the written law in the U.N Convention Against Torture and other international humanitarian treaties, torture, in any form, or its enablement, or the failure to prevent it or prosecute those responsible, is one of the worst crimes possible, and anathema to the values of our political order. That the wrongness of torture is amplified, and not lessened, by power and influence, and that pragmatic interests must not intervene in the rightful prosecution of those responsible for torture, however inconvenient that may be politically. That Barack Obama has now successfully assumed responsibility for the failure to prosecute torture, and that he is responsible, by omission, for the failure to prevent torture occurring under his own administration, and that this is illegal by international law. That Ireland’s obligations under international and domestic law are clear, and that we must prosecute torturers whenever it is possible to do so. That Barack Obama should be arrested when he sets foot on Irish soil, and made to face the consequences of his acts and of his failures to act.
End the punitive detention of Bradley Manning
Take Action On This Issue
Amnesty International is concerned that the conditions inflicted on Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking information to Wikileaks, are unnecessarily severe and amount to inhumane treatment by the US authorities. Bradley Manning has not been convicted of any offence, but military authorities appear to be using all available means to punish him while in detention. The conditions under which Bradley Manning is held appear to breach the USA’s human rights obligations. Urge the Secretary of Defense to review the conditions under which Bradley Manning is confined and take effective measures to ensure that he is no longer held in 23-hour cellular confinement or subjected to other undue restrictions.
Robert M. Gates (Republican), Barack Obama (Democrat) - President
Customize Your Letter (optional)
Dear [Recepient's Name],
I am writing to urge you to review the conditions under which Private First Class (PFC) Bradley Manning is confined at the Quantico naval brig and take effective measures to ensure that he is no longer held in 23 hour cellular confinement or subjected to other undue restrictions.
"FREE ASSANGE! FREE MANNING! FREE SPEECH!"
Four Days of Action announced for Julian Assange and Bradley Manning 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th February.
Cyber, anti-war and human rights activists will today descend on the Australian High Commission and on Monday/Tuesday on the Woolwich magistrates court, while on Saturday there will be a public meeting in Harringay, north London.
FOUR DAYS OF ACTION ANNOUNCED
"FREE ASSANGE! FREE MANNING! FREE SPEECH!"
Friday 4 February: Cyber, anti-war and human rights activists will today descend on the Australian High Commission and on Monday and Tuesday 7 and 8 February on the Woolwich magistrates court, attached to the Category A Belmarsh Prison, to demand freedom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, presently on restrictive bail and facing extradition, and also for Bradley Manning, the young soldier who is being held in solitary confinement in Quantico Marine Base in USA. The activist groups will join others from WikiLeaks London Support group outside the court.
Saturday 5 February: a public meeting will be held at Harringay's Giuseppe Conlon Hall, which also serves as a 'house of hospitality' for refugees and others in need of help and support. Speakers will include former political prisoner of the US, Ciaron O'Reilly, and a speaker from the support group 'UK Friends of Bradley Manning'. Footage from the 'Collateral Murder' video Manning is accused of leaking will be shown and there will also be live music.
IRISH DISARMAMENT ACTION MENTIONED IN WIKILEAKS
Bradley Manning's inhumane treatment during his pretrial incarceration looks set to become a millstone around Obama's neck in his dealings with other countries.
Today, International Bradley Manning Support Day, marks also the announcement of a campaign to have the United States president arrested once he arrives on Irish soil, during a planned visit to the Western European democracy in May. The #ArrestObama #May22 campaign holds that Ireland has an obligation under international law to pursue and prosecute all those within its jurisdiction who carry out or authorize torture, or who permit torture to be carried out, or who obstruct bringing those who do so to justice.
The campaign makes the claim that Obama's failure to prosecute high-ranking Bush administration officials - as well as the cruel and inhumane treatment to which U.S. military whistleblower Bradley Manning is being subjected in the Marine brig in Quantico - constitutes ownership of responsibility for torture.
The campaign comes at an inconvenient moment for the new Fine Gael/Labour coalition government, elected mid-last-month in a landslide ousting of the previously dominant Fianna Fail party. The new government will be seeking to establish strong diplomatic ties with the United States, in the hopes that this will reap benefits in the face of Ireland's withering economic situation. In November, the last Irish government revealed that it had negotiated a deal with the International Monetary Fund, in response to the deepening crisis in the banking sector. Any matter that jeopardizes the precarious bargaining position of the tiny European state will likely frustrate the fledgling government.
As Human Rights Watch joins Amnesty in calling for the US to explain or desist from the abuse of Bradley Manning, support for Manning has increased around the world. MP Ann Clywd questioned UK Foreign Secretary William Hague regarding Manning's treatment at the meeting of the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday (transcript available at UK Friends of Bradley Manning) and she again brought up his treatment today, this time by formally requesting during Business Questions in the Commons that a debate be held on the conditions of Manning's detention. She explicitly compared Manning's treatment to that "meted out" to prisoners at Guantanamo. In his reply, Sir George Young, leader of the House of Commons, did not disavow the comparison to practices at Guantanamo. He said that the concerns conveyed by Clwyd are "widely shared" and agreed that Manning's case was a "suitable subject for debate" in the Commons.
This date, March 19, 2011, marks the beginning of the ninth year of the US war in Iraq. The war, which began in 2003 with a bombing campaign of “shock and awe," has for years been more of an occupation than a war. Despite the fact that many believe the war is over (especially Americans), the US still has 47,000 troops in Iraq and, despite a 2011 withdrawal date, will likely continue to have tens of thousands of soldiers based in Iraq for years to come.
The past year has seen the world learn a great deal about the US war and occupation of Iraq. With the WikiLeaks release of US State Cables, the Iraq War Logs, and a “Collateral Murder” video showing US soldiers firing on journalists and innocent civilians from an Apache helicopter, the criminal nature of the war and occupation has become more evident. To mark the end of eight years of US troops in Iraq and the beginning of a ninth year, it is worth noting the many revelations on Iraq that have become known thanks to WikiLeaks.
On October 22, 2010, 390,000 field reports, which became known as the Iraq War Logs, showed the regular use of abuse, brutality and torture used on Iraqis by Iraqi Police and Iraqi Security Forces. The logs revealed, despite US claims, a tracking of civilian deaths had been going on, and, in fact, 66,000 civilian deaths (15,000 which were previously unknown) had occurred.