Friday, November 30, 2012

Bradley Manning

Today is the 921st day Iraq War veteran Bradley Manning has spent in military custody.  Yesterday, he spoke in court.


Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. 

Bradley appeared in military court yesterday and Courtney Kube (NBC News) reports:

In the third day of a hearing to determine whether he should face court-martial, Pfc. Bradley Manning began by describing the day he was detained in Iraq on May 27, 2010, and then described each cell and detention facility he's been in since.
After a few days in a facility in Iraq, Manning was taken to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. He characterized his cell there as a "cage," dark and with no air conditioning. Manning said that after several weeks in the segregation tent at Camp Arifjan he felt like a caged animal. "I was a mess, I totally started to fall apart," he said.

Raf Sanchez (Telegraph of London) adds:

Wearing his dress blues uniform, Pfc Manning talked quickly and often smiled nervously as his lawyers argued that his pre-trial imprisonment was illegal and should lead to all charges being dismissed.
His testimony began with his imprisonment in Kuwait in May 2010, where was held in a "cage-like cell" that his guards would ransack up to three times a day in search of contraband.
"I remember thinking I'm going to die. I'm stuck here in this cage and I don't know what's going to happen," he said.

AFP reminds, "A UN rapporteur on torture concluded Manning was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment at the Quantico brig." He would be move to Quantico in Virginia. Bradley wasn't the only one offering testimony at his pre-trial this week.   RT notes that the navy doctor who the government had charged with evaluating Bradley testified Wednesday.  Capt William Hoctor stated, "I had been a senior medical officer for 24 years at the time, and I had never experienced anything like this.  It was clear to me they had made up their mind on a certain cause of action, and my recommendations had no impact."  Larry Shaughnessy (CNN) adds, "But Capt. William Hocter said his regular recommendations to ease Manning's heightened confinement status within weeks of his arrival in Virginia were not acted upon by commanders."  BBC News continues, "Pte Manning's glasses were confiscated, he had to request toilet paper and was forced to remove his underwear at night."  Hoctor felt frustrated and stymied.  John Bailey (NBC News) quotes the doctor testifying,  "It was clear to me that they had made up their mind on a certain course of actions and my recommendations didn't really matter."  Ed Pilkington (Guardian) explains, "Three Quantico forensic psychiatrists who gave evidence to the court this week agreed that within days of arriving at the marine base Manning had recovered his mental health and was no longer a risk to himself. They consistently recommended that the soldier be put on a much looser regime. But the authorities would not listen."

 Julie Tate (Washington Post) reports, "At one point in spring 2011, Manning testified that he told his guards he could kill himself with his underwear if he wanted to do so. He said he was forced to sleep naked under a suicide smock for nearly two months after the incident. On one occasion, he said, he was forced to stand naked in front of his cell during morning attendance."  Sky News adds, "David Coombs, defending, revealed on Wednesday that the chief legal officer at Quantico at the time, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Greer, made light of the underwear episode in an email, composing a rhyme in the style of the popular Dr Seuss books. The message said: 'I can wear them in a box. I can wear them with a fox. I can wear them in the day. I can wear them so I say. But I can't wear them at night. My comments gave the staff a fright'."

Along with verbal testimony, the pre-trial also explored digital evidence.  Ray McGovern (CounterPunch) reports, "According to the e-mail evidence, the controversy over the rough handling of Manning prompted Quantico commander, Marine Col. Daniel Choike, to complain bitterly that not one Army officer was in the chain of blame. Choike’s lament prompted an e-mail reply from his commander, Lt. Gen. George Flynn, offering assurances that Choike and Quantico would not be left  'holding the bag'."

So where do things stand now?  Luis Martinez (ABC News) reports, "Earlier this month Coombs wrote on his blog that Manning was willing to plead guilty to some lesser offenses. On Thursday the military judge in the case said eight lesser charges could be reviewed by Manning's defense attorneys for a potential plea deal, but a response likely won't be determined until December."  Shashank Bengali (Los Angeles Times) elaborates:

The military judge, Col. Denise Lind, accepted terms Thursday under which Manning could plead guilty to a series of lesser counts of providing classified information to WikiLeaks, including a battlefield video file, dozens of war logs, and other classified material.
Manning could enter the plea — which includes a maximum of 16 years in prison — as soon as next month. It wasn't immediately clear whether prosecutors would continue to pursue the more serious charges, which experts have said will be harder to prove.

WikiLeaks's Julian Assange has been weighing in.  He needs better handlers.  He needs to stop making what's going on with Bradley all about him (I was called a terrorist by Joe Biden on Meet The Press!).  The drama doesn't help him and it has nothing to do with Bradley.   He also needs to learn what is an example and what isn't and to know the facts when railing against something.

For a brief moment recently, it appeared Assange's team was focused.  Things stopped being scattershot and the drama was toned down.  Now it's desperation politics yet again where you toss out everything in the world, complicate the narrative, reveal yourself as ignorant and do damage to your own reputation.

Assange's team needs to work better with him to keep his message simple.

Learn to organize before you step back into the court of public opinion. 

The following community sites -- plus Ms. magazine's blog, L Studio, Adam Kokesh,, The Diane Rehm Show, C-SPAN, Susan's On the Edge and the ACLU -- updated last night and this morning:

The e-mail address for this site is

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