Showing posts with label Court Martial. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Court Martial. Show all posts

February 5, 2015

FL. Supreme Court Have to Decide What Does Sexual Intercourse Mean?


                                                                         

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — What does "sexual intercourse" mean in Florida?
The state's Supreme Court justices are pondering the question in a case that threatens to weaken a 1986 law requiring HIV-positive people to reveal their infection before having "sexual intercourse." A defense lawyer told the court Wednesday that Florida's laws have always used the term to describe traditional sex between a man and a woman, and not any other sexual activity by either gender.
Question for the court: What is sexual intercourse? photo
The case involves a man charged with a felony after failing to tell his male sex partner that he carries the human immunodeficiency virus. His public defender, Brian Ellison, is simply trying to get the charge dropped, but told The Associated Press outside court that the same defense could apply to HIV-positive heterosexuals who engage in anything other than traditional sex.
"In the history of Florida law the specific term, sexual intercourse has always been interpreted to mean reproductive sexual conduct," Ellison said. "It's not the way that I'd want to define it, maybe — maybe not the way you'd want to define it — but that's the way it's always been in Florida law."
Ellison didn't try to persuade the justices that his client, Gary Debaun, did nothing wrong; instead, he argued that Debaun didn't violate the law as written.
The record shows that Debaun's partner asked him to take an HIV test, and that Debaun, who knew that he was infected, gave him fake test results showing he was free of the virus that causes AIDS. A lower court threw out the charge, but it was reinstated on appeal.
Most states legally require people with HIV to disclose the infection to sex partners, but Ellison told the justices that other states' laws use term "sexual activity" or specifically spell out sexual acts, rather than use Florida's narrow language.
"But would you agree that when that statute was enacted, it was the intent to make sure that anybody that was going to have any kind of sexual activity that could transmit AIDS advise their partner?" asked Justice Barbara Pariente.
That's exactly the point Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Geldens made in arguing that the charge should stand. He noted that the Legislature passed other laws at the time aimed at curbing the spread of HIV, including education programs on how to prevent its spread through sexual activity.
"It's clear that the statute was intended to address the harms that are at issue in this case," Geldens said. "That's exactly what the Legislature intended to prevent, and they used the language of sexual intercourse because they wanted to do that."
But if Florida lawmakers wanted to spell out exactly what it means by sexual intercourse, it's had nearly a century to do so, said Ellison. The term has been used in state laws since 1919, when Florida first required disclosures to prevent the spread of syphilis, gonorrhea and other venereal diseases, he said.
"It's always been defined as between a man and a woman," he told the justices. "In all of that time, the Legislature has never expressed any intent to give it a more expansive meaning than it has always had, both in this court and elsewhere in this entire criminal code."
Pariente agreed that lawmakers have had ample opportunity to clarify the law.
“This could be solved easily by the Legislature," she said.

August 21, 2013

Bradley Manning Sentenced to 35 Yrs in Military Prison


FORT MEADE, Maryland 
U.S. soldier Bradley Manning was sentenced on Wednesday to serve 35 years in a military prison for turning over more than 700,000 classified files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of secret data in the nation's history.
Judge Colonel Denise Lind sentenced the 25-year-old former low-level intelligence analyst to less time behind bars than the 60 years military prosecutors had sought, and said Manning could be eligible for parole in about a decade, after serving one-third of his prison term.
Even that shorter prison term is seen as a strong deterrent to others who may consider exposing U.S. government secrets, according to experts and transparency advocates.
"It's more than 17 times the next-longest sentence ever served" for turning over secret material to the media, said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. "It is in line with sentences for paid espionage for the enemy."
Manning, in uniform, stood quietly showing no emotion as Lind read his sentence during a brief court proceeding at Fort Meade, Maryland, where his court-martial has been conducted for the last 2-1/2 months.
Lind said Manning would be demoted to private, from private first class, and dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military. Also, that his sentence would be reduced by the three years he has served in prison, plus the 112 days she had already decided to subtract because of the harsh treatment the soldier suffered after his arrest three years ago.
Manning will be imprisoned at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
In 2010, Manning was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad when he turned over to WikiLeaks a trove of classified files, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts that included a 2007 gunsight video of a U.S. Apache helicopter firing at suspected insurgents in Iraq, killing a dozen people including two Reuters news staff.
The documents received intense media attention and landed WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, in the international spotlight.
During the trial, defense lawyers said Manning had hoped the document release would open Americans' eyes to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and provoke a more intense debate. Prosecutors contended that the soldier placed national security at risk by revealing confidential information.
As Manning was escorted out of the courtroom, supporters shouted: "Bradley, we are with you."
A TROUBLED YOUNG MAN
In the sentencing phase of the court-martial, Manning's attorneys portrayed their client as a troubled young man, who questioned his sexual identity and showed signs of anger that included punching a fellow soldier and grabbing for a gun during a counseling session. Those actions, defense attorneys argued, were signs that Manning was unfit for deployment to a war zone.
In that light, some observers described the sentence as unusually harsh.
"The government is looking for general deterrence of future Bradley Mannings," said Jeffrey Walker, an expert on military law and professor at St. John's University. "Thirty-five years is a pretty powerful message. I think they could have sent it with less than 35 years."
Other observers agreed the sentence would be a powerful deterrent and in future help to protect national security.
"The message will be sent in a loud and clear fashion to all those in uniform that they do not get to make decisions on what is legitimate and what is not, with regard to U.S. policy," said Steven Bucci, a foreign policy specialist at the Heritage Foundation.
Americans convicted of passing secrets to foreign governments have faced stiffer sentences. Former FBI agent Robert Hanssen was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty in 2001 to spying for Russia and the Soviet Union. Former Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard in 1987 also got a life sentence after passing classified information to Israel.
Manning's lawyers were due to speak with reporters later on Wednesday. Prosecutors declined to comment after the sentence was read.
CHALLENGE OF KEEPING SECRETS
The Manning court-martial highlights the difficulty of keeping secrets in the Internet age. It comes at a time when U.S. security agencies, with a large number of analysts granted access to secret files, are under great pressure to piece together disparate intelligence threads to head off attacks such as the April bombings at the Boston Marathon.
At the same time, the U.S. government is seeking the return of former CIA contractor Edward Snowden, who in June turned over details of secret U.S. programs to monitor the phone and Internet traffic of Americans. He has been granted temporary asylum by Russian authorities.
One sign of U.S. determination to send a message came early this year when Manning pleaded guilty to 10 lesser charges, but military prosecutors opted to push ahead and seek convictions on more serious criminal counts including espionage and aiding the enemy.
Lind found Manning guilty of espionage but not of aiding the enemy, a crime that would have carried a sentence of life in prison without parole.
"For the U.S. to have continued prosecuting him under the Espionage Act, even charging him with 'aiding the enemy,' can only be seen as a harsh warning to anyone else tempted to expose government wrongdoing," said Widney Brown, senior director of international law and policy at Amnesty International.

by Jim Finkle; Editing by Scott Malone, Jeffrey Benkoe and Gunna Dickson
Reuters

August 19, 2013

Prosecutor Asks for 60 Yrs. For Bradley Manning, Which Means Life




FORT MEADE, Md. - Army Pfc. Bradley Manning should spend 60 years in prison because he betrayed the U.S. by giving classified material to WikiLeaks, a prosecutor said Monday.
The soldier's defence attorney didn't recommend a specific punishment, but suggested any prison term shouldn't exceed 25 years because the classification of some of the documents Manning leaked expires in 25 years.
Coombs said Manning, who was 21 when he enlisted in 2007, had limited life and military experience. His youthful idealism contributed to his belief that he could change the way the world viewed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all future wars, by leaking the secret files, Coombs said.

"He had pure intentions at the time that he committed his offences," Coombs said. "At that time, Pfc. Manning really, truly, genuinely believed that this information could make a difference."
Manning faces up to 90 years in prison, but Capt. Joe Morrow only asked the judge to sentence him to 60 years. Morrow did not say during closing arguments of the court-martial why prosecutors were not seeking the maximum punishment.

A military judge convicted Manning last month of 20 offences, including six violations of the Espionage Act and five counts of stealing protected information.
"He's been convicted of serious crimes," Morrow said. "He betrayed the United States and for that betrayal, he deserves to spend the majority of his remaining life in confinement."
The judge, Col. Denise Lind, said she will begin deliberating the punishment Tuesday.

The 25-year-old native of Crescent, Okla., leaked more than 700,000 documents, including Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and State Department diplomatic cables, while working in early 2010 as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. He also leaked video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed at least nine people, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.
Manning took the stand last week and apologized for hurting his country, pleading with the judge for a chance to go to college and become a productive citizen.

Family members and a psychologist testified for the defence, saying the soldier felt extreme mental pressure in the military because of his gender-identity disorder during the "don't ask, don't tell" era.
Coombs presented evidence that Manning's unit needed intelligence analysts so badly that a supervisor failed to report to commanders his concerns about Manning's deteriorating mental health. Such a report could have prevented Manning from being deployed or resulted in his top-secret security clearance being revoked.
Coombs cited an incident in May 2010, when then-Master Sgt. Paul Adkins found Manning rocking in a fetal position on the floor in their workplace in Iraq. Manning had carved the words, "I want" into the vinyl part of a chair. Adkins testified he talked to Manning for about an hour until the soldier was calm, and then sent him back to work.

Coombs said Adkins should have escorted Manning directly to the unit's behavioural health office.
"The failure, the utter failure to take any action at that point is inexcusable," Coombs said.
Morrow said there were other people in Manning's unit who were openly gay and Manning did not hide his sexuality from them.
"It wasn't the military's fault, it wasn't the command's fault, it wasn't because he saw something horrible — it was because he had an agenda," Morrow said.
One Manning supporter in the court room bit her lip and shook her head in disapproval at Morrow's comments. Two others frowned.
Prosecutors have called Manning an anarchist computer hacker and attention-seeking traitor. The soldier's supporters have hailed Manning as a whistleblower.
Prosecutors also asked the judge to fine Manning $100,000, reduce his rank to private and give him a dishonourable discharge.
DAVID DISHNEAU AND PAULINE JELINEK

July 30, 2013

Bradley Manning Not Guilty Espionage But Guilty of 19 Other Charges

Bradley Manning was naive, good-intentioned, defense says in closing


FT. MEADE, Md. -- Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was acquitted Tuesday of the most serious charge in the largest breach of classified U.S. secrets in the nation’s history, possibly escaping a life sentence after being vilified for more than three years as a traitor to his country but championed by others as a hero whistle-blower who released proof of government misconduct in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
{{Given that, the leaking of any classified information regarding any topic near to national security could have led to painfully oppressive prison terms if Manning had been found guilty of the specific charge. This would discourage others from stepping forward when it was appropriate to do so. It is perhaps time to update the Espionage Act, under which Manning was found repeatedly guilty.}} 

Army Col. Denise Lind found Manning not guilty of giving intelligence to the enemy, but convicted him of espionage and other charges after deliberating the case on Friday evening, Sunday and Monday. Her decision brings to a close a nearly two-month military court-martial that raised a national debate over the nature of journalism and whistle-blowing versus the prospect of someone betraying his country
L A Times

The Government on Bradley Manning: “Anything Worth Doing is Worth Overdoing”= Overreach of Power!

 Bradley Manning walking in Fort Meade, Maryland
 Accused Wikileaks Pte First Class Bradley Manning has already pleaded guilty to 10 of 22 charges against him and faces up to 20 years in prison. So why is the US government still pursuing its prosecution, including on a charge of aiding the enemy, a capital crime? The BBC spoke to a panel of national security analysts who assess the US government's motives and other aspects of the case.
Steven Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists
 Pte Manning is charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with aiding the enemy. But there is no known evidence that he had any intent to aid the enemy.  Now, there is another way that the government could approach this - has the enemy benefitted from Pte Manning's disclosures?
The disclosure of the names of Afghans who co-operated with the US military put a target on the backs of those individuals.
It also sent a signal that the US military could not guarantee confidentiality of those who provide assistance to it. This was a coup for the Taliban forces.
Still, there do not seem to be many Bradley Mannings out there. And even if Pte Manning wanted to do today what he allegedly did years ago, it would be physically impossible.
The database of state department cables that he obtained on the US defence department computer network is no longer there.
There has also been an effort to increase the automated monitoring of classified networks in order to detect unusual downloads of information.
There is something else to consider, too. Pte Manning has already pleaded guilty to crimes that would get him years in prison, but the army continues to pursue him.
There is no question that Pte Manning did some bad stuff. But is he the worst criminal from this past decade of war? Why do we know Pte Manning's name - and we don't know the names of soldiers who killed civilians or others who are being court-martialed?
There is a disproportionate response when it comes to Pte Manning. It doesn't seem right.
PJ Crowley, a former assistant secretary of state in the Obama administration
There is a Pentagon saying: anything worth doing is worth overdoing. That describes many aspects of the Pte Manning case.
Pte Manning told a military judge in February he provided some material to Wikileaks to spark a public debate about the Iraq war. A whistleblower would have stopped there. He didn't.
Appearing like the proverbial kid in a candy store, he downloaded and leaked hundreds of thousands of documents because they seemed "important".
Despite Pte Manning's admission of guilt to the leak itself, which ensures a prison term of up to 20 years, the military prosecution appears ready to proceed to trial next week hoping to convict him of further charges, including aiding the enemy.
This is judicial overreach.
Pte Manning is a troubled young soldier who should have never served in the military, much less in a war zone. His serious mistakes based on naive misjudgements put real people at risk and damaged US national interests.
The Iraq War re-energised al-Qaeda. If Pte Manning aided the enemy, so did those who launched the ill-advised war in the first place.
The government has fulfilled its primary goal, making clear there will be severe consequences for the unauthorised release of classified information.
Anything more is simply piling on, which can only further erode the credibility of the military justice system and America's standing in the world.
Eugene Fidell, researcher on military justice, Yale Law School
There are two aspects of the prosecution's decision to accuse Pte Manning of aiding the enemy and to seek a life sentence.
One is to drive the potential penalty up further.
If the judge knows that the maximum punishment is life in prison, it may cause her to sentence him to more years than he would have otherwise received.
The other reason is to terrify people and to stop them from doing what Pte Manning did.
You could argue about whether the punishment is draconian, but the purpose of criminal law is to deter conduct.
The phrase "aiding the enemy" has an antique ring to it and is not usually associated with something done with a computer. And whether or not he is guilty is a legal judgment for the court.
But in terms of whether he had the intent - he certainly intended to send the material to Wikileaks. He knew they would make the material available.
Also, he confessed. So that horse has left the barn.
Many people believe this case is wrapped up with the concept of the whistleblower. But it is not clear what they are referring to.
A whistleblower is someone who calls the attention of the public to misconduct.
If Pte Manning was attempting to reveal misconduct, why would he reveal all of the state department's internal memos?
I don't know of any country that would sit by and watch as years of its diplomatic communications were made available to everybody.
Gary Solis, retired marine corps judge advocate and military judge
The government is overreaching. There are plenty of charges available that could result in conviction and significant punishment - without using the charge of aiding the enemy.
If one is to follow the line of reasoning that the government is employing - that by publishing the classified material, it may be read by the enemy and therefore constitutes aiding and abetting the enemy, then there are New York Times reporters who would be open to charges.
Yet charging reporters with these crimes would not show common sense. Why doesn't common sense apply in this case?
I have no sympathy for Pte Manning. But to overreach in charging, combined with the unwarranted secrecy under which the case is developing, does not do the US government any favours.
In addition, this case is so shrouded in secrecy that it is hard to know what is going on. Court proceedings, including those from courts martial, are supposed to be public.
Obviously aspects of some cases require a closed courtroom.
But the secrecy has been taken to levels rarely seen. During pre-trial hearings, the military judge was sitting in the courtroom with a nameplate in front of her, but they redacted her name in the papers that they released to the press.
Military justice, like civilian justice, should be as transparent as possible.
To keep things secret only raises suspicions - what are they hiding? 
source: BBC

July 27, 2013

Bradley Manning’s Trial is Coming Up for A Verdict For Him, Journalism and for Right to Know the Wrongs of The Government




There has been a lot of legal debate throughout the U.S. over the last few weeks. Maybe that has dulled Americans' appetite for major trials. 
One case in particular that is now reaching its climax has seemingly flown under the radar: that of Bradley Manning. Though the case will likely be a watershed moment in terms of journalism, whistleblowing, and national security policy, the Manning trial has not seen the same media attention given to other proceedings this summer.
And this is the biggest moment yet. After eight weeks of trial, scores of government witnesses, and six hours of closing argument, Pfc. Bradley Manning's military prosecutor, Capt. Ashden Fein, on Thursday got to his point: the WikiLeaks source who provided the controversial site with loads of classified documents is about to get what's coming to him.
What Fein said in those closing arguments was absolutely chilling.
“Pfc. Manning was not a humanist; he was a hacker,” Major Fein noted.
“He was not a whistle-blower. He was a traitor, a traitor who understood the value of compromised information in the hands of the enemy and took deliberate steps to ensure that they, along with the world, received it.”
The quote is scary.
Critics of this case have warned that a Manning conviction of “aiding the enemy” would criminalize journalism. Even here in this quote, Fein alludes to journalists as being "the hands of the enemy."
As the New York Times explains:
"As the trial has moved toward its conclusion, the more philosophical questions confronting [Col. Denise Lind] are re-emerging center stage — including whether WikiLeaks played a journalistic role and whether providing information to the anti-secrecy group was any different, for legal purposes, from providing it to a traditional news outlet."
It is believed that a guilty verdict for aiding the enemy would establish a government precedent that giving information to an outlet that publishes it online is the same as handing it over to an enemy, the Times adds.
The leash around the watch dog's neck is being pulled tighter.
The Fourth Estate is already in the government's cross-hairs. In a major ruling on press freedoms last week, a divided federal appeals court ruled that an investigative reporter for the New York Times, must testify in the criminal trial against his own sources after he was leaked information from them.
Friday Update: The judge in the Manning trial will deliberate over the weekend and will give a day’s notice ahead of her verdict. Once a verdict is announced the sentencing phase of the court martial is scheduled to begin next Wednesday.
Manning faces life in a military prison if convicted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy. Manning already faces up to 20 years of jail time after pleading guilty in February to some of the lesser charges he faced.


June 12, 2013

The Lynching of Bradley Manning


The military trial of Bradley Manning is a judicial lynching. The government has effectively muzzled the defense team. The Army private first class is not permitted to argue that he had a moral and legal obligation under international law to make public the war crimes he uncovered. The documents that detail the crimes, torture and killing Manning revealed, because they are classified, have been barred from discussion in court, effectively removing the fundamental issue of war crimes from the trial. Manning is forbidden by the court to challenge the government’s unverified assertion that he harmed national security. Lead defense attorney David E. Coombs said during pretrial proceedings that the judge’s refusal to permit information on the lack of actual damage from the leaks would “eliminate a viable defense, and cut defense off at the knees.” And this is what has happened. 










Manning is also barred from presenting to the court his motives for giving the website WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, and videos. The issues of his motives and potentially harming national security can be raised only at the time of sentencing, but by then it will be too late.
The draconian trial restrictions, familiar to many Muslim Americans tried in the so-called war on terror, presage a future of show trials and blind obedience. Our email and phone records, it is now confirmed, are swept up and stored in perpetuity on government computers. Those who attempt to disclose government crimes can be easily traced and prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Whistle-blowers have no privacy and no legal protection. This is why Edward Snowden—a former CIA technical assistant who worked for a defense contractor with ties to the National Security Agency and who leaked to Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian the information about the National Security Council’s top-secret program to collect Americans’ cellphone metadata, e-mail and other personal data—has fled the United States. The First Amendment is dead. There is no legal mechanism left to challenge the crimes of the power elite. We are bound and shackled. And those individuals who dare to resist face the prospect, if they remain in the country, of joining Manning in prison, perhaps the last refuge for the honest and the brave. Coombs opened the trial last week by pleading with the judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, for leniency based on Manning’s youth and sincerity. Coombs is permitted by Lind to present only circumstantial evidence concerning Manning’s motives or state of mind. He can argue, for example, that Manning did not know al-Qaida might see the information he leaked. Coombs is also permitted to argue, as he did last week, that Manning was selective in his leak, intending no harm to national interests. But these are minor concessions by the court to the defense. Manning’s most impassioned pleas for freedom of information, especially regarding email exchanges with the confidential government informant Adrian Lamo, as well as his right under international law to defy military orders in exposing war crimes, are barred as evidence.
Manning is unable to appeal to the Nuremberg principles, a set of guidelines created by the International Law Commission of the United Nations after World War II to determine what constitutes a war crime. The principles make political leaders, commanders and combatants responsible for war crimes, even if domestic or internal laws allow such actions. The Nuremberg principles are designed to protect those, like Manning, who expose these crimes. Orders do not, under the Nuremberg principles, offer an excuse for committing war crimes. And the Nuremberg laws would clearly condemn the pilots in the “Collateral Murder” video and their commanders and exonerate Manning. But this is an argument we will not be allowed to hear in the Manning trial.

Manning has admitted to 10 lesser offenses surrounding his leaking of classified and unclassified military and State Department files, documents and videos, including the “Collateral Murder” video, which shows a U.S. Apache attack helicopter in 2007 killing 12 civilians, including two Reuters journalists, and wounding two children on an Iraqi street. His current plea exposes him to penalties that could see him locked away for two decades. But for the government that is not enough. Military prosecutors are pursuing all 22 charges against him. These charges include aiding the enemy, wanton publication, espionage, stealing U.S. government property, exceeding authorized access and failures to obey lawful general orders—charges that can bring with them 149 years plus life.
“He knew that the video depicted a 2007 attack,” Coombs said of the “Collateral Murder” recording. “He knew that it [the attack] resulted in the death of two journalists. And because it resulted in the death of two journalists it had received worldwide attention. He knew that the organization Reuters had requested a copy of the video in FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] because it was their two journalists that were killed, and they wanted to have that copy in order to find out what had happened and to ensure that it didn’t happen again. He knew that the United States had responded to that FOIA request almost two years later indicating what they could find and, notably, not the video.
“He knew that David Finkel, an author, had written a book called ‘The Good Soldiers,’ and when he read through David Finkel’s account and he talked about this incident that’s depicted in the video, he saw that David Finkel’s account and the actual video were verbatim, that David Finkel was quoting the Apache air crew. And so at that point he knew that David Finkel had a copy of the video. And when he decided to release this information, he believed that this information showed how [little] we valued human life in Iraq. He was troubled by that. And he believed that if the American public saw it, they too would be troubled and maybe things would change.”
“He was 22 years old,” Coombs said last Monday as he stood near the bench, speaking softly to the judge at the close of his opening statement. “He was young. He was a little naive in believing that the information that he selected could actually make a difference. But he was good-intentioned in that he was selecting information that he hoped would make a difference.”
“He wasn’t selecting information because it was wanted by WikiLeaks,” Coombs concluded. “He wasn’t selecting information because of some 2009 most wanted list. He was selecting information because he believed that this information needed to be public. At the time that he released the information he was concentrating on what the American public would think about that information, not whether or not the enemy would get access to it, and he had absolutely no actual knowledge of whether the enemy would gain access to it. Young, naive, but good-intentioned.”
The moral order is inverted. The criminal class is in power. We are the prey. Manning, in a just society, would be a prosecution witness against war criminals. Those who committed these crimes should be facing prison. But we do not live in a just society.
The Afghans, the Iraqis, the Yemenis, the Pakistanis and the Somalis know what American military forces do. They do not need to read WikiLeaks. They have seen the bodies, including the bodies of their children, left behind by drone strikes and other attacks from the air. They have buried the corpses of those gunned down by coalition forces. With fury, they hear our government tell lies, accounts that are discredited by the reality they endure. Our wanton violence and hypocrisy make us hated and despised, fueling the rage of jihadists and amassing legions of new enemies against the United States. Manning, by providing a window into the truth, opened up the possibility of redemption. He offered hope for a new relationship with the Muslim world, one based on compassion and honesty, on the rule of law, rather than the cold brutality of industrial warfare. But by refusing to heed the truth that Manning laid before us, by ignoring the crimes committed daily in our name, we not only continue to swell the ranks of our enemies but put the lives of our citizens in greater and greater danger. Manning did not endanger us. He sought to thwart the peril that is daily exacerbated by our political and military elite. Manning showed us through the documents he released that Iraqis have endured hundreds of rapes and murders, along with systematic torture by the military and police of the puppet government we installed. He let us know that none of these atrocities were investigated. He provided the data that showed us that between 2004 and 2009 there were at least 109,032 “violent deaths” in Iraq, including those of 66,081 civilians, and that coalition troops were responsible for at least 195 civilian deaths in unreported events. He allowed us to see in the video “Collateral Murder” the helicopter attack on unarmed civilians in Baghdad. It was because of Manning that we could listen to the callous banter between pilots as the Americans nonchalantly fired on civilian rescuers. Manning let us see a U.S. Army tank crush one of the wounded lying on the street after the helicopter attack. The actions of the U.S. military in this one video alone, as law professor Marjorie Cohn has pointed out, violate Article 85 of the First Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits the targeting of civilians, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which requires that wounded be treated, and Article 17 of the First Protocol, which permits civilians to rescue and care for wounded without being harmed. We know of this war crime and many others because of Manning. And the decision to punish the soldier who reported these war crimes rather than the soldiers responsible for these crimes mocks our pretense of being a nation ruled by law.

“I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this, it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan,” Manning said Feb. 28 when he pleaded guilty to the lesser charges. He said he hoped the release of the information to WikiLeaks “might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counterterrorism while ignoring the situation of the people we engaged with every day.”
But it has not. Our mechanical drones still circle the skies delivering death. Our attack jets still blast civilians. Our soldiers and Marines still pump bullets into mud-walled villages. Our artillery and missiles still raze homes. Our torturers still torture. Our politicians and generals still lie. And the man who tried to stop it all is still in prison.
Read Chris Hedges’ Dig about Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning here.
Trial transcripts used for this report came from the nonprofit Freedom of the Press Foundation, which, because the government refused to make transcripts publicly available, is raising money to have its own stenographer at the trial. Transcripts from the pretrial hearing came from journalist Alexa O’Brien.

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