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Amy Goodman
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Thursday 13 December 2012
As he now faces 22 counts in a court martial that could land him in prison for the rest of his life, his lawyer argued in court that the case should be thrown out, based on his unlawful pretrial punishment.

The Trials of Bradley Manning

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Pfc. Bradley Manning was finally allowed to speak publicly, in his own defense, in a preliminary hearing of his court-martial. Manning is the alleged source of the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history. He was an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, with top-secret clearance, deployed in Iraq. In April 2010, the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks released a U.S. military video of an Apache helicopter in Baghdad killing a dozen civilians below, including two Reuters employees, a videographer and his driver. One month after the video was released, Manning was arrested in Iraq, charged with leaking the video and hundreds of thousands more documents. Thus began his ordeal of cruel, degrading imprisonment in solitary confinement that many claim was torture, from his detention in Kuwait to months in the military brig in Quantico, Va. Facing global condemnation, the U.S. military transferred Manning to less-abusive detention at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

As he now faces 22 counts in a court martial that could land him in prison for the rest of his life, his lawyer argued in court that the case should be thrown out, based on his unlawful pretrial punishment.

Veteran constitutional attorney Michael Ratner was in the courtroom at Fort Meade, Md., that day Manning took the stand. He described the scene: “It was one of the most dramatic courtroom scenes I’ve ever been in. ... When Bradley opened his mouth, he was not nervous. The testimony was incredibly moving, an emotional roller coaster for all of us, but particularly, obviously, for Bradley and what he went through. But it was so horrible what happened to him over a two-year period. He described it in great detail in a way that was articulate, smart, self-aware.”

Ratner said Manning described being kept in a cage in Kuwait: “There were two cages. He said they were like animal cages. They were in a tent alone, just these two cages, side by side. One of them had whatever possessions he may have had; one of them, he was in, with a little bed for a rack and a toilet, dark, in this cage for almost two months.” Ratner quoted Manning from his testimony, recalling his words: “For me, I stopped keeping track. I didn’t know whether night was day or day was night. And my world became very, very small. It became these cages.” Ratner added, “It almost destroyed him.”

After Kuwait, Manning was shipped to a brig in Quantico. Manning’s civilian defense attorney, David Coombs, said earlier this month: “Brad’s treatment at Quantico will forever be etched, I believe, in our nation’s history, as a disgraceful moment in time. Not only was it stupid and counterproductive. It was criminal.” The United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, attempted to visit Manning, but then refused when the military said it could surveil and record the visit. He reported: “Solitary confinement is a harsh measure which may cause serious psychological and physiological adverse effects on individuals regardless of their specific conditions.”

Manning’s cruel treatment was described by officials as necessary, as he was a suicide risk. Yet Navy Capt. William Hocter, a forensic psychiatrist at Quantico, said he was no such risk, but was ignored. “I had been a senior medical officer for 24 years at the time, and I had never experienced anything like this,” Hocter testified. “It was clear to me they had made up their mind on a certain cause of action, and my recommendations had no impact.”

This first phase of the court-martial, which Coombs calls “the unlawful pretrial punishment motion phase,” considered a defense motion to throw out the entire case. While that is unlikely, observers say, the defense asked, as an alternative, that the court consider crediting Manning with 10 days’ reduction from any eventual sentence for each day he spent suffering cruel and degrading punishment in Kuwait and Quantico, which could in theory trim six years from his prison time.

Bradley Manning is charged with releasing the WikiLeaks trove of documents, which included the Baghdad massacre video, two separate, massive tranches of documents relating to U.S. military records from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and, perhaps most importantly, the huge release of more than 250,000 U.S. State Department cables, dubbed “Cablegate.” In an August 2010 assessment, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the document release “has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by the disclosure.” Manning has offered to plead guilty to releasing the documents, but not to the more serious charges of espionage or aiding the enemy.

Manning turns 25, in prison, Dec. 17, which is also the second anniversary of the day a young Tunisian set himself on fire in protest of his country’s corrupt government, sparking the Arab Spring. A year ago, as Time magazine named the protester as the “Person of the Year,” legendary Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg offered praise that rings true today: “The Time magazine cover gives protester, an anonymous protester, as ‘Person of the Year,’ but it is possible to put a face and a name to that picture of ‘Person of the Year.’ And the American face I would put on that is Private Bradley Manning.”

© 2011 Amy Goodman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate



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ABOUT Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of "Breaking the Sound Barrier," recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

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9 comments on "The Trials of Bradley Manning"

Arminius Aurelius

December 15, 2012 10:18am

I would think that any good Christian and or civilized / compassionate human being would want to expose the unjustified murder of innocents approved of by serial killers in the Pentagon and in the halls of Congress . I would also do all in my power to expose the Greed and Corruption in our government. We these United States of Amerika are led by bought and paid for Traitors who espouse Democracy and Liberty and Justice for all but these words ring hollow . If anyone should be arrested and put on trial it should be Bush , Cheny and Rumsfeld . Because of their LIES and deception , about 7000 young U.S. boys in the military have died in vain and about40,000 were severely wounded some never to be normal again. And that is not counting the MILLIONS of innocent Iraqi and Afghani men , women and CHILDREN who died under our Weapons of Mass Destruction . Since 1950 , the U.S. has threatened , bombed and invaded over 30 poor 3 rd world countries who were NO threat to us . Another attrocity that was kept from U.S. citizens by our elected " public servants " was a 1967 Holocaust ..........
www.ussliberty.org [ the murder of 34 U.S. Sailors and Marines ]

MightyMike

December 14, 2012 2:08pm

I am a 63 year old veteran of the Marines, and I despise the military. But all this support for the traitor Manning baffles me. He deserves life in prison at the least for taking it iupon himself to violate his oath and promise. Naturally his attorneys and advocates will argue anything they can to mitigate his responsibility. That is not unusual. Even Ted bundy had legal advocates. The gullible will believe the advocates. I don't. Remember General Noriega's lawyers promised the moon also. Manning assaulted the dignity and respect of the US and all it's citizens. Keep him in prison for life. Please.

Joe6pK

December 13, 2012 8:36pm

As a 66 year old veteran I find everything about the treatment of a yet to be convicted American solider disgusting and telling. Especially in a country willing to throw away the very assets used as America's best PR tool, rights, which in our case is the protections our Constitution guarantees. If that is true, then we are already done as a nation. Judging by Manning's treatment to date we are real close. That not a single person has asked if there was treason being exposed by him to his real bosses?
This submitted to “We the People”, to justify his act! Maybe Manning even knew who planned criminal acts? Or if some of our politicians were abusing our allies, you know scamming for extra money? Where is our highly praised justice system here? How about just a little curiosity? And why is there so much blind support of the source, our government, which is so deeply flawed and oozing with criminality, especially with contractors?
All this ranting and raving about laws no one ever pays any attention to! Why, because everyone including the white house leak stuff all the time, ask bush! Then compare what this kid did, not for money mind you, not a bogus act, when the same source charging him with crimes is deliberately allowing wall street and the banks through fraud or criminal negligence to destroy our economy. These are very same people who are jacked up to execute a 23 year old kid that exposed misuses of our secrecy acts!
The whole affair mocks our legal system, craps on our honor, laughs at justice, and leaves the legacy of us less than we were, or what is left of us. Free Bradley Manning, arrest everyone on wall street and the bankers, their all corporate tax evaders the fines would be justified! Who are by use of our authorities using Bradley Manning as a smoke screen? This impractical, irresponsible persecution is going to cost way more than anyone right now imagines. And the shame for being so fooled, disrespect of even our allies for such shabby treatment, for what? Just to allow money to be made fraudulently, while sacrificing a honest 23 year old troop in the middle of graft-fest, good grief, how low can we go? Joe6pK

inspired1

December 13, 2012 7:38pm

It seems almost insane to ask, but one has to wonder, what kind of retribution—if any—did the people who masterminded and ordered the helicopter massacre get (not just those who flew it and pulled the triggers)? If anybody should be paying the cost of their actions, shouldn't it be THEM??
All of the public outrage that is missing in this nation is a measure of how far we have fallen, how the media reflects, obeys, and serves the powerful, how much we have handed over our government and destiny to sick people with a distorted sense of what is "security" — and who apparently believe it is both their right and duty to impose their will on the rest of us, whatever the costs.
How on earth are WE judging OTHERS???

Just a reminder — OUR TAXES pay for this. "Fiscal Cliff"? HA! The Moral Cliff, we've already gone over!

anono

December 13, 2012 5:40pm

All that has resulted so far from Manning's act of conscience is the ability of the administration, congress and the pentagon to better hide the truth from the American People.
Their motive? Global Omnipotent Domination. GOD for short. And Hobama only has a few years left to play Global Omnipotent Dominator. GOD for short.

But in his and their case GOD can also be short for Goofy Offensive Dickheads!

woetopoe

December 13, 2012 4:43pm

The guy was tortured. "Before" he was found guilty of anything. His "so-called" crime is simply telling the truth to the powers of an "alleged" Democracy. He may have acted in a foolhardy manner but those are often the individuals society ends up hailing as heroes. Let him go home. Our particular brand of "justice" has been served and grossly exceeded. Show an iota of class...Mr.President.

Butch

December 13, 2012 2:16pm

This government has been holding Manning only to torture a confession out of him so they could go after the bigger fish to fry, Mr. Wiki leaks himself, Mr. Assuage. In all the months of captivity in solitary confinement that Manning had to endure and the mind games our government put him through to break him, they were not able to get him to sign a confession. Our government in military law is only supposed to hold a prisoner for 120 days and then they are to be charged with a crime and tried for it. Private Manning was held for over 900 days without being formally charged. Is this some third-world gulag or the United States of America?

President Obama said he was being treated fairly. Really Mr. Obama? Really? You are supposed to be a Constitutional Law Professor and I'm starting to doubt your credentials if you can come to this conclusion, or can order the assassination of citizens without formal charges brought against them, or can sign into law an act ( NDAA ) that allows our military to arrest our citizens without cause for indefinite detention. Really, President Obama?

greggerritt

December 13, 2012 12:36pm

Beyond the horrible treatment of Bradley Manning, what really needs to be examined is why a democracy seeks to kill people around the world and tries to hide the evidence behind the national security scam. Free Bradley Manning and shut down the empire and the military industrial complex.

Arachne646

December 13, 2012 11:57am

Although men and women serving in the armed forces do forfeit some of their civil rights when they enlist, they should not have to forego the basic respect and human dignity that Bradley Manning was stripped of in the cage in Kuwait, or in the even worse torture Bradley underwent in Quantico, probably to extract a confession to all charges. I pray for the best, hopefully a full dismissal.