The Persecution of Bradley Manning 148

The thrilling development in the trial of Bradley Manning is that Manning has acknowledged he is the source of the leaked materials, but employed a whistleblower defence. His case is that he was exposing illegal acts and trying to arouse legitimate public debate. However in the kangaroo court trial the prosecution has objected to Manning’s proposed evidence, and claims that Manning’s detailed references to specific war crimes are irrelevant and should not be allowed to be made in court. In other words, the state is seeking to prevent Bradley Manning from presenting his defence, and doubtless the military “judge” will comply with the state.

In order to overshadow Manning’s defence, the government and corporate media brought out, the moment the news of Manning’s defence was announced, the “news” that the government will put in the stand an all-American hero, a US Navy Seal, one of the Zero-Torture-Thirty killers of Osama Bin Laden, who will give evidence that Bin Laden had a stash of the Wikileaks released cables in his home.

That the timing of this piece of propaganda theatre was deliberate to wipe out public perception of Manning’s defence – and his not being allowed to make it – there is absolutely no doubt. But what in any case is the real value of this evidence?

Well, it certainly adds to the mountain of evidence that the US government will go after Assange the moment he leaves the UK. But against Bradley Manning it adds nil. Who would have thought that Bin Laden would not read the Wikileaks cables? Nobody would have thought that. Hundreds of millions of people read them. Many Arab Spring protestors in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen were motivated in part by information in the cables. Is the US government going to bring evidence on that too?

The problem is, of course, that Bin Laden was never convicted of anything. If the Americans had not murdered him, evidence from him about his view of the cables and what he intended to do with them might have been interesting. It may even have helped the prosecution. But they killed him rather than prosecute or question him, so they do not have that.

Perhaps enough time has passed for people to be a bit more dispassionate about the strange killing of Bin Laden. There was absolutely no need to kill him. He had no weapon. His small compound was completely secured by US Marines. At the time they shot Bin laden, there was nobody on the compound who could fire back. Bin Laden was an elderly man in poor health. Trained navy seals could have hauled him alive into the helicopter without adding more than 10 seconds to their mission time – and it seems they had plenty of time, time to go searching for Wikileaks documents anyway. It is perfectly plain that the truth is that Obama had instilled an understanding Bin Laden was to be killed, not captured.

But that makes no sense. If the Americans really believe the entire al-Qaida narrative which has been banged out incessantly by the media this last decade, then Bin Laden alive would have been the most valuable intelligent asset in US history. To kill him needlessly with no attempt at interrogation would be absolutely extraordinary. There was no operational need to do it in the compound that night. Keeping him alive would in no way have further endangered the troops on the operation. They did not want him to talk.

Now for a state to use the alleged intentions of somebody as evidence, when the state killed that person to avoid him giving evidence, is rather remarkable. Only in the Bradley Manning kangaroo court does it make sense.

The US government’s problem is that it has spoonfed to mainstream media journalists for years the lie that the Wikileaks cables release endangered lives. There is then this appalling lie that Assange stated that the informers deserve to be shot – a statement which the host of the small dinner has sworn was never made, and Assange swears he never said. But despite all this propagnda, and despite the fact that they are extremely keen to do so, and every mainstream media organisation in the whole world has worked on it, nobody has produced one credible instance of an individual who was harmed as a result of being named in a Wikileaks cable – unless you include the dictators whose people turned against them.

Part of the reason for this is rather prosaic. The State Department cables were not intelligence material. The media likes to call them intelligence because it sounds exciting and sells papers, but it is not intelligence material. It is just diplomatic reporting. And it is not highly classified. None of it is Top Secret – it is just Restricted or Confidential.

If the release of any material would endanger the life of the source, that material would automatically get classified Top Secret. That is why nobody has been endangered. The system works, The Americans should celebrate that, rather than try Hollywood-linked stunts to demonise Manning.

148 thoughts on “The Persecution of Bradley Manning

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  • lysias

    I believe I have read that the Executive Order that established the whole system of security classifications prohibits the classification of criminal acts. Have Manning and his lawyers been allowed to argue that some of these allegedly classified matters are not properly classified?

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    The ‘speedy trial’ is snail-like for a reason. The charges, and their descriptors in legalese had to be crafted like a demented pyramid scheme of tortured language making it a Tower of Babble.

    I’m glad I don’t have to represent Manning. If the Prosecutors had been smart, they would have designed the Torquemada docs well ahead, to make the defense waive speedy trial ‘Right’.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    If I were he, I would plead not guilty to all charges.

    In Barker v. Wingo (1972), the Supreme Court developed a four-part test that considers the length of the delay, the reasons for the delay, the defendant’s assertion of his right to a speedy trial, and the prejudice to the defendant. A violation of the Speedy Trial Clause is cause for dismissal with prejudice of a criminal case.

  • Mary

    A US appeal judge protects the whalers of the US’s poodle Japan and declares that brave man Paul Watson’s Sea Shepherd illegal.

    Sea Shepherd conservation group declared ‘pirates’ in US court ruling
    Judge orders environmentalists to stop aggression against Japanese whaling ships who claim harassment on the seas

    Not so long ago, he was in a Japanese prison. Now he is on a ship in the Southern Ocean that was rammed last week by a Japanese whaler. A second ship has also been rammed.

    Sea Shepherd protest ships rammed by whalers

  • Arbed

    Oh oh, incoming – MAJOR fail by the MSM…

    Bradley has said on the stand that he tried to blow the whistle to the Washington Post and the New York Times FIRST and when they turned him down, he went to Wikileaks.

    OMFG – That’s a turn up for the books. I wonder how they’re going to report THAT tomorrow morning…?

    Doesn’t this kinda blow the US government’s whole argument that Bradley Manning deliberately passed information to a “foreign power” in order to aid the enemy?

  • Arbed

    Ah, small clarification. Not “turned down” so much as “news desk can’t be bothered to return calls”:


    WOW! #BradleyManning reveals tried to give US secrets to Wash Post and NYTimes but failed to get through to them so went to #WikiLeaks

    But… another oh oh…

    US prosecution of Wikileaks takes another body blow from the Fort Meade witness stand…

    Just tweeting by Wikileaks:

    Manning on stand: “no one at (the) WikiLeaks organization pressured me to send any information”, “I made these decisions on my own”

    A tad difficult for the US prosecutors to prove conspiracy to commit espionage case now?

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Arbed; The live-blog is down. Is that where you saw the Wapo and NYT fail?

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Server very busy for you too, Arbed? Can’t seem to raise the dead….

  • Arbed

    Ben, 6.52pm

    If you mean the Firedoglake liveblog, last time I checked Kevin had posted this:

    UPDATE – 1:17 PM See @kgosztola for quotes from Manning’s statement. I’m working on short report on part of Manning’s statement that will be up before court proceedings resume.

    So I’m just following Kevin’s twitterstream.

  • adriana

    Anyone looking at the useful links to Australian sources who doesn’t follow Oz politics, should be aware that both major parties are up the US backside and analysis of ABC guests and commentators shows bias to the right (except the Chaser, excellent political satire which gives all players their just desserts).

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Arbed; Are you familiar with UCMJ? It seems weird that Coombs seeks a motion for ‘speedy trial’ which gets denied by the judge. Once you plead, you rescind your right to appeal, right?

    Why has that venue not been pursued with more vigor (speedy trial). It seems one of their strengths.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    I was referring to the Manning live blog, Arbed. I will try FDL.

  • Arbed

    Hi Ben,

    No, my only knowledge of the UCMJ is what I’ve absorbed from reading Bradley and the excellent Alexa O’Brien’s coverage of the case (beyond compare, really – highly recommended. If you don’t have it already you can pick up a link to her site off Wikileaks’s twitter earlier today).

    My personal interpretation of the defence strategy? After that ridiculous ruling of only 112 days off any potential sentence for ‘unlawful pre-trial punishment’ lasting over 9 months, they’d got the measure of this judge and realised they weren’t going to get a dismissal for speedy trial (with speedy trial motions there’s only two stark alternatives a judge can rule: complete dismissal or motion refused; there’s no halfway house of sentence reduction). So, they’ve taken a strategic decision to waive right to appeal the speedy trial motion in favour of being able to reframe the entire case on their terms. Each of these ‘naked pleas’ the defence has entered – and bear in mind the judge has already ruled they all are legally valid (though she’ll rule on whether she accepts them at a later stage, they’re all valid alternative pleas) – managed to strip out of all 10 of these charges ALL the language dealing with motive, mens rea, culpability, etc. by a process of substitution. This reduces maximum jail time for each charge from 10 years to 2 years and makes it much, much harder for the government to prove the same loaded terms in the more serious charges, which Bradley is pleading not guilty to and which will go forward for full court martial later. So far, the US prosecutors have argued – and won – on motions such as motive doesn’t matter (so they don’t have to prove, eg, that he deliberately passed info to enemy, only that he “should have reasonably known” the enemy would “receive” it at the time that he did the leaking); damage after the fact doesn’t matter (so they don’t have to admit there was none); etc. What this plea strategy does effectively (I think) is to say “okey dokey, well then, let’s turn this approach back on you and strip all that stuff out. Sauce for goose is sauce for gander, see?

  • shekissesfrogs

    27 Feb, 2013 – 10:10 pm

    “The main reason I can see for disposing of the body at sea was so that there was no chance of a ‘UBL Shrine’ being created. This would have been inevitable if he was given a traditional burial.”

    This part of the govt story is troubling. It suggests either A) profound ignorance of the religious beliefs of those who would visit or worship at such a shrine, or B) that we, hoi polloi are ignorant or stupid, as their story is simple.

    As they have rid the State Dept of Arabists and replaced them with zionists, they apparently no longer employ expert psychologists who understand the sociocultural aspects of the population they are targeting either militarily or for messaging.

    Sunnis would never create a shrine from a grave. The fundamentalist takfiris* kill the people visiting them because they are seen as worship of the dead- it’s an innovation of islam (biddah) and shirk(idolatry).

    Have you noticed how the the extremists kill the various sects of shi’ites, or sufis or other disbelievers and destroy their mosques and ancient pilgrimist sites? Buddha statues of Bamiyan (Afghanistan), Sufi mausoleum sites in Timbuktu, shrines in egypt, Libya, syria and Iraq.

    The Saudi princes derive any and all populist or religious authority they have left as caretakers of these holy places within arabia for all muslims- shias included but they serve too many masters.
    Also indicative of Obama, and John O. Brennan’s hubris is building a military base there for drone strikes — that is, if it is in fact ours.
    The seige of Mecca which happened about six months after the storming of the Iranian embassy should have made all this clear.

    They don’t seem to care about projecting smart power, or expanding or maintaining empire with a legitimate authority. It’s all about force, unilateralism, being seen as tough, they are authoritarians and too inflexible to negotiate. It’s all downhill from here.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Arbed @ 7:32

    Military court has somewhat arcane rules. I suspect Coombs is savvy enough to know that the
    issue of speedy has created an opening for appeal. I believe the appeals court is ACCA. If that doesn’t fly, there is adequate precedent for proceeding to SCOTUS, but they rarely (odd, isn’t it) hear cases regarding that.

  • lysias

    The treatment of David Hicks became a big issue in Australia. Why can’t the treatment of Julian Assange?

  • Mary

    Bradley Manning was the second item on the BBC Ten O’Clock News, following the bankers’ bonus row, and it included his words below saying that he wanted to start a public debate. They said he had admitted some of the charges.

    “The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust the aerial weapons team happened to have,” he said, comparing the troops to children “torturing ants with a magnifying glass”.

    They went on to say he still faces a military trial and faces a long prison sentence if he is found guilty. Poor guy. For telling the truth.

    Bradley Manning pleads guilty to some Wikileaks charges

  • lysias

    Speaking of David Hicks, I just paid the outrageous price of $118 for a used copy of his book from Amazon. It has long been unavailable in the U.S.

    How’s that for censorship?

  • Arbed

    Lysias, 10.19pm

    It’s getting pretty good coverage everywhere. Most of the headlines seem to be focusing on the fact that he’s pleading guilty but without making it clear that the way the defence has rephrased these 10 charges makes them relatively minor (compared to the more serious 12 he’s pleading NOT guilty too, and which he may still face later).

    Here’s the best report I’ve found so far on the detail of what happened today:

    Bradley Manning Takes ‘Full Responsibility’ for Giving WikiLeaks Huge Government Data Trove:

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Further; The cover-up of the collateral murder video reveals a reluctance to hold those accountable for such action. The crime? Accessory to murder, for which there is UCMJ consequences.

    Many have been called to the docket for their complicity?

    “Any person subject to this chapter who, knowing that an offense punishable by this chapter has been committed, receives, comforts, or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial, or punishment shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”


    (1) That an offense punishable by the code was committed by a certain person;
    (2) That the accused knew that this person had committed such offense;
    (3) That there after the accused received, comforted, or assisted the offender; and
    (4) That the accused did so for the purpose of hindering or preventing the apprehension, trial, or punishment of the offender.…..m/bl78.htm

    All the elements are there, but who do they shoot?; The Messenger.

  • Jemand

    Lysias, Feb 28 10:06pm
    . . . .

    David Hicks was in US custody and had an outstanding lawyer in the form of a US marine, Major Michael Mori who campaigned relentlessly in Oz for public support. Major Mori was passed over several times for promotion as a result of his enthusiastic advocacy for Hicks and has since moved to Oz after leaving the marine corps.

    But I can assure you, if the US get their hands on Assange, there will be riots in Oz cities and I will be there helping to flip police cars despite my usual avoidance of public demonstrations.

  • guano


    Australian police cars are already upside-down Are you going to turn them the right way round?
    Seriously though, going back to your reply to mine on a previous thread, and referring to Muslim heresies mentioned above, some Far Eastern Muslim countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei have an animism problem, with belief in spirits occupying locations being taken into consideration with building planning decisions.

    Allah says in the Quran: Kaida shaytana dha’eefa/ Satan’s plan is weak. In other words Satan presents obstacles like human relationship problems etc as insurmountable, when in fact not only is Allah fully in control of them but easily able to brush them aside, if supplicated by a sincere believer. The Shayateen are sent to trouble those who do not believe. ‘Faith can move mountains.’

    The street drain outside my house must now be full not only of hibernating cockroaches but also the shredded business cards of certain psychic Muslim peers/sheikhs/mediums who claim to be able to solve every kind of problem from love to blood pressure and they no doubt sell inscriptions and other totems to externalise their customers’ superstitions, thus increasing the demand for their services instead of prescribing the internal remedies of thikr/remembrance of Allah and prayer.

    Your belief in duality of good and bad is theologically dogy even in Christian terms, and well off the scale of Islam. However whatever takes your fancy… You can take a horse to water… I don’t think Obama was thinking the Muslims were going to make a shrine out of OBL’s grave. I think he understood that where there are lies it is human nature to speculate, and shaytan’s job to invent false answers. Drones serve the same purpose by having no perceivable driver. The Muslim is not susceptible to this psychological torture however real the physical torture caused.

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