The Verdict in the Bradley Manning Trial is a Foregone Conclusion
Those who would defend the nation's system of military justice may defend what is going on today in Fort Meade, Maryland, but the rest of us can call this trial for exactly what it is, a travesty.
Living a Kafkaesque nightmare
We need to be clear what Bradley Manning, whose trial began today, June 5, 2013, is being tried for: telling the truth.
Three years ago, when he was 22, Manning was arrested in Baghdad and promptly shipped to Kuwait, where he was held in a cage, at Camp Arifjan, in temperatures that often exceeded 120 degrees. Last November he told the court, "I didn't know whether night was day or day was night. And my world became very small. It became these cages...I remember thinking I'm going to die." He was transferred to a U. S. brig at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia after his lawyers protested his treatment in Kuwait, but his treatment once he got stateside got no better. At Quantico he was, according to an official finding by the U.N., subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of his captors. In other words, he was tortured. He was isolated in a tiny cell for twenty-three of every twenty-four hours, deprived of blankets, sleep, his glasses, his clothes - and he was barred from exercising. A military judge determined that he was being "punished" before he had even stood trial. Said his lawyer, David Coombs, "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."
A "show trial"
No objective observer of what is going on can fail to see the court martial of Bradley Manning as anything different from what it is: a show trial, a kangaroo court of immense proportions, a government railroad job.
Manning will not be allowed to give any evidence as to his stated intent, which was to expose war crimes. He cannot present witnesses to show that his actions hurt no one. It's as if after you killed someone in self-defense you were not allowed to show you were acting to save your own life.
The government will put on a good show, tightly choreographed and scripted. It will call 141 witnesses, but it will not allow Manning's defense team to call more than a handful. The government. even held a dress rehearsal three weeks ago, something experts on military law and justice say is unprecedented.
Julian Assange writes in Manning's defense
Writing today on the Huffington Post, Julian Assange says "Bradley Manning's conviction is already written into the script...Barack Obama...spoiled the plot for all of us when he pronounced...Manning guilty two years ago. 'He broke the law,' President Obama stated...In a civilized society, such a prejudicial statement alone would have resulted in a mistrial."
"To convict..., it will be necessary for the U. S. government to conceal crucial parts of his trial...24 prosecution witnesses will give secret testimony in closed session, permitting the judge to claim that secret evidence justifies her decision...and the scale of the case is designed...to drive fact-hungry reporters into the arms of official military PR men, who mill around the Fort Meade press room like over-eager sales assistants."
"This is not justice; never could this be justice. The verdict was ordained long ago. Its function is not to determine questions such as guilt or innocence, or truth or falsehood. It is a public relations exercise, designed to provide the government with an alibi for posterity. It is a show of wasteful vengeance; a theatrical warning to people of conscience."
Make no mistake, this trial's purpose is to hold Bradley Manning up as an example of what will happen to you if you are in the employ of the government and you expose its lies, its corruption, or its illegal acts. As a result, a great chill now has cast a pall over all government employees who would reveal the truth, as well as over all of American journalism, because news reporters now know they can be prosecuted simply for reporting the news, as the government is trying to do in the case of Assange.
Link: Bradley Manning Trial Verdict will Either Affirm or Further Erode our Civil Liberties
Preview and courtroom artist renderings from politico.com
Protest outside Fort Meade photo from huffingtonpost.com