Bradley Manning's Trial Begins: Shouldn't It Be Washington That Is On Trial?
June 4, 2013 Scott Galindez / Reader Supported News & The World Can't Wait
As Bradley Manning's military trial finally begins, people gathered in cities around the country and around the world to demand his freedom. The government is out to silence any individual or any media outlet that exposes the truth about crimes committed by the US military. Anyone who wants to see truth revealed and justice done must demand that the persecution of Bradley Manning be ended, his charges dropped, and that he be freed.
(June 4, 2013) -- Bradley Manning came face-to-face on Tuesday with the man who turned him in to military law enforcement -- Adrian Lamo, a convicted computer hacker, who testified about the six days of computer chats he had with Manning in May of 2010.
David Coombs, Manning's defense lawyer, used the cross-examination of Lamo to show his client's true motivations for leaking hundreds of thousands of government documents. Lamo also testified to Manning's state of mind.
During the chats, Manning told Lamo that he had decided to leak the information as a way of instigating a worldwide debate.
Lamo, dressed in black, told the court that he was a" grey-hat hacker," meaning he would hack into systems without malicious intent.
When asked by Coombs if Manning had indicated in the course of the conversations that he knew the witness had donated to WikiLeaks, Lamo said he had. Coombs pressed further. "He told you he reached out to you as someone who might understand him?" Coombs asked.
"That is correct," Lamo replied.
Lamo agreed that at the time of their chats Manning described himself as an emotional wreck who thought his life was falling apart and was considering suicide. Manning said he was too traumatized to care what the consequences to him would be. He was more afraid of being misunderstood.
Coombs asked, "[Manning] told you he was the kind of person who would always investigate the truth?"
"That was something I could appreciate," Lamo said.
Lamo admitted that Manning told him that it was important the information got out, and that if it got out it might actually change something. Coombs then elicited a series of responses from the Manning-Lamo web chats: In summary, Manning told Lamo that he did not believe in good guys and bad guys anymore, only a plethora of states acting in self interest.
Manning thought he was maybe too idealistic. Based on what he had seen, Manning said he couldn't let the information stay inside. He said he felt connected to everybody, that we were all distant family. And he said he cared.
Manning called himself a humanist and said he had custom dog tags where he had written humanist on the back. Pfc. Manning said that we are all human and we are killing ourselves and no one seems to care. He was bothered that nobody seemed to care, that apathy was far worse than active participation. He said that he preferred the painful truth over blissful fantasy.
To each of these statements above, Lamo replied: "He did."
At one point Lamo admitted that it wasn't lost on him that he and Manning were a lot alike.
During Lamo's questioning by the prosecutor, he focused on the technical issues surrounding the chats rather than their content.
Lamo came under fire in 2010 for turning in Manning. Manning supporters called him a "snitch" and a "rat." What would have happened had Lamo not gone from grey-hat hacker to government informant and turned Manning over to the authorities?
This report is being filed from the Fort Meade Bowling Alley, as we are still not allowed in the Media Center where other journalists are allowed to file their reports.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
US Government Begins 12 Week Military Trial of Bradley Manning The World Can't Wait
(June 4, 2013) -- As Bradley Manning's military trial finally begins, people gathered (and through this week are still gathering) in cities around the country and around the world to demand his freedom. See more at bradleymanning.org.
Saturday, we gathered at Ft. Meade for the largest support action for Bradley Manning during the three+ years of his imprisonment before trial. I saw MANY subscribers to the World Can't Wait e-newsletter list, donors to the recent New York Times "Close Guantanamo" ad, activists from years of opposition to US wars, and younger people who have come forward mainly because they are inspired by the integrity and honesty of Bradley Manning.
Bradley, at the center of the most important political trial of this century, is an extraordinary person, motivated (as we now know), by the wish to get people living in this country to see what the government is doing. The high stakes here described by Revolution newspaper are: "This system is out to inflict extreme punishment on Bradley Manning -- to jail him for a long time, perhaps life, and to use this cruel punishment of a brave person as an example to anyone else who would dare expose the crimes of empire.
"The courage and resilience with which Manning has withstood years of solitary confinement and almost a year of torture are a testament to his strength."
Emma Kaplan, in Free Bradley Manning: The World is Not the Enemy quotes Bradley in explaining how much he learned:
"I also recall that in early 2009 the then newly elected president, Barack Obama, stated he would close Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and that the facility compromised our standing over all, and diminished our, quote unquote, "moral authority." After familiarizing myself with the DABs, I agreed....
"The more I became educated on the topic, it seemed that we found ourselves holding an increasing number of individuals indefinitely that we believed or knew to be innocent, low-level foot soldiers that did not have useful intelligence and would've been released if they were held in theatre."
Attorney Michael Ratner, this morning on Democracy Now!, explained the breadth of the Espionage statute, where the government does not have to prove either intent to aid the enemy, or actual aiding of the enemy, to convict Bradley of six espionage charges (which carry the death penalty, although the government says it is "only" seeking life in prison for Bradley).
Chillingly, the government, in its opening statement yesterday, referred frequently to Julian Assange and Wikileaks, likely targets of prosecution. Assange wrote Monday on the "Kafkaesque" nature of the trial:
"It is fair to call what is happening to Bradley Manning a "show trial." Those invested in what is called the "US military justice system" feel obliged to defend what is going on, but the rest of us are free to describe this travesty for what it is.
"No serious commentator has any confidence in a benign outcome. The pretrial hearings have comprehensively eliminated any meaningful uncertainty, inflicting pre-emptive bans on every defense argument that had any chance of success.
"Bradley Manning may not give evidence as to his stated intent (exposing war crimes and their context), nor may he present any witness or document that shows that no harm resulted from his actions. Imagine you were put on trial for murder.
In Bradley Manning's court, you would be banned from showing that it was a matter of self-defence, because any argument or evidence as to intent is banned. You would not be able to show that the 'victim' is, in fact, still alive, because that would be evidence as to the lack of harm."
The New York Times, finally reporting on the trial, related part of the opening arguments from Bradley's attorney, David Coombs, explaining how Bradley was motivated to leak evidence of US war crimes:
"Mr. Coombs said Private Manning started sending files to WikiLeaks later, in January 2010, after a roadside bombing in Iraq on Dec. 24, 2009. Everyone in his unit celebrated, Mr. Coombs said, after learning that no American troops had been seriously hurt, and their happiness did not abate -- except for Private Manning's -- when they learned that members of an innocent Iraqi family had been injured and killed.
"From that moment, Mr. Coombs contended, things started to change and he soon 'started selecting information he believed the public should see, should hear' and sending them to WikiLeaks." High Stakes in the Cruel and Unjust Trial of Bradley Manning The World Can't Wait
(May 24, 2013) -- The trial of Bradley Manning is set to begin on June 3, at Ft. Meade, Maryland. Manning is a U.S. Army private charged with 22 violations of the "Uniform Code of Military Justice."
Manning already has been imprisoned in solitary confinement for over three years, including 11 months in isolation in a hellhole that Juan Méndez, a special United Nations rapporteur who formally investigated Manning's conditions, described as "cruel, inhuman, and degrading."
Manning himself said of those 11 months, "I remember thinking, 'I'm going to die. I'm stuck inside this cage. I just thought I was going to die in that cage. And that's how I saw it: an animal cage."
The basis of the charges against Manning is the accusation that he leaked almost 500,000 classified government documents, which were then published by the website WikiLeaks. Many of these documents and files revealed war crimes committed by the US government and its military in Iraq and elsewhere.
The documents Manning is charged with leaking include the Collateral Murder video, Afghanistan War Logs, Iraq War Logs, US State Embassy cables, and Gitmo (Guantánamo) files. All of them contain damning evidence of US atrocities, cover-ups, and deceit.
The most serious of the accusations against Manning is that he "aided the enemy." If he is convicted of this charge, Bradley Manning faces the possibility of a life sentence in prison, without the possibility of parole.
Even if Manning is not convicted on this charge, he faces 20 other charges that could result in over 150 years in prison. He has already pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of "prejudicing the good order and discipline of the military," which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
In February 2013, Manning was taken from his cell to a military courtroom, where he read a lengthy statement that included his reasons for joining the military, how and why he became an intelligence analyst in the military and, most especially, why he said he sent government files to WikiLeaks. Manning said he released the files to reveal to people "what happens and why it happens" and to "spark a debate about foreign policy."
Despite Manning's guilty plea on certain charges, the government is determined to press ahead with charges that could, if he is convicted, end in a life in prison for him.
War Crimes Exposed
The Collateral Murder video, from Baghdad 2007, is perhaps the most shocking of the files. It shows American soldiers in an Apache helicopter shooting and killing 11 Iraqi civilians who don't return fire. Two children who were in a van that arrived after the initial round of gunfire were seriously wounded; their father, who stopped to help the people already shot, was killed.
The Americans were recorded joking about and exulting in the slaughter they inflicted. "Alright! Ha ha! I hit 'em!... Got a bunch of bodies lying there... Oh yeah! Look at those dead bastards!"
Among the thousands of documents in the Afghanistan War Log were directives that authorized teams of Navy Seals and Delta Forces to decide whether to kill or capture people they decided were their "targets." Other files revealed policies -- code named "Frago 242" -- by which US and English forces who directed torture of Iraqi captives could avoid taking responsibility for it.
In other words, the person who leaked these videos saw some of the bloody horrors the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have inflicted on millions of people. This person came to an understanding of the lies and deceit these wars were built on, and realized they had a responsibility to act. This person exposed to the world horrible crimes that the US government wanted to keep concealed.
Bradley Manning is accused of being this person, and now the US government is compelled to punish Manning to the utmost, to set an example for others -- including those within the military itself -- who may also be revolted by the reality of the war crimes their government and its armed forces routinely commit.
Whoever leaked these files is a hero who acted with great courage, and whose example provides a model and inspiration to anyone else who witnesses or participates in such monstrous crimes.
The Real Criminals
Blood spilled by the US has been soaking into the arid ground from Libya to Pakistan for the past dozen years. In particular, over the past 12½ years since George W. Bush and Co. commenced a "global war on terror," countless atrocities -- crimes against humanity -- have been inflicted on people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other countries by American military forces and spy agencies.
Well over 100,000 people have been killed outright in this American onslaught; countless more have died of disease and suffering inflicted by the wars. Hundreds of thousands more people have lost limbs or been otherwise maimed, traumatized and sickened; people in all these countries have seen their farms, homes, and ways of making a living destroyed. Millions have been "displaced" by war.
But the perpetrators of these atrocities have not been punished. Even before he was inaugurated, Obama made clear that he was opposed to any investigation of criminality in relation to the torture programs carried out during the Bush years. And since taking office, Obama has kept the book closed on cases of CIA torture, insuring that no one will be punished for the horrendous crimes that were directed from the highest levels of the US government.
Far from being treated as war criminals and facing life in prison, the leading political and military officials who have organized, orchestrated, and justified such monstrous criminal acts remain esteemed and respected guardians of the system of capitalism-imperialism.
Colin Powell stood before the United Nations and lied to the world that Iraq threatened its neighbors with "weapons of mass destruction" -- his speech was quickly followed by a massive US invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq.
George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld launched invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and organized a worldwide network of torture chambers in defiance of international laws and even the US's own laws.
Now Colin Powell speaks around the country on "leadership," at a fee of $100,000 to $200,000 per talk. George W. Bush just had a library built in his name on the campus of Southern Methodist University -- the inauguration of the library this April was attended by Obama as well as former presidents Clinton, Bush I, and Carter.
Barack Obama has not only defended and continued the program of war and torture begun by his predecessors; he has extended US bombing to several other countries, and developed policies of drone bombing and targeted assassinations.
Obama has accompanied the global crimes of the system and military he heads with the ruthless pursuit and punishment of anyone -- such as Bradley Manning—who allegedly exposes these atrocities.
As journalist/blogger Kevin Gosztola said in an interview with Revolution last year: "The Obama administration has waged an unprecedented war on whistle-blowers or 'leakers.' He's prosecuted more individuals for alleged leaks than all previous US presidents combined.
Unlike Bush, the Obama administration does not simply retaliate against people that go to the press to reveal the truth of what the US government is doing. They target them with prosecutions. And, to date, six people have faced prosecutions under the flawed and outdated Espionage Act of 1917.
"This war on whistle-blowing or leaking has created a climate that makes government employees very reluctant to talk to reporters or journalists on the record. It chills free speech and freedom of the press. It makes media organizations more deferent to power. To avoid being targeted by government for engaging in actual muckraking journalism, journalists form cozy relationships hoping to be spoon-fed scoops that can form best-selling books...."
A Political/Legal Battle With High Stakes
The release of the WikiLeaks files was a major, international shock to this system of global exploitation and oppression backed up by military force. The horrible acts of death and destruction; the relentless waging of war against civilian populations; the gleeful celebration of mass murder by its soldiers; the blackmail, bribery and cover-ups that are routine in the "diplomatic relations" the US maintains even with its allies -- all this and more are things the leaders of this system want to talk about among themselves, not to be aired in public.
The stakes of Bradley Manning's upcoming trial are extremely high. This system is out to inflict extreme punishment on Bradley Manning -- to jail him for a long time, perhaps life, and to use this cruel punishment of a brave person as an example to anyone else who would dare expose the crimes of empire.
The courage and resilience with which Manning has withstood years of solitary confinement and almost a year of torture are a testament to his strength.
In April 2011, Barack Obama was directly questioned about the arrest and imprisonment of Bradley Manning. Even though at that point Manning had yet to be even legally charged with anything, let alone put on trial, Obama responded, "We are a nation of laws. We don't let individuals make decisions about how the law operates. He (Manning) broke the law."
First of all, this is monumental deceit and hypocrisy from a man who defies international law and standards to, among other things, imprison and torture Bradley Manning, and who regularly has made decisions based on the supposed legal authority of a "secret memorandum" to send murderous drone strikes against civilians in multiple countries.
But how can Bradley Manning possibly have a "fair trial" when the President, the "Commander-in-Chief" himself, has already declared that he is guilty? What happened to the "presumption of innocence," supposedly a cornerstone of the American system of law?
The continued sadistic persecution of Bradley Manning reveals much about the ways the U.S. coheres its empire, and the fearful, vengeful punishment it seeks to extract when it is exposed. Far from being the worldwide champion of such "democratic values" as freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as the representatives of this system never tire of proclaiming, a look beneath the system's façade reveals a gruesome reality of murderous wars, atrocious war crimes routinely covered up, and harsh persecution of people who expose these crimes.
The government is out to silence and shut down any individual or any media outlet that exposes the truth about crimes committed by the US military. Anyone who wants to see truth revealed, war crimes exposed and stopped, and justice done must demand that the persecution of Bradley Manning be ended, his charges dropped, and that he be freed.
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