An Army Article 32 Investigating Officer has recommended that the charges against Bradley Manning be referred to a general court-martial. An article 32 Investigation is the equivalent of a civilian grand jury. In the military it is convened under the authority of Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
So, it is official. A military tribunal will be convened in this case. This is the Friday the 13th Double Whammy for Bradley Manning. These military tribunals will probably become more common under the Imperial Presidency of Barack Obama now that he has the legal authority to detain indefinitely without trial anyone considered a terrorist.
It would be wise for most American to become acquainted with the UCMJ and its procedures. This is the same type of forum that was used to convict Cadet Webster Smith at the U. S. Coast Guard Academy for alleged sexual assault. And it is the same type of forum that will be used to try the cadets at the U. S. Air Force Academy who were charged earlier this week with alleged sex crimes.
A book about the Webster Smith case describes the UCMJ procedure from pre-trial investigation all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. It is entitled “CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady”. It is available in Kindle format from Amazon.com and can be read for free on a Kindle reader.
The charges against Private Manning include aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defense information and computer fraud.
If convicted, Manning, an army private before the WikiLeaks furor erupted, could be sentenced to life in prison. Webster Smith was sentenced to 6 months in prison, a bad conduct discharge, and separation form the armed forces. He was also required to register as a sex offender in the State of Texas.
The recommendation followed a seven-day Article 32 Investigation to determine if there was sufficient evidence to try the 24-year-old private from Oklahoma. The IO found that there was probable cause to proceed to a trial.
Manning is accused of giving WikiLeaks a massive trove of US military reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, 260,000 classified State Department cables, Guantanamo detainee assessments and videos of US air strikes.
Trained on various intelligence systems, Manning served in Iraq from November 2009 until his arrest in May 2010.
The anti-secrecy website began releasing the military documents in July 2010. It dumped the entire archive of diplomatic documents in September 2011, causing huge embarrassment to U.S. Government.
It is alleged that contact information for WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, military reports, cables and other classified material had been found on computers and storage devices used by Manning.
Our commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama, has publicly declared Manning guilty before he has had his day in court. One would have expected a former Constitutional law professor to show more respect for the presumption of innocence that an accused is afforded under the U. S. Constitution. This could sure taint any potential jury pool.
In his closing argument at the Article 32 hearing, Manning’s civilian defense attorney David Coombs said the government “overcharged in this case”. He begged the IO to reduce the charges to just three counts that would carry a total of 30 years in prison.
The defense portrayed Manning as suffering during his deployment near Baghdad from emotional problems stemming from his homosexuality, which his superiors did nothing to remedy.
Cadet Webster Smith was placed in pre-trial confinement and forced to work at hard labor for 6 months before he was taken to a trial. Bradley Manning was jailed for more than a year and a half. He complained of being placed in solitary confinement, of bullying by guards, and of being subjected to an ultra restrictive regime at the US military prison at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia just outside of Washington,DC.