Bradley Manning Refused To Enter A Plea At His Court-martial 24 Feb 2012.
Private Bradley Manning declined to enter a plea on 24 Feb 2012 at his arraignment to the charges that he handed over hundreds of thousands of classified US files to WikiLeaks. Almost two years after his arrest at a military base in Iraq, Private Manning decided to defer pleading guilty or not guilty to allegations he was the source of the largest intelligence leak in US history and that he had aided America’s enemies. Because he refused to plead, the military judge was required according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ for him.
David Coombs, Private Manning’s civilian defense lawyer, said that Manning’s due process rights were being infringed by the slow progress. The case is already over 600 days old. The Defense wants the case to go to trial no later than June. The Arraignment lasted about one hour.
“If the government gets its way, he will have been in pre-trial confinement for over 800 days before trial,” he said.
The young soldier was arrested in Camp Liberty, near Baghdad, in May 2010 and spent nine months in solitary confinement in a military prison at Quantico, Virginia before being transferred to a lower security facility in Fort Levenworth, Kansas.
Manning, who faces life imprisonment if convicted, also deferred a decision on whether he wished to be tried by a military jury or a judge alone. According to the Uniform Code Of Military Justice (UCMJ) he can opt for a jury composed either of only officers or a mixture of officers and enlisted members.
The Convening Authority for this General Court-martial decided earlier this year not to push for the death penalty, even though the charges are serious enough to warrant it.
The Arraignment was held at Fort Meade, Maryland. In the sparse court room’s public gallery sat Michael Ratner, a pro-bono lawyer for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Mr Assange is under virtual house arrest at a stately home in Norfolk, England. He awaits possible extradition to Sweden on sex assault charges. He is paying close attention to the proceedings in the U.S. against Private Manning.
Manning could strike a deal with the U.S. government at any time.He could accept a lesser sentence in return for agreeing to help prosecutors pursue a case against Mr Assange. It has long been assumed that the US Government real motive in prosecuting Manning is to flip him and get him to testify against Julian Assange.
Manning is a 24 year-old intelligence analyst for the U.S. military who was stationed in Iraq when he came across thousands of improperly classified documents. He described the moral dilemma he faced: “if you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?” Actions attributed to him indicate he chose to courageously and selflessly expose abuses. The documents, which have served as primary sources for thousands of articles in the mainstream press, reveal a disturbing trend of corporate influence on the U.S.’s foreign policies, as well as the frequency with which officials around the world actively mislead citizens regarding crimes against human rights and the environment. According to journalists, Bradley’s alleged actions helped motivate the democratic revolution in Tunisia. Also, by highlighting the failure of the military to appropriately address war crimes, they contributed to the Obama Administration finally agreeing to withdraw all U.S. troops from the occupation in Iraq. Maanning faces the possibility of life in prison. If the military continues to refuse to acknowledge PFC Manning as a whistle-blower, he may become the first person in U.S. history to be convicted of “Aiding the enemy through indirect means” for telling the public the truth.
The next hearing is scheduled to take place at Fort Meade,Maryland on March 15.
The Star Witness in the Webster Smith court-martial was not believed by the jury panel members. The accused was found not guilty of all charges related to her testimony.
The surprise witness in the Webster Smith Court-martial was the girl friend of Webster Smith. She was a witness for the prosecution. This was quite a surprise because she had been the love of his life. She was his one and only true love. She almost bore him a child, and he nursed her through a recovery period following a difficult abortion.
Bradley Manning is an avowed homosexual, so it is unlikely that he will have an old girlfriend testifying against him. However, a former male partner may venture forward to give testimony. But, will that testimony be for the prosecution or the defense?
Webster Smith took the witness stand and testified in his own behalf. It was a fatal mistake. He was wrapped in a presumption of innocence. He did not have to prove hat he was innocent. The burden of proof was on the Prosecution to prove that he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There was no physical evidence presented against him. The only evidence against him was the testimony of one key female cadet. It was his word against her word. That was a pure “he-said, she-said” case. The jury was going to rule in favor of whoever demonstrated the strongest character and whoever had the greatest credibility. If Webster Smith had never taken the witness stand, he would never have put his character in issue. Based on the presumption of innocence, and the fact that the female was testifying under a grant of immunity from prosecution, Webster Smith would have been found not guilty, more than likely. Even if the jury members had been so obtuse as to find him guilty under those circumstances, the Defense would have been compelled to move for Judgement Non Obstante Verdicto (N.O.V.), shorthand acronym of Latin for non obstante veredicto (nahn ahb-stan-tuh very-dick-toe) meaning “notwithstanding the verdict,” referring to a decision of a judge to set aside (reverse) a jury’s decision in favor of one party in a lawsuit or a guilty verdict when the judge is convinced the judgment is not reasonably supported by the facts and/or the law. The result is called a “judgment N.O.V.” Granting a motion for such a ruling means the court realizes it should have directed the jury to reach an opposite verdict in the first place.