Posts Tagged With: Bradley Manning

Did Bradley Manning Expose War Crimes or Commit War Crimes?

HAGERSTOWN, Md. – Military District of Washington Commander Major General Michael Linnington is the Convening Authority (CA) in the case of U.S. vs Pfc Bradley Manning. He has taken the recommendation of the Article 32 Investigating Officer (IO) and referred all charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning to a General Court-martial. Manning is a low-ranking intelligence analyst charged in the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history.

This means Pfc. Manning will stand trial for allegedly giving more than 700,000 secret U.S. documents and classified combat video to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks for publication.

Manning is a 24-year-old native from Crescent, Oklahoma. He faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy. A General Court-martial has the power to impose the death penalty. The Convening Authority has said that it has taken the death penalty off the table. So, the maximum punishment that Manning faces if convicted is life imprisonment.

A judge who is yet to be appointed will set the trial date. The military judge will immediately face a “speedy trial” issue. Under the UCMJ, Uniform Code Of Military Justice, an accused must be brought to trial within 120 days of the preferral of charges.

Manning’s lead defense counsel, is a civilian attorney, David Coombs.

Defense lawyers say Manning was clearly a troubled young soldier whom the Army should never have deployed to Iraq or given access to classified material while he was stationed there from late 2009 to mid-2010.

At a preliminary hearing in December, military prosecutors produced evidence that Manning downloaded and electronically transferred to WikiLeaks nearly half a million sensitive battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, and video of a deadly 2007 Army helicopter attack that WikiLeaks shared with the world and dubbed “Collateral Murder.”

Manning’s lawyers countered that others had access to Manning’s workplace computers. They say he was in emotional turmoil, partly because he was a gay soldier at a time when homosexuals were barred from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces.

The DADT (Don’t ask, Don’t Tell) policy of the military will loom large as part of the defense strategy. It is possible that the Defense Witness List would include the names of such people as retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullens.

On February 2, 2010, Admiral Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that they fully support President Obama’s decision to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, which prevented openly gay people from serving in the military. “It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do,” Mullen said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. “No matter how I look at the issue…I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens…For me, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”

The defense also claims Manning’s apparent disregard for security rules during stateside training and his increasingly violent outbursts after deployment were red flags that should have prevented him from having access to classified material. Manning’s lawyers also contend that the material WikiLeaks published did little or no harm to national security.

In the December hearing at Fort Meade, Md., prosecutors also presented excerpts of online chats found on Manning’s personal computer that allegedly document collaboration between him and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Federal prosecutors in northern Virginia are investigating Assange and others for allegedly facilitating the disclosures.

The Bradley Manning Support Group, which contends Manning heroically exposed war crimes, issued a statement calling his prosecution “fundamentally unjust.”

“This administration owes all Americans an honest explanation for their extraordinary retaliation against Bradley Manning,” said Jeff Paterson, one of the group’s lead organizers.

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Bradley Manning and Webster Smith, Two Young Men Forced To Stand Before The Bar Of Military Justice.

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.

(http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2)

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.

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