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BRADLEY MANNING: “SHOW TRIAL” June 5, 2013

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq Policy, US Politics.
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Soon the Obama Presidency with will enter the twilight zone as a lame duck administration. This will be a very subtle change, and many will not notice the difference.

And the legacy of Obama and the cohort surrounding him, including the military,  will be a profound departure from the rule of law, and what might hereto might have been understood as values fundamental and entrenched in the American Republic. It will not be the killing of Osama bin Laden, or the extensive killing of the drone missile terror attacks, but the life imprisonment of Bradley Manning, a genuine American hero, that is to be the plumb on the pudding.

Julian Assange is surely accurate in describing what is passing for a judicial procedure currently underway concerning the case of  Bradley Manning as a show trial. He writes:

We no longer need to comprehend the “Kafkaesque” through the lens of fiction or allegory. It has left the pages and lives among us, stalking our best and brightest. 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.

But of course. Did you forget whose show it is?

The government has prepared for a good show. The trial is to proceed for twelve straight weeks: a fully choreographed extravaganza, with a 141-strong cast of prosecution witnesses. The defense was denied permission to call all but a handful of witnesses. Three weeks ago, in closed session, the court actually held a rehearsal. Even experts on military law have called this unprecedented.

Bradley Manning’s conviction is already written into the script. The commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces, Barack Obama, spoiled the plot for all of us when he pronounced Bradley Manning guilty two years ago. “He broke the law,” President Obama stated, when asked on camera at a fundraiser about his position on Mr. Manning. In a civilized society, such a prejudicial statement alone would have resulted in a mistrial.

To convict Bradley Manning, it will be necessary for the US government to conceal crucial parts of his trial. Key portions of the trial are to be conducted in secrecy: 24 prosecution witnesses will give secret testimony in closed session, permitting the judge to claim that secret evidence justifies her decision. But closed justice is no justice at all.

What cannot be shrouded in secrecy will be hidden through obfuscation. The remote situation of the courtroom, the arbitrary and discretionary restrictions on access for journalists, and the deliberate complexity and scale of the case are all 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. The management of Bradley Manning’s case will not stop at the limits of the courtroom. It has already been revealed that the Pentagon is closely monitoring press coverage and social media discussions on the case.

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.

I am not sure about the show trial tag. For that to be true the free mainstream press would have to be covering it. They are not. Nothing to see. Very much, I suppose, as in the infamous “Collateral Damage”, war crimes video of the shootings in a Baghdad square. Nothing to see there either. And that certainly was the judgement of the Pentagon.

However concessions have been made. Freedom of the Press Foundation has been given permission to have a professional stenographer record proceedings – saving The New York Times the expense of sending a journalist to cover the trial, if they were to deem it news fit to print. I am not sure it is so easy to make sense of the full result. The trial is expected to last three months.

Say what you like but Government repression seems to be working, or that is what EuroNews suggests:

Maybe it is not newsworthy, since conviction can be envisaged, as suggests Ed Pilkington in The Guardian as a foregone conclusion, with no effective avenue of appeal. He suggests:

One of the major differences between military and civilian trials is that in the military context the right to appeal is far more limited. In a civilian criminal case, a convicted prisoner can appeal right up to the US supreme court, the highest judicial panel in the land. No such right exists in military cases. Here, the convicted party can ask for a review by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF), but if it declines the case there is no equivalent route to the US supreme court.

Eugene Fidell, an expert in military justice at Yale law school, pointed out that even Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected architect of the 9/11 attacks, has greater rights of appeal than Bradley Manning. “If he’s convicted by a military commission in Guantánamo, KSM will get a straight shot at the US supreme court,” he said. “By contrast, if CAAF denies Manning a review as it does in most cases, he will be out in the cold.”

Back two years ago, when Manning was being tortured, in the considered opinion of the UN Rapporteur, President Obama was acting judicially as head of the armed forces had declared him guilty. Of course, Obama may have genuine concerns that he like Kennedy will be executed. And for that matter like Martin Luther King, except MLK had the courage to say and do what he believed despite the threat. Obama will leave a legacy of executive lawlessness, more entrenched than George Bush, and so almost irreversible.

Government has ceased to be accountable or transparent. It is a government of the Military-Industrial Complex and the large corporations. As is the pattern that increasingly evident elsewhere democracy has become a farce, a mere shadow play, to disguise the interests for whom power is exercised and legislation written. The crime of the Iraq Invasion goes forgotten and repented without reparations. One solution to the problem provided by the evident moral bankruptcy and corruption is to break the country up into three, five, or more parts in the belief that original constitution along with the Bill of Rights will be replicated with a more truly representative congresses and measures to protect the democratic process from intrusion by corporate money power. In this case,it might be accurately said that we had to destroy the nation in order to save it. (There are practical problems, but is an interesting thought experiment. I am just try to stake out a position ahead of those radical Americans.)

The report on The Real News Network placed emphasis on the Collateral Damage video, and presumably it will be the prosecution’s intent not to give prominence to it during the long trail after the extraordinary time between arrest and trail:

ELSEWHERE:

In retrospect, I suppose it is best to be cautious in accepting without question that Bradley Manning would not have recourse to the court system, particularly the Supreme Court. Firstly, he is charged with “aiding the enemy”, which is tantamount to treason for which, I believe , there are specific conditions set in the US Constitution. Secondly, as suggested by Majorie Cohn in Truthout, he had a duty to report war crimes. Thirdly, it might be suggested, he was subject to “cruel and unusual punishment”. More will be revealed  over the next three months.

Norman Soloman effectively exposes the hypocrisy at he centre of the case against Manning. He writes:

Of all the charges against Bradley Manning, the most pernicious — and revealing — is “aiding the enemy.”

A blogger at The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, raised a pair of big questions that now loom over the courtroom at Fort Meade and over the entire country:

* “Would it aid the enemy, for example, to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government?”

* “In that case, who is aiding the enemy — the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”

When the deceptive operation of the warfare state can’t stand the light of day, truth-tellers are a constant hazard. And culpability must stay turned on its head.

That’s why accountability was upside-down when the U.S. Army prosecutor laid out the government’s case against Bradley Manning in an opening statement: “This is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of classified documents and dumped them onto the Internet, into the hands of the enemy — material he knew, based on his training, would put the lives of fellow soldiers at risk.”

If so, those fellow soldiers have all been notably lucky; the Pentagon has admitted that none died as a result of Manning’s leaks in 2010. But many of his fellow soldiers lost their limbs or their lives in U.S. warfare made possible by the kind of lies that the U.S. government is now prosecuting Bradley Manning for exposing.

In the real world, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, prosecution for leaks is extremely slanted. “Let’s apply the government’s theory in the Manning case to one of the most revered journalists in Washington: Bob Woodward, who has become one of America’s richest reporters, if not the richest, by obtaining and publishing classified information far more sensitive than anything WikiLeaks has ever published,” Greenwald wrote in January.

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Comments»

1. the reverend peter popoff - August 24, 2013

Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up plus the rest of the
site is extremely good.

wmmbb - August 25, 2013

Great stuff. Send some immediately to Chelsea and the military commander of Fort Leavensworth.


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