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DENIAL OF JUSTICE TO BRADLEY MANNING January 22, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights, US Politics.
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Whatever the founders back in the eighteenth century were about, they left the political system they set up with a written constitution, including a Bill of Rights to which subsequent amendments were added.

The treatment of Bradley Manning almost defies ready explanation, although there has to be one truer than others.

Why has this young man been denied fundamental rights, been subject to cruel and unnatural punishment, even when it was likely that he would not receive a full and fair trial? Incredibly he has been held for months in a condition of solitary confinement that has been described as torture without been charged with a crime. On its face, and regardless of its explanation, this behavior is evidence of a tyranny not a democracy. How has the US Constitution failed in such a fundamental way?

There are aspects of this case that I plainly do not understand, and so it it useful to consider the letter written to the head of the US Marines from the former commander of the Quantico Base in Virginia where Manning is been held. He writes:

As a former regular Marine Corps captain, a Korean War combat veteran, now retired on Veterans Administration disability due to wounds suffered during that conflict, I write you to protest and express concern about the confinement in the Quantico Marine Corps Base brig of US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Manning, if the information I have is correct, is charged with having violated provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice by providing to unauthorized persons, among them specifically one Julian Assange and his organization Wikileaks, classified information relating to US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and State Department communications. This seems straightforward enough and sufficient to have Manning court-martialed and if found guilty sentenced in accordance with the UCMJ.

What concerns me here, and I hasten to admit that I respect Manning’s motives, is the manner in which the legal action against him is being conducted. I wonder, in the first place, why an Army enlisted man is being held in a Marine Corps installation. Second, I question the length of confinement prior to conduct of court-martial. The sixth amendment to the US Constitution, guaranteeing to the accused in all criminal prosecutions the right to a speedy and public trial, extends to those being prosecuted in the military justice system. Third, I seriously doubt that the conditions of his confinement—solitary confinement, sleep interruption, denial of all but minimal physical exercise, etc.—are necessary, customary, or in accordance with law, US or international.

Indeed, I have to wonder why the Marine Corps has put itself, or allowed itself to be put, in this invidious and ambiguous situation. I can appreciate that the decision to place Manning in a Marine Corps facility may not have been one over which you had control. However, the conditions of his confinement in the Quantico brig are very clearly under your purview, and, if I may say so, these bring little credit either to you or your subordinates at the Marine Corps Base who impose these conditions.

It would be inappropriate, I think, to use this letter, in which I urge you to use your authority to make the conditions of Pfc. Manning’s confinement less extreme, to review my Marine Corps career except to note that my last duty prior to resigning my captain’s commission in 1959 was commanding the headquarters company at Quantico. More relevantly, during the 1980s, following a stint as a senior estimates officer in the CIA, I played a very public role as a “whistleblower “ in the Iran-contra affair. At that time, I wondered why Lt.Col. Oliver North, who very clearly violated the UCMJ—and, in my opinion, disgraced our service—was not court-martialed.

When I asked the Navy’s Judge-Advocate General’s office why neither North nor Admiral Poindexter were charged under the UCMJ, the JAG informed me that when officers were assigned to duties in the White House, NSC, or similar offices they were somehow not legally in the armed forces. To my question why, if that were the case, they continued to draw their military pay and benefits, increase their seniority, be promoted while so serving, and, spectacularly in North’s case, appear in uniform while testifying regarding violations of US law before Congress, I could get no answer beyond, “That’s our policy.”

This is not to equate North’s case with Manning. It is only to suggest that equal treatment under the law is one of those American principles that the Marine Corps exists to protect. This is something you might consider.

Sincerely,

David C. MacMichael

If the provisions of the US Constitution do not provide a fair trial and natural justice for Private Manning, then provisions of international law should be invoked, and nor should it be the prerogative of any government to reject such intervention. Human rights and justice should know no boundaries.

ELSEWHERE:

Glenn Greenwald has written on the case, including some of the reactions – notable for their lack of compassion and concern with justice – as well as the details of Manning’s incarceration. What does say about the US Government and the Administration of peace prize winner and former law lecturer, B Obama? Regardless of the rationales, the fact that any person can in effect be convicted of a crime without a trial, not matter how bogus, is a disgrace.

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