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THE MANNING CASE March 10, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Duckspeak, Human Rights.

I am no lawyer and I may not be able to figure out the issues relating to the incarceration and treatment of Bradley Manning.

The cause for concern is if there were no proper explanation and that would justify international legal intervention. On much of the evidence just outcomes are more likely from international courts than a corrupted national system.

Racking my brains, and listening other explanations, it is not easy to find a legally and logically consistent justification for the treatment of Bradley Manning. There may be one.

For example, whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Given the treatment of Manning and the imputed justification that it is designed to protect him so he can stand trial, and “justice” be done. Surely if the evidence was sound, and there genuine concerns about his mental state – very understandable given his reported treatment – then organize a trial as soon as possible. There may be evidence other than hearsay and self incrimination. He might have had the opportunity to download and upload confidential information, but it is clear that he did not have the capacity to publish the material. So if the publication of the material endangered lives, or otherwise represented “aiding the enemy”, the real negligence lies with others, such as the newspaper publishers. Then it would have to argued convincingly that his motives were other than to serve the public good by alerting them to commission of war crimes. Then it would be difficult to rely the chat logs for contradictory purposes. Why the multiple charges?

There may be a lucid explanation for this treatment, other than lawlessness and denial of human rights, but it is not obvious to me. Given his background, President Obama might be the person to explain this behavior, marking a point of difference with his predecessor. He could co-opt the role of his Attorney-General. Doing the right thing is necessary for justice, political expediency does not come into it, and that is the practical rationale for the separation of powers and constraints on executive prerogative.

Surely, the principle of the separation of powers is intended to allow justice to be done by doing the right thing, rather than making the processes of justice subject to political expediency. The alternative allows institutional cultures of lawlessness to develop which means that crimes, including war crimes, continue unabated. In such an environment, torture can become embedded in the legal process and used to orchestrate outcomes, as may be evidenced in the case of Bradley Manning and the detainees at Guantanamo held with charge or trial.

I would have thought the oath of office for the US president implied acting to protect the rule of law, or else be subject to impeachment – but that is a matter of political expediency. The fault lies with Congress and not the outrageous claims of executive prerogative. There inaction has to be seen in the context of the assumed “clear and present danger” of terrorism.

Can violence be confounded by violence, if structural injustice is ignored but rather reinforced by the violence deployed? In what specific ways have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan created a safer and more just environment for the people involved and what were the real purpose of the violence of war, let alone it horrendous and criminal consequences for the civilian populations?


Roger Perry discusses the Manning case with Scott Horton on AntiWar.com.

John Quiggin observes the continuity between Bush and Obama in their willingness “to suppress human and civil rights in the interests of security”.

Now this is how lawyers speak and it is mind numbing stuff. Manning’s defence attorney has suggested that he will file a writ of habeas corpus – I am astonished that quaint notion still applies in the United States!

After ten months incarceration, justice appears denied and delayed,and the situation is one Jefferson would describe as tyranny. There are established legal tests for a speedy trial by the US Supreme Court in 1972 and the time limit seems to be around twelve months. That is aside from his treatment, which is designed to elicit information or provide for a plea bargain with a guilty verdict without a fair trial. A trial since the charges now includes charge of murder requires a jury – but that is just the Bill of Rights and that is quaint too. So is Jefferson.

Daniel Ellsberg writes on the Manning Case in The Guardian. He writes:

Prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity – that’s right out of the manual of the CIA for “enhanced interrogation”. We’ve seen it applied in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. It’s what the CIA calls “no-touch torture”, and its purpose there, as in this case, is very clear: to demoralise someone to the point of offering a desired confession. That’s what they are after, I suspect, with Manning. They don’t care if the confession is true or false, so long as it implicates WikiLeaks in a way that will help them prosecute Julian Assange.

. . .The fact that Manning’s abusive mistreatment is going on at Quantico – where I spent nine months as a Marine officer in basic school – and that Marines are lying about it, makes me feel ashamed for the Corps. Just three years as an infantry officer was more than enough time for me to know that what is going on there is illegal behaviour that must be stopped and disciplined.

Scott Horton, contributing editor at Harpers, describes Manning’s treatment and identifies an implication that follows from the application of International Humanitarian Law.



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