The extremely disturbing video below started it all. The video was made public through WikiLeaks, and was retitled to be now commonly known as “Collateral Murder.” Since then, former Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, has given new voice to the issue of how far the government is willing to go to silence whistleblowers and make an example out of them through relentless hounding and prosecution.
Bradley Manning’s case and treatment is at the heart of a new U.S. government mission that equates the revealing of truth as aiding and abetting the enemy. It is a tactic which might end up backfiring.
His trial, which could conclude with Manning spending the rest of his life in prison, started today with opening statements by the prosecution and defense.
The defense asserts that Manning sought to expose the horrific collateral damage of the war in which he was enlisted, and that he did so on humanitarian grounds. For this, he has been charged with transmitting over 700,000 classified documents, logs, and videos to the Internet via WikiLeaks and putting the troops and the nation in grave danger.
Manning was arrested at forward operating base Hammer outside Baghdad on 27 May 2010 on suspicion of being the source of the biggest leak of confidential state documents in US history. He faces 22 charges . . .
Manning has now been held for well over 1,000 days. The slow trial was called by Manning’s lawyer “an absolute mockery” of his rights. His treatment while in custody led 250 legal scholars to sign a letter to the Obama administration that what Manning was being subjected to was tantamount to torture.
Under the terms of his detention, he is kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, checked every five minutes under a so-called “prevention of injury order” and stripped naked at night apart from a smock. (Source)
The Army has essentially been treating Manning as an enemy combatant. Statements by the Army’s prosecuting attorney clarify the military’s view of the seriousness of Manning’s alleged crimes, and presumably have justified his harsh treatment.
“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,” said Army Capt. Joe Morrow, who is prosecuting the case. (Source)
Manning already has pleaded guilty to 10 charges of espionage, computer fraud, and violation of additional laws for which he could receive up to 20 years in prison.
The current trial will determine the far greater crime of deliberately aiding the enemy, for which he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. The prosecution emphasized that Osama bin Laden obtained some of the information that Manning released, demonstrating aid to the enemy.
The government’s hardline in pursuing Manning as an enemy of the state might show more about the level of embarrassment the Obama administration has endured, as opposed to a sincere effort to assure Americans that Manning indeed put the nation at great risk. Especially since, as noted by the Washington Post, this military trial will be the biggest since the My Lai massacre of the Vietnam War in which 504 unarmed men, women, and children were killed by American soldiers after many were raped and tortured.
Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said he was shocked the government proceeded after the plea offer. “It is like hitting Manning with a sledgehammer,” he said. “They have him for 20 years, and then they go for life. Twenty years is enough for a pound of Manning’s flesh.” (Source)
There will be no public oversight of this trial due to its classified nature, which should only enhance the secrecy for which the government has been criticized throughout Manning’s captivity. Unless there is a plea arrangement, the trial is expected to last for 3 to 4 months. Interestingly, Manning today reasserted his wish to a trial by Judge Denise Lind, and not a jury.
We will update this post as more information about Manning’s trial becomes available.
Please leave your thoughts below if you believe Manning was presenting a threat to America, or if you agree with Manning that he wanted only to “spark a domestic debate over the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.”
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
We encourage you to share and republish our reports, analyses, breaking news and videos (Click for details).
Contributed by Activist Post of www.activistpost.com.