“He’s aware of all the people who are rallying to his support. So his spirits are relatively good.”
– Bradley Manning’s attorney David Coombs
By Courage to Resist. September 3, 2010
We are relieved that accused Wikileaks whistle-blower Army PFC Bradley Manning is finally represented by an experienced and qualified civilian defense attorney. After receiving a wide range of opinions, Bradley selected attorney David Coombs of Providence, Rhode Island, to lead his legal defense. Mr. Coombs has over a decade of experience as a military trial lawyer and is a former law professor at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A personal friend of Bradley’s verified the selection of legal counsel during a recent visit with him at the Marine Corps brig at Quantico, Virginia. Bradley was said to have appeared to be in good health and good spirits, considering the situation.
"Obviously, being in solitary confinement is very difficult," Mr. Coombs told CNN. "But the individuals at the confinement facility are very professional. They’re doing a very good job. And he’s aware of all the people who are rallying to his support. So his spirits are relatively good."
According to CNN, Mr. Coombs explained that the leaked "Afghanistan War Diaries" didn’t really reveal anything damaging to the U.S. occupation. Mr. Coombs acknowledged that the leaked documents named a few Afghans who were cooperating with U.S. forces, but he explained that because the names were spelled phonetically, the insurgents would have a very difficult time tracking them down–even if they were still in the same area years later.
Mr. Coombs also noted that statements from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates about Bradley Manning were hurting his chances for a fair trial.
Bradley’s turmoil leading up to arrest confirmed
"The AP ran a story stating that I questioned the sanity of my client, PFC Bradley Manning. This statement is inaccurate," explained David Coombs on his blog Wednesday. In fact, Mr. Coombs was simply explaining the process and basis for an upcoming mental health evaluation hearing that Bradley will undergo before the Army proceeds to an expected Article 32 pre-trial hearing.
On his blog, Mr. Coombs noted:
"PFC Manning’s unit documented a steady decline in his mental stability from early on in their deployment starting around December of 2009 to May of 2010. Consistent in this documentation was the behavior that they were concerned about intensified during the deployment. Due to this behavior and a concern about his personal safety, the command made the decision to remove the bolt from PFC Manning’s weapon. For several weeks, he apparently walked around Forward Operating Base Hammer with his assigned weapon that was incapable of being used. During this time, however, he was still expected to perform his duties as an intelligence analyst."
Courage to Resist project director Jeff Paterson adds:
"Many accounts have indicated that Bradley was showing outward signs of turmoil in the months leading up to his arrest. If he is indeed the whistle-blower in question, then of course he was going through significant mental anguish regarding the information he may have come across. As someone who deals with conscientious objectors in the military, I can say that most are considered "crazy" for no longer wanting to kill for a living. Bradley’s situation may have been not too different."
Legal defense about half funded
“From our first communications with Bradley, back when he was still jailed in Kuwait, we pledged to support and fund his choice of civilian legal representation,” said Jeff Paterson, “We’re happy to begin fulfilling that promise by transferring funds raised to Mr. Coombs for his retainer and initial legal fees.” So far, about 850 generous individuals have already donated $51,000 towards Bradley Manning’s defense–of which about $38,000 will go towards legal fees.
In addition to our tax-deductible defense fund, supporters now have the option of making a non-deductible contribution directly to Bradley’s IOLTA legal trust account which is managed by Mr. Coombs under regulation of the American Bar Association. Our tax-deductible defense fund currently allocates about 20% of funds for public education and related administrative expenses. However, 100% of IOLTA legal trust account contributions offset Bradley’s legal expenses–estimated to eventually total $100,000.
Before donating $5,000 yesterday to Bradley’s legal trust account, filmmaker Michael Moore noted to The Hill, "He did a courageous thing and he did a patriotic thing".
To make a non-deductible contribution to the new legal trust account, donate online here, or make checks payable to “IOLTA / Manning” and mail to: Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610.
For an overview of all donation options regarding Bradley Manning’s defense, visit: couragetoresist.org/bradley
Days of Action, September 16-19, shaping up
The announcement of a civilian military attorney comes less than a week after our Network announced the International Days of Action in Support of Bradley Manning, September 16-19.
Events and rallies have already been confirmed for New York City NY, Oakland CA, San Diego CA, Minneapolis MN, San Francisco CA, Houston TX, London UK, Fort Lewis WA (Seattle area), Columbus OH, and Quantico VA–near the Marine brig where Bradley is being is currently being held in pre-trial confinement. It’s not too late to organize something in your community! Email support [at] bradleymanning.org to discuss your ideas and plans.
Advisory board formed
The Bradley Manning Support Network is also pleased to announce the formation of an Advisory Board comprised of prominent individuals who are widely respected for their efforts in resisting war, progressive activism and in support of government transparency.
- Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink: Women for Peace
- Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, board member for the National Whistleblower Center
- Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistle blower
- Kathleen Gilberd, co-chair of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild
- Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and activist
- Michael Moore, documentary filmmaker
- Jose Vasquez, executive director of Iraq Veterans against the War
- US Army Colonel Ann Wright (ret.), former US State Department official
- Kevin Zeese, co-founder and executive director, Voters for Peace
Letters to Bradley
Hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals have sent mail to Bradley at Quantico, and to Kuwait before that. Due to a strict interpretation of confinement facility regulations, Bradley has not received a single letter, and most letters have been returned to sender. This effort has not been in vain as Bradley has been heartened by the mountain of support–even if he is not been allowed to open the letters.
To send a message to Bradley, please send letters and postcards to Bradley Manning, c/o Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610. Letters will be opened, "contraband" discarded and the letters then mailed in a weekly package to Bradley via an individual currently on his approved brig correspondence list.