By Courage to Resist.  July 14, 2012

Army PFC Bradley Manning is accused of releasing to the public tens of thousands of documents containing proof of war crimes, government corruption, and corporate influence on foreign policy, via the WikiLeaks website.  For his courage, he is facing life plus 150 years in prison.

Bradley’s next public pre-trial hearings at Fort Meade, Maryland, are scheduled for July 16-20th and August 27-31st.  Yet as Bradley’s court martial approaches, it has become apparent to observers that he will not get a fair trial by the US military court. 

These are the reasons why justice demands that the charges be dropped, and Bradley be released now:

1. After his arrest in May 2010, Bradley was held in solitary confinement for ten months, which UN Chief Investigator on Torture Juan Mendez condemned as “cruel and inhuman” treatment.  Bradley was singled out for torturous treatment for nearly a year like no other prisoner at the Quantico Marine Brig. Yet, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) (Article 13) outlaws pre-trial punishment “any more rigorous” than that required to ensure the accused appears at court hearings. Bradley’s illegal treatment is scheduled to be the subject of the August 27-31st hearing at Fort Meade.

2. Both President Barack Obama and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey have publicly declared that Bradley “broke the law,” which means that subsequent trial proceedings have been swayed by “Unlawful Command Influence”.  These comments from members of Bradley’s “Chain of Command” are clearly forbidden under the UCMJ (Article 37).

3. Military law promises the defendant a speedy trial (UCMJ:  Article 10).  Yet Bradley was imprisoned for nearly two years before his trial proceedings began, at which point Judge Lind—who will be overseeing the court martial—told his defense to choose either a speedy trial or access to hundreds of thousands of pages of important evidence.

For two years now, the government has fought against providing access to evidence and witnesses requested by the defense.  Thanks to the thorough legal representation of Bradley’s attorney David Coombs, the defense has won important small victories.  At a June 25th hearing, for example, the military judge ordered the prosecution to explain delays in giving evidence to the defense by requiring them to create a detailed record of their efforts.  Yet, there has been no indication the government will be held accountable for violation after violation of Bradley’s rights as outlined under military law.

4. There has been no evidence presented that Bradley’s alleged actions damaged US national security or caused any person to be physically harmed.  But the US military says that regardless of patriotic motivations or lack of harm caused, Bradley should be convicted of “Aiding the Enemy” and sentenced to life in prison for making secret government actions public.  This would make any kind of whistle-blower defense impossible.

In fact, the prosecution’s interpretation of “Aiding the Enemy” is so broad that convicting Bradley will threaten the rights of all American soldiers.  The American Civil Liberties Union explains:  “If the government is right that a soldier ‘indirectly’ aids the enemy when he posts information to which the enemy might have access, then the threat of criminal prosecution hangs over any service member who gives an interview to a reporter, writes a letter to the editor, or posts a blog to the internet.”

5. Bradley’s alleged actions helped spark the revolution in Tunisia, which in turn inspired the Occupy Movement.  And by shedding light on unpunished war crimes in Iraq, he helped end negotiations over extending the unpopular troop occupation there.

Both Bradley and his lawyer have expressed appreciation for the supporter presence at these hearings.  We always hold vigils outside the main gate of Fort Meade before proceeding to the courtroom.  We make our courtroom presence known by wearing “truth” t-shirts, which have been shown in courtroom sketches and mentioned numerous times in the news. 

During the hearings, hundreds of solidarity actions have been staged nationwide and internationally. Last month, hundreds participated in Bradley Manning contingents in gay pride marches in DC, NYC, Chicago, SF, LA and San Diego.  UK supporters organized theater productions and pushed parliamentary representatives to endorse Bradley’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination.  Here in the US, we’re ramping up pressure on President Obama to do the right thing by cooperating with anti-war veterans groups on creative actions at Obama campaign offices.  Occupy LA will camp outside their federal building from July 13-16th in protest of the way Bradley has been treated, and Occupy DC has been inspired to do the same. 

Please join us at Fort Meade for the August 27-31st public hearings that may or may not hold the government accountable for torturing Bradley at Quantico. If you can’t make it, hold an  event or fund-raiser in your community!

Bradley Manning is simply not guilty of “Aiding the Enemy” or violating the Espionage Act.  If Bradley did heroically share the truth with us, the government could argue that various “information handling protocols” were bypassed.  Yet, Bradley’s two years (and counting) in pre-trial imprisonment should be punishment enough for such minor violations of regulations that were routinely ignored by other intelligence analysts serving alongside Bradley while in Iraq.  For all of these reasons, we call on Judge Lind to dismiss the charges against Bradley, and for President Obama to pardon him in the event of a conviction.

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