The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls for the dismissal of all charges against Bradley Manning. The Army announced on Friday that Manning will face a general court martial for allegedly leaking classified information about U.S. policy and practices relating to, among other things, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.More below
NLG President David Gespass, said, “Manning’s prosecution is calculated to distract us from the real problem, that the U.S. government is once again hiding from the public proof of crimes committed in our name.”
Kathleen Gilberd, executive director of the NLG’s Military Law Task Force (MLTF) said, “Manning is being prosecuted for patriotic acts akin to the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. His prosecution highlights both the way that military proceedings subvert fundamental due process rights and the dangers of government secrecy to a free society.”Manning was treated by the military detention system in an absolutely despicable manner. Held without trial or charges for almost a year, in inhumane conditions easily bordering on torture. The only person within the Administration to speak out on this was promptly forced to resign.
The potential for prosecutorial abuse stems from the power that commanding officers have as the convening authorities over court martial hearings. The convening authority selects the officer who first investigates a case, recommends charges against the accused, and then selects the “members” of the court martial, who form the jury. Particularly in a high profile case such as this, where the government has already indicated its determination to convict and punish Manning, the ability of the convening authority to control the process and the outcome is overwhelming.
“The court martial system is fraught from beginning to end with the danger of command influence,” noted MLTF Chair James Branum. “It has permeated this case from the beginning and emanated from the Commander-in-Chief on down, making due process impossible. In this situation, dismissal of all charges is the only just option.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's spokesman P.J. Crowley resigned Sunday, just days after publicly criticizing the detention conditions of Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of leaking reams of classified information to WikiLeaks. Crowley's departure was first reported by CNN.
During an event on Thursday in Cambridge, Mass., Crowley called the treatment of Manning, whom military jailers forced to sleep naked for several days last week, "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."
Manning is subject to trial by court martial in the military justice system. The Commander In Chief of the military is President Barack Obama. An officer who goes against the will of the President will find his or her career dead-ended or downhill fairly quickly, particularly if the treatment of P.J. Crowley over at the State Department is any indication. President Obama made it impossible, then, for Private Manning to receive a fair trial, when Obama said:
We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.Certainly this was unfair, and it raises the question of whether there is any possibility of Bradley Manning receiving a fair trial, when any officer that would rule in Manning's favor risks severe career-ending repercussions. The Uniform Code of Military Justice has Articles against the influencing of court martial proceedings by those in the chain of command, and at least one lawyer with expertise in military law has raised questions of whether or not Obama broke federal law with his proclamation of Manning's guilt.
As a military veteran, I absolutely agree with the National Lawyer's Guild and with lawyers Glenn Greenwald and Jonathan Turley. This Administration has been tireless and merciless in it's pursuit, not of those that commit war crimes, but the whistleblowers who make those war crimes public. You may be sanguine about that, but it turns my stomach.ART. 37. UNLAWFULLY INFLUENCING ACTION OF COURTIt is likely that a military court would reject an undue command influence challenge, but that does not take away the unfairness to the defendant. The military jurors, or members, are under the command of Obama as commander and chief. Obama is poisoning the jury pool with such statements and as a lawyer (let alone a law professor) he should be ashamed.
(a) No authority convening a general, special, or summary court-martial, nor any other commanding officer, may censure, reprimand, or admonish the court or any member, military judge, or counsel thereof, with respect to the findings or sentence adjudged by the court, or with respect to any other exercises of its or his functions in the conduct of the proceedings. No person subject to this chapter may attempt to coerce or, by any unauthorized means, influence the action of a court-martial or any other military tribunal or any member thereof, in reaching the findings or sentence in any case, or the action of any convening, approving, or reviewing authority with respect to his judicial acts.
By the way, Obama does not seem nearly so committed to the rule of law for Bush officials, including Bush himself, who are accused of war crimes. When it came to those crimes, Obama has blocked criminal investigations, let alone prosecutions. “He broke the law” is not sufficient for Obama when the political costs of prosecution make application of the law too inconvenient.
At minimum, the charges should be dismissed. At maximum, Manning should be hailed as a hero, and receive the Nobel Peace Prize for which she has been nominated.
Edit: Use of the female pronoun at the end there is not a typo. Private Manning reportedly identifies as a female, and I have this quote from the diary On Bradley Manning, The Nobel Prize, Gender Identity, and Security Risks in mind:
In his communications he said he would not mind being caught if it wasn't for the fact that he would be portrayed as a male doing these things instead of a female (because of his gender crisis).Respecting her wishes is the least I can do.