Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bradley Manning and the trial of the United States Military

UPDATE, 21 August 2013: Bradley Manning Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison: Short Video Interview and Some Comments from Legal and Human Rights Organizations

Bradley Manning is arguably one of the most important figures to emerge on the political landscape this century, both to those who admire his ‘bravery’ and to those who despise his ‘treachery’.

Manning has been accused of leaking over 250,000 U.S. State Department diplomatic cables and approximately 500,000 army reports, as well as secret videos of air strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan in which journalists and civilians, mainly women and children, were shown being massacred by the U.S. military. These leaks have been dubbed Cablegate (referring to the diplomatic cables), and the Iraq War logs and the Afghan War Diary (referring to the army reports). The consequences of these leaked documents has been profound:
“The material that Bradley Manning is alleged to have leaked has highlighted astonishing examples of U.S. subversion of the democratic process around the world, systematic evasion of accountability for atrocities and killings, and many other abuses. [The] archive of State Department cables have appeared in tens of thousands of articles, books and scholarly works, illustrating the nature of U.S. foreign policy and the instruments of U.S. national power.”
Manning’s pre-trial hearing, or as Julian Assange put it, “the trial of the U.S. military” was held on 29 November 2012:
“This is Bradley Manning’s abuse case. Bradley Manning was arrested in Baghdad, shipped over and held for two months in extremely adverse conditions in Kuwait, shipped over to Quantico, Virginia, which is near the center of the U.S. intelligence complex, and held there for nine months, longer than any other prisoner in Quantico’s modern history. And there, he was subject to conditions that the U.N. special rapporteur, Juan Méndez, special rapporteur for torture, formally found amounted to torture.”
The pre-trial hearing was the first time since his detention that Manning had been given the opportunity to share his experiences in an open forum. The focus of the hearing was how the military had treated him for the last two and a half years while he was in captivity:
“A formal UN investigation denounced those conditions as ‘cruel and inhuman’. President Obama's state department spokesman, retired air force colonel PJ Crowley, resigned after publicly condemning Manning's treatment. A prison psychologist testified this week that Manning's conditions were more damaging than those found on death row, or at Guantánamo Bay.”
It would have been incredible to have been a fly on the wall during the hearing or to be able to watch it on video, but the best we can do is to read about what took place, listen to someone who was there share their observations, or watch a video interview of a lawyer present during the hearing describe the scene in the courtroom (interview begins after the comments by Julian Assange).

Accused WikiLeaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning Testifies He Thought He Would "Die in Custody"