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Bradley Manning (WikiLeaks Source) Given Hearing After 2 Years In Jail 369

Posted by Soulskill
from the somebody-ought-to-make-an-amendment dept.
TrueSatan writes "Finally, Bradley Manning's military court case starts. He's only had to wait 2 years to be heard. Manning claims that while remanded in custody in Iraq he 'passed out due to the heat' and 'contemplated suicide.' The United Nations special rapporteur on torture found Manning's detention was 'cruel and inhuman.' Manning wants the case against him to be dismissed because his pre-trial punishment was so severe. Manning's attorney, David Coombs, earlier released an 11-page letter detailing the conditions of Manning's confinement. Manning offered guilty pleas to minor charges, but not to spying, aiding American enemies or treason, and those pleas have been accepted by the judge."
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Bradley Manning (WikiLeaks Source) Given Hearing After 2 Years In Jail

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  • Re:Case dismissed? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flonker (526111) on Friday November 30, 2012 @09:39AM (#42141187)

    He's lucky he is getting a case at all. Traitors should be subject to summary execution during wartime.

    "Congress shall have power to ... declare War"
            - http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_A1Sec8.html [usconstitution.net]

    I don't recall seeing any Congressional declaration of war.

  • Cruel and unusual (Score:1, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Friday November 30, 2012 @09:39AM (#42141191) Homepage Journal

    The only reason that the US government has treated Manning the way it did was to break him and to try and get him to sign some fake confession that would help them to accuse Wikileaks and Assange in some form or 'espionage' or even 'treason' (which is pure nonsense, can't charge a foreigner with treason). What they did to Manning is cruel an unusual punishment no doubt.

    I guess individual freedoms can go fuck themselves as long as the mob is on the side of the government on all issues surrounding 'taxing the rich', because this is what America is all about today. As long as the government promises to 'tax the rich' (and the rich are paying more taxes now than they have ever paid in America, regardless of the nominal marginal tax rates [slashdot.org]) then the government can do whatever it wants.

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday November 30, 2012 @09:50AM (#42141299)
    One thing to note on a courtmartial is acceptance of a plea on some charges does not mean you can't be tried on the others. His pretri detention was done in accordance with military law which differs from civilian in a number of ways, so even though his trial was not started as quickly as normal or that things were rough in Iraq may well have no impact on the outcome. What is key is Manning new the rules he agreeded to, was convinced to break them and now is on the hook for his actions.
  • by magic maverick (2615475) on Friday November 30, 2012 @09:51AM (#42141305) Homepage Journal

    Punishment. In civilized places we don't punish people. We attempt to rehabilitate them, and to prevent them from continuing to commit acts against others. But we don't punish them. The fact that the conditions that Manning has been held in equate to punishment, when he hasn't even had a trial and been convicted, is a disgrace. There should be outrage from the international community (at least those places that claim the labels "liberal" and "democratic").

    Personally I'm not even convinced he leaked all that stuff. What did he get out of it? But props to whomever did leak those cables. It was a great service to the world. Highlighting hypocrisy by the US government, and also some of the nastiness done by other nations with the tacit support, and knowledge, of the US government.

    Also, the pleas have not "been accepted by the judge" according to the BBC [bbc.co.uk].

    Earlier on Thursday, the case judge accepted the terms under which Pte Manning would plead guilty to eight charges for sending classified documents to Wikileaks.
    He could face up to 16 years in prison for those charges.
    Col Denise Lind's ruling does not mean the pleas have been formally accepted.

    Why would he offer to plead guilty if he, as I suggest, didn't even do the crime? Because the conditions are so awful. It's long been the case that innocents have been tortured and then confessed. (I've been reading the Arabian Nights, and someone confessed to thieving because they were being beaten so much, and then they had their hand cut off. But they didn't actually do the crime.) Manning is being tortured.

    Even just preventing him from seeing properly (taking his glasses away) is mistreatment.

  • by Fool106 (977984) on Friday November 30, 2012 @09:51AM (#42141311)
    USA! USA! USA! USA! /trolling
  • Re:Case dismissed? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @09:52AM (#42141323)

    Pretty sure you need a declaration of war to have wartime, kid.

  • Re:Case dismissed? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by snl2587 (1177409) on Friday November 30, 2012 @09:52AM (#42141325)

    And so begins the Great War of Semantics (undeclared)!

    *gets popcorn*

  • Re:Case dismissed? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:02AM (#42141443)

    Wartime requires a declaration of war. The past decade has been a long string of (bumbling and incompetent) military actions. You know, because Congress authorized military actions, not war. Do words mean something else on your planet?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:02AM (#42141445)

    That is about the most uneducated, ignorant and apathetic comment I've read ina while. He was in the military, and there are strict guidlines governing classified documents. This includes punishments for breaking the rules. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) are rules above and beyond what the civilian population has to deal with. An individual is made aware of the rules and the consequences at the beginning. He knew what he was doing, and the consequences. He is lucky that all the prosecution is going for is a life sentence. In time of war, and with charges of treason, he could be put in front of a firing squad.

    Does the UCMJ contemplate the use of torture ? Because torture is what Manning has had to endure for the last 2 years awaiting for a trial. This trial is a farce, as were farce the trials held in the old good Soviet Union.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:09AM (#42141535) Homepage

    His pretri detention was done in accordance with military law which differs from civilian in a number of ways, so even though his trial was not started as quickly as normal or that things were rough in Iraq may well have no impact on the outcome.

    The UCMJ is very clear: military personnel do not relinquish their constitutional rights. Yes, military law is different, but they're still required to have a speedy and public trial, and are still prohibited from engaging in cruel and unusual punishment. Manning has a strong argument that both of those were violated.

  • by Phrogman (80473) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:11AM (#42141553) Homepage

    I think this is more about setting an example to discourage anyone else from airing the US Government's dirty laundry. No way to tell just how much evil being done behind the scenes might get out if another Bradley Manning steps up to the plate. As such, I expect he will get life without parole.

    I also expect it will come out in years to come that this verdict was determined before the trial began.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:13AM (#42141573)

    They made sure he would be a liability if he ever got out.

    Whoa whoa whoa, I think I see what you're saying. That once you cross that line of performing unforgivable acts upon someone you don't want to let them go off and chat to others about it. But there is no way that we would EVER allow Bradly Manning to simply disappear. Not without some serious repercussions. They'd have to stage some sort of in-prison assassination and frankly, I don't think the people in power are competent enough to pull of that sort of conspiracy and keep it secret.

    No. Manning will remain alive and in contact. He may not appear on David Letterman, but if he's smart he'll eventually write a book. Or rant enough to someone can write a book out of it. So, RIGHT NOW, Bradly Manning, having been tortured, IS A LIABILITY. It's the sort of example that people can wave in the face of the smiling diplomat and call bullshit when they say "trust me". It's the sort of example that UN members can whip out and laugh at when the USA demands they stop torturing our spies.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:15AM (#42141599) Journal

    Did he know he would be held for two years without trial? Nearly one whole year in solitary? Is this really how you think we should be treating people who are innocent until proven guilty? Or do you want to dispense with that entirely?

    People like you are far more dangerous than Manning.

  • by kcurtis (311610) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:18AM (#42141647)
    He is not a civilian. He is a sworn member of the military. Civilian laws only apply under very limited situations. He violated his oath. He committed espionage while on active duty. And while I agree that there has been a slow, dangerous process of reducing our civil liberties, this has nothing to do with the Manning case. It is a red herring that ignores the fact that Manning is a traitor who performed his crimes while a sworn, active member of the military. He is lucky that the military no longer pushes for capital punishment for these cases.
  • by tnk1 (899206) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:19AM (#42141679)

    You know, there's a difference between being ordered to shoot some civilians in Vietnam, and deciding that you are going to break published classification rules that everyone is aware of, when no one's life is immediately at stake. And, more to the point, grabbing everything you can on the classified network, so you can release it en masse to a third party that isn't even run by people from your own country.

    I'm sorry, but that's not heroism or "not following an illegal order", it's crass irresponsibility.

  • by characterZer0 (138196) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:30AM (#42141797)

    trust in the military that is essential to the mission

    What if the mission is wrong?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:31AM (#42141819)

    Good.... and you know what there is also a necessity for trust in the military and it's actions. When the military commits crimes and they cover them over in the name of national security then there is no trust. After all that if you still trust and believe, then you are a fool.

    I'm sorry I don't believe in national security at all costs, because it's usually just bullshit that those at the top invent to cover over their own crimes and inadequacies.

    Wiki leaks uncovered some things that we had every right to know. I mean after all it was all being done in our name right?

  • by 3seas (184403) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:37AM (#42141889) Journal

    How many military personnel do you know that didn't get the benefits they were promised?
    How many had the hard reality of being pawns for psychopathic authoritarians?
    How many swore to defend the USA from enemies foreign and domestic?
    Why have more taken their own lives, suicide, than has been killed in Iraq?

    Military code? what is that in comparison to the above?
    Really not much on the scale of honesty.

  • by drakaan (688386) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:39AM (#42141911) Homepage Journal

    ...Does the UCMJ contemplate the use of torture ? Because torture is what Manning has had to endure for the last 2 years awaiting for a trial. This trial is a farce, as were farce the trials held in the old good Soviet Union...

    You're conflating two different issues. One is whether the conditions of his confinement were acceptable or appropriate, the other is whether he did something sufficiently inappropriate as to be considered treason.

    Does a long confinement that might be considered torture change the events that led to the confinement? No. It may well be the thing that keeps Manning from facing a life sentence, since it helps place public favor more on his side.

    As was mentioned before, there are channels by which unlawful acts can be reported without concern for retribution. It's not a perfect system, but it does work. Manning could have contacted the Adjutant General and made sure that both operational security and the law of war and human rights were respected, but he chose not to.

    That was his decision, and none of us can say whether it was the most correct thing to do, morally, but we can definitely say that it was unlawful, according to the rules that Manning agreed to follow when enlisting in the US military.

  • by overmoderated (2703703) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:45AM (#42142011)
    There is no government in this world that serves a purpose but its own.
  • by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:46AM (#42142019)

    I hope, sincerely, that the charges are dropped. Not only did they go out of their way to prosecute someone who did the right thing (which was the right thing, because we were killing civilians, which the military was trying to cover up). But now they're ignoring due process and the rights that he is granted, the rights that the same military purports to protect, strong arming some little guy who just wanted to do the right thing and serve his country.

    I would like to see him get a presidential pardon and a full investigation into our military and how they're treating our prisoners. This is unacceptable of the United States's military. What you fight for doesn't fly out of the door just because it's convenient or you want it to. And they should pay the price for violating our most sacred of fundamental principles that have kept democracy alive.

    At the very least, I hope to see the judge dismiss the charges with prejudice because the military ignored due process and violated the eighth amendment.

    And to think I considered becoming an officer, pathetic. This is why I gave up on that pursuit, because for all of the honor and duty the military so proudly touts, it is failing to live up to those expectations. It's like they don't even know the meaning of the word. There is no honor in torture, and their duty left them when they abandoned our fundamental rights.

  • by MasaMuneCyrus (779918) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:46AM (#42142021)

    I can accept the idea that Manning's actions were crass, irresponsible, stupid, and cowardly. Instead of seeing some injustice and leaking information of that injustice to the outside world, he chose to just grab everything he could and dump it. In retrospect, the information that he leaked was probably not dangerous to anyone, and it did, indeed, expose deep tentacles of corruption in the US government. However, there is no way that he read everything that he leaked, and he did, as you say, just send massive amounts of classified information -- most of which he had no idea of the content (because there was too much to read) -- to a foreign third party with a sometimes unclear agenda.

    HOWEVER, none of this warrants torture [guardian.co.uk], and as an American I hope that Manning's lawyers win their trial. It is an unprecedented chilling effect and incomprehensibly unjust that, in the United States of America, a foolish whistleblower would be tortured to set an example for future whistleblowers. Torture of any kind, mental or physical, is clearly unconstitutional [wikipedia.org] and is unquestionably both anti-American (as in, it betrays the values that we base our country's existence on) and evil.

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:50AM (#42142081)
    Yes! He clearly was on a noble quest to shed light on specific people and practices that were unjust or corrupt! Yay!

    That explains why he was doling out things like the identities of people supporting the freedom movement in Iran, so that their families can be hounded by the regime there. That explains why he went out of his way to expose carefully created covert operations aimed at defaning groups like Al Queda as they and their buddies try to Taliban-ize exciting new destinations in Africa. We sure don't want to have fragile local governments there having any quiet support while they deal with groups that like to shoot school teachers in the head for teaching girls to read! Manning has bravely helped to make sure that support given to local governments in places like that is done in a way that will allow jihaddist nut jobs to better hunt down and kill those who would organize against them in such places. What a hero! What a freedom loving individual! Yay for him!
  • by Uberbah (647458) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:53AM (#42142113)

    Where are the military tribunals for those who committed torture under the Bush Regime.

    Where are the military tribunals of evangelical officers and generals for proselytizing to the troops.

    Where are the Espionage Act prosecutions of Libby, Rove, Armitage et all over revealing Valerie Plame's status as an undercover CIA officer. Who worked on non-proliferation, something a weee bit more important than than cables where the "worst" result was embarrassment to the U.S.

    Where are the criminal prosecutions for mass warrantless wiretapping.

    Where are the criminal prosecutions for murder-by-drone.

    Where are the criminal prosecutions for the bankers that looted the economy.

    And finally, where are the Concerns for military procedure when it comes to Obama's unlawful command influence? [msn.com]

    Using the civilian or military justice system to shield your friends and yourself while threatening your political enemies with life in prison or even death is simply disgusting, as are those who excuse it.

  • by capnchicken (664317) on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:08AM (#42142277)

    The point is a declaration of war and a state of war IS an anachronism to the point that summary execution during wartime isn't done because there is no war time anymore, there are extended military actions under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, usually, but not always, accompanied by a UN Security Council Resolution. So just like declaration of war is an anachronism, so is summary execution during wartime is an anachronism.

    Trying to use a semantics argument against a legal framework argument by saying that semantics don't matter, except in the case where the semantics say you get to feel justified by ending another human beings life (a fellow American citizen, no less) is also completely irrational and held only by clueless, non-worldly people who can't muster the energy and attention span to actually understand consequences.

  • by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:11AM (#42142321)

    Yes, some level of trust is necessary. But are you suggesting that this trust would go so far as to include hushing up about innocent and indiscriminate civilian deaths, torture and inhumane treatment, and all of the other information that has been revealed by Manning and Wikileaks as a whole? And do you mean to suggest that there should be zero accountability or oversight or public awareness of all these horrible atrocities? It's this reason why I can't stand it when Americans constantly shout about supporting the troops. What kind of country is supposed to support this? And even worse, with no oversight or accountability! Instead, the military holds accountable those who reveal them, thereby implicitly condoning these actions.

    It makes me sad.

  • Re:Willful (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:17AM (#42142407)

    He willfully volunteered to join the military, willfully took an oath to defend the the nation and the Constitution... then willfully , deliberately, and intentionally committed acts of treason. I'm not so sure he should rot in prison, a firing squad would cost so much less taxpayers dollars. Now I'm not particularly fond of many of the things our nation's federal govt is doing these days, but when a soldier grossly betrays his fellow soldiers in such a heinous way, then he is worse than the enemy.

    Congressmen and Senators are selling out the Constitution every single day, bit by bit.
    i see none of them being convicted of treason and sent in solitary confinement for 2 years awaiting an already decided trial.

  • by ValentineMSmith (670074) on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:22AM (#42142481)

    You are both correct and incorrect. Service members do relinquish SOME constitutional rights. Most notably the right to free speech. In some circumstances the right against double jeopardy does not apply either (you can be tried in a civilian court (or foreign court), and then be tried under the UCMJ for the same offense if the military chain of command feels it is warranted). Granted, USUALLY the chain of command will not press charges against a service member if that service member is already charged with the crime in another jurisdiction.

    In this case though, you are correct. PFC Manning has a right under Article 10 to "... inform him of the specific wrong of which he is accused and to try him or to dismiss the charges and release him.", along with an Article 13 right against "... be[ing] subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement upon the charges pending against him, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon him be any more rigorous than the circumstances required to insure his presence, but he may be subjected to minor punishment during that period for infractions of discipline."

    I do not know PFC Manning, and am unfamiliar with his case other than what I've read and seen in the news. I do not know if the Army is guilty of the allegations PFC Manning has brought or not (unfortunately, a good chunk of the media is demonstrably anti-Military in that they love soldiers, but hate the institution), so expecting evenhanded coverage here is, in my opinion, expecting too much. I hope that the Army is not guilty, as I'd like every 'i' to be dotted and 't' to be crossed when they lock him up for the rest of his life for what he's done.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:27AM (#42142587) Homepage

    A veteran here too.

    I hold that the mission is currently wrong. It was wrong when I was in... I just didn't know it at the time. The fact is, we aren't fighting for our freedom. We're fighting for someone's continued profit and domination and to ensure that the US remains the dominant power and by extension, the people who use the US's power to their will. I think everyone, regardless of the side of the issue they may have, agrees that the US and the US military have exceeded its purpose under the constitution. "Private interests" are now the current mission of the US military and the US government.

    So yes. The mission is wrong.

  • Torture? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jjo (62046) on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:54AM (#42143127) Homepage
    Concluding that the suicide-watch procedures are unquestionably intentional torture for the purpose of future deterrence is jumping to conclusions. A military man being made to strip to his underwear at bedtime is not the same thing as thumbscrews and the bastinado. Believe what you like, but I am certain that Manning's military jailors do not want, under any circumstances, to be blamed for allowing him to commit suicide.
  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc AT carpanet DOT net> on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:59AM (#42143205) Homepage

    > When you are in the military, you agree to follow the chain of command. If you don't like it, don't
    > work for the military and then start complaining about the rules.

    However you also trust that that chain of command is working in the best interests of the people. When it becomes obvious that they are not, like when they are not actively prosecuting incidents like we saw in collateral murder, then I would say they broke the trust first.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:14PM (#42143507) Homepage Journal

    Besides those, legality or illegality is no longer the sole standard against which military behavior is measured. The Nazis did nothing illegal but it was sure as hell immoral and the Nuremburg Trials established that legality alone is not how we judge military actors.

  • by flyingsquid (813711) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:28PM (#42143769)

    It's called the Office of Special Counsel [osc.gov]. The Office of Special Counsel provides "a safe conduit for the receipt and evaluation of whistleblower disclosures from federal employees, former employees, and applicants for federal employment."

    The law protects whistleblowers, the question is whether Manning is a whistleblower. A whistleblower is someone who tells the public or the authorities about corrupt or illegal behavior. Little if any of what Manning exposed qualifies as corrupt or criminal, so he's not protected as a whistleblower. Even the most famous release, the "collateral murder" video of an Apache attack helicopter slaughtering journalists in Iraq, wouldn't qualify because it was an accidental killing; it doesn't even qualify as negligence, since the pilots and the military can argue that when journalists are embedded with heavily armed insurgents carrying AK-47s and RPGs, they can hardly be expected to recognize them as press. I do think Manning did a real service in releasing this video- it shows the real costs of war in the most horrifying possible way, something we should remember before we decide to plan another invasion. But unless humanity gets together and decides to outlaw war and make civilian casualties illegal, exposing the brutality and tragedy of warfare does not qualify as whistleblowing.

    Even if that incident or other incidents did qualify as whistleblowing, it wouldn't get him off the hook however. Snarky comments made by U.S. diplomats don't qualify as corrupt or illegal, so there is no chance that his lawyer can argue that releasing those cables was justified under a whistleblower law. I sympathize with his aims and his treatment may be excessive, but it doesn't change the fact that he broke the law.

  • by nosferatu1001 (264446) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:53PM (#42144211)

    "Just following orders" is no defence, morally or legally

  • by rbrander (73222) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:19PM (#42146713) Homepage

    Some of the things brought to light by the release are not just "morally wrong" in one 22-year-old's opinion, they're clearly unlawful. The UCMJ is pretty specific that not only do you have no requirement to go along with criminal orders, you have a responsibility to see the crime addressed.

    When you are talking about crimes of the most pervasive sort, where support for committing them runs through the whole organization, "addressed" is clearly not going to happen with a report to the Lt 2nd Class you probably report to.

    Face it: we'd never have heard of these crimes without Manning's actions. That we have heard of these crimes is a social good. There's just no getting around that.

    If the results show that the harm done TO THE PUBLIC (not to some military or civilian employees who have been embarrassed) is small - and the Pentagon is clear in saying nobody was killed or injured from the released, the diplomatic fallout has been very minor - and the good done for the public is large, then any law that penalizes this action heavily is clearly not in the best interests of the public.

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