The Moral Mockery of the Trial of Bradley Manning
From what I can tell, the pre-trial hearing of Bradley Manning is a moral mockery that will be looked upon with shame by future generations.
As I wrote on Thursday, the military judge in Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing refused to dismiss the criminal charges as requested in a motion from Manning’s defense attorneys. In seeking the dismissal, Manning’s lawyers argued that prosecutors were too slow to share required information with the defense, and that they should therefore be inadmissible.
Not only that, but the defense protested the most serious charge Manning faces, that of “aiding the enemy.” The Uniform Code of Military Justice’s definition of aiding the enemy says that a perpetrator, “without proper authority, knowingly … gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly.”
Manning’s defense argued the charge of aiding the enemy is unreasonable. “Because the enemy had access to Internet and may go to the website, they are indirectly aiding the enemy?” Manning’s defense attorney David Coombs asked.
The judge still refused to dismiss the charge, although she warned the prosecution that the burden is on them to prove Manning knowingly aided al-Qaeda. This is a tall order which seems designed to make the prosecution fail in this endeavor. But I don’t think it’s right to be implying the judge stuck it to the prosecution, as some reports are doing. She could have just dismissed the ridiculous charge.
Kevin Gosztola at FireDogLade has some superb reporting on the Manning pre-trial, which makes it even clearer to me what a mockery of the rule of law this ordeal is. As Gosztola reports, whether Manning did any harm is “irrelevant.” Sigh.
In the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, the government presented a motion during court proceedings today to prevent the defense from discussing “harm” or lack of “harm” done by leaks in its case.
The government’s motion (which no member of the press will ever get to personally read because these proceedings do not have that kind of transparency) argued Judge Col. Denise Lind should not let the defense raise the issue of harm until the sentencing portion of the trial because “actual harm or damage” is “not relevant” and lack of harm is “not relevant to any defense available.”
Maj. Ashden Fein argued “no element” of the charges against Manning require “actual damage to be proven.” He added: “Whether the accused knew or thought he knew which documents and information would cause actual harm to the United States is irrelevant to his specific acts for which he is charged.”
That these proceedings can advance without everybody involved constantly asking themselves why Manning is being tried as opposed to the war criminals he allegedly exposed through his leaks says everything there is to say about the trial, I think.