TODAY THE EMBARRASSING SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HELD AND EMBARRASING HEARING WHICH PROBABLY WAS A NICE CHANGE FOR THE MEMBERS WHO USUALLY SPEND THEIR DAYS COUNTING LIVER SPOTS AND COMPARING HEALTH AILMENTS.
BRAVERY WAS IN SHORT SUPPLY AND WHO KNEW THAT IT REQUIRED BRAVERY FOR AN ELECTED U.S. SENATOR TO DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION.
BETWEEN THE BRAYINGS OF DIANNE FEINSTEIN AND JEFF SESSIONS (AT LEAST HIS DEPUTY DAWG ACCENT MADE SESSIONS' BRAYING AMUSING), THE NON-LEADERSHIP OF PATRICK LEAHY, THE GRANDSTANDING OF JOHN CORNYN (WHO WAS ONLY ELECTED IN THE FALL OF 2002 -- DESPITE HIS MISLEADING CLAIMS IN THE HEARING OTHERWISE), IT WAS A FOOL'S PARADISE, AN ORGY FOR UGLY PEOPLE.
WE USUALLY OFFER A JOKE AT THIS POINT IF NOT SOONER.
TODAY, WE'LL JUST CUT STRAIGHT TO THE PUNCHLINE: THE U.S. SENATE.
THEY MAKE THEMSELVES THE JOKE.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Starting in the United States where a verdict has been declared in the court-martial of an Iraq War veteran. Military judge Colonel Denise Lind has declared Barack guilty of all but two of the 21 charges but, Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today) notes, the charge of aiding the enemy wasn't one of the 19 charges Lind found him guilty of. Michael Sherer (Time magazine) points out, "A military judge, Col. Denise Lind, rebuked the prosecutors claims Tuesday by ruling that Manning was not guilty of the government’s most serious charge against him, aiding the enemy, in a decision that amounts to a victory for Manning and his supporters by sparing him an immediate life sentence without the possibility of parole." Jes Burns (Free Speech Radio News) adds that Brad still "faces lengthy jail time." Dorian Merina (also Free Speech Radio News) observed that Brad "could now face more than 100 years in prison."
Aiding the enemy? Who was the enemy? Apparently WikiLeaks. Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. Independent.ie adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor." February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks. And why.
Bradley Manning: In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.
For truth telling, Brad's being punished by the man who fears truth: Barack Obama. A fraud, a fake, a 'brand,' anything but genuine, Barack is all marketing, all facade and, for that reason, must attack each and every whistle-blower. David Delmar (Digital Journal) points out, "President Obama, while ostensibly a liberal advocate of transparency and openness in government, and of the 'courage' and 'patriotism' of whistleblowers who engage in conscientious leaks of classified information, is in reality something very different: a vindictive opponent of the free press willing to target journalists for doing their job and exposing government secrets to the public."
Bradley Manning had a laughable defense provided by David Coombs. Early on, in pre-court-martial appearances, he argued that Bradley was transgendered and then largely ignored that defense until the prosecution used a photo of Bradley taken shortly after he leaked to WikiLeaks -- in the photo, Brad was smiling and in drag. The prosecution argued that the photo meant that Brad was not troubled by leaking and glad to have leaked while Coombs countered that the photo just suggested Brad was -- in drag -- at last comfortable with who he was. Other than that, the transgender issue was largely ignored and you had to wonder why Coombs raised it and ticked off a number of Brad's defenders who were uncomfortable with the transgendered? The assertion was also disputed by some in the LGBT community. Lou Chibbaro Jr. (Washington Blade) notes:
Transgender advocates have also expressed skepticism of a claim by one of Manning’s defense attorneys that his action was due, in part, to his personal struggle over his gender identity. The attorney and others who know Manning noted that he referred to himself for a short period of time with a female name and downloaded information over the internet about gender identity disorder.
“I don’t see that his identity has anything to do with what he did,” said Maryland transgender advocate Dana Beyer. “His sexual identity, however you want to define it, is completely irrelevant.”
There was never method to Coombs madness and Brad's guilt was determined when the decision was made to forgo a military jury and allow a judge to determine guilt or innocence.
As we've long noted, when you go with a judge (especially in a military court), you're not making a hearts and flowers appeal. A military judge will blow off such a defense (and a female military judge might find it offensive and assume that the defense is making that argument due to some stereotypical notion they have of women). With a judge determining guilt or innocence, you lead them into the maze that is the legal system -- where this law conflicts with that law. You present them with a mess and an attitude of: "Please, Judge, in all your training and wisdom, figure this out." This appeals to the judge's vanity. In closing arguments, Coombs appeared to grasp that notion.
Coombs failed Brad with witnesses as well. Every witness in the chain of command that was called to testify should have been asked -- by Coombs -- what their punishment was. If this was truly the biggest and most shocking crime that the prosecution repeatedly argued it was, then why is Brad the only one punished? In the military, there is responsibility up the chain of command. That means Brad's superiors share guilt if Brad is guilty. By pointing out (repeatedly) who was not punished, Coombs would have underscored that this was not a case of the military seeking justice but of the US government lashing out at Brad.
The verdict was announced at 1:00 pm EST and Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! did a special broadcast on this (this is in addition to Democracy Now!'s regular broadcast this morning). The Nation's Greg Mitchell told Amy during the broadcast that the decision that Brad was not aiding the enemy was very important.
Greg Mitchell: Well it's extremely significant, both for Manning and for journalists and whistle-blowers and people who really care about this everywhere. But, of course, it probably gets him off the hook for the most serious sentencing -- which the process does begin tomorrow -- which was life in prison. The other charges and the 19 charges -- whatever the final total is -- of course, will mean he will spend many years in prison, no doubt. But the aiding the enemy was the most serious for him. And, in terms of others, it -- if he'd been convicted of that -- it certainly threatened journalists everywhere and, of course, whistle-blowers. Amy, as many of your listeners know, this kind of charge was unusual in this case and it would put in danger people who disseminate, publish, leak or make public important information for the public that could be or ended up in the hands or was cited by some unknown enemy abroad which would mean that, you know, any kind of information that you could charge that someone, somewhere -- one of our alleged enemies -- made us of, you could then be brought up on this charge to face, you know, to face life in prison or whatever.
Amy Goodman: Now Greg, we're reading the Tweets as we talk to you. This is a live broadcast on the day of the verdict. The most serious charge -- aiding the enemy -- Bradley Manning has been aquitted of. Alexa o'Brien now writes:
Amy Goodman (Con't): Kevin Gosztola writes:
Amy Goodman (Con't): Explain.
Greg Mitchell: Well these are the long list of charges -- many of which, or some of which -- he had pleaded guilty to quite some time ago. The judge today had to affirm them so they're included as if he hadn't really pleaded to them but they're part of the charges he is now found guilty of and, you know, the array of charges against him, you know, was espionage, was use of a computer to leak information, leaking the videos. I haven't quite -- I haven't seen the verdict on the Granai video -- this is not the Collateral Murder video which I believe he did admit to but the other video which was a mass slaying abroad.
Mitchell is referring to the May 4, 2009 US airstrike on Granai in Afghanistan in which close to 150 innocent civilians were killed. Brad stated he had leaked that video to WikiLeaks as well. (WikiLeaks has since lost the video.)
Mitchell (and others) are right that Lind not finding Brad guilty of aiding the enemy is important but there's also a self-serving manner in the coverage. I'm not referring to Mitchell or anyone highlighted above or below. I am referring to cable TV coverage which left at least two people convinced Brad was acquitted of the charges against him. We were discussing the verdict with a group of students -- fairly well informed ones taking summer semester classes -- and two who had caught cable TV coverage were convinced Brad had been acquitted of all charges.
The press is thrilled that aiding the enemy was tossed. But that really isn't about Brad -- their excitement. It's about what it would have possibly meant for them if Brad had been found guilty of it. Brad did a great thing when he exposed what was taking place and had taken place. And while he had entered a plea on many of the other charges, that doesn't change the fact that Brad was found guilty and that this wasn't a good thing. He first raised the issue of War Crimes with a superior who blew him off. He then leaked evidence of War Crimes. He should be applauded for that. The US government is supposedly against War Crimes so Brad's actions should be seen as a good thing and his conviction on any charges -- let alone ones that potentially add up to a lengthy prison sentence -- is nothing to be thrilled about. Alexa O'Brien has posted the document listing the charges Brad was convicted of. An exception in the MSM coverage may have been Jim Miklaszewski's report for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams who observed legal experts predict Manning's convictions will have a chilling effect on future leakers." Newsday's editorial notes:
President Barack Obama has gone overboard in his crackdown on leakers. The administration has brought seven cases under the Espionage Act against CIA and FBI employees and contractors accused of leaking national security information -- more than all previous administrations combined.
And Obama's Justice Department has clumsily entangled journalists in its net. Federal prosecutors, investigating a leak that intelligence officials had warned Obama about North Korea's plan to conduct a nuclear test, labeled James Rosen of Fox News a "co-conspirator" after he reported the story in 2009. And prosecutors are still demanding that New York Times reporter James Risen testify at the espionage trial of a former CIA official accused of leaking information in 2003 about the U.S. effort to disrupt Iran's nuclear weapons program.
On The NewsHour (PBS -- link is audio, text and video) this evening, Jeffrey Brown moderated a debate on the convictions -- the Center for Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner debated form CIA official Jeffrey Smith. Excerpt.
MICHAEL RATNER, Center for Constitutional Rights: I think it's probably one of the greatest injustices of our decade.
Here you have man who who's revealed very important information about war crimes, whose information actually sparked the Arab spring, and you have him being convicted of 20 charges that can carry 134 years. And you have to people who were engaged in the criminality he revealed not being investigated at all.
Bradley Manning is a whistle-blower. He shouldn't be prosecuted. The people who committed the crimes ought to be prosecuted.
Other NewsHour coverage includes:
- UPDATE: Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy, Convicted on 19 Charges
- BLOG: Find More Coverage on the Verdict in the Bradley Manning Case
- IN-DEPTH COVERAGE: Manning, Snowden and the DOJ's Espionage War Against Leakers
Mike McKee is with the Bradley Manning Support Network and he told Free Speech Radio News that he and others gathered at Fort Meade to show their support, "We had about between 50 or 60 people here today as well as a rather revved up media presence as well, both representatives of American media and foreign as well. We’ve held a vigil on the first day of each week of court proceedings, attendance fluctuates, this was certainly one of the larger ones although the numbers weren’t totally uncommon. You saw a good variety of home-made signs as well as banners that people have made for various events and demonstrations that have been had for Bradley over the past year."
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