(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
After three years, the court martial of PFC Bradley Manning, charged with leaking of sensitive information to WikiLeaks, began in Fort Meade in Maryland, yesterday. The proceeding, before a judge, Colonel Denise Lind, could take as long as three months with over 200 scheduled witnesses. IT began with Judge Lind, asking Manning to confirm his decision not to have the case decided by a jury, and if he was satisfied with his defense team, to which, he answered, “Yes, your honor.” Opening statements began with the prosecution’s statement by government lawyer, Captain Joe Morrow.
“This is not a case about a few documents … or about a government official who made a discrete leak,” Morrow said. “It was about dumping hundreds of thousands of classified information into the lap of the enemy. PFC Manning violated the trust of his superiors to gain the notoriety he craved.”
In his opening statement, defense lawyer, David Coombs, gave a starkly different picture of Manning, describing him as a humanist, “young, naive, but good intentioned”.
Coombs referred to a separate set of web chats that Manning had with a transgender woman called Lauren McNamara, who was at the time a man, before the soldier deployed. The chats showed that Manning felt “a huge amount of pressure to do everything he could to help his unit”, Manning said. “He was reading more into politics and philosophy and he indicated he was doing that as he wanted to give the best possible information to his commander and possibly save lives,” Coombs said.
But Manning’s mindset changed dramatically on Christmas Eve, 2009. Manning was ordered to investigate a roadside bomb attack on a passing US military convoy near the base. [..]
“After the 24 December incident he started to struggle. He kept thinking about that family who had pulled over in their car to let the convoy go by,” Coombs said, adding that Manning also had ” a very internal private struggle with his gender”.
The impact of those struggles instilled in Manning a need to “do something to make a difference in this world”, Manning said. “From that moment forward he started selecting information that he believed the public should hear and see, information that would make the world a better place.”
At emptywheel, Marcy Wheel examined the document that the government is using to prosecute Manning. She doesn’t this it says what the government is claiming:
The report itself is actually ambiguous about whether or not our adversaries were using WikiLeaked data. It both presents it as a possibility that we didn’t currently have intelligence on, then presumes it. [..]
If this document is proof Manning should have known (the conflicting statements notwithstanding) that leaking to WikiLeaks would amount to leaking to our adversaries, it’s also proof that DOD knew they had an INFOSEC problem that might lead to leaked information, one they pointedly didn’t address.
But I’m also amused by one of the case studies in the danger of leaked WikiLeaks information: that it might be used to suggest DOD is getting gouged by our contractors working on JIEDDO, our counter-IED program. [..]
To sum up: not only doesn’t this report assert that leaking to WikiLeaks amounts to leaking to our adversaries; on the contrary, the report identifies that possibility as a data gap. But it also provides several pieces of support for the necessity of something like WikiLeaks to report government wrongdoing.
In an interview on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, Firedoglake reporter Kevin Gosztola, who is at Ft. Meade covering the trial, and attorney Chase Madar, author of “The Passion of Bradley Manning,” discussed the start of the court martial and the secrecy that will surround much of the testimony under the guise of “national security.”
Transcript can be read here
Over at FDL’s The Dissenter, Kevin Gosztola summarizes the opeing statement of the prosecution and defense and provides regular Live Updates:
- Bradley Manning’s Trial: Day 1 (Live Updates)
- Defense: Bradley Manning Was Naive to Think He Could Change the World But Had Good Intentions
- Government: Bradley Manning ‘Dumped Information on the Internet into the Hands of the Enemy’
Here is the link for today’s Live Update and Julian Assange’s statement on the first day of the trial:
To convict Bradley Manning, it will be necessary for the US government to conceal crucial parts of his trial. Key portions of the trial are to be conducted in secrecy: 24 prosecution witnesses will give secret testimony in closed session, permitting the judge to claim that secret evidence justifies her decision. But closed justice is no justice at all.
What cannot be shrouded in secrecy will be hidden through obfuscation. The remote situation of the courtroom, the arbitrary and discretionary restrictions on access for journalists, and the deliberate complexity and scale of the case are all designed to drive fact-hungry reporters into the arms of official military PR men, who mill around the Fort Meade press room like over-eager sales assistants. The management of Bradley Manning’s case will not stop at the limits of the courtroom. It has already been revealed that the Pentagon is closely monitoring press coverage and social media discussions on the case.
This is not justice; never could this be justice. The verdict was ordained long ago. Its function is not to determine questions such as guilt or innocence, or truth or falsehood. It is a public relations exercise, designed to provide the government with an alibi for posterity. It is a show of wasteful vengeance; a theatrical warning to people of conscience.
After the screening of Jeremy Scahill’s documentary, “Dirty Wars,” in Washington, DC Friday night, Kevin asked Jeremy for his thoughts on Bradley’s trial.