Tag Archives: court martial

Two important developments, one conclusion: #FreeChelseaManning

This important announcement was delivered by lawyer David Coombs on prime-time US television the morning after his client, Pvt. Manning, was sentenced to 35 years detention in a military prison.

As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.

Thank you, Chelsea E. Manning

As Amy Davidson of The New Yorker put it, “In becoming Chelsea, Manning seems to say that life doesn’t end with a long prison sentence–which in itself is brave.”

Allowing for time served and deducted, David Coombs predicts that his client will be able to apply for parole in seven years’ time.  (This interview, conducted by Alexa O’Brien yesterday, is well worth watching in full). In the meantime, Coombs has pledged to fight for his client’s right to receive hormone therapy at Fort Leavenworth.

Yesterday, the Private Manning Support Network and Amnesty International launched a campaign for a Presidential Pardon for Chelsea – or, at the very least that her sentence be commuted to time served. I encourage all those reading this blog to sign that petition.

A note on names

It is important that all supporters of Chelsea Manning recognise her wishes and I wanted to say a few words about how this blog intends to do that. From now on, this website will have a home at www.ukfriendsofchelseamanning.org. Its masthead has also been changed.

The blog now called UK Friends of Chelsea Manning was set up in January 2011 to campaign for Chelsea Manning’s release from the inhuman conditions of solitary confinement imposed on her in the Quantico marine brig. It sought to do this primarily by involving the UK Government in her case. This was achieved in early April 2011.

As such, this is largely an archival site. Within its archives are an almost day-by-day account of what happened during that busy period. The blog also details early developments in the Manning support campaign, especially as they happened in the UK. External links to this site dating from that period redirect to either blog.ukfriendsofbradleymanning.org or the underlying wordpress.com address ukfriendsofbradleymanning.wordpress.com.

For reasons of continuity and preserving that historical record, I have decided to maintain both these addresses and mentions of Chelsea’s historical name as they appeared before today’s announcement. References to Chelsea from this point on will always use her preferred name and the female pronoun.

Update (26/8)

The Private Manning Support Network have made a formal announcement about their change of name here. Note that PVT Manning will remain correct style until her sentence has been served and she is formally discharged from the military.

Current Bradley Manning Resources

As may be obvious, this blog hasn’t been updated in a while. That may or may not change as Bradley Manning’s court martial proceeds at Fort Meade but, in any case, the following list of resources are essential reading on the current situation:

Court Martial Transcripts

Freedom of the Press Foundation are crowdsourcing a team of stenographers to cover the court martial. Files of morning and afternoon sessions are being uploaded here daily.

In addition, useful livetweeting and/or daily roundups of proceedings at Fort Meade are being produced by Nathan Fuller for the Bradley Manning Support Network, Chase Madar for The Nation, Rainey Reitman for Huffington Post, Kevin Gosztola for FireDogLake and Alexa O’Brien. For visuals, your one-stop shop is Clark Stoeckley.

Pre-Trial Documents

Full transcripts of the pretrial phase can be found at Alexa O’Brien’s website, which includes a wealth of useful analysis and background information (the witness profiles and reconstructed appelate list are especially useful if you plan on delving into the full detail).

Bradley himself made two statements during the pretrial phase, which are both indispensible reading. The first dealt with the pre-trial treatment Bradley Manning experienced at the marine brig at Quantico (contemporary coverage of which is extensively covered in this blog’s archives) and Camp Arifjan in Kuwait (which had not previously been entered onto the public record).

The second statement, which has been justly celebrated, is Manning’s “naked plea” – presented as such in order to introduce discussion of morality into a legal process that admits of none.  Miraculously, audio of this important historical document is also available, courtesy of an unknown observer of the proceedings.

A partially complete collection of court orders and submissions from the pre-trial phase has today been released by the US military.  That this has happened is largely thanks to those who have fought in the courts for access to documents that should have been publicly available for many months.

If you’re pushed for time, the two Manning statements are where you start.

US Ambassador confronted with calls to “Free Bradley Manning”

OccupyLSX to host solidarity rally on 17th December

A beefed up City of London police presence greeted Occupy London activists demanding the freedom of Bradley Manning on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in London yesterday (Thursday). US Ambassador Louis Susman was attending the annual Thanksgiving service at the cathedral along with a sizable number of US ex-pats.

US citizens living in this country were also among those demanding the freedom of Bradley Manning. Anthony Timmons, a member of the OccupyLSX tranquility team said: “The weight of public opinion is with us as we stand up for Bradley Manning.  Not only that, fifty of the US’ top congressional scholars – including Laurence Tribe, the top Harvard academic who trained Barack Obama-  agree that Bradley Manning must face a fair public trial, not a military tribunal.”

Bradley Manning, raised in Wales and a UK citizen by virtue of his mother’s nationality, has been imprisoned for the last 18 months in Baghdad, Kuwait, Quantico and Leavenworth. The treatment meted out to Bradley in Quantico prompted the official interest of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the British and German governments and sparked off demonstrations across the world. That international solidarity campaign contributed to Bradley’s move to improved prison conditions this April. [1]

Bradley has been charged with 23 offences in relation to the release of video footage of a US war crime in Baghdad and US embassy cables, including one of “aiding the enemy,” which potentially carries the death penalty. This week, the US Department of Defense announced that Bradley’s courts-martial process will begin with a preliminary hearing at at Fort Meade, Maryland on 16th December – the day before Bradley’s 24th birthday. [2]

A day of international solidarity has been called for 17th December and Occupy LSX at St Paul’s is proud to be hosting the London action. [3] Natalia James, a supporter of Occupy London said: “We do not know if Bradley is guilty of what he is accused of but, if he is, he is a true hero. Holding public institutions and governments responsible for their actions is a vital part of the fight for real democracy and few figures exemplify that more than Bradley Manning, who has managed to achieve that even while being in prison. That is why Bradley’s cause is so important to us here at Occupy London.”

Notes

[1] Bradley Manning’s family welcomes news of his move to prison in Kansas

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/20/bradley-manning-family-move-kansas

Unmonitored access to detainees is essential to any credible enquiry into torture or cruel inhuman and degrading treatment, says UN torture expert -

http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11231&LangID=E

[2] Law Office of David E. Coombs – Article 32 hearing

http://www.armycourtmartialdefense.info/2011/11/article-32-hearing.html

[3] Occupy LSX solidarity rally for Bradley Manning – http://events.bradleymanning.org/occupylsx/occupy_lsx_solidarity_rally_for_bradley_manning

Statement on WikiLeaks release of US diplomatic cables

Wikileaks LogoYesterday evening WikiLeaks made their complete archive of US diplomatic cables available to the public. This publication appears to have been precipitated by an unintentional leak of a file containing the same material, involving one of their media partners. A statement from WikiLeaks explained the shift in approach, away from selectively publishing redacted cables over a period of several months:

“Revolutions and reforms are in danger of being lost as the unpublished cables spread to intelligence contractors and governments before the public.”

PFC Bradley Manning remains imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth in retaliation for being the alleged whistle-blower who provided these cables to WikiLeaks. After over 15 months in detention, he is still awaiting military trial. His legal team is preparing for a round of pre-trial hearings that could begin as early as next month.

Conversations that have been attributed to Bradley Manning suggest that the intent of releasing documents to WikiLeaks was to allow journalists the ability to explore evidence of wrongdoing in order to stimulate reforms and debate.

Whomever provided these documents to WikiLeaks would have expected the same sort of confidence, as any source, for the material to be handled with care. Regardless of whether a former WikiLeaks staffer or a media partner was ultimately responsible for breaking this confidence, our focus remains on using this information to help level the playing field for those struggling against injustice around the world.

Just this week, previously unavailable evidence of illegal behavior and other critically important information has emerged from this material. A cable from Beijing reveals that China’s rapidly expanding nuclear power sector is utilizing old technology that leaves reactors dangerously vulnerable to otherwise avoidable meltdown. Another cable from Baghdad provides details about the execution of Iraqi civilians, including children and infants. This information should never have been withheld from the public domain.

We will not relent in our demand that the Obama administration drop all charges against PFC Bradley Manning, and not only because of the unlawful pre-trial punishment he has endured. If Bradley Manning is indeed the source of these revelations, he should be given a hero’s welcome home for his courage in standing up for justice and government transparency.

Public meeting at the House of Commons – Tuesday 24 May

The first anniversary of Bradley Manning’s arrest in Iraq falls next week, coinciding with Barack Obama’s State visit to the United Kingdom. On the eve of the US President’s address to both Houses of Parliament, there will be a public meeting at the House of Commons to discuss Bradley’s case – not least the likelihood of him receiving a fair trial.

The case of Bradley Manning:
Hero, enemy of the state, information champion, victim?

Ann Clwyd MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights
David Leigh, The Guardian
Emily Butselaar, Index on Censorship

pTuesday 24th May 2011, 6pm – 7.30pm
Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons

On the week that President Obama visits the UK and on the one year anniversary of Bradley Manning’s arrest and detention, a panel discusses the issues raised by the case of Bradley Manning and what happens now.

Bradley Manning is the US soldier accused of leaking information to the WikiLeaks website. Until 20th April, he was held in prison conditions which attracted the condemnation of human rights organisations around the world and which promoted an investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Manning has yet to face trial, but when he does it will be in a US Court Martial. Can Manning receive a fair trial in the military courts system? What should our attitude be towards the charges levelled against Manning? What has been the effect of the WikiLeaks disclosures and what role did they play in the Arab Spring revolutions? What does the treatment of Manning say about the United States’ attitude to whistle-blowers?

This meeting is open to the public to attend.
Entry is via Portcullis House
This event is free. There is no need to register.

We look forward to seeing some of you there.

Update I

The Guardian have published this report from the meeting, focusing on Ann Clwyd’s concerns about Bradley receiving a fair trial (“it should be in public and not a closed military trial”) and Emily Butselaar’s comments on the Obama administration’s broader policy on whistleblowers.

Update II

Press resulting from our meeting has brought the issue of unlawful command influence very much back into the spotlight. As the impact of Obama’s statement depends very much on how many people get to hear about it, we are delighted to see Time Magazine include it in their reporting. In the same piece, Kevin Zeese of the Bradley Manning Support Network argues that Obama’s words have already spread so wide as to make dismissal of Bradley’s case the only sensible option:

“The only way the military can claim there is no undue influence in this case would be a charade–[it would be] officers claiming they are not [listening to] their Commander-in-chief. The military courts have held over and over that if undue influence can be proven the case should be dropped.”

Zeese added that he performed a google search with “Obama, Manning and guilty” and found 1.5 million hits on April 24, the day after Obama’s remarks hit the internet, suggesting that Obama’s comments went viral and were thus unavoidable.

We are also delighted that renowned human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has added his voice to the campaign:

“The President, who is a former lawyer, should know better. This would be contempt of court in the UK. Such a high-level assertion that Manning is guilty must seriously prejudice the likelihood that Manning will receive a fair trial,” said Mr Tatchell.