Thursday, August 22, 2013






This afternnon, Lady Gaga Tweeted.

  1. The news of Bradley Manning's sentencing is devastating. If our own can't speak up about injustice who will? How will we ever move forward?

What's she talking about?  Agencia EFE reports, "U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced here Wednesday to 35 years in prison for providing more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks." Kevin Gosztola (Firedoglake) reports that after the sentence was delivered, "Guards quickly escorted Manning out of the courtroom as supporters in the gallery shouted, 'We'll keep fighting you, Bradley,' and also told him he was a hero."

Gosztola told guest host Kevin Pina on this evenings Flashpoints (KPFA) that, as they waited for the verdict to be announced, "Everyone was on edge" as they waited for the sentence that would "bring the court-martial of Bradley Manning to a conclusion.  And the judge entered the courtroom at about 10:15 am EST  and she sat down and the first instruction she gave before reading her announcement was that everyone in the courtroom, everyone in the gallery, the Bradley Manning supporters, she would not be tolerating any outbursts. She would not be tolerating anything [that interfered with the] decorum of the court-room.  She made a point of basically scolding them before they did anything wrong And she did this before the verdict."  It is extremely noisy as I type (I'm out and about) so this is a rough transcript of the remarks from the live broadcast airing right now.

Kevin Pina:  I'm wondering were their members of Bradley Manning's family that were present when this decision was read?

Kevin Gosztola:  There weren't any family.  You know, the family was  -- There were his sister and his -- Actually, I take that back.  There were people who were there to meet him but we don't know who in his family were there to meet him.  But we know that after the announcement, he was able to meet privately with them before he was processed and taken wherever he was taken.  It's unknown if he was headed back to Fort Leavenworth, where he will be serving his sentence, yet.  He could be in a facility nearby Fort Meade for some more days.  

The program will be archived after the broadcast ends (at 6:00 pm PST; 9:00 pm EST).

Michael Allen (Opposing Views) informs, "Manning was credited an additional 112 days, dishonorably discharged, reduced to private from private first class and forced to give up all of his U.S. military pay and benefits."  But it's not just the 112 days Bradley will receive credit for, Selena Hill (Latino Post) notes, "About 3½ years or 1294 days will be subtracted from Manning's sentence, which includes the number of days he's already been detained, plus the 112-day credit he received for excessively harsh treatment while in a Marine brig in Quantico, Va."  Sarah Childress (PBS' Frontline) explains, "Under military commission rules, the sentence must be reviewed by the Office of the Convening Authority, which has the power to set aside or amend the sentence --  but not increase it."  Many outlets are stating that Bradley will be eligible for parole in eight years; however, only the editorial board of the Baltimore Sun notes, "Under military law, Mr. Manning will be eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence, though there is no guarantee he would be released at that time."

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. 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 was 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."

 Tuesday, July 30th, Bradley was convicted of all but two counts by Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge in his court-martial.  Today, Bradley finally received a sentence.

You make pretty daisies, pretty daisies love
I gotta' find, find, find: what you're doing about things here
A few witches burning, gets a little toasty here
I gotta' find, find, find why you always go when the wind blows?
God. sometimes you just don't come through
God, sometimes you just don't come through
Do you need a woman to look after you?
God, sometimes you just don't come through
-- "God," written by Tori Amos, first appears on her Under the Pink

We're going to note a series of opinions on the sentence and we'll do so briefly with the exception of Chase Madar who really nails it in a piece for The Nation, noting Bradley became the scapegoat for everything:

The best way to cope with humiliating military disaster is to find a scapegoat. For the Germans after World War I, it was leftists and Jews who “stabbed the nation in the back”—the Dolchsto├člegende that set the global standard. In the resentful folklore that grows like kudzu around our Vietnam War, American defeat is blamed on the hippies and anti-American journalists who sabotaged a military effort that was on the verge of total victory. (More sophisticated revanchists season this pottage with imprecations against General Westmoreland’s leadership.)  
The horrible problem with our Iraq and Afghan wars is that policy elites can’t find anyone to blame for their failure. Widespread fatigue with both wars never translated into an effective antiwar movement with any kind of mass base or high public profile. As for journalists, even liberal media platforms like The New Yorker and MSNBC dutifully mouthed administration propaganda in favor of both wars. (The liability of a thoroughly embedded media is that they can’t be blamed for military failure.)
 In other words, the usual suspects for stabbing-in-back whodunits all have ironclad alibis. Who will save us from this thoroughly unsatisfying anticlimax?

Russia Beyond The Headlines notes the comments of Russian Foreign Ministry's Envoy for Human Rights, Konstantin Dolgov, stating,  "When the interests of the United States are concerned, the American judicial system like in the case of Manning, makes unjustifiably tough decisions to scare off others without any consideration for human rights' aspects.  Such manifestations of dual standards regarding the supremacy of law and human rights once again proves the U.S. claims for leadership in these important spheres are groundless."  The editorial board of the Guardian points out, "In 2008, one could have hoped that the US had a president whose administration would distinguish between leaks in the public interest and treason. But this sentence tells a different story. Mr Manning's sentence, which is both unjust and unfair, can still be reduced on appeal. Let us hope that it is."

The Palm Beach Post has an online survey which asks, "Is Manning's 35-year sentence fair?"  The choices are "Yes," "No, ir's too much" or "No, it's too little."  This is a non-scientific poll and the current results are:

Is Manning's 35-year sentence fair?




Tod Robberson (Dallas Morning News) opens with, "It's really strange, as a journalist who shares the profession's obsession with uncovering and disclosing secrets, for me to endorse a military's court's prison sentence of 35 years to Pvt. Bradley Manning, the infamous Wikileaks leaker."  No, it's not strange at all Toad.  A very good friend was with the Dallas Morning News during the Bully Boy Bush years and he used to horrify me with all the inside crap that took place before an 'opinion' like your own, Toad, was issued.  For example, Sheryl Crow wearing a peace sign and having a guitar with a "NO WAR" strap meant that the employees who covered music were ordered to trash Crow at every opportunity -- repeating: They were ordered to do that.  The pot head local columnist meanwhile, on orders from management, described protesting the war as an act of "treason."  I can go on and on for hours.  Toad, no one takes your opinion seriously.

Toad can take comfort that the San Jose Mercury News editorial board agrees with him, "In sentencing Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison, the U.S. Army colonel who heard the case against him for leaking military documents to WikiLeaks once again exercised proper judgment."  Of course, "proper judgment" is laughable coming from the paper with Gary Webb's blood on its hands.

Writing for the right-wing Heritage Foundation, John G. Malcolm and Hans von Spakovsky bemoan that the sentence is 'only' for 35 years, "This sentence risks sending the wrong message to those contemplating leaking information that threatens our national security, endangers our troops, and frays relations with our allies. Hopefully, Bradley Manning will spend much more than just a decade in prison considering his misdeeds."  The Las Vegas Guardian Review runs the sexist and, considering Brad's issues, trans-phobic headline, "Manning Must Man-Up to 35 Years in Prison."  Julian Assange offers a two-part bizarre statement (here for AAP).  This is not a success.  Bradley's innocent of any harm.  Assange says the same of himself with regards to rape charges and someone should have told Assange that his statements can be easily turned around.  Such as, "Okay, 35 years isn't so bad?  So you'll go to Sweden?" It was a stupid statement to issue.

The Brennan Center For Justice offers, "Before the Obama administration, there were only three Espionage Act prosecutions brought for disclosing information to the media, and the longest sentence imposed was two years. While significantly less than the 60 years requested by prosecutors, the judge's sentence in Manning's case is the longest ever imposed for a media leak."  Already breaking my word about brief but a CCR friend asked that we note The Center for Constitutional Rights' statement in full:

We are outraged that a whistleblower and a patriot has been sentenced on a conviction under the Espionage Act. The government has stretched this archaic and discredited law to send an unmistakable warning to potential whistleblowers and journalists willing to publish their information. We can only hope that Manning’s courage will continue to inspire others who witness state crimes to speak up.
This show trial was a frontal assault on the First Amendment, from the way the prosecution twisted Manning’s actions to blur the distinction between whistleblowing and spying to the government’s tireless efforts to obstruct media coverage of the proceedings. It is a travesty of justice that Manning, who helped bring to light the criminality of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, is being punished while the alleged perpetrators of the crimes he exposed are not even investigated.  Every aspect of this case sets a dangerous precedent for future prosecutions of whistleblowers – who play an essential role in democratic government by telling us the truth about government wrongdoing – and we fear for the future of our country in the wake of this case.
We must channel our outrage and continue building political pressure for Manning’s freedom. President Obama should pardon Bradley Manning, and if he refuses, a presidential pardon must be an election issue in 2016.

The ACLU's Ben Wizner states, "When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn't distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it's also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate."  Amnesty International's Widney Brown offers, "Bradley Manning should be shown clemency in recognition of his motives for acting as he did, the treatment he endured in his early pre-trial detention, and the due process shortcomings during his trial.  The President doesn’t need to wait for this sentence to be appealed to commute it; he can and should do so right now."

Democracy Now! offers this statement from Bradley which was released today:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.
I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.
In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.
Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.
Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.
As the late Howard Zinn once said, "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."
I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.
If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

This statement was read at a press briefing this afternoon.  We noted Assange's stupid statement earlier.  It pales in comparison to that of David Coombs, Bradley's civilian attorney, holding a press conference today.  There was an awful DC event the night of December 3rd night that many of us attended thinking it was about Bradley.  Instead it was glorification of (failed) attorney David Coombs.  I covered the event in the December 4th snapshot: and noted Coombs bragged, "I also avoid any interviews with the media."  That was stupidity.  Bradley had been locked away from reporters for over two years at that point and his attorney should have been using the media to keep Bradley in the news cycle and explain his client.  Then he couldn't be bothered.  Now that he's lost the case, he suddenly wants a press conference?

As Ruth and Marcia pointed out last night, Eric London (WSWS) offers an excellent critique of Coombs' awful and damaging 'defense.'  London documents how Coombs failed to mount a whistle-blower defense.  Yet Free Speech Radio News quotes Coombs today suddenly interested in the whistle-blower issue and stating, "This does send a message, and it's a chilling one and it's endorsed at the very highest levels.  This administration has gone after more whistleblowers than the previous ones combined.  So hopefully we can change that in the near future."

In the near future, Coombs?  You could have done that in the military proceedings but chose not to.

As if those failures weren't enough, Chris Kanaracus (Tech World) reports Coombs wept at the verdict and Bradley was forced to be strong for Coombs and offer him comfort.  The weeping attorney, what a loser.  The Voice of Russia quotes Bradley telling the weepy Coombs, "It's OK, IT's alright.  I know you did your best.  I'm going to be OK.  I'm going to get through this."

At the press conference, Coombs appeared to want others to do what he could not: get justice for Bradley.  Tim Molloy (The Wrap) notes Coombs honestly expects US President Barack Obama to pardon him, "The request is a longshot, to say the least: Manning is asking for a pardon from the same government that is prosecuting him. Obama said flatly that Manning "broke the law" even two years before his conviction."  Yes, as Iceland MP Birgitta Jonsdottir (Guardian) noted:

Of course, a humane, reasonable sentence of time served was never going to happen. This trial has, since day one, been held in a kangaroo court. That is not angry rhetoric; the reason I am forced to frame it in that way is because President Obama made the following statements on record, before the trial even started:

President Obama: We're a nation of laws. We don't individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate … He broke the law.
Logan Price: Well, you can make the law harder to break, but what he did was tell us the truth.
President Obama: Well, what he did was he dumped …
Logan Price: But Nixon tried to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg for the same thing and he is a … [hero]
President Obama: No, it isn't the same thing … What Ellsberg released wasn't classified in the same way.
When the president says that the Ellsberg's material was classified in a different way, he seems to be unaware that there was a higher classification on the documents Ellsberg leaked.
A fair trial, then, has never been part of the picture. Despite being a professor in constitutional law, the president as commander-in-chief of the US military – and Manning has been tried in a court martial – declared Manning's guilt pre-emptively.

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