Blowing the Whistle on a War Crime is Not a Crime
Bradley Manning Support Network2010-2011
Alleged U.S. Army whistleblower Private Bradley Manning is scheduled to make his first court appearance December 16, 2011, after being held for more than a year and a half by the U.S. military. Manning was first held in Kuwait, then at Quantico, then at Leavenworth, and was brought to Fort Meade in Maryland for the pre-trial hearing that could last an entire week.
The 23-year-old Manning has been held by the US military since May 2010, charged with multiple counts relating to the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in the biggest leak of classified U.S. documents in history.
Manning has not been seen or heard by the public since his arrest. He was initially held on a charge of leaking a classified video to WikiLeaks that showed a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Iraq, including two Reuters employees—a journalist and his driver. Military prosecutors are aiming to show there is sufficient evidence to bring Manning to trial at a general court-martial on 22 criminal charges. If convicted, Manning could face life in prison.
For nearly a year, he was kept in solitary confinement at Quantico for 23 hours a day, checked every five minutes under a so-called "prevention of injury order" and stripped naked at night apart from a smock. He was moved to Leavenworth after months of public outcry that his treatment was torture.
More than 250 of America's most eminent legal scholars signed a letter protesting against Manning’s treatment in military prison, contesting that his "degrading and inhumane conditions" are illegal, unconstitutional and could even amount to torture. The list of signatories includes Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who is considered to be America's foremost liberal authority on constitutional law. He taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and was a key backer of his 2008 presidential campaign.
The pre-trial hearing began Friday, December 16, 2011, at Fort Meade in Maryland. the The Bradley Manning Support Network organized a protest outside the gates of Fort Meade in solidarity with the accused soldier. Manning’s court appearance coincides with the completion of the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq after an eight-year occupation.
Kevin Zeese, an attorney for the Bradley Manning Support Network, said, “The people who should be prosecuted are not Bradley Manning. He’s accused of letting the truth out. He’s not accused of doing any criminal activity. He’s accused of letting the truth out, and he should be given an award for that, not prosecuted. He’s facing the death penalty, potentially. He’s facing the death penalty for exposing war crimes.”