Bradley Manning’s Aug 28-30 pretrial hearing at Fort Meade: Solidarity and reports from court

by Genny Bove
Courtroom illustrations by Clark Stoeckley of WikiLeaks Mobile Information Collection Unit

Bradley Manning has been back in court at Fort Meade this week for another in the series of court martial pretrial hearings. This one was an ‘Article 39a Motion Hearing’.

Vigil in London

A solidarity vigil was held at the US Embassy in London on Saturday 25 August, with reports on this blog and at Veterans for Peace UK.

Solidarity in Shrewsbury

I spent the long bank holiday weekend keeping Shrewsbury Folk Festival clear of litter. In this four day run-up to Brad’s latest pretrial hearing, I abandoned the official folk festival hi-vis vest in favour of my own ‘Free Bradley Manning’ one and kept a supply of postcards in my pocket.

Being out and about around the festival all day, mainly in the food area where people stop to eat and watch the world and morris dancers go by, this led to many conversations; some were of the ‘Who’s Bradley Manning?’ variety but by no means all. Many people were well informed and keen to share their views on the persecution of Brad and Julian and the failings in the way their stories have been covered by the mainstream media.

On Amnesty

Alexa O’Brien tweeted on 28 August that

a Representative from Amnesty International was in Court today seated in gallery.

There was an Amnesty campaign stall at the festival and I stopped to ask what Amnesty was doing for Brad and Julian. The Amnesty reps (probably from a local group) said that it had ‘gone quiet’ on Bradley Manning, presumably since he was mentioned in Amnesty’s Human Rights report back in May. I don’t think Amnesty has supported Julian since the release of the war logs etc., and the organisation has recently disingenuously claimed that there is no evidence of risk of onward extradition to the US from Sweden.

In any event the women running the stall took a pile of the double sided Manning/Assange postcards and put them out on display, so that was good.

Court reports from Fort Meade

Bradley Manning Support Network reported just before the latest court hearing on the saga of numerous emails relating to Brad’s mistreatment at Quantico that were being withheld by the prosecution. A few were finally disclosed just before and more during the hearing this week, the final 700 or so being handed to Judge Lind who has still to decide if they should be given to the defence.

Alexa O’Brien commented that

Listening to govt talk about the emails is like listening to an addict who’s stolen ur wallet offer to help u find it.

Nathan Fuller of BMSN has posted these reports from court: Day 1 – 28 August | Day 2 – 29 August | Day 3 – 30 August.

Nathan writes:

On the closing day of PFC Bradley Manning’s latest motion hearing at Ft. Meade, we didn’t even make it to lunch before Judge Denise Lind announced the court was in recess.

Over the short morning session, Judge Lind announced the updated court martial schedule, made a few rulings to admit Government documents as evidence and to take judicial notice of defense-proffered facts…

The Article 13 motion to dismiss, first scheduled for this week, then for October, will now be litigated at the end of November. In the meantime, Coombs will review the 600 new emails the prosecution gave him this week, and Judge Lind will review for relevance the 700 emails the prosecution gave her. From both of those new productions, Coombs may discover more potential witnesses he’d like to call to testify.

After the schedule, Judge Lind ruled to allow the Government’s redacted version of classified CIA and DIA reports on WikiLeaks. She’ll also take judicial notice of the date that David Finkel’s book The Good Soldiers was published – the defense brings the book to the court’s attention because it includes a transcript of the Collateral Murder video, and was published well before Bradley was accused of releasing it. However, Lind won’t officially acknowledge that the book contains a verbatim transcript, saying the defense has yet to prove that.

Kevin Gosztola, Dissenter at firedoglake, posted these live blogs: Day 1- 28 August | Day 2 – 29 August | Day 3 – 30 August and this video.

Kevin Gosztola notes:

The context in which this court martial is unfolding cannot be forgotten. The Justice Department will not be prosecuting anybody from the CIA for the death of detainees. There is ample evidence to support a prosecution, but there is no political will at the Justice Department to go after people at the CIA so there will be no trial for any agents. The military hasn’t prosecuted deaths of detainees in military custody either. The standard of virtually no one being held accountable for crimes or abuses committed during the “war on terror” persists. However, Manning, who allegedly exposed Defense Department and State Department documents showing abuses, crimes, corruption, malfeasance, misconduct, etc, is accused of “aiding the enemy”—Al Qaeda—by releasing previously classified information that could be read on WikiLeaks. (The Justice Department is also prosecuting former CIA agent John Kiriakou.)

Additionally, this week, the military announced that there would be no prosecutions for soldiers who pissed on Taliban corpses. There would also be no charges for troops that tried to burn 500 Korans.

Piss on corpses. Pose with a Nazi flag. Kill civilians. Outright order the massacre of them. Even engage in conduct that leads to the death of a person detained in a military prison-a “terrorist.” Or, more appropriately, “terror suspect.” But don’t. Don’t. Don’t release classified information to the public, especially to an outfit run by an Aussie “hacker” named Julian Assange. That could get a soldier or person life in prison without parole, and in fact, the government will push fiercely for such a punishment.

Alexa O’Brien recorded a number of video reports outside the hearing: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 .

Clark Stoeckley has been producing sketches from the courtroom.

Future court hearings

The next hearing dates of 1 – 5 October (to litigate the torture issue) have been abandoned and the schedule now looks like this, with the torture hearing scheduled for 27 November – 2 December and the trial itself not to take place until 4 February – 15 March, by which time Brad will have been in pretrial detention for nearly three years, the legal limit being 120 days. What’s more, these dates could easily be pushed further into the future as the hearings progress.

  • October 17-18: speedy trial witness list to be argued for defense’s speedy trial motion
  • October 29 – November 2: speedy trial motion hearing; production motion for witnesses at “unlawful pretrial punishment” motion hearing
  • November 27 – December 2: litigation/argument on the “unlawful pretrial punishment” motion
  • December 10 – 14: pretrial witnesses and evidentiary issues argued
  • January 14 – 18: handling of classified information during the trial
  • January 28 – 29: last minute motions before trial
  • January 30: voir dire (or screening of potential jurors)
  • February 4 – March 15: trial

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