Court martial denies Bradley Manning whistleblower defence



The US military court trying Bradley Manning for releasing thousands of secret documents to the whistleblowing Wikileaks website has ruled he cannot raise his motives as part of his defence. From the Guardian:

The judge, Colonel Denise Lind, ruled that general issues of motive were not relevant to the trial stage of the court martial, and must be held back until Manning either entered a plea or was found guilty, at which point it could be used in mitigation to lessen the sentence. The ruling is a blow to the defence as it will make it harder for the soldier’s legal team to argue he was acting as a whistleblower and not as someone who knowingly damaged US interests at a time of war.

After the pre-trial hearing, a spokesman for the Bradley Manning support network, Nathan Fuller, said “This is another effort to attack the whistleblower defence.”

Colonel Lind has also stopped the defence from presenting evidence designed to show that WikiLeaks caused little or no damage to US national security. This is after David Coombs, Manning’s lead defence lawyer, spent a long time trying to extract from US government agencies their official assessments of the impact of WikiLeaks around the world. All this information has been ruled inadmissible.

The 25-year-old intelligence analyst faces 22 charges relating to the leaking of hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, war logs from the Afghan and Iraq wars, and videos of US military actions. The most serious charge, “aiding the enemy”, which carries the life sentence, accuses him of arranging for state secrets to be published via WikiLeaks on the internet knowing that al-Qaida would have access to it. The fact that he cannot use the whistleblower’s defence means his legal options are severely limited. Basically, he has been set up to lose.

The message from the court is clear: whistleblowers will face the full fury of the law, regardless of motives. The precedent of the Pentagon Papers, or of “Deep Throat” in the Watergate case, no longer stands, it would seem. Once it was seen as acceptable to leak info if one thought it was morally imperative. But no more. This will ensure that Julian Assange won’t be leaving the Ecuador embassy in London for some time. And it will have a corrosive effect on democracy in general – if we can’t bring our governments’ crimes into the light, there will be nothing to stop them committing even worse outrages. It makes the authorities truly untouchable, turning the very idea of democracy into a cruel joke. And it should stand as an important message: if you are going to blow any whistles, don’t go bragging about it. Especially to an asshole like Adrian Lamo.

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Call Obama – let him know what you think of Bradley Manning!


A very quickie blog entry today, to let you know about what Courage To Resist have planned for today and how you can join in!

Courage To Resist is an organization that supports “GI resisters” in their attempts to oppose the war in Afghanistan and to reveal the truth about the illegal war in Iraq. Here’s an excerpt from the email they sent me:

We need your help to support Bradley and all GI resisters!
You might already have been a regular supporter of Courage to Resist. Or, you may have first heard of us in regards to our support of accused Wikileaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning. Thank you for your interest, and hopefully financial support as well.

White House call-in today, March 28
We invite all supporters to join the Progressive Democrats of America for a call-in campaign today, Monday, March 28th in support of Bradley Manning. Please call the switch board between 9 am-5 pm Eastern (6am-2pm Pacific) at 202-456-1111.

According to my calculations, 9am-5pm Eastern is 2pm-10pm GMT. So, if you want to show support for Bradley Manning, or for the many veterans who were arrested on the 19 and 20 March for their acts of civil disobedience, leading marches to the White House demanding Manning’s release and an end to the war, give the White House a call today. I do hope this action won’t cause the White House switchboard to become jammed and melt down, but if that does happen… oh dear, what a shame.

While I’m on the subject of Bradley Manning, I’d just like to say that Manning is a dickhead of colossal dimensions. Why on earth did Manning feel the need to tell Adrian Lame-o about what he’d done? Wikileaks’ anonymizing techniques are pretty robust – there’s a very good chance that Manning would have never been unmasked as the leak if he’d been able to keep his ridiculous ego under control. But no, he just had to tell someone – and of all the people in the world to spill his guts to, he chose Adrian Lmao: a known snitch and a member of the generation of “hackers” that denounced each other to the Secret Service/Feds on a regular basis

Unfortunately, Manning did mouth off about it to Lamo, and as a result he’s now rotting in the brig and facing a possible death sentence. This is completely out of proportion with what he did (exactly how many US personnel or assets were placed in danger by the leaks? Exactly none, of course – all such sensitive info was redacted before publication, meaning the only effect was a huge amount of egg on the US military and government’s face). So show your support for Manning – call the White House and make sure Obama’s people realise just how over-the-top his henchmen’s actions have been.

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