We are at a watershed.
The verdicts in the Bradley Manning trial are about to be announced and between now and sentencing – which is likely to commence as soon as next week – it is imperative that you, the world’s media, come together and demand that Manning be released. Whether you are The Guardian, Der Spiegel, the New York Times, the Washington Post, El Pais, Le Monde, The Age or any of those other publications that collaborated or benefited from the publishing of material revealed by Bradley Manning: you are party to the charges raised and Bradley needs your help and intervention now.
You can help Bradley by providing front page support on your publication – even better, if that support appeared in all major newspapers on the same day. You may also want to reproduce – gratis – the full-page advertisement that appeared a few days ago in the New York Times (see image in Section E below). In providing this support you would send an unequivocal message: that the trial is not just about a US private but that its outcome has implications for whistle-blowers and for journalists everywhere.
In the meantime, you will be aware that European parliamentarians have published an open letter to President Obama – see Section B, below – declaring that Bradley Manning acted in accordance with international law, that his prosecution should cease and that he be released immediately.
Note 1: all outstanding charges that are listed for verdicts are given in Section D, below.
Note 2: Here are links to just one story, out of the hundreds, from five major news outlets that have used information directly sourced by Manning: The Guardian , the New York Times , Der Spiegel , Bureau of Investigative Journalism , the BBC .
A. Peace Prize recipient vs war crimes
Bradley Manning is the recipient of the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Prize , the Guardian Person of the Year and the 2012 Human Rights Award . Three Nobel Peace Prize laureates – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Mairead Corrigan-Maguire declared that Manning should have received the last Nobel Peace Prize. More recently, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire nominated Manning for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize – see Section C below – and it is the belief and hope of millions that Manning, one way or another , receives this prize, not just for himself and what he did, but because it would send out a clear signal to all countries that war crimes – see links and photos below – are unacceptable and that those who report on them should be immune from prosecution and praised for their courage.
Moreover, now is the time for jurists and human rights’ advocates to instigate a war crimes tribunal (even if only informal) to prosecute the real criminals in this case (and not the messenger): for details of these crimes, click here , here , here and here .
According to Dissenter journalist Kevin Gosztola, “a law was passed by the [United States] Continental Congress on July 30, 1778, that declared that it was the “duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by an officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.”
Gosztola goes on to summarise some of the many war crimes Manning revealed:
“Take the video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack, which shows two Reuters journalists being gunned down in Baghdad. The soldiers in the video known as “Collateral Murder” feature soldiers begging superior officers to give them orders to fire on individuals, who are rescuing wounded people. Soldiers also openly hoped a wounded man crawling on the sidewalk would pick up something resembling a weapon so they could finish him off. And, “The most alarming aspect of the video,” as Manning said, is “the seemingly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.”
Consider the military incident reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, which he thought “represented the on the ground reality of both of the conflicts” the US was waging in those countries. In Afghanistan, the reports obtained by WikiLeaks and released as the “Afghan War Logs” showed an assassination squad , Task Force 373, was operating. It kept classified lists of enemies and went on a mission on June 17, 2007, to target “prominent al Qaeda functionary Abu Laith al-Libi.” The squad staked out a “Koran school where he was believed to be located for several days.” An attack was ordered. The squad ended up killing seven children with five American rockets. Al-Libi was not killed.
Reports from Iraq, also obtained by WikiLeaks and released as the “Iraq War Logs,” revealed an order, Frago 242 , which the US and the UK appeared to have adopted as a way of excusing them from having to take responsibility for torture or ill-treatment of Iraqis by Iraqi military or security forces. The reports also showed US interrogators had threatened Iraqi detainees with the prospect of being turned over to the “Wolf Brigade” or “Wolf Battalion,” which would “subject” them “to all the pain and agony that the Wolf Battalion is known to exact upon its detainees.”
If those revelations are not enough to make him a whistleblower, over 250,000 US diplomatic cableswere slowly released (up until 100,000 were rapidly published on to the Internet by WikiLeaks in August 2011), and they revealed: US diplomats spying on United Nations leadership, the Yemen president agreed to secretly allow US cruise missile attacks that he would say were launched by his government, Iceland’s banking crisis had partly been a result of bullying by European countries, US and China joined together to obstruct a major agreement on climate change by European countries, US government was well aware of rampant corruption in the Tunisian ruling family of President Ben Ali, the FBI trained torturers in Egypt’s state security service, both the administrations of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama pressured Spain and Germany not to investigate torture authorized by Bush administration officials, and foreign contractors managed by DynCorp hired Afghan boys to dress up as girls and dance for them.
Should that still not be enough, Manning also provided WikiLeaks with more than 700 detainee assessment reports on prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. The assessments showed children and elderly men were imprisoned , information from a “small number of detainees” who were tortured was relied upon by US authorities and al Jazeera journalist Sami al-Hajj had been sent to the prison “to provide information” on the “al Jazeera news network’s training program, telecommunications equipment and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network’s acquisition of a video of [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview” of bin Laden.”
B. Open Letter from Members of the European Parliament
To President Barack Obama and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:
As Members of the European Parliament, who were elected to represent our constituents throughout Europe, we are writing to express our concerns about the ongoing persecution of Bradley Manning, the young U.S. soldier who released classified information revealing evid
ence of human rights abuses and apparent war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The U.S. Army has charged Private First Class Manning with 21 different crimes, including ‘Aiding the Enemy’; a capital charge. To convict a person who leaked information to the media of “Aiding the Enemy” would set a terrible precedent. Although we understand the US government is not seeking the death penalty for Bradley Manning, there would be nothing to stop this from happening in future cases. As it is, PFC Manning faces the possibility of life in prison without parole, recently rejected as “inhuman and degrading treatment” by the European Court of Human Rights.
On July 2nd , Army prosecutors closed their arguments in the case without having provided any real evidence that Bradley Manning aided the enemy, or that he intended to do so. In his defense against those charges to which he pleaded not guilty, PFC Manning was not permitted to bring any evidence of motivation. And in a statement calling on the court to allow a ‘public interest’ defense, Amnesty In
ternational said that this was ‘disturbing…as he has said he reasonably believed he was exposing human rights and humanitarian law violations. Moreover, the prosecution provided no evidence that PFC Manning caused harm to U.S. national security or to US and NATO troops.
We agree with Amnesty International that the U.S. government should immediately drop the most serious charges against PFC Bradley Manning, and that to charge Bradley Manning with ‘aiding the enemy’ is ‘ludicrous’ – a ‘travesty of justice’ which ‘makes a mockery of the US military court system’.
“We’ve now seen the evidence presented by both sides, and it’s abundantly clear that the charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ has no basis,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director for International Law and Policy at Amnesty International. “The prosecution should also take a long, hard look at its entire case and move to drop all other charges that aren’t supported by the evidence presented.”
Rather than causing harm, Bradley Manning’s release to WikiLeaks of the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diari
es shone much needed light on those occupations, revealing, amongst other abuses, the routine killing of civilians. The bleak picture painted by these war diaries contrasts greatly with the rosy progress reports being provided to the public by military and political leaders. PFC Manning has said he felt that if the American public had access to this information, this could ‘spark a domestic debate’ on American foreign policy ‘as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan’. Far from being a traitor, Bradley Manning had the best interests of his country in mind.
The Iraqi people continue to suffer the consequences of this war, even after the withdrawal of foreign troops, with millions of homeless refugees and the resumption of sectarian violence. Meanwhile, eleven and a half years after the U.S invaded Afghanistan, that nation has yet to form a functioning democracy or to free itself from the Taliban and fundamentalist warlords.
Bradley Manning: ‘I felt that we were risking so much for people that seemed unwilling to co-operate with us, leading to frustration and anger on both sides. I began to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year.’
Bradley Manning was witness to the wrongdoing of the U.S. military. He says this ‘troubled’ and ‘disturbed’ him. But instead of ‘passing by on the other side’ like so many others, he acted in accordance with international law and with a strong commitment to truth, transparency and democracy. He wrote at the time that he hoped his actions would lead to “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.”
Bradley Manning also released information about the men who continue to be wrongly held in indefinite detention at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, Cuba. Over one hundred of these prisoners have been carrying out a long, indefinite hunger strike, and 45 of them are being force-fed by U.S. soldiers. This intolerable situation continues to undermine U.S. claims to promote freedom and democracy, compromising the standing of the US in the world and diminishing US moral authority.
Bradley Manning’s courageous action, for which he has three times been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was an inspiration to others, including Edward Snowden, who recently revealed massive U.S. government surveillance in the U.S. and also against European governments and citizens.
We are concerned that the U.S. administration’s war on whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning is a deterrent to the process of democracy in both the United States and Europe.
We hereby urge you to end the persecution of Bradley Manning, a young gay man who has been imprisoned for over three years, including ten months in solitary confinement, under conditions that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez deemed “cruel and abusive.” Bradley Manning has already suffered too much, and he should be freed as soon as humanly possible.
Marisa Matias, Member of the European Parliament, Portugal
Christian Engström, Member of the European Parliament, Sweden
Ana Maria Gomes, Member of the European Parliament, Portugal
Gabi Zimmer, Member of the European Parliament, Germany
Paul Murphy, Member of the European Parliament, Ireland
Sabine Wils, Member of the European Parliament, Germany
Jacky Henin, Member of the European Parliament, France
Alda Sousa, Member of the European Parliament, Portugal
Martina Anderson, Member of the European Parliament, Ireland
Nikola Vuljanić, Member of the European Parliament, Kroatia
Sabine Lösing, Member of the European Parliament, Germany
Lothar Bisky, Member of the European Parliament, Germany
Helmut Scholz, Member of the European Parliament, Germany
Willy Meyer, Member of the European Parliament, Spain
Mikael Gustafsson, Member of the European Parliament, Sweden
Marie-Christine Vergiat, Member of the European Parliament, France
Patrick Le Hyaric, Member of the European Parliament, France
C. Nomination of Bradley Manning for 2013 Nobel Peace Prize
Peace is more than simply the absence of war; it is the active creation of something better. Alfred Nobel recognized this when he created alongside those for chemistry, literature, medicine and physics, an annual prize for outstanding contributions in peace. Nobel’s foresight is a reminder to us all that peace must be created, maintained, and advanced, and it is indeed possible for one individual to have an extraordinary impact. For this year’s prize, I have chosen to nominate US Army Pfc Bradley Manning, for I can think of no one more deserving. His incredible disclosure of secret documents to Wikileaks helped end the Iraq War, and may have helped prevent further conflicts elsewhere.
I recently visited Syria, where I met a few of the millions of refugees and internally displaced people whose lives have been torn apart by the ongoing conflict in that country. I learned from those I spoke to, both within the government and in opposition groups, that while there is a legitimate and long-overdue movement for peace and non-violent reform in Syria, the worst acts of violence are being perpetrated by outside groups. Extremist groups from around the world have converged upon Syria, bent on turning this conflict into one of ideological hatred.
In recent years this would have spelled an undeniable formula for United States intervention. However, the world has changed in the years since Manning’s whistleblowing – the Middle East especially. In Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, and now Turkey, advocates of democracy have joined together to fight against their own governments’ control of information, and used the free-flowing data of social media to help build enormously successful non-violent movements. Some activists of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring have even directly credited Bradley Manning, and the information he disclosed, as an inspiration for their struggles.
In a Middle East newly dedicated to democratic flow of information, those who would commit human rights violations can more easily be held accountable. If not for whistleblower Bradley Manning, the world still might not know of how US forces committed covert crimes in the name of spreading democracy in Iraq, killing innocent civilians in incidents such as the one depicted in the “Collateral Murder” video, and supporting Iraqi prisoner torture. Now, those who would support foreign intervention in the Middle East know that every action would be scrutinized under international human rights law. Clearly, this is for the best. International peacekeepers, as well as experts and civilians inside Syria, are nearly unanimous in their view that United States involvement would only worsen this conflict.
Around the world, Manning is hailed as a peacemaker and a hero. His nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is a reflection of this. Yet at his home in America, Manning stands trial for charges of espionage and “aiding the enemy”. This should not be considered a refutation of his candidacy – rather, he is in good company. Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo were each awarded the prize in recent years while imprisoned by their home countries.
Last week at Manning’s trial, the public learned that at the time Manning released his information, WikiLeaks stated they wanted to publish “the concealed documents or recordings most sought after by a country’s journalists, activists, historians, lawyers, police or human rights investigators”. Manning’s disclosures to Wikileaks only “aided the enemy,” as his prosecutors charge, if the enemy is international cooperation and peace itself.
Manning is the only one on trial, yet what of those who committed the atrocities he revealed? The United States, the most militarized country on earth, should stand for something better than war. Its government must be open to “debates, discussions and reforms” concerning its foreign policy, to use Manning’s own words. By heeding Pfc Bradley Manning’s message on the importance of transparency, America’s government can once again rebuild its image in the eyes of the world, and spread democracy not through foreign invasions, but through setting a strong example.
I hope American leaders will embrace the U.S. constitution, and base their national and foreign policies on ethical values, human rights and international law.
D. Charges and possible sentences
The above table and the following explanatory description of charges still applying to Bradley Manning is from Alexa O’Brien via her Secondsight website :
Pfc. Bradley Manning is charged with 22 offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He pled to 10 lesser included offenses and currently faces up to 20 years. Manning will face life plus 154 years in a military prison if convicted on the prosecution’s case.
The presiding military judge, Col. Denise Lind, will announce her findings on Manning’s guilt or innocence at 1:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, July 30 31. Below is a breakdown on how the judge could rule on the verdict.
Unlike a federal criminal trial, where sentencing occurs after the creation of a pre-sentencing report, if Manning is convicted of any of the charges, a sentencing case will commence immediately. During the sentencing case, both defense and the prosecution will present evidence, call witnesses, and make arguments about appropriate punishment.
The maximum sentences for the charged offenses are outlined in the Manual for Courts-Martial and Lind’s previous court rulings.
Since the court ruled that motive and actual damage (or ‘lack of damage’) evidence was not relevant at trial (except to prove circumstantially that Manning was cognizant of the fact that the enemy used the WikiLeaks website), evidence of Manning’s intent and the impact of the leaks will finally be heard by the court at sentencing.
It remains to be seen, however, how much of the sentencing phase of this trial will be open to the public, since the government is expected to elicit testimony from these 13 classified sentencing witnesses in closed sessions or in classified stipulations.
Military prosecutors charged Private First Class Bradley Manning on March 1, 2011 with violating three Articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (U.C.M.J):
Charge I: ‘Aiding the Enemy’ under Article 104
Charge II: 16 separate offenses under General Article 134
Charge III: 5 offenses of Article 92 ‘Failure to obey order or regulation’
The 16 separate offenses under Charge II General Article 134 include:
1 specification for ‘Wanton Publication of Intelligence on the Internet’
8 specification of the Espionage Act – 18 U.S.C. 793(e)
2 specification of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(1)
5 specification of ‘Stealing U.S. Government Property’ – 18 U.S.C. 641
The five separate offenses of Charge III Article 92 or a ‘failure to obey order or regulation’ include:
attempting to bypass a network of information security system mechanism
adding unauthorized software to a Secret Internet Protocol Router Network on two separate occasions
using an information system in a manner other than its intended purpose
wrongfully storing classified information
Guilty or Innocent
1. Aiding the Enemy
Manning could be found guilty or innocent of aiding the enemy. If he is found guilty, he faces life in prison.
2. Wanton Publication
Manning could be found guilty or innocent of “Wanton Publication of Intelligence”. If he is found guilty, he faces up to two years in prison.
Manning pled guilty to seven lesser included offenses of the Espionage Act for “unauthorized possession” and “willful communication” of:
an unclassified video of a 7 July 2007 Apache air strike known as Collateral Murder
2 classified CIA Red Cell Memos
more than 25 classified records from the Iraq War Logs
more than 25 classified records from the Afghan War Diary
more than three classified records from the GTMO Files
5 classified records pertaining to the Garani air strike in May 2009, and
a United States Army Counterintelligence Center 2008 Report on WikiLeaks
Manning pled not guilty to an eighth violation of the Espionage Act for an unclassified video of a May 2009 U.S. bombing in the Farah Province of Afghanistan, known as the Garani video.
Manning could be found guilty of the greater offense for the eight Espionage Act charges. If convicted on the greater offense, the maximum punishment of 10 years each.
Manning is not likely to be found innocent for the seven offenses that he pled to a lesser included offense for. NB Despite Manning’s plea, Lind must still “find” Manning guilty for each crime.
The maximum punishment for each lesser included offense for “unauthorized possession” and “willful communication” is 2 years. So, he is already exposed to 14 years for his LIO plea for seven Espionage Act charges.
Manning pled not guilty to the eighth offense under the Espionage Act for the Garani video. So, Manning still could be found innocent, guilty of the greater offense, or guilty of the lesser included offense for the “unauthorized possession” and “willful communication” of the Garani video. See more on the Garani airstrike, here .
Manning could also be found guilty of “attempt”, which is a lesser included offense of each of the eight Espionage Act charges.
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act:
Manning also pled guilty to the lesser included offense of two charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for ‘knowingly accessing’ and ‘willfully communicating’ 117 U.S. Department of State Cables. He is exposed to four years on his LIO plea.
Military prosecutors accepted Manning’s plea to the lesser included offense for “knowingly accessing” and “willfully communicating” a State Department cable known as Reykjavik 13.
Military prosecutors moved forward on the greater offense, despite Manning’s plea, for “exceeding authorized access” for 116 diplomatic cables. Manning could be found guilty of the greater offense or guilty on his plea to the lesser included offense.
He will not likely be found innocent for the two charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, because of his plea to LIO.
If convicted of the greater offense for the 117 diplomatic cables, he faces up to 10 years in prison. If found guilty of his plea to the lesser included offense, he could face up to two years in prison. He can also be found guilty of the lesser included offense of attempt for the 117 diplomatic cables.
Stealing USG Property:
Manning pled not guilty to “stealing, purloining, or knowingly converting” five government databases containing records for the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary, the GTMO Files, Cablegate, and the Global Email Address List from the U.S. Forces- Iraq SharePoint Exchange Server.
Manning could be found innocent or guilty of each of the five offense as charged. He would face up to ten years if convicted on the greater offense for each databases (Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary, the GTMO Files, NetCentric Diplomacy, and the Global email Address List).
Manning could also be found guilty on a lesser included offense for attempt or if military prosecutors fail to establish the value of each of the five databases at more than $1000.
NB If convicted of the lesser included offense for “stealing, purloining, or knowingly converting” the Department of State NetCentric Diplomacy database, Manning faces five years maximum punishment, because it is a non-military database.
Amended Charge Sheet:
In a recent controversial legal maneuver , Lind ruled military prosecutors could change the charge sheet after both defense and the prosecution had rested their cases– nineteen months into the proceedings, on July 24.
Military prosecutors conceded after the close of evidence at trial that Manning did not steal the entire database for three charge offenses of stealing the CIDNE-Iraq (Iraq War Logs) and the CIDNE-Afghanistan (Afghan War Diary) databases and the US Forces-Iraq Microsoft Outlook Global Address List. The Court ruled the databases were equivalent to the records contained within them. Defense has moved the Court to reconsider its ruling. The judge is expected to rule on the defense motion for reconsideration prior to announcing her verdict.
Failure to Obey a Lawful General Regulation:
Manning pled guilty to one of five offenses charged under Article 92 for a failure to obey a lawful general regulation” for wrongfully storing classified information. He is not likely to be found innocent on his plea to that offense, and faces up to two years.
Manning could also be found innocent or guilty of four other offenses under Article 92, and could be convicted of up to two years for each offense he is found guilty of.
The Charges, Manning’s Plea, and Maximum Punishment (Sortable):
Go here for a sortable list of the charges and Manning’s plea and their maximum punishments.
E. Full page advertisement in New York Times
We are requesting all newspapers who collaborated in the publication of material revealed by Bradley Manning reprint this advertisement, for free, preferably on the front page.
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