There are at least two good non-government sources reporting on the pretrial hearing: FDL and the Guardian. As both are general blogs and their possibly daily posts regarding the hearing(s) may be far apart, I’ll try to link to the specific posts each day.
NOTE: 12/22/2011 is probably my last post about the pretrial hearing. I may add thoughts above or below the final 12/22/2011 post as they occur to me.
Presumably final day of pre-trial hearing.
Most significant was that the prosecution identified “the enemy” Manning is charged with “aiding.” They played an Al Qaeda propaganda video and said he knowingly passed on information to Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and similar enemies through WikiLeaks.
Right. And where is the evidence that the WikiLeaks release “aid[ed]” that enemy? As I said before, based on the showing made at this pretrial hearing, Manning has effectively no chance of not being convicted of one or all of the charges against him. The Great Obama hath ordained it, and it shall be made so.
Amy Goodman’s summary of just what Manning is accused of leaking, and its consequences for the world, is surely the best overall assessment of what Manning may have done. And from the perspective of genuine advocates of democracy around the world, what he may have done is good indeed.
There was too much today for me to recap, but I will note one thing. The IO allowed the prosecution almost all of four days to present its case; the defense was permitted to call only two (2) witnesses out of the 48 witnesses defense requested, and the testimony of those two defense witnesses required 50 minutes. Nonetheless, the prosecution insisted on another day of hearing in which to make its closing statement, claiming that defense introduced evidence too late in the process for prosecution to take into account. Defense politely called bullshit, saying all the evidence, every bit of it, was already in the possession of the government for 18 months, but discovered to the defense only at the last minute.
This is beginning to annoy me seriously. Read Gosztola’s post today and see if you agree with me that there’s not a chance in the world 1) that charges will not be brought against Manning, or 2) that he will be given a fair trial. When the Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces declared about Manning “He broke the law,” the verdict was determined in that instant. In that instant, too, the president sealed the fate of justice done in the United States for anyone he dislikes. Obama has only to give the word… and it’s life, or maybe death, for the target of his ire. Welcome to 21st century American “justice.”
IMO, the big news of the day is that Adrian Lamo, who “outed” Manning to law enforcement, eventually, after some attempts at obfuscation, admitted three things about his online chats with Manning:
- Lamo considers himself a journalist,
- Lamo was in fact working with law enforcement (though he denied this initially, on the stand, under oath), and
- Lamo offered Manning confidentiality (“I am a journalist and a minister you can pick either and treat this — enjoy a modicum of legal protection”) and Manning neither affirmatively accepted nor declined… leading Lamo to assume consent to publish.
I don’t think I even need to tell you what I think about that, but I will anyway. Lamo is, first of all, a baldfaced liar… about being a journalist, about not being in cahoots with law enforcement, and in assuming Manning’s consent to be published when none was given. Second, he’s an obfuscating SOB… every single significant point Coombs made against him, he attempted to circumlocute his way out of answering. (Eventually even the IO was frustrated and directed Lamo to answer Coombs’s questions.) I don’t know if any of this will help Bradley Manning, but if this is the best witness the prosecution has, they’d better dig deeper for someone not so readily discredited. I don’t know if “entrapment” is a concept in military law, but if it is, it seems arguable that Lamo deliberately entrapped Manning.
ADDED THOUGHTS after the later testimony: as someone pointed out in the FDL comment thread, Lamo was obviously “heavily coached” before his testimony. That would account for all the stilted circumlocution: he memorized it. Example:
“A reasonable person would conclude that these are logs between myself and an individual who on multiple occasions has been identified as Bradley Manning,” stated Lamo. Manning was still having a conversation with a member of the defense.
As another commenter observed, that’s not an answer to a question, that’s a recitation of a point of law.
Oh, and there’s more evidence that Lamo is a real piece of work:
The defense began cross-examination. He asked if Lamo was a convicted felon. He went over Lamo’s history as someone who committed a string of hacks against several large companies in 2000 and who then pled guilty in 2004 to computer fraud. Coombs had Lamo confirm that he had been placed under house arrest for six months and placed on probation for at least two years.
Continuing, Coombs had Lamo confirm that this was when he began to suffer from depression. It started as a result of over-medicating with prescription drugs. His parents called the police to report he was over-medicating on prescription drugs.
Jeebus. Why did they pick this guy to do the dirty work? Perhaps because no one else would touch it with a 3-meter pole?
Keith Olbermann interviews Daniel Ellsberg on the Manning matter.
Same shift, different day. Testimony began on technical matters regarding indications that Manning downloaded the “Collateral murder” video on his personal laptop. Other testimony taken.
The real lowlight of the day is that Lt. Dan Choi (yes, THAT Lt. Choi) was accused, apparently falsely, of “heckling” in the courtroom: he said “good morning” to an officer he knew when he arrived, before proceedings began, but he and others say he remained silent during proceedings. The real source of consternation seems to be that he wore his uniform to court… which he has a perfect right to do, having been honorably discharged. Eventually one of TPTB decided to eject him. They used six Marine guards, decked him and cuffed him (tight enough to make his right hand numb afterward… how common is THAT becoming) and forbade him to return to the trial.
A question for the officer who ordered Lt. Choi ejected: just how scared are you of the presence of a gay person? Are you afraid he might… um… look at you? Naw, you just hate all of ’em, don’t you? Bastard!
An aside: in the same post, Gosztola notes that the ACLU is going to federal court tomorrow “challenging the suspicionless search and seizure of electronics belonging to activist David House when he entered the U.S. after a vacation. The lawsuit charges that the government targeted House solely on the basis of his lawful association with the Bradley Manning Support Network, an organization created to raise funds for the legal defense of the soldier charged with leaking material to WikiLeaks.” Americans who have any association with Manning, past or present, can forget about privacy: the TSA isn’t too particular about how it acquires evidence.
Ellsberg is worth hearing, not only in his role as America’s premier whistleblowing hero in recent history, but for some of the distinctions he points out.
FDL, Kevin Gosztola reporting: Investigative Officer Refuses to Compel Two Key Witnesses to Testify at Manning Hearing
Coombs vehemently objected to each potential witness’s invoking an Article 31 refusal (which is like “taking the 5th amendment” in a civilian court) on the grounds that neither witness is criminally accused in this matter. The IO (by now, I have to say “predictably”) overruled the objections.
It is increasingly clear that someone, somewhere in the Army hierarchy has decided that Bradley Manning shall, b’gawd, be put on trial and found guilty, and that no procedural excess is too extreme in pursuit of that goal. My guess is that the order has come from the top. You know who I mean.
Guardian, hearing day 2, 12/17/2011 – articles but no liveblog:
Please note that David Coombs has already extracted an admission from a government witness that the videotape in question is not classified.
Gosztola’s liveblog is sufficiently episodic that I’m going to link it and let you read it, commenting only if there’s something of overwhelming significance.
One preliminary note from yesterday: defense, David Coombs, requested 48 witnesses and the IO permitted only 2. Two defense witnesses, on a 22-count 23-count more-than-20-count indictment. Is that supposed to avoid even the appearance of bias?
Today’s biggest news, simplified: the Investigating Officer declined to recuse himself.
The Guardian obviously has far more resources than FDL’s one person, but I believe both blogs are worth reading.
Watch this space!