Bradley Manning Update

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.

FDL, Gosztola, 12/22/2011 earlier

FDL, Gosztola, 12/22/2011 later: Prosecution: Bradley Manning ‘Aided the Enemy’ by Knowingly Passing on Info to Al Qaeda Through Wikileaks

Guardian, Amy Goodman, History will remember Bradley Manning better

Rainey Reitman, The Nation, Government Blocks Access to Bradley Manning’s Hearing (H/T L’Enfant de la Haute Mer)

Here’s Gosztola:

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.


FDL, Gosztola, 12/21/2011.

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.”


FDL, Gosztola, 12/20/2011, earlier.

‘A Curious Individual’ Who ‘Takes Odd Jobs’ Named Adrian Lamo Takes the Stand, Gosztola, 12/20/2011, later.

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?


FDL, Gosztola, 12/19/2011.

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.


FDL hearing day 2, 12/17/2011, Kevin Gosztola reporting.

Guardian, hearing day 2, 12/17/2011 – articles but no liveblog:

Manning’s sexual orientation is raised in hearing

Bradley Manning Hearing: agents say gunship killing video found in room

WikiLeaks lawyers protest at denial of full access to Manning hearing

Truthout: The Trial of Bradley Manning – Rule of Law or Rule of Intimidation, Retaliation and Retribution (H/T ellroon.)

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?


FDL hearing day 1, 12/16/2011, Kevin Gosztola reporting.

Guardian, hearing day 1, 12/16/2011, various writers reporting.

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!

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  • karmanot  On Friday December 16, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    A circus show trial worthy of Stalin.

    • Steve  On Friday December 16, 2011 at 11:18 pm

      That is my belief as well, karmanot. There is not a chance in Hell that Bradley Manning will be acquitted of everything… maybe not of anything. “Aiding the enemy” is a charge made specifically to terrify other potential whistleblowers.

      The real terrorists here are the Obama DoJ. Did you notice that the Investigating Officer himself, who conducts the hearing, works at DoJ? How can he say he has no conflict of interest?

  • jams o donnell (Shaun Downey)  On Saturday December 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    The words kangaroo and court spring to mind

    • Steve  On Saturday December 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      Shaun, I cannot for the life of me imagine how Manning is going to receive a fair trial. If the pretrial hearing already has the court acting so deplorably, the trial itself… yes, I’m sure there will be one, because the rumor is that O ordered it… is bound to be rigged. Bradley Manning is toast. I cannot see how it will end otherwise than in a life sentence for him… unless the prosecution reneges on their promise and seeks the death penalty after all.

      I know I’m repeating myself, but for anyone who has not yet figured out what Obama and his administration are really like, please follow these proceedings and learn.

  • jams o donnell (Shaun Downey)  On Sunday December 18, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    I hope he gets an free an open trial because it looks more and more that it will bring down a lot of people. His treatment, whether you think he was right,wrong or a bit from both, was and is a disgrace.

    • Steve  On Sunday December 18, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      Shaun, often as not, in accordance with US law or in spite of it, whistleblowers are nailed for something, and go to prison. Everyone who might blow the whistle needs to consider the possibility. If they work for a corporation, they may at least get fired, and possibly be sued or (depending on what they disclosed) prosecuted. If they work for the US Army, the consequences are typically worse.

      Did Manning understand that? It’s not clear to me if he did or didn’t. But if his trial is manifestly unjust, people will notice. If we had a president who was not an asshole, s/he would pardon Manning now as a matter of politics. But I think Obama is determined to Send A Message (other than the obvious “Hey! I’m an asshole in the world’s most powerful office!”), and Manning may be his chosen sacrifice to the purpose of sending that message.

  • karmanot  On Sunday December 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Obama has assumed for himself and successors absolute power over life and death—on the mere suspicion of ‘terrorist’ association. What this means in the long run is the end of freedom of speech and democracy. Obama is not just an asshole, but by definition a traitor. As the laws change in the dismantling of our democratic republic even this will become a quaint observation as fascism is embraced as the norm. The village idiots were correct in their Tea Party zeitgeist understanding that Obama was a mortal danger to America. The American government has become the enemy of its people. Obama’s recent signing into law the use of military against the populace can be no greater and obvious clue as to where this is heading.

    • Steve  On Sunday December 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      karmanot, I really don’t know WTF (that’s Win The Future, of course) we’re going to do next.

      In minimal fairness to Obama, he is not the first president to “assume[] for himself and successors absolute power over life and death—on the mere suspicion of ‘terrorist’ association.” George W. Bush did that much. What Obama did, the thing that is scaring the @#$%^ out of us all, is to use the US military to implement that policy on American soil against Americans. Even GeeDubya never went that far.

      I remember December 12, 2000, the day the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, selected G.W. Bush as president. To calm myself for a moment before confronting the reality, I walked over to the house of one of my best friends and said, [Friend’s name], you know what just happened? He did. At the time, there seemed to be nothing we could do about it. Houston is full of GOPers who were deliriously happy that their guy “won,” and that was the legal ruling. But in retrospect it was the beginning of the end of democracy in the US. Somehow even then I realized the whole business would not end with Bush’s selection… and that when it did end, it would not end well.

      I feel like making a large sign reading “THE END IS NEAR!” and parading around with it while wearing a long white robe. With my considerable beard, I could probably pull off the role of a raving nut-case. But it would not help. Occupy may help. Keeping a Sharp eye out may help.

      But this is not going to be solved quickly, or if it is, it will be in response to some external catastrophe such as the methane bubbling into the atmosphere from just under the Arctic ice as the permafrost melts. (H/T ellroon.)

  • karmanot  On Monday December 19, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Emergency suspension of the Posse Comitatus and Habeas Corpus makes sense in a time of war and in specific critical situations, but the ideology of both parties have increasing turned fascist when war became an operational feature of Us economics and has turned into a state of permanent war. Withdrawal from Iraq will, in the long term, be seen merely as an adjustment to a continued state of colonial expansion, and the eroding of Constitutional civil rights.

    • Steve  On Tuesday December 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      So, karmanot, when we invade and conquer North Korea, will Kim Jung-Un… “Tiny Kim,” as Badtux has dubbed him… become a senator from the, say, 57th state? 🙂

      • Steve  On Tuesday December 20, 2011 at 12:09 pm

        Oh, wait, that’s right, the Constitution requires every state to have a republican form of government.

        (I once heard a local politician… I couldn’t make this up if I tried… claim that Thomas Jefferson, on his deathbed, expressed pride in having given the US a Republican form of government. Context made it clear that yes, the speaker did mean the Republican Party… which did not exist in Jefferson’s lifetime, but why let facts get in the way of a good story!)

      • Steve  On Tuesday December 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm

        Clarification: I believe the party Jefferson helped form was called the Democratic Republican party, and was, IIRC, effectively the ancestor of today’s Democratic Party. In any case, that wasn’t what the local GOP politician meant; he was either merely ignorant or trying to pull a fast one on a crowd. Or both.

  • karmanot  On Tuesday December 20, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    I’m not surprised that low information types believe such rubbish. I imagine you flipped when the Texas School Board tried to remove Jefferson altogether from history text books.

    • Steve  On Tuesday December 20, 2011 at 9:57 pm

      I did indeed, karmanot… but not from surprise, just out of disgust.

      A possibly dumb question; please refresh my memory… didn’t the Bible-thumpers and history rewriters in fact succeed, in 2010?

  • karmanot  On Tuesday December 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I guess that we must keep talking with each other ( the few million of us, who are genuine progress liberals) if only to keep the truth know in stories. Sigh

    • Steve  On Tuesday December 20, 2011 at 10:03 pm

      karmanot, I want sociopolitical progress, but I don’t want it as a legacy. I want it while I’m still alive to appreciate it. On my worst days, I want, not a legacy, but an armory. But that would surely cost us an armory and a legacy. 😈

      Right about now, I just want to live somewhere else. But that’s not going to happen. I am too old and crippled to undertake a move, and Stella, daughter of the Deep South that she is (notwithstanding her liberal politics), would rather live close to her brothers in places to which I refuse to move. So I guess I’m stuck here until I die, or until Houston is beneath the Gulf of Mexico. What a cheerful thought!

  • jams o donnell (Shaun Downey)  On Wednesday December 21, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Hmm I wonder if Lamo has a single friend? I get the feeling that a hell of a lot of people would not piss on him if he was on fire.. Those who would probably piss petrol!

    • Steve  On Wednesday December 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Shaun, I agree: Lamo is clearly a truly obnoxious person. He is also clearly a deeply troubled person, vulnerable to the kind of use made of him by law enforcement. But the worst possibility to emerge from the whole discussion is that Lamo was coached in his testimony, likely reciting points from memory. I was not present, so I cannot say how obvious that was, but I would hope that Coombs would go after Lamo on exactly that basis in cross-examination. The line between normal witness preparation and coaching may be an indistinct one, especially with child witnesses, but Lamo should have needed no coaching. And those stilted sentences appeared to be recited from memory. Few people talk the way they write, and those sentences struck me as having been written out first.

  • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Thursday December 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Government Blocks Access to Bradley Manning’s Hearing

    • Steve  On Thursday December 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      Thanks, Enfant, that is a valuable review of one of the primary civil liberties issues… due process issues, if you prefer… being played out in this trial. Who knew that when the US began to fray at the seams, it would be the commitment to justice that would be the first American principle attacked.

  • MandT  On Thursday December 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I am thinking of writing in Bradley Manning for President, but will most likely go a Green Party direction.

    • Steve  On Thursday December 22, 2011 at 11:42 pm

      MandT, I haven’t a clue who should be president. The office itself has become too powerful, too… unitary, for me to feel safe with anyone holding it. I wonder if we could just work around the lack of a prez and veep for a term? Give things a chance to cool off; give the Constitution a chance to heal its wounds. Put me down for “none of the above.”

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