Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bradley Manning in jail for 700 days - Government is withholding evidence - Is this a fair trial?

The Shroud of Secrecy in Bradley Manning’s Legal Proceedings 

Fire Dog Lake is Blogging the pretrial maneuverings in the Bradley Manning case.  They report a serious and illegal lack of transparency by the prosecution.  The judge has acknowledge this process by forcing the government to turn over risk assessments related to the release of cables to Wikileaks to the defense.
 . Judge Denise Lind ruled the government has to produce damage assessments yesterday that the defense had been seeking for months. The State Department is challenging this ruling by the judge, but it appears reports from the WikiLeaks Task Force (setup under then-CIA director Leon Panetta), the Information Review Task Force (set up under then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates) and the State Department will be given to the defense. The judge also ruled the government must do a search of hard drives in their possession from FOB Hammer, where Manning was based, and inform the defense of whether any of the drives have programs that Manning is charged with downloading without authorization.
However the press is being denied access to filings even though they have been read aloud in court.
  the judge denied requests for press access to court filings, which the press has in military proceedings for Guantanamo prisoners but does not have in the case of Bradley Manning. She contended the proceedings had “remained open thus far.”... The government is scheming to conceal the full extent of the legal fun and games that the prosecution has played in the proceedings thus far.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has entered the fray attempting to testify but being denied the right by the judge.
President Emeritus of CCR, Michael Ratner, wrote yesterday that the refusal to grant the press access to court filings is a “clear violation of the law, but it will likely take burdensome litigation to rectify this lack of transparency. The US supreme court has insisted that criminal trials must be public, and the fourth circuit, where this court martial is occurring, has ruled that the first amendment right of access to criminal trials includes the right to the documents in such trials.”
THe government has reacted to the demands for transparency with accusations against Manning not included in their charges.  Kevin Gosztola from Firedoglake concludes:

So, now, not only is Manning accused of “aiding the enemy,” which is al Qaeda and any terrorist groups related, even though there is no mention of his intent in the charge against him, but he is also considered an espionage actor who is using the legal proceedings to unveil the inner workings of government for nefarious purposes.
This is what the lack of transparency does to people who work for and on behalf of the government. They are so used to being able to use their power to conceal what they do that when someone succeeds in using the system to get just a little peek at what goes on behind closed doors people begin to throw out hysterical charges of evildoing.
Manning, like all soldiers accused of crimes, is entitled to a fair trial. There are still months of legal proceedings to go before the trial even commences. All of this secrecy, which invites challenges from the defense, just means Manning stays in pre-trial confinement for one hundred or more days. He already has been held in prison for 700 days.

No comments: