Plea bargains are sought
or accepted for lesser sentences on charges faced. Innocent victims take
them if offered. They know potentially what they face against hardball
prosecutors wanting blood.
If convicted on all or most serious charges, Manning faces potential life
in prison. In America, innocence is no defense. Thousands languish unjustifiably
in gulag hell. US prisons are some of the worst.
Manning's lawyer, David Coombs notified the military court that he'll
plead guilty to some charges. It's more a partial plea deal than a traditional
one. More on that below.
The Bradley Manning Support Network (BMSN) asks, "When did exposing truth
become a crime in America?" It's criminalized when government rogues want
uncomfortable truths kept secret.
Manning is an American hero. He's a courageous Army intelligence analyst
turned whistleblower. Harry Truman once said:
"When even one American - who has done nothing wrong - is forced by fear
to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril."
The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) is an alliance
of whistleblowers. Sibel Edmonds founded it in August 2004. It's independent
and nonpartisan. She serves as president.
Its members include "current or former federal employees or civilians
working under contract to the United States who, to their detriment or
personal risk, bring to light fraud, waste, and abuse in government operations
and agencies when such improprieties compromise the national security
of the United States."
At perhaps the most perilous time in world history, exposing vital truths
takes on greater importance than ever. A legion of Bradley Mannings is
Exposing government criminality involves great risk. Failure to do so
assures unaccountability and greater crimes. America is the world's leading
rogue state. Criminals run it.
They're waging war on humanity. Human survival is at stake. Stopping them
is top priority.
Manning exposed snippets of US criminality. Doing so harmed no one. It
got him in trouble. In May 2010, he was arrested in Iraq on suspicion
of passing on classified material to WikiLeaks. A Pentagon statement said:
"The Department of Defense takes the management of classified information
very seriously because it affects our national security, the lives of
our soldiers, and our operations abroad."
Then Defense Secretary Robert Gates lied. He called the leak "potentially
dramatic and grievously harmful....The battlefield consequences of the
release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our
troops, our allies and Afghan partners…."
Unmentioned were multiple US imperial wars, lawless occupations, exploitation
of people and resources, crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide,
as well as millions of noncombatant civilians killed, injured, or otherwise
Whistleblowers like Manning deserve praise, not prosecution. They're heroes.
They're America's finest. They risk great personal harm to expose vital
truths everyone needs to know.
Exposing crimes or intent to commit them deserves highest praise. America
equates it with treason, subversion, or terrorism.
Manning faces 22 counts under America's Espionage Act. He's also accountable
under Articles 92 and 124 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
They include aiding the enemy. It's a potential capital offense.
Prosecutors said they won't seek the death penalty. Manning could face
life in prison. Possibly it would be without parole. He and Julian Assange
received Nobel Peace Prize nominations.
On February 1, 2012, the Movement of the Icelandic Parliament (MIP) nominated
Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize. They felt compelled to recognize his
important contribution to world peace.
MIP's letter to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in part said:
"We have the great honor of nominating (Manning) for the 2012 (award)."
He stands accused of leaking documents revealing "a long history of corruption,
war crimes and imperialism by the United States government in international
The evidence "should never have been kept from public scrutiny." They
document crimes of war and against humanity."
"Citizens worldwide" are indebted "to the WikiLeaks whistleblower for
shedding light on these issues, and so I urge the Committee to award this
prestigious prize to accused whistleblower Bradley Manning" for displaying
the highest form of courage at great personal risk.
On October 2, Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, moved to have all charges
dropped without prejudice. He cited constitutional and Uniform Code of
Military Justice (UCMJ) violations.
The Sixth Amendment requires "the right to a speedy and public trial….by
an impartial jury….and to be informed of the nature and cause of (all
charges); to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory
process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have" legal counsel
assist in defense proceedings.
UCMJ calls for trial within 120 days of restraint and arraignment. When
a service member is placed in pre-trial confinement, "immediate steps
shall be taken" to inform the accused of all charges, proceed with trial,
or dismiss the case entirely.
The Rule for Court Martial (RCM) 707 also calls for trial within 120 days
from arrest to arraignment to assure speedy trial proceedings. By the
time Manning's trial begins on February 4, he'll have been incarcerated
for nearly 1,000 days.
Willful delay prevented him from being tried earlier. Doing so was unjustified,
unconscionable, and illegal. Coombs said:
"The Convening Authority, therefore, is just as much at fault for the
lack of a speedy trial as is the prosecution."
"The Convening Authority abandoned any attempt to make an independent
determination of the reasonableness of any Government delay request."
"Instead, the Convening Authority operated as a mere rubber stamp by granting
all delay requests."
The Pentagon ordered Manning's trial delayed. Generals wanted time to
punish him ruthlessly. He was isolated in solitary confinement for nine
months and imprisoned in pre-trial detention for around 900 days.
In confinement he was subjected to brutal, inhumane treatment. Despite
being a model prisoner, he was declared a "Maximum Custody Detainee."
Doing so subjected him to the harshest possible treatment.
BradleyManning.org said "Evidence shows (a) three-star general ordered
(his) unlawful, brutal treatment." Brig commanders followed Pentagon orders.
Constitutional and US statute laws were violated. So was UCMJ's Article
13. It prohibits pre-trial confinement conditions "any more rigorous"
than what's minimally needed to ensure the accused appears for court hearings.
Coombs uncovered emails that "reveal everyone at Quantico was complicit
in the unlawful pretrial treatment, from senior officers to enlisted soldiers."
Military officials lied. They claimed Manning was placed on special "prevention
of injury" watch for his own protection. Brig psychiatrists called his
Bradley Manning Support Network attorney Kevin Zeese said emails made
public "now make all previous assertions by Quantico and Pentagon officials
that they were simply following procedures to keep Bradley Manning safe
Retired Army Col. Ann Wright added:
"The revelation that a Lieutenant General would order the mistreatment
of a fellow soldier in violation of the UCMJ leaves me aghast."
"This general, and those who obeyed his orders to mistreat whistle-blower
Bradley Manning while he was held in pre-trial confinement, must be held
accountable. If not, the entire military justice system fails all members
of the military."
Manning was subjected to the following harsh treatment:
isolation for 23 hours a day;
one hour alone outside in an isolated room; he was shackled, allowed to
walk in circles, and returned to his cell the moment he stopped;
extremely limited activities overall;
prohibited from exercising;
directly and by video surveilled constantly;
barred from accessing any news or other information;
forced to respond to guard inquiries almost every five minutes all day;
awakened at night for being out of full view; he was curled up under very
denied a pillow and sheets; and
for weeks subjected to forced nudity; he was kept that way at night and
outside his cell mornings for inspection; military officials lied; they
claiming it was to prevent him from injuring himself.
The Pentagon exerted great pressure to break Manning emotionally. He hung
on courageously throughout his entire ordeal. Obama threw Manning under
He defended his lawless treatment. He said it met basic standards. He
left unexplained gross human rights violations. Coombs said Manning's
constitutional and statutory rights were "trampled on with impunity."
On November 7, Coombs posted the following information on his web site:
"PFC Manning's Offered Plea and Forum Selection"
"PFC Manning has offered to plead guilty to various offenses through a
process known as 'pleading by exceptions and substitutions.' "
"To clarify, PFC Manning is not pleading guilty to the specifications
as charged by the Government. Rather, PFC Manning is attempting to accept
responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset
of, the charged offenses. The Court will consider whether this is a permissible
"PFC Manning is not submitting a plea as part of an agreement or deal
with the Government. Further, the Government does not need to agree to
PFC Manning's plea; the Court simply has to determine that the plea is
"If the Court allows PFC Manning to plead guilty by exceptions and substitutions,
the Government may still elect to prove up the charged offenses."
"Pleading by exceptions and substitutions, in other words, does not change
the offenses with which PFC Manning has been charged and for which he
is scheduled to stand trial."
"PFC Manning has also provided notice of his forum selection. He
has elected to be tried by Military Judge alone."
In other words, Coombs made this offer for Manning. In return, he hopes
more serious charges will be dropped or lessened. He awaits word from
the court. If willingness is expressed, a traditional plea bargain may
Spokesman for the Bradley Manning Support Network Nathan Fuller said it's
"very premature" to speculate whether prosecutors will show leniency.
Given how harshly Manning's been treated, it appears a long shot at best,
but can't be ruled out.
Manning is world renown. Many distinguished figures and others support
him. Pentagon officials may decide to make it appear they're showing some
Trial proceedings are expected to last six weeks. Manning chose to be
tried by a military judge alone instead of a jury of military officers.
Nothing will be known for sure until the judge rules. He has marching
orders and will do what he's told.
Coombs said Manning will plead guilty to lesser charges alone. Perhaps
by late November, some indication of court sentiment will be known.
Law Professor Eugene Fidell represents defendants in court-martial case.
He was puzzled by Coombs' move. He said it's unusual to plead guilty without
benefit of a pretrial agreement assuring something in return.
At the same time, Manning hopes court leniency may follow. Cooperating
to save government time and expense may help.
It's hard to know after authorities invested enormous effort and expense
to make an example of him. At issue is deterring other whistleblowers.
Going soft might encourage them.
At the same time, playing hardball may encourage fighting back. Manning
supporters are enraged about his harsh treatment. If he's imprisoned for
decades or life, they won't be silent.
Retribution will be on the minds of many. Above all, supporters want justice.
Manning's been afforded none so far. It's highly unlikely he'll be treated
fairly. Police states rarely show leniency and never say they're sorry.