The judge announced during a motion hearing in the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, that the trial is tentatively scheduled for February 4 through March 15. The judge also read off dates for upcoming motion hearings, which were accompanied by a description of matters that would be dealt with at each hearing.
I appeared on RT America to discuss this week’s proceedings and what lies ahead for Manning. One aspect I discussed was that hearings are going to be held in October on whether Manning’s right to a speedy trial was violated. Witnesses will testify and a defense motion will be argued. This will take place before the motion hearing on whether Manning was “unlawfully punished” while imprisoned in the Quantico Marine brig. (Note: RT chose to draw a conclusion by headlining the video with the words, “Bradley Manning defense denied speedy trial,” but I did not actually draw that conclusion on air, even though there might be such evidence to support this idea that his right has been denied. I want to hear argument in court before drawing a conclusion.)
In the segment, whether or not Manning could get a fair trial was discussed. I also provided an update on the Quantico emails the defense just found out about. The judge has to go through 700 emails and decide whether to turn them over. Not only that, she technically has to decide why those 700 emails should not be handed over to the defense and what is different about those emails in comparison to 684 other emails the government ultimately decided to hand over to the defense.
Here’s the live blog for the day containing some key updates from the proceedings.
The live blog post contains the latest case calendar that is likely to change but gives a good idea of what to expect in the coming months.
- October 17-18: speedy trial witness list to be argued for defense’s speedy trial motion
- October 29 – November 2: speedy trial motion hearing; production motion for witnesses at “unlawful pretrial punishment” motion hearing
- November 27 – December 2: litigation/argument on the “unlawful pretrial punishment” motion
- December 10 – 14: pretrial witnesses and evidentiary issues argued
- January 14 – 18: handling of classified information during the trial
- January 28 – 29: last minute motions before trial
- January 30: voir dire (or screening of potential jurors)
- February 4 – March 15: trial
What I called “secrecy games” postponed the trial once already. No exact dates had been given, but the judge had tried to prepare a case calendar that had the trial happening in September. The government withheld evidence from the defense. The defense had to file motions to force the defense to hand over the evidence. This postponed hearings on “unlawful pretrial punishment” and whether his right to a speedy trial has been violated. It ensured, most importantly, that the trial did not happen before Obama’s potential re-election.
The context in which this court martial is unfolding cannot be forgotten. The Justice Department will not be prosecuting anybody from the CIA for the death of detainees. There is ample evidence to support a prosecution, but there is no political will at the Justice Department to go after people at the CIA so there will be no trial for any agents. The military hasn’t prosecuted deaths of detainees in military custody either. The standard of virtually no one being held accountable for crimes or abuses committed during the “war on terror” persists. However, Manning, who allegedly exposed Defense Department and State Department documents showing abuses, crimes, corruption, malfeasance, misconduct, etc, is accused of “aiding the enemy”—Al Qaeda—by releasing previously classified information that could be read on WikiLeaks. (The Justice Department is also prosecuting former CIA agent John Kiriakou.)
Additionally, this week, the military announced that there would be no prosecutions for soldiers who pissed on Taliban corpses. There would also be no charges for troops that tried to burn 500 Korans.
Piss on corpses. Pose with a Nazi flag. Kill civilians. Outright order the massacre of them. Even engage in conduct that leads to the death of a person detained in a military prison-a “terrorist.” Or, more appropriately, “terror suspect.” But don’t. Don’t. Don’t release classified information to the public, especially to an outfit run by an Aussie “hacker” named Julian Assange. That could get a soldier or person life in prison without parole, and in fact, the government will push fiercely for such a punishment.