During her trial, the only time the public heard from Chelsea Manning was when she made statements in court. But according to Emma Cape, a lead organizer for the Chelsea Manning Support Network, Manning will be taking a “somewhat more active role” in the case during appeal.
Cape, along with Manning’s new lawyers and whistleblowers who support Manning, spoke at an event at Georgetown Law Center on April 13. She reported that Manning has provided feedback on the work of the Support Network and communicated how she would like some of the organization’s messaging to be. She has also expressed interest in publicly sharing her thoughts on freedom of information, government transparency and restrictions on press access.
Cape also says that the military continues to deny Manning medical treatment for gender dysphoria, with which Manning has been diagnosed. They refuse to allow her to have hormone therapy and are forcing her legal team to exhaust all administrative and legal remedies before approving or denying her request.
Unfortunately for Manning, Cape also informed supporters at the event that President Barack Obama’s administration has made the decision to not respond to a request for a presidential pardon until the appeals process is entirely exhausted.
It will be possible for Manning to take a more public role now because the appeal is restricted to what is in the trial record, and possibility of military prosecutors using her statements against her is far more diminished.
Yesterday, a general court martial convening authority, Maj. General Jeffrey Buchanan, approved a military judge’s verdict in Manning’s case, findings and her sentence of thirty-five years in military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Buchanan also approved the record of trial, which means Manning’s appeal can now officially proceed.
Well-known defense attorney Nancy Hollander, who has much experience with terrorism and national security cases, and Vincent Ward, a former JAG lawyer, are representing her. They can now start their review of the record immediately.
“The record is huge — 110 volumes,” Hollander told Firedoglake. “It will be an enormous task.” She declined to provide details at this stage on when the legal team hopes to file the first brief in the appeal.
Manning’s appeal will focus on the misuse of the Espionage Act, over-classification, selective prosecution of leaks by the government, “unlawful pretrial punishment” and speedy trial rights violations in the case.
During the April 13 event, Ward said after visiting Leavenworth once to see Manning that he had recognized that she had “figured out a way around that place. She knows where to go, what to do, what to get to stay engaged and actively involved.” Manning has been researching a variety of issues in prison, and according to Ward, she sends him materials related to her case before anyone does.
“I fully expect throughout this process Chelsea will probably be the greatest resource for her own defense,” Ward declared.
Manning worked with the Support Network to develop a portrait of how she sees herself as a trans woman (above). She is seeking a legal name change in a Kansas district court from “Bradley Manning” to Chelsea Manning.
Manning is planning to enroll in college. She hopes to specialize in pre-law and political science. She was also recently named an Honorary Grand Marshal for the San Francisco Pride Parade, an honor which the organization’s leadership rescinded last year a month before her trial was about to commence.
The appeal process could take over a decade, as the case goes through two appellate courts, potentially the Supreme Court and then maybe to another court as a habeas case.
Clemency was also denied by Buchanan on April 14. Over 3,000 letters had been submitted by supporters as part of a “clemency packet” yet apparently none of the material was important enough to influence a different decision by the military, such as a reduction in sentence.
“The role of military justice is to promote good order and discipline,” Ward explained at Georgetown Law Center. “And so one of the tensions I believe in the military system is this notion that the Uniform Code of Military Justice exists for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline, which by definition sounds as though it’s contrary to due process rights.”
“Now do we really believe that a 35-year sentence is necessary to maintain good order and discipline in the military?”
Both Hollander and Ward plan to represent Manning until there are “no more courts and nowhere else to go on behalf of Chelsea.”
Image produced by the Chelsea Manning Support Network and created by artist Alicia Neal in cooperation with Chelsea Manning herself.