By Jillian McCarthy
June 7, 2012
Yesterday about 25 activists and I attended a pre-trial hearing for Bradley Manning, the 24-year-old army intelligence analyst who allegedly leaked the Collateral Murder video along with other classified documents that exposed the corruption of US military actions abroad. We arrived at 7:00 am, an hour before the hearing began, to protest with signs. A few cars driving by called out signs of support or honked, but others yelled out negative remarks like, “Hang him!” During the hearing, I sat three rows behind Manning and his defense team. I was surprised to see Manning in person; he seemed so young in comparison to the other older, more experienced lawyers, security guards, and judge in the room. Seeing him in person made me understand the gravity of what Manning did for his country. I cannot imagine doing something at my age that I knew was for the good of my country but that could very well lead to my death or life imprisonment.
The overarching theme throughout the hearing was the prosecution’s withholding of important documents and reports that would aid Manning’s defense team in strengthening his defense. At one point, when the judge asked the prosecution about an important FBI report and whether or not it had been made available to the defense, the military prosecutor told the judge that all of that document had been given to the defense. The judge next asked him for an estimation of how much information was redacted in the document, and the prosecutor gave an estimation of about 50%. The prosecution later provided a more exact number. The actual percentage? About 8,000 of 46,000 pages were given to the defense, or 17% of the entire document. A whopping 80% of the document was redacted. Manning’s lawyer cogently and powerfully argued that more documents needed to be made available to the defense, and by the afternoon the judge seemed to realize the necessity of this.To me, it was troubling to realize the government’s control of which documents and reports the defense could use, and it seemed that there should be some third party involved who would decide which documents were relevant to the case, and particularly to the defense, and which were not. However, as things are now, the prosecution holds this power in the Bradley Manning case, further slanting the odds against the Nobel Peace Prize nominee who did a great service to his country.
The Bradley Manning Support Network is always looking for volunteers and supporters. Support Bradley! For more information, visit their website here.
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