The Bradley Manning Trials

U.S. Army private first class Bradley Manning (Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images).

U.S. Army private first class Bradley Manning (Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images).

Today I am going to observe the pre-trial hearings in US v. Manning that are taking place at Fort Meade, Maryland this week. Bradley Manning is a 25-year-old Private First Class in the United States Army who was arrested in May 2010 while stationed with the US army in Iraq. He has been in US military custody since his arrest. Manning was charged with 22 counts of misconduct – the most serious of which is “aiding the enemy”- connected to the release of various US Military videos, intelligence reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and State Department diplomatic cables on the website Wikileaks.

He is currently held in a medium security prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and faces a military court martial trial at Fort Meade, Maryland. In early 2011, Amnesty International called on the US Government to end the unnecessarily harsh and punitive conditions under which Bradley Manning was held in pre-trial detention at the Quantico facility in Virginia.

We understand that his conditions improved considerably after he was transferred to a medium security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in late April 2011. Instead of being isolated, Bradley Manning is allowed to interact with other detainees, receive approved visitors, as well as receive mail from anyone while detained at Fort Leavenworth.

At a pre-trial hearing in late February 2013, Bradley Manning took responsibility for releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to Wikileaks, in a guilty plea of 10 lesser offenses which would amount to up to 20 years in prison. However, the government is continuing to pursue all 22 of its original counts against Manning, including “aiding the enemy,” which would carry a life sentence without parole. He returns to court this week for a pretrial hearing, from April 10-12. Bradley Manning’s trial is scheduled to start June 3, 2013, at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Amnesty International sent an observer to previous pre-trial hearings and will continue to observe any other key pre-trial hearings and, as far as possible, the actual trial when it commences in early June for fair trial issues.

This post is also available in Spanish.

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14 thoughts on “The Bradley Manning Trials

  1. Does Amnesty consider Bradley Manning to be a prisoner of conscience? Why or why not?

  2. Amnesty International has been considering this for some time, but it wasn't until the last pre-trial hearing at the end of February that his motivations for releasing the information was stated on the record. AI is considering this information in its determination, but will likely not decide his status until the trial is complete and the organization has a full picture of all of the issues.

    • How can Amnesty International consider itself a beacon of peace while Bradley Manning, who courageously exposed the lie that is the US War on Terror (an unconstitutional war)?

      From [http://www.amnestyusa.org/get-involved] Amnesty's "Ten Ways to Make a Difference"

      "Whether you have 5 minutes or more time to spare we've got a way for you to make a mark in this world. Our strength lies in collective action. With over 3 million Amnesty members and supporters, we help individuals around the world whose human rights are being violated.

      1. Take action right now! With so many issues happening all around the world, sign a petition on one of the many human rights issues facing our communities around the world."

      What good is a signing a petition when right now Bradley Manning's life is at stake? Does Amnesty thinks it 3 million members aren't capable of ending this unjust trial?

      Come on Amnesty! For the sake of peace, please stand up to the US War Machine. Show the people what you are made of!

  3. Does Amnesty typically wait until the end of a trial before determining whether a person is a prisoner of conscience?

    Amnesty also considers "prisoners of conscience" to be a subset of a larger category known as "political prisoners." Does Amnesty consider Bradley Manning to be a political prisoner?

    According to its own standards, Amnesty "demands that political prisoners receive a fair trial within a reasonable time…" in accordance with internationally recognized standards. Since Bradley Manning has been held in confinement for almost three years now without trial — far longer than anyone else in the history of the US military justice system — will Amnesty condemn the abuse of Manning's right to a speedy trial?

  4. Motivation, doing the right thing is imprinted by parenting and rules consented to for normal sociery to function. This is a no brainer, politics is in error, logically and morally. Manning appeard to stand up for justice and is punished by the same justice he was taught to beleive in. If he is not cleared we have no reason to trust or beleive in justice. The veil drops, we see through it and the system in protecting injustice is unravelled by it.

  5. Shame on you.
    Manning is prisoner from a long time without a process. Now, after 3 years "you want to listen" at the process?
    Reading Amnesty statements here: http://www.amnesty-volunteer.org/aihandbook/ch3.h
    Bradely Manning must be considered a Political Prisoner.
    But that's not going to happen, because you don't want to "argue" the political system of your homeland. You don't want to admit, that even you homeland can be wrong, or inadequate as many other countries in the world.

    I've been in the past an active member of Amnesty, but this will never happen again if I understand that Amnesty is an organization held by Americans, and it's being used to blame and harm other countries.

    Everybody should remember what Bertrand Russell said about US after the war in Vietnam.

    cheers
    Massimiliano Adamo

  6. Do Amnesty always wait till the end of a trial to make such a determination? What if there never is a trial? What if the trial in itself is inherently against natural justice, and the principles of Article 6 ECHR?

  7. Justin, what is the rationale for waiting until the trial is complete to decide? He's already been in detention for almost 3 years… and based on the recording/transcript of the statement he made in court last month, which was leaked by the Freedom of Press Foundation, there is enough information to ascertain that he leaked classified information for political purposes, that he did this so that the public would have the truth, and he was following his conscience in exposing war crimes. These facts are not in dispute, so why wait to see how the government will punish him to legitimize his status? It's ridiculous and reflects poorly on the credibility of your organization…

  8. Massacre some journalists, some fathers, some children. Expose the breadth and depth of killings in Iraq, breaking of diplomatic convention and international law, expose political intrigue, reveal bribery and mass corruption, reveal torture locations around the world and the shadowy practice of secret rendition. Report crimes of state and key lawbreakers … throw the whistleblower in gaol, put him a dog cage, naked, and deprive him of sleep, deny him a speedy trial but hide his trial from the world. Harass his mother and friends from Massachusetts to Scotland. Bradley Manning is more of a political prisoner than Ai Weiwei, objectively.

  9. Bradley Manning is not only a Prisoner of Conscience, he is one of the first true heroes of the 21st Century, and his dedication to truth, justice and morality despite consequence should be a lesson to us all in this time in which more and more is run in the shadows – in dossiers marked 'Top Secret'. That Amnesty International has managed to largely alleviate the barbaric impositions he has suffered so far speaks a massive credit to their integrity and devotion to their own cause. I only hope they allow Amnesty International to monitor the case properly as there is little doubt that given a moment unseen they will do whatever it takes to prevent Manning's release. I also hope that more support is brought toward his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. We need a light to shine in the dark right now, and Manning's succeeding against the tyranny of the Allied Forces would give us all a little hope for an honest future.

  10. Amnesty International has betrayed the human rights community by turning its back on Bradley Manning. It is pathetic to watch them fall over themselves trying to defend their despicable lack of inaction on this issue. By arming the rebel forces affiliated with Al Qaeda in Syria it is clear that the Obama administration is concretely aiding the enemy instead of uncovering war crimes in an unjust war where the enemies were created by propaganda and myths of a criminal and rogue nation. Amnesty is losing all credibility as a protector of human rights with their sad and shameful collusion in the unjust imprisonment of Bradley Manning, and has become nothing but another co-opted sham.

  11. So the only post in this "Bradley Manning Trials" blog is one from April? Where are you guys, Amnesty? This is a major, major trial with international implications, and it's clear to many of us that Manning's rights to a fair trial (not to mention a speedy trial after THREE YEARS of pre-trial confinement) have been systematically violated.

    Your total silence on this case is extremely disappointing, and I'm afraid I can only conclude that you guys are "on the take," perhaps having been told to "stand down" on this one. It's too bad because we could really use your highly respected expertise on trial monitoring. I'd really like to know, for example, whether you think that this case so far represents a conflict of interest, whether the courts in this case are exercising any real independence or whether they are just taking orders from the military chain of command.

    In my opinion, the verdict in this case is a foregone conclusion, and the next few months of this "trial" will be nothing but political theater intended to whip of fear and hatred. I imagine that the sentence has already been determined, the only question is whether he'll get life in prison, or whether the court will attempt to portray itself as "merciful" and only give him 50 years or so.

    Anyway, your silence is appalling, and despite supporting AI over the years, I must say, my respect for this organization has dropped considerably. It's interesting to compare your vociferous support of Pussy Riot to the utter silence over Bradley Manning. Double standards? Or just afraid of the big bad US government?

  12. As the originator of this thread on Bradley Manning I must say I agree with the collective assessment that amnesty is guilty of a grave double standard in the Manning case. It is hard to escape the conclusion that this is not another example of moral cowardice by the organization when it comes to human rights abuses by the US government and issues the organization's mainstream liberal donors may be uncomfortable with. The Compliance Campaign's point about Pussy Riot is well taken. That a warmonger and Obama administration apologist like Suzanne Nossel could have been appointed head of AIUSA speaks volumes about the improper relationship between the organization and Washington. That she was fired after only a year was a result of external pressure and a membership revolt, not a change of heart by senior Amnesty staff – the same staff that will presumably make the decision about Bradley Manning's status – and perhaps that of Edward Snowden in the near future. I resigned my rank and file membership in Amnesty some years ago in outrage over Amnesty's close association with Madeleine Albright and its beating of the war drums in Darfur. Unfortunately I see no ethical basis to return.