U.S. Army Cons Public With Three-Card Monte Sting in Form of Court-Martial
By William Boardman (61313)
Military Judge Col. Denise Lind. by [firedoglake]
To Have a Constitutional Public Trial, Don't You Have to Let the Public in?
Public access to the Bradley Manning court-martial doesn't exist in any meaningful sense, despite the demands of the U.S. Constitution or the Manual for Courts Martial United States (MCM) published by the U.S. Dept. of Defense, which is the prosecutor.
Court-martial judge Col. Denise Lind hasn't exactly banned the public -- or reporters, who are part of the public -- from the courtroom or its extensions, but she has presided over a system that, so far, seems designed to protect the public's right to know as little as possible.
It's a scripted con game, a kind of judicial three-card monte in which the public is expected to keep believing it has a chance to know. The following excerpts from the script, the unofficial court transcript, illuminate how the military plays the shell game of doing injustice while trying not to let injustice be seen to be done.
The comments here are all by Judge Col. Lind from the June 10 morning session:
"Just for the record, while the court is not interested in getting into the area of who is credentialed and who isn't credentialed as it's beyond the scope of this trial, the court does note and so advised the parties in the RCM 802 that rules of court-martial are not structured to provide a contemporaneous transcript of proceedings."
Nice distraction, putting attention on "who is credentialed" when the substantive issue us who gets access. The Judge's MCM has no index listing for "press" or "media." There is a listing for "public," which by definition includes all reporters, as well as all military personnel. That's in Role 806(a), which also sets the primary expectation that "courts-martial shall be open to the public."
That "shall" in the rule means that it's a judge's primary obligation to open the court-martial to the public, not an option, although the rule provides limited exceptions under exigent circumstances. The rule's discussion section states: "However, such exigencies should not be manipulated to prevent attendance at a court-martial."
RCM 802 is a jargon reference to pre-trial hearings that have already been held.
The provision of a "contemporaneous transcript" is another distraction that leads attention away from the need for a meaningfully public trial.
That "the court is not interested" in all this bespeaks a disdain for the public that one would expect to be better concealed.
And that the court has, in effect outsourced its responsibility to control the courtroom and access to it, as described in Rule 806(b)(1), suggests possible dereliction of duty.