By Matt Gratz
Bradley Manning by Political Fail Blog
After President Obama told members of the "Fresh Juice Party" that Bradley Manning "broke the law" earlier this year at one of his high priced fundraiser events in San Francisco, the imprisoned soldier is now demanding that the President as well as the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testify as witnesses at his preliminary hearing set to begin next week.
Manning's defense lawyer, David E. Coombs listed the Commander-in-chief and Secretary of State, among many other officials, as witnesses on Friday in a 20-page witness list posted online for the public to view. The names have since been censored. The preliminary hearing termed Article 32 is scheduled to begin on Dec. 16th at Fort Meade, MD and is to determine whether or not Manning's case should be considered for a full-scale court martial.
The defense request states that the comments the President made to protesters at his SF political fundraiser earlier this year, that Manning broke the law, amounts to "unlawful command influence" because the President acts as the commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces. Apparently the President forgot that in America, suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.
"Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), a superior officer in the chain of command is prohibited from saying or doing anything that could influence any decision by a subordinate in how to handle a military justice matter," the defense request says. Obama "made improper comments on 21 April 2011 when he decided to comment on PFC Manning and his case. On that date, he responded to questions regarding PFC Manning's alleged actions by concluding that 'We're a nation of laws. We don't let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He [PFC Manning] broke the law.'"
The comments made by President Obama came shortly after the "Fresh Juice Party" interrupted his speech to deliver a well written and preformed protest song on behalf of Bradley Manning. Activists held up signs and sang along while the President pretended to appreciate their rights as Americans and as human beings.
Manning's lawyer seeks to question President Obama on the "nature of his discussions with members of the military regarding this case and whether he has made any other statements that would either influence the prosecution of this case or PFC Manning's right to obtain a fair trial." Coombs also wants to speak to Obama about the impact the leaked cables have had, his so-called "open government," and over-classification and secrets within the US government.
The request does not imply that the Secretary of State is responsible for any wrongdoing, but simply asks for Clinton's cooperation in the hearing. Coombs will ask Clinton to tell the court what impact the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks has had on the relationships with global leaders and the negative impact, if any, the release has had on human life. Obviously we all know the release has not caused any death or violence, they have just revealed what has already happened.
Clinton "will testify that she has raised the issue of the disclosure of diplomatic cables with foreign leaders 'in order to assure our colleagues that it will not in any way interfere with American diplomacy or our commitment to continuing important work that is ongoing.' [She] will also testify that she has not had any concerns expressed to her about whether any nation would not continue to work with the United States or would not continue to discuss important matters going forward due to the alleged leaks," the defense filing says. "As such, Secretary [Clinton] wiil testify that although the leaks were embarrassing for the administration, that she concurs with [redacted] opinion that they did not represent significant consequences to foreign policy."
Bradley Manning has been in US custody for more than 18 months without trial. As he finally begins to go through the American military "justice" system he will need our support more than ever. Manning is facing charges ranging from disobeying an order to aiding the enemy with punishments ranging from more prison time all the way up to the death penalty. Obama promised hope and change, but sometimes when you want something done right you just have to do it yourself. If you are in the Fort Meade, MD area, please make your support for Bradley Manning known! Paint your car windows, put signs in your yards, hand out flyers, wear them on your shirts, just do something that will start conversations about the unfair treatment of Bradley Manning and the importance of his fast release.