Continued Prosecution of Manning Will Embarrass U.S. Foreign Policy Establishment
After months of pressure, the Obama administration is finally transferring PFC Bradley Manning to a military prison appropriately designed for pre-trial detention in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. While the transfer of Manning away from the abusive Quantico Marine Corps Brig may be a positive step, the U.S. government remains trapped in a Manning Quagmire. If they proceed their embarrassment will continue to grow as the truth about U.S. foreign policy is reviewed under a microscope.
The nine month-long abusive mistreatment of Manning in the brig at the Quantico Marine Corp. Base has put international attention on his case. The prosecution of Manning will result in the videos and documents he is accused of releasing being more closely examined. The war crimes and other misdeeds of military and foreign policy personnel will be highlighted to the world. People are already wondering why this young private has been so mistreated. What did he do to aggravate the Obama administration, U.S. military and foreign policy establishment?
At every stage of the prosecution: pretrial hearing, motion hearings and trial, there will be more focus on what he is accused of doing and that will inevitably lead to the documents and videos he allegedly leaked being more closely examined. This attention will not be kind to the U.S. military and State Department as the documents show consistent illegal and unethical behavior by the U.S. government; support for dictators, oligarchs and royalists who work against their people's interests; as well as U.S. foreign policy and war being a vehicle for big business interests.
In addition to the content of the materials he is accused of leaking, the trial of Bradley Manning will be closely watched. People are already wondering whether a fair trial in the U.S. military is possible. If the Obama administration allowed nine months of abusive solitary confinement before trial how can they be expected to give Manning a fair trial? The media and people concerned about this case will be watching closely to see if he gets a fair, fully open, public trial.
Rule for Courts-Martial 806(b) states that military courts are presumptively open to the public. In a series of cases military courts have found the media has a right to attend preliminary hearings and trials in military courts. This is consistent with a long-line of U.S. Supreme Court decisions beginning with Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555 (1980) where the court recognized that public access to criminal proceedings is a critical component of a fair justice system that inspires public confidence and integrity. In 1987 the Court of Military Appeals wrote: [W]e believe that public confidence in matters of military justice would quickly erode if courts-martial were arbitrarily closed to the public."
There is keen public interest in the case of Bradley Manning as he is accused of leaking documents that provide evidence that U.S. foreign policy is not what Americans have been told. The military has no basis for keeping the public from seeing all of Manning's trial, but there was no basis for pre-trial mistreatment either. No doubt groups spearheaded by the Bradley Manning Support Network will be working to make sure the media and public has complete access to all hearings and documents related to Manning's prosecution.
But, the focus will not be primarily on process but on content -- what is Bradley Manning accused of leaking? And, that is a question the U.S. military and foreign policy establishment does not want Americans or people around the world to look at. It is not a pretty picture. Here are a few examples among many: