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RSN Files Media Access Motion in Manning Trial

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This article originally appeared in Reader Supported News


Bradley Manning Graphic (illustration: Marc Ash/RSN)

By Scott Galindez and Marc Ash, Reader Supported News

Reader Supported News through counsel William Simpich has filed a MOTION TO INTERVENE with the United States Army First Judicial District in the matter of the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Manning is facing 21 criminal charges that include "aiding the enemy" and could face a life sentence if convicted of the most serious charges.

According to the Army, 350 reporters applied for credentials to the trial of Bradley Manning. Fewer than 100 received credentials, meaning over 250 were denied. Reader Supported News was one of the publications denied. The Army in its notification of denial said, "The U.S. Army Military District of Washington made every effort to ensure a variety of media were credentialed to provide the public (local, national, international) a continuous news feed of the legal proceedings." However the criteria for approval remains vague at best.

The Military District of Washington's media relations department has set up a two-tier system for coverage of the court-martial. They encourage reporters who were denied credentials to attend the hearings as members of the public. The public viewing area will allow those who were denied the ability to watch the proceedings, but they will not be allowed the tools of their trade. The reporters who received credentials will have access to their computers.

The reason given for the denial was that there was only room for 70 in the media center. We are requesting that they provide additional space for the media.

The lack of transparency is also an issue: with no access to transcripts, the media should be granted full access. Money was raised to provide a court reporter for the media to access. The stenographer who was hired was also denied access. Without access to transcripts the media reporting will not be as complete or accurate as it could be.

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We are also arguing that if the members of the public and the media are allowed to view the proceedings on closed circuit TV, then why not let the public as a whole view the event? We are asking the judge to give the media access to the video feed for broadcast and/or streaming.

Our reporters and others were denied press credentials, and are now forced to struggle for a spot in the overflow room without knowing the basis for their exclusion. If the court does not increase the size of the media center, we deserve to know why our application was denied.

THE MOTION:

IN THE UNITED STATES ARMY
FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES )
) REQUEST FOR PUBLIC ACCESS;
v. ) OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE,
) MOTION TO INTERVENE TO
MANNING, BRADLEY E., PFC ) VINDICATE THE RIGHT TO
U.S. Army, xxx-xx-9504 ) PUBLIC ACCESS
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. )
Army Garrison, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall ) DATED: May 31, 2013
Fort Myer, VA 22111 )

RELIEF SOUGHT

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1. Pursuant to Rules of Court-Martial 806(a), 806(b) and 806(c), Petitioners William Simpich, Scott Galindez, and Kay Rudin of Reader Supported News make a request for public access; or, in the alternative, move to intervene to vindicate the right to public access and seek an order permitting full public and media access to the proceedings of the Manning court-martial.

BURDEN OF PERSUASION AND BURDEN OF PROOF

2. The burden of persuasion is placed on the moving party. R.C.M. 905(c)(2). The party  that is seeking to prevent the media right of access has the burden of proof to show, in specific, on the record, findings that (1) closure is essential to preserve higher values or compelling interests; (2) individualized, case-by-case findings that justify each closure; (3) closure is narrowly tailored to serve the compelling interest. Press Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court, 464 US 501, 513 (1984); Press Enterprise v. Superior Court, 478 US 1, 9-14 (1984).

ARGUMENT

3. PFC Bradley E. Manning was arrested in May 2010 and eventually was charged in this court-martial with various offenses arising from his alleged leaking of government documents to Wikileaks. His trial is scheduled to begin on June 3, 2013, at the Ft. George G. Meade military installation in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

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