Bradley Manning Lynching

By: William Boardman

Bradley Manning Court MArtial

In this courtroom sketch, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning watches at left as his defense attorney, David Coombs, right, speaks in front of military judge Army Col. Denise Lind on the opening day of Manning’s court martial in Fort Meade, Md., Monday, June 3, 2013. Manning, who was arrested three years ago, is charged with indirectly aiding the enemy by sending troves of classified material to WikiLeaks. He faces up to life in prison. (AP Photo/William Hennessy)

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.

Turning to Reader Supported News’s motion, without identifying it beyond “the request for public access or in the alternative motion to intervene to vindicate right to public access,” Judge Col. Lind made findings:

“One. The proceedings have been open to the public since the start of the trial….” 

This may be technically correct and short of a false statement, but it suggests a non-existent state of affairs sharply at odds with the widely-observed restraints put on public access by the judge, the government, or its contractors.  “The court martial of Manning,” observed the Huffington Post, “has been surrounded by secrecy and security.”

An example of what amounts to military doublespeak is that the court says it’s not “structured” to provide a daily transcript, as if that wasn’t something other courts do and the Army could do if it wanted to.  Worse, even though the Freedom of the Press Foundation is paying for its own stenographers, the judge continues to tolerate interference with the stenographers’ ability to do their job.

“Two. Neither the court nor anyone acting pursuant to order of the court has specifically excluded any person from observing the proceedings either in court or in a designated overflow area.” 

One might argue that this is another technically correct statement in the furtherance of falsehood, but it’s more deceitful that that.  Dozens if not hundreds of members of the public have been excluded, by apparent design, either implemented or tolerated by the court.

But they have not been “specifically” excluded and that “specifically” has a serious lawyerly purpose in the worst sense of the word.  Rule 806(b)(1) says, in part: “When excluding specific persons, the military judge must make findings on the record establishing the reason for the exclusion, the basis for the military judge’s belief that exclusion is necessary, and that the exclusion is as narrowly tailored as possible.”

Here, where the court is allowing large-scale, random exclusions there’s no need for findings on the record of the basis for the exclusion, or concern that the exclusion is narrowly tailored.  The exclusion is not narrowly tailored and thus gives the appearance of bad faith.

“Three. Reasonable policies and procedures for media registration and credentialing have been established and published by the Military District of Washington as set forth in appellate exhibit 561.” 

That there are “reasonable policies and procedures” is not self-evident and continues to be widely challenged.

More importantly, Rule 806 does not provide for the judge to outsource her responsibility for the courtroom to a third party who is neither answerable nor accountable in reasonably timely manner within the time-pressure of a court-martial.

“Four. 806C prohibits photography and broadcasting to include audio and video recording.” 

This is absolutely true, but only if you stop after the first sentence of Rule 806(c).

The second sentence begins, “However, the military judge may, as a matter of discretion permit contemporaneous closed-circuit video or audio transmission….

By making this finding, Judge Col. Lind effectively admits that she has chosen to use her discretion to severely limit public access to the court-martial under conditions explicitly anticipated in the rule – “when courtroom facilities are inadequate to accommodate a reasonable number of spectators.”

In what way are the judge’s deliberate truncating of public access not clear violations of at least the First and Fourth Amendment rights of the public and the press?

“Five. The two parties to this trial are the United States and PFC Manning. Unless authorized by the rules for court-martial, or in special circumstances recognized by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, only parties to the trial have standing to file motions to be considered by this court. ABC Inc. versus Powell, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, 1997.“

The opinion cited is not on point, as it deals with an investigative hearing, not a court-martial, and the issue leading to closing the hearing to the public was the protection of women whose sexual histories were likely to be explored during their testimony.

The question of parties to the trial is not at issue in the opinion cited.  The petitioners in the case were media companies (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, and the Washington Post).   They filed a Writ of Mandamus requesting the court to open the hearing in question to the press and public.

The court, in both its preliminary order and final order, ordered the hearings open to the press and public.  The court noted in passing that “we have consistently held that the Sixth Amendment right [to a public trial] does apply to a court-martial.”

So what is Judge Col. Lind talking about?  Certainly not the fact that one of the parties in the case is also her employer.

“Ruling. The court declines to consider [the request for public access] as it is from three individuals who are not parties to the trial and who under the circumstances lack standing to file a motion with the court.” 

Done and done.  The ruling ignores the clearly, repeatedly stated intent of both Rule 806 and the opinion cited to give primacy to the openness of the proceedings.

It might be tempting to think that petitioners who are not parties to a case might be perpetrating a fraud upon the court, but that would be a stretch.  Here, it’s much less of a stretch to consider that perhaps the court is perpetrating a fraud on the public.

“Quia volo” is a seldom-used term in legal circles for judicial decisions of this nature.  It means, “Because I want to.”

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Pfc. Manning Court Martial Underway, Under-Covered, Not Well Understood

By: William Boardman via Reader Supported News

Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland. (photo: Patrick Semansky/AP)

Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland. (photo: Patrick Semansky/AP)

As Most Readers Well Know, the U.S. Has Set About to Lynch Bradley Manning

The Bradley Manning court martial that began June 3 looks like another defining moment for America  – another indication of whether we are becoming the nation of supine toadies our government wants, or whether we still have enough devotion to the common good to behave in ways as decent and risky as Bradley Manning.

The U.S. government is going to extraordinary lengths to persuade us that Private Bradley Manning, 25, is a dangerous enemy of the state.

Even though Manning pled guilty to 10 of 22 charges last March, the U.S. Government is going ahead with all its charges, without providing a credible rationale.  One charge, under the 1913 Espionage Act, could carry the death penalty.

There is reasonable likelihood that the military judge presiding over Manning’s military trial will agree with her government employer, find Manning guilty as charged, and sentence him to life in prison, or possibly death (even though the prosecution isn’t seeking the death penalty, the judge might have the power to impose it).

At that point, if that’s where it goes, there will no longer be any legal doubt that Manning is an enemy of the state.

And there will no longer be any moral doubt that the state, the U.S. government, is an enemy of the people.

Manning Exposed War Crimes That the Army Wanted Covered Up

This is not yet a widely shared perception, apparently, although there are many strong voices articulating it in a variety of forms, mostly in alternative media.

But what about the American people?  What does public opinion polling show to be the public’s opinion of Bradley Manning?   An Associated Press piece filed from London June 4 begins, “It’s rare for an American to generate more sympathy abroad than at home, but Bradley Manning and his trial [sic] are unique in a host of ways.”

The AP report offers no basis for the conclusion about relative sympathy here and abroad, but a quick Google search for public opinion polling about Bradley Manning turned up nothing.  Further search of the websites of the Pew Research Center, Gallup, Zogby, Nate Silver’s 538, CNN, Ipsos/Reuters, Quinnipiac, and six other polling organizations also turned up nothing.

Apparently there has been NO significant polling of the public on one of the more significant public issues of the day.   Is that because the public doesn’t care (how would we know?)?

The Questions That Are NOT Asked Also Affect Public Opinion

Or do polling companies have some agenda on the issue?  Framing a neutral polling question poses a serious challenge.  And in any event, why ask questions about a subject the government would just as soon as few people thought about as possible?

If people did think about Bradley Manning and what he’s done, there’s always the possibility that, like readers of the Guardian in the U.K. in 2011, they might vote for him to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for exposing American war crimes and slowing American wars, at least in the Middle East.   Manning got 39.4% of that vote, followed by Julian Assange of Wikileaks with 18.9%, and Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (Burma) with 11.3%, the peace activist who won the prize in 1991.

Roots Action has a current online petition to award the peace prize to Manning.  With a goal of 75,000 signatures, the petition had 59,595 signers by June 5.

Presumably the U.S. government prosecuting Manning wants to do what it can from becoming a popular hero or noble martyr – someone others might emulate.   His treatment since May 2010 is consistent with a determined effort to diminish or break him, holding him in isolation in conditions that were “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” according to a United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture.

What Did the People Know, and When Did They Know It? 

Maybe a polling question could be:  Do you believe it’s constitutional for the U.S. Army to torture one of its own soldiers because he revealed the truth about U.S. war crimes to the American people?

Like the void in polling, mainstream media coverage has been thin and frequently counter-factual to the point of resembling government propaganda.  For example, anchor Brian Williams framed the story this way on the NBC Nightly News on June 3:

“The court martial of the man who may have put U.S. military secrets in the hands of Osama bin Laden started today, the so-called WikiLeaks trial.”

This is, indeed, the prosecution’s point of view, but there is as yet no persuasive showing that that there were any militarily useful secrets, or that they got into the hands of Osama bin Laden.  For major networks to call it the “Wikileaks trial,” is misleading, since Wikileaks is not on trial – but it is, very likely, targeted by the U.S. government.

ABC News gave a similarly slanted, 15 second report on the trial, headlined: “Bradley Manning Wikileaks Trial Begins.”  The Drudge report just calls the whole thing “Wikitrial.”

Detailed comment on mainstream media coverage, its failings and biases, is available from FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, fair.org) on the FAIR blog.

This Military Trial Threatens Basic American Freedom

Writing in the New York Times on March 13, celebrated First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams said in an op-ed column, in reference to the Manning case:

“And what could be more destructive to an informed citizenry than the threat of the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole for whistle-blowers?”

Abrams, who represented the Times in successfully defending the paper’s constitutional right to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971, was arguing that Manning’s guilty plea to a set of charges that could put him in prison for 20 years should be sufficient for the government’s needs:

“Private Manning’s guilty plea gives the prosecution an opportunity to rethink its strategy. The extreme charges remaining in this case create a severe threat to future whistle-blowers, even when their revelations are crystal-clear instances of whistle-blowing. We cannot allow our concerns about terrorism to turn us into a country where communicating with the press can be prosecuted as a capital offense.”

This was Abrams’ final paragraph, one that the government obviously ignored.  It is a measure of Abrams’ timidity – and the pallid coverage the Times has given the Manning case – that he introduces “our concerns about terrorism” to blur the issue.

If there was terrorism in the well-known helicopter killing video, it was the effort by Americans to gun down children sitting in the front seat of a civilian van that was serving as a make-shift ambulance responding to the earlier carnage Americans had wrought on non-threatening civilians, killing twelve, including three journalists.

The video of this event on July 12, 2007, is called “Collateral Murder” by Wikileaks and can be found online on YouTube, on The World Can’t Wait, and other websites.

If this were actually a free country, then we would be able, at a minimum, to watch the court martial of Bradley Manning, live, on C-SPAN.

Fifty Years Later, Kennedy Shooting Less Certain than Lincoln Conspiracy

Written By: William Boardman

JFK

Is Dead Kennedys Just a Hard Core Punk Band to Younger Americans?

50th anniversary commemorations of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy will include a tickets-only memorial at the scene of the crime, Dealey Plaza, in Dallas, Texas.  No doubt there will also be celebrations in some places, just as there were in the aftermath of the November 22, 1963, killing.

Whatever events are held, whether formal or impromptu, they will all have one thing in common: no one knows the full story of what happened.    The official version put out by the Warren Commission, is long since discredited, but independent investigations have yet to present a coherent alternative narrative.

That there is such a narrative is certain, since that would be the event as it happened.  One reason we don’t know what happened is that our government has kept assassination-related material secret – protecting national security secrets say secrecy defenders.  Others say stonewalling.

Polling in April 2013 suggests a waning interest in the Kennedy assassination, since only 59% of Americans now believe the official version is false.  That number is considerably lower than a 2003 Gallup poll in which 75% of Americans said the Kennedy killing was a conspiracy.

In 1978, the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations’ lengthy inquiry concluded that JFK “was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.”   The official version holds that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and fired only three shots.  The House Committee produced evidence that at least four shots were fired.   While coming to the inevitable, evidence-based conclusion that a conspiracy killed Kennedy, the committee did not reach a conclusion as to who was part of the conspiracy.

We Know It Was a Conspiracy, But Not Who Were The Conspirators 

Myriad books have been published arguing various versions of events, but for the most part the big money from publishers has gone to writers (Gerald Posner, Vincent Bugliosi).  But other, conspiracy-centered writers (Mark Lane, Jim Marrs, Anthony Summers) have far out-sold the official version

That’s perhaps to be expected when the majority of Americans have believed for almost 50 years that their government is lying to them about the Kennedy assassination, just as the government has lied about so many other important things, such as the Viet-Nam war, and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and assassination by drone.

A couple of Hollywood movies are in the works, both based on books: “Legacy of Secrecy” with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro (the Mafia did it) and  “Parkland” with Colin Hanks and Paul Giamatti (Oswald did it alone).   Academy Award winner Erroll Morris is working on a documentary of the assassination (he hasn’t said who did it).

From the start, other suspects have included the CIA (because Kennedy wanted to get out of Viet-Nam), Castro (because the CIA was trying to assassinate him), and the KGB (because they’re Russian or something).

Another popular suspect has long been Lyndon Johnson, who was Kennedy’s Vice President at the time, when there were rumors that Kennedy was going to replace him on the 1964 presidential ticket.   Johnson is the most obvious first choice, at least based on the traditional analysis of means, motive, and opportunity.

Texas attorney Barr McClellan put the case against LBJ pretty strongly in his 2003 book, “Blood, Money & Power.”   McClellan was one of LBJ’s personal lawyers, but his book did not get wide notice in the mainstream media at the time – when his son, Scott McClellan was serving as White House Press Secretary for President Bush.

“Blood, Money & Power” Did Not Appear on 2003 Bestseller Lists 

The New York Times referred to McClellan’s book dismissively in early 2004:  “It is the most serious of public accusations, but it is so serious that serious people dismiss it as nuts. “

The only reason the Times brought it up then was that Barr McClellan had repeated his accusation on a History Channel program about the Kennedy assassination, “The Guilty Men.”  The Times was reporting on serious, and eventually effective pushback against the program by “Bill Moyers and other powerful men who worked for President Johnson,” as the Times put it.

Early in May 2013, the same charge against LBJ was lodged by Roger Stone, in early publicity for his book, “The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ,” due out in the fall.   The publisher, Skyhorse Publishing in Manhattan, begins its description of the book this way:

“Lyndon Baines Johnson was a man of great ambition and enormous greed, both of which, in 1963, would threaten to destroy him. In the end, President Johnson would use power from his personal connections in Texas and from the underworld and from the government to escape an untimely end in politics and to seize even greater power. President Johnson, the thirty-sixth president of the United States, was the driving force behind a conspiracy to murder President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.” 

Skyhorse started publishing in 2006.  In 2011, the company issued a paperback edition of Barr McClellan’s “Blood, Money & Power.  Skyhorse has some 2,000 titles in print, including “Guns Across the Border” (about Operation Fast and Furious), “Hit List” by Richard Belzer (about mysterious deaths of JFK assassination witnesses), “Shooter’s Bible,” and “Big Breasts & Wide Hips” (a novel).

Roger Stone Hinted at Running for Governor of Florida as a Libertarian

As described on Huffington Post, “Roger Stone is a legendary American Republican political consultant who has played a key role in the election of Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. Long a an outspoken libertarian Republican Stone stunned the political world when he announced he would leave the GOP over it’s lurch to the far-right on social issues and join the Libertarian Party. The Libertarians will be on the ballot in all 50 states.”

Roger Stone (along with Karl Rove) worked for the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP), Richard Nixon’s 1972 campaign committee.  Reportedly, Stone has a tattoo of Nixon on his back.

According to Stone, when Nixon was in the House, Johnson told him to hire Jack Ruby, which Nixon did.  In 1963, Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald in the Dallas police department.

Richard Nixon was in Dallas on business for his client Pepsi Cola at the time of the assassination, leaving Dallas on the morning of November 22.

There was a fingerprint on the rifle found in the “sniper’s nest” in the Texas School Depository on November 22, 1963, that did not belong to Lee Harvey Oswald.  That fingerprint belong to an associate of the vice president, a convicted murderer named  Malcolm (Mac) Wallace, according to Barr McClellan and others.

According to LBJ biographer Robert Caro: “In attaining this influence, [LBJ]  displayed a genius for discerning a path to power, an utter ruthlessness in destroying obstacles in that path, and a seemingly bottomless capacity for deceit, deception and betrayal in moving along it.”

JFK Assassination 50th Anniversary” is the name of a Facebook page dedicated to encouraging a grassroots letter writing campaign to get the U.S. to release all its information relating to the 1963 assassination.  Started in August 2012, this page had 286 “likes” as of late May 2013.