Live-blog: updates from Ft. Meade where Bradley Manning to explain guilty plea and WikiLeaks releases

Check back here for updates throughout the day from the courtroom in Fort Meade, MD, where PFC Bradley Manning will discuss his submission of a guilty plea and discuss releasing documents to WikiLeaks.

Bradley Manning, sketched by Clark Stoeckley of the Bradley Manning Support Netowrk

Bradley Manning, sketched by Clark Stoeckley of the Bradley Manning Support Network

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. February 28, 2013.

5:25 PM: Court is in recess for the day. After going through all specifications at issue in Bradley Manning’s plea of guilty to lesser-included offenses and not guilty to the remaining charged offenses, and confirming that he understands them, Judge Lind accepted the plea as provident. The government said it will still prosecute the original 22 offenses. Bradley can withdraw the guilty plea at any time before trial.

Tomorrow, the parties will go on record at 10 AM ET for a short discussion in which parties will offer briefs relating to Article 104 (aiding the enemy) and its history, and any potential updates to the case calendar. Then they’ll move to another closed session to discuss how to handle classified information at trial, which the press and public won’t be allowed to see.

3:27 PM: Brief recess. We just learned that Bradley released the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs while on mid-tour leave at a Barnes and Noble in Maryland, USA.

Judge Lind is continuing to question Bradley to ensure that he understands and still agrees with each element of his plea. He said he knew he was violating the law when he chose to remove classified documents from his T-SCIF in Iraq but did so anyway.

12:55 PM: Bradley finished reading his entire statement, a nearly two-hour defense of whistleblowing, transparency, and the refusal to be complicit in that which you cannot abide. “I believed and still believe these are some of most important documents of our time,” he said of the war logs he passed to WikiLeaks. Bradley affirmed his belief that the documents he released needed to be in the public realm (specifically the American public), that he “only wanted docs I was absolutely sure wouldn’t cause harm to the United States,” and that he’d hoped the release would result in domestic debate and a reevaluation of the United States’ war on terror.

He “became depressed with the situation we were mired in” in Iraq. In counterterrorism operations, he said, the U.S. became ‘obsessed with capturing and killing people.’

Bradley discussed his horror at the ‘Collateral Murder’ video of US Apache soldiers gunning down Reuters journalists and those who came to rescue the injured. He said the U.S. gunner who wanted to shoot the wounded in Collateral Murder video “seemed similar to a child torturing ants w/ a magnifying glass.” He was also aghast at the way that David Finkel had characterized the killings in his book, The Good Soldiers. When he learned that Reuters had attempted to acquire the video and was stonewalled by the U.S., Bradley said he’d wanted to try to get the video to Reuters so they’d be able to view the incident and the U.S. rules of engagement so their journalists could better avoid this from happening again.

He also revealed that while he was on a mid-tour leave in the U.S., he’d wanted to give documents to the Washington Post, but that the reporter or editor he talked to didn’t seem interested, especially without more information. He then called the New York Times’ public editor and left a message leaving his phone number – no one called him back. He’d wanted to try to talk to Politico about sharing documents with them, but he was stranded in Maryland when a blizzard hit. He then turned to WikiLeaks.

He said he had many conversations in anonymous, secure chat rooms with someone who called him/herself ‘Nathaniel,’ whom Bradley believed to be someone who worked for WikiLeaks, namely Julian Assange or Daniel Domscheit-Berg. He said that he would occasionally propose certain documents to ‘Nathaniel,’ but that “no one from [WikiLeaks] pressured” him to give more information.

The “decisions to send were my own,” he said, “and I take full responsibility.”

After lunch, at 2:00 PM ET, we’ll return from recess and Judge Lind will begin questioning Bradley on issues arising from his statement and his plea.

10:55 AM: 15-minute recess after Judge Lind reviewed Bradley’s plea aloud. She ensured that he understood his plea, understood that he’s waiving his right to 6th Amendment and RCM 707 protections of a speedy trial. She also ensured that Bradley gets that this is a “naked plea,” meaning it’s not the result of an agreement with the government, so prosecutors don’t have to prove what he’s pleading guilty to. Also, they can use his plea of lesser-included offenses to prove up the greater offenses. After the break, Bradley will read his 35-page statement to orient the court as to facts about his plea. Then the providence inquiry will begin and Judge Lind will ask her questions. In addition to ensuring he understands the plea and his rights, the inquiry is supposed to “explore whether there are valid defenses” available.

Bradley’s pleading guilty to having unauthorized possession of one classified Army intelligence agency memo, more than 20 classified CIDNE Iraq documents, more than 20 CIDNE Afghanistan documents, more than 5 classified documents regarding Farah, and a video (Collateral Murder). He’s also pleading guilty to willfully communicating those to an unauthorized person and that doing so was service discrediting to the Armed Forces and was prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the Armed Forces. He’s not pleading guilty to the fact that those documents related to the national defense or that he had reason to believe that the disclosure of the documents could be used to harm the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation. A foreign nation need not be a nation-state. Back at the next recess, likely our lunch break.

Original post

Today PFC Bradley Manning is scheduled to engage in a providence inquiry with Judge Denise Lind, wherein she’ll question him at length about his offer to plead guilty to several lesser-included offenses, and to plead not guilty to the majority of the government’s charges. It’s important to note that Bradley’s plea is not part of an agreement with the government; he’s proffering the plea for the judge to accept or reject, and the government may still attempt to prove up the offenses it has charged.

Here’s Alexa O’Brien’s rundown of Bradley’s anticipated plea. He is expected to plead guilty to 10 of the 22 specifications against him: 9 of those are lesser-included offenses, meaning they are altered versions of what the government is charging, striking federal statutes to modify the culpability and mens rea elements and to lower maximum possible sentences from 10 years to 2 years in prison. He’s expected to plead not guilty to the remaining 12 offenses, including the most serious charge of ‘aiding the enemy.’

The objective of today’s inquiry is for the judge to determine if Bradley is pleading “voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently,” meaning he wasn’t coerced and that he understands the offenses and why they violate the UCMJ. However, on Tuesday of this week, we learned that Bradley had submitted a statement to the court giving background on his releasing documents to WikiLeaks. It’s yet to be determined if Judge Lind will allow Bradley to read that statement today in part or in full, but we learned that it included that Bradley hoped that the release of Iraq War Logs would ‘spark a domestic debate on the role of our military and foreign policy in general,’ so the discussion could delve into Bradley’s more personal and political beliefs, if the judge allows.

Due to the expected statements from Bradley under oath, today’s press pool is likely the most full yet — nearly two dozen reporters here. Proceedings are expected to start at 10:00 AM ET.

22 thoughts on “Live-blog: updates from Ft. Meade where Bradley Manning to explain guilty plea and WikiLeaks releases

  1. Consider as much money as the U.S. has spent on keep Bradley Manning detained a very long time without trial, finally prosecuting him, try to silence him as well as Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg and other pacifists, so many thousands of web pages and other documents written about these leaks. So much negative goodwill as the United States have received through this, they maybe not really understand. The world will never forget this kind of war crimes and attempts to prosecute whistle-blowers. USA had won a lot of goodwill if they instead had put their soldiers who murdered innocent people on trial.

  2. There’s use to be this idea of honor in america where we generally felt we held ourselves to a specific collection of beliefs for the common good for all men.All the while we struggle to comprehend the actions and, beliefs of countries we deemed less than civilized and un-humanitarian in nature.These third world countries not only did not trust us but, out right despised us to most american’s dismay.But, no wonder, the sterilized stories,denials, lies of what our government’s true intentions were to invade the middle east are still obscued to most and sadly some or most just do’nt care.The same that screamed to the rafters after 911, kill,kill,invade,retaliate

  3. There are those with eyes, yet do not see
    and those with ears, yet do not hear.
    Bradly Manning allowed us to see and hear the truth.
    Thank you.

  4. It is a shame for our Government to prosecute a whistle blower and allow real criminals to go free. He has served enough time. Set him FREE.. NOW!!

  5. This prosecution is the greatest injustice of all, for one of Earths bravest, most peaceful & conscientous souls. They say evil thrives when good people do nothing. I think about you everyday & will never stop praying for a day when the truth will win & the power-abusers, silencers & murderers are the ones on the stand. I find it so hard to cope in a world where morality has gotten so twisted I’m more scared of the law enforcers than the criminals.

  6. Bradley Manning wasn’t tortured as some people claim. If he were tortured he wouldn’t have been lucid enough to present his defense as well as he did or to prepare his 35 page statement.
    I support the moral intentions behind his actions. From what I know I don’t think he caused America any damage. He did commit crimes and he did pay for crimes.

  7. All it takes in ONE person to take a stand. Thank you Bradley Manning for being that 1 person. Unfortunately, others in our country are not as compassionate as you are and you are left to suffer the consequences of their fear. I agree with you, we should know what our own country is doing in our name for our “safety”. Unfortunately, once started on the path of fear and justifications of wrongs perpetrated, it’s very difficult to turn away from the fear. As a country, we have our priorities wrong; we shouldn’t be doing whatever is necessary to coverup wrongs perpetrated by our own government by punishing those that let the rest of us know what’s going on and letting murders off with a slap on the hand. We need to straighten out what our beliefs and values are. Thank you for taking this necessary stand and the responsibility associated with it. Only when the country is shown that our path is wrong can we change it.

  8. Bradley, please withdraw your guilty plea. This court will show you no mercy. The world has heard you. File a Courtesy Notice. The court only has jurisdiction if you grant it to them. BE FREE! OPPT-IN

  9. My, my… Nearly 2 dozen so-called “reporters” have finally seen fit to reluctantly cover these important proceedings.

    Perhaps they have realized that these rulings could make them enemies of the state if this conflicted and impossibly biased military tribunal and its helpful judge have their way.

    It seems that providing nation-saving information to the public may inadvertently be “helpful to the enemy”, therefore making the reporter guilty of “aiding the enemy”.

    We live in dangerous times- not because of the terrorists, but because of the creeping destruction of the Bill of Rights.

    Wake up if you care.

  10. I thank Bradley Manning from my heart for being the collective decency of the world, the truth who speaks to power, the courageous soldier who rebels against war crimes and genocides perpetrated for gteed and racism, he is our collective dignity, our collective wisdom and our ciollective honesty. And this, in today’s world, is no small feat!

  11. The story behind the story. A wonderful news organization Democracy Now! has not ran a single story on Manning or Assange since early February.

    What gives? Why has Amy Goodman removed the Manning heading from her Topics?

    Not even an explanation. This on a day when Manning pleads guilty.

    If she no longer supports Manning’s cause, shouldn’t she at least discuss why after carrying his story so thoroughly for years now?

    It gives the appearance that one of her donors or the US government coerced her in some way.

    Please call them to find out. I haven’t got an answer yet.

    Democracy Now! +1 (212) 431-9090
    Fax: +1 (212) 431-8858

  12. The story behind the story. A wonderful news organization Democracy Now! has not ran a single story on Manning or Assange since early February.

    What gives? Why has Amy Goodman removed the Manning heading from her Topics?

    Not even an explanation. This on a day when Manning pleads guilty.

    If she no longer supports Manning’s cause, shouldn’t she at least discuss why after carrying his story so thoroughly for years now?

    It gives the appearance that one of her donors or the US government coerced her in some way.

  13. Is Private Bradley’s statement available to read online yet?
    I’ve searched everywhere with no luck.

    Sending positive thoughts and well wishes, you sir will be remembered for your courage to stand up for what you believe in and that is really all that matters in the end.

  14. Manning is a hero, he has stood up to the might of the US government and military, in defense of the free world. Please see declaration of independence; he is simply conducting his patriotic duty to defend US citizens from a tyrannical government, and in doing so, the rest of the world. Give him a congressional medal of honor.

  15. Here’s part of the latest Guardian coverage:

    “Prosecutor Capt Joe Morrow said during a pre-trial hearing Wednesday that the government plans to introduce evidence that al-Qaida members, including Osama bin Laden, saw the war logs and State Department cables Manning allegedly sent to WikiLeaks.”

    So, Capt Joe Morrow, kindly prove this is so, especially the part about Osama “seeing” them since this was 2009 – the prosecution will not be able to prove this.

  16. If Braddley had come across this evidence of war crimes and had not exposed it at all, he would have been a criminal. He would be aiding the Enemy! The ‘enemy’ being whoever committs war crimes, from whatever country, even if they happen to be our own country fellows.
    Not so?
    This is a man that had integrity and courage beyond belief, clearly a very honest man.
    I am sure he broke secrecy agreements with the military, but it was for a greater cause. It is obvious he could not report this within the US military system, as it would not have come to this if it were not rampant.

    Had he reported matters within the Army, most likely, he would have been silenced.
    In fact he is being silenced even by the Government and the Justice System.
    But his move put his problem in the public domain so he is, to that degree protected, as we are watching and supporting him.
    We are all also seeing how his kind of justice is suppressed by our governments, which in turn exposes the magnitude of the situation he is exposing.
    This is incredibly great. This man shows a love for Justice, for truth and for fellow man, which far exceed his need for personal security. He measured the terms of the situation and found that this was the only way out.
    That was no small thing for a young man to face and deal wiuth and yet he has taken by far the most valiant and ethical route out of the situation.
    The facts that he found should not exist in reality. He found they existed; the only thing to do was to expose the facts to the world so we can resolve it.
    This i what a democratic citizen, a son of a democracy should act like.
    My hat off to him.

  17. The Nobel Peace Prize should be unceremoniously taken away from Obama and given to Bradley Manning!

  18. I wish more people would read about Manning and get involved . I am hopefully that th is will happen. I admire the courage of Manning and Wiki leaks

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