Gov’t denies Bradley ability to use lack of harm as defense; Next hearing to focus on illegal treatment
Next hearing to focus on military’s “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower
Bradley Manning Support Network. July 19, 2012.
FORT MEADE, Maryland – Establishing yet another obstacle for P.F.C. Bradley Manning’s legal defense, military judge Denise Lind ruled Thursday that defense lawyer David Coombs will be substantially hindered from showing how WikiLeaks’ releases didn’t bring damage to U.S. national security. In largely granting a government motion to preclude discussion of actual damage, Lind said that harm or lack thereof is irrelevant to Manning’s guilt or innocence.
“Bradley should be able to argue that he had a reasonable belief that no harm would come from his alleged actions by showing that no harm actually occurred,” explained Jeff Paterson of the Bradley Manning Support Network. “This is another attempt to silence Bradley’s lawyers from depicting the Nobel Peace Prize nominee as a whistle-blower.”
The prosecution continues to argue that the releases “could” cause harm at some point in the future. Coombs says that after two years without damage, that theory “rings hollow.” Coombs previously requested damage assessments from 63 government agencies, and the 28 who replied thus far have described little or no damage.
Manning’s next hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, August 27-31, will highlight the illegal and torturous treatment the military subjected Manning to at the Quantico Marine Base, Virginia. Coombs is expected to argue for dismissal of all charges based on the military’s flagrant violation of Article 13 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that prohibits all pre-trial punishment “any more rigorous” than required to ensure the accused appears at court hearings.
Judge Lind today ruled that she would not allow United Nations torture rapporteur Juan Mendez to testify about Manning’s unlawful confinement conditions, declaring his testimony irrelevant, even though the torture chief called Manning’s treatment “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” after a 14-month investigation. Officials at Quantico refused to allow Mendez unmonitored access to Manning. “Military Judge Lind’s ruling in effect rewards the military for stonewalling the U.N.,” declared Paterson.
A Quantico staff member is expected to testify to the illegal treatment that Manning endured at the upcoming hearing in late August. In his brief filed with the court, Coombs states that the truth will “shock the conscience of the court.” Supporters will underscore the cruelty of Manning’s conditions by holding a rally at the Fort Meade Main Gate on August 27. Attorney David Coombs is expected to appear at an August 26 public event in Washington, DC, (details to be announced soon) organized by the Bradley Manning Support Network.