In Bradley Manning hearing, judge denies pre-trial detention was torture
- Year: 2013
- Length: 3:21 minutes (3.06 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
A military judge ruled today that Private First Class Bradley Manning should get 112 days off of his potential sentence, because he was unnecessarily put on suicide prevention watch while detained at Quantico’s military prison. Manning’s defense had previously asked the tribunal to drop Manning’s charges entirely or greatly reduce his sentence, arguing the pretrial conditions violated the Constitution and international law. But the Judge, Colonel Denise Lind, said 8th Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment don’t apply to pretrial detention. And according to Firedoglake reporter Kevin Gosztola*, she said Manning was not held in solitary confinement for nine months, because he had some human contact. But many legal and human rights experts, including attorney Michael Ratner with the Center for Constitutional Rights, have called the military’s treatment of Manning torture. Ratner told FSRN that the evidence presented at the hearings he attended reminded him of his clients’ experience at Guantanamo.
"Bright lights, stress positions, no sleep, and stripping, you look at what happened to Bradley Manning, you have to say yourself: what they did at Guantanamo they’re doing to Bradley."
Manning, who faces charges that could result in a life sentence, was back in court on Tuesday for the latest round of pre-trial hearings. This week’s arguments will focus on whether Manning’s motives for passing information to Wikileaks should impact the tribunal’s final decision, and whether the court can consider the issue of government overclassification. Government prosecutors have asked the court not to accept any evidence of motive or overclassification. But Manning lawyer David Coombs argued Tuesday that both these factors are relevant, because Manning did not know the information he leaked could “aid the enemy,” and that information shouldn’t have been classified in the first place. In a speech in Washington, D.C. last month, Coombs said the charges Manning faces have a chilling effect on future whistleblowers.
"If you possibly can aid the enemy by giving information to the press, with no intent that that information land in the hands of the enemy, and by that mere action alone you can be found to have aided the enemy, that’s a scary proposition. Right there, that would silence a lot of critics of our government."
No copies of Tuesday’s ruling will be released to the public or the press. As with all other developments in Manning’s case, reporters in the courtroom had to scramble to transcribe and understand the ruling as it was read from the bench. Ratner says the lack of transparency in the trial makes it difficult to keep the public informed.
"So think about it: I’m a lawyer. I go into that court. The judge starts reading an order, about a plea agreement. And there’s all these statutes mentioned and she reads it quickly. I can’t get a copy of that order even though there’s nothing classified. The journalists are sitting there, it takes 10 of them to try to figure out what the judge just said. It’s impossible! Here you have a case that’s about breaking secrecy being conducted essentially in secret."
The current motion hearing will run through this Friday, and Manning is expected to stand trial in March.
*Correction: In the original 29-minute newscast, we incorrectly identified a sound clip as reporter Kevin Gozstola. The speaker was in fact attorney Michael Ratner.