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U.S. | Anti-War | Police State and Prisons

Bradley Manning Wrongfully Sentenced
by Stephen Lendman
Wednesday Aug 21st, 2013 11:27 AM
police state
Bradley Manning Wrongfully Sentenced

by Stephen Lendman

On July 30, he was wrongfully convicted on 20 of 22 charges. They included multiple Espionage Act violations. It's a WW I relic.

It belongs in history's dustbin. It's unrelated to exposing serious government wrongdoing.

Manning revealed what everyone needs to know. He disclosed grave war crimes. Perpetrators are free to kill again. Doing the right thing got Manning convicted.

Judge Col. Denise Lind sentenced him to 35 years. It's by far the longest ever punishment for leaking government information.

Manning will be 26 years old in December. He'll be eligible for parole in around eight years. Chances appear slim to none. His conviction and sentencing sent a message. It warns other potential whistleblowers not to reveal what Washington wants suppressed.

Manning will serve hard time. Initially he's heading for Fort Leavenworth, KS incarceration. He faces potential Supermax harshness.

They're maximum security prisons. Authorities say they're for society's most incorrigible. They're for "the worst of the worst." Hyperbole substitutes for reality.

Inmates endure horrific conditions. Punishment substitutes for justice. They're isolated longterm. They monitored round-the-clock. It's done visually and by closed-circuit TV.

They're confined in windowless single cells. They're about 8 x 10 feet. They remain there 23 hours a day. Fluorescent lights stay on round-the-clock. Prisoners lack constructive activity. Visits are rare. Direct contact's denied.

Food's delivered twice daily through cell door slots. Central control booth guards control things. One prisoner at a time's permitted to shower.

Supermax confinement's the closest thing to hell on earth. It replicates some of the worst Guantanamo practices.

Torture is commonplace in many US prisons. Inmates are savaged by dogs, brutally shocked with cattle prods, burned by toxic chemicals, harmed by stun guns, beaten, stripped naked and abused in various other ways.

It's standard practice. Manning's vulnerable. He may never again see the light of day. If so, he'll never be the same.

Judge Lind reduced Manning in rank. He went from private first class to E1. It's the lowest military status. He'll forfeit all pay, allowances and benefits. He'll be dishonorably discharged.

Manning stood while Lind read her sentence. He did so expressionless. Lawyer David Coombs represents him. He's submitting a presidential pardon application. He'll appeal. He'll do so up to the Supreme Court.

Chances of success are slim to none. Obama wanted his head. He pronounced guilt by accusation. He did so before proceedings began. Compassion isn't his long suit.

After pronouncing sentence, Lind left. Military guards escorted Manning out of court. Supporters shouted encouragement, saying:

"We'll keep fighting for you Bradley." "You are a hero." "We love you."

Manning's a 2013 Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Over 100,000 people support him. He stands no chance of winning.

Nobel Committee members reserve their award for notorious war criminals. Peace advocates have no chance. It's a Nobel tradition.

Manning's sentence is automatically reviewed. Major General Jeffrey Buchanan heads Washington's Military District. He's responsible for doing it. He can reduce Manning's sentence. He can't increase it.

His case automatically goes to the Army Court of Appeals. The entire process takes time. A full transcript of proceedings must be produced. Defense counsel, prosecutors and Judge Lind must approve it.

On August 21, the Bradley Manning Support Network headlined "Press conference: Bradley Manning's lawyer to address 35 year sentence," saying:

David Coombs represents him. He'll discuss legal avenues for redress. He'll take reporters' questions. He'll do so for the first time.
A "crowd-funded college trust is being established." It's to help Manning attend college on release.

His supporters held an early morning vigil. They'll rally tonight outside the White House. They'll do it again and again and again.

"The Bradley Manning Support Network will continue to be responsible for 100% of Manning's legal fees, as well as international education efforts."

"Funded by over 22,000 individuals, the Support Network has mustered $1.4 million in Manning’s defense."

Manning was confined for 1,294 days. They included 112 day sentencing credit. Judge Lind ordered it.

She said Manning was subjected to lawless pretrial harshness. Credit reduces his sentence to around thirty-one and a half years.

Coombs will petition General Buchanan for clemency. An Army clemency parole board can review his case after a year.

Coombs can petition for clemency annually. Manning must serve a third of his sentence for parole eligibility.

Good behavior credit's possible. Whether it holds for Manning remains to be seen. Thirty-five years hard time for doing the right thing suggests not.

If granted, sentencing can be reduced as many as ten days for each month's confinement.

On August 19, prosecutors argued for harshness. They said:

"There is value in deterrence, Your Honor. This court must send a message to any soldier contemplating stealing classified information."

"National security crimes that undermine the entire system must be taken seriously. Punish Pfc. Manning's actions, Your Honor."

They urged 60 years. Chief prosecutor Capt. Joe Morrow said "(h)e's been convicted of serious crimes."

He "betrayed the United States and for that betrayal he deserves to spend the majority of his remaining life in confinement."

David Coombs called Manning "a young man capable of being redeemed. We should not throw this man out for 60 years. We should not rob him of his youth."

"The appropriate sentence would be (one) that takes into account all facts and circumstances that you're aware of. (T)hat it gives Pfc. Manning an opportunity to be restored to a productive place in society."

That would give him "the opportunity, perhaps, to live the life he wants in the way that he would like, perhaps find love, maybe get married, maybe have children, to watch his children grow and perhaps have a relationship with his children's children."

He's at the mercy of dark US forces. They want a message sent. They want Manning destroyed. They already administered cruel and unreasonable punishment.

Longterm hard time compounds it. Doing so sends a clear message. Whistleblowers aren't tolerated. Obama targeted more than all his predecessors combined.

Potential ones are warned. Revealing what Washington wants suppressed risks replicating harsh Manning treatment.

Doing the right thing's criminalized. War criminals go unpunished. US-style justice is none at all. Rogue states operate that way.

A Final Comment

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) calls itself "the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization."

In response to Manning's sentencing it headlined "Manning's 35-Year Sentence Intended to be a Message to All Whistleblowers." In part it said:

"It is the position of the Government Accountability Project (GAP) that this sentence, though not the 60+ year sentence that the prosecution had requested, is intended to be a message to all whistleblowers, present and future."

"Further, the sentence is excessive and unjust for the following reasons:

"It has never been proven that Manning's conduct did harm to the US."

"Manning informed the public of clear wrongdoing."

He "suffered egregious and unlawful pretrial detention.

"No individuals have been punished as a result of Manning's revelations despite clear atrocities."

"This was a show trial done largely in secret," said GAP National Security & Human Rights Counsel Kathleen McClellan.

"This case is of public interest, but the public has been kept in the dark through severely limited media access. America is better than secret courts."

"GAP champions government and corporate accountability and transparency by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists."

"Since its founding in 1977, GAP has fought to make large bureaucratic institutions accountable through the effective exercise of conscience."

America today represents heart of darkness harshness. It's a hair's breadth from full-blown tyranny. Manning's fate can be anyone's.

Dissent's an endangered species. Freedom's fast eroding. It's disappearing in plain sight.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Brandt
Wednesday Aug 21st, 2013 6:24 PM
We will all “do time” in the Dystopian Police State we are allowing by remaining silent. I am Bradley Manning and YOU are Bradley Manning whether you know it or not. http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2013/06/we-people-are-bradley-manning.html
I am listening to Manning's Attorney being interviewed on DN . He correctly denounces the silly and sinister charges of espionage etc.
BUT he can't bring himself to outright stand with Manning . He cries that the sentence was ''far too strong ''but implictly conceding that he (Manning ) deserve some prison time ! Of course Manning should have never done a day in the stockade /jail .
But liberals like him and even ex radical Tom Hayden (speaking on KPFA yesterday ) can't bring themselves to say outright ''Free Bradley Manning ''!
One of the reasons is that to do so would put them on a direct collusion course with the Obama Regime . Now if Bush's Atty General 's Ashcroft or Gonzalez would have been the ones trying to destroy Manning/Assange/Snowden thousands would have been in the street . But not when the Atty General is Holder .
by Try Hands Off Approach!
Thursday Aug 22nd, 2013 12:11 PM
Manning is a hero for revealing the reasons why there are so many enemies of the U.S., our military acts aggressively and bombs innocent civilians.

There is a direct correlation between CIA drone strikes on civilians and an increase in terrorist recruitment. This is a fact and Manning showed evidence of how our government creates terrorists by attacking and killing innocent civilians.

The public funds going to support the military is being used to further escalate tensions and needlessly sacrifice the lives of young soldiers in a never ending war that only benefits the military-industrial complex and weapons contractors (Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, etc...).


WHY does our beloved government not mention that this correlation between civilian casualties and terrorist blowback exist?

from Counterpunch;

"Centrist and liberal nonprofit think tanks have been no less selectively blind when it comes to civilian carnage. Liza Goitein, a lawyer at the liberal-minded Brennan Center at NYU Law School, has also taken out after Bradley Manning. In the midst of an otherwise deft diagnosis of Washington’s compulsive urge to over-classify everything — the federal government classifiesan amazing 77 million documents a year — she pauses just long enough to accuse Manning of “criminal recklessness” for putting civilians named in the Afghan War logs in peril — “a disclosure,” as she puts it, “that surely endangers their safety.”

It’s worth noting that, until the moment Goitein made this charge, not a single report or press release issued by the Brennan Center has ever so much as uttered a mention of civilian casualties caused by the U.S. military. The absence of civilian casualties is almost palpable in the work of the Brennan Center’s program in “Liberty and National Security.” For example, this program’s 2011 report “Rethinking Radicalization,” which explored effective, lawful ways to prevent American Muslims from turning terrorist, makes not a single reference to the tens of thousands of well-documented civilian casualties caused by American military force in the Muslim world, which according to many scholars is the prime mover of terrorist blowback. The report on how to combat the threat of Muslim terrorists, written by Pakistan-born Faiza Patel, does not, in fact, even contain the words “Iraq,” “Afghanistan,” “drone strike,” “Pakistan” or “civilian casualties.”

This is almost incredible, because terrorists themselves have freely confessed that what motivated their acts of wanton violence has been the damage done by foreign military occupation back home or simply in the Muslim world. Asked by a federal judge why he tried to blow up Times Square with a car bomb in May 2010, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad answered that he was motivated by the civilian carnage the U.S. had caused in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. How could any report about “rethinking radicalization” fail to mention this? Although the Brennan Center does much valuable work, Goitein’s selective finger-pointing on civilian casualties is emblematic of a blindness to war’s consequences widespread among American institutions.

American Military Whistleblowers

Knowledge may indeed have its risks, but how many civilian deaths can actually be traced to the WikiLeaks revelations? How many military deaths? To the best of anyone’s knowledge, not a single one. After much huffing and puffing, the Pentagon has quietly denied – and then denied again – that there is any evidence at all of the Taliban targeting the Afghan civilians named in the leaked war logs.

In the end, the “grave risks” involved in the publication of the War Logs and of those State Department documents have been wildly exaggerated. Embarrassment, yes. A look inside two grim wars and the workings of imperial diplomacy, yes. Blood, no.

On the other hand, the grave risks that were hidden in those leaked documents, as well as in all the other government distortions, cover-ups, and lies of the past decade, have been graphically illustrated in aortal red. The civilian carnage caused by our rush to war in Iraq and by our deeply entrenched stalemate of a war in Afghanistan (and the Pakistani tribal borderlands) is not speculative or theoretical but all-too real.

And yet no one anywhere has been held to much account: not in the political class, not in the military, not in the think tanks, not among the scholars, nor the media. Only one individual, it seems, will pay, even if he actually spilled none of the blood. Our foreign policy elites seem to think Bradley Manning is well-cast for the role of fall guy and scapegoat. This is an injustice.

Someday, it will be clearer to Americans that Pfc. Manning has joined the ranks of great American military whistleblowers like Dan Ellsberg (who was first in his class at Marine officer training school); Vietnam War infantrymanRon Ridenhour, who blew the whistle on the My Lai massacre; and the sailors and marines who, in 1777, reported the torture of British captives by their politically connected commanding officer. These servicemen, too, were vilified in their times. Today, we honor them, as someday Pfc. Manning will be honored.

Chase Madar is the author of The Passion of Bradley Manning, to be published by OR Books in February. He is an attorney in New York, a TomDispatch regular (where this column originally appeared), and a frequent contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.


http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/01/19/bradley-manning-washington-and-the-civilian-deaths/

The U.S. public deserves to know the truth about their government's foreign policy mishaps at our and others expense.

Thanks to Pfc. Manning we are now better informed and can act to stop the needless dependency on the military-industrial complex. The military should be for self-defense and disaster relief/prevention, NOT to provoke others by bombing civilians.