NYT and AP Launch Operation AmnesiaNovember 30, 2012
Source: Empire Burlesque
By Chris Floyd:
On Thursday, Bradley Manning, one of the foremost prisoners of conscience in the world today, testified in open court — the first time his voice has been heard since he was arrested, confined and subjected to psychological torture by the U.S. government.
An event of some newsworthiness, you might think. Manning has admitted leaking documents that detailed American war crimes in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He has been held incommunicado for more than 900 days by the Obama administration. Reports of his treatment at the hands of his captors have sparked outrage, protests and concern around the world. He was now going to speak openly in a pre-trial hearing on a motion to dismiss his case because of that treatment. Surely such a moment of high courtroom drama would draw heavy media coverage, if only for its sensationalistic aspects.
But if you relied on the nation’s pre-eminent journal of news reportage, the New York Times, you could have easily missed notice of the event altogether, much less learned any details of what transpired in the courtroom. The Times sent no reporter to the hearing, but contented itself with a brief bit of wire copy from AP,tucked away on Page 3, to note the occasion.
– The Washington Post reports: Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, told a military judge on Thursday that he contemplated suicide soon after he was arrested in 2010 and that he was kept in isolation for 23 hours a day.
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — The mental health of a U.S. Army private is the focus of a pretrial hearing on charges that he gave classified information to the secret-sharing website WikiLeaks.
The hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning resumes Wednesday at Fort Meade in Maryland. He's seeking dismissal of the case, alleging he was illegally punished before trial by being held in needlessly harsh conditions.
The defense is seeking testimony from an officer whose command included the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va. Manning was held there for nine months in highly restrictive, maximum custody and "prevention of injury" status.
The former installation commander, retired Col. Daniel Choike (CHOY'-kee), testified Tuesday that brig commanders refused to ease Manning's confinement conditions as recommended by psychiatrists.
Bradley Manning's lawyers say the prosecution team is keeping important documents from them. (Cliff Owen/AP)
David Coombs, Manning's civilian lawyer, has made his strongest accusations yet about the conduct of the military prosecutors. In motions filed with the military court ahead of a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, on Monday, he goes so far as to accuse the government in essence of lying to the court. Coombs charges the prosecutors with making "an outright misrepresentation" to the court over evidence the defense has been trying for months to gain access to through disclosure.
* * *The Guardian reports:
[...] The dispute relates to an investigation by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, Oncix, into the damage caused by the WikiLeaks disclosures of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.
Reports by the Associated Press, Reuters and other news outlets have suggested that official inquiries into the impact of WikiLeaks concluded that the leaks caused some "pockets" of short-term damage around the world, but that generally its impact had been embarrassing rather than harmful.
Such a finding could prove invaluable to the defence in fighting some of the charges facing Manning or, should he be found guilty, reducing his sentence.
Yet Coombs says the army prosecutors have consistently kept him, and the court, in the dark, thwarting his legal rights to see the evidence.
"It was abundantly clear that Oncix had some form of inquiry into the harm from the leaks – but the government switched definitions around arbitrarily so as to avoid disclosing this discovery to the defence."
On 21 March, the prosecutors told the court that "Oncix has not produced any interim or final damage assessment" into WikiLeaks.
Coombs alleges that this statement was inaccurate – and the government knew it to be inaccurate at the time it made it.
"The defense submits [this] was an outright misrepresentation," he writes.
On 20 April, the government told the court that "Oncix does not have any forensic results or investigative files". Yet a week before that, the prosecutors had handed to the defence documents that clearly showed Oncix had begun to investigate WikiLeaks almost 18 months previously.
"Oncix was collecting information from various agencies in late 2010 to assess what damage, if any, was occasioned by the leaks. So how could it be that Oncix neither had an investigation nor a damage assessment?" Coombs writes.
The alleged efforts by the US government to avoid fulfilling its obligations to hand over evidence, Coombs says, has had the effect of rendering it impossible for the defence to prepare for the trial which is scheduled to begin in September.
Without access to the information, they cannot identify witnesses, develop questions for those witnesses, prepare a cross-examination strategy and so on.
"There is no way that the defense can adequately prepare its case," Coombs complains.
Most damningly, he alleges that is precisely the army's intention. "The government should not be able to circumvent its discovery obligations for two years, then dump discovery on the defense last-minute, and expect that there will be a fair battle," he says.
"Indeed, the defense believes that this was the intention of the government – to defeat its adversary by adopting untenable litigation positions designed to frustrate discovery."
Manning will make his fourth court appearance at Fort Meade on Monday. If convicted of the 22 counts, which include "aiding the enemy", he could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in military custody.
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Julian Assange is at the eye of the storm over the Wikileaks documents, but the person who made it all possible is a 23-year old Army private named Bradley Manning. In an incriminating text message last May Manning claimed credit for "possibly the largest data spillage in American history." David Martin reports.