Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Assange on Manning's trial starting

Julian Assange  has written a scathing piece about the trial of Bradley Manning, which is just getting underway now. Manning is caught up in what appears to be a military show trial. Of course this is all very familiar after what happened with Australian David Hicks at Gitmo. What is different about this trial is that it's going to find an American citizen guilty without his constitutional rights being kept. Something that should worry all US citizens, that they could be convicted outside of the law.

Some of it:
It is fair to call what is happening to Bradley Manning a "show trial". Those invested in what is called the "US military justice system" feel obliged to defend what is going on, but the rest of us are free to describe this travesty for what it is. No serious commentator has any confidence in a benign outcome. The pretrial hearings have comprehensively eliminated any meaningful uncertainty, inflicting pre-emptive bans on every defense argument that had any chance of success. 

Bradley Manning may not give evidence as to his stated intent (exposing war crimes and their context), nor may he present any witness or document that shows that no harm resulted from his actions. Imagine you were put on trial for murder. In Bradley Manning's court, you would be banned from showing that it was a matter of self-defence, because any argument or evidence as to intent is banned. You would not be able to show that the 'victim' is, in fact, still alive, because that would be evidence as to the lack of harm.

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When communicating with the press is "aiding the enemy" it is the "general knowledge among the people" itself which has become criminal. Just as Bradley Manning is condemned, so too is that spirit of liberty in which America was founded. 
In the end it is not Bradley Manning who is on trial. His trial ended long ago. The defendant now, and for the next 12 weeks, is the United States. A runaway military, whose misdeeds have been laid bare, and a secretive government at war with the public. They sit in the docks. We are called to serve as jurists. We must not turn away. more

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