Manning sentenced to 35 years; eligible for parole after 8 years

From the New York Times:

A military judge on Wednesday sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for providing more than 700,000 government files to WikiLeaks, a gigantic leak that lifted the veil on military and diplomatic activities around the world.

Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Pfc. Bradley Manning was escorted into a courthouse for sentencing on Wednesday in Fort Meade, Md.

The sentence is the longest ever handed down in a case involving a leak of United States government information to be reported to the public. Private Manning will apparently be eligible for parole in slightly more than eight years.

In a two-minute hearing on Wednesday morning, the judge, Army Col. Denise R. Lind, also said that Private Manning would be reduced in rank from private first class to E1, a lower rank of private and the lowest rank in the military. She said he would forfeit all pay and would be dishonorably discharged. She did not impose a fine.

Before the sentencing, Private Manning sat leaning forward with his hands folded, occasionally whispering to his lawyer, David Coombs. His sister and his aunt sat quietly behind him. When Colonel Lind read the sentence, Private Manning stood, showing no expression. He did not make a statement. Mr. Coombs is expected to speak on his behalf to reporters later today.

The materials that Private Manning gave to WikiLeaks included a video taken during an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 in which civilians were killed, including two journalists.

Immediately after the judge banged the gavel and left, military guards flanked Private Manning and hustled him out the front of the courtroom, as some half dozen supporters in the back of the courtroom stood and shouted words of encouragement at him.

“We’ll keep fighting for you, Bradley,” one shouted. Another said “You are a hero.” After Private Manning left the room, another supporter yelled, “We love you.”

The documents that Private Manning gave to WikiLeaks also exposed the abuse of detainees by Iraqi officers under the watch of American forces and showed that civilian deaths during the Iraq war were most likely significantly higher than official estimates.

“It’s outrageous,” one supporter who had been in the courtroom, Laura Watkins, 63, of Alexandria, Va., said of the sentence. “What I’ve seen is a travesty of justice.”

The judge’s decision to impose a 35-year sentence roughly split the difference between what the prosecution had requested — 60 years — and the 20 years that Private Manning had exposed himself to when he pleaded guilty to a lesser version of the charges he was facing before the trial began. Under the military system, convicts are eligible for parole after serving a third of their sentences, and Private Manning is receiving 1,294 days credit — a little more than three years — for time already in custody and for a 112-day period in which the judge ruled he was mistreated during pretrial confinement.

There have been only a handful of previous convictions in cases involving leak accusations, resulting in sentences more in the range of probation to a few years in prison. Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy specialist with the Federation of American Scientists, said Colonel Lind’s sentence reflected how much Private Manning’s case — involving leaks of entire archives, not singular documents or pieces of information — differed from what had come before it.

“This is by far the longest sentence in a leak case,” Mr. Aftergood said. “It reflects the gravity of the case and the government’s perception of the damage that was done. Among other things, it is also the most voluminous leak ever, and also the broadest in scope including diplomatic, military and other records. So it was a qualitatively new kind of leak, and the government responded aggressively.”

Colonel Lind could have sentenced Private Manning, 25, to up to 90 years. There was no minimum sentence.

Though Private Manning had pleaded guilty to a lesser version of the charges against him even before the trial, prosecutors pressed forward with a trial on more serious charges.

Colonel Lind found him guilty last month of most of the charges against him, including six counts of violating the Espionage Act, five counts of stealing government property and one count of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, which had never before been filed in a leak case. Conviction on that charge could have resulted in a life sentence.

Full story at New York Times

Iraq War Resister Kimberly Rivera sentenced to 14 months

From Courage to Resist:

On Monday afternoon, during a court-martial hearing at Fort Carson, Colorado, Kimberly Rivera was sentenced to 14 months in military prison and a dishonorable discharge after publicly expressing her conscientious objection to the Iraq War while in Canada. Under the terms of a pre-trial agreement, she will serve 10 months of that sentence. (Photo: Mario and Kim Rivera moments before Kim was taken away in chains. She is currently in the local county jail awaiting transfer to a military prison.)

Private First Class Kimberly Rivera deployed to Iraq in 2006 and sought asylum in Canada in 2007 because she decided she could no longer be complicit in the war. A mother of four young children—including two who were born in Canada—she was forced back to the United States of America by the Conservative government after receiving a negative decision on her pre-removal risk assessment. A Federal Court judge denied her request for a stay of removal, finding the possibility of her arrest and detention in the U.S. to be “speculative.” Rivera was arrested three days later, on September 20, 2012, as she presented herself at the U.S. border.

“Kim is being punished for her beliefs and for her comments to the press while she was in Canada,” said James M. Branum, the defense attorney who represented Rivera during the court-martial proceedings. “Because she spoke out against the Iraq War, Kim’s sentence is harsher than the punishment given to 94 percent of deserters who are not punished but administratively discharged. In the closing arguments, the prosecutor argued that the judge needed to give PFC Rivera a harsh sentence to send a message to the other war resisters in Canada and their supporters.”

The tremendous public outcry related to Rivera’s case shows the deep and broad support that Canadians continue to express for Iraq War resisters. In a period of 10 days leading up to the Rivera family deportation, 20,000 people signed a Change.org petition supporting the family. Faithlabourand human rights organizations spoke out, Amnesty International adopted Kim as a prisoner of conscience, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu published an opinion piece in The Globe and Mail newspaper calling the deportation order “unjust.”

In stark contrast to this outpouring of support, Conservative MPs cheered when the Rivera family’s removal was announced in the House of Commons.

“The Conservative government knew that Kim would be jailed and separated from her children when they forced her back to the U.S., yet they cheered her deportation,” said Michelle Robidoux, a spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign. “They are out of step with the great majority of Canadians who opposed the Iraq War and who support allowing U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada.”

On February 1, 2013, the Federal Court of Canada issued a decision in the case of another U.S. war resister, Jules Tindungan, finding that the U.S. court-martial system “fails to comply with basic fairness requirements found in Canadian and International Law.” The Court also found that the Refugee Board failed to deal properly with evidence that soldiers who have spoken out publicly about their objections to U.S. military actions are subjected to particularly harsh punishments because of having voiced their political opinions.

“The sentence Kim received today underlines the concerns we have been raising all along, and what the Federal Court now acknowledges, that soldiers who speak out against unjust wars face harsher punishment and have no recourse within the U.S. military justice system,” said Robidoux.

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Breanna (Bradley) Manning pleads guilty to 10 of 22 charges, awaits sentencing and further prosecution

BradleyManning_2411026bFrom Capitalist Media:

Pfc. Bradley Manning pleaded guilty Thursday to 10 of the 22 charges against him — but not the most serious one, “aiding the enemy” — in what the government says is the largest leak of classified documents in the nation’s history.

And, for the first time, Manning offered his rationale for the crimes.

In court, Manning detailed why and how he sent classified material to WikiLeaks, a group that facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information through its website.

He said he passed on information that “upset” or “disturbed” him, but nothing he thought would harm the United States if it became public. Manning said he thought the documents were old and the situations they referred to had changed or ended.

Reading a statement for more than an hour, Manning described his motivations, beginning with what he called “sigact tables,” documents describing significant actions in Iraq and Afghanistan that he said represented the “ground reality” of both conflicts.

Full story

Breanna (Bradley) Manning Accepts Responsibility

DABC Note: It is our understanding that the person referred to as Bradley Manning in the article identifies as Breanna Manning, and uses she pronouns. The article does not refer to Manning this way, and for this we apologize. However, it is our understanding that Breanna has requested that her support team focus on her case, and not focus on her gender, as it may make it harder to receive a fair court martial hearing. This saddens us and leaves in a state of having to re-post stories that misidentify Breanna. This is also why we have kept Breanna’s listing on our website as Bradley. Solidarity to Breanna and her struggle!

From Courage to Resist:

Why, what it means (and doesn’t), and what next

By Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. November 19, 2012. Published at Allvoices.com

Army Private Bradley Manning recently informed the military court that he was, in fact, the source of information published by WikiLeaks. While the 24 year old Intelligence Analyst, effectively, took responsibility for transferring classified documents, in violation of military regulations, he maintained that he was not guilty of all 22 charges against him.

“PFC Manning has offered to plead guilty to various offenses through a process known as “pleading by exceptions and substitutions,” explained Manning civilian defense attorney David Coombs on his blog. Manning is “attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses…. PFC Manning is not pleading guilty to the specifications as charged by the government,” added Coombs. Nor is he “submitting a plea as part of an agreement or deal with the government.”

“Pleading by exceptions and substitutions” is very rare–so rare that most observers of the proceedings were thoroughly confused. Some media outlets incorrectly reported that Manning was “seeking a deal”, “pleading guilty”, or trying to nullify a life sentence–or even the death penalty. It’s important to clarify that no deal is being sought, Manning no longer faces the death penalty, and his plea doesn’t prohibit the maximum sentence of life in prison. Manning’s plea confused many, simply because the truth isn’t usually offered up in such proceedings without something in return. But that is what happened.

Why would Manning accept responsibility?

Manning needed to accept responsibility, so that he could move forward with his defense as a whistle-blower, ahead of the scheduled, February 4, 2013, start of his court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Supporters of Manning have long hailed him as a young man, with a conscience, who heroically uncovered evidence of war crimes and government corruption. Yet, many cling to the narrative of Manning, the disillusioned, unstable, gay soldier, serving precariously under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

Neither the defense nor the prosecution, believe Manning’s difficulties in the Army are a primary aspect of what happened. Neither side has disputed Manning’s motives, as summed up in this online chat, prior to his arrest: “I want people to see the truth… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public… I was actively involved in something that I was completely against.” According to the prosecution, Manning also provided the following note, to WikiLeaks, when he, anonymously, uploaded a cache of battlefield reports of the Iraq War: “This is perhaps one of the most significant documents of our time… removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.”

Full Story

Bradley Manning faces an additional 22 charges

Washington (CNN) — The U.S. Army Wednesday notified Pfc. Bradley Manning, a prime suspect in the WikiLeaks case, that he now faces 22 more charges in connection with allegedly downloading secret information from computers in Iraq.

The most serious new charge alleges that he aided the enemy by making this information public. That charge is punishable by death. A news release from the Army said the prosecution team “has notified the defense that the prosecution will not recommend the death penalty,” but technically it is up to the commander overseeing the case to make the final decision about the death penalty.

All told, Manning, a military intelligence analyst from Oklahoma, now faces a total of 34 charges in the case, including:

— Wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet

— Theft of public records

— Transmitting defense information

— Transferring classified data onto his personal computer

— Disclosing classified information concerning the national defense.

Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, would not comment on the new charges, but posted a statement on his blog Wednesday evening:

“Over the past few weeks, the defense has been preparing for the possibility of additional charges in this case.”

U.S. military officials have said that Manning is the prime suspect in the leak of many thousands of classified documents that ended up on the WikiLeaks website. However, WikiLeaks is not mentioned in the charge sheets.

Last August, Coombs said he’d seen no evidence tying Manning to the WikiLeaks case.

Even though the investigators filed the new charges, there are still several legal steps that would be taken before any decision will be made on which charges, if any, Manning would actually face in a court-martial.

One of those steps involves determining Manning’s mental capacity. That step is expected to take two to six more weeks.

is currently being held in the brig at Quantico Marine Base south of Washington, D.C. There has been a push by friends and supporters to have the rules about his confinement conditions eased. They say his confinement, in a one-man cell with only one hour a day outside of the cell for exercise, is unfair.

By Larry Shaughnessy

from: http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/03/02/wikileaks.suspect/index.html



Wikileaks: Bradley Manning tortured, then offered plea deal in exchange for turning on Assange

Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months — and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait — under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.

Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a “Maximum Custody Detainee,” the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.

More on Bradley’s detention conditions

US authorities have stepped up their efforts to prosecute Julian Assange by offering Bradley Manning, the American soldier allegedly responsible for leaking hundreds of thousands of government documents, the possibility of a plea bargain if he names the Wiki-Leaks founder as a fellow conspirator.

The development follows claims by Mr Assange’s supporters that a grand jury has been secretly empanelled in northern Virginia to consider indicting the WikiLeaks chief. But the US Justice Department has refused to comment on any grand jury activity.

As Mr Assange arrived last night at the East Anglia mansion after his release from a London prison on bail, he said he considered the threat of US legal action to be “extremely serious” even though “they have yet to be confirmed”. He told Sky News: “We have heard today from one of my US lawyers that there may be a US indictment for espionage for me coming from a secret grand jury investigation. “There are obviously serious attempts to take down the content by taking us down as an organisation and taking me down as an individual.

American officials view persuading Pte Manning to give evidence that Mr Assange encouraged him to disseminate classified Pentagon and State Department files as crucial to any prospect of extraditing him for a successful prosecution. To facilitate that, Pte Manning may be moved from military to civilian custody, they say. Since being charged in July with disseminating a US military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed 17 people in Iraq including two Reuters employees, the soldier has been held at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. But members of his support network insist that he has not co-operated with the authorities since his arrest in May.

More on the plea deal

TONIGHT: Political Prisoner Letter Writing Night, GI Resisters

Support GI ResistanceDenver ABC’s Monthly Political Prisoner Letterwriting Night: GI Resisters

Wednesday, November 3 · 6:30pm – 8:30pm
6th Ave UCC
6th and Adams

Join Denver ABC for our monthly letter writing night to political prisoners and prisoners of war held captive in the United States.

This month we’ll be writing letters to GI resisters being held captive by the state for refusing to serve in the wars and occupations of the rich.

As always, we will provide everything that is needed including paper, envelopes, pens, and prisoner addresses. We also provide dinner! This is a kids friendly event, so all you have to bring is yourself, your family, and your friends for a night of sending love and solidarity to folks just like us who have been imprisoned for their actions against the state and capital.

Support our imprisoned comrades, warriors, and friends! They are inside for us, we’re out here for them!