Writer & editor for the Bradley Manning Support Network
By the Bradley Manning Support Network.
Report on the first week of the trial, protests, solidarity actions, and press coverage.
International week of action. June 1-8. Rally in Sydney, Australia.
After a grueling 3 years in prison awaiting trial, 3 time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bradley Manning’s court martial has begun. Supporters held actions in solidarity with the heroic whistleblower. On June 1st the largest rally of supporters yet was held at Fort Meade, and throughout the week more than three dozen events were organized around the world.
On the first day of the trial the defense and prosecution faced off with opening statements that both asked “what would you do” if you were given access to evidence of the true nature of the war, civilian murders, illegal torture, unnecessary secrecy and thousands of documents revealing government corruption? What would you do if your reports to superiors were ignored, and if you learned that the American people had been lied to?
Rally in South Korea
Rally in Toledo, OH
Rally in Portland, ME
In his opening arguments defense lawyer David Coombs highlighted that Bradley Manning is not your typical soldier – rather he is a conscientious soldier who cared more than most about people, fellow soldiers and Iraqi civilians alike. Bradley Manning, he explained, is a “Humanist,” who prior to deploying to Iraq had that printed on his dog tags as his religious preference. For Bradley Manning the horrors of civilian and his fellow soldier’s deaths were troubling and transforming: it inspired him to learn the truth about the war, a war that we now know, thanks in part to Bradley and the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, has been based on lies. Read Bradley Manning Support Network correspondent Nathan Fuller’s report on the opening statements from the first day of the hearing.
On the second day, hacker and informant Adrian Lamo who in 2010 reported Bradley to authorities and then published private chat logs via Wired and the Washington Post, confirmed for the court Bradley’s conscientious motivations for releasing the information. The remainder of the second and third days of the hearing focused largely on Bradley’s training. Witnesses testified that he performed his duties well and he was praised for being well organized and computer savvy. Many of the charges against Bradley are specified three different ways. First that Bradley was not authorized to access the information, at least in the way he did. Second that he violated regulations in transferring that information from secure to non-secure computers or media. Finally, that he gave the information to WikiLeaks. The latter is the only part Bradley has admitted to. Witnesses agreed that Bradley indeed had authorized access to all of the information, and that it was normal for additional, unauthorized programs and files, to be installed on these secure computers. Read the Support Network’s reports from day 2, and from day 3.
Supporters were blocked from wearing Truth t-shirts in the courtroom on the first day, but the decision was later overturned.
Bradley Manning and supporters received a lot of positive press over the week. The New York Timeshighlights supporter efforts in its article “Manning’s supporters are loud and online!”, while Rolling Stone magazine rips into media outlets that failed to understand Bradley’s motives, or to grasp the big picture: “The debate we should be having is over whether as a people we approve of the acts he uncovered that were being done in our names.” And former US Representative Dennis Kucinich takes Bill O’Reilly to task, defending Bradley Manning’s actions on the Bill O’Reilly factor.Watch the video here.
Transcripts of the trial are now available thanks to the Freedom of the Press Foundation who have hired a stenographer. Throughout three years leading up to this court martial no transcripts have been issued from the numerous pre-trial hearings. It has been up to bloggers, journalists, and Bradley’s supporters to take notes by hand in court. The hiring of a stenographer by the public brings a touch of transparency back into the court. Read transcripts from the first week.
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