Posted on October 28, 2012

File photo shows Bradley Edward Manning, who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed classified material to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:12PM GMT

Sherwood Ross

Imprisoning Manning for the better part of three years violates the statute requiring the military to arraign a soldier and bring him to trial within 120 days. Manning’s lawyer has called the delay—during which his client has been tortured—an “absolute mockery” of justice.”

It is not only Bradley Manning, but America, that will stand trial next February, or whenever the Pentagon, after years of illegal delaying tactics, decides to bring him to trial.

The young intelligence specialist faces a score of inflated charges including the amorphous “aiding the enemy,” for which he could be executed, if convicted.

But during the proceedings the world might also catch a glimpse of some embarrassing US crimes against humanity and may arrive at its own conclusions as to the extent USA has degenerated into a totalitarian state.

The Pentagon does not appear distressed that its flying jolly gentlemen in their Apache helicopter turned their machine guns on an innocent group of Baghdad civilians, killing two Reuters news men and wounding several children in the onslaught (and killing their father who stopped his van to aid the victims); no, it has not charged any of the perps.

But it has imprisoned and illegally punished whistleblower Manning for allegedly feeding the classified, and now infamous, US (“Collateral Murder”) military video of the 2007 butchering to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, a non-profit website, which disseminated it globally. Manning was arrested in May, 2010, after he allegedly sent hundreds of thousands of war logs and US diplomatic cables to Assange’s website.

In an interview with The Real News Network, Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights(CCR), New York, said that at a recent pre-trial hearing a protester in the tiny courtroom yelled out, “Isn’t it the obligation of a soldier to reveal war crimes when he sees them?”

Ratner responds, “And that’s what Bradley Manning was doing. And so he’s a very sympathetic character for, certainly, people like me who believe that the US has been committing war crimes all over the place without any accountability for them.”

Ratner says the US is “trying to compel Manning to testify against Julian Assange, and that’s why he (Manning) was tortured. That’s why he’s being charged like this…and treated the way he is.”

The US, Ratner continues, “is actively trying to indict Assange…Because Manning was the alleged source for WikiLeaks, they’re trying to get him to speak out, and to not just confess but to really implicate Julian Assange and WikiLeaks…There’s a grand jury in Alexandria, Va., that’s been sitting there for a year.”

If Assange encouraged Manning to obtain the files, Assange could be charged with conspiracy.

The US has classified many documents as “secret,” Ratner said, “because the United States wants to hide its own crimes and that was certainly true of the ‘Collateral’ war video.”

He added that under US law and the Geneva Conventions “you can’t commit war crimes and you can’t tolerate them being committed; or if you find out information, there’s a legal obligation to actually report it. So I don’t think there was any way for Bradley Manning to do anything but what he did.”

Typical of the totalitarian state, the US is making it as tough as possible for journalists to follow the Manning case. “You can’t bring any materials into the courtroom at all, other than a pencil and paper,” Ratner said.

The Pentagon has refused to make transcripts, judicial decisions, prosecution motions and such available to reporters. In many ways, charges CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy, the proceedings in the Manning case are more secretive than the tribunals held at Guantanamo Bay. CCR claims the Pentagon has “choked off” coverage of the hearings and 30 news organizations have submitted a brief in support of providing the relevant information.

And journalist Alexa O’Brien of WL Central told Counterpunchshe had to transcribe proceedings by hand as the military will not let them use computers and the trial “is being conducted in de facto secrecy.”

“The US administration is trying to erect a national regime of secrecy,” Assange has charged, “a regime where any government employee revealing sensitive information to a media organization can be sentenced to death, life imprisonment or for espionage and journalists from a media organization with them.”

Imprisoning Manning for the better part of three years violates the statute requiring the military to arraign a soldier and bring him to trial within 120 days. Manning’s lawyer has called the delay — during which his client has been tortured — an “absolute mockery” of justice.

So how would one characterize a nation that starts a war with Iraq based on lies, refuses to prosecute its soldiers who kill civilians there, arrests the one courageous man who exposes such crimes, and then illegally delays bringing him to trial for years while torturing him in prison and then tries to black out the legal proceedings?

Yes, America, too, will go on trial whenever it attempts to make its case against Bradley Manning.