Now it is official that former Army intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, facing a potential life sentence, has been serially abused and tortured while in the brig awaiting trial on 22 charges for allegedly providing military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks.
Prosecutors are pursuing charges, including aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage Act, that could result in a life sentence if he is convicted. His court-martial is scheduled to begin on March 6.
Col. Denise Lind, a military judge ruled recently that brig officials had admittedly mistreated and improperly kept Private Manning under unduly and unlawfully harsh conditions for excessive periods while being held at the Marines’ brig at Quantico, Va.
But instead of dismissing the case against the accused as provided in the military code of justice, or punishing his serial abusers, she granted the prisoner a paltry 112 days of credit against any eventual prison sentence.
This means that Manning’s abusers are free to continue punishing and abusing him before his trial as they like without fear of any substantial consequences – one day of credit on his sentence for each one day of serial abuse.
After all, what is the benefit to the prisoner of a few days credit against his sentence when that sentence is likely to be life in a military prison without the possibility of parole?
“There was no intent to punish the accused by anyone in the Marine Corps brig staff or chain of command,” said the judge. “The intent was to make sure the accused was safe, did not hurt himself and was available for the trial.”
The recognition that pre-trial punishment did occur during the nine months that he was held in Quantico supports Manning’s long-held complaint that he was singled out by the US government for excessively harsh treatment.
Private Manning is the most hated soldier in the U.S. military, he was improperly mistreated under unlawfully harsh conditions, but the court found no intent to punish. That’s absurd.
Allowing the prisoner just 20 minutes of exercise a day, instead of the full hour other prisoners were granted sounds an awful lot like punishment to me. He’s supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Later the judge began hearing arguments on a pair of motions by prosecutors seeking to restrict the ability of Private Manning’s defense team to call witnesses and introduce other testimony related to his motivation and whether the documents were over classified.
She might as well order a gag on his defense lawyers as this soldier defendant is not going to be allowed a proper defense. It’s already shaping up to be a kangaroo court, which is just another form of institutionalized abuse. The government wants this guy convicted and that is what the government is going to get.
And there won’t be any constitutionally guaranteed speedy trial either. At the request of prosecutors the judge has agreed to delay his trial from March to June, 2013 to allow them extra time to deal with classified information.
Manning has offered to plead guilty to some of the lesser charges in exchange for a reduced sentence. The most serious accusation is that by passing information to WikiLeaks, he effectively made it available to al-Qaida and its affiliate terrorist organizations – the “aiding the enemy” charge which carries the punitive life sentence.
So it is admitted that he didn’t pass the information to the enemy. He gave it to WikiLeaks. That indicates to me that he did not have criminal intent; he was merely acting as a whistle blower regarding inappropriate conduct on the part of the United States government, a laudable purpose in my opinion.
The military judge in this case predictably went out of her way to trivialize the serial abuse of prisoner Private Bradley E. Manning.