Opening statements on Bradley Manning’s intentions: trial report, day 1

Pfc. Bradley Manning (Photo credit: Patrick Semansky/AP)

Pfc. Bradley Manning (Photo credit: Patrick Semansky/AP)

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. June 3, 2013.

More than eleven hundred days after he was arrested, Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court martial finally began in earnest at Ft. Meade, MD, where defense and government lawyers gave opening statements on the intentions behind Bradley’s release of hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to the website WikiLeaks. 

Defense: Bradley was following his humanist beliefs 

Defense lawyer David Coombs recounted a poignant turning point during Bradley’s time in Iraq. On Christmas Eve, 2009, an Army vehicle narrowly avoided injury, but another civilian car carrying an Iraqi family (2 adults and 3 children), wasn’t so lucky. In pulling to the side of the road to allow the convoy to pass, they hit an explosive.  The explosion blew through the car and killed one of them. His fellow soldiers celebrated into the night, cheering the U.S. soldiers’ survival, but twenty-two-year-old Bradley couldn’t forget about the dead and injured Iraqis. 

“From then on,” Coombs said, “[Bradley] struggled.” Not your typical soldier, Bradley wore customized dog tags that read “humanist.” He strove to help his unit, wanting everyone to come home safely every day, but he wanted the local nationals to go home safely every day too. 

Coombs reviewed how this overarching humanism inspired him to release each set of documents. He couldn’t read Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs without thinking of that first injured family in December ’09. He read them “with a burden.” He wanted to make a difference, and he believed this information should be public.

He watched the ‘Collateral Murder’ video, documenting the U.S. Apache killing of innocent Iraqis and Reuters journalists. He thought this video conveyed how the U.S. valued (or, didn’t value) human life, and since the Pentagon failed to follow through on its vow to make it public, he felt had to do so.

When he was given access the State Department cables, he was told to peruse the classified network to understand U.S. diplomacy. He knew the cables were accessed by more than a million people, that they couldn’t contain Top Secret information, and that they wouldn’t reveal sources – he also knew they showed how the U.S. deals with and values human life around the world, and we don’t always do the right thing.

Government suggests WikiLeaks guided Manning’s releases

By contrast, government prosecutor Captain Morrow painted Bradley’s releases as the systemic harvesting of information at WikiLeaks’ behest. He opened his statement with Bradley’s own words: “If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?” 

This commenced an effort to characterize Bradley as almost singularly focused on gathering information that WikiLeaks wanted to release. Capt. Morrow said the releases are “what happens when arrogance meets access to classified information,” and that Bradley used his military training to “gain the notoriety he craved,” despite also saying that he worked to conceal his downloading of classified documents.

Capt. Morrow also reviewed each set of files, with two chief contentions: that Bradley indiscriminately harvested and leaked information, and that he was taking orders, directly via chat logs or indirectly by looking at their ‘Most-Wanted List,’ from WikiLeaks.

Press and public struggle for trial access 

Just before those opening statements, Judge Denise Lind asked the prosecution to review the procedures in place to provide access to the press and public to Bradley’s trial, presumably in response to a motion filed by Reader Supported News. I say presumably because I watched the proceedings on a video feed in the theater next door to the courtroom (I gave my press pass for today to the Freedom of the Press foundation’s stenographers) – and the feed cut out frequently. We were in the theater because we were told that both the courtroom and the spillover trailer, whose video feed never cut out, were full. But those we talked to from the trailer said it was half-full at most.

Nevertheless, prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein assured Judge Lind that no member of the public has ever been excluded from viewing Bradley’s proceedings. He didn’t happen to mention a last-minute restriction imposed on attendees: though they’ve been allowed for more than a year of pretrial proceedings, ‘Truth’ t-shirts were banned from the courtroom today, as were “Bradley Manning shirts or any other propoganda,” according to one gun-toting soldier. Pressed about the new limitation, one soldier told the Support Network’s Emma Cape that the decision was made from someone “very high up” and that he figured it was related to increased media access.

Maj. Fein also said that every effort has been made to provide full access to journalists, despite the legion of journalists decrying Ft. Meade’s restrictions on the media. 

He said that only five journalists had been denied press credentials to Bradley’s trial. This number was laughable, considering the Military District of Washington has claimed, “More than 350 requests for credentials were received for 70 seats in the media operations center and 10 seats in the courtroom.” We know for certain that the Freedom of Press’s stenographers were denied and that several others were as well. 

First witnesses called, forensics underway 

Finally, after lunch, the government called its first witnesses, to prove it was Bradley Manning who actually released the documents. Special Agents Thomas Smith and Toni Graham testified about arriving at Bradley’s base to photograph his housing and work stations and to interview his fellow soldiers. Specialist Eric Baker, Bradley’s roommate at F.O.B. Hammer in Baghdad, testified briefly about Bradley’s computer habits and collection of CDs and a hard drive. The defense didn’t have extensive cross-examination questions for either: in light of Bradley’s February guilty plea to providing information to WikiLeaks, his lawyers largely didn’t contest the fact that the computers in question were Bradley’s.

Tomorrow, the government will call Army Criminal Investigation Command Special Agent David Shaver, who’s expected to testify at much greater length.

57 thoughts on “Opening statements on Bradley Manning’s intentions: trial report, day 1

  1. My hope is BRADLEY MANNING receives a fair trail found innocent, as he is, and freed and receive the Nobel Peace Prize

    • There will be no ‘fair trial’ unfortunately. He has already been judged by the powers that be. Say anything against the regime and be beat down. Illegal invasions/occupations are becoming commonplace and accepted. The U.S. will in the end ruin the world.

      Good luck Bradley, here in the U.K. you have many supporters.

      Peace to everyone.

  2. Manning no habría de ser cómplice de los delitos que conoció. Qué viva la denuncia de Mannig por siempre.

  3. The longer continue in detention, too bad for the credibility of some politicians in USA.

    We have lawyer friends, experts in international law, and are not even believe what they are doing (happening, occurring) with the soldier of the Forces of the Army of the United States of America, and which discovered and uncovered what some other wanted to hide.

    United States is the main reference for the world in a matter of democratic guarantees, but it seems that some feel self-conscious at times hard to admit the truth.

    So the United States of America is the United States of America, and should be above partisan interests.

    When an offense that others want to hide for any errors, you can not say it’s a state secret revealed to the enemy,
    because sometimes the enemy can be at home.

    • Most of us know this is a show trial..
      Scare the bejeezes out of journalists and everyone else..Scapegoat him .. anyway he’s gay–
      Sounds like a repeat of the Ethel and Julius Rosenberg trial..false charges—lies added to the mix etc
      Anyway they were Jewish—
      Always good to have “the other” as a scapegoat– makes it easier…has often worked..

      • Comparing Brad’s case to that of the Rosenberg’s is worse than absurd…..they were paid by communist agents. The “judge” in the Rosenberg trial was a jew himself: Kaufman, and the prosecuting federal attorney, Robt Stripling, was jewish…if anything, the entire Rosenberg episode was a prime example of the jews purposely throwing one or more of their own “lesser brethren” under the bus in such a way as to make an entire nation feel “guilty” of “antisemitism”—can you say
        “reverse psychology? In 1951, the FBI arrested 4984 communist subversives in the U.S., 4555 of them turned out to be jewish communist “refugees” from East Europe. Manning’s case is parsecs removed from that of the Rosenbergs’

  4. Please set Bredley Manning free. He reveals the truth as many others should do. We all make mistakes,as the US government,the army or whatsoever. That happens. We should apologise and accept the fact that sometimes we make mistakes….but not putting a person like Mr Manning behind bars or a death sentence to him….I do not think that that is the right thing to do…

  5. The court will find him innocent and he has not only paid his dues but has overpaid them and been subjected to pain and misery and cruelty. Well, that would be true if the justice system were not so criminal.

    Fort Meade may think it is the center of the universe at the moment and that it can do what it wants but the court should open its eyes and know that the world is watching to see the miscarriage of justice that proves that America has no moral backbone anymore, that it sacrifices its heroes and truth to feed the war machine. If it is so, the court will have shown how low America has fallen. All claims of pride in America will ring hollow after that.

    Bradley is a brave soul and has been awarded person of the year by the voters of The Guardian. His level of patience is beyond my understanding. He did the right thing as he was required to do by law and by his conscience and has been punished and tortured for it. Bradley is truly a man of peace and he is owed a massive apology by the American military, the press that ignored him or worse, the government, the president…

  6. Blessing to you Bradley, may your bravery and efforts prevail and take the human race forward from the darkness and depravity that the US government attempts to blight human kind with.
    Where there is a little light darkness can no longer exist.

  7. You don’t need guns to fight a war..and Bradley is fighting a war , a moral war – and he’s fighting on the side of all that is good and right in the world. And he’s fighting for ALL of us. Well done brother.

    I hope a major studio makes a major film about this.

  8. Thank you so much for keeping us current on Bradley Manning’s court martial! I was at Ft. Meade on Saturday and it was very surreal to be so close and know that we couldn’t see him and that he couldn’t see us. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to be there everyday, dealing with new rules and restrictions. I also find it very admirable that you gave up your press pass today. Bradley started something very important and valuable to our country by giving us the truth, and you are continuing it. Thanks again.

  9. re Capt. Morrow’s opening chacter assassination attempt: where does “arrogance” come into all of this? I really fail to see…
    Good luck to Bradley Manning.

  10. Bradley we commend your courage. It is paradoxical that you will be asked to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth but are on trial for revealing the truth! Thank you and God Bless you from South Africa!

  11. Bradley Manning I wish you the best of luck and I thank you for exposing a corrupt and imperialist U.S. government. Many children of workers around the world will be named after you.

  12. Bradley Manning sir, thank you for being a good man and helping America to see the truth- The wars in the Middle East are evil. The makers of thew war machine and it’s master minds are killers of life and are harming the whole world.

  13. I am from vancouver,canada and i wanted to say that Bradley Manning exposed the atrocities that the U.S. gov.has been committing in Iraq,Afghanistan and other countries for many years.The U.S. gov. should be condemned for these atrocities at the world court in the Hague.Bradley Manning didn’t do anything wrong. It is the that is in the wrong.All progressive people in the world should support Bradely Manning.He should be freed from prison.

    • Vancouver B C , Great Conntry and Fantastic City Love B C . The Canadian Govt did a lot of good on the Amerikan wars in the past suporting the Ones against them , alwayse had a toast to those Hero’s of Mine that Never Went . However in recent years they have turnd there backs on the more recent Young Men and Women that flee prosicution frome the Amerikan Military and Govt for not wanting to be part of the Amerikan Killing machine marching across the Middle East ,
      But I can appreciate that there are those that are not Blind and can see the Propogandizing Amerikan Wars and its Govt protection..and those that speak out being Punishd for not being in agreement , Bradley Manning will not get his well deservd Justice frome a Military gone mad and a Govt protecting It. As the world looks on He will surely be stepd on and hopefully forgotten as just another Propogandizing young Man

  14. No TRUTH or Propoganda they call it in that Military court , How aproporate , Military Courts care little about truth or justice , There only concern is Guilt and hate for anythinhg makes them look like the Injust Kangaroo court they really are with a Puppet Judge with little care for truth, only to please Her Superiors and gain another Atta-Girl and a promotion

  15. T-shirts with the text “Truth” banned…
    I didn’t know this trial was in Moscow, until now I thought it was in the US!

  16. Where is this Mr. President Obama (!!) with all those clames, blames and promises of positive changes?
    He is the chief in command … isn’t he?

  17. The United States Government is engaged in a campaign to forever conceal its wrongdoing and criminality by persecuting those who reveal the truth. The campaign will fail because it assumes the human conscience can be silenced and the human spirit crushed. My hat’s off to Bradley Manning. He is a man of conscience and courage and those are precisely the traits that make him an exemplary soldier.

  18. Thank you to the whole team. Bradley needs to be freed. We owe him a huge debt for his courage.

    Love you all.

    Power to the People!


  19. Jesus said: The One who is judging others is judging himself. No matter the result by now the World knows the truth, and We will newer forget You Bradley Manning!

  20. Thank you, Bradley, for your great sacrifice. You have made this planet a little bit better to live on!

  21. First, we know that they won’t give Bradley the death penalty. That would be far too stupid of even this governmental system. Creating a MARTYR would be like them saying, “I’m in the mood for a REVOLUTION”! Too many people are aware of who Bradley Manning is and what he stands for. and while we still have the right to bear arms, they can’t afford to do anything while we can still resist their tyranny and support Bradley til he’s FREE.
    Second, WE ALL NEED TO PRAY!!! We are going as far as we humanly can to save this truly Patriotic HERO by giving support and subjecting him to a “FAIR” (which is a joke) trial. But I have seen repeatedly of what a Greater Power can do when virtually all else fails. I can’t give you scientific explanation of how it works. It just WORKS!

    • A quick point of fact. Bradley does NOT face the death penalty. While the “Aiding the Enemy” charge did carry the possibility of death, and the defense did spend tens of thousands of dollars in preparing for that possibility–as death penalty mitigation is a specialized field–it is no longer “on the table”, nor can it be now placed “on the table” by the government. This is because the Convening Authority in this court martial, Major General Michael S. Linnington, did not forward that component of the charges to trial.

  22. With all the forces arrayed against him, let us at least be glad that Bradley is represented by a talented and determined attorney like David Coombs.
    I keep sending my tiny checks, and I hope others too will keep on giving what they can. After all, we’re doing this for ourselves as much as for Bradley Manning. If the govenment can get away with this, what’s next? We’re all in this together!

  23. The criminals in uniform that tortured Manning, and who violated his right to a speedy trial need to be charged with their crimes.

    Charges of Accessory to Murder After the Fact also need to be brought to the military personnel that covered up the murders that Manning exposed.

    And, yes, Manning deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

  24. Heroic- would you inform the public of such appalling violations of reasonable governance? The government has made sure you won’t by their treatment of Bradley Manning. You must not be silent if you value freedom, and government by & for the people!

  25. Thank God for the courage and integrity of Bradley Manning. He is an example for us all. I just hope that he will finally get the Nobel Peace Prize that he richly deserves.

    It is too much to expect of the American Military to give him the apology that he also richly deserves. I like to think that he has maybe changed some hearts and minds within that Military. But I think we’ll all be willing to settle for his quick release, and the Nobel Prize.

    All the best in the world to you, Bradley Manning. Many people in this world are with you. Thank you – may there be others who will follow your example.

  26. “Bradley was following his humanist beliefs”

    Well actually it was his duty as an American to report war crime atrocities. The United States is signatory to numerous Geneva Acts and Accords, for Bradley not to report the terrorism being committed by the United States would have been a crime.

  27. Sometimes I feel like I live in a world that is topsy turvy. A courageous young man like Bradley is treated worse than any mass murderer or paedophile, locked up in solitary, denied a trial for over 3 years, staring the death penalty in the face. For what? For doing the right thing! He embarrassed a super power, no harm came from the cables release as they were redacted by the world’s most respected newspapers, the Guardian, Das Speigel and NY Times.
    I bet the FBI agent/s who assassinated that fellow in Boston the other day are never brought to justice. Seems you can do what you like as long with impunity, just as long as you don’t interrupt the false narrative of the ‘war on terror’ or ‘American democracy/freedom’.
    Bradley made the mistake of pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz (to paraphrase Frank Zappa) and exposing the lies. To his detriment, but to our everlasting gratitude.
    Thank you Bradley, you will go down in history as a hero to forever be remembered (as long as we don’t continue down this Orwellian path to a nightmare future…..)

  28. This nation, has evolved into a fascist oligarchy, run by Big Banksters, the Military/Industrial Complex, and arrogant elected officials, who do NOT follow the majority opinions of their constituents, but, rather vote to please the
    corporate supporters who “donate” very large amounts of money to their re-election campaigns!

    The Mass Media, is owned and operated solely to
    spread the propaganda of the New World Order, and
    Truth and Freedom of the Press, is all but gone !

    Whistleblowers, such as PFC Bradley Manning are
    now a very endangered species, and The New World Order
    will stop at nothing to shut their mouths forever !

    A nation which has no Free Press, is nothing more than a Police State !

    I am very sorry for PFC Bradley Manning, because
    his real chance at receiving a fair trial and being given credit for previous time served, and released from his living Hell, are zero !

    When we look around, and see the bridges in many
    cities of this land collapsing, along with the major
    infrastructure of this land falling apart for lack of
    governmental action to use our tax dollars to keep them working, yet we see our youth and tax dollars
    being squandered in wars in foreign lands that many of us can’t even find on a map, and which are of absolutely NO threat to this nation, but which make enormous sums of money for those at the top of the
    War Machine pyramid, the proof is undeniable : This nation, has become an Evil Empire ! The Pentagon, has
    devolved into a tool of the Devil, and those individuals dedicated to destroying PFC Bradley Manning, and using him as an example of what will happen to ANY one who demonstrates the Triumph of
    Conscience-Over-Dogma, are on the payroll of The Devil !

    My fellow Americans, We The People: Either we stand together and demand of our elected representatives that they demand the release of PFC Bradley Manning as a heroic whistleblower who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, or we shall surely live to see our Bill of Rights burned before our “Sheeple” eyes !

  29. In any excuse for an honest courtroom at CommonLaw—the CommonLaw of the United States as so eloquently set forth by one of this nation’s truly greatest jurists, Lysander Spooner, Brad would not only walk free fully and unconditionally acquitted of all charges against him…but those who sent him to Quantico and held there under conditions in blindingly unambiguous violation of the VIIIth Amendment and be ruthlessly and knowingly denied his right to a VIth Amendment speedy trial, would be stripped of their rank, sent to prison just like Lt Col Terry Lakin and be barred for life from ever again holding any office of public trust.

    I will say right now that you are far more likely to spot a stray dog leaving a better excuse for honest justice on the lawn out front of that court house than you will ever see being meted out therewithin throughout the entire sordid length of this pseudojudicial elephant-and-pony routine.

    I would flatly dare anyone in this country’s squalid system of JU$T U$ to hold me in contempt for what I have just now said—

  30. God bless and protect Bradley Manning for his humanity and commitment to JUSTICE. loVeandpeaCeaNDnOMorewaR from the UK

  31. too bad Bradley wasn’t a Bankster or a 1%’er, or even a friend of someone like, say, Jamie Dimon. charges would never even have been laid. oh well, maybe Bradley’s real mistake was not contributing to Obama’s political campaign.

  32. Bradley Manning is this ol’ vets hero.

    Courage in America is fading rapidly. PFC Manning should be nurtured and celebrated as one of the last bastions of courage and inegrity remaing among America’s treasures. He sacrificed his personnel freedom and probably potions of his future, not here discernable.  His actions allow those innocent Iraqi’s murdered by US Army helicopter crewman to have a voice in the public domain. The Iraqis were murdered without cause. 

    When and where did the crime of ‘capital murder’ become an object that could be cloaked and protected by the aegis of National Security?  Our strategic forces’ missile launch codes, attack codes for manned aircraft, and submarine-launched missles need protection to insure their integrity and authenticity.. I understand the need there. Murder, or the suspicion of murder,  is a matter for a grand jury or a court.

    Crime or the suspicion of a crime does not enjoy the shield of National Security? A crime or a suspicion thereof must investigated. That is the weight of law and guilt we placed on the Germans at Nuremberg. In Vietnam the efforts of a journalist and an Army combat photographer pointed to the possibilty a war crime had occurred. Once public, the actions of those soldiers directly involved with murdering unarmed civilians as well as those actions by personnel in the US Army chain of command for attempting to coverup those selfsame murders were investigated as well. The rest is history.

    Wheresoever I shall live, PFC Manning will find “shelter from the storm.”

    Semper Fidelis,

  33. So Americans who report a crime will experience vengeance. In truth, the US Military is the one on trial.

  34. i was at the 1st day trial n no prob getting into the courtroon 3 rows b h bradley, also there were many empty seats abt half in overspill trailer~

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