Yesterday, December 16, 2011, 40 supporters of Bradley Manning saw him in person in the military courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland and another 60 saw him on a video feed from the court, the first time Manning has been seen by the public in 19 months. Over 100 other supporters, including 50 from Occupy Wall Street who had bused down from New York City, were at the front gates of Fort Meade in solidarity with Manning.
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The military’s treatment of Manning has reeked of intimidation and retaliation.
Until citizen activist protests six months ago in March, 2011, brought sufficient attention to the harsh conditions of his pre-trial confinement, the US military was treating him as if he were beyond the scrutiny of the law — as if he were an “enemy combatant” in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib.
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Despite the military’s mantra of having the best military legal system in the world, the past treatment of Manning—keeping him in solitary confinement, forcing him to stand naked while in pre-trial confinement and the lack of compliance with the norms of the military legal system of a “speedy” trial have added to the low points of Abu Gharib and Guantanamo in the history of military “justice.”
The federal courts have long established mechanism of dealing with classified information in national security cases.
The military’s contention that it took 19 months to figure out how to try him while protecting classified materials reeks of intimidation, retribution and retaliation.
About the Author: Ann Wright is a retired US Army Reserve Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war. She is a member of Veterans for Peace and is on the Advisory Board of the Bradley Manning Support Network