Bradley Manning: ‘I Will Recover From This … This Is Just a Stage in My Life’

 

Bradley Manning: ‘I Will Recover From This … This Is Just a Stage in My Life’

By Alexa O’Brien
August 21st 20131:58 pm

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Sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking documents to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning has vowed to stay positive, his defense lawyers tells Alexa O’Brien in an exclusive interview.

FORT MEADE, MARYLAND—Just after receiving a sentence of 35 years in prison for transmitting hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and U.S. Army reports to WikiLeaks in 2010, Bradley Manning was in a surprisingly “cheerful mood,” according to his attorney.

“He said, ‘Hey, it’s OK. It’s all right. I know you did everything you could for me. Don’t cry. Be happy. It’s fine. This is just a stage in my life. I am moving forward. I will recover from this,’” his defense lawyer David Coombs said in an interview conducted immediately after the sentencing.

Presiding military judge Col. Denise Lind sternly handed down the sentence to a packed courtroom, stating only, “Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, this court sentences you to be reduced to the grade of Private E-1, to forfeit all pay and allowances, to be confined for 35 years, and to be dishonorably discharged from the service.”

Coombs was stunned. “I look at the sentence, and I can’t believe that was actually the sentence he received,” he told The Daily Beast. “There is a good young man who did what he thought was morally right and for the right reasons, and he was sentenced the way we would sentence somebody who committed murder—the way we would sentence somebody who molested a child. That is the sentence he received.”

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Twitter responded strongly in Bradley Manning’s behalf when the sentence was handed down.

Despite the clear devastation among supporters of Manning, however, Coombs said that the defendant was in good spirits. “Interestingly, Manning was the one who was cheering everyone up,” he said.

While perhaps proportional with the Information Age that Manning was born into, the disclosures were unprecedented in scale and scope and resulted in the largest criminal investigation ever into a publisher and its source.

At trial and sentencing, the prosecution cast Manning as a traitor who was indiscriminately harvesting information for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks in willful disregard of the safety of military personnel and the national security of the United States. They asked the judge to put Manning away for 60 years: “He betrayed the United States, and for that betrayal he deserves to spend the majority of his remaining life in confinement.”

Manning was convicted on six espionage charges on the standard of probable harm from the release. In total, he was found guilty of 20 offenses, including espionage, “exceeding authorized access,” stealing government property, and the newfangled offense of “wanton publication.” That charge has never been used in military law and is not tied to any existing federal criminal violation or punitive article under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

He was acquitted, however, of “aiding the enemy,” one of two offenses under the code that apply to any people and not just members of the military. Lind ruled that Manning’s good-faith motive and any actual damage (or lack of damage) were not relevant and thus relegated to the sentencing phase.

The question remains if and when the Department of Justice intends to unseal any possible indictment against Assange, editor in chief of WikiLeaks.

Much of the court record—the largest of any in military history—was hidden from the public. The public only got access 1,103 days into the legal proceeding. Because so much of the critical parts of the trial were conducted in closed sessions and obscurity, the public has been largely unclear on the actual impact of the leaks. Prosecution witnesses—government employees and federal contractors—testified in open session that no death resulted as a result of the leaks. But the prosecution presented evidence of mitigation efforts and temporary disruptions as well as future of possible threats to military operations and diplomatic efforts.

Asked what the worst damage from the leaks was, Coombs said, “I personally … I think the most damage done was the sentence that my client received. If you are talking about damage from a standpoint of what he released—embarrassment. Embarrassment was the most damage.”

A congressional official who had been briefed by the State Department in late 2010 and early 2011 told Reuters, “The administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers.” The revelations, the congressional aide said, “were embarrassing, but not damaging.”

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In a press conference after the sentencing, Bradley Manning’s lawyer read a statement from Manning himself. “Sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society,” wrote Manning.

“He was sentenced the way we would sentence somebody who committed murder.”

Manning will immediately appeal for clemency to the court-martial convening authority, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, commander of the Military District of Washington, who can dismiss any guilty findings and reduce the sentence. Buchanan cannot, however, reverse a finding of not guilty or increase Manning’s sentence. After a review by Buchanan, Manning’s case will be automatically appealed to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

Manning’s lead civilian defense counsel also announced that he is applying for a presidential pardon for his client. The application to President Obama will be joined by a partnership between Amnesty International and the Bradley Manning Support Network on whitehouse.gov to commute his sentence to time served.

Obama said in April 2011, “We’re a nation of laws. We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. [Manning] broke the law.” Manning’s defense team characterized Obama’s comments as unlawful command influence. They also sought and were denied the opportunity to depose the president.

Manning is expected to serve his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, where he has been in pretrial confinement since April 2011. Prior to that, Manning was held in pretrial confinement at Marine Corp Base Quantico Brig for nine months. U.N. special rapporteur on torture Juan Ernesto Méndez called his treatment at the Quantico Brig “cruel, inhuman, and degrading.” Manning was forced to strip and remain on a suicide-risk regime against the recommendations of Brig mental-health professionals. Lind ruled that a portion of his time at Quantico was unlawful, but granted Manning only 112 days of credit on his sentence for it. Manning’s sentence of 35 years will also be reduced by 1,293 days for time already served.

Despite being placed in pretrial confinement longer than any accused awaiting court-martial, Lind ruled that the government did not violate Manning’s right to a speedy trial. (Many witnesses during the motions phase of the trial concerning Manning’s unlawful treatment at Quantico could not remember events clearly because they were so long ago.)

Manning directed defense counsel to engage with the press only using text-based media and to be as “accurate as possible, and try to get to the actual topic, and try to be as factual as possible, and try to be as neutral as possible.”

Manning ultimately opted to be tried by military judge alone instead of a panel of officers and enlisted personnel. During the pretrial, the prosecution blocked Manning’s defense from adding questions to a questionnaire for panel members intended to determine potential bias toward gay and/or transgender people.

The Washington Post reported recently that Judge Lind was recently promoted to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, where Manning’s case will automatically be appealed.

The defense strategy at trial was as much about mitigating as acquitting. During sentencing, the defense emphasized that Manning was young, naive, and good intentioned. They called a forensic psychiatrist who testified that “Manning was under the impression that his leaked information was going to really change how the world views the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and future wars, actually.”

Manning’s defense sought an appropriate sentence that would enable him to still have a life, asking the judge not to “rob him of his youth” and adding that Manning “is a young man who certainly, at this time, was, in fact, young—was, in fact, naive as to the second and third effects, but certainly was good intentioned.” The defense ended by saying, “Manning cared about human life. He was a humanist. His biggest crime was that he cared about loss of life that he was seeing.”

When asked if Manning received a fair trial, Coombs said, “The perception is no. He didn’t receive a fair trial and that should be problematic for people. That should be problematic for our military, and hopefully that will be problematic for the president of the United States, and he should do something about it.”

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/21/bradley-manning-i-will-recover-from-this-this-is-just-a-stage-in-my-life.html

UN Claims Uruguay Not Allowed to End Marijuana Prohibition

  UN Claims Uruguay Not Allowed to End Marijuana Prohibition

Written by           

           

As the United Nations, which is widely ridiculed as the “dictators club,” becomes increasingly bold in purporting to dictate policy to nations and governments, the controversial global body is now under fire from many of its traditional allies after claiming that Uruguay’s recent decision to end marijuana prohibition violates “international law.” The United Nation‘s claim about Uruguayan drug laws follows recent demands by it that Obama defy state voters and the U.S. Constitution to smash cannabis legalization in American states.

With the recent decision to end decades of pot prohibition in Uruguay making it the first entire nation to take the step, analysts widely anticipate similar efforts around the world to accelerate. Already, voters in Colorado and Washington state have completely nullified the federal and international marijuana regimes, and other states have come close. Across Latin America and Europe, meanwhile, drug policy more broadly…

Read more:  http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/south-america/item/17174-un-claims-uruguay-not-allowed-to-end-marijuana-prohibition

Doctors: Force-Feedings at Guantanamo Have Been Used to Break Political Protests, Not Saves Lives

Doctors: Force-Feedings at Guantanamo Have Been Used to Break Political Protests, Not Save Lives

         By: Tuesday November 5, 2013 8:39 pm

A new report from a task force convened by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and the Open Society Foundations highlights the role medical professionals have played in breaking political protests among detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

There are more than 160 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, who remain imprisoned. Only a few detainees have been charged with any crimes. Over 80 prisoners have been cleared for transfer by a presidential review task force established by President Barack Obama.

This year at Guantanamo one of the biggest hunger strikes in the history of the facility took place. Lawyers for detainees reported more than 100 prisoners in the prison were at one point participating in the hunger strike, which aimed to call attention to the inhumanity and hopelessness of their indefinite detention. But the hunger strike, an act of protest, was eventually broken through force-feedings that involved medical personnel.

The Task Force declares in their report titled, “Ethics Abandoned,” which was put together by doctors, “The policy of force-feeding deviates from standard, accepted medical and ethical treatment of hunger strikers and, depending on the individual circumstances, amounts to either torture or inhuman and degrading treatment.” It calls particular attention to the use of a restraint chair, which the facility began to employ in a punitive manner.

“The Task Force is aware of no precedent for using physical restraints to force-feed hunger strikers for more than a handful of episodes, much less for weeks and months (and in at least one case, years) at a time,” the report declares. Yet, since 2006, the use of restraint chairs have been normalized and any prisoner engaged in a hunger strike is likely to be fed in a restraint chair, even if that prisoner’s health does not face serious risks from not eating….

Whole article here:  http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/11/05/doctors-force-feedings-at-guantanamo-have-been-used-to-break-political-protests-not-save-lives/

Change.org: Last Friday, President Obama signed a bill into law that extended the deadline for Iraqi interpreter visas until the end of 2013.

Change.org
Annamaria –Last Friday, President Obama signed a bill into law that extended the deadline for Iraqi interpreter visas until the end of 2013. This means that my interpreter, Mr. Z, still has a chance to get a visa and escape the danger he lives in every day for helping US troops.

This would not have been possible without you and 97,266 other Change.org users who signed my petition asking the administration to extend this lifesaving legislation for interpreters who helped soldiers like me in Iraq. When I found out that the visa program was going to expire at the end of September, leaving interpreters like Mr. Z who faced death threats for helping me and so many other troops, I knew I had to do something to help in return. So I started a petition. I believe it was my duty to help these individuals and families that lost everything for saving tens of thousands of American lives. And because you signed, Mr. Z now has another chance at getting his visa.

It was exciting for me to see the bipartisan support to save these brave individuals and their families even in times of political stalemate. Mr. Z says that he’s amazed at the outpouring of support and wishes he could thank each person who signed my petition individually.

Other veterans and family members have started petitions for Afghan interpreters struggling to get visas — click here to sign their campaigns.

Thank you so much for your compassion, and the continued love and respect for our Iraqi allies.

Brent Finnell  Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) – Charlotte School of Law Chapter

In A Relative Universe, Putin Up For Nobel Peace Prize /excuse me, what about Pussiriot-Artists in strong prison?

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In A Relative Universe, Putin Up For Nobel Peace Prize

by Abby Zimet

Russia’s Vladimir Putin has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize – despite his arming of Assad and aggression against Chechnya, Georgia, gay people and shirts – for his efforts to prevent a US air strike against Syria. In nominating him, the International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World argued Putin “actively promotes settlement of all conflicts arising on the planet,” adding that he deserves the prize at least as much as 2009 winner Barack Obama – a good point, at least in a relative universe. That current, lesser-evil definition of “peace” many say, is the problem. In Let’s Try Democracy, David Swanson notes that Alfred Nobel’s vision for the prize is to reward, not just “war reformers or war civilizers,” but those actively working toward “fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies” who “shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind” – or, in the words of 1964 Peace Prize winner, Martin Luther King Jr., a member of the too-rare species who upholds “the principle of love.”

“True peace is not the absence of tension – it is the presence of justice.” – MLK

From One Nobel Peace Laureate To Another: Open letter to President Barack Obama

From One Nobel Peace Laureate To Another: Open letter to President Barack Obama.

By Adolfo Pérez Esquivel

September 06, 2013 “Information Clearing House Hear the outcry of the peoples!

The situation in Syria is an object of serious preoccupation and once more the United States, assuming the role of the world’s policeman, proposes to invade Syria in the name of “Freedom” and “Human Rights”.

Your predecessor George W. Bush, in his messianic madness, invoked religious fundamentalism to launch his messianic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. When he declared that he talked with God, and God told him that he had to attack Iraq, he did so claiming it was the message of God to export “freedom” to the world.

You have spoken, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the Reverend Martin Luther King, also a Nobel Peace Laureate, of the need to complete the “Dream” of a shared table, of he who was the most significant expression of the struggle for civil rights against racism in the first slave-holding democracy in the world. Martin Luther King was a man who gave his life to give life, and because of this he is a martyr in our own time. They killed him after the March on Washington because he threatened civil disobedience rather than complicity with the imperialist war against the people of Vietnam. Can you really believe that a military invasion of another people can realize this dream?

Arming rebels in order to authorize the intervention of NATO is nothing new for your country and your allies. Nor is it new for the United States to propose to invade countries accusing them of possessing weapons of mass destruction, which in the case of Iraq turned out to be untrue. Your country supported the regime of Saddam Hussein when he deployed chemical weapons to annihilate the Kurdish people and against the Iranian Revolution, and there was no talk of sanctions, since at that time they [Saddam and Iraq] were your allies. But now you propose to invade Syria without knowing the results of the investigations being realized by the United Nations with the authorization of the Syrian government. There is no doubt that the use of chemical arms is immoral and to be condemned, but your government has no moral authority whatsoever to justify an intervention.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, has stated that a military attack on Syria could make matters worse.

My own country, Argentina, which is now exercising the Presidency of the Security Council of the United Nations, has made public its stance against a foreign military intervention in the Republic of Syria, refusing to be “an accomplice in new deaths.”

Pope Francis has also called for a globalization of the movement for Peace and decreed a day of prayer and fasting against the war for September 7, and we ourselves will observe this call.

Even your historical ally, the United Kingdom, has refused (at least for the moment) to be part of this invasion.

Your country is transforming the “Arab Spring” into a NATO inferno, provoking wars in the Middle East and unleashing the pillage of international corporations. The invasion that you propose will only lead to more violence and more death, as well as the destabilization of Syria and of the whole region. To what end? The lucid analyst, Robert Fisk, has noted that the objective is Iran and the postponement of the establishment of a Palestinian state; it is not indignation at the death of hundreds of Syrian children that moves you to intervene militarily. And this at the moment when a moderate government has been democratically elected in Iran, under which it is possible to undertake negotiations and peaceful solutions to existing conflicts. The policy put forward by you and your country could be suicidal.

Syria needs a political rather than a military solution. The international community should support those social organizations that work for peace. The Syrian people, as any other, have a right to self-determination and to define their own democratic process and we should help them to achieve this where they need us.

Obama, your country does not have the moral authority, the legitimacy, nor the legal base to invade Syria or any other country. Much less considering you have assassinated 220,000 persons in Japan by using bombs of massive destruction.

No Congressperson of the United States can legitimize what cannot be legitimate, nor legalize what cannot be legal. This is especially true if we take into account the statement, a few days ago, of the former U.S. President James Carter: “The United States does not have a functioning democracy.”

The illegal wiretapping done by your government against the people of the United States is hardly efficient, since according to a public survey done by Reuters ( http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/25/us-syria-crisis-usa-poll-idUSBRE97O00E20130825 ), 60% of U.S. citizens oppose the invasion that you want to undertake.

This is why I ask you, Mister Obama, to whom do you obey?

Your government has become a danger for international equilibrium as well as for the people of the United States. It has become a country that cannot resist exporting death to maintain its power and its economy. We will not cease to try to impede this.

I was in Iraq after the bombing campaign that the United States undertook in the 1990s, before the invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein. I saw a refuge full of women and children assassinated by guided missiles. You call these “collateral damage.”

Peoples are saying ENOUGH! to wars. Humanity calls for Peace and the right to live in freedom. The people want to turn swords into ploughshares, and the way to achieve this is to “DISARM THE ARMED CONCIENCES.”

Mister Obama, you must not forget that we always reap the fruit that we sow. Any human being should be sowing humanity and peace, especially one who has a Nobel Peace Prize. I hope that you will not end up converting the “dream of brotherhood” that Martin Luther King hoped for into a nightmare for peoples and humanity.

Please accept my greetings for Peace and Good Will

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
Noble Peace Laureate

September 4 2013

Holy Father asked for prayer worldwide – to avoid BOMBING unto Syria!

r-120603024080-hugeBOMB ME MAYBE?

House Vote Edging Toward Defeat… Of 50 U.S. Senate Candidates, Only 6 Support Strikes… Russia To Maintain Current Levels Of Aid… 11 G20 Nations Blame AssadKerry: Obama Doesn’t Need Congress… POLL: Less Popular Than Past Conflicts… Citizens Opposed Around The World… WHAT NEXT?

PLEASE; READ MORE:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

“The Butler” – a must-watch touching movie: true story and great actors…

Must-watch touching movie: true Story and great actors:
The Butler – Official Trailer #2 (2013) [HD] Forest Whitaker, Robin Will…: http://youtu.be/5gxlR1OLfLM via @YouTube

Just got this via e-mail: 17,000 sign petition urging Obama to pardon NSA whistle-blower!

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/304475-white-house-petition-urges-obama-to-pardon-snowden

News from The Hill:

17,000 sign petition urging Obama to pardon NSA whistle-blower
By Jeremy Herb

More than 17,000 people have signed a petition urging President Obama to pardon the man who revealed details about two classified NSA programs.

The “Pardon Edward Snowden” petition created on Sunday calls the former NSA employee and government contractor a “a national hero” who deserves a full pardon. The petition on the official White House website had more than 17,000 signatures as of 12:45 p.m. Monday.

“Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a [sic] a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs,” the petition states.

Snowden, a 29-year old former CIA employee and government contractor, revealed himself Sunday as the source of stories from The Guardian and The Washington Post about the NSA’s classified surveillance activities.

Read the story here.

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Guantánamo Bay hunger strike: quarter of inmates now being force-fed The Guardian reports

Djuna Barnes: How it Feels to Be Forcibly Fed

Djuna Barnes: How it Feels to Be Forcibly Fed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/guantanamo-bay-hunger-strike-quarter-force-fed

English: A suffragette on a hunger strike bein...

English: A suffragette on a hunger strike being forcibly fed with a nasal tube (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guantánamo Bay hunger strike: quarter of inmates now being force-fed

Forty-one detainees being force-fed out of prisoner population of 166 as hunger strike shows little sign of ending
Paul Harris in New York

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 6 June 2013 18.01 BST

Detention center at Guantanamo Bay
The hunger strike began in February after a search of cells by guards turned up hidden contraband. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

The number of hunger-striking Guantánamo detainees being force fed by military medical teams has jumped to 41 and now makes up a quarter of the camp’s prisoner population.

The new figures reveal a continued deterioration of conditions at the camp as a hunger strike by many of Guantánamo’s 166 detainees has entered a fourth month amid little sign of it ending.

In all, 103 inmates are now on hunger strike, with four being hospitalised. The number of inmates being force fed was 31 on the eve of a speech by President Obama last month in which he promised to work towards closing the base and allow the release of many of the 86 prisoners held there who have been cleared for transfer.

Yet, despite the warm reception to that speech, the hunger strike at the base continue to increase in scope as more detainees are ending up being force fed through tubes put up their noses and into their stomachs.

“The hunger strike grows for two reasons: the military’s refusal to negotiate with the men in a productive way and because the president has taken no action in spite of his words,” said Carlos Warner, a lawyer who represents several of the detainees on strike.

The protest began in February after a search of cells by guards turned up hidden contraband among the prisoners but also led to accusations of heavy-handedness. The strike rapidly grew, creating global headlines and focusing a spotlight on the inmates’ plight where many of them – including those cleared for release – have been detained without trial for more than a decade.

It also highlighted Obama’s failure to fulfil a 2008 campaign promise to close the base. In his May speech Obama repeated that vow and described Guantánamo as a moral problem for America that needed to be solved. He lifted a self-imposed US ban on prisoner transfers to Yemen – which is keeping 56 cleared Yemenis from being sent back to their home country – and said he would appoint a top official to handle releases. However, so far no one has been named to the job, nor has any detainee been transferred.

Lawyers said the tempo of the strike was not changing. “We have had several phone calls calls this week with our clients and there is no sign of the strike ending. The men are suffering. One client reported he has lost 70lbs during his peaceful hunger strike,” Warner said.

A military spokesman, however, insisted that there was no threat to the detainee population’s health, despite so many inmates being force fed by a military medical team flown out to the island of Cuba specially for the task.

“The detainees health is constantly monitored by numerous specialists, so in that regard, no, we are not concerned about the number [of detainees being force fed] per se, as we will continue to provide safe and secure care and custody of the detainees as they continue their protest,” said Col Samuel House in a statement to the Guardian.

Detainees have described to their lawyers in phone calls and letters a hard regime at the base, with confiscations of many basic items, like toothbrushes. They have also accused guards of being rough with them whilst force-feeding and using the threat of intimate body searches as a way of putting detainees off having phone calls with their lawyers. The military has strongly denied those allegations.

Omar Farah, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, predicted the strike was likely to continue unless action happened soon. “Conditions at Guantanamo are appalling … the image of 41 men strapped to restraint chairs, gagging from the pain of nasal-tube feedings, ought to compel the president to resume transfers. Until that happens, we will continue to hear chilling news from Guantánamo,” he said.

But the issue of force-feeding has become a controversial one. It has been condemned by human rights activists as a violation of prisoner rights and international medical experts have described it as inhumane.

Cori Crider, strategic director at legal charity Reprieve, who represent several hunger-strikers, said the process was a brutal one. “My clients are protesting their indefinite detention using the only tool at their disposal: a hunger strike. They don’t want to be fed. And yet detainees are being brutally force-fed,” she said.