Fair Trial for Manning Now Impossible

Article by Kevin Zeese.
The credibility of the military justice system is being undermined by the prosecution of Bradley Manning. His abusive punishment without trial violates his due process rights, his harsh treatment in solitary confinement violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, and now the commander in chief has pronounced his guilt, making a fair trial impossible. A Bradley Manning exception to the Bill of Rights is developing as the Obama administration seeks Manning’s punishment no matter what constitutional protections they violate.

On Thursday, April 21, 2011, in San Francisco, a group of Bradley Manning supporters protested the prosecution of Manning at a Barack Obama fund-raising event. One of Manning’s supporters was able to question the president directly afterward, and during the conversation, Obama said on videotape that Manning was guilty.

Can you imagine if the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, pronounced an Iranian military whistleblower “guilty” before any trial was held? Khamenei is the commander in chief of all armed forces in Iran, just as President Obama is the commander in chief of the U.S. armed services. Would anyone in the United States think that a trial before Iranian military officers that followed such a pronouncement could be fair? The U.S. government would use the situation to make propaganda points about the phony justice system in Iran.

President Obama’s pronouncement about Manning—“He broke the law”—amounts to unlawful command influence, which is prohibited in military trials because it is devastating to the military justice system. Manning will be judged by a jury of military officers in a military court where everyone involved follows the orders of the commander in chief. How are these officers going to rule against their commander in chief, especially after Manning has been tortured in solitary confinement for almost a year? Any officer who finds Manning “not guilty” will have no chance of advancing his or her career after doing so.

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