RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Fuller writes: "On the final day of litigation in Bradley Manning’s court martial, we saw a government dead set on persecuting a whistle-blower to deter those who he might inspire, and a defense intent on salvaging the young soldier’s future. "

Bradley Manning is now awaiting sentencing. (art: K. Rudin/RSN)
Bradley Manning is now awaiting sentencing. (art: K. Rudin/RSN)

Defense Asks Judge to Let Bradley Manning Have a Life

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network

19 August 13


RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning

rsn fr splash promo


n the final day of litigation in Bradley Manning's court martial, we saw a government dead set on persecuting a whistle-blower to deter those who he might inspire, and a defense intent on salvaging the young soldier's future.

David Coombs, lead defense attorney, implored military judge Col. Denise Lind to give Manning a sentence that "allows him to have a life," after prosecutors requested the judge imprison him for 60 years and fine him $100,000.

Don't "rob him of his youth," Coombs said, in requesting a sentence that would allow Manning to one day find love, "maybe get married, maybe have children, perhaps have a relationship with his children's children."

"Perhaps his biggest crime is that he cared about the loss of life," Coombs said of Manning, asking the judge to account for his pure intentions. Manning explained in February that he was disturbed by the "seemingly delightful bloodlust" his fellow soldiers displayed when gunning down unarmed civilians and journalists in the Collateral Murder video. Coombs portrayed Manning as a humanist, someone who cared not only for American troops but also for contractors and local nationals in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Coombs recounted military psychologist Dr. David Moulton's testimony, regarding Manning's hope not only to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also to show that future wars were unnecessary. "This is the person the government wants to give 60 years," he said.

Countering government claims of great harm, Coombs said that the impact from WikiLeaks' releases was "temporary in nature," and that statements on long-term damage were "speculative at best." Prosecution witnesses could connect no casualties to the disclosures, and Judge Lind rejected some testimony speculating about future or indirect harm. Coombs acknowledged that the government addressed what it felt were legitimate impacts with the Information Review Task Force (IRTF), and that Manning doesn't intend to "shirk away" from those impacts, but to claim that they are ongoing, continuing, or getting worse "is to ignore reality."

Explaining Manning as a person, not a symbol, Coombs said Manning is a "young man," an "intelligent man. He's a little geeky at times. But he's caring. He's compassionate. He's respectful." But he had personal issues as well, including gender-identity dysphoria, Coombs said, and the military provided no guidance, no one to turn to for help. He said so "not to excuse" or "minimize" Manning's conduct, but to explain "what this young man was going through."

Manning wasn't accepted by his fellow soldiers, one of whom shoved a door in his face, while others picked on him for being small and gay. His supervisor, Master Sergeant Paul Adkins, was aware of his issues but did nothing to help him.

Despite his issues, Manning endured three years of confinement, some of which (more than nine months in solitary confinement) even the court determined was unlawful, Coombs noted. That shows that he's resilient, and that resilience makes him a "prime candidate for rehabilitation" - a concept the government ignores.

The prosecution is "interested in one thing, and that's punishment," Coombs said.

Sixty years to set an example

Government lawyer Captain Joe Morrow, arguing for a 60-year sentence and $100,000 fine, made the prosecution's intentions crystal clear.

"There's value in deterrence," he said. "This court must send a message to any soldier contemplating compromising national security information." The government wants to set an example of Manning, hoping to instill fear in those who would expose abuses as he did. As Coombs noted later, 60 years would be nearly three times Manning's current age, and it's longer than the lives of any lawyer in the courtroom. It's also long after the documents Manning released would be declassified: most are scheduled to stay secret for just 25 years.

Capt. Morrow reviewed the government's witnesses, beginning with Brig. Gen. Robert Carr, who ran the IRTF, which pulled more than 300 personnel from their jobs and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars identifying and notifying Iraq and Afghan nationals who could be discovered through the war logs' release. He reviewed State Department witnesses who claimed the release of the diplomatic cables harmed our relationships with countries all over the world, namely with a "chilling effect" that made foreign diplomats and otherwise cooperative sources reluctant to speak with the United States or trust it to keep their secrets. He frequently mentioned that these witnesses went into specific detail in the prosecution's many classified sessions, closed off to those without Secret clearances.

Challenging the contention that Manning's unit or command were at fault, Capt. Morrow said, "The Army is not on trial, the chain of command is not on trial. PFC Manning is on trial."

"The Army didn't betray PFC Manning," he said. "PFC Manning betrayed the Army."

Coombs to handle immediate appellate review

After closing arguments, Manning told Judge Lind that he chose Coombs to handle the first appellate process, which is an application for clemency to Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the Convening Authority in this court martial. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+23 # AMLLLLL 2013-08-19 22:01
Sad that the military can act with impunity and no one steps up to say, NO MORE. If they were honest they'd award a medal for the slickest cover-up.
+4 # ER444 2013-08-20 01:34
Putin must be laughing his ass off. The hypocricy of the US government is appalling.Putin is no better than a mafia boss, the difference is he doesn't pretend to be anything else. Shame!
+13 # Douglas Jack 2013-08-19 22:23
PREDETERMINED SHOW TRIAL. Bradley Manning as a Whistleblower made a poor choice in David Coombs as a lawyer. Coombs refuses to take the military, US Government & its controlling corporations to the court of public opinion. This is exactly what enabled Daniel Ellsberg to walk free. Coombs refuses press interviews. Ellsberg immediately engaged the press to maintain his freedom & exposure during his trial. Bradley while incredibly intelligent, seems to act as a high-strung individual jeopardizing his well being & the national interest when he apologizes for his War-Crimes leak. Bradley has been tortured so we don't expect him to stand firm for his own rights but Coombs is a shameless army pawn. Standing firm for Brad is Coombs job, but he reneges his responsibilitie s, when the issue is not Bradley's reporting but the War-Crimes & those complicit in them. Coombs is indoctrinated in & acts in subservience to military rules such as the UCMJ. Coombs is ignorant that; everything in the UCMJ is supposed to serve the US constitution. As a system pawn Coombs is not cognizant that; the US colonial government is itself a war criminal, following a long line of illegal, immoral & genocidal acts. All of these issues should have been raised in the trial of the court of public opinion. The only reason Bradley did what he did was for this aim, otherwise we would still be ignorant for much of the war-crimes he exposed.
0 # RLF 2013-08-20 04:42
I think you might be right. Coombs and the judge both are goose stepping soldiers for christ like much of the army. (Except the one that are there because they thought it would be like a video game.) I expect 60 years and then it will be commuted to 10 by Obummer leaving.
+7 # Scott Galindez 2013-08-20 07:47
I don't think you would be as critical of Coombs if you were at the trial. The details of the Ellsberg case are very diferent, and you fail to point out that the charges were dropped due to Government misconduct, not because of Ellsberg's defense.

Ellsberg was also tried in federal court, not a military court-martial.

Everything you claim Coombs didn't do, he did. He was also hands down the best litigant in the courtroom.

His opening statement was themed on, everything changed on Christmas Eve 2009, when Manning couldn't understand why people were laughing and celebrating the death of civilians. Coombs did argue Manning's motives, In my opinion he turned Lamo into a witness for the defense.

Everyones criticism of the sentencing arguments are misplaced in my opinion, Bradley was already convicted, Coombs job was to reduce the sentence, not make him a martyr and throw him to the wolves.
0 # Douglas Jack 2013-08-20 19:39
Thanx Scott, I read your articles with great appreciation for your involvement & knowledge as a lawyer & learn a great deal. As well from a distance, I've read & watched what RSN presents of David Coombs. I believe David C. is sincere, however like many he puts the UCMJ in a separate category from the US Constitution, Nuremberg Principles, Geneva Convention, Law of Necessity, when UCMJ is subservient to all of these & more. Knowing the connection between all of these bodies of law is essential, but the defence was silent on this point.

Daniel Ellsberg made sure these connections were made in the court of public opinion & thus was able to hold criminal government & military actions in check. Daniel E's proactive engagement of press even though they were at 1st reluctant to report, eventually won out. Daniel's was a very hard case to win given similar Finance-Media-M ilitary-Industr ial-Complex manipulations of legal system, press, government etc.

I maintain Brad is misrepresented considering Ellsberg's unusual (you won't find his legal finesse employing the court of public opinion in most law books) but winning strategy. I suggest the defence team spend more time with Daniel Ellsberg. After listening to David C., From what I heard, I don't believe David C. nor Denise Lind have independence of knowledge from the system which he serves nor does he think across systems. Bradley can still win.
+2 # 2013-08-19 23:39
Rob Carter Comment 20th August 2013:
Last night I watched a Video called "Nothing but the Truth" first notice explained 'Though inspired by actual events, the following is a fictional film. That does not depict any actual people, or events.
Nothing but the Truth is a 2008 American drama film written and directed by Rod Lurie. According to comments made by Lurie in The Truth Hurts, a bonus feature on the DVD release, his inspiration for the screenplay was the case of journalist Judith Miller, who in July 2005 was jailed for contempt of court for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating a leak naming Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative, but this was merely a starting point for what is primarily a fictional story. In an April 2009 interview, Lurie stressed, "I should say that the film is about neither of these women although certainly their stories as reported in the press went into the creation of their characters and the situation they find themselves in."

Yaru Film Releasing never really got to the USA market as they were forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Who would dare guess why, only a conspiracy theorist would Draw the numerous whistle-blower cases to see a probability of realism hidden.
Rolling Stone rated it 3 or 4 star but you won't find a DVD in USA just buy an Asian black market one for $2 and have a cry.
+7 # futhark 2013-08-20 00:19
If Bradley Manning is not allowed to have a full and free life, it speaks ill for the future of the United States of America.
+9 # Kathymoi 2013-08-20 08:08
I am still hoping that he will get the Nobel Peace prize, but that would be a daring move for the awarders, wouldn't it.
+4 # Grannybaby 2013-08-20 01:57
Douglas Jack: hindsight doesn't help. Being positive now is helpful. You sound very bright. I hope you spoke up before. Let's be grateful for Mr Coombs who is doing something as best he can with the best intentions. You sound frustrated and I feel the same. Let's be hopeful and positive that Judge Col Lind will do what's right and feel our positive vibes.
Thank you for caring enough to write.
-1 # Douglas Jack 2013-08-20 21:22
Grannybaby, The opportunity which still remains undeveloped is holding Judge Lind, military, war-corporation s & government to the fire of their war-crimes & the shame of their show-trial. David Coombs isn't able to take put his benefactors to the tempering fire of truth because he believes 'the military system of justice is the best'.

No time for frustration considering the tasks we all have before us to turn this planet/ship around before oblivion. In order to metamorphose, humanity must become aware of our ancient legal-codes, reliable abundant compassionate peaceful 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') roots. The only human-based sovereignty, laws & customs here & worldwide is indigenous. Even though colonial institutions make it their illegal business to turn the individual against themselves & their ancestors, we can rediscover the paths of mutual-aid & welcome which have been designed to recover our souls.
+7 # jwb110 2013-08-20 10:24
The blood will be on the hands who set up this kangaroo court in the first place. I hope the judge and prosecution never have another decent nights sleep.
0 # Jack Gibson 2013-08-20 12:29
I hope, and pray, that none of Bradley's "defense" team does either.
+1 # Jack Gibson 2013-08-21 07:23
Let me guess, casual comment readers here who aren't familiar with the context of my comments, are assuming, because of what I said in my previous comment, that I'm "for" Bradley Manning's prosecution and conviction, right? Well, I'm not. I simply believe that his "defense" team sold him out, and that's why I say that I hope they never have another decent night's sleep.
0 # Douglas Jack 2013-08-21 20:10
Jack G. From previous comments by David Coombs about: 1) a supposed excellence of the military justice system (I don't see it), 2) Judge Lind's impartiality & 3) his trial reluctance to engage the Court of Public Opinion through media about corporate, military & government war crimes, I also consider Coombs complicit in Bradley's Show Trial.

However today, to Coombs' credit on national radio, I heard him explicitly denounce US military & government war-crimes. This is a good step albeit late in the process. Coombs needs coaching from Daniel Ellsberg in order to understand that the system he devoted his life to is massively manipulated. Ellsberg will be able to help Coombs understand the illegal illusion of his career.

If Coombs has been touched by Bradley's sincerity pre-brainwashin g, then he should make forceful public statements about the war-crimes as systematic throughout the Finance-Media-M ilitary-Industr ial-Legislative -Complex, about manipulation throughout the UCMJ & the US as an illegal colonial empire. For insomniacs, retiring from complicity in world abuse & becoming active in sharing, caring, solidarity & healing, is the best medicine. Some of the red-markers on RSN just haven't gone very deep in their research.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.