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Galindez writes: "When a recruit joins the military, he is frequently told that he is giving up many of his rights. Such a surrender of freedom should not be a condition for receiving a media credential to cover a court-martial."

Like checkpoints in Iraq the media's day starts out with their vehicle being searched by a bomb sniffing dog. (photo: Mushtaq Muhammed/Reuters)
Like checkpoints in Iraq the media's day starts out with their vehicle being searched by a bomb sniffing dog. (photo: Mushtaq Muhammed/Reuters)

Armed Intimidation of Journalists Covering Manning Trial

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

29 July 13


RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning

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hen a recruit joins the military, he is frequently told that he is giving up many of his rights. Such a surrender of freedom should not be a condition for receiving a media credential to cover a court-martial.

During the first week of the Bradley Manning court-martial, RSN was not credentialed. The Army claims we were denied for not being listed as media by a media monitoring service.

A few weeks into the trial we finally received credentials, not realizing that the price for access to a computer (only credentialed media have access to a computer in an area where they can watch the trial) is freedom of movement without an escort from the United States Army. You might even have an armed guard looking over your shoulder to make sure you don't access the internet while the court is in session.

Every day we are told that any interviews we want to do have to be arranged by them in advance. I'm sure public affairs officers think they do just as well as the reporters and their support staff at arranging an interview, but who really thinks they would be as persistent as a reporter in chasing down an interview? And why would the Army help you chase down an interview with someone who will not portray them in a good light?

While members of the public are free to move around the base unescorted, the media can only go someplace with an escort. For example, Manning's supporters make their way to the PX daily for lunch, can wander, or even leave Fort Meade all together anytime they want. The credentialed media order lunch from the bowling ally for delivery. When you want to leave for the day you have to wait for public affairs officer to escort you off the base.

Even to move between the three press areas - the Media Operations Center (MOC), the pit where cameras can get a shot of Manning entering or leaving the court, and the satellite truck area - you need an escort, and they stay there with you monitoring you.

Controlled Access to Internet

The MOC is down the road from the courtroom, but under some theory that it is an "extension of the courtroom," the media are not allowed to have their cell phones or air cards in the building. If there is a big development in the trial you don't wait for a recess to report on it, you have to go out to your car to get to your phone or air card to report the story. I do concede that if you have a staff that you can call, there are land lines in the media center that you can use to call a colleague to write up your report.

Your other option is to wait for a recess. During recess, wireless internet is provided for filing purposes, but as soon as court goes back into session the internet is cut off. If you're fast, you might get your filing in during a 15-minute recess, but if you're not, you're out of luck.

Armed Intimidation

On July 25th, the day the closing arguments began, the monitoring was taken to a new level: intimidating. Armed MPs patrolled the media center, looked over reporters' shoulders, and scolded them if they had a browser open.

Nathan Fuller, who was in the MOC, reported: "Unlike ever before, armed soldiers paced around the media center today, creepily monitoring reporters' use of the internet despite the fact that Fort Meade had shut down WiFi in the center when court was in session and banned wireless hotspots. These soldiers reprimanded various journalists for simply having web pages open, and lurked over our shoulders. When asked why, they merely said they had to ensure we didn't transmit any information while not in recess. When told they were creeping us out, they said they would continue anyway. They also used scanning wands to search us for electronic devices upon entry and emptied our bags - a first in the media center."

Several other journalists tweeted their displeasure with the developments:

Charlie Savage: "Creepy having armed MPs in camo patrolling behind each row of reporters & looking over shoulders as we take notes on Manning trial today."

Kevin Gosztola: "Armed military police officer leans over my shoulder & informs me not to have browser windows open during court proceedings."

Alexa O'Brien: "Journalists sending me emails telling me soldier stationed right behind me with a gun. I tell you, OVER THE TOP JUDGE LIND."

The following day the MPs only searched everyone at the door. All belongings were searched and everyone was scanned with hand held metal detectors. For the previous two months nobody had been searched entering the media center.

RSN Suing Army over Media Access Issues

The sentencing phase of the court-martial may take up to four weeks. The prosecutors have already submitted a list of 20 witnesses; the defense will also present witnesses.

At the beginning of the trial, RSN was denied media credentials. We filed a motion to intervene directly with the presiding judge. She denied our motion a week into the proceedings.

We now have a case in federal court that will have a hearing on August 8th in Baltimore, where we will request that we be allowed to file our reports in real time, and to use cell phones in the media center. We are also asking for the court to provide the press with audio recordings of each day's proceedings. Currently the prosecution and defense are provided with a CD at the end of the day. Access to these recordings would help the press fact check their reports, since transcripts are not available until the next day. Those transcripts are not even provided by the court - the Press Freedom Foundation is paying 60 to 120 thousand dollars to provide transcripts to the press and the public.

We understand that cell phones and laptops should not be permitted inside the courtroom, but the media center is not even in the same building. We also don't believe there is a valid reason to deny the general public access to their phones and computers in the overflow viewing areas, which are also not located in the court room.

Why is the Army so afraid to allow the media to report in real time? What do they have to hide?

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. 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.

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Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+44 # phrixus 2013-07-29 12:03
"If you have to do something behind closed doors it's probably unethical, illegal, immoral or just plain damned wrong." ~ anonymous
-19 # HowardMH 2013-07-29 14:19
Why is the Army so afraid to allow the media to report in real time? This is not the Army this is all about Obama the Wimp (wishy-washy, no stones, no backbone, no guts Obama)
+7 # humanmancalvin 2013-07-29 16:21
My Dear HowardMH writes "This is not the Army this is all about Obama the Wimp (wishy-washy, no stones, no backbone, no guts Obama."
The same cowardly Obama that green lighted the taking out of Osama Bin Laden? Or perhaps the same Obama that has killed/captured many more Al Qaeda, Taliban than the infamous fauz-cowboy GW Bush?
It would take me quite a while to write all of the military deeds conducted under the leadership of President Barack Hussein Obama. Perhaps if you took the time to find your news sources outside of the Fair & Balanced (choking sounds) Fox News then maybe, just maybe you would be able to write something intelligent & factual.
Why however am I doubting that you would actually do such a thing? Enjoy your life in the bubble that obviously shields you from reality Sir.
+11 # Artemis 2013-07-30 04:22
What is wrong with you people?
HowardMH gets - 11 for criticizing Obama and humanmancalvin gets +7 for praising Obama's ability to capture Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda followers.
Thanks, but I am not impressed by Obama's military deeds, particularly his killing of hundreds of innocents with his drone attacks.
The question is, who is living in the (American) bubble?
0 # RODNOX 2013-08-02 04:54
just like SAADAM HUSSEIN--OBL was more valuable dead than alive--politica lly at least---after SH was captured and drugged and then hidden again for us to find ? he was in no shape to spill the beans on us--about how we gave him the WMDs---and other info--oil currency etc--MAYBE same issue with OBL---we obviously protected him through much of the BUSH--sorry--TH E CHENEY administration- -plenty of evidence there---OBAMA was just covering his ass by offing him--MY BIG QUESTION IS --WITH ALL THE EVIDENCE THAT OBAMA IS A MAJOR BAD GUY WHY ARE SO MANY ON RSNs chats supporters of this clown ? He has done more to put us into a police/fascist state than anyone
+46 # Merschrod 2013-07-29 12:06
Clearly the establishment is running scared. Control of the press is an absolute necessity - look at those faux White house briefings - in memory of Helen Thomas all printed and electronic media should run black-banner headlines for a month with the statement that the regime is censoring the press.
+16 # Billy Bob 2013-07-29 13:30
I don't know what they're scared of. Frankly, I'm scared of them.
+5 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-07-29 14:21
I think that's an excellent idea which would never happen.
+32 # Adoregon 2013-07-29 12:17
"If a triangle could speak, it would say, in like manner, that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular. Thus each would ascribe to God its own attributes, would assume itself to be like God, and look on everything else as ill-shaped."
-- Baruch Spinoza

So too, does the military have a "god" that is eminently militaristic-- that is, controlling, warlike, hostile and intimidating. Everything else, that is, the civilian world, is "ill shaped." When you are on the military's turf, you are expected to play by their rules, even though the military is ostensibly directed by civilian authority.

Don't think for a moment the military is remotely democratic.
+10 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-07-29 14:22
Plus, they think we are all zombies, partly because we spend so much time staring into screens.
+3 # SundownLF 2013-07-29 21:39
"When you are on the military's turf, you are expected to play by their rules, even though the military is ostensibly directed by civilian authority."

Be nice if you even knew what those 'rules' were!
+45 # hillwright 2013-07-29 12:35
Having lived through the 1950's this is what we were told was the way it was like in the Soviet Union. Some of us knew better but we did believe that it would not happen here.
+19 # LizR 2013-07-29 16:27
Quoting hillwright:
Having lived through the 1950's this is what we were told was the way it was like in the Soviet Union. Some of us knew better but we did believe that it would not happen here.

In a 1950s novel "They shall have stars" James Blish predicted (amongst other things) that by 2018 the USA and USSR would have become indistinguishab le police states. Looks like he was wrong about the USSR side of the equation, but otherwise spot on.
+17 # Scott Galindez 2013-07-29 16:56
The USSR is a police state too...just look at Pussy Riot...
+38 # Billy Bob 2013-07-29 12:36
Conservative rule for the past few decades has gradually turned our country into an authoritarian tyranny. This is ALWAYS what conservative rule leads to. It's not an accident.

And yes, President Obama is a conservative too.
0 # RODNOX 2013-08-02 05:01
thanks for stating that----OB is identified by his actions as a CENTER RIGHT-CORPORITI ST---caught on to this just as first election was happening---he has not stopped trying to perfect this attribute in any way----still talks out of both sides of his mouth----but his actions have pretty much confirmed WE DO HAVE A SHADOW GOVERNMENT in keeps popping its head out of the closet cause its getting over confident in its immortality
+19 # cordleycoit 2013-07-29 12:55
Do not forget "this is what a police state looks like." We are policed in looking fpr the truth and the Obama bots are snapping at our heels like a pack of Dobbies. The once apologists, have become apparatciki leading reporters astray or to professional dishonor and some times to their doom.
+30 # Art947 2013-07-29 12:59
During the Vietnam "conflict", the phrase that was known by the initials, "FTA" was prevalent among those of us who believed that the military was being used for illegal purposes. It is a shame that FTA must now re-enter the lexicon to describe the military-politi cal-industrial complex that once again tramples on human rights. The "officers" who are members of the persecution team, and that includes the "judge" who is presiding over this travesty of justice, should forever hold their heads in shame!
+7 # Billy Bob 2013-07-29 13:35
What does "FTA" stand for?
+14 # Malcolm 2013-07-29 15:40
Quoting Billy Bob:
What does "FTA" stand for?

In the military, it stands for Fuck The Army. At least it did during the Nam invasion.
+1 # Anarchist 23 2013-07-31 14:10
Don't forget S.N.A.F.U. and F.U.B.A.R. the operating modes of the new Untied Stassi Staats of Amnesia. "Where am I going and why am I in this hand-basket?"
0 # LizR 2013-07-29 16:29
"Free The Army" appaarently. Not sure wha it means though.
+3 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-07-29 14:24
Fun, travel and adventure!
+36 # humanmancalvin 2013-07-29 13:14
Freedom of the press in America has the potential to turn into the same media freedoms that are granted in say North Korea or China.
Look at American citizens protesting a high profile event that are corralled like livestock in an extremely secure, fenced in area. Could one imagine the fury of the founding fathers being forcibly told by authorities that they have the right of protest but only if they stage their event in a cordoned off area far removed from the actual event? This type of treatment is exactly what these early American citizens were protesting. All that yammer of Live Free Or Die, freedom of the press, the right to orderly protest & on & on is seeming to mean less & less in the controlled atmosphere of the United States of America.
Where does it end, or does it?
Frightening scenario from where I sit.
+15 # Johnny 2013-07-29 13:26
The Gestapo, with the full cooperation of the courts and media, run the U.S. collective consciousness through terror and intimidation. Why should independent reporters expect exemption?
-10 # universlman 2013-07-29 16:46
Why should Manning for that matter.
+18 # dickbd 2013-07-29 13:27
The army has always been infamous for its unfair "drumhead" justice. That's what it was called by Readers Digest, hardly a liberal publication, back in the days right after the second World War. If it was bad then, it got even worse during the era of McCarthyism and the red scare.

A military and police state seems to grow best when the public is scared of something. For a long time, it was communists. With the fall of communism in Russia, a new boogeyman was needed. A new scare. Terrorists have filled that void, even though Chalmers Johnson had predicted a terrorist attack here because of the actions of the CIA and military abroad.

And no one seems to consider that the 9/11 attacks were a black swan event or that our invasions abroad were counterproducti ve as far as terrorism went.
+20 # Annietime13 2013-07-29 14:01
I think the black banners sound great,,,,,,,
Leave em on website till transparency Is

In the names of MICHAEL HASTINGS
+11 # Annietime13 2013-07-29 14:02
Thank YOU,

for a viable place

+18 # engelbach 2013-07-29 14:22
I see no reason why the proceedings cannot be made public in real time.

The prohibition of broadcast media in courtrooms is an anachronism that has no place in a society in which trials are supposed to be public.
+20 # jayjay 2013-07-29 17:19
I just can't wait for the mainstream media to unleash a wave of protest over these Gestapo-like tactics. Of course, I could be waiting for quite a while.
0 # mjc 2013-08-02 08:55
The police state at work...!
0 # tomtom 2013-08-25 09:55
I'm curious, can an acting President rescind a previous President's clemency/pardon s?

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