Bradley Manning hearing focuses on unlawful pre-trial punishment

Naomi Spencer

The Army’s pre-trial hearing resumed Tuesday against Bradley Manning, the 24-year-old private who is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military and government documents to the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks.

Manning is expected to speak this week about his nine-month confinement at the Quantico, Virginia Marine Corps prison. There he was held in isolation in a 6-by-8-foot cell more than 23-and-a-half hours a day. He was made to stay awake from 5 in the morning until 10 at night with nothing to do, forbidden even to exercise. Guards ordered him to strip naked and stand in humiliating positions in their presence. He was denied such basic items as eye glasses and bedding.

Manning’s testimony will be the first public comment by the former intelligence analyst in more than two years.

The pre-trial proceeding, known as an Article 32 hearing, is scheduled to run through Sunday, December 2 at Fort Meade, Maryland. It is the last in a long series of hearings before a full court-martial trial scheduled for February 4. Manning elected to be tried by a military judge, rather than by a jury.

Manning faces possible life imprisonment if he is convicted of “aiding the enemy” under the Espionage Act. He faces 22 separate charges for allegedly accessing classified information while stationed in Baghdad in 2009-2010.

Many of the files Manning is accused of leaking document war crimes by the US military, most notably a video published by WikiLeaks under the title “Collateral Murder” that captures a 2007 US helicopter attack on Iraqi civilians that left 12 dead, including children and two Reuters journalists. The military had characterized all of the dead as “enemies killed in action.” Other documents from Iraq showed tens of thousands of previously unreported civilian deaths and a formal military policy of covering up torture, rape and murder.

Tuesday’s proceedings focused on the testimony of commanders at Quantico. Wednesday will center on the testimony of behavioral health specialists at the brig.

Democracy, Democracy, But The Courts Can’t Touch Me

Seifeldin Fawzy

Protests in downtown Cairo on November 23rd. (Image
originally posted to flickr by Jonathan Rashad.)

If allowed to stand, the decree’s “unprecedented assault on judicial independence” would result in inviolable rights that would render any hints of democracy in Egypt meaningless. Crucially, it would also mean that there would be no channel to challenge Morsi and the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly and shura council.

Through the release of a controversial set of executive decrees, President Mohamed Morsi has granted himself unheralded powers—powers normally reserved for dictators, not democratic leaders. The raft of decrees effectively renders him as “above the law,” meaning that the jurisdiction of Egypt’s courts no longer applies to the Egyptian president, or any of his Islamist-controlled executive bodies—an unprecedented move that not even Hosni Mubarak himself dared to employ.

The promises of democracy, social justice, and transparency in government remain as out of reach right now as they were during the Mubarak era. Egypt’s president holds executive powers and legislative powers (which he usurped based on the dissolution of Parliament last June), and is no longer checked by any judicial authority. Thus any hope of a system of “checks and balances” is now in tatters. Morsi claimed in his speech on Friday that he does not seek to monopolize power. Yet his recent actions seem to suggest otherwise.

The Osama bin Laden Myth

Paul Craig Roberts

The interview below with Osama bin Laden was conducted by the Karachi, Pakistan, daily newspaper, Ummat and published on September 28, 2001, 17 days after the alleged, but unsubstantiated, al Qaeda attack of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center twin towers and Pentagon. The interview was sensational. The alleged “mastermind” of 9/11 said that he and al Qaeda had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. The British Broadcasting Corporation’s World Monitoring Service had the interview translated into English and made public on September 29, 2001.

Osama bin Laden’s sensational denial was not reported by the US print and TV media. It was not investigated by the executive branch. No one in the US Congress called attention to bin Laden’s refusal of responsibility for the greatest humiliation ever inflicted on a superpower.

To check my memory of the lack of coverage, I googled “Osama bin Laden’s interview denying responsibility for 9/11.” Some Internet sites reproduced the interview, but the only mainstream news source that I found was a 1 minute YouTube video from CNN in which the anchor, after quoting an al Jazeera report of bin Laden’s denial, concludes that “we can all weigh that in the scale of credibility and come to our own conclusions.” In other words, bin Laden had already been demonized, and his denial was not credible.

The sensational news was unfit for US citizens and was withheld from them by the American “free press,” a press free to lie for the government but not to tell the truth.

Obviously, if bin Laden had outwitted not only the National Security Agency, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the FBI, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies, all intelligence agencies of Washington’s NATO puppet states, Israel’s Mossad, and in addition the National Security Council, NORAD, US air traffic control, and airport security four times on the same morning, it would be the greatest feat in world history, a movement building feat that would have made al Qaeda the most successful anti-imperialist organization in human history, an extraordinary victory over “the great satan” that would have brought millions of new recruits into al Qaeda’s ranks. Yet the alleged “mastermind” denied all responsibility.

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