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Crikey says: don’t forget Manning still rots in jail

The ADF has a plan for the mental health of our soldiers — but we had to ask for it. Why Christopher Pyne is wrong on education funding. Now Marcia Langton is taking on academic peers. The anti-abortion bill in Parliament we don’t actually need. And inside Clive Palmer’s still-sinkable Titanic.

By any contemporary western standards of justice, the treatment by the US government of alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning has been outrageous.

Last Saturday, Manning spent his 1000th day in prison awaiting trial, a trial repeatedly delayed by the government despite Barack Obama personally declaring Manning was guilty. And the conduct of the US government and its military prosecutors throughout the pre-trial process has been deeply problematic.

Manning’s humiliating treatment in military prison has been found even by the court trying him to be unlawful. As Stella Gray demonstrates in her review of the case for Crikey, the US government has tried to thwart efforts to introduce evidence from government officials themselves of the minimal damage caused by the leaks, and sought to block evidence of Manning’s motive, given the material he is alleged to have leaked included evidence of war crimes and the deliberate killing of journalists.

Most alarmingly, Manning has also been charged with aiding the enemy, which would establish a precedent that any release of national security-related information to the media could result in charges that carry the death penalty. This is not merely alarming for press freedom, but deeply hypocritical from an administration that, like its predecessors, enthusiastically leaks national security information to trusted journalists in the pursuit of political and personal goals.

The vindictive treatment of Manning and the disturbing attempt to criminalise transparency raise deep suspicions about the bland US assurances that it has no interest in Julian Assange. A grand jury investigation of Assange is a matter of public record; the Obama administration has successfully orchestrated a financial blockade of WikiLeaks; it has harassed and tried to suborn WikiLeaks associates in the hope of having them inform on Assange; it has repeatedly prosecuted whistleblowers even when they have revealed outrageous examples of government waste.

Its treatment of Manning suggests it will do everything it possibly can to subject whistleblowers and those who aid them to exemplary punishment.

3
  • 1
    Posted Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Yes, a bloody disgrace and an eloquent warning.

  • 2
    zut alors
    Posted Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    A prime example of how justice works in the world’s ‘greatest’ democracy.

    Any statements the US government makes about Assange will be laden with deceit and their usual paranoia. With friends like these…

  • 3
    Pedantic, Balwyn
    Posted Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    The treatment of Manning is abhorrent, however the majority of Americans would believe that he betrayed their country. Their opinion is based on the ranting of a right wing press (lead by the dirty digger), xenophobia and moral judgement to condemn anything perceived to be anti USA.
    But are they wrong? Most people would judge any action that had the potential to place the lives of their sons and daughters at risk as traitorous. In the same circumstances, so would Australia.

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