Presentation by Bradley’s attorney David Coombs, transcript and video
December 3, 2012 presentation by Bradley Manning’s attorney David Coombs at the All Souls Church, Washington DC, hosted by the Bradley Manning Support Network. C-Span video below.
Transcript of David Coombs’ initial presentation:
Thank you, thank you. Well, I really appreciate the turn-out here and especially the turn-out by the press – thank you for that. As many of you know, I have not participated in any public events before today. I also avoid any interviews with the media. And it was and still is my belief that Bradley Manning deserves an attorney that is focused on what is happening in the courtroom and only what is happening in the courtroom and that is why I have chosen not to do media interviews at this point. But today, however, marks a milestone and it was actually suppose to be an ending point really to the motions hearings that we were going through, and it would mark the end of the motions phase working our way into the trial phase. And the motion that we were doing and, unfortunately, still are, is the unlawful pre-trial punishment motion. And it’s taking longer than expected, but I must tell you I’m not really that disappointed by that. I’m enjoying my opportunity to cross-examine those who had Bradley Manning in those conditions for nine months.
As I take an opportunity, though, to reflect on the last two years, I think it’s fitting that we’re here today at the end of the motion phase with a motion that really brought the world’s attention to this case and that was how Bradley Manning was being treated. Brad’s treatment at Quantico will forever be etched, I believe, in our nation’s history as a disgraceful moment in time. Not only was it stupid and counter-productive — it was criminal. An entire group of individuals, who I [have] no doubt are honorable men and women, chose to turn a blind eye to how Bradley was being treated. Those who could affect change, did not; they were more concerned about how the attention might be put on them if something happened to Brad as opposed to what was their conduct doing to Brad. But it turns out those same people cared about something more – and what they turned out to care about more was the media impact and for that, I must thank each and every one of you here today. I must thank each and every one who is listening or watching, because without you, change would not have happened. Your actions resulted in Brad being moved from Quantico to Fort Leavenworth, make no mistake about that.
And with your actions, the draconian conditions that he lived under for nine months came to an end. The magical waters of Fort Leavenworth apparently healed him and he was no longer required to live in the conditions that he was in. Now
we all know Brad cannot be here tonight, but he knows tonight is happening, and he wanted me to personally thank each and every one of you. Thank you for taking the time to write to him, for signing petitions, for attending marches, rallies and other public events. Thank you for writing to the military and to our government complaining about his conditions, thank you for donating to his legal defense, for volunteering at Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network. But most of all, he wanted me to thank you for caring, caring about him. The battle that we have waged for the last two years could not have been fought without your help. And it has been a hard fight so far, we are currently at over 450 appellate exhibits in this case and that amounts to just over 20,000 pages of written motions and attachments. I am confident by the time this case comes to a conclusion, the record of trial will be the longest record of trial in our military’s history. And that record will reflect one thing – that we fought at every turn, at every opportunity, and we fought to ensure that Brad received a fair trial.
My office website can keep track of a few things, and I want to share some numbers with you that I am personally, I guess, happy to see and that is over 764,000 people today have gone and read at least something about Brad on my webpage. We’ve received over 72,000 pieces of mail for Brad since his beginning in confinement. Over 14,000 individuals have donated to either Courage to Resist or the Bradley Manning Defense Fund. And 754 supporters have donated directly to his legal defense fund managed by my office.
And today, I want to take the opportunity to thank you. Thank you for getting involved, thank you for taking the time out of your busy life not only to be here today and to listen to what I’m saying, but thank you for caring about Brad, thank you. When I’m in the courtroom, I stand up and I look to my right and I see the United States government, the United States government with all of its resources, all of its personnel. I see them standing against me and Brad, and I have to admit to you that can be rather intimidating and I was intimidated, especially when the President of the United States says, “Your client broke the law.” Especially, when Congress members say, “Your client deserves the death penalty.” I want to tell you, though, today as I stand here, I’m no longer intimidated. I am not intimidated because when I stand up, I know I’m not standing alone. I know I’m not alone because I turn around and I see the support behind me. I see members here today in the audience that are there every time we have a court hearing. I see, what now I’m going to affectionately call the “truth battalion,” those who wear nothing but a…well they were other things…they wear a black shirt, it has the word “truth” on it and they’re behind me. I look there and I know that I also have unlimited personnel and unlimited resources.
But perhaps the best evidence for me that I am not standing alone when I stand for Brad is a website called Iam[.]BradleyManning.org. I personally have to tell you, I go to this site at least once a day. I go to this site when I need to recharge my batteries after working a long day on the case, and I just peruse the photographs – people with a simple statement in front of their face, “I am Bradley Manning.” It’s amazing the power of those simple words. What those words mean to each individual, I do not know, but I want to take a moment to share with you what that may mean to Brad.
During our countless conversations, I had an opportunity to talk to him about his future. And I said, “Brad, what do you want to do when this eventually comes to an end?” And he told me that his dream would be to go to college, to get a degree. And as a young man, at that time he was 23, that makes sense. We all know that college degrees are pretty much the ticket to a productive future. So, I asked Brad, “Well, with that degree, what do you plan on doing?” And he said, “I want to go into public service.” I asked him what he meant by that. He said, “I want to join some sort of campaign group, go into public service, and perhaps one day run for public office.” And I asked Brad why would he want to do that and he said, “I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference in this world.” I can tell you that standing here today, I hope that someday soon, Brad can go to college. I hope that someday soon, he can, in fact, go into public service. But I am confident, as I stand here today, that Brad doesn’t have to worry about making a difference in this world– he has made a difference.
Last Tuesday, the President of the United States signed into law the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. As President Obama was signing this bill into law, Brad and I were in a courtroom for the start of his unlawful pre-trial punishment motion. How can you reconcile the two? I don’t know the answer to that question. One of our nation’s most famous whistle-blowers, Daniel Ellsberg, has, on multiple occasions, spoken out for Brad. History has been the ultimate judge of his courage and sacrifice, history has judged him well. I hope that history will judge Private First Class Bradley Manning in a similar light. I thank you for coming here today, I thank you for listening to me.
Last night, David Coombs, defense attorney in the WikiLeaks case, US. v. Bradley Manning, gave his first public presentation to an audience of over 100 at All Souls Church in Washington DC. In addition to being defense attorney in one of the most controversial and important ongoing cases today, Coombs was described as being a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves having done 12 years of active duty, with 15 years experience practicing and teaching law. Additional speakers included Emma Cape and Kevin Zeese of the Bradley Manning Support Network, Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, and Marsha Coleman-Adebayo of the National Whistleblower Center. Media in attendance included C-SPAN, Reuters, CNN, CBS, 60 Minutes, Fox 5, Arte (Germany), Al-Jazeera, Channel 5 DC, EFE (Spanish news agency), and the DPA (German news agency), among others.
Mr. Coombs spoke on Bradley’s mistreatment at Quantico, Bradley’s personality and future dreams, Mr. Coombs’ own opinion of the military, and how having supporters worldwide inspired him and gave him hope. Bradley Manning spent the first nine months of his pretrial incarceration in a 6×8 ft cell in solitary conditions described as “degrading and inhuman” by the UN Chief Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez. Regarding Mr. Coombs’ lengthy ongoing motion to have Bradley’s charges dismissed due to ‘unlawful pretrial punishment,’ he explained, “I’m enjoying my opportunity to cross-examine those who had Bradley Manning in those conditions for nine months”
The audience was particularly excited to hear Coombs talk about Bradley as a person. Coombs said that Brad is one of the smartest young men he’d ever met, who does things from the heart, and relayed a conversation he had about Bradley’s future goals: ”And he told me that his dream would be to go to college, go into public service, and perhaps one day, run for public office. And I asked Brad, why would he want to do that? And he said, ‘I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference in this world.’”
While Coombs acknowledged he has been intimidated facing off against a government prosecution with “unlimited resources and personnel,” he relayed that actions by supporters gave him hope. He also acknowledged the political significance of his case, “It is by far the most important military case, but it’s a case that is significant for all of us,” says Coombs. “We live in a country that is built on freedom of speech. We live in a country that is built on government accountability and informed citizens.” He said that Bradley is “excited” his case is finally going forward.
Original announcement below:
December 3, 2012
6pm doors/refreshments – 7pm event
All Souls Church Unitarian
1500 Harvard Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20009
(2 blocks from the Columbia Hts Metro Station, Yellow/Green lines; also near the S2, S4, H8 and 42 bus lines)
On December 3, 2012, Army PFC Bradley Manning’s civilian defense lawyer David Coombs will make his first ever public appearance to provide an overview of pending defense motions before the court and other facts regarding U.S. v. Manning. Mr. Coombs is expected to focus on the unlawful pretrial punishment that PFC Manning was subjected to for nine months while at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia – the subject of international outrage and a UN investigation. The government’s denial of Bradley Manning’s right to a speedy trial will also be before the military court. Accused military whistle-blower and Nobel Peace Prize nominee PFC Manning has been in prison for over 900 days. His court martial is currently scheduled to begin February 4, 2013.
Thanks to the release of the documents in question, American journalists and citizens have a far greater window into the reality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and secret corporate influence on foreign policy. While no specific harm resulted from the release of this information, PFC Manning faces life in military prison if convicted.
A $5 to $10 suggested donation at the door will be collected to cover event expenses. The event will also feature brief presentations from Bradley Manning Support Network spokespeople Emma Cape and whistle-blower Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, and an appeal from David House in support of Bradley Manning’s defense fund.
Media are welcome to record Mr. Coombs’ presentation. This event will also be live-streamed at bradleymanning.org. We ask that you consider organizing a group viewing of the presentation. Go here to register, if you wish to host a public screening.
This handicap accessible event is hosted by the Bradley Manning Support Network, with the support of:
Center on Conscience & War
CODEPINK: Women for Peace
Courage to Resist
DC Metro Science for the People
Dorothy Day Catholic Worker – DC
Hiroshima Nagasaki Peace Committee
National Lawyers Guild
Peace Action Montgomery
Veterans for Peace – DC
Veterans for Peace – National
Washington Peace Center
Witness Against Torture
Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom – DC
World Can’t Wait