Update 5/29/12: Army continues withholding evidence, military continues restricting access
Army continues to withhold key documents from Bradley Manning trial. The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington reports on the newest defense motions that attorney David Coombs published on his blog last week, which argue the government is withholding essential evidence from Bradley’s trial, such as internal impact assessments conducted throughout several government agencies:
Coombs describes an astonishing lack of diligence on the part of the military authorities to meet its obligations. Coombs writes that he has just learned that it took army prosecutors more than a year even to start the process of searching for Brady materials.
Manning was first charged as the WikiLeaks suspect on 5 July 2010, but it was not until 29 July 2011 that the government sent out a memo to relevant army officials asking them to search for and keep information that should be disclosed to defence lawyers.
On top of that unexplained delay, the army then discovered on 17 April 2012 – fully nine months after the request went out and 21 months after Manning was charged – that absolutely no action had been taken by any of those officials.
Pilkington then details Coombs’ specific requests that the Army continues to deny, despite its legal obligations, concluding:
“To allow the government to restrict the defence’s access to this information,” Coombs concludes, “is to provide the government with an unfair tactical advantage that will likely prejudice Manning’s right to a fair trial.”
Kevin Gosztola also reports on the government’s withholding of evidence, explaining how the government’s response to WikiLeaks has been to “sharply push back in the other direction,” toward more secrecy and less accountability and openness.
‘Choking off coverage of Bradley Manning’s court-martial.’ Lawyer Shayana Kadidal of the CCR, which last week filed a joint lawsuit against the U.S. seeking transparency in Bradley’s trial, articulates the problems with the military’s secrecy at Fort Meade. First observing that even military tribunals at Guantanamo provided a publicly available transcript, Kadidal writes:
No such luck in the court-martial proceedings for accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning. None of the court’s orders have been published. None of the transcripts have been released. And none of the government filings have been posted. Not even with redactions — nothing.
Kadidal explains how this insidiously prevents media attention, by appearing open but providing no documents:
…astonishingly, I counted only two members of the national media. It occurred to me then that the surest way for the government to kill off media interest in a case is to choke off the flow of interesting detail about the proceedings. Cutting off access completely tends to pique the media’s interest by making it obvious the government is hiding something — as the government has learned repeatedly at Guantanamo. But the simulacrum of openness occurring in the Manning trial — nominally open courtroom proceedings that are incomprehensible to the press and public because all the underlying documents are hidden away — is calculated to drive the press away with boredom.
The government has yet to publicly respond to the CCR’s lawsuit demanding openness and accountability in Bradley’s trial. (Read more…)