National Lawyers Guild calls for dismissal of charges against Bradley Manning
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NLG President David Gespass, said, “Manning’s prosecution is calculated to distract us from the real problem, that the U.S. government is once again hiding from the public proof of crimes committed in our name.”
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Kathleen Gilberd, executive director of the NLG’s Military Law Task Force (MLTF) said, “Manning is being prosecuted for patriotic acts akin to the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. His prosecution highlights both the way that military proceedings subvert fundamental due process rights and the dangers of government secrecy to a free society.”
The potential for prosecutorial abuse stems from the power that commanding officers have as the convening authorities over court martial hearings. The convening authority selects the officer who first investigates a case, recommends charges against the accused, and then selects the “members” of the court martial, who form the jury. Particularly in a high profile case such as this, where the government has already indicated its determination to convict and punish Manning, the ability of the convening authority to control the process and the outcome is overwhelming.
“The court martial system is fraught from beginning to end with the danger of command influence,” noted MLTF Chair James Branum. “It has permeated this case from the beginning and emanated from the Commander-in-Chief on down, making due process impossible. In this situation, dismissal of all charges is the only just option.”