Sunday, December 18, 2011

Manning’s Sexual Orientation Is Raised In Hearing

I guess we all knew this would happen sooner or later as the U. S. military proceeds in its efforts to prosecute Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking classified documents that among other things confirmed that members of the military were guilty of murdering civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan not to mention many other inconvenient facts that cast an extremely bad light on government activities. What am I talking about? The effort by defense counsel to blame Manning's sexual orientation for his alleged decision to leak documents and engaging in what the military is trying to label as aiding the enemy. Manning's possible motives aside, throughout this matter what has been most disturbing is the fact that the military - and the Obama administration - have been more concerned with trying to crucify Manning than dealing with some of the atrocities disclosed and punishing the guilty. An article in Salon looks at the effort to bring the fact that Manning is gay into the effort to lynch him. Here are highlights:

The young Army intelligence specialist accused of passing government secrets spent his 24th birthday in court Saturday as his lawyers argued his status as a gay soldier before the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” played an important role in his actions.

Lawyers for Pfc. Bradley Manning began laying out a defense to show that his struggles as a gay soldier in an environment hostile to homosexuality contributed to mental and emotional problems that should have barred him from having access to sensitive material.

Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive items to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, including Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, State Department cables and a military video of a 2007 American helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 11 men, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

The Obama administration says the released information has threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America’s relations with other governments. Manning’s lawyers counter that much of the information that was classified by the Pentagon posed no risk.

But among the first issues to arise Saturday was whether Manning’s sexual orientation is relevant to the case against him. The basis for the charges Manning faces are transcripts of online chats with a confidant-turned-government-informant in which Manning allegedly confesses his ties to WikiLeaks and also reveals he is gay.

Prosecutors objected several times to the questions. Kemkes responded that if the government can argue that Manning intended to leak secrets, “what is going on in my client’s mind is very important.”

During its cross examination of Graham, Manning’s defense team also sought to convince the court that not all of the material he is accused of leaking is classified.

Graham, who collected evidence from Manning’s living quarters and workplace, testified that among the items seized was a DVD marked “secret” that contained a military video showing the 2007 incident in which Apache attack helicopters gunned down unarmed men in Iraq. The video was taken from the cockpit of one the helicopters. WikiLeaks posted the video in April 2010, sparking questions about the military’s rules of engagement and whether more needed to be done to prevent civilian casualties. The gunners can be heard laughing and referring to the men as “dead bastards.”

Kemkes, one of Manning’s lawyers, asked Graham whether she knew the video was unclassified. She said she didn’t. “In fact, it was an unclassified video,” Kemkes said.

The case has spawned an international support network of people who believe the U.S. government has gone too far in seeking to punish Manning. More than 100 people gathered outside Fort Meade for a march in support of Manning, some holding signs declaring “Americans have the right to know. Free Bradley Manning” and “Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime.”

I find it very disturbing that the Obama administration is trying to prosecute Manning in considerable part for disclosing the war crimes that I fear were probably all too prevalent under the Bush/Cheney regime - a regime that authorized torture and violated the Geneva Conventions at will.

1 comment:

Nelson G said...

But it was already a given that the Iraq War is/was based on fallacy that Sadam possessed WMDs. The notion that no one knew until Manning decided to become a whistblower and leak evidence to Wikileaks is a notion that invites one of the belief we're stupid or gullible.

As I noted elsewhere, it doesn't matter that Manning is telling the truth; he broke the law, and he needs to accept responsibility for himself just like everyone else.