Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bradley Manning Landmark

Baby boomers growing up learned of cases like the Scopes “Monkey Trial.” Clarence Darrow, perhaps the best American lawyer of all time, made it a landmark.
Although teacher John Thomas Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution, which is still a hot topic, he was released on a technicality.
Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed in 1927 for two murders committed in South Braintree, Mass., authorities said, on behalf of anarchists. Historians remain split over whether they were guilty.
Manning’s lawyer and the prosecution were gave final arguments today in his preliminary hearing but the judge, who limited the defense to two witnesses, has until mid-January to render a verdict. And it won’t be conclusive. He could be ordered to go through the whole thing again in a court martial.
Manning’s case is more controversial than either, even before a verdict, for two reasons.  He was not fit for such classified duty. He demonstrated it on numerous occasions when he lost control, and even reported himself.  As a writer on disability because of PTSD I know what it is like to contend with overwhelming forces.
The second reason is the Army has demonstrated it is not capable of dealing with such cases. This can be partly blamed on making it all-volunteer. Rome’s downfall was preceded by a decision to replace draftees, indeed only those who owned property, with mercenaries. It is all a chimera meant to allow presidents to get away with unwanted wars.
Legally, there is a third reason. His lengthy detention, which included the punishment of being held in solitary, is illegal.
My view is based on having covered military trials, murderous military fiascos, and Wikileaks itself.
Manning, who now is being presented as literally gaga, is accused of walking out of an Iraq base with 251,000 classified documents he had put on a DVD marked Lady Gaga.
The documents, including a video showing what appeared to be an unjustified U.S. helicopter attack on Baghdad civilians, reached Wikileaks which published them selectively.
Any analysis of what happened should begin with noting American soldiers are required by military to report war crimes.
In fact, I have witnessed time and time again soldiers being given white glove treatment in court martials for killings and wounding of civilians.
Pat Tillman, an NFL football star, a volunteer, should not have died of friendly fire in Afghanistan.
In one case, a soldier charged with others for throwing two non-combatant Iraqis in a river where one drowned, was given a leading question. He didn’t know the man was going to drown or he would have intervened. “I wouldn’t go that far,” he said to courtroom laughter as I recall.
Then the defense asked why the other man, who was a witness, was not in court or on a televideo. The Army said they couldn’t find him.
That led to the defense saying the AP had found him an interviewed him, which was true.
Suddenly the military judge wanted me, then an AP reporter, to say whether this was true or not. Of course I refused to comment. And this was something that could have been found on Google.
The Army told me over and over again that potential sufferers of PTSD would be stopped from deploying. Yet history shows many were, including some who had already been deployed and thus suffered the psychiatric wound.
A soldier-translator was charged with cowardice, the first case since Vietnam, because he freaked out when he witnessed the body of an Iraqi killed by the Special Forces he accompanied. Publicity led to his discharge.
A doctor who was in charge of dispensing medicine that led to the death of a soldier who had returned from deployment with serious psychiatric problems. Civilians seemed just as incompetent. An El Paso County doctor got the man’s race wrong.
Once, after listening to the umpteenth attempt by Army commanders to convince reporters that PTSD was not cowardice, an Army captain leaned over to me and said it was all horseshit; these people were all cowards.
Dr. Nidal Malik Hasan, a Virginia-born Muslim psychiatrist, killed  13 at Fort Hood. His likely behavior should have been obvious.  In World War 2, the Army tended to avoid sending Japanese Americans to fight in the Pacific.
It was not the first time a Muslim soldier had killed his Christian counterparts.
In military and civilian courts it has been shown that Muslims sometimes get special treatment, at least from journalists.


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