Too Much Secrecy: Press Ask The Court To Open Up Bradley Manning Court Martial

from the how-we-got-into-this-mess dept

As the case against Bradley Manning moves forward, the government is doing what it always seems to do: trying to keep everything secret. However, over 30 news organizations have now asked the armed forces appeals court to open up, allowing public access to motions, briefs and written rulings associated with the case. The military’s response has been that the only way the press should be able to access such documents (which are regularly available via things like PACER in the civilian court system) is through filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, which can take a long time, and are all too often ignored. Of course, it’s the over aggressive attempts to keep information secret that may have resulted in this case even existing in the first place, as Manning allegedly believed that the over-classification of documents was harming US interests.

This Court should find that such an arrangement is uncon-stitutional. More than thirty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a presumptive right of access to criminal proceed-ings. See Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 573 (1980) (plurality opinion). As discussed below, the Court has reiterated its holding repeatedly, and the nation’s military courts have applied the same reasoning to extend this right of public access to courts-martial. Amici recognize that various interests, including the need to protect national security information, may justify sealed records in certain circumstances. They do not, however, general-ly justify complete secrecy. In fact, previous disputes about claims of national security have been litigated in the open: “Briefs in the Pentagon Papers case and the hydrogen bomb plans case were available to the press, although sealed appendices discussed in detail the documents for which protection was sought.”

Hopefully the court recognizes the significant public interest here and makes such documents public by default.

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Companies: wikileaks

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Comments on “Too Much Secrecy: Press Ask The Court To Open Up Bradley Manning Court Martial”

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Anonymous Coward says:

no way is the government or the military gonna release any of the ‘evidence’ over Manning’s arrest and detention. if they did, it would be obvious that they had no right to hold him how they have for the time they have. make themselves look like the villains? never gonna happen!! and if Obama gets re-elected, be prepared for more of the shit, lies and removal of freedoms we have been going through this term!

average_joe (profile) says:

Of course, it’s the over aggressive attempts to keep information secret that may have resulted in this case even existing in the first place, as Manning allegedly believed that the over-classification of documents was harming US interests.

Apologist much? Classified information is supposed to be kept secret. That’s the whole point of it being classified. Individual soldiers don’t get to decide which classified information should be released to the public. I don’t care what he “allegedly believed.” You really won’t anyone responsible for what they do with a computer, will you?

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Can it be classified if everyone knows it? Is it rational to make it as though the leak had never occurred?

I also find it interesting that you think Mike or, well, anyone here thinks that being on a computer automagically absolves anyone of guilt. It doesn’t. However, it is relatively difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt to link a person with an offence from a computer (barring, of course, stupidity of some sort.)

arcan says:

Re: Re:

so a government document saying some guy doesn’t like donuts can be classified ultra top we will kill you if you stand in the same building secret? (it was an example…) also where does this condone torture, and all the other human rights violations that have occurred? are you going to have the US break the geneva conventions for some guy releasing documents that never should have been that highly classified in the first place?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Cynicism or experience talking...

Let’s see, considering the criminal acts would have been committed by highly ranked/placed military/government officials, who exactly should he have reported it to?

Report it to his superiors in the military? It get’s buried and he gets court marshaled.

Report it to the government? It get’s buried and he gets court-marshaled.

Keep in mind the info he leaked made a lot of very highly placed people in the government/military look very stupid (at best), so all of those affected would have done everything they could to see that none of it saw the light of day had he tried going that route.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Cynicism or experience talking...

Uhh, business and government based whistleblowing is(I believe) also supposed to be protected, but that hasn’t stopped the government or private businesses from doing their best to crush anyone who makes them look bad via it.

‘Supposed to’ is meaningless, all that matters is what’s actually practiced, and these days whistleblowing of any sort is very much not treated as a protected activity.

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Did he follow the protocols for whistleblowing and exhaust all other avenues? Or did he just take the law into his own hand? Honest question. I’m curious too if you think it’s OK for soldiers entrusted with classified information to decide for themselves which information to make public. I don’t. And please explain how all the information he released related to wrongdoings that were covered up. Do you really think all of the hundreds of thousands of documents exposed cover ups? Give me a break. This is a punk who got caught betraying his country, and he deserves whatever he gets.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

Apologist much? Classified information is supposed to be kept secret. That’s the whole point of it being classified. Individual soldiers don’t get to decide which classified information should be released to the public. I don’t care what he “allegedly believed.” You really won’t anyone responsible for what they do with a computer, will you?

There is a big difference between making something classified to protect lives and the working of the government and making something classified to cover up illegal activities.

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yes, I do. I have lots of family and friends in the military and government, and they all are open and honest people who do the right thing and see that others do too. I don’t really understand your point. Duty and honor means the world to them. He could have reported the crimes he thought he had evidence of. Did he not even try to follow protocol? Or did he download hundreds of thousands of classified documents, knowing that it was a crime, and then publish them for all to see?

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

none sense
u r an idjit and a propaganda victim, it really is useless to ‘argue’ with an authoritarian who is incapable of thinking for themselves, and capitulates TOTALLY to big brother…

YOU -and your like- are one of the major reasons why we sliding down the fascist rabbit hole, but you are not self-aware enough -or able to believe in your own -albeit limited- powers of reasoning, and give Big Daddy total authority…
you are a tool and a fool, and while i wouldn’t generally care that much, you are FAR too representative of the type of NON thinking that authoritarians engage in…

why do you hate freedom ? ? ?
(more to the point: why are you afraid of freedom ?)

art guerrilla
aka ann archy
art guerrilla at windstream dot net
(i -or virtually any techdirt regular- *could* educate you, but the story of teaching a pig how to sing comes to mind…)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Man aj, I’m kind of glad you weren’t around during the founding of the United States of America. You’d have been the first one to say, “Get ’em up against the wall.” In regards to George Washington and all the others.


Or should I say, “Nonsense. There are protocols for discussing suspected abuses of power. And those protocols don’t include becoming a criminal yourself and betraying your nation by releasing hundreds of thousands of tea bags. I hope they make an example of them.” Wow, that worked almost perfectly.

Like I said, good thing you weren’t around then. Or heck, good thing you weren’t around in the early 1960s during the free rights movement. Peacefully marching in the streets?! How dare they! Someone take a fire hose to them! Don’t they know there are protocols to follow to get others to recognize that the color of your skin has no bearing on what rights may or may not be granted to you?! Rawr!

And might I add, don’t trot out the “I know people in the military who’d never do this and would follow orders… blah blah blah”. That’s a horrible thing to say. I mean “just follow orders” works when convenient, right? But when it was used at Nuremburg, no sirree bob. That just won’t do.

Do you read what you write? You sound like a fanatical extremist. And that’s not even close to okay.

Anon E Moose says:

I'm just one of the trees (i.e., pls. don't taz me bro)

How many years has this guy been in prison (and tortured… stress… cold isolation)? Two? Three? Before a trial!!! This is the (new) Amerikan way. Punish before a trial. Even the prez said he was guilty (justifying his “unusual” treatment). No need for judicial proceedings (bring on the drones). The old Russia had their Potemkin Village (sp?), a “pretend” village with false fronts to fool the visitors. The new USSA has a pretend democracy and judicial system in our Lets Pretend civilized democracy, with a dog a pony show every four years to elect (chose one: bad or worse). What a life (got job? Got liberty?).

relghuar says:


Off topic: is it just me, or is the word “hopefully” terribly overused in techdirt articles?
I don’t mean it as an insult to techdirt authors, or suggestion to find another word, just an observation of the trend – often there’s not much else that can be said on the discussed topic.
Well… Hopefully, in the future we won’t have to say “hopefully” so often! 😉

The Spork (profile) says:

what ever happened

to the right to a fair and speedy trial by a jury of your peers? Being detained for three years without a trial hardly constitutes a fair and speedy trial. Oh wait; now I remember: thanks to the NDAA and PATRIOT acts,we lost those right to the greedy retards of Wall Street and Big Brother. somebody PLEASE let me beat the Sh*t (and money) out of them so we can finally progress out of the political dark ages reminiscent of the Salem witch trials we have regressed into (I’m looking at you, Koch Brothers, MPAA, etc) and into the FRIGGIN 21st Century.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

A Comparison.

On 20 July 1944, Colonel Claus Schenk, Count von Stauffenberg, attempted to assassinate Adolph Hitler with a bomb concealed in a briefcase. Stauffenberg was one of a group of German officers who had become alarmed, both at the evils of the Nazi regime, and at the disasters it had plunged Germany into. The bomb missed, and Stauffenberg was subsequently shot. Many of his co-conspirators were hanged with piano wires.

average_joe would disapprove of Stauffenberg, of course. At any rate, by comparison, Bradley Manning seems a model of restraint.

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: A Comparison.

That’s a fairly extreme example. I have no trouble with the notion of anyone murdering Adolf Hitler in 1944. Are you suggesting that the wrongdoing that Manning exposed was on the same level as Hitler? Give me a break. Manning could have followed protocol and blown the whistle internally. Did he even try? And you still haven’t accounted for the hundreds of thousands of classified materials that he did release that didn’t show any kind of wrongdoing.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A Comparison.

Aber sie sind kein Deutscher, nicht Wahr?

It’s always easier to think of the other country as the bad guys, and to be wise after the fact. What “average joes” did in this country, the United States, during the Second World War was to round up the Japanese-Americans, and steal their belongings in the process. In short, they behaved pretty much like average Germans. So why would you have been any different? Even after the war, even after the exploits of the (mostly Hawaiian) Japanese-American 442nd regiment in Italy and France, there was still racism. I was reading Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s _Back to Manzanar_ (1972). She was about seven when she was put in a camp, and later, in the late 1940’s, the Girl Scouts rejected her for being Japanese-American.

Come to that, there was a massive race-riot in Detroit in 1943, between Polish-Americans and African-Americans, fighting over jobs among other things, and the Army had to be sent in to restore order. Then there were the “Zoot Suit” riots in San Diego (Whites, mostly naval personel, on Hispanic).

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