Court Orders Chelsea Manning Released From Jail One Day After Suicide Attempt: Testimony 'No Longer Needed'

from the what-a-waste dept

A year ago, the DOJ subpoenaed Chelsea Manning to appear before a grand jury and provide testimony as it was building its case against Julian Assange, who was subsequently indicted on a very questionable basis. Manning refused to comply with the subpoena, and was put in jail for contempt of court. Many people -- even some supporters of Manning -- seemed split on this move, noting that complying with a lawful subpoena, especially regarding a situation where all information had been previously provided and in which the target is already indicted, is different than being asked to cough up private info. But, given the context of Manning's earlier incarceration and commutation, the whole effort seemed somewhat vindictive.

As reporter Dell Cameron pointed out, the DOJ already has all the details of Manning's conversations with Assange. It's difficult to see what more it needed to get from her. And yet, she sat in jail. And considering her history with possible suicide attempts, it seemed (tragically) that being confined again could be incredibly damaging to her. Indeed, yesterday it was reported that she attempted suicide once again.

Incredibly, just a day later, the court has ordered her released from jail, noting that her appearance "is no longer needed."

Upon consideration of the Court's May 16, 2019 Order, the Motion, and the Court's March 12, 2020 Order discharging Grand Jury 19-3, the Court finds that Ms. Manning's appearance before the Grand Jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose. The Court further finds that enforcement of the accrued, conditional fines would not be punitive but rather necessary to the coercive purpose of the Court's civil contempt order.

The fact that the grand jury has been disbanded without her testimony -- and given Dell's point earlier about the DOJ already having all the details -- it makes you really question why this whole thing was necessary in the first place, because the answer sure seems to be that it wasn't. And yet, she spent months in jail, and still now faces basically a quarter of a million in fines that the court says is just dandy. What a sham.

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Filed Under: chelsea manning, contempt of court, doj, julian assange, subpoena


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Mar 2020 @ 8:09pm

    Almost seems like they were waiting for her to die by suicide, and when she didn’t, they didn’t want to be seen as ghouls for keeping her behind bars.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 12 Mar 2020 @ 8:17pm

      Re:

      Alternatively, now they know she's psychologically damaged enough to become suicidal, so their job's done. If she kills herself in prison, it's on them; if she kills herself after being released because of PTSD, well, nothing they could do about that, right (wink, wink)?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 13 Mar 2020 @ 10:20am

        Re: Re:

        Alternatively, now they know she's psychologically damaged enough to become suicidal

        They knew that already.

        From the last time she was incarcerated and attempted suicide.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 12:02am

      Re:

      Once again you miss the true heart intent of the federal government. They could give two flying fucks if they are seen as ghouls or assholes, they just want to have hand in rejoicing they drove her to commit an indecent dishonorable act, breaking her, this time being a botched suicide attempt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 8:09am

        Re: Re:

        commit an indecent dishonorable act […] this time being a botched suicide attempt

        Wait.

        Are you saying that being mentally ill to the point of attempting suicide is indecent and dishonorable?

        I apologize if I'm misunderstanding you, but, if I'm not... that's a grotesque perspective on mental illness.

        The only indecent, dishonorable acts in this story are those perpetrated by the government.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 8:30am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I am not saying that is how I feel but rather how the federal government sees it. Is that plain enough for you?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 8:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Fair enough; sorry for jumping down your throat. It's a sensitive topic.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Uriel-238 (profile), 13 Mar 2020 @ 1:37pm

              The stigma of Mental Illness

              The way I see it, it becomes very easy to discredit her for being a whack-job. There's still an impulse (reflected by years of Hollywood slashers) that crazies are all axe-crazy.

              I'd say it's getting better, but there's a lot of resistance.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 7:33pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Thanks AC. Nice of you to say that. See we can be civil here at Techdirt. Lets try to get along!

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 7:08am

      Re:

      Almost seems like they were waiting for her to die by suicide, and when she didn’t

      They've left the $256,000 fine in place, so there's still a chance. It just looks bad if it happens in a prison.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    flyinginn (profile), 12 Mar 2020 @ 9:03pm

    In fact, I suspect it had to do with two moving targets: (1) after a year without budging, the longer she was incarcerated the less the argument about effective coercion was credible; and (2) the realisation that the longer she was incarcerated, the more she gained public respect and admiration. Even the imposition of a punitive fine brings the court into disrepute, a last pointless, vindictive nail the the state's coffin. The judge had to release her before she turned into Nelson Mandela or Rosa Parks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rico R. (profile), 12 Mar 2020 @ 9:30pm

    How can anyone side with the DOJ here?

    First off, I was completely unaware that Chelsea Manning was back in prison after Obama commuted her sentence until I got an email from Demand Progress, well after she was in prison and the UN had already condemned the US's actions in her new case. That must speak volumes of the US must like to sweep stories like this under the rug. Yet, how can anyone point the DOJ in a positive light with this story? It shouldn't take a suicide attempt for a court to wake up and see that this treatment of Manning was clearly wrong.

    I can see one might want to argue that a lawful subpoena must be obeyed (but in Chelsea's case, I don't think that it really was all that lawful), but I'd be hard-pressed to find ANYONE who would think a proportionate response would be torturing the subpoena dodger. And that's what it was: Torture. She wasn't just imprisoned, she was put in solitary confinement, which experts are now saying that if someone is in there for more than 30 days (or is it 14?), that it is equal to torture. Furthermore, the UN's top officials accused the US that their treatment of Manning was, in fact, torture, and that they need to release her immediately.

    The DOJ's treatment of her wasn't just wrong, it's inhumane. It goes well beyond the cruel and unusual punishment standard under the Constitution, so how can anyone say that Chelsea Manning's actions that led to her imprisonment were proportionate with her "punishment"? Our country needs to do better!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Federico (profile), 13 Mar 2020 @ 1:54am

      Re: How can anyone side with the DOJ here?

      Well let's see how the New York Times handled it before the suicide attempt:

      A version of this article appears in print on May 10, 2019, Section A, Page 14 of the New York edition with the headline: Manning Freed From Jail, But She May Return Soon

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/us/chelsea-manning-jail.html

      Page 14. What page do you think they'd use for one of their journalists held in jail?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 8:31am

      Re: How can anyone side with the DOJ here?

      Whatever you may or may not think about Chelsea's specific case, there are underlying legal principles at play, the authority of the court to issue subpoena and the responsibilities of the subpoenaed party are set out in law, these are not optional based on feelings or emotions.

      Several things are being conflated here, Chelsea most recent incarceration had nothing to do with the pardon issued by President Obama, the compelling of testimony is an important part of jurisprudence. For any of us a judge can issue a subpoena to compel us to disclose the knowledge we have on a given subject to the court, we have a choice not to answer and in that case the judge can hold us in contempt of court (as a coercive measure, not punishment). Chelsea could have answered the questions being asked at any time and avoided all of this, she asked for and was given immunity and could have invoked her fifth amendment rights if necessary but still chose to ignore the lawful order of the court.

      The word torture has a very specific meaning (18 U.S.C. 2340) solitary confinement (which was done for her own protection), three meals a day and access to showers and visitation rights in no way equates to the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering, like crushing of fingers or gouging of eyes or screaming in pain that the word torture invokes. Using the word out of context dose a disservice to those people who are actually experiencing torture.

      An unpopular view on here I am certain, but adherence to the law is not optional for any of us what ever our feelings are about this specific application.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        K`Tetch (profile), 13 Mar 2020 @ 3:30pm

        Re: Re: How can anyone side with the DOJ here?

        "she asked for and was given immunity and could have invoked her fifth amendment rights if necessary"

        WRONG.
        The 5th amendment right is protection from self-incrimination.
        With blanket immunity granted by the prosecutor, there is no longer the possibility of self-incrimination, and thus the 5th amendment no longer applies.

        If manning had not negotiated a blanket immunity deal, then yes, the 5th was an option. When you refuse to testify when there's zero risk, then your only argument can only be that you want to help someone get away with a crime by making it more difficult to prosecute them.

        Manning doesn't look so good in that light, eh?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 8:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: How can anyone side with the DOJ here?

          How is Manning helping someone (presumably Assange) get away with anything, given that her conversations with him are already part of the record from her own trial?
          This smells more like civil disobedience than attempting to let someone get away with something.

          Also, being imprisoned for conspiring with Assange would constitute double jeopardy. Manning has been tried for that crime, was convicted, served part of the sentence, and the rest was negated by her pardon. If she's covering for Assange in a crime they committed together, the proper thing to do is convict her of that crime - which they've already done, and can't do again.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 8:52pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How can anyone side with the DOJ here?

            Justice is a BITCH on this planet. Its gonna be HELL on the next one.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 13 Mar 2020 @ 10:23am

      Re: How can anyone side with the DOJ here?

      First off, I was completely unaware that Chelsea Manning was back in prison

      She wasn't. She was in jail, not prison; that may seem like a nitpick, but it's an important distinction. She was being held and tortured without even being convicted of anything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        K`Tetch (profile), 13 Mar 2020 @ 3:26pm

        Re: Re: How can anyone side with the DOJ here?

        Incorrect.
        She was found guilty of contempt of court.

        The sentence is a day in jail (upto 30-45 depending on the specifics, but in this case it was daily) and each day that manning refused to abide by the courts legal request, it was a new case. Manning could end things any time by testifying (it's a coercive punishment, to avoid an omerta-like situation that obstructs the ability of the justice system to work)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Around the Bush, 14 Mar 2020 @ 12:52pm

        Re: Re: How can anyone side with the DOJ here?

        Funny how on one hand, you shit bags deny organized gang stalking, while on the other, whinge on about Chelsea, and her realty of "no touch torture".

        No Touch Torture and gang stalking are synonymous/analogous police jargon.

        Very sad, you denialists. Very pathetitc timesuckers.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2020 @ 2:54am

          Re: Re: Re: How can anyone side with the DOJ here?

          People get tortured and the police are assholes, that doesn't suddenly mean we have to use your textbook for what those are called, dumbass.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 9:38pm

      Re: How can anyone side with the DOJ here?

      Our country needs to do better!

      Yes it does. Sadly it won't. Not as long as the assholes running the place remain in power. Humanity, Morals, and Ethics, hell even Rule of Law, mean nothing to them. They have fully whored themselves out for their pimps (Big Business), and are giddy about it. Then people wonder why "greatness" needs to be constantly shouted from the rooftops....

      It's not going to change anytime soon either. The most people have to look forward to is another four years of either insane drivel, routine disregard for the law, and blatant disregard for anything that isn't his ego. - OR - a desperate attempt to return to 2016. Which will fail due to the voter demotivating / depressing message of: "I will undo everything that my predecessor did, fighting his supporters the entire way, and nothing will fundamentally change. Despite the lack of change being what got my predecessor elected in the first place."

      Of course this assumes that "most people" is defined as the 5% of people that actually define "winning an election" as including things that happen after the inauguration. Which sadly, that is not "most people" by any stretch of the definition.

      TL;DR: The country gets what it works for.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 8:06am

    Finally.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2020 @ 8:33am

    How many times has it proved to be the case, regardless of who is in charge/control at the time, the vindictiveness of the USA government and security services knows no bounds!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 13 Mar 2020 @ 10:21am

    The fact that the grand jury has been disbanded without her testimony -- and given Dell's point earlier about the DOJ already having all the details -- it makes you really question why this whole thing was necessary in the first place, because the answer sure seems to be that it wasn't. And yet, she spent months in jail, and still now faces basically a quarter of a million in fines that the court says is just dandy. What a sham.

    The cruelty is the point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Woodward Bernstein, 14 Mar 2020 @ 12:25pm

    Neither Woodward or Bernstein did a single day in prison.

    Guess why?

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/04/julian-assange-extradition-press-freedom-trump

    ( did you mention Bronfman klan, spies and collaborators? Conspiracy theory!!!)

    Antishemitiscisticlysms!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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