Number three this year looks a lot like #3 last year, the PFC Manning case has been a media darling, earning multiple spots on our top ten list. But alas Bradley Manning’s time in the spotlight has run its course. His case finally made its way to court-martial and resulted in a sentence of confinement for 35 years, report here. While his supporters may bring the case back to life when the appellate process starts to drag on, and it will, for now we may have seen the end of 24/7 Manning coverage around the globe. Here’s a recap of this year’s festivities.
The year began with international coverage of an unlawful pretrial confinement motion and hearing, here, that resulted in 112 days credit for unlawful pretrial confinement. Then PFC Manning plead guilty to a subset of the charges without a pre-trial agreement, much to the chagrin of his followers who could no longer proclaim his innocence (though they continued to do exactly that). The case then took some detours to deal with closed sessions to protect classified information, evidence that some of the documents Manning released were found when Osama Bid Laden was captured, here, and resolution of a writ filed at CAAF by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).
The writ, originally filed at the Army Court on May 23, 2012, sought greater access to documents at Manning’s court-martial and the court martial itself–issues that we’ve documented here, here, and etc. On April 16, 2013, CAAF held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear CCR’s writ because, in part, the accused had not joined the petition for access to the court-martial. Unsatisfied with the results at CAAF, CCR took its writ to the US District Court in Baltimore (the court-martial was convened at Ft. Meade, MD). That court promptly jettisoned the case finding that the governments efforts to create a special FOIA reading room for the PFC Manning case and permitting private stenographers in the courtroom to create private transcripts was sufficiently accommodating of CCR’s requests for transparency–notably no other courts-martial have that same level of transparency.
In June 2013, the trial finally proceeded before a military judge sitting alone (COL Denise Lind) after nearly three years of delay. And the result of the case was a mixed verdict for the government, though a predictable one. Not guilty to aiding the enemy, but guilty of Espionage Act and other charges, verdict form here. The sentence was about as severe if not a little more severe than some of us predicted, 35 years confinement and a DD.
After three years, countless motions, and an unusual number of collateral challenges the case is now in post-trial review. And still continues to make occasional headlines. PFC Manning now apparently wants to be called Chelsea Manning and wants the US military to pay for hormone treatments as part of his gender transformation. And so the Bradley/Chelsea Manning Support Network continues to raise funds and host apparently well attended events to continue the fight for their hero/heroine. But, without some shocking new twist, this may be the last Top 10 that we see the Manning case.