Monday, June 3, 2013

Bradley Manning Court Martial Begins

Bradley Manning, already serving a 20-year sentence
is facing Court Martial over "Aiding the Enemy"
Today, June 3, 2013, marks the beginning of accused traitor Bradley Manning's court martial.

Many Americans are awaiting the outcome. Some are hoping Mr. Manning is acquitted. Their purposes for supporting Manning vary. Some call for greater government transparency. Some have a strong dislike of intelligence, operational, and information security classification and compartmentalization for national security purposes. Others support Manning because he represents their dislike of the military and war.

Those hoping to see Manning found guilty also come from varying purposes. Some see Manning's actions as a threat to national security. Others find him a black spot against our valiant men and women in uniform. Others just want to target his alleged sexual orientation and see the trial as a means to point fingers at that entire demographic.

Both sides must refrain from judgement and overzealous actions. The court martial will, hopefully, be able to weigh all the evidence and empirical data available. From there, they will, hopefully, make an objective, just, and honorable decision.

Individuals on both sides of the argument need to put their personal views aside until the trial is complete. Let the process work. Do not impede it. Do not pollute it. The time to express personal opinions on the outcome will be after the verdict is announced, not before. 

Some on both sides also need to recognize that Manning already plead guilty to several of the 22 charges levied against him. Some were reduced charges due to plea bargaining. Those who think plea bargaining in civilian criminal courts is common need to understand it may be more common in the military.

For a quick lesson in the UCMJ, every little violation of orders, regulations, the UCMJ, executive orders, and DoD mandates is a court martial offense. The UCMJ is law. It is legislated by congress. Most of these infractions never see a trial or court martial. Instead, commanders are authorized to punish the service member at a lower level than a court martial. This process falls under Article 15 of the UCMJ. Through the non-judicial punishment article (AR 15), allows commanders, starting at the company (O-3) level. At each level, commanders are limited to the extent they can punish the soldier. Each level also allows for the service member to appeal to the next higher command, call witnesses, or request a court martial. The punishments allowed under the courts martial are all greater than those under AR-15, regardless of the level. So, the AR-15 process is a form of plea-bargaining that happens every day.

So Manning took the plea deals for some of his charges, already. He will be incarcerated for years under the sentences he already received. So, no, Bradley will likely not "go free" after this current court martial. In fact, he is already serving a 20-year sentence.

What we know:

Manning leaked classified documents, videos, and other media files to Wiki-Leaks.

Some of  those documents may have been found during the raids on Usama bin Laden and other Al Q'aeda linked individuals.

The leak may (and we may never know) have caused extreme damage to intelligence capabilities and diplomatic missions. One could reasonable assess (though garnering evidence and proof would be difficult) and allege that these leaks could have contributed (even at a cursory level) to the Benghazi incident, among many other terrorist attacks.

Manning's sexual orientation has nothing to do with the trial. Some have alleged that Manning did what he did in some form of temper tantrum over perceived persecution due to his sexual orientation. Only members of his unit at the time know the truth of those allegations.

Manning was a student at Fort Huachuca's Military Intelligence Center of Excellence. I was an instructor while he was there. His alleged sexual orientation had little to nothing to do with some of his conduct while a student. He was less than exemplary.

So, the court martial regarding the charge of "aiding the enemy" (a form of treason) has finally started. Manning's role in aiding threats to our nation will come to light. At them end of the trial, the court will decide and we will know if he did, indeed, commit that act. In reality, we cannot pass that judgement until all the evidence is revealed. As even Manning will attest, from his time in MI school, the big picture doesn't come clear until enough data and evidence is processed and analyzed. Do not pass judgement too early.

Stay civil. Stay informed. Let the justice system work through its proper process. Pray that justice is served instead of praying for a particular outcome.