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Bradley Manning’s Defense Lawyer Acknowledges Press, Public Pushed Military to Move Him to Leavenworth

David Coombs at All Souls Church (Screen shot from C-SPAN)

Pfc. Bradley Manning’s defense lawyer David Coombs spoke last night at an event at the All Souls Church in Washington, DC. Billed as his first-ever public presentation, it was organized by the Bradley Manning Support Network. Over one hundred people and numerous members of the press attended.

Coombs said that the defense was in the middle of argument on an “unlawful pretrial punishment” motion related to Manning’s nine-month detention at Quantico. He briefly characterized what happened with Manning at Quantico:

…It’s fitting that we’re today at the end of the motion phase with a motion that really brought the world’s attention to this case. And that was how Bradley Manning was being treated. Brad’s treatment at Quantico will be etched in our nation’s history as a disgraceful moment in time. Not only was it stupid and counterproductive, it was criminal. An entire group of individuals, who I no doubt are honorable men and women, chose to turn a blind eye to how Bradley was being treated. Those who could effect change did not. They were more concerned about how the attention might be put on them if something happened to Brad, as opposed to what was their conduct doing to Brad.

But it turns out those same people care about something more and what they turned out to care about more was the media impact. And for that I must thank each and everyone here today. I must thank each and everyone who is listening or watching because, without you, change would not have happened. Your actions resulted in Brad being moved from Quantico to Ft. Leavenworth. Make no mistake about that…

It was an unequivocal acknowledgment from Coombs of the power of media and the public to frighten those in positions of power into stopping the abuse of Manning. But, that did not mean Coombs was going to freely take questions. He refused to take questions from the public and only took pre-approved questions from the press.

One of the questions he agreed to answer dealt with the fact that Manning had said he did not want the case to be tried in the “court of public opinion” from the witness stand last week:

…This public appearance is the exception for me. I believe that trying the case in the press is not the way to do representation of a client. And, Brad, at least from what he testified in [the hearing] didn’t want his case to be tried in the press either…

Coombs said Manning expressed this wish early on, and he would continue to respect it by not granting interviews. “Your focus has to be on your client and not on basically putting out facts to spin something your way in the press when that doesn’t achieve anything in the courtroom,” he added.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."