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5 Reasons to Attend Bradley Manning’s Court Martial

Crossposted with permission from

#1: Show The Judge The Public Is Watching Her

At the beginning of each day of trial, the prosecuting attorney stands and reads to the court information about the levels of public attendance. During most days of the court martial, seats have remained free in the courtroom, and the overflow trailer which provides video feed of the proceedings has remained unused. We hope you’ll help us to change this.

Judge Lind knows that a high-profile case like this one will be part of her legacy. She’s not supposed to read any news about the trial, but there’s no more direct way to show her the importance that her decisions will have for the public than by members of the public taking it upon themselves to fill up her courtroom.

#2: Your Attendance Means A Lot To Bradley And His Lawyer

Bradley Manning is a 25 year-old with a conscience who has already spent three years of his life behind bars, and faces potential life imprisonment, all for trying to serve the public good. Despite the gravity of his situation, he maintains optimism, and his attorney David Coombs has explained that his supporters have a lot to do with that.

Mr. Coombs took the opportunity at a public presentation last December to personally thank those who attend the court proceedings and explain how much it means to him:

When I’m in the courtroom, I stand up and I look to my right and I see the United States government, the United States government with all of its resources, all of its personnel. I see them standing against me and Brad, and I have to admit to you that can be rather intimidating and I was intimidated, especially when the President of the United States says, “Your client broke the law.” Especially, when Congress members say, “Your client deserves the death penalty.” I want to tell you, though, today as I stand here, I’m no longer intimidated. I am not intimidated because when I stand up, I know I’m not standing alone. I know I’m not alone because I turn around and I see the support behind me. I see members here today in the audience that are there every time we have a court hearing. I see, what now I’m going to affectionately call the “truth battalion,” those who wear… a black shirt, it has the word “truth” on it and they’re behind me. I look there and I know that I also have unlimited personnel and unlimited resources.

#3: Observe History In Action

What happens during Bradley’s trial will affect the future of American journalism and whistleblowing, as well as our fundamental right to know what our government does in our name and with our tax dollars. The legal theory being used by the government to charge Bradley with “Aiding the Enemy” would apply to others who reveal government wrongdoing whether they release 1 document or 1,000, and whether they give information to WikiLeaks or the New York Times. Nobel Peace Laureates, the L.A. Times editorial board, Harvard Law professors, a former State Department Spokesperson and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg all have condemned this charge.

BUT, this trial will not be televised, so attending as a public observer is the only way to see firsthand the precedent that is being set for future generations, and to watch the important players in action.

Decades from now, people will still be discussing this trial. Wouldn’t you like to be able to tell your children and grandchildren that you were there when it mattered? [cont’d]

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Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.