Obama "Nation of Laws" Update: Bradley Manning Friend Takes Fifth
24-year-old MIT student David House, friend of PFC Bradley Manning who appeared on MSNBC and revealed to the world that Bradley seemed to be near "catatonic" after being held for nearly a year in a 6 by 12 foot cell for 23 hours a day with almost no human contact, took the Fifth before a federal grand jury yesterday and refused to testify. Manning's treatment has drawn harsh criticism of President Obama, who once said in a press conference that Manning's treatment was "appropriate."
About 20 supporters of House and Manning staged a rally outside the courthouse to offer support. Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, said that while it's important for soldiers and civilians to honor their promises to keep classified information secret, it's more important to expose wrongdoing within the government that is going unchecked.
Private Manning has been accused of leaking national security secrets to Wikileaks, the "information activist" organization which has repeatedly embarrassed the government. Documents and video tapes leaked to the organization have revealed:
- The killing of wounded after a controversial Apache gunship attack in Baghdad in 2007 in which two Reuters newsmen were killed,
- Deception by the Pentagon on the downing of American helicopters by the Taliban's use of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in Afghanistan, and
- The torture and killing of Iraqi dissidents following corruption in the Maliki government.
Manning was recently transferred from the military prison at Quantico, VA to Ft. Leavenworth, KS. He has yet to tried for his alleged crimes.
Manning found out upon his deployment to Iraq that the Maliki government was rounding up, torturing, and killing Iraqi dissidents who were passing out "anti-Iraqi literature," which asked "where did the money go?" for projects like clean water, trash pick-up, and sewers. Writer Chase Madar reported that the US military had "a multitude of credible accounts of Iraqi police and soldiers shooting prisoners, beating them to death, pulling out fingernails or teeth, cutting off fingers, burning with acid, torturing with electric shocks or the use of suffocation, and various kinds of sexual abuse including sodomization with gun barrels and forcing prisoners to perform sexual acts on guards and each other."
After Manning reported the findings of his assigned investigation to his superiors, he was told to "shut up" and go out and help find more dissidents.
The U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, Chapter 5 Article 338 states on the subject of "internees," meaning prisoners, during an occupation:
"Every death or serious injury of an internee, caused or suspected to have been caused by a sentry, another internee or any other person...shall be immediately followed by an official inquiry by the Detaining Power. A communication on this subject shall be sent immediately to the Protecting Power...the Detaining Power shall take all necessary steps to ensure the prosecution of the person or persons responsible."
The killing of wounded, and in which two children in a van are also shot, takes place at minute 6:16 this video:
Wikileaks also disclosed that US soldiers who had actually been killed in action after being shot down by a Taliban SAM were classified as having died as a result of mechanical failure, in an attempt to hide from the American public the Taliban's possession of these weapons. President Obama has defended Manning's prosecution as being necessary in a "nation of laws," after pressuring Spain to drop its prosecution of Bush officials for torture which included, according to the Justice Jackson Center:
- Savage Beatings. Prisoners were severely and regularly beaten with clubs, rifles and fists. They were beaten to the point that bones were broken, ribs were fractured, and prisoners sometimes were killed.
- Peroneal Strikes. Peroneal strikes are a specific form of savage beating, consisting of blows to the soft tissue and nerves just above the knee. The falsely accused prisoner beaten to death at Bagram had been given so many peroneal strikes that a coroner testified that his leg tissue had '"basically been pulpified.'"
- Hanging By The Arms. A highly excruciating "stress position" torture used on many prisoners, sometimes every day for two to three months, is hanging them by their arms, often or usually on tiptoe.
- Slamming A Prisoner's Head Into Concrete Walls. In this torture a towel is wrapped around a prisoner's neck and is then used to propel the prisoner head first into a concrete wall. This torture was so fraught with risk of serious injury to or death of a prisoner that the CIA kept a doctor on hand at all times to guard against death or crippling injury.
- Additional "Stress Positions" And Electric Shocks. "Palestinian hangings," they were hung by the arms with their feet on a drum through which electric shocks were applied to their feet; the shocks would cause the feet to "dance."
Major General Anthony Taguba, the Army's lead investigator in the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, wrote in 2008 of Bush administration actions in Iraq, Guantanamo, and Afghanistan:
"There is no longer any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account."
Email from House to his supporters:
> David House is a founding member of the Bradley Manning Support
> Network. He was subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury
> today in Alexandria, VA. House is among several Boston area
> residents who have been ordered to testify before the grand jury,
> which is investigating WikiLeaks.
> House and his lawyer entered the courthouse this morning at
> approximately 10:00am ET, amidst a gathering of supporters who held
> signs with messages of support for House. The rally also called for
> government transparency and protection for whistleblowers — and for
> freedom for accused WikiLeaks source PFC Bradley Manning.
> The prosecution initially attempted to prevent David House from
> taking notes. This was the reason for the recess and reconvening at
> 4:00pm ET. There was no legal basis for this order, and House was
> ultimately permitted to take notes.
> House was questioned for approximately one hour, beginning at
> 4:00pm ET. He invoked his Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent.
> He read from the below statement at 5:00pm ET in the plaza outside
> of the United States District Court at 401 Courthouse Square in
> Alexandria, VA.
"The Department of Justice (DoJ) is attempting to codify a task it
> started over 40 years ago: the political regulation of journalism.
> The same climate of intimidation that surrounded the Pentagon Papers
> trial persists to this day as the DoJ seeks to limit the freedoms of
> the Fourth Estate, using the pretense of alleged violations of the
> Espionage Act.
> The show trial that is now underway in Alexandria VA has the
> potential to set a dangerous precedent for regulating the media.
> Using Nixonian fear tactics that were honed during the Pentagon
> Papers investigation, the DoJ is attempting to dismantle a major
> media organization—WikiLeaks—and indict its editor, Julian Assange.
> The DoJ's ever-widening net has now come to encompass academics,
> students, and journalists in the Cambridge area. The
> Administration's goal is to force these individuals to testify
> against this media organization in an attempt to cast its
> publications and those of its media partners — the New York Times,
> the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and El Pais — as acts of
> espionage. The government has also violated my Fourth Amendment
> rights by executing a warrantless seizure on my laptop in an attempt
> to identify, target and ensnare Cambridge-based supporters of
> It is my conviction that the American people must call for a
> cessation of the Department of Justice's politically motivated
Are we going to let integrity die when a soldier speaks the truth? This is my question.