Constitutional Rights Attorneys, Media Challenge Secrecy Of Manning Court Martial – OpEd

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By The Center for Constitutional Rights

Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a petition requesting the Army Court of Criminal Appeals to order the Judge in the court martial of alleged Wikileaks leaker Private Bradley Manning to grant the public and press access to the government’s motion papers, the court’s own orders, and transcripts of proceedings, none of which have been made public to date. In addition, the petition challenges the fact that substantive legal matters in the court martial – including a pretrial publicity order – have been argued and decided in secret.

The petitioners include CCR itself and a diverse group of media figures: Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, The Nation and its national security correspondent Jeremy Scahill, and Wikileaks and its publisher, Julian Assange. Also included are Kevin Gosztola, co-author of Truth and Consequences: The U.S. vs. Bradley Manning and civil liberties blogger covering the Manning court martial, and Chase Madar, author of The Passion of Bradley Manning and a contributing editor to The American Conservative.

“Public scrutiny plays a vital role in government accountability. Media access to the Manning trial proceedings and documents is critical for the transparency on which democratic government and faith in our justice system rests,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy. “Portions of the hearings themselves have been open to a small number attorneys and press, but the Manning proceedings have been open in name only.”

Said Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation: “Since its founding in 1865, The Nation has been committed to the elementary democratic principle that government operate openly and be subject to public oversight. We believe citizens have a right to know what their government is doing. It is therefore vital that the media covering Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court martial be able to view documents filed in public proceedings.”

The petition details the ways in which this court martial proceeding has been even less transparent than the controversial military commission proceedings ongoing at Guantánamo Bay.

Today’s petition is available here. Jonathan Hafetz, a professor at Seton Hall Law School, is co-counsel on the case.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org and follow @theCCR.

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