‘Punitive’ trial awaits Manning: ‘US government now wants to put him away for life’

As the US government pushes for a heavy sentence to be handed to Bradley Manning “for revealing US hypocrisy”, it doesn’t stand accountable for the crimes it committed, Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights told RT.

On Monday the whistleblower will stand trial for the largest
intelligence leak in United States history in Fort Meade,
Maryland. The trial is expected to continue for up to three

Manning was arrested in Iraq in May 2010, accused of transmitting
digital materials connected with US military operations
abroad. Once detained he pleaded guilty to the charge
of handing over information to WikiLeaks. He has been held
in custody since.

The investigation into his case has been ongoing for three years
as he may be facing life in prison if the prosecutors prove his
links with Al Qaeda on which they insist and get Manning convicted of “aiding the

The Private’s detention conditions have sparked international
concern. December last year judge Army Col. Denise Lind accepted
terms that would allow Manning to plead guilty to lesser than the
presented 22 charges. Following Manning’s guilt plea to 10
charges, the judge ruled that any sentence should be reduced by
112 days because of the detention conditions, which were named by
the UN Special Rapporteur on torture “cruel, inhuman and

Demonstrations have been taking place across
the US and all over the world in support of Bradley Manning, the
US army private who revealed sensitive information to the whistle
blowing website WikiLeaks.

RT: Manning finally faces trial on Monday – three years
after he was arrested in 2010. Why has it taken so long?

Michael Ratner: There was a huge number of documents
involved in this case, half a million that they had to go
through. Two of the big reasons are that some of the pretrial was
devoted to how he was kept in custody , the torture, the cruel
treatment and actually he got some reduction in the ultimate
sentence because of that. Another part of the pretrial was when
he pleaded guilty to charges that could get him 20 years. It was
one of the most moving days I spent in court. He gave his
political reasons, why he wanted the American people to know
about the crimes of their own government in Iraq and Iran and all
around the world. What’s going on now I think sadly is the
punitive phase of the trial. He has pleaded guilty for 20 years,
the US government now wants to put him away for life.

RT: Some praise Manning as a courageous whistleblower –
others condemn him as a traitor who risked lives. How would you
describe him?

MR: One of the questions you get all the time is while he
was a soldier, he broke his duty, all of this stuff. The problem
for me is that no one is looking at the accountability of my own
government for the crimes it committed. They are only focusing on
‘yes Bradley’ — ‘no, Bradley’.

I support Bradley Manning, I support what he did, I support the
revelation of criminality of my own government and accountability
for my own government.

Why don’t they look at the torture centers they’ve set up in
Iraq? Why don’t they look at the illegal drones they are using
all over the world? That’s the accountability we’ve got to have.
We shouldn’t be taking one soldier and trying to put him in jail
forever, but revealing the secrets, criminality and hypocrisy of
the US.

RT: During one of the hearings Manning described some
harsh details about his confinement conditions – being stripped
naked at night for example. How can the US account for such

MR: They can’t account for that kind of treatment. I was
there that day, I cried during that trial. Bradley Manning was
very dignified, smart, dealt with it. They can’t. It was torture
by all means you want to say. They did this to him in the face of
the public. It was only the protest of the public really that
eventually brought that to an end. It’s outrageous.

This article originally appeared on: RT