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Bradley Manning Trial Starts: 5 Things You Need to Know

The trial of Bradley Manning has broad implications for the press and is the most striking example of the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers.

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4. The Manning Trial is Shrouded in Secrecy

There’s a lot of attention being paid to this trial, but the government wants to keep it as secret as possible. That fact is yet another example of the Obama administration’s lack of transparency on national security issues.

The military court-martial trial will be kept as opaque as possible. The press or public won’t be present because the government argues classified information will be discussed, though the whole world knows what WikiLeaks revealed.

A lawsuit filed by attorneys and journalists is challenging this secrecy. They want the government to open access to the trial and provide the public with access to government filings and court transcripts. A similar lawsuit was filed in the military courts last May, but the plaintiffs lost.

“Secret trials are commonplace in dictatorships, but have no place in this country. The Obama administration conducts unconstitutional dragnet surveillance of journalists to uncover protected sources, and targets whistleblowers with unprecedented use of the espionage act,” said Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman in a statement published by the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Access to court documents and proceedings in the court martial of Bradley Manning is vital to the public's right to know to what lengths their government will go to keep secret their conduct of wars and occupations abroad.”

5. The Trial Exposes America’s Double-Standards in Justice

Perhaps the most galling part of the Manning trial is what it exposes about the U.S. justice system at large. Manning is being put on trial for exposing war crimes that occurred during the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the same time, those who were responsible for those crimes roam free, living the high life of being a former U.S. government official. As The Guardian’s Gary Younge put it, this trial is “about wars in which the resistance to, and exposure of, crimes and abuses has been criminalised while the criminals and abusers go free. If Manning is an enemy of the state then so too is truth.”


Alex Kane is AlterNet's New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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