March 31, 2014. Ft. Leavenworth. After exposing US military and corporate war crimes and acts of war profiteering, fraud and treason, PFC Bradley ‘Chelsea’ Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for espionage. Manning’s supporters have always insisted that exposing treason is not itself an act of treason. For that, they believe more than ever that Bradley ‘Chelsea’ Manning is a hero. Manning’s attorney David E Coombs also seems to fit that bill.
Attorney David E Coombs serving in Iraq. Image courtesy of ArmyCourtMartialDefense.info.
PFC Manning never leaked anything that put troops in danger. His biggest crime seemed to be exposing the level of deceit and corruption within our own federal government. And for that, groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU haven’t stopped fighting for Bradley ‘Chelsea’ Manning’s release.
Manning’s attorney concludes his involvement
Last week, attorney David E. Coombs released an update on his client and announced that with the criminal trial now over, he was concluding his work as Manning’s lead defense lawyer. “Yesterday, I filed PFC Manning’s clemency matters,” Coombs announced, “This filing marks the end of my representation of PFC Manning for her court martial. Since being retained to represent her on July 16, 2010, I have fought to ensure that she received a fair trial and a just result. Unfortunately, I do not believe that she received either.”
Echoing a sentiment that many Americans have proclaimed over the past few years - that the US federal government considers the American people the ‘enemy’ - attorney Coombs strongly condemns ‘the current administration’ for its apparent obsession with secrecy and its war against America’s free press.
“Under the current administration, any unauthorized leak to the media of classified information is viewed as tantamount to aiding the enemy of the United States,” Manning’s attorney wrote in his farewell letter, “The prosecution in this case admitted as much when it stated that it would not make a difference if PFC Manning had given the disclosed information to the Washington Post or the New York Times. The government-wide crackdown on whistleblowers and the extension of this crackdown to journalists threatens to stifle the very freedoms that we have fought so hard to ensure.”
His reference to the Obama administration crackdown on journalists is most emblematic in the Justice Department’s prosecution of Texas reporter Barrett Brown. The freelance journalist who wrote for some of America’s largest and well known publications was arrested for including a link to a public website in a news article, the same exact thing almost every US news outlet does on a regular basis. Read the Whiteout Press article from earlier this month titled, ‘Feds drop most Charges against Journalist Barrett Brown’ for more information.
Extraordinarily harsh sentence
PFC Manning’s attorney also takes the opportunity to reaffirm his firm belief that the US Army whistleblower received an unusually long sentence considering the only real damage done by Manning’s actions were the embarrassment of US government and military officials. Coombs says, “Anyone familiar with this case would agree that a thirty-five year sentence is excessive for PFC Manning’s conduct.”
Manning’s longtime lawyer goes on to explain, “During the trial, the prosecution struggled to show any real damage to our country as a result of these disclosures. What damage it could show was speculative at best. The reality of the situation is that this information did not cause any real damage to our country. The Information Review Task Force (IRTF) and the other damage assessments by our government confirmed as much. Unfortunately, the hysterical response to these leaks influenced the military justice process, and resulted in a disproportionate sentence for PFC Manning.”
Next steps for Manning’s defense
In their announcement, the Law Offices of David E. Coombs reaffirms it will continue to help PFC Manning obtain a Presidential pardon or an official grant of clemency by the Secretary of the Army. The firm will also continue to assist Manning in legal matters related to her official name change and medical treatment while incarcerated.
Attorney Coombs informs Manning’s supporters that both the pardon request and clemency request were ignored. Not because the government rejected them, but instead because according to military justice procedures, the appeals process must be utilized and exhausted first. Speaking of Manning’s appeal, Coombs says, “It is my hope that the convening authority, Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan, will take this opportunity to act when others have not. It is within his power to disapprove the improper findings of guilt and to reduce the unjust sentence.”
Attorney Coombs concludes his letter to Bradley Manning’s supporters by doing something rarely ever done. The attorney listed out dozens of individuals and grassroots organizations, thanking them for their help and support in PFC Manning’s defense over the past four years. Some of the more notable names include Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, Glenn Greenwald, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Graham Nash, and groups that included the ACLU, Amnesty International, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and a couple dozen more.
View the full list and read the complete announcement from the Law Offices of David E. Coombs.
Be sure to check out the Report and Video just produced by Whiteout Press and our sister publication Opposition News titled, ‘American Martyrs and Political Prisoners’. Bradley ‘Chelsea’ Manning is prominently featured.
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