If one were to judge the potential for harm to the United States government by the amount of openness at a suspect’s trial, then Washington has much more to fear from Bradley Manning than from alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
As we have reported previously, the federal government has published a complete and verbatim transcript of the hearings recently conducted in the case of Mohammed and the so-called “Gitmo 5.” There isn’t a single insult or inquiry that was part of that proceeding that isn’t obtainable by anyone — reporter or citizen.
The same cannot be said, however, of the court martial hearing the case against PFC Bradley Manning. To date, the Department of Defense has kept all documents relating to the Manning prosecution under lock and key and has refused to allow anyone to access those files.
Nevertheless, a few intrepid organizations have tried (so far in vain) to penetrate the thick veil of secrecy shrouding the Manning trial. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is one of the handful of media and civil rights groups (including Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, who has followed this story since the beginning) that have petitioned the Pentagon for a peak at the Manning dossier.
In its request submitted to the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the CCR and its fellow petitioners made the following point of a potential violation of constitutional freedom being perpetrated by the federal government should the secrecy continue:
Although the public may attend portions of Pfc. Manning’s court-martial proceedings (notably excluding Rule 802 conferences), public access to documents has been inexplicably denied in what is arguably one of the most controversial, high profile court-martials since the trial of LT William Calley for the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, and the most important case involving the alleged disclosure of classified information since the Pentagon Papers. Indeed, the restrictions on access to these basic documents in the case have made it exceedingly difficult for credentialed reporters to cover the proceedings consistent with their journalistic standards and obligations.
read full article here Petitioners Challenge "Outrageous Secrecy" of Bradley Manning Trial