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Monday, July 29, 2013

  • Bradley Manning Awaits Verdict After Trial Ends with Prosecution "Smears" & Harsh Gov’t Secrecy

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    Closing arguments have wrapped in the nearly two-month military trial of Army Private Bradley Manning. The presiding judge, Col. Denise Lind, is now deliberating on 21 charges, including "aiding the enemy." Manning faces up to life in prison for leaking more than 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks and other news sources, the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history. Over the weekend, protesters in dozens of cities around the world held rallies to mark an international day of action calling for Manning’s release. We get an update from outside the courtroom with independent journalist Alexa O’Brien, who has been in the courtroom daily since the trial began. "We had armed guards roaming the aisles, actually standing behind reporters, peering into our computers, coming every five minutes behind us," O’Brien says of how journalists were treated last week. "It was quite shocking behavior." We’re also joined by Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who observed the trial’s closing arguments. "The government’s theory is what really is awful here: You can 'aid the enemy' by putting information up on the Internet, intelligence that doesn’t have to be classified," Ratner says. "Because the enemy reads the Internet, you can be accused of aiding the enemy."

  • Holder Tells Russia Snowden Won’t Face Torture or Death, But Does U.S. Record Undermine Its Pledge?

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    The Obama administration has assured Russia that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will not be executed or tortured if he is sent back to the United States. In a letter to his Russian counterpart, Attorney General Eric Holder said Snowden does not face the death penalty and would not even if charged with additional crimes. Holder said his assurances eliminate the grounds for Snowden’s asylum bid in Russia and said the United States is prepared to issue him a passport valid for returning to the United States. "It’s sad that the U.S. has to [promise] it won’t torture people or kill, but in fact it’s meaningless," says Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. "It’s not necessarily enforceable by Snowden, but even more importantly, think about how the U.S. defines torture. The U.S. doesn’t really think that anything it did under the Bush era was torture, with the exception possibly of waterboarding. So that means Snowden can be subjected to every enhanced interrogation techniques — lights on all the time, loud noise, cold temperatures, hot temperatures, strapped into a chair. Second, it doesn’t say anything in the letter we won’t put him into some underground cell and keep him there the rest of his life."

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