Vieques: 10 years after U.S. bombing ends, struggle for justice in Puerto Rico continues

By Helen Jaccard and David Swanson Originally published in the September 2013 issue of On Watch, the MLTF quarterly newsletter. Ten years ago May 1, the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico, and More »

Interview with Jeff Paterson, founder of the Private Manning Support Network

This email exchange with Jeff Paterson was conducted by MLTF’s Rena Guay on Sept. 4. Paterson is the Project Director of Courage to Resist and founder of the Pvt. Manning Support Network More »

MLTF Fact Sheet: Servicemember rights under Military Whistleblowers Protection Act

Download: Military Whistleblower Protection Act Fact Sheet The Military Whistleblower Protection Act of 1988  provides limited protection of lawful disclosure by members of the United States Armed Forces. In order to assist More »

National Lawyers Guild Opposes Military Action Against Syria

On September 5, the national office of the National Lawyers Guild distributed the following news release, written with input from members of MLTF:       NEW YORK – The National Lawyers More »


December issue of On Watch now online

The latest issue of MLTF’s quarterly newsletter, On Watch, released to members and subscribers a month ago, is now available to the public.

Onwatch XXIV.4 – December 2013

  • Contents: Military Whistleblower Protection Act (Fact Sheet version [PDF])
  • Article 138
  • 2013 NLG Convention Report
  • Sexual assault reform legislation update
  • MLTF regional news
  • MLTF News & Notes

MLTF provides GI Rights trainers for Coffee Strong

MLTF will be providing trainers for two GI Rights training workshops at Coffee Strong in December. Coffee Strong is a GI Rights coffeehouse and resource center near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, and also is one of the member groups providing volunteer lay counseling on the GI Rights Hotline.

Executive Director Kathy Gilberd, along with Seattle area attorney and MLTF member David Miner, will conduct a two-day introductory GI Rights hotline training, then Kathy will lead an advanced workshop on discharge upgrades.

coffeestrong banner



Memo: Representing Servicemembers in Involuntary Discharge Proceedings

MLTF’s memo “Representing Servicemembers in Involuntary Discharge Proceedings” has been updated (as of October 2013). It gives an overview of administrative discharges and procedures for challenging them. Written for attorneys and counselors, it is also helpful for servicemembers who are facing involuntary discharge.

This replaces the 2007 edition of the memo by the same title.

The memo was written by Kathleen Gilberd and Bridget Wilson, and was edited by Kathleen Gilberd and Rena Guay.

Memo: Involuntary discharges 2013 (PDF, 27 pgs.)

MLTF submits clemency request to Manning convening authority

MLTF submitted a letter requesting clemency to the officer authorized to review (and reduce, if he wishes) Chelsea Manning’s court-martial sentence. We use her former name, Bradley, in keeping with her wishes for legal documents. For information on what you can do to support her, see the Pvt. Manning Support Network website.

October 10, 2013

To:        GEN Jeffrey S. Buchanan
From:   Kathleen M. Gilberd, Executive Director, Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild

Subj: PVT Bradley Manning clemency petition

On behalf of the one hundred and sixty lawyers, law students, legal workers and counselors of the National Lawyers Guild’s Military Law Task Force, I am calling on you, as Convening Authority, to reduce PVT Manning’s sentence to time served and to upgrade the dishonorable discharge imposed by the court. The Military Law Task Force has been in existence for some forty years, and we have collectively developed considerable experience and tried many cases before courts-martial. PVT Manning’s case is, however, unique.

One of the benefits of courts-martial, rapidly disappearing from civilian courts, is the emphasis on the individual in determining an appropriate sentence. PVT Manning was accused of, and owned up to, various violations of the law, but motivation and character were not adequately considered by the military law judge. You have the opportunity to correct that.

The information PVT Manning revealed, while embarrassing to the government, is universally recognized as important for a democratic society to have and to debate. It is, as many have pointed out, similar to the revelations made by Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo with their release of the Pentagon Papers. They, too, were prosecuted, albeit unsuccessfully because of government violations of their rights and, today, their act is regarded as patriotic and noble. PVT Manning’s rights were also violated, with overlong pre-trial confinement under conditions that were, at a minimum, cruel, inhuman and degrading. Even if insufficient to warrant dismissal of the charges, those conditions certainly warrant that there be no further incarceration.

We would suggest that PVT Manning should be given the kind of consideration given to James Clapper, Director of National Security, who unquestionably perjured himself in testimony to Congress about government surveillance, yet was not prosecuted and has not even lost his job. Without any proof that any of PVT Manning’s revelations were damaging, and with substantial sentiment that they were beneficial to our democracy, immediate release from confinement seems the least that can be done.

PVT Manning acted out of conscience and the best of motives under difficult circumstances, including moral struggle and isolation. While many would not have made the same choices, we should nonetheless respect the courage of his convictions that PVT Manning possesses. For all these reasons and more, which others have no doubt expressed, we believe that PVT Manning should be freed immediately. Respectfully submitted KATHLEEN M. GILBERD For the Military Law Task Force

Manning clemency letter (.pdf)

September 2013 issue of On Watch now online

The latest issue of MLTF’s quarterly newsletter, On Watch, released to members and subscribers a month ago, is now available to the public.

Issue XXIV.3  - September 2013

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  • Vieques: Still seeking justice
  • Manning Support Network looks back and ahead
  • 2013 IVAW Convention: Moving beyond militarism
  • MLTF regional news
  • MLTF news and notes
  • Marines enact new CO standards
  • NLG 2013 Law for the People Convention, MLTF events