Author Archives: News Editor
We were pleasantly surprised by President Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence on January 17, just days before he left office. In a statement released to the press, NLG also noted that the sentence of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera was also commuted.
In the statement, MLTF Executive Director Kathleen Gilberd was quoted:
While Chelsea’s freedom is long-overdue, we are gratified that she has been afforded some measure of delayed justice. There is no doubt that the tremendous outpouring of public support and organizing for commuting the sentence contributed to this outcome. Still, we remain critical of a government that seems more intent on prosecuting those who expose war crimes than those who commit them.
The NLG MLTF sent the following letter to President Obama on December 16.
NLG Military Law Task Force to Obama: Pardon Chelsea Manning/Commute Sentence to Time Served
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
December 16, 2016
Dear President Obama:
The National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force joins more than 102,000 people who have called on you to pardon Chelsea Manning or, at the very least, commute the remainder of her sentence. You are well aware of the fact that her actions revealed serious incidents and addressed important issues that, despite your administration’s promises of transparency, were kept from the American public. Whatever one may think of her choice of means, there is no doubt that her actions were prompted by a deep moral sense that is all too often lacking in US policy and among US leaders.
As you should know, Ms. Manning’s incarceration has been far more difficult than that of most prisoners because of her issues around her gender identity. Your administration has recently expressed its support for non-gender conforming members of our society. At least, Attorney General Lynch assured them that the Department of Justice has their backs.
No good can be served by extending Ms. Manning’s confinement. There is no possibility that she will repeat her offense, her punishment has already been severe and sufficient to serve whatever preventive purpose could have been accomplished by her prosecution. All that is left is retribution.
Our criminal system places excessive emphasis on punishment and has done so in this case. Justice requires that punishment be tempered with mercy in appropriate circumstances. This is one such circumstance and you would be remiss not to exercise it.
The National Lawyers Guild is the country’s oldest and largest human rights bar organization and was the first integrated national bar association. It has a proud history of defending and advancing human rights in the US and around the world. Its Military Law Task Force has defended the rights of our service members for decades and we stand in full support of PVT Manning.
Military Law Task Force
By Kathleen Gilberd
At the end of June, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced a change in military policy that will allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the military. Under previous policy, they were prohibited from enlisting in the service and subject to administrative discharge if they began gender transition or simply announced their desire to do so. With Directive-Type Memorandum (DTM) 16-005, “Military Service of Transgender Service Members” (http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/DTM-16-005.pdf), and DoD Instruction 1300.28, “In-Service Transition for Transgender Service Members”, DoD has now established an initial policy for retention, service and, eventually, enlistment of transgender individuals. While the new policy has significant limitations, and places much control in the hands of doctors and commanders, it represents a real victory for those who fought against the old policy.
By Bill Galvin and Maria Santelli, Center on Conscience & War
This article was first published first publishing on Feb. 24, 2016 at worldbeyondwar.org. It was re-published with permission in the Spring 2016 issue of On Watch.
With the combat restriction for women in the US Armed Forces now lifted, discussion of draft registration is back in the news, the courts, and the halls of congress. But the problems with Selective Service System (SSS) Registration go much deeper than gender equality. There is little political interest in bringing back the draft. Yet draft registration remains a burden upon our nation’s young men – and now, potentially our young women, as well.
By Alison Carter
This article was published in the Spring 2016 issue of On Watch.
This article explores a goldmine of findings in a 1979 federal district court case where an active duty Navy airman, alleging suicidal tendencies, successfully argued for a preliminary injunction. The injunction prevented the military from returning him to his unit before he had an opportunity to exhaust all administrative options available for challenging the order to return to duty.
Despite its age, it appears that this case has withstood the test of time and contains powerful holdings that are applicable to many fact patterns encountered in G.I. Rights advocacy.