Category Archives: Cases & Support Campaigns
Iraq War Resister Kimberly Rivera sentenced to 14 months in military prison after deportation by Harper government
This press release was sent out a short time ago by the War Resisters Support Campaign of Canada…
Iraq War Resister Kimberly Rivera sentenced to 14 months in military prison after deportation by Harper government
TORONTO—On Monday afternoon, during a court-martial hearing at Fort Carson, Colorado, Kimberly Rivera was sentenced to 14 months in military prison and a dishonourable discharge after publicly expressing her conscientious objection to the Iraq War while in Canada.
Under the terms of a pre-trial agreement, she will serve 10 months of that sentence.
By Marjorie Cohn
Bradley Manning has pleaded guilty to 10 charges including possessing and willfully communicating to an unauthorized person all the main elements of the WikiLeaks disclosure. The charges carry a total of 20 years in prison. For the first time, Bradley spoke publicly about what he did and why. His actions, now confirmed by his own words, reveal Bradley to be a very brave young man.
When he was 22 years old, Pfc. Bradley Manning gave classified documents to WikiLeaks. They included the “Collateral Murder” video, which depicts U.S. forces in an Apache helicopter killing 12 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters journalists, and wounding two children.
“I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan,” Bradley told the military tribunal during his guilty plea proceeding. “It might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.”
After more than two and a half years in jail — some of that in solitary confinement under barbaric conditions — Bradley Manning is finally approaching trial. Pre-trial hearings have been going on for several months, and more will be held in January and February, 2013. Currently, his court-martial is scheduled to begin on March 6, and it is expected to run through mid-April. (The court-martial date has been postponed in the past, and the current date isn’t set in stone.)
The Bradley Manning Support Network is planning demonstrations at Ft. Meade, Maryland, where the hearings and court-martial are to be held, and has called on supporters who cannot come to Meade to organize local demonstrations or other events. As the schedule develops, information will be available at www.BradleyManning.org.
This case is not only about the future of a brave young soldier, but also about our government’s commission of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, crimes made public by WikiLeaks on the basis of the information allegedly leaked by Manning. The Military Law Task Force encourages supporters to attend the demonstration and court-martial at Ft. Meade, or to join in support demonstrations in their area.
This message is from the Kimberly Rivera Support Committee.
We are writing to you on behalf of Kimberly Rivera, an Iraq War resister.
Kimberly, from Mesquite, Texas, deployed to Iraq in 2006. After several months, she found that she could not in good conscience continue to participate in the war. While in the US on leave, she and her family sought asylum in Canada. Unfortunately, the Canadian government denied her asylum and on September 20th, she and her family voluntarily returned to the US. She was arrested at the border and is currently at Fort Carson, Colorado, awaiting a decision by her command as to what her fate will be.
We are reaching out to you today to ask if you would be willing to write a letter of support for Kim.
Here is a bit of background about Kim, and below are guidelines for letters of support:
• Kim and her husband Mario have four young children: Christian, 10; Rebecca, 8; Katie, 3; and Gabriel, 18 months.
• Kim’s objection to the war grew out of her experience in Iraq, and her faith.
• Kim’s separation from her family is causing tremendous hardship for all of the family.
• Kim was diagnosed with PTSD following her tour in Iraq, and incarceration would only exacerbate her symptoms.
In peace and solidarity,
of the Kimberly Rivera Support Committee
GUIDELINES FOR LETTERS IN SUPPORT OF KIMBERLY RIVERA
Dear friends and supporters of Kimberly Rivera,
Kimberly Rivera is currently at Fort Carson, Colorado. She is part of a unit but her future is uncertain. She likely will face a military court-martial (and if convicted a lengthy prison sentence), but there are other options for command.
We are asking friends and supporters of Kimberly to write letters of support in the hopes of persuading the military authorities to not prosecute her, but instead give her a discharge.
Letters should be sent to Kimberly’s attorney at the contact point below. Her attorney will present the letters to her command as they come in, but also may use them as mitigating evidence for sentencing/clemency purposes if her case does go to trial.
– Address letters to “To whom it may concern.”
– Please be polite and civil in your letter. It is ok to express emotion, but angry/hateful letters will not be helpful.
– Please avoid political statements in your letters. The focus needs to stay on Kimberly and her plight.
– If you know Kimberly personally, please say so in your letter. (Please also be sure and tell stories that illustrate the kind of character she has and why she should be back home with her family).
– If you are military veteran, please say so in your letter.
– Please include your full name and contact information in your letter.
– Please state in the letter that you believe that Kimberly should be immediately discharged from the Army and not prosecuted.
Letters should be sent to:
James M. Branum
Attorney at Law
PO Box 721016
Oklahoma City, OK 73172
Email: girightslawyer(at)gmail(dot)com (please include “Kimberly Rivera” in the subject line)
An Op-Ed for MLTF by NLG President David Gespass
The epic Bradley Manning prosecution – now involving two years of pretrial confinement during which the Constitution presumes him innocent while the administration, the Army and the media do all they can to render that presumption null and void – is emblematic of the changes that the United States has undergone during my sentient lifetime. Sad to say, current trends do not bode well, as the balance between “national security” and the people’s right to know the machinations of government is tipping ever more precipitously in favor of the former.
It is almost inevitable that, once one president asserts some claim of executive privilege, however bogus, succeeding presidents, regardless of pledges of openness and transparency, will seek to expand it. Richard Nixon unsuccessfully claimed privilege in refusing to turn over his White House tapes, but that did not stop Bill Clinton from raising similar claims when trying to quell the storm over Monica Lewinsky.
But those claims had to do with personal wrongdoing on the parts of the presidents. Following 9/11, the claims have had to do with the work of government. The assertions of privilege by George W. Bush and Barack Obama reflect efforts to keep citizens from being informed of the most important functions of government. President Obama, following his promise of a more open and transparent administration, has taken the assertion of executive privilege to unprecedented lengths. Attorney General Eric Holder claimed, in the wake of the assassination of American citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki, that “The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process” and that the secret process whereby the President decides who should live and who should die, with neither explanation nor review, is all that is now due.
That such a claim can even be made with a straight face and given any measure of credence demonstrates how far from constitutional values and the rule of law the United States has drifted over the past 40 years. Even worse, perhaps, is that the resistance to such assertions of executive authority is almost absent in the media and has not been taken up as a cause célèbre among broad swaths of the population. That is not to say that no one has spoken out. Rather, presidential claims of such unrestricted authority, which not that long ago would have been given no credence, now enjoy broad appeal and are questioned with distressing infrequency.
Take, for instance, the case of PFC Manning, who is facing charges tantamount to treason for allegedly releasing classified information often embarrassing to the government and which, in some cases, has provided evidence of possible war crimes. Manning is facing life in prison with no end in sight to his pretrial confinement, several months of which were in solitary. Because of the problems his defense lawyers have had getting relevant information from the prosecution, no trial date can even be set, much less assured. While many of us have defended the things Manning is alleged to have done, there has hardly been a wellspring of support for him. Worse, there has been little condemnation of the government for the things he is alleged to have revealed.
By contrast, when the Pentagon Papers were revealed in 1971 and published in The New York Times, the men who shone the light on them, Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo, enjoyed widespread support that made their prosecutions difficult. Ultimately, the espionage cases against them were dismissed because of government misconduct, but it cannot be gainsaid that the favor in which they were held by many, if not most, Americans was a major factor in their ultimate victory.
Even more remarkable is the case of the unknown burglars who exposed the FBI’s notorious Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). The few members of this band broke into a small FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. They found evidence of illegal FBI surveillance and dirty tricks which they promptly turned over to the news media. The ensuing scandal was not about people who unquestionably acted illegally, but over the greater illegality of COINTELPRO. No serious effort was ever made to identify the burglars, much less to prosecute them. All the fire was directed at the FBI.
One must ask, why has Bradley Manning been treated so differently? Any number of factors may be at play. First, he allegedly turned over his information, not to established media giants like The New York Times and The Washington Post, but to Wikileaks. Could it be possible that the mass media did not assign as much significance to his case because they were not directly affected or subject to government response? After all, the Times had to defend its publication of the Pentagon Papers up to the Supreme Court.
Moreover, times have changed. While government is under attack as being bloated and intrusive in so many areas, its authority to wage war, legally or otherwise, following September 11, has not been questioned. There was hardly a peep from the mass media questioning the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, even though those claims were disputed by weapons inspectors and, as to a nuclear arsenal, deemed unfounded by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
For too many, fear of “terrorism” has overcome devotion to civil liberties. Indeed, in the highest echelons of government, “terrorism” has become the bogeyman that justifies anything, however illegal and antithetical to fundamental human rights standards. It is the ace that trumps all criticism. If patriotism, as Samuel Johnson said, is the last resort of the scoundrel, then the sham justification of every infringement on liberty as “defense of the homeland from terrorism” is the foundation on which that resort is built in today’s United States. And that resort is a political Club Med, where wealth and power meet to make themselves wealthier and more powerful at the expense of the rest of the world.
Bradley Manning is not being prosecuted because his alleged actions damaged the United States, but because they exposed the damage being done to the United States and its people by those who purport to act on their behalf. The government can blithely ignore, or pay blood money for, the death and destruction it wreaks around the world, but since sunlight is the best disinfectant, it will do all it can to keep its infectious practices in a dark cellar.
David Gespass is the president of the National Lawyers Guild, and a founding member of its Military Law Task Force. An attorney in private practice in Birmingham, Alabama, he is also an adjunct professor at University of Alabama School of Law.