05
Jun
13

Bradley Manning Trial Shrouded in Secrecy, Security

The court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the central figure in a massive leak of government documents, is focused on secrecy and government security. Yet his trial has become a secretive drama that allows the public little insight into what’s going on in the military courtroom.

One of the pretrial hearings was closed to the public. Many court documents have been withheld or heavily redacted. Photographers were blocked from getting a good shot of the soldier and even some of Manning’s supporters had to turn their T-shirts inside out.

Military law experts say some of it is common for a court-martial, while other restrictions appear tailored to the extraordinary nature of the case. Manning has garnered an outpouring of support from whistleblowers, activists and others around the world.

‘‘I think the judge is very concerned about not turning this trial into a theater, into a spectacle,’’ said David J.R. Frakt, a military law expert at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer. ‘‘I cannot remember a situation where there was such a high degree of civilian interest, people not affiliated with the military, having intense and passionate interest in the outcome of the case.’’

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