Echoing his commander in chief in issuing statements that provide improper command influence in the trial of Bradley Manning, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, stated unequivocally that Manning broke the law.
To review, here’s what Barack Obama said when asked about Bradley Manning in April 2011:
And if you’re in the military… And I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren’t allowed to, I’d be breaking the law.
We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.
It appears that President Obama’s highest military officer agrees with him:
The Joint Chiefs chairman also was asked about Manning, the alleged WikiLeaks contributor, and whether Dempsey thought Manning should be viewed as a political prisoner, whistle-blower or traitor.
“We’re a nation of laws. He did violate the law,” Dempsey said.
This is a very disturbing echo of a very disturbing pronouncement from the Commander in Chief. If the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs publicly says that Manning did “violate the law,” how long until that is the view of the entire jury pool? Especially since the Joint Chiefs Chairman’s statement was almost a year later, as preliminary hearings are underway, and was made to a reporter for Stars & Stripes.
The audience for this statement is serving military. The jury pool will see this statement of Gen Dempsey’s.
I hope this statement is brought up to the judge by Manning’s counsel. In a command environment, these unequivocal statements from the highest civilian and military commanders cannot have no impact on those selected to serve on the jury, in Manning’s court martial. They can be seen to have an improper command influence of those on the bench during the current hearings.
This improper command influence must stop if there’s to be even the semblance of a fair trial.