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DOD Release of Docs in Manning Case Falls Short of Legal Requirement

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press@ccrjustice.org

February 27, 2013, New York  – Today the Army’s records management division, responsible for responding to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, released 84 judicial orders and rulings in the court-martial proceedings for PFC Bradley Manning. The Center for Constitutional Rights, which had sued to obtain access under the First Amendment to these and other documents in the Manning proceedings, issued the following statement:

The publication today by the Army of a number of court orders, provoked by our lawsuit and many FOIA requests by journalists, is a long-overdue step towards transparency in the military court proceedings against Bradley Manning. However, the delays up to this point and the redactions make it difficult to trust that the military will provide meaningful access to the court’s rulings on an ongoing basis.
 
What the Army released falls far short of what we are seeking in our lawsuit. The First Amendment requires that the press and public have access to the court’s orders, the government and defense filings, and transcripts or audio files of the daily proceedings in open court. Today’s release only provides some of the court rulings. Other than a small number of defense briefs published by the defense counsel on his blog (with heavy redactions by the government), the rest of the materials connected to the trial are not available to the public in any way, despite the fact that the vast majority of this material is not classified or otherwise sensitive. And some of the documents contain absurd redactions; for example, the name of the trial judge is redacted throughout.
 
What is more, some of these orders are over a year old and are only now being published in written form despite the fact that many had been read out loud in open court. We have no commitment from the military that it will make court orders available to journalists and the public on a timely basis going forward.
 
The records are available here.
 
To learn more about CCR’s case for access to the proceedings, click here.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.