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Chelsea Manning sent back to jail after refusing to testify before a grand jury (cnn.com)
213 points by Tomte on May 17, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 130 comments



Seriously? The article and the previous one linked really don't explain her objections to the grand jury system and I have to do my own research to figure that out?

What comically bad coverage. How do you write an article about someone having objections to something (esp of this magnitude) without explaining what their objections are nor what that thing even is?

I have nfi what a grand jury is without further research, so neither do 90% of people reading the article. Probably because explaining it alone outs it as a ridiculous, self-evidently awful system, and CNN wouldn't want to do that.


Here's the Washington Post article: https://wapo.st/2W98fyO

The last time I linked to a WaPo article on Chelsea Manning (the last time she was jailed) a mod changed the link so if you find a more informative article you can always post a link and it might be changed.

I don't actually find this to be vastly different in content than the OP but it does seem to give a little more exposition and a little less in terms of boilerplate statements from the attorneys.

Here are some cherry-picked excerpts:

> Manning has offered multiple reasons for refusing to testify, but fundamentally says she considers the whole grand jury process to be unacceptable.

> [The judge] said he hopes that while incarcerated “Ms. Manning would reflect on the principles she says she’s embracing ... and whether those views are worth the price she’s paying for them.”

> Manning herself told the judge directly: “I would rather starve to death than change my principles in this regard.”


To expand a little, I think the biggest issue that Chelsea has with a grand jury is that the entire process is sealed. If it were a public hearing then she would be much more likely to testify, because we would know what was asked, what was answered, and we would know what this entire process is about.

We only assume that this grand jury is about Julian Assange (because what else would Chelsea's testimony be relevant for?), but we actually don't know. This could be a political witch hunt for any variety of reasons, and we might never find out. An opaque justice system is probably not a good thing, since we just have to trust that the people in charge will do the right thing- and we have seen countless times throughout history that the people in charge often do the wrong thing and attempt to cover it up.


> This could be a political witch hunt for any variety of reasons, and we might never find out.

We'd only never find out what her testimony was about if Manning, who as a witness is under no secrecy requirement, never said anything.

And we'd never get an idea of the broader context of the grand jury only if no indictment was ever issued by that grand jury (or an indictment was issued under seal and never unsealed and prosecuted).


That makes sense, because a public one sided show trial definitely couldn’t be abused by prosecutors to smear people they have no intent of indicting. Is that actually a position people really believe?


At least a public deposition would allow people to come to their own conclusion. If Chelsea felt that public questioning was one sided and a smear campaign then she could release a statement afterwards filling in the context and pointing out the other side of the story.

With a grand jury it is illegal to discuss anything, so a one sided smear campaign during a grand jury can lead to an indictment and Chelsea would have no opportunity to offer her side of the story without risking more jail time.


> With a grand jury it is illegal to discuss anything

No, it is not; grand jury secrecy rules apply to attorneys, court officials, grand jurors, and government staff to whom material is disclosed to assist attorneys, but not to witnesses called before the grand jury.

So, actually, not only would Manning be allowed to present her side of the story, no one with actual knowledge of her time before the grand jury would be allowed to contradict it.


Additionally, it’s pretty nonsensical to claim that prosecutors will use public show trials to smear opponents, but allowing them to publicly smear opponents would make the proceeding more fair?


It's like what's happening all over the French news all the time: you get told people are going on strike and on demonstrations, but you're never told why they're doing it anymore.


I’m constantly impressed with how brave she is, I’m not sure I would be this strong under this much pressure.

We seem to have completely lost our way at this point, I thought jail was to protect the public not persecute political prisoners to build trumped up charges against your enemies and journalists in general. It feels like we’ll be really lucky if our rights and freedoms survive over the next little time and Chelsea Manning is at the forefront of this atrophy. It doesn’t seem very easy to save them especially with the politicisation of the Supreme Court.

How do we fight these things?


> We seem to have completely lost our way at this point, I thought jail was to protect the public not persecute political prisoners to build trumped up charges against your enemies and journalists in general.

The integrity of the grand jury process, which is itself an essential protection of the integrity of the criminal justice system, is a public interest that needs protected.

> It feels like we’ll be really lucky if our rights and freedoms survive over the next little time and Chelsea Manning is at the forefront of this atrophy.

If her assault on the grand jury system were successful, yes, Manning would be at the forefront of the atrophy of key rights.

> How do we fight these things?

By vigorously defending the grand jury system, which protects people's names from being dragged through the mud attached to serious federal criminal charges without vetting of probable cause in a process in which government agents are obliged to secrecy against attacks like those Manning is making.


It’s only the US and Liberia who kept the grand jury process from English common law, why did every other country get rid of it? Because secret trials are wrong and the law works fine without them.


> why did every other country get rid of it?

Because distrust of government is lower in other common law countries than in the US, and the grand jury process is an outside check on government.

> Because secret trials are wrong

Grand jury proceedings are not trials, they are a hoop the government has to jump through before getting to file charges, much less reach a trial.


Because they offered immunity and is likely being held in contempt. They should just disclose what is happening behind the scenes, but my guess is they are worried that they'll compromise an ongoing investigation.


Grand juries are secret by law. Nobody involved is allowed to talk about what happens in the grand jury, or even to acknowledge the subject of the investigation.


So then by definition, the reason Manning is in jail again, is because she violated a secret request by a secret court.

That seems very very wrong.


It’s not the FISA court. Grand juries are part of the court system, but they aren’t courts like you normally think. They’re confidential proceedings where prosecutors show that they have enough evidence to charge somebody with a crime (in this case, Manning is not the target). The confidentiality is officially meant to protect the person who may be charged with a crime (grand juries can see information that courts cannot; news reports about grand jury proceedings could taint the jury pool, influence the future judge, and just hurt someone’s reputation without giving them a chance to respond) and to avoid interfering with ongoing investigations.

Manning is in jail because she has a different idea of right and wrong than the judge does. That wouldn’t matter at a cocktail party, but in this case the judge has the power to punish Manning until she changes her mind about what the honorable thing to do is.


Seems like a practical alternative would be to simply "plead the 5th" in response to every question she is asked.


She can't plead the fifth because her testimony is already immunized (and, in any case, by all accounts—notably, her own—the mattress her testimony of sight on covers transactions for which she has already been criminally convicted and for which she is thus protected from further charges by the prohibition on double jeopardy.)


That's false. No one knows what she _would_ say until she actually says it. She can certainly say "I can't say the answer to that because it would incriminate me (in ways that I don't already have immunity for)" and no one would have any way to verify that claim. Thus, it's a perfect response for every question.


The reports on this have been very muddled, which is a shame. I may have said a few incorrect things in my comments on the case (although I stand by this particular comment).

There is no judge present in a grand jury hearing. The only reason Manning was in front of a judge was that her lawyers argued that the prosecutor was using the grand jury incorrectly. Since Assange has already been indicted, there isn’t much sense in collecting additional evidence from Manning.

To be honest, that argument sounds plausible to me. The judge rejected it, and ordered Manning to testify or be held in contempt. Sadly, since the news reports generally ignore Manning’s legal arguments, they also ignore the details of the judge’s order.

I can think of a couple of possibilities: (1) Assange isn’t the only target (I think this is unlikely, but possible), (2) the prosecutor intends to file additional charges against Assange (I think this would be likely in a case without extradition, but extradition complicates things), (3) Manning’s lawyers are simply wrong about the limits on grand juries, or (4) the prosecutor may well be doing something wrong, but the judge can always fix it after the fact and Manning is obligated to play along for now. I really would like to know why Manning’s request was denied. All I can say right now is that she’s in contempt because she refuses to testify in front of the grand jury knowing that she won’t be charged with any more crimes related to the matter and knowing that Assange has already been charged.


> Since Assange has already been indicted, there isn’t much sense in collecting additional evidence from Manning.

This reasoning does not make sense. The bar for indictment is not "100% of all available evidence must have been collected". One can and should collect (and subsequently present) additional evidence until the closing arguments are presented. No case is ever a "sure thing". One is wise to continue to reinforce it throughout the entire process.


The best I can find is https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5cdd9f8fe4b01571365dc957 :

“According to [a spokesperson], Manning’s lawyers maintain that, since the grand jury is only an investigative tool and cannot be used by prosecutors to prepare for trials, the subpoena for Manning ‘represents an improper and impermissible use of the grand jury process.’”

Apparently the judge disagreed with that argument, but I can’t find any reports on the judge’s reasoning.


On the latest thread on this, people who know better than me said the 5th Ammendment doesn't apply because she is not being charged with any crime, she is a witness on another case.


That's false. 5th amendment certainly applies in that (and every other) case where one could incriminate themselves with their testimony.


> So then by definition, the reason Manning is in jail again, is because she violated a secret request by a secret court.

There's no secret court involved. But, yes, grand jury proceedings are secret to protect the integrity of the system as an honest probable cause filter for serious charges, which is an important public check on government and protection of the potentially accused.


Probably why she's willing to go to jail over it.


You can't lump one thing with another. In this case there is a law that says you must do what a judge orders. That applies to anyone under scrutiny from the justice system.


There were plenty of laws banning black people from Sitting on the wrong place in the bus, and yet if someone were to defend the jailing of someone due to violating that law you'd be talking about the injustice that was.

The law is the law is only an argument if you're willing to always take it to it's full logical conclusion, so my question to you was, if this judge was ordering you to do something you felt was morally horrifying, such as for example sterilizing someone without their consent (as has been done in the past), would you accept it and do it?


The law that says you must do what a judge orders isn't unjust. If people can ignore a judge's orders the entire justice system falls apart. Contempt of court is a serious thing.

If something is unjust, it must be complained about directly. In your example it is reasonable to complain about the law mandating sterilisation, but it is unreasonable to complain that a judge is requiring people to follow the law.

I don't really see how to get worked up about the publicly available information. The real issue is that the US government seems to have avenues available where it may be able keep not just the indictment process but also the trial itself secret; given all the damage done to the legal system in the hysteric response to 9/11 which will now be employed on people who are terrorising the US government.

I'm going to preempt anyone trying to say say that the FISA court system is not for cases like Wikileak's by pointing out that nobody knows what that court system is used for in practice. It is secret.


> The law that says you must do what a judge orders isn't unjust.

It has been argued for a VERY long time that grand juries (which is why she can be put in jail repeatedly like this) are unjust. Many states do not even use them because of it. Grand juries get special privileges, like compelling people to testify without lawyers, or through double jeopardy as is the case here.

https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/fifth-amendment-grand-ju...


> Many states do not even use them because of it.

Many states do not use them because they prefer to subject people to public accusation of crime without the filtering process of a grand jury up front, but instead with a preliminary hearing after the fact (and therefore after the harm of the public accusation is realized.)

> Grand juries get special privileges, like compelling people to testify without lawyers, or through double jeopardy as is the case here.

That's not a special privilege, regular courts do the same thing, whether when conducting a preliminary hearing instead of grand jury indictment or at other points in the process: witnesses, unlike defendants, have no right to representation by counsel.


I don’t think you quite understand what you’re talking about - do you realize Chelsea Manning is not the target of the grand jury? How can a person being compelled to testify for actions they’ve been granted immunity risk double jeopardy?


If the law asks me to do something I do not want to do for ethical reasons, I will not do it and accept to be punished. I expect the punishment to take into account the ethical reasons and to be small. Refusing to comply is the way to make the law change, but we have to accept the price.


The law can't handle willful lawbreakers that way; otherwise criminals would develop strong ethical reservations about all sorts of stupid things.

Ignoring a judge, purposefully and with premeditation, is not going to earn anyone reduced punishment. It is contempt of court.

Again, if the law has ethical problems it is reasonable to put up a bit of a struggle. Just don't complain about the justice system is somehow doing anything unexpected - the problem sits with the lawmakers.


> The law can't handle willful lawbreakers that way; otherwise criminals would develop strong ethical reservations about all sorts of stupid things.

The law or rather the judges make judgement calls all the time. Does someone get bail? Does this person hide something? Is this interpretation by a lawyer sound? What mitigating circumstances should be considered in a judgement?

It's not like people ask for something unprecedented here and the law up until now was some mechanical process that always lead to the same outcome.


It's reasonable to expect judges to use their judgment and discretion in applying the law. It's not reasonable to expect them to use your judgment and discretion.


It is completely reasonable to hold a judge's discretion and judgement under scrutiny.


I'd go as far to say it's your duty.


> The law can't handle willful lawbreakers that way; otherwise criminals would develop strong ethical reservations about all sorts of stupid things.

The fact that this has to be explained shows how sheltered and naive some people are

If they're not happy they can move to a low law enforcement country, apparently it would be the paradise for them (except for the fact you'll probably be robbed most often than not, still)


I disagree, I think it is fairly easy to prove that the ethical reasons make sense, or not, based on the other behavior of the person.

> If they're not happy they can move to a low law enforcement country, apparently it would be the paradise for them (except for the fact you'll probably be robbed most often than not, still)

Haha, yeah, because of high law enforcement the USA is a paradise where no violence or robberies take place. I don't know about robberies, but there's a lot less violence in my country than in yours where shootings are regular.


Agree. I live in the states, highest incarceration rates in the world. My apartment still got robbed, the cops still took a day to actually respond to it and investigate.

Would still rather my nation have fairer law enforcement practices.


> yeah, because of high law enforcement the USA is a paradise where no violence or robberies take place.

Sufficient enforcement is not a guarantee of lower crime rates

And again, it's a bit of lack of knowledge of how things work in the 3rd world


> The law that says you must do what a judge orders isn't unjust. If people can ignore a judge's orders the entire justice system falls apart. Contempt of court is a serious thing.

A normal legal system will have criteria of legality for what a court can demand, if not a clearly defined list of what it can and can not demand.

In US, well, a judge can demand you to stand on your head in the courtroom... and you will have to do that!

US has a history of people being hit with contempt of court for things being borderline silly.


Since mid century and on, you see how the line of reasoning "if I am allowed to do that, it's right" and legal casuistics completely hollowed out the moral integrity of American judiciary.

My business law prof was a lawyer who began his career as a trial lawyer in USA, and then moved to Canada. One of reasons he said made him drop it was him feeling despair every time he saw judges spending court breaks smoking with prosecutors, and giving him a gawking look when they saw him looking at them. He said he felt that judges and prosecutors were pretty much teaming up on poor defendants, and that he had to fight courts as much as the prosecution side.

He was one of defence lawyers for black rights movement, panthers and poorer black people, during seventies. He was one of youngest lawyers around back then, and he ended up defending such cases because nobody more senior in the defence lawyer community wanted to take upon such "hopeless" cases.

How would you not call such legal system a joke? How can it pretend having any decorum?


We can't defend everyone's morality equally. Most of us agree about the immorality of racist laws or forced sterilization. There just isn't the same kind of consensus about the morality of publishing leaked classified documents.


We're not talking just about some random criminal. Manning is a famous leaker. Everytime she stands up against a judge there's a discussion on the front page of HN, and a bunch of articles in the press. Her actions obviously provoke discussion in a way that some rando's thinking he's entitled to do what he pleases with regards to judges orders do not.

It may be, she's doing her small part to change something in the future. Her actions will be remembered. They already are by many people. And it's a bit myopic to just focus on "contempt of court" part.

Everytime Manning comes up, it just reminds me that US is still murdering people around the world without any justification or verification of who was killed in most cases, while the system is focussing on punishing her further - instead of trying to improve and save innocent lives.


Lets suppose that some of those classified documents would show for example evidence of war crimes, killing and torturing helpless people "by fun", or massively spy and lie to our own citizens.

I bet that to disclose hideous crimes would be unanimously seen as a morally acceptable act by the majority of the people.

The problem is not in the leaking act itself, the problem is the contents of the leaks.


There wasn't consensus before about racist laws and forced sterilization. As a matter of fact, they were completely moral! Consensus on the immorality of it was achieved after many people struggled with the judiciary system and lawmakers. It takes a whole lot of noise to open some eyes.


Selectively applying laws (or not) is fundamentally what politics is about. The law is a tool here and it is being wielded by the very people who directly or indirectly were implicated by Manning. If the same amount of diligence were applied to the rather severe crimes that Manning unveiled, you'd have a point.

But of course that's not what has happened. Most of the people involved walk free having been pardoned or not even charged at all. Especially at the top level nobody suffered any consequences.

Manning is in jail because high ranking politicians want her to be there. Judges are doing as they are told here.


Could she just testify and say "I don't remember." and "I don't understand." all the time?

That's pretty much what all CEOs and such do when they are testifying.


That’s weaseling out. She isn’t doing that here even though she could. She just doesn’t want to do that because I imagine she is principled. That’s honorable.


> That’s weaseling out.

It would in many ways be the only honest answer. The facts in question are almost a decade ago now. Chelsea is now in many senses a different person. The fine details of her comments could result in the execution of another person.

Anyone who is confident of the fine details from events ten years ago before experiencing a multitude of bad experiences is probably significantly overconfident in their recollection.


I don't argue with that.

But that's one silly law that judge can compel you to talk but you can easily weasel your way out of it by saying things that might be true and give no information.

I think such law shouldn't exist as it can only harm only truthful, principled people but can do nothing to any wrongdoer.


In principle, wrongdoers always have more options available than moral people. Because being moral prevents you from using some ways that would be considered immoral, while the wrongdoers don't have those restrictions, therefore can and will weasel out. In the movies the good side wins even despite this limitation, then heroes are celebrated for their morality and bravery, but in the real life... well...


I understood she is making a statement by refusing. She said that she has said everything there is to be said. It's like a hunger strike.


I read something a while back that said you generally can't do that if it can be shown that you could remember. No idea how that works in practice though.


Correct. The attorney doing the questioning will have additional supporting evidence... documents, transcripts of prior testimony, established timelines of events, etc. So if they ask “were you at [location] on [date]?” and she replied “I don’t remember” they would simply show her evidence of her being at that location on that date to “refresh her recollection” and then she would be expected to answer. She could answer along the lines of “from this [evidence] it looks like I was” but it would be difficult if not impossible to avoid answering questions altogether.


But it forces the other party to have evidence for everything. The point of the questioning is to gain additional evidence from the answers. But if all answers are "If that's what it says, then that's what it says" as Richard Sackler https://youtu.be/-qCKR6wy94U?t=952 then it's apparently the effective way to go


Right, it definitely makes it more difficult but keep in mind that you don’t need to gain additional information in order to gather additional evidence.

For example, if I have a piece of paper - Exhibit A, that demonstrates you were at a certain place at a certain time, that’s definitely valuable evidence but at trial opposing counsel could call into question the source of the document, chain of custody, or a number of other issues to contest its accuracy and/or validity. But if I have you on the stand and show you that piece of paper and you say, on the record, that it does seem like you were there, now I have Exhibit B - a record of your testimony, at the very least admitting the document seems legitimate and reliable. But most jurors would take your statement as pretty close to an admission.

Exhibit B is highly valuable because it’s almost impossible for your lawyer to contest.

As entertainingly frustrating as Sackler’s deposition was his responses were indeed some of the least valuable he could have possibly provided. I’m sure that was part of his legal team’s preparation for the meeting. “If that’s what it says then that’s what it says” is a meaningless tautology. But keeping up that sort of response throughout an entire line of questioning is difficult even in a deposition and takes a certain amount of IDGAF attitude that Sackler clearly has in spades. A deposition is also a bit different from the grand jury testimony Chelsea Manning would have given because a deposition isn’t a courtroom proceeding. Responses like Sackler’s wouldn’t fly if he were in front of a Judge.


You can turn up at court but you don't have to be compelled to say things. In the UK "no comment" works to all questions except confirmation of one's identity.


“I don’t remember” is a fine answer only if it’s true. Otherwise she could be punished for making false statements (the issue is how to prove someone actually does remember).

In court, she could just invoke the Fifth Amendment, but I don’t know whether that applies to grand jury proceedings, especially since the grand jury isn’t investigating her and she’s already served time for any crimes she committed.


You can only invoke the Fifth Amendment if what you say would incriminate yourself. Chelsea is here being compelled to give evidence against other people.

Also, if she were lying she could be charged with perjury.


it works for others, so why not here? https://youtu.be/-qCKR6wy94U?t=1121


The reality of the law has lumped political consideration with legal housekeeping. As a small individual you don't get to choose that, you only get to choose your response.


Same with North Korea, Kingdom of France, British Empire, East Germany, etc. They had/have laws that say you must do what a judge orders.


Jails are to isolate violators of law or legal process from the general public regardless of any opinions there upon. Putting a person in jail for contempt of court is legally just even if the underlying court case is absurd because it is the judicial process that is at threat.


If it was that black and white then you better jail 99+% of the population who happens to jaywalk, drive a little too fast, drive past a yellow light, ride a bicycle without a helmet, etc.

Also, why would you want to focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation? The vast majority of those imprisoned are of no danger to society, and the way the US (and most other countries) focus on punishing someone for making a mistake greatly increase the chance that they'll continue to break the laws in the future and become a burden to society.


> Also, why would you want to focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation?

I never stated any such opinion either for or against.


Are people downvoting because they are hypersensitive about Manning or because something I wrote is not logically valid?


It's grossly lacking context.


It’s a reply to comment that clearly stated an illusory nature of jails.


>> Today, Chelsea was not only put back in jail, but Judge Anthony Trenga ordered her to be fined $500 every day she is in custody after 30 days and $1,000 every day she is in custody after 60 days. This is unprecedented.

https://twitter.com/xychelsea/status/1129158920499605504

Wtf....


It's actually fairly common when being held in contempt.

Judges in America have an egregious amount of power.


I'm actually pretty confused; does the USA not have a law that protects an individuals right not to testify if they'd incriminate themselves by doing so? That's seen as a pretty fundamental thing where I live.


It has been argued for a VERY long time that grand juries (which is why she can be put in jail repeatedly like this) are unjust. Many states do not even use them because of it. Grand juries get special privileges, like compelling people to testify without lawyers, or through double jeopardy as is the case here.

https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/fifth-amendment-grand-ju...


The U.S. certainly does. It's set out in the Fifth Amendment to our Constitution.

In this instance, however, Chelsea Manning has been given immunity from prosecution -- meaning she can't "plead the Fifth".


There is that, but it’s also a grand jury. There technically isn’t any jeopardy there, they convene and recommend what a prosecutor should do and it’s all supposed to be secret with pretty strict punishment for violating that.

Fair or not, this is an interesting stand to take.


Because the hearing is secret. If you even show up, they could claim you said anything, do anything they want based on that made up testimony.

By even showing up, you are putting yourself at risk from people thinking you snitched.


>If you even show up, they could claim you said anything, do anything they want based on that made up testimony.

I’d be interested in reading your proof of this, because I’m fairly certain you just made this up.


Doesn't the 1st amendment apply? Surely the right to free speech includes the right to decide what NOT to speak?


The U.S. does protect that right. Here, Ms. Manning is apparently being asked to incriminate Julian Assange, not herself.


She hasn’t been asked to incriminate herself. She’s already been convicted and had her sentence committed and been granted immunity from her further testimony.


She got immunity, So she can’t incriminate herself.


And yet, someone who is likely broke in more ways than one, is demonstrating that she has more.


Sounds like desperation is setting in for the prosecution, doesn't it? Secret proceedings, torturing witnesses...

At least they're competent, right? Except the part where they accidentally leaked secret information with cut and paste errors of court documents, that was pretty Mr Bean.


just remember, many of the same people here would be cheering on the Justice Department for using similar tactics against people they don't like. You can see it in the comments all the time.

That is why Justice can get away with it. They should be prevented completely from being able to use these tactics. The outrageous fines, the outrageous costs to defend against them which even some well off cannot afford, and the use of the press to twist the message to their liking.

Until we realize that everyone deserves the same treatment we will never change the system.


The have the current president dead to rights on multiple obstruction charges, yet the Justice Department does nothing.


Thank you for saying this. If it was Alex Jones in jail for the same reasons, you can bet folks would be cheering.


Glenn Greenwald would not. My politics and Glenn's are very different but one of the reasons I respect him is his steadfast commitment to principle especially when it applies to people you loathe. Read Glenn, disagree, sure, I do often. But read Glenn.


Coming from a totally different justice system -- this seems nuts to me.

It's impossible to fine someone someone per DAY while they are refusing to testify where I live; you can probably do it ONCE, you probably give them a jail sentence, but you cannot perform this arm-wrestling torture thing.


> Secret proceedings,

Grand jury proceedings are kept secret, but they aren’t limited to state secrets cases. They are actually a Constitutional right for everybody charged with a serious crime in the US.

> torturing witnesses

I assume you mean that holding Manning in jail qualifies as “torture,” which I consider a strange definition of “torture.” Are all federal prisoners being tortured? If so, does that violate the Constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment? Should they all be freed?

They certainly are pressuring this witness, but it’s actually not out of the ordinary for the US criminal justice system. The prosecutors handling Operation Varsity Blues have the same tools, and will use them this way if they think it will help. Valerie Plame’s time in jail was for contempt for refusing to appear in front of a grand jury because by doing so she wouldn’t be able to keep a journalism source secret.


Those are normal day-to-day exercises for the US justice system, not a sign of desperation.


I occasionally make comments supporting the basic actions of the government based on the data available which are wildly unpopular.

This time something different: why do people support Manning's decision / find her treatment inappropriate?

Respect for sticking up for beliefs? I get that and share those feelings even if I don't share the specific beliefs.

But do people feel the 5th Amendment covers "incriminating" yourself after you've been convicted and served time (and don't have any risk of further convictions)?

Do people want the 5th to include incriminating people you like?

What specifically about the grand jury system in place here do you think is problematic or unconstitutional?


Often there is a widely held, low-resolution understanding of the constitution, and when you get into the high-resolution details there are exceptions that seem like the complete opposite of the widely held understanding.

For example, a naive reading of the commerce clause would say the fact Congress can regulate commerce among the states would not apply to a farmer growing wheat to feed animals on his own farm. But surprise! Wickard v. Filburn [1] says that counts as interstate commerce.

Likewise, the low-resolution understanding of the fifth amendment is that you can't be forced to testify; and the low-resolution understanding of being granted immunity for something is you can't be sent to jail for reasons related to it. And yet, here we are.

A lot of Americans like the constitution - so much so, everyone in congress and the military and suchlike swears an oath to uphold and defend it. When people see these things that are a reversal of what they understand the constitution to say, it's understandable they don't like it.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wickard_v._Filburn


Grand juries are secret and procedurally unnecessary. They are trying to drum up enough evidence to go to real trial. The fact that their grand jury exploration rests entirely on her testimony means the prosecution’s case is fairly weak as it stands.

she’s being jailed on an option.


Reading more of the opinions here makes it fairly clear that the people holding said opinions don’t really have any understanding about the reason Manning is being held in contempt, or any real understanding of the American legal system. Most seem to have typed “why grand juries are bad” into google and are repeating nuanced positions in ways that don’t really fit.


Why should I be required to say anything to the government? It's my speech and it's protected.


She has all my respect. Congratulations for fighting for our freedom.


I am so disgusted by this I have no words. Where is the outrage? Why aren't people marching on the streets?


All she has to do is testify. She’s doing this to herself. She’s not the one being charged here.


Ironic username is ironic.


I do not think there is anyone questioning that she is doing this to herself. The outrage is in regard to the system that allows this to happen. I think there is a long history in this country of standing up against laws and rule that people find unjust/imoral/unethical, our country wouldnt exist otherwise. She is, in many ways, a patriot for making this stand. The court is doing what is in their power to do, she is merely pointing out that the court should not have this power. She is in a uunique position to have this sort of a platform and she is not squandering that position.


Helping them convict assange could undo the public benefit of her previous actions. How could she morally do that, regardless of who's authority compels her? She's doing the right thing.


the grand jury system makes a mockery of the US justice system.


Maybe so, but please don't post unsubstantive comments here.


[flagged]


I’ve read this comment about 3 times now in this post. While I find the premise interesting perhaps you could add more color or somehow differentiate your point if you want to say the same thing multiple times.


I don't see any mention of an offer of immunity.

If I didn't have immunity, you can be damn sure I wouldn't be answering any questions on a subject that might get me prosecuted again.


I don't think it's about that. Chelsea already served a prison term for stealing classified documents. President Obama commuted the sentence, but did not pardon her, so she's already been convicted and served her entire sentence. Because of double jeopardy, she can't be tried again for stealing those documents, and I don't think she's done anything else that's criminal.

I think this is about not supporting what she feels is supporting an unjust and corrupt system. I don't blame her. I doubt that I would act the same way, but she felt strongly enough about the Army's actions in Iraq to break the law while fully aware of the consequences. She's probably got the guts to keep her word when she says she has ethical concerns about the grand jury and won't be answering any questions.


> We "never once made this about anything other than obtaining immunized testimony in furtherance of an investigation," he said, adding that "all we want is her to truthfully answer questions as our constitutional republic requires of our citizens."

Immunity does appear to be on the table as part of the request, though I'm not sure why you would browbeat someone into testifying with jailtime and threats that amount to bankruptcy if you aren't seeking to entrap them in some fashion.


The public has a claim to every person's evidence.

If a person has evidence that a court of law wishes to obtain, under American law the court is permitted to compel immunized testimony. Someone who refuses to comply is likely to be treated as someone who has committed an act of contempt of court.

Chelsea Manning isn't special here. Anyone who refuses to testify before a grand jury is likely to be treated this way. There's no need to postulate that it's a further attempt to punish someone for political reasons to explain all events here.


The public is laughable here. It's a small cabal working entirely in their own self interest, using the power they have to punish those who challenged it. Its disgusting to bring up the public good.


I don't see any need to call her as a witness here.

Her testimony is on file, and some parts of it are even a matter of public record. She has already extensively testified in the past.

In most court cases, there is a wish to limit the number of witnesses in a case. Where you can take testimony by reports, affidavits, and other records, you take it, as it speeds up the process considerably.

The only reason to call Manning is if you believe that you can show that new testimony conflicts with old testimony.


So she is not testifying because she doesn't want to repeat herself? That seems silly. No, there is something she doesn't want to say, because it would incriminate someone she doesn't want to incriminate. I doubt it's herself.


I haven't expressed any opinion on why Manning has made the choices they have. I may or may not agree.

I have questions for the court, because they have chosen to act in a way that doesn't seem to follow standard procedure. My query is one of legal practice.


You stated that the only reason they seek testimony is to entrap her. If that would be true, that leaves two options: Either she would say the same thing as before, because that was the full story. What is the reason than for not doing so except that she doesn't want to repeat herself? Or she fears that she would fall into that trap (which I'm not sure could exist because of double jeopardy / immunized testimony).

But it's a wrong dichotomy. It's more likely the judge suspects that she knows something incriminating about somebody else, maybe Julian, she doesn't want to tell. Which answers your question about legal practice.


Immunised testimony is only covers certain events.

Seeking new testimony when complete testimony is already on file, leaves open the door to parallel construction of unrelated cases. The witness may be convinced to say something that violates the terms of previous deals.

If the judge truly believes her testimony might aid in convicting Assange they have no reason not to already use the extensive testimony on file. Manning has already been extensively interrogated about Assange, for a number of years. The court has those filings available to it.

There is no reason to expect that new testimony with new evidence is available.


I don't understand it either. I gather that she has been offered immunity from further prosecution.[0] But perhaps she's concerned about the potential for discrepancies vs testimony from her trial.

I assume that her testimony from her own trial can be used by the grand jury. But maybe she plead the 5th some in her trial, so they want immunized testimony about any of that. Or maybe there's stuff that she just wasn't asked about.

0) https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/government...


Because they need her testimony to charge assange.


Imagine how tenuous their case must be if it rests on testimony of a single hostile witness. Chelsea has them dead to rights if jail is the only option they have.


People who testify to grand juries are automatically granted immunity with respect to that testimony, unless it is explicitly waived. That automatic immunity negates their right to invoke the 5th amendment under the law.


Wild guess: she's asked to testify about Assange. Assuming he's guilty, either she incriminates him or lies. Lying to the jury wouldn't be covered by immunity, would it?


No, lying would not be covered.


Nothing to gain, everything to lose. She's doing the right thing. Huge self sacrifice.


Yeah, how can they force her to testify if that would mean incriminating herself? Though I'm not a lawyer, this seems to contradict my idea of a [Rechtsstaat](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rechtsstaat?wprov=sfla1).


The article has a quotation that suggests there was immunity:

We "never once made this about anything other than obtaining immunized testimony in furtherance of an investigation," he said, adding that "all we want is her to truthfully answer questions as our constitutional republic requires of our citizens."


They can't force her to testify if it would incriminate herself. That isn't what is happening here.

If she has been offered immunity then she can't incriminate herself. Also answering questions regarding an offense she has already been convicted of isn't incriminating herself.

If during her testimony she believes that answering a specific question would incriminate herself she can refuse to answer it upon that basis.

What she can't legally do is refuse to answer any questions whatsoever.


Maybe she should try to become a politician after this experience. It seems that they are the only allowed to do anything they want and get away with it.



"There's nothing dishonorable in fulfilling your obligation as a United States citizen,"

So if she wasn't a US citizen, how would this be different?




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