Chelsea Manning Released from Jail
The grand jury was disbanded, so there was no need to continue the coercion tactic.
Chelsea Manning was released from jail Thursday after a federal judge announced that the grand jury investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had been disbanded.
“Ms. Manning’s appearance before the grand jury is no longer needed,” federal judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia wrote. “Her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose.”
Manning had been detained in the Alexandria Detention Center for 11 months in civil contempt for her refusal to testify. The judge’s order comes a day after the former Army private attempted suicide in jail. Authorities said they stepped in before serious harm occurred.
Manning is still liable for $256,000 in fines levied by the judge for her refusal to testify.
Hacker Jeremy Hammond, who was also being held in civil contempt for refusing to testify before the WikiLeaks grand jury, was also ordered released by Trenga after five months of civil contempt. But he is still serving a 10-year prison sentence for cyberattacks on various government agencies and businesses.
Trenga’s order rendered moot the arguments by Hammond and Manning that they could never be coerced into testifying. In Alexandria, grand jurors generally serve six to 18 months. The judge did not explain his reasons for ending this grand jury now beyond saying its “business” has “concluded.”
Manning, likewise, has said that she has nothing to offer investigators and opposes grand juries on principle as lacking transparency and accountability.
While I tend to agree that grand juries are problematic, citizens have an obligation to comply with subpoenas and testify in court. Eleven months in jail for contempt is a steep price but it’s the only tool we have to force members of a criminal conspiracy to testify.
We could go through this again with another grand jury, although probably not any time soon given coronavirus prevention measures. Indeed, one wonders whether the courts will be able to operate under social distancing.
It is past time for the government to leave this woman alone.
One aspect of this story is that most likely the only reason Manning finally got long overdue relief is that she attempted to take her own life.
Attempted suicide shouldn’t be require to have this review.
This is a prime example of how coercive fines and fees are. Not to mention how they are often set in ways that are impossible for an individual to meet in order to either force them to comply or to punish someone for the rest of their lives.
You can stop wondering. No US criminal justice system — federal or state — is ready for this. And that’s from law enforcement, through jails, to courts, to corrections and probations. And people are going to get hurt because of that. Here’s an example of exactly why things are going to be bad:
Honestly, the courts will end up punishing the crap out of sick people. But from a public health perspective, I’ve much more concerned about jails because of how transient their populations are.
“citizens have an obligation to comply with subpoenas and testify in court”
Unless, of course, they’re Republicans.
The above does not apply to the Trump Administration; Republicans have decided they are above the law.