White House “Can’t Comment” on Bradley Manning Despite President’s Earlier Remarks

Administration also remains silent on request by UN torture investigator

November 18, 2011. Bradley Manning Support Network.

WASHINGTON, DC – The White House today declined to comment in response to a petition drive by supporters of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower PFC Bradley Manning. Although supporters had surpassed the signature threshold required by the rules on the new White House online initiative weeks ago, the White House argued today that it is required to “decline to comment” on specific cases in the military justice system. However, the President has already spoken publicly about the question of Manning’s innocence. (Watch the video…)

“Why stop commenting now?” said Kevin Zeese, a legal adviser for the Bradley Manning Support Network. “The White House has now confirmed that it was improper for the President to have influenced military officials under his command with his earlier public declaration of Manning’s guilt.”

When he was asked about Bradley Manning’s conditions of confinement at a fundraiser in April, President Obama replied that “he broke the law.” Legal experts have noted that this comment likely represents an “undue command influence” violation.

The full White House response is available at this link: https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/response/why-we-cant-comment-bradley-manning

In today’s statement, the White House did not address a longstanding request from both PFC Manning and Juan Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, for an unmonitored meeting to discuss abusive conditions that occurred while he was held at a facility in Quantico, Virginia.

“Obama used the United Nations to publicize his new initiative for transparency, but he’s keeping their officials in the dark when they seek to investigate evidence of wrongdoing,” said Jeff Paterson, an organizer with the Bradley Manning Support Network. “It’s time to stop worrying about the spotlight and let the sunshine in.”

President Obama announced the new “We the People” White House petition website at a United Nations meeting on government openness during his visit in September. Juan Mendez is expected to issue a report on Manning’s conditions of confinement in the next few weeks.

As he marks over 17 months in confinement, Manning is currently awaiting an announcement by the military of a date for his first apparence before a judge. Today’s announcement comes at the end of a call-in week by thousands of supporters, which disrupted phone lines at a series of targeted administration and military offices. Supporters are organizing solidarity actions to coincide with Manning’s 24th birthday on December 17.

Veterans For Peace, one of the Bradley Manning Support Network’s supporting organizations, outside the gates of the White House

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