Crowd-funded stenographers denied access to Bradley Manning Court Martial

Freedom of the Press Foundation recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for hiring a court stenographer to provide transcripts of the unclassified portions of the Bradley Manning court martial. The US refuses to release the official government transcripts.

On Thursday, we learned that all three of our media partners – the Guardian, the Verge, and Forbes – were denied the media passes they requested in order to allow court stenographers to accompany their reporters into the media tent. Each organization asked for a press pass for their reporter and a second press pass for a stenographer to accompany their reporter.  Each was issued only one press pass.

The Army received over 350 media applications for the trial, but only granted 70 to be present in the media room.  In an emailed statement, the MDW Media Desk stated: “Your understanding of our space limitations based on building fire codes is greatly appreciated.”

In previous hearings, the Army has opened a public overflow theater with live audio and video streaming of the hearing. Additionally, the Army has sole discretion over which room(s) to designate as media rooms – including how many rooms to make available.

More: Crowd-funded Stenographers Denied Press Passes to the Bradley Manning Court Martial (Freedom of the Press Foundation)


  1. It’s so refreshing that the Army is concerned for everyone’s safety by reminding everyone “…that our space limitations [are] based on building fire codes…”, especially considering that they had no qualms about  torturing Bradley Manning by placing him in solitary confiment for nine months before he ever appeared in court.

    Mind you, it’s quaint that that nice Judge Denise Lind, did knock off 120 days off his possible 150 years in jail, despite finding that Manning wasn’t really in solitary, you see, because the guards, who were regularly banging on the cell door to wake him up, constituted ‘human contact’.

  2. No, it´s not about absolute media control or censorship, it´s just about erm… fire safety, you know? Manning may suddenly combust at any moment during the trial and we MUST keep safe the reporters. 

  3. Arn’t most courts-martial closed to the public?  Manning is being tried under the rules governing the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Not that there is any justice in this procedure.

    1.  Damn near ALL Courts Martial are closed to the general public. Thing is, these are reporters that have been invited to witness what is going on and rather than say, three of the reporters join forces, like normal people, and use one pass for a stenographer, they are preferring to bitch about the access. Kinda retarded.

      1. Not sure from where you are getting your research, but courts-martial are open proceedings unless they involve classified material or “rape shield” laws. 

        1.  My apologies. You are correct – my information comes from recollections of the Courts Martials that I was peripherally involved in while stationed in Germany back in the 80’s. Now that I think about it, those were indeed involving classified matters.

          Sorry for the hurr-durr moment there.

  4. So you ask for two passes and you get one because of space considerations.  This does not seem to be sinister in any way compared to say a high school graduation.  Was there any reason you couldn’t send just the stenographer?  A reporter who was a stenographer maybe?

    1. If a high school with 350 graduating students held graduation in a room that only holds 70 people, you don’t think people would be pissed?

      1. Comparing anything about this business to high school seems unduly complimentary.

  5. Why on earth don’t the Guardian, the Verge, or Forbes send in a stenographer using one of those media passes? Current court reporting technology would allow for immediate real-time transmission of the proceedings as they happen, and could be limited to the media outlet who gave up their seat, or better yet, broadcast.

    1. That is a good idea.  They can also take notes.  The fact that there will be reporters will ensure that noteworthy parts of the proceedings are reported on.  Most courts-martial are held in military court rooms that have seating for about 30 spectators.  The accomodations appear to be quite reasonable in light of what the actual requirements are.  All noteworthy court cases have this same issue and access in these cases is apportioned in some manner. 

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