Journalists at Bradley Manning trial report hostile conditions for press

UPDATE: Bradley Manning trial judge increased press security "because of repeat violations of the rules of court.”

Journalists and bloggers covering closing arguments in the military trial of Wikileaks source Bradley Manning are reporting a far more intense security climate at Ft. Meade today, as compared to the past 18 months of pre-trial hearings and court proceedings.

@carwinb, @kgosztola, @nathanLfuller, and @wikileakstruck have tweeted about armed guards standing directly behind them as they type into laptops in the designated press area, being "screamed at" for having "windows" open on their computers that show Twitter in a browser tab, and having to undergo extensive, repeated, invasive physical searches.

I visited the trial two weeks ago. While there were many restrictions for attending press that I found surprising (reporters couldn't work from the courtroom, mobile devices weren't allowed in the press room), it wasn't this bad. I was treated respectfully and courteously by Army Public Affairs Officers and military police, and was only grumped at a few times for stretching those (silly) restrictions. I was physically searched only once, when entering the courtroom, and that's standard for civilian or military trials.

But the vibe is very different today in the Smallwood building where reporters are required to work, about a quarter mile away from the actual courtroom. Tweets from some of the attending journalists are below; there are about 40-50 of them present and not all are tweeting. Internet access is spotty today. Oh, wait; as I type this blog post, I'm now seeing updates that they're being told they are not allowed to access Twitter at all. Why has the climate changed so much in the final few days of the trial? What is the Army afraid of?

Notable Replies

  1. xeni says:

    Well, what's notable here is that these journalists have been on the base for months; some of them daily for 18 months. The new thing is that the security is way the hell ramped up today for the first time at this level, and creating an environment that feels to press like clear hostility.

  2. Kangaroo court. They are going through the motions so they can later claim that due process was served. What asshats.

  3. You have made 2 posts and both are as a government apologist. Let me guess, you are a federal employee who was directed to astroturf websites.

    Quick search...tic, toc, tic, toc...

    Yep, confirmed by your PJ media account that you are a federal IT employee. What a surprise.

  4. Are you saying that the agencies monitor reporters in every courthouse to ensure they aren't using Twitter and use armed soldiers to do that? If not, then you missed the point. It isn't that visitors have to go through airport style screening. It is everything else. This is an attack on the press. The US military does not like the coverage they are getting so they are trying to scare off reporters.

  5. If there is a conflict of interest, it is your responsibility to clear that up. This is one of the reasons I never post on the various topics here that relate to my past employers or nuclear power. And if I do so, I clearly state my associations.

    For example, if I were to post on a topic saying "Oh, your claims about the safety of nuclear power are overblown" without explaining that I've worked in nuclear plants before and evaluated safety, I'd be dishonest. So I don't. Additionally, if I signed up to a forum and my only posts were on the safety of nuclear power without disclosing my previous affiliations, I'd be dishonest. As such, my criticism stands.

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