National Press Club

NPC joins other groups in pushing for more openness in Wikileaks Trial

June 5, 2013 | By John M. Donnelly | JDonnelly@cq.com

The National Press Club this week signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief urging that the press be given prompt access to documents filed in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who provided a large number of U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks in 2010.

The amicus brief was filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a number of media organizations. It supports a Center for Constitutional Rights' suit seeking a preliminary injunction from the U.S. District Court in Baltimore that would require the U.S. military court trying Manning to release all filed documents as the court martial progresses.

Throughout the course of the legal proceedings against Manning, journalists have had a difficult time obtaining the vast majority of pre-trial documents and docket listings. This in turn has made it very difficult to comprehensively and accurately cover the Manning case, the news groups have argued. The National Press Club and the other organizations are not weighing in on the guilt or innocence of Manning but instead are pushing for more transparency.

"The interest in openness in this case is not mere curiosity but rather a concern about the integrity of this nation’s government and military courts. But the pervasive secrecy underlying the Manning prosecution has reinforced and indeed fueled a theory that the U.S. government keeps far too many secrets in an attempt to evade public oversight," the amicus brief states.

The National Press Club in September 2012 signed on to an earlier friend-of-the-court brief in this matter that was delivered to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. The court determined it did not have the jurisdiction to make a ruling on a third-party's suit for access and recommended filing the claim in federal court, which the Center for Constitutional Rights has done.