- Chelsea Manning, the intelligence analyst who provided WikiLeaks with secret Pentagon documents, was ordered to return to prison Thursday after she refused to testify before a grand jury that is investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
- Manning was sent to a detention center in Virginia in March for refusing to testify before another jury, but was released last week after that jury’s term expired.
- She was quickly subpoenaed to testify in front of a second grand jury that was convened to investigate Assange after an indictment that was unsealed by the Justice Department in April.
- Manning will be imprisoned for up to 18 months or until she agrees to testify.
Chelsea Manning Goes Back to Jail
Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who gave confidential government documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, was sent back to prison Thursday for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Manning was first sent to the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia in March for refusing to testify before a different grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. She was released just last week after that jury’s term expired.
However, another grand jury was enlisted for the government’s investigation of Assange after the Justice Department unsealed an indictment in April accusing him of conspiring to gain access to Defense Department computers.
As a result, prosecutors hit Manning with another subpoena to testify. “I will not cooperate with this or any other grand jury,” Manning told reporters on Thursday. “So it doesn’t matter what it is or what the case is, I’m just not going to comply or cooperate.”
U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga ordered that Manning be sent back to the detention center until she testifies before the jury or until the grand jury’s term expires in 18 months. Trenga also ordered Manning to be fined $500 every day she stays in custody after 30 days, and $1,000 every day after 60 days.
Previous Prison Time
Manning is not new to serving time in prison. In 2013, she pleaded guilty to violating the Espionage Act and other offenses related to giving WikiLeaks thousands of classified Pentagon documents and communications regarding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
She was sentenced 35 years in prison, but was released in 2017 after President Barack Obama commuted the rest of her sentence. Manning served a total of seven years in prison, including her time pretrial custody from 2010 to 2013.
Manning has claimed that she already answered the same questions during the court-martial in 2013, and said that she will refuse to testify before a grand jury regardless of how long she is detained.
“The government cannot build a prison bad enough, cannot create a system worse than the idea that I would ever change my principles,” Manning reportedly told Trenga on Thursday. “I would rather starve to death than to change my opinions in this regard. I mean that quite literally.”
Prosecutors have argued that the increased jail time is intended to persuade Manning to testify.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger said after Manning’s hearing on Thursday that she has been given immunity for her testimony. “All we want is for her to truthfully answer any questions,” Terwilliger said.
Manning’s attorneys have argued that she should not be incarcerated because she has shown that she will refuse to testify no matter how long she is put in prison. Under federal law, an uncooperative witness can only be put in jail for civil contempt if there is a reason to believe that imprisonment will coerce the witness to testify.
Mannings lawyers claim that other prisoners have been released from jail in the past when it was evident that their imprisonment was not effective in its coercive purposes.
“We are of course disappointed with the outcome of today’s hearing,” Moira Meltzer-Cohen, one of Manning’s lawyers, said in a statement. “But I anticipate it will be exactly as coercive as the previous sanction — which is to say not at all.”
Prosecutors rebuked this claim, arguing that Manning has only spent two months in jail, which is not enough time to say that she cannot be coerced into testifying.
“The entire grand jury system would collapse, because everyone could simply take a principled stand against the grand jury and not testify,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Traxler said. “The longer Ms. Manning spends in jail, the more she realizes it’s in her interest to testify.”
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)
SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Police in Two Qualified Immunity Cases
The move further solidifies the contentious legal doctrine that protects officers who commit alleged constitutional violations.
SCOTUS Hears Qualified Immunity Cases
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of police in two separate cases involving qualified immunity, the controversial legal doctrine that shields officers accused of violating constitutional rights from lawsuits.
The topic has become a major flashpoint in debates over police reform and curbing police violence since the protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the summer of 2020.
On one side, supporters of qualified immunity claim it is necessary to ensure that police can do their jobs without worrying about frivolous lawsuits.
However, opponents argue that judicial interpretations of the doctrine over time have given police incredibly broad legal immunity for misconduct and use of excessive force. Under a previous Supreme Court ruling, in order for officers to be held liable, plaintiffs have to show that they violated rights “clearly established” by a previous ruling.
In other words, officers cannot be held liable unless there is another case that involves almost identical circumstances.
As a result, many argue the doctrine creates a Catch-22: Officers are shielded from liability because there is no past precedent, but the reason there is no past precedent is because officers are shielded from liability in the first place.
An Ongoing Debate
Critics argue that the two cases the Supreme Court saw Monday illustrate that double bind, as both involved accusations of excessive force commonly levied against police.
In one case, officers used non-lethal bean bag rounds against a suspect and knelt on his back to subdue him. In the other, police shot and killed a suspect after he threatened them with a hammer.
The justices overturned both lower-court rulings without ordering full briefing and argument because of the lack of precedent. The court issued the decisions in unsigned orders with no dissent, signaling they did not even see the cases as close calls.
Advocates for qualified immunity claim the decisions signal that the current Supreme Court is not open to changing qualified immunity, and the most likely path for opponents of the doctrine is legislation.
While Democrats in Congress have made numerous efforts to limit qualified immunity, including most recently in the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act passed by the House earlier this year, all those attempts have been blocked by Republicans.
At the state level, dozens of bills have been killed after heavy lobbying from police unions. As a result, it remains unclear what path proponents for reform have at this juncture.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)
Florida School Says Students Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Must Stay Home for 30 Days
The school falsely claimed that people who have just been vaccinated risk “shedding” the coronavirus and could infect others.
Centner Academy Vaccination Policy
A private school in Florida is now requiring all students who get vaccinated against COVID-19 to quarantine for 30 days before returning to class.
According to the local Miami outlet WSVN, Centner Academy wrote a letter to parents last week describing COVID vaccines as “experimental” and citing anti-vaccine misinformation.
“If you are considering the vaccine for your Centner Academy student(s), we ask that you hold off until the Summer when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease,” the letter reportedly stated.
“Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has debunked the false claim that those newly vaccinated against COVID-19 can “shed” the virus.
According to the agency’s COVID myths page, vaccine shedding “can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus,” but “none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.”
In fact, early research has suggested that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus than unvaccinated people.
Beyond that, unvaccinated people are more likely to spread COVID in general because they are much more likely to get the virus than vaccinated people. According to recently published CDC data, as of August, unvaccinated people were six times more likely to get COVID than vaccinated people and 11 times more likely to die from the virus.
Centner Academy Continues Spread of Misinformation
In a statement to The Washington Post Monday, Centner Academy co-founder David Centner doubled down on the school’s new policy, which he described as a “precautionary measure” based on “numerous anecdotal cases that have been in circulation.”
“The school is not opining as to whether unexplained phenomena have a basis in fact, however we prefer to err on the side of caution when making decisions that impact the health of the school community,” he added.
The new rule echoes similar efforts Centner Academy has made that run counter to public health guidance and scientific knowledge.
In April, the school made headlines when its leadership told vaccinated school employees that they were not allowed to be in contact with any students “until more information is known” and encouraged employees to wait until summer to get the jab.
According to The New York Times, the following week, a math and science teacher allegedly told students not to hug their vaccinated parents for more than five seconds.
The outlet also reported that the school’s other co-founder, Leila Centner, discouraged masking, but when state health officials came for routine inspections, teachers said they were directed in a WhatsApp group to put masks on.
See what others are saying: (WSVN) (The Washington Post) (Business Insider)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.