Despite attempts by the U.S. government to seal off the transcripts of Pfc. Bradley Manning's trial this week, a crowd-funded stenographer is now working in the courtroom and has posted transcripts from the first day online.
The victory comes after a long campaign waged by The Freedom of the Press Foundation, in which they organized a crowd-funding project to pay for stenographers while battling with the government to allow the transcript-writers into the courtroom.
As FPF reported on Monday:
Earlier today, we scored victory for transparency: the military judge, Col. Denise Lind, and the lead prosecutor in the case against Manning indicated that neither was likely to object to our publicly-funded court reporters using stenography equipment in the media operations center.
The issue came up early on the first day of the trial, when Judge Lind was questioning whether press and public access to the trial had been hampered. She specifically brought up the issue of a stenographer sitting in the media room. The prosecution did not object to a stenographer providing transcripts of the trial provided there was no actual audio or video recording made of the proceedings.
Essentially, this means that our stenographers can do their jobs without running afoul of a misguided and overly aggressive interpretation of the media restrictions on the trial.
However, while FPF had gathered enough funds to pay for the stenographers, and were given the passive OK from Lind, they still had been denied a press pass to the hearings, along with 270 out of the 350 media organizations that had also applied.
Subsequently, on Monday a coalition of more than twenty major media organizations—including the Los Angeles Times, NPR, and the New Yorker—wrote a letter to the US military court requesting two additional press passes for the FPF stenographers.
The request has not yet been accepted or denied.
However, Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network donated his press pass to one of the FPF stenographers on Monday— the last step needed to begin transcribing on the first day of the court martial.
News organizations Forbes and The Verge have now offered their press passes to FPF for the rest of the week.
Transcripts will be updated daily at Freedom of the Press Foundation's website.
Read the transcript from Monday's morning session below:
The transcripts will be released under a ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons license.