Private Bradley Manning, US Army private suspected of being the source of some of the unauthorized classified information disclosed on the WikiLeaks website. (AP Photos)
UPDATE: My live-blog of day #2 of trial, with Adrian Lamo due.
One of the most important trials in recent US history opens today at Fort Meade, Maryland. Full court-martial proceedings against Pfc. Bradley Manning will begin more than three years following his arrest overseas related to a massive leak of material to WikiLeaks. Manning, now 25, this spring took responsibility for ten of the twenty-two charges against him but among the remaining charges is one, aiding the enemy (that is, Al Qaeda), that could bring a sentence of life in prison.
On Saturday, as many as 2,000 gathered near Fort Meade to protest the continuing proceedings against Manning, many adopting the slogan, “I am Bradley Manning.” Late Sunday, Manning’s longtime attorney, David E. Coombs, speaking for his client, thanked supporters—and the handful of journalists who have covered the case step-by-step since the beginning.
A new piece by Ed Pilkington at The Guardian highlights the significance of the trial, charging that it “could set an ominous precedent that will chill freedom of speech and turn the internet into a danger zone, legal experts have warned.”
One of those journalists hailed by Manning and his attorney on Sunday was surely Kevn Gosztola, a former intern for The Nation who is among the very few who has attended all of the key hearings in the case. He has covered the case for The Nation and on an ongoing basis for the blog Firedoglake—after assisting me with my long-running blog on WikiLeaks here and my book The Age of WikiLeaks. We have also co-authored a book about the Manning case, Truth and Consequences, which was updated last week with new material and analysis covering all of the twists and turns leadng to today’s trial.
Here is an excerpt from the new edition written by Gosztola. I am live-blogging first day of trial here.
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In a dramatic move, Manning pled guilty to some of the offenses on February 28, 2013. He admitted to unauthorized possession of certain information, willful communication of information, and that he communicated that information to an unauthorized person. He also admitted to engaging in conduct that was “service discrediting” or prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the military.
Appearing in court, Manning was allowed to read a lengthy statement he had written. It described his motivation in compelling depth for the first time, and made it clear that he had considered precisely what type of information to release to WikiLeaks; he had not committed an aimless, vindictive, “document dump.”