Bradley Manning, facing twenty counts, including “aiding the enemy” (which potentially carries the death sentence), for allegedly leaking sensitive military and government documents to WikiLeaks, returns to Fort Meade tomorrow for the next hearing in his court-martial proceedings, leading to his trial, perhaps starting in August. Manning has already been confined to prison for nearly two years.
My new book and e-book, Truth and Consequence: The U.S. vs. Bradley Manning, tells the full Manning story, right up to his latest hearing, a little more than one month ago. The book was written with my former aide at The Nation, Kevin Gosztola, one of the few reporters who has covered all of the key hearings since last December, who will be back in court tomorrow. Here is an excerpt from our book, written by Gosztola, to bring you up to date, covering the March 15 hearing. Part II tomorrow.
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The hearing for Manning on March 15–16 provided a glimpse of how prolonged the process could be before he finally receives the trial. The judge even told the defense at one point that she was concerned about how long Manning had been in pre-trial confinement—more than 600 days—but the defense had to understand that they could not continue to make “voluminous filings” that she had to look over and also expect a trial date to come very soon.
A military police officer pulled out the ID scanner once more and a canine moved among the cars sniffing wheel wells as press sat ready for the go-ahead to follow a military van to the Media Operations Center (MOC). Three convoys were escorted to the MOC. There were very few media this time; perhaps twenty people in all. Major networks, beyond ABC, were again missing. Al Jazeera English had assigned a reporter. The Guardian was oddly absent (and ultimately decided to run the Associated Press’s coverage of the hearing). But Politico’s Josh Gerstein did show up, which was significant because he was part of a media coalition that was pressing the military for more media access to court records during Manning’s court martial.
Manning arrived at 8:45 am, about fifteen minutes before the hearing was scheduled to begin. An SUV motorcade pulled up. Manning got out of a vehicle. He was wearing a dark blue Army Service Uniform instead of the Army Combat Uniform, which he had worn during the Article 32 hearing. When he got out of one of the SUV, he simply looked forward as he headed into the courthouse, not paying much attention to the photographers lined up to get shots of him.
Media were told by a legal expert (the same military prosecutor who was present during the Article 32 hearing) that three defense motions would be litigated during the hearing: a motion for a “bill of particulars,” which the defense submitted to obtain specific details on the means or methods the prosecution believes Manning used to commit alleged crimes; a motion for the discovery of evidence; and a motion to obtain depositions, out-of-court testimony that could help the defense discover evidence to be used in court later. A calendar for the rest of the pre-trial proceedings and then a trial date was likely to be established.