Much news emerged from the latest pre-trial hearings in the case of Bradley Manning yesterday. I’ll get to most of it later today, but for now: Mannng has been given 112 days off whatever sentence he gets due to cruel treatment when he was at Quantico. However, his trial has now been delayed at least another three months, virtually wiping out that gain. Other key developments in brief:
—Prosecutors claim they have chat logs of a direct back-and-forth between Manning and Julian Assange in 2010, and they even joked about a New York Times article. This has been rumored for some time—and the linchpin of that long-running grand jury probe on Assange, no doubt.
• Also alleged in court for first time: Osama bin Laden requested, and received, from an Al Qaeda operative, some of the State Dept. cables released to WikiLeaks—but how important is this in light of The New York Times and other top publications publishing or summarizing hundreds of them? Which leads to:
• Claims that the Times and other media—not just the leakers—could be/should be charged in similar cases. Here’s how that paper’s Scott Shane recorded one exchange.
Colonel Lind, the judge, asked a prosecutor a hypothetical question: If Private Manning had given the documents to The New York Times rather than to WikiLeaks, would he face the same charges?
“Yes, ma’am,” said the prosecutor, Capt. Angel Overgaard.
The New York Times and other mainstream publications published hundreds of the documents Private Manning is accused of leaking. The Justice Department is carrying out an investigation of WikiLeaks to determine whether Mr. Assange or his associates can be charged with a crime. Media advocates say such a prosecution would be a dangerous precedent for news organizations like The Times that frequently obtain and publish information the government considers classified.
More on this angle from the great Amy Davidson at The New Yorker this morning:
According to the AP, prosecutors singled out an 1863 case in which a soldier named Henry Vanderwater was convicted of giving a command roster to a Virginia newspaper, which printed the information. “Publishing information in a newspaper [can] indirectly convey information to the enemy,” a prosecutor quoted by Politico argued. Can anyone aid the enemy by giving information to a reporter? Are reporters aiding the enemy if they publish it—and who, by the way, is “the enemy”?