Bradley Manning departs the courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland, June 10, 2013. (Reuters/Gary Cameron)
In a key move, the military judge in a Fort Meade courtroom yesterday declined to throw out the most serious charge against Pfc. Bradley Manning of “aiding the enemy.”
Manning’s defense team had filed a motion requesting a “directed verdict”—an acquittal—claiming the government had presented no evidence that Manning had actually “aided” any enemies.
The judge, Colonel Denise Lind, said the government had provided sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Manning knowingly gave information to enemy groups (like Al Qaeda) via his leaks to WikiLeaks in 2009. Manning, 25, faces spending the rest of his life in prison.
The prosecution then began its rebuttal of the case presented by the defense.
Defense lawyers claimed Manning did not intend for the documents to end up with Al Qaeda—he divulged information simply to “spark reform and debate.”
One angle: that e-mail he sent to The New York Times in April 2010 seeking to get them to publish his material. (He also failed to get a positive response from The Washington Post.) Prosecutors charged that this e-mail showed that Manning recognized that WikiLeaks was not a legitimate news organization.
Last week, Amnesty International officially called for the US government to drop the “aiding the enemy” charge.
Closing arguments may be heard today, with a chance that Colonel Lind will pronounce a verdict. Manning has already pleaded guilty to ten lesser offenses.
Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake, one of the very few journalists to cover virtually all of the Manning hearings going back to last year—and my co-author of a book on the case, Truth and Consquences—has an analysis here that gets at an added important angle.
Applying the standards she was to follow, it was probably to be expected that the judge would not acquit Manning at this stage. The key issue is, as American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Director of the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, Ben Wizner, told Firedoglake, the judge continues to apply the wrong legal standard to considering the charge….