Bradley Manning's lawyer: Dismiss all the charges

Pfc. Bradley Manning is suspected of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents

Story highlights

  • Lawyer asks charges be dropped with prejudice, so Manning couldn't be recharged later
  • Manning is suspected of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military
  • Manning gives up two military attorneys, takes on another
  • Prosecutors say some of their lawyers have changed, too

Blaming "widespread discovery violations" by military prosecutors, Pfc. Bradley Manning's lead lawyer, David Coombs, on Tuesday asked a military judge to dismiss all the charges against him with prejudice, which means he could not be recharged in the future.

The Army intelligence analyst is suspected of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military and State Department documents while serving in Iraq. Many of those documents ended up on the WikiLeaks website.

The charges include aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, transmitting national defense information and theft of public property or records. He could go to prison for life if convicted.

The request to drop the charges was one of a number of motions discussed at this military base between Baltimore and Washington. Changes in members of the defense and prosecutions teams were also announced or ruled upon Tuesday.

As for the request to dismiss the charges, Coombs said because the prosecutors did not understand the discovery rules, he and his fellow attorneys have not been given information that could help in his defense.

Coombs gave the following example: He said of the 15 computers in the secure area where Manning worked as intelligence analyst, 10 of those computers' hard drives had been wiped clean. He also said that of the remaining five computers, evidence was found indicating many soldiers added unauthorized software.

One of the charges against Manning accuses him of adding software to computers to allegedly allow him to download classified documents.

The chief prosecutor, Maj. Ashden Fein, told the court that the prosecution team has been looking for information that they would be required to turn over to the defense all along and turn over all they are required to turn over as soon as possible.

The judge, Col. Denise Lind, said she would rule on the dismissal motion Wednesday morning.

Coombs also asked the judge to order the turnover of damage assessments reports created by several federal agencies that examined the problems caused by the release of hundreds of thousands of classified documents by WikiLeaks.

Lind told prosecutors to get those reports from the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, the State Department and the Justice Department and provide them to her so she may review them in private before ruling on whether Manning's attorneys can see them.

The CIA has been granted a delay until May 2 to respond to the request, and the State Department is preparing a document showing why it doesn't have to provide damage assessments under the court's rules.

In the personnel changes, Manning has a new military lawyer working with his civilian defense attorney.

Manning requested Tuesday that the two military attorneys who were assigned to him, Maj. Matthew Kemkes and Capt. Paul Bouchard, be removed and replaced with Capt. Joshua Tooman. No reason was provided.

Lind granted the motion.

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, every military defendant has at least one military lawyer assigned to him or her at no cost to the defendant.

The defendant may also hire a civilian attorney but the government does not usually cover that cost. For Manning, that is Coombs, who is being paid by Manning supporters.

Chief prosecutor Fein also announced that some of the lawyers on the prosecutor's side of the case have changed as well.

Manning and most of the other members of the military in the courtroom were wearing blue Army uniforms Tuesday rather than the camouflaged fatigues they've worn in previous hearings in the case.

Coombs hasn't said whether he'll request a trial by a military judge, a panel of senior officers or a panel that includes one-third enlisted noncommissioned officers.

Tuesday's session marked the beginning of three days of hearings.