After three-day hearing, Pfc. Bradley Manning fails to get any charges dismissed
Manning is accused of leaking multitude of classified documents to WikiLeaks
Defense: Charge that he gave intelligence to enemy is "alarming in its scope"
Manning is facing a potential life sentence
After a three-day hearing mostly focused on defense motions aimed at getting all or some of the charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning thrown out or combined, the Army intelligence analyst still faces the exact same charges he faced when he first appeared in court here in December.
Manning is the Army intelligence analyst 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.
His final defeat at the hearing came Thursday afternoon when the judge in the case, Col. Denise Lind, denied his motion to dismiss the first charge against him, that he “knowingly (gave) intelligence to the enemy, through indirect means.”
Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, argued that the charge should be dropped for two reasons. First, the prosecution failed to show intent in the way the charge is worded, he argued. Second, Coombs said, the charge is so vague and broad that it’s unconstitutional.
Coombs argued the charge is “alarming in its scope.” He told the judge that if he accepted the government’s argument, “no soldier would ever be comfortable saying anything to any news reporter.” Coombs said they could even be charged after posting something on a family member’s Facebook page.
Capt. Joe Morrow, one of the prosecutors, said Manning’s training taught him that the enemy accessed WikiLeaks and that by allegedly giving the site intelligence, intent was established.
Lind stated that “aiding the enemy has been a violation of every military code since 1775.” She ruled the charge “is not unconstitutionally vague” and “is not unconstitutionally broad.”
The attempt to get the first charge thrown out was important. That charge, which is akin to aiding the enemy, carries a potential life sentence.
Earlier Thursday, Manning’s legal team filed other motions, including one addressing what the attorneys call “unreasonable multiplication of charges” in the 16 specifications he is facing for the second charge against him. Each specification carries a 10-year maximum sentence.
In several of those specifications, or counts, he’s charged with illegally downloading classified information from secure government databases, and in others he’s accused of transmitting that information to people not authorized to get it.
Coombs argued that those two counts address one act, thereby opening up the possibility that Manning could be sentenced to 20 years in prison for an act that should draw no more than a 10-year sentence.
The government argued those are separate acts and separate violations of the law.
Lind denied the defense motion, ruling that they are distinctly separate acts and the charges should remain.
There is still one part of one motion that the judge still hasn’t ruled on, and several of the motions considered this week can be raised again later in the legal process.
Manning has not entered a plea in the case, nor has he decided whether he wants the case to be decided by a jury panel or the judge. The next hearing in the case is scheduled to start June 6. The trial itself is scheduled to start September 21.