Judge won't dismiss charges in WikiLeaks trial
A US military judge has refused to dismiss charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning.
The former army intelligence analyst - who was recently charged with aiding the enemy - stands accused of leaking thousands of classified documents that ultimately ended up on WikiLeaks. If found guilty, Manning will likely spend the rest of his life in a military prison without the chance of parole.
A total of 22 charges have been leveled against the soldier including: wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet; theft of public property or records; transmitting defense information; and fraud and related activity in connection with computers.
As TG Daily previously reported, Manning defense attorney David Coombs demanded the charges be dropped - accusing the military of routinely "stashing away" critical information that could have helped the soldier prepare his defense.
But US Army Colonel Denise Lind told a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade that the court had found "no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct," and tentatively scheduled the start of Manning's trial for September 21.
Meanwhile, Coombs continues to dispute accusations that Manning intended to aid the enemy (Article 104), citing a clear lack of evidence for the serious charge. "Every court interpreting Article 104(2) has held that the Government must prove general criminal intent to give intelligence to, or communicate with, the enemy," Coombs explained in recently filed court documents.
"No prosecution under this Article has ever been maintained without some allegation of mens rea [i.e. criminal intent]. Mere dissemination of information to persons unauthorized to receive it is insufficient without the necessary criminal intent."
The defense attorney also emphasized that the US Army has yet to accuse PFC Manning of intending to provide intelligence or communicate with the enemy in making the alleged disclosure to WikiLeaks.
"Rather, the Government has merely alleged that PFC Manning had knowledge that the information, if ultimately published, might be accessible to the enemy and that such information might help the enemy. Such a feeble mens rea allegation is patently insufficient to establish the requisite intent under Article 104.
"PFC Manning expressly disclaimed any intent to help any enemy of the United States in the chat logs in which he discussed his actions. Far from intending to aid any enemy of the United States, PFC Manning's actions and statements illustrate a conscious rejection of any such ill motive," he added.
Unsurprisingly, a number of prominent journalists and analysts have questioned whether or not the Pentagon can provide Pfc. Bradley Manning with a fair trial.
"I don't think anyone disagrees that the government has enough evidence to start a court martial proceeding. The question is whether they should be proceeding," Dan Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, told The Guardian back in December 2011.
"It's outrageous for two reasons. How can there be a fair court martial when the commander in chief, president Obama himself, pronounced that he is guilty [of breaking the law]? Secondly, he has been subjected to 10 and a half months of clearly abusive treatment that in my opinion was immoral and illegal."