The officer who presided over the pre-trial hearing of Pfc. Bradley Manning has recommended the soldier be sent to a full court martial.
Manning – a former Army intelligence analyst – stands accused of leaking thousands of classified and sensitive documents that ultimately ended up on the whistle-blowing website known as WikiLeaks.
According to Colonel Paul Almanza, the pre-trial hearing found that “reasonable grounds exist to believe the accused committed the offenses alleged.”
Although a final decision is still pending, it seems increasingly likely Manning will indeed face a full court martial within the next 6 months.
As Ed Pilkington of the UK-based Guardian notes, both the Pentagon and Obama administration have adopted a hardline approach towards Manning in an effort to deter future cyber crimes and leaking of state secrets.
Manning will probably spend the rest of his life in military confinement, as he is charged with a number of serious crimes, including aiding the enemy, making intelligence available to the enemy on the Internet, theft of public records, computer fraud and violation of military information security.
Nevertheless, Manning defense attorney David Coombs is expected to continue his current strategy of questioning the military’s impartiality and ability to conduct a fair trial after President Obama publicly proclaimed Bradley was guilty of breaking the law.
Coombs also plans to quiz at least 6 military officials in out-of-court testimony about the classification of videos and documents posted to WikiLeaks. It should be noted that Almanza refused to allow them to be called at the pre-trial hearing, claiming they were “not reasonably available.”