Bradley Manning to get a day in court

After 17 months in prison, PFC Bradley Manning will get his day in court on charges that he leaked confidential government information to Wikileaks.  He faces the possibility of life in prison.

The U.S. Army will begin a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Md., to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring him to trial.  This hearing is expected to last about a week.  Barring the unexpected, a date for his actual trial will then be set.

PFC Manning, a 23-year-old Army intelligence analyst (his 24th birthday is Saturday), is accused of making public the “Collateral Murder” video of a US helicopter attack that killed a dozen unarmed Iraqis, the “Iraq War Logs”, the “Afghan Diaries”, the “Gitmo Files”, and a trove of embarrassing US State Department cables by providing these files to the WikiLeaks website.

Like any other defendant, he is entitled to a legal presumption of innocence, but I have not heard any claim by his supporters or his lawyers that he is falsely accused of leaking the information.  Rather their claim is that he was justified.

Although he is charged with espionage, along with lesser charges of theft of property and he is not accused of working for a foreign power.  Rather he is accused of embarrassing the government by making the American people and the people of the world aware of things the government wants to cover up.

He had a legal obligation as a soldier to keep classified information secret.  If that legal obligation is to mean anything, a violation has to be punished.  But life imprisonment?   This is wildly disproportionate when you consider that government officials leak confidential information all the time, and suffer no punishment, because this advances some powerful person’s agenda.  If it were up to me, I would sentence PFC Manning to the time he has already served, and let it go at that.

Click on Bradley Manning deserves a medal for Glenn Greenwald’s comment in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.  [Added 12/15/11]

Click on Accused Wikileaker defense argues Obama must testify for PFC Manning’s lawyers likely defense.

Click on Bradley Manning’s “no touch” torture for my earlier post on the conditions of his imprisonment.

Click on Manning Hearing Moves Forward Under a Cloud of Questions for a dispatch from Wired magazine.  [Added 12/17/11]

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