Judge unimpressed with Bradley Manning’s latest list of complaints

posted at 2:31 pm on June 10, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

When we last checked in on the adventures of Bradley Manning, the attorney for the accused traitor was attempting to get half of the charges against him thrown out. He apparently felt that bringing charges against the lad for allegedly revealing hundreds of thousands of classified documents was … umm… unfair. Or something.

So how did that work out for them? In the eyes of the judge, not so well.

Bradley Manning has failed to persuade a military judge to throw out half of the counts against him in a pre-trial hearing before his court martial for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of state secrets to WikiLeaks.

Colonel Denise Lind, presiding over the proceedings at Fort Meade in Maryland, rejected a defence motion that 10 of the 22 counts against the US soldier should be dismissed. The decision leaves Manning facing a possible sentence of life in military custody for allegedly having been the source of the WikiLeaks publications that included war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, video footage of a US helicopter attack on civilians and diplomatic cables from around the world.

It wasn’t a total loss for his attorney, David Coombs, though, because he seems to have the judge at least raising some questions about two of the charges. Coombs claimed that the charges of having “exceeded authorized access” in downloading documents from the secret military computer network were invalid because part of Manning’s job was to search through various intelligence data and look for patterns. The judge appears to be at least somewhat sympathetic to this claim.

Manning’s defence team objected to that more expansive interpretation of the term “authorised access”, arguing that he was clearly permitted to use the computer network and that his purpose for doing so was irrelevant to the charge. The judge agreed with that legal interpretation, but said she did not have sufficient evidence to dismiss the two counts.

Her nuanced ruling, however, puts the onus on the prosecution to up its game in pressing these two counts at trial.

In the end, all that this maneuver accomplished was yet another delay in the beginning of the actual Court Martial while the judge schedules additional pretrial hearings to explore these complaints. The real trial may now be pushed back as far as January. It also shows precisely how careful the judge is being, making sure that nobody can claim that Manning didn’t get each and every opportunity to present the best defense possible.

As far as I’m concerned, Coombs needs to drop these legal parlor games, muster the best defense he can manage and move on to trial. There is simply no way that the military is going to throw this case out on a technicality and send Manning home. We’re not talking about a soldier getting drunk and stealing Navy’s mascot during the football game or sneaking off base when he’s supposed to be on watch. This is Aiding the Enemy during a time of war, and there is going to be a trial. The fact that his client is most likely not going to be facing a firing squad is already a small miracle, so Coombs should count his lucky stars and get on with it.

Besides, this latest delay has changed precisely nothing in terms of Manning’s situation. He’s still going to be locked up at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas under maximum security until the Court Martial concludes. I remain convinced that Coombs seems particularly ill suited for this case.

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…or sneaking off base when he’s supposed to be on watch.

That actually is a pretty serious offense. The reason is, if you have a chain of sentries guarding something, a single missing sentry renders the entire chain ineffective. Dealt with pretty harshly.

scm on June 11, 2012 at 10:24 AM

A differing opinion than yours doesn’t make one a fool. As a matter of fact, the name-calling tends to make me dismiss most of what one puts in a comment containing it.

From the Merriam Webster online dictionary

Definition of FOOL
: a person lacking in judgment or prudence

That’s an apt description of people who clamor for defendants like Manning to be strung up without a vigorous defense, or condemn their lawyers for providing that defense, or consider an accusation proof of guilt.

But the system is so twisted in the favor of the defendent, the victims invariably take a back seat to their rights.

The Constitution was written to restrict the power of government and to protect the people from the power that it is granted. Amendment V is intended to ensure that people the state has accused of crimes and against whom the power of the state is brought to bear are able to defend themselves. Until they are convicted they are innocent and so should be protected by the law. The great aim is to ensure that people are not punished for crimes they did not commit.
This is the bedrock foundation of our system of justice. Being a human institution it is imperfect and sometimes the guilty go free. That is the price of freedom.
Crime victims are not facing the power of the state and the loss of freedom or life at the hands of the state. It is proper that the focus of the state should be on those it has accused of crimes.
The purpose of our legal system is to administer justice, not to exact revenge.
What if it was you or a loved one accused of a heinous crime? False accusations are made all the time. I’ve read many stories of people falsely convicted and spending most (or the rest) of their lives in prison. Just yesterday I read about a man who was exonerated by DNA tests after 25 years in prison. The state had repeatedly refused to allow the testing. Would you not want to be able to vigorously defend yourself with every legal avenue open to you?

But, I’m not arguing again due process. I didn’t read anyone here who ius.

Go back and read your own and Old Country Boy’s posts. That’s exactly what you’re doing.

Like More, for my own protection I demand that everyone, no matter what crime they’re accused of, receives a fair trial.
I don’t want to live in an unrestrained police state with a star chamber for a justice system.

You’re right, a different opinion doesn’t make one a fool. Acting foolishly does.

single stack on June 11, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Unlike Obama, Manning revealed nothing that got anyone killed.

VorDaj on June 10, 2012 at 3:37 PM

This is both potentially false, and utterly irrelevant. The damage done by these leaks most certainly increases the ability of an enemy to successfully engage in actions against the U.S. military in multiple arenas, any of which may result in greater casualties to U.S. forces. At what point are you able to say that none of those potential casualties is the responsibility of the leaker?

Aside from that, the violations for which Manning is at trial require no actual casualties to be considered egregious. The rules and regulations governing the handling and dissemination of classified materials are clear. The penalties for infractions, even unintentional infractions, are severe.

The only questions I have relate to access procedures. How did Manning gain single access to materials? Under DoD CMS rules, no material of higher than Confidential clearance can be accessed by a single individual, and once accessed must be maintained in dual integrity until returned to a secure condition. Even a SIPRNet operator is confined in a “caged” space under secondary control. In other words, somebody else knowingly, or unknowingly, made it possible for Manning to release classified materials.

Freelancer on June 11, 2012 at 10:53 AM

You’re right, a different opinion doesn’t make one a fool. Acting foolishly does.

single stack on June 11, 2012 at 10:51 AM

I read my own comment again to humor you. I see not even a hint at arguing against due process. If you have something specific to point out, give it another shot.

hawkdriver on June 11, 2012 at 10:59 AM

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