Bradley Manning should be going to Court Martial
posted at 5:19 pm on January 12, 2012 by Jazz Shaw
Word came down on Thursday afternoon that the preliminary hearing in the case of accused traitor Bradley Manning has finished up with Lt Col Paul Almanza recommending that Manning go on to face a full Court Martial on a variety of charges. The most serious of these, of course, is aiding the enemy during a time of war.
Intelligence analyst Bradley Manning is alleged to have leaked US government cables to the anti-secrecy website.
Accused of leaking thousands of documents and “aiding the enemy”, he could face life in prison if convicted.
Pte Manning, 24, appeared for a pre-trial hearing in December, in which prosecutors pushed for a court martial.
He was arrested in May 2010 in connection with the leak.
The US Army said in a statement that the head of the tribunal, Lt Col Paul Almanza, had concluded that “reasonable grounds exist to believe that the accused committed the offences alleged.
“He [Lt Col Almanza] recommended that the charges be referred to a general court martial,” the army statement said.
Some of the most common questions popping up on Twitter (and elsewhere) follow with my own take on the answers.
So this is a done deal?
Technically, no. The officer in question is only empowered to pass on a recommendation. The final decision will be made further up the chain, eventually decided by Maj Gen Michael Linnington. However, the odds of their bucking the findings are slim to none in this case. I’d say it’s a near certainty that we’re going to Court Martial at this point.
Will they hang him or shoot him?
First, nothing is a given because this was only a preliminary hearing. Manning is still innocent until proven guilty, so any answer is predicated on a finding of guilty when this is all done. And yet again, the answer isn’t 100% but the heavy odds are that the answer is “neither.” At Court Martial, anything could happen at the sentencing stage, but that’s not the will of the prosecutors. The Army is not seeking the death penalty, and if found guilty on the most serious charge he’ll likely get life without parole.
Will this take down Julian Assange?
The magic 8-ball says, “Future uncertain.” Given the previous findings from Manning’s hard drives which revealed chat logs with the Wikileaks founder, the United States should certainly be interested in chatting with Assange. But he’s currently facing trial on unrelated charges in Europe and the situation becomes vastly complicated from both a legal and diplomatic standpoint.
Can’t Obama step in and stop this?
Technically… he probably could. (I’d need to check with some better legal eagles on that one.) The powers of the man who is not only the Commander in Chief of the military but the President on the civilian side are nearly unlimited in such a scenario. But realistically.. particularly in an election year, I would seriously doubt that Barack Obama would defy the entire military system to set free a person accused of – for all intents and purposes – treason. It would be political suicide. Expect him to back up the chain of command on this one and stay out of it.
How soon will we know?
The wheels of justice sometimes turn a bit faster in the military than they do in civilian courts, but in a high profile case like this it could still be a good long while. I wouldn’t stay up late tonight waiting for an answer.