Does motive matter? Judge squashes Manning’s whistle-blower defense

Bradley Manning wanted "the public to know the truth", but it matters little in a military court!

Bradley Manning wanted the public to know the truth, but this matters little in a military court. If found guilty, it may affect his sentence but it has been deemed irrelevant to most of the charges.

Yesterday Judge Lind upheld a prosecution motion to gag reference to the lack of harm caused by the release of classified documents through WikiLeaks. The “good” that has come from the publications, and the fact no one has been harmed, have been deemed irrelevant to the charges. This is a pretty crippling blow to Bradley Manning’s defense, and it reveals the need for whistle-blower protections that protect those in the military as well as in intelligence agencies. The Judge qualified her decision however, making it clear that the prosecution must show that Manning knew the information would be used by Al-Qaeda – and on this point some of Bradley Manning’s intent will be admissible/relevant to showing that he had no intention of ‘aiding the enemy’. His intent for the public to know the truth can also be introduced in sentence determinations if he is found guilty.

Also discussed yesterday were the unreasonable trial delays. The defense has filed a motion to dismiss the case based on the lack of a speedy trial. That motion was filed last July. The government has responded to this motion, and the defense has since responded to the government. Yesterday they debated in court, and sometime in February we can hope Judge Lind will make a ruling. Speedy yes?

At issue is the possible violation of the “trial clock”. Under the US constitution, and under the ‘Uniform Code of Military Justice’ which applies to those in the military, soldiers are promised the right to a speedy trial. The government should have, under these rules, arraigned Bradley Manning within 120 days of his arrest. They took more than 600, but they did have the Convening Authority in the case authorize the delays – which is proper procedure. The defense is arguing however that the Convening Authority should not have authorized the delays. Judge Lind’s ruling will either lead to a complete dismissal of the case, a dismissal “without prejudice” which will allow the government to file the charges again, or she’ll simply go along with the Convening Authority and we’ll eventually see a court martial (now expected in June).

The next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for February 26, 2013. The Bradley Manning Support Network invites people to attend. 



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