By Vladimir Gladkov
As hearings resumed in the United States in soldier Bradley Manning’s case, Manning’s lawyer David Coombs lashed out at military prosecutors over procedural violations and accused them of deliberately dragging out the trial and refusing to hand over key documents. Vladimir Gladkov has more.
Pfc. Bradley Manning is standing trial on suspicion of leaking thousands of confidential military and diplomatic documents to the whistleblower WikiLeaks website while serving in Iraq. Lawyer Coombs demanded that all 22 charges against his client be dismissed because the prosecution had mishandled the case. He complained that it had taken the prosecutors two years to hand over just 12 pages of discovered materials to the defense. Handed this month, they are dated as of November 2010, he said. Coombs also wrote on his blog that he would press for all the defense motions he intends to file and for the majority of the papers filed by the prosecution to be made public, something the Pentagon has been desperately trying to avoid.
The judge, Colonel Denise Lind, told the prosecutors to provide her with the final report of an independent inquiry into Manning’s case as well as damage assessment reports created by federal agencies that examined the issue.
There is no guarantee that the above materials will be published once they are turned over to the defense, yet the prosecution has every reason to fear their arguments may collapse, particularly since the independent inquiry stated that most of the facts contained in the files downloaded by Manning had already been declassified.
As the Pentagon struggles to prove the soldier’s guilt, it is looking for ways of saving face in the pretty awkward situation it has found itself in over Manning. A man who leaked secret data is certainly not a hero, but those who sent an emotionally unstable and anti-war-minded person to serve with U.S. intelligence in Iraq bear their share of the blame.
According to Manning’s commanders, he was absolutely unfit for service in a “hot spot”.
To top it all, it turned out that security at the place where Manning served as an intelligence analyst was impermissibly low. Obtaining passwords to the database was no problem and servicemen used office computers to download unauthorized content. That was not Manning’s fault. But without doubt, the military will do their best to make him a whipping boy.
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