Court martial delayed again, expected to start June 3
This week’s hearing at Fort Meade ended early, but several important motions, arguments, and updates emerged. The court-martial itself has been pushed back at least until June 3. In opposing defense witnesses, the government said it would try Bradley Manning the same way if he had released documents to the New York Times instead of WikiLeaks.
By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. January 9, 2013.
Just one day after Judge Denise Lind awarded PFC Bradley Manning nearly four months credit toward a potential sentence, the court-martial trial start date has been pushed back three months, from March 6 to June 3, 2013. By then, Bradley will have been imprisoned awaiting trial for more than three full years. The defense will conclude its motion to dismiss charges for lack of a speedy trial next week, January 16-17. At that hearing, Judge Lind will also rule on the prosecution’s motions to preclude evidence of Bradley’s motive and of overclassification.
The delay results from classification issues: the defense needs to determine which classified information will come to light in the trial and to interview government agency representatives before presenting that information to the government. The government then needs 60 days to review that information and determine if it will need to redact, summarize, or substitute classified portions of it, or alternatively if it will need to close the court from the press and public for that information to be litigated.
In the remainder of today’s hearing, the defense asked the court to admit witnesses and the government asked the court to take judicial notice of several documents and facts.
Defense lawyer David Coombs wants to call Col. Morris Davis, a former Guantanamo Bay prosecutor who reviewed Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs), and he could testify that the government has already released information in the DABs that Bradley is accused of releasing, and therefore Bradley had reason to believe the DABs wouldn’t cause harm to the United States if given to WikiLeaks.
The defense also wants to call Yochai Benkler, who has conducted open-source research of WikiLeaks, to testify that WikiLeaks is a legitimate news organization, which edits and reviews information and isn’t seen as a conduit for Al Qaeda. The government objected to this witness, saying that WikiLeaks’ credibility is irrelevant to Bradley’s intent at the time of the release. Judge Lind shot back asking, if we substituted the New York Times for WikiLeaks, would the government charge Bradley Manning in the same way? Yes, said government prosecutor Angel Overgaard.
The government asked the court to take judicial notice of a news article reporting that Julian Assange was in Iceland in February 2010 and a New Yorker profile of Assange published in June 2010. The government wants to use these to attempt to build a connection between Assange and Bradley before the release. Government prosecutors also asked to submit information declassified from Osama Bin Laden’s compound, claiming they have a letter from Bin Laden to a member of Al Qaeda asking for Department of Defense documents.