WikiLeaks Hearing Against Army Private Bradley Manning In Session
June 5, 2013

WikiLeaks Hearing Against Army Private Bradley Manning In Session

Enid Burns for — Your Universe Online

This week the military trial of Army private first class Bradley Manning, who revealed classified government documents to open source WikiLeaks, starts deliberations. The trial is expected last up to three months with Colonel Denise Lind acting as judge and jury in the proceedings.

Manning, who has served 1,100 days in military captivity, faces 21 counts including "aiding the enemy;" he has already pleaded guilty to a number of the counts. Manning faces more than 150 years in military jail if he is found guilty on all counts to the fullest degree.

Many of the key issues concerning the case and the trial are outlined by The Guardian.

The trial will be held at Fort Meade in Maryland. Colonel Denise Lind will preside as the judge. Manning declined the right to a jury, which leaves Lind to pass judgment. Lind has set guidelines for the prosecution that it will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Manning is guilty of "aiding the enemy" and "knowingly gave intelligence information to al-Qaida, al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula," or any other terrorist organization.

The prosecution is structuring its case around an "intent to harm," NPR reports.

"Manning is accused of one of the biggest leaks of classified information in history. Prosecutors say he downloaded thousands of diplomatic cables and war field reports and sent them to the website WikiLeaks," the NPR article said. By providing information to WikiLeaks, Manning exposed information to the public, including the enemy.

"Bradley Manning is a very polarizing figure. People either think that he is a hero or they think he's a traitor. I actually think that he's somewhere in between," NPR quotes Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

"I think this case really does illustrate one of the harms of over-classification, which is that when people, day in and day out, who are working with classified information see that there are so many documents that are completely innocuous that are classified, they lose respect for the system," Goitein said.

His intentions were to bring government and military actions to the public eye, not to supply information to enemy organizations.

"I believed that these cables would not damage the United States. However, I believed these cables would be embarrassing," Manning said in February when he admitted giving documents that included State Department cables to WikiLeaks, NPR reports in a separate article.

For most of the charges, prosecutors will have to prove that Manning intended to do harm to the United States, not whether he supplied classified information to enemy organizations.

Prosecutors may intend to paint a picture of harm. Manning "harvested hundreds of thousands of documents," prosecutors said. "that aided America's enemies after they reached the internet," NPR reports. Manning's defense attorney argues that Manning was "naïve, but good-intentioned."

All told, Army private first class Bradley Manning leaked 720,000 records and documents. The breach is said to be the largest in US history. However in respect to the volume of documents classified by the US, it is less than 1 percent of the reported 77 million documents classified by the US government, according to a report by Slate.