Army PFC Bradley Manning, awaiting trial for allegedly sharing thousands of classified
documents with the transparency website WikiLeaks, offered to accept responsibility
for a narrow set of offenses within the currently charged offenses this week during a
pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland.
“PFC Manning is not pleading guilty to the specifications as charged by the Government,” noted PFC Manning’s attorney David Coombs on his blog. Nor is he “submitting a plea as part of an agreement or deal with the Government.”
“Like most supporters, I’ve backed Bradley Manning on the belief that he was the
heroic whistle-blower in question,” explained Jeff Paterson of the Bradley Manning
Support Network. “Now that Bradley appears to have acknowledged this in court,
its reason to redouble efforts to support him leading up to his February court martial.”
If Bradley’s plea offer is accepted, the parties would likely be able to bypass weeks of
forensics testimony that would be required to prove Bradley accessed and/or transmitted the classified documents at issue. The court martial proceedings might then focus on what Mr. Coombs has long contended: That the release of these documents brought little to no harm to U.S. national security, and that PFC Manning’s motives, if he did release them, were to expose crime, fraud, corporate malfeasance, and abuse.
The military has worked to preclude the defense from discussing harm, or lack thereof,
in the merits portion of Bradley’s trial, seeking to prevent him from being seen as
a military whistle-blower. However, Bradley has now opted to be tried by military
judge Denise Lind alone. “Much of the ongoing litigation over the last year can now
be looked at in a new light–as an effort to educate Judge Lind in regards to Bradley
Manning’s whistle-blower motives,” offered Jeff Paterson.
“The Government may still elect to prove up the charged offenses,” explained Coombs.
The parties return to Ft. Meade on November 27 for a six-day hearing focusing largely
on the defense’s motion to dismiss charges based on PFC Manning’s unlawful pretrial
confinement conditions at the Quantico Marine Brig.
Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) continues to organize as part of the international campaign to "Free Bradley Manning!" Check www.mawovancouver.org for updates and
upcoming events in Vancouver and British Columbia.
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