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Friday, Jan 13, 2012, 1:15 pm

Bradley Manning Likely to Face Court-Martial

By Alyssa Meza

U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning arrives for an Article 32 hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland on December 18, 2011.
(Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

It now appears that Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old U.S. soldier accused of breaching intelligence to WikiLeaks, will face a general court-martial. Lieutenant Colonel Paul Almanza, the officer who presided over Manning's pre-trial hearing, has recommended to his superiors that there are reasonable grounds to proceed with prosecution for all charges--22 in all--related to Manning's alleged leak of classified documents and video. 

The final decision on whether Manning will stand trial now falls to Colonel Carl Coffman of the special court martial convening authority. Though officials have said they will not seek the death penalty, Manning could be sentenced to life in military confinement. He will likely face a military trial within the next three to four months, according to the Guardian.

In response to this development, Defense attorney David Coombs has requested an oral deposition of six military witnesses prior to the trial. Coombs plans to question these witnesses about the classification of the leaked documents in an effort to prove that the leak did not harm national security. He has previously raised questions about the security of the base where Manning was stationed as an intelligence analyst. In addition to charges of transmitting defense information and theft of public property or records, Manning also faces the graver charge of “aiding the enemy.”

The Bradley Manning Support Network, which recently commissioned a “Free Bradley Manning” billboard on New York Avenue in Washington D.C., said in a press release:

We’re disappointed but by no means surprised…The investigating officer showed no concern for the conflict of interest caused by his dual employment with the Justice Department, or the taint of bias arising from his commander-in-chief, President Obama, who publicly declared Manning to be guilty long before he ever had his day in court.

 WikiLeaks in a statement from December 15 said:

If it is the case that he is indeed the source of this or other WikiLeaks materials, Manning would have singlehandedly changed hundreds of thousands of people’s lives for the better. This material has contributed to ending dictatorships in the Middle East, it has exposed torture and wrongdoing in all the corners of the world and it has held diplomatic bodies and politicians accountable for the words, deals and pacts held behind close doors.

The documents released by Wikileaks are said to be the largest intelligence breach in American history.  Among them are a video of an Apache helicopter attack on Iraq in 2007 in which civilians and journalists (including two Reuters news staff) were killed, the Afghan War Diary and the Iraq War Logs.  

Alyssa Meza is a Winter 2012 In These Times editorial intern

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