In what has become almost a monthly event, alleged wiki-leaker Bradley Manning was back in court for more motions hearings Wednesday.
He could be spending even more time in court leading up to his Sept. 21 trail date because presiding judge Col. Denise Lind has doubled the number of pretrial hearings from three to six.
However, Manning’s trial could be delayed by as much as 6o days if Lind grants a defense motion to stay certain proceedings. The defense filed an additional discovery request and wants time, if the discovery is granted, to evaluate the evidence that has potential to be favorable to Manning’s defense.
The 24-year-old, accused of the biggest leak of government secrets in U.S. history, is charged with aiding the enemy by causing hundreds of thousands of classified war logs and diplomatic cables to be published on the secret-sharing website WikiLeaks in 2010.
When Manning was last in court, the judge denied a defense motion to dismiss the charge of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge Manning will face during his court martial.
In the first day of this set of hearings, the government was ordered by Lind to turn over State Department damage assessments to the defense, even though they are in “draft” form.
Manning’s defense team was granted a discovery motion to receive a redacted version of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s WikiLeaks Damage Assessment Report “almost in its entirety,” with only minimal classified information removed.
CIA documents that were previously turned over by the government to the defense were found by Lind to be inadequate. Lind will hold an ex-parte session to determine what will be turned to defense while still maintaining the governments concerns over classified materials.
Arguments for the discovery request were heard in the Fort Meade, Md., courtroom and Thursday three State Department witnesses are expected to testify toward discovery elements of the damage assessments.
The court heard from prosecution as to the Army’s relationship with 15 government agencies that Manning’s defense team has requested information from as part of the discovery process, including the FBI, CIA, Department of Justice, and State Department.
One contentious moment surfaced during the hearing regarding the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX). The defense stipulated that the government has known about a damage assessment ONCIX had and kept it from the defense. The government said all it could do was ask for the assessment, and when it did it was told no, originally, and only after a court hearing allowing draft versions did ONCIX come back and say it was compiling a draft report.
After circles of arguments (and clarifications), Lind ordered the government to hand over anything it sees that could benefit the preparation of the defense.
“If you see a document that is material to the preparation of the defense … even if you don’t have a specific request for that information, disclose it,” Lind said.
The defense also asked Lind to require the government to highlight materials that are beneficial to Manning when it identifies them for itself.
The government contested that saying it wasn’t going to “do their job for them.”
Over the next two days, Lind will hear defense motions to dismiss 10 of the 22 specifications Manning faces.
Eight of the specifications up for dismissal focus on transmitting classified or sensitive information to unauthorized persons and two relate to allegations of Manning exceeding authorized access.
The defense is expected to argue that the government is overly broad and vague in its charges that Manning transmitted information to unauthorized persons and that the language of the law the government is charging under doesn’t allow the government to use it in this way.
As for the motion to dismiss the charges of exceeding authorized access, the defense, led by attorney David Coombs, is expected to argue that Manning couldn’t exceed access in the way the government is alleging, therefore it cannot be a crime.