Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

July 27, 2013

Manning arguments wrap up; judge to deliberate

FORT MEADE, Md. — Army Pfc. Bradley Manning’s fate was in the hands of a military judge Friday after nearly two months of conflicting portrayals of the soldier: a traitor who gave WikiLeaks classified secrets for worldwide attention and a young, naive intelligence officer who wanted people to know about the atrocities of war.  

Judge Col. Denise Lind said she will start deliberating Friday on the 21 charges Manning faces, but she did not say when she would rule, only that she will give the public a day’s notice before her announcement. The most serious charge is aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence in prison.

During closing arguments, defense attorney David Coombs said Manning was negligent in releasing classified material, but he did not know al-Qaida would see the material and did not have “evil intent,” a key point prosecutors must prove to convict Manning of aiding the enemy.

Prosecutors contended Manning, 25, knew the material would be seen across the globe, even by Osama bin Laden, when he started the leaks in late 2009. Manning said the leaks didn’t start until February the following year.

“Worldwide distribution, that was his goal,” said the military’s lead prosecutor, Maj. Ashden Fein. “Pfc. Manning knew the entire world included the enemy, from his training. He knew he was giving it to the enemy, specifically al-Qaida.”

After Coombs finished his three-hour argument, there was a smattering of applause from Manning supporters, who were quickly hushed by the judge.

“All right, that’s enough,” Lind said. “This is a court of law. I would ask, please, that you keep your reactions muted.”

Meanwhile, one of Manning’s most visible supporters was banned from the trial Friday after the judge said someone posted threats online. Clark Stoeckley, a college art instructor from New Jersey, confirmed he was the one booted.

Stoeckley attended the court-martial often as a sketch artist, arriving each day in a white box truck with bold words painted on the sides: “WikiLeaks TOP SECRET Mobile Information Collection Unit.”

A tweet Thursday night from an account Stoeckley used said: “I don’t know how they sleep at night but I do know where.” It was removed Friday and Stoeckley told The Associated Press on Twitter he couldn’t comment.

Inside the courtroom, a few spectators smiled — as did Manning — when Coombs mocked a former Army supervisor who testified last week that Manning told her the American flag meant nothing to him and that she suspected before they deployed to Iraq that Manning was a spy. Coombs noted she had not written up a report on Manning’s alleged disloyalty, though had written ones on him taking too many smoke breaks and drinking too much coffee.

Manning also faces federal espionage, theft and computer fraud charges. The Crescent, Okla., native has acknowledged giving WikiLeaks some 700,000 battlefield reports, diplomatic cables and videos. But he says he didn’t believe the information would harm troops in Afghanistan and Iraq or threaten national security.

“The amount of the documents in this case, actually is the best evidence that he was discreet in what he chose because if he was indiscriminate, if he was systematically harvesting, we wouldn’t be talking about a few hundred thousand documents — we’d be talking about millions of documents,” Coombs said.

Giving the material to WikiLeaks was no different than giving it to a newspaper, Coombs said.

“That’s giving information to a legitimate news organization in order to hold the government accountable,” Coombs said.

The government disagreed and said Manning would also be charged if he had leaked the classified material to the media.

Coombs also showed three snippets of video from a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack Manning leaked, showing troops firing on a small crowd of men on a Baghdad sidewalk, killing several civilians, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. Coombs said the loss of civilian lives shocked and horrified the young soldier.

“You have to look at that from the point of view of a guy who cared about human life,” Coombs said.

Coombs has said Manning was troubled by what he saw in the war — and at the same time was struggling as a gay man in the era of “don’t ask don’t tell.” Those struggles made him want to do something to make a difference and he hoped revealing what was going on in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. diplomacy would inspire debate and reform in American foreign and military policy.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Friday in a telephone press conference that if the aiding the enemy charge is allowed to stand, it will be “the end of national security journalism in the United States.”

He accused the Obama administration of a “war on whistleblowers” and a “war on journalism.”

The verdict and any sentence will be reviewed, and could be reduced, by the commander of the Military District of Washington, currently Maj. Gen. Jeffery S. Buchanan.

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • Dollar Tree-Family Do_Rich copy.jpg Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar

    The fight for penny pinchers is intensifying.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Mideast Israe_Rich copy.jpg Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges

    Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday.
    The failure to reach even a brief humanitarian lull in the fighting illustrated the difficulties in securing a more permanent truce as the sides remain far apart on their terms.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP81072904918 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, July 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP4507280123 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, July 28, 2014
    Today is Monday, July 28, the 209th day of 2014. There are 156 days left in the year. 
     

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tentative deal reached on VA reform

    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

    July 27, 2014

  • United States-Libya_Rich.jpg US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes

    The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort as fighting intensified between rival militias. Secretary of State John Kerry said “free-wheeling militia violence” prompted the move.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP9607270692 copy.jpg Today in History for Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Today is Sunday, July 27, the 208th day of 2014. There are 157 days left in the year.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • No ticket for Shrek over loud musical, chief says

    A musical being performed in a New Hampshire park has drawn some noise complaints, but the deputy police chief says he’s “not giving Shrek a ticket.”

    July 26, 2014

  • Arizona Execution Dru_Rich copy.jpg Arizona’s McCain: Execution was torture

    U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ukraine Plane_Rich copy.jpg US: Russia firing into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.
    Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results