Manning Defense Seeks Dismissal of Charges
April 23rd, 2012 by Steven Aftergood
At a pre-trial hearing this week in the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is suspected of releasing classified records to WikiLeaks without authorization, a military judge will consider several motions filed by Manning’s defense that seek to reduce the charges against him, or to have them dismissed altogether.
The defense motions, filed by attorney David E. Coombs and made available on his blog with some redactions, assert a range of objections including these:
* The government has so egregiously failed to fulfill its discovery obligations — i.e. its duty disclose exculpatory and other “Brady” information to the defense — that the whole case must be dismissed. “The Government’s abdication of its basic discovery responsibilities is unconscionable and irreparably prejudicial, mandating that all charges should be dismissed with prejudice,” Mr. Coombs contended.
* The government has specifically failed to provide defense access to the computers in the secure area where Manning worked, which might enable it to rebut charges that Manning had uploaded unauthorized software on to his system. “The Defense’s tentative theory is that all or most soldiers in the SCIF had unauthorized software on their computers (e.g. M-IRC Chat, Google Earth, Wget, movies, music, games, etc.)… The Defense intends to show that the practice of adding ‘unauthorized’ software was so pervasive that, in effect, all ‘unauthorized’ programs were implicitly or explicitly authorized.”
* The government has improperly multiplied the charges against Manning by treating single violations as multiple offenses. “This creative drafting by the Government drastically exaggerates PFC Manning’s criminality and unreasonably increases his punitive exposure,” Mr. Coombs wrote.
Perhaps the most penetrating challenge presented by the defense is a motion to dismiss the charge of “aiding the enemy” (Article 104) because, the defense says, there is no evidence that Manning intended to assist an enemy of the United States, and such an intent is a required element of the charge.
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