Defense of whistleblower Bradley Manning begins

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In a courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland, the defense of Army intelligence analyst and whistleblower Bradley Manning began yesterday. His attorney, David E. Coombs, filed four motions asking Judge Col. Denise Lind to drop some of the charges on the basis that prosecutors failed to provide enough supporting evidence.

In addition to the “aiding the enemy” charge, which could lead to a life sentence, Coombs asked the judge to drop the charge based on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which alleges Manning exceeded his authorized access to military networks and transmitted the documents to WikiLeaks, knowing it would benefit U.S. enemies.[Mashable]

Evidence and testimony presented on Monday included the following.

a) a presentation of the “Collateral Murder” video showing a 2007 US helicopter attack on civilians and journalists in Baghdad. Wikileaks obtained the video from Manning and published it on their website in April 2010.

b) an excerpt from a Washington Post article, “The Good Soldiers,” to show that the Collateral Murder video was not as secret as the government claims.

c) testimony from Manning’s former supervisor, Chief Warrant Officer Joshua Ehresman.

Ehresman “testified that soldiers were allowed to download documents and files — including classified ones — from military computers into their own CDs or thumb drives. Ehresman gave high marks to Manning’s ability  as an intelligence analyst, saying, “He was the best; that’s why he was our go-to guy for that stuff.” But, Manning was “weak on the ‘social’ side of analyzing intelligence, he said.

c) testimony from Lauren McNamara, who met Manning online in 2009, and their chat logs that reportedly show Manning as “a smart, conscious individual” who “saw his job as trying to save lives of people abroad, both soldiers and civilians.”

The defense phase follows a five-week-long prosecution phase that The Guardian writes “will go down in US history as the highest-level prosecution of a leaker of state documents in at least a generation.”

Photo credit:  savebradley at Flickr.com (Creative Commons license)
Legal documents and transcripts of court proceedings in the Manning case are available at alexaobrien.com.