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Intro: "The US government is deliberately attempting to prevent Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of state secrets, from receiving a fair trial, the soldier's lawyer alleges in new court documents."

Bradley Manning's lawyers say the prosecution team is keeping important documents from them. (photo: Cliff Owen/AP)
Bradley Manning's lawyers say the prosecution team is keeping important documents from them. (photo: Cliff Owen/AP)



Bradley Manning Lawyers Accuse Prosecutors of Misleading Judge

By Ed Pilkington, Guardian UK

25 June 12

 

In a motion ahead of Monday's pre-trial hearing, civilian lawyer says prosecutors are still denying defence access to documents.

he US government is deliberately attempting to prevent Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of state secrets, from receiving a fair trial, the soldier's lawyer alleges in new court documents.

David Coombs, Manning's civilian lawyer, has made his strongest accusations yet about the conduct of the military prosecutors. In motions filed with the military court ahead of a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, on Monday, he goes so far as to accuse the government in essence of lying to the court.

Coombs charges the prosecutors with making "an outright misrepresentation" to the court over evidence the defence has been trying for months to gain access to through disclosure.

The dispute relates to an investigation by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, Oncix, into the damage caused by the WikiLeaks disclosures of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.

Reports by the Associated Press, Reuters and other news outlets have suggested that official inquiries into the impact of WikiLeaks concluded that the leaks caused some "pockets" of short-term damage around the world, but that generally its impact had been embarrassing rather than harmful.

Such a finding could prove invaluable to the defence in fighting some of the charges facing Manning or, should he be found guilty, reducing his sentence.

Yet Coombs says the army prosecutors have consistently kept him, and the court, in the dark, thwarting his legal rights to see the evidence.

"It was abundantly clear that Oncix had some form of inquiry into the harm from the leaks – but the government switched definitions around arbitrarily so as to avoid disclosing this discovery to the defence."

On 21 March, the prosecutors told the court that "Oncix has not produced any interim or final damage assessment" into WikiLeaks.

Coombs alleges that this statement was inaccurate – and the government knew it to be inaccurate at the time it made it.

"The defense submits [this] was an outright misrepresentation," he writes.

On 20 April, the government told the court that "Oncix does not have any forensic results or investigative files". Yet a week before that, the prosecutors had handed to the defence documents that clearly showed Oncix had begun to investigate WikiLeaks almost 18 months previously.

"Oncix was collecting information from various agencies in late 2010 to assess what damage, if any, was occasioned by the leaks. So how could it be that Oncix neither had an investigation nor a damage assessment?" Coombs writes.

The alleged efforts by the US government to avoid fulfilling its obligations to hand over evidence, Coombs says, has had the effect of rendering it impossible for the defence to prepare for the trial which is scheduled to begin in September.

Without access to the information, they cannot identify witnesses, develop questions for those witnesses, prepare a cross-examination strategy and so on.

"There is no way that the defense can adequately prepare its case," Coombs complains.

Most damningly, he alleges that is precisely the army's intention. "The government should not be able to circumvent its discovery obligations for two years, then dump discovery on the defense last-minute, and expect that there will be a fair battle," he says.

"Indeed, the defense believes that this was the intention of the government – to defeat its adversary by adopting untenable litigation positions designed to frustrate discovery."

Manning will make his fourth court appearance at Fort Meade on Monday. If convicted of the 22 counts, which include "aiding the enemy", he could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in military custody.

 

Comments   

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+13 # Michael_K 2012-06-25 10:04
Obama = even more immoral and disgusting than Bush/Cheney?! Whou would have thought that was even possible... until he was elected!
 
 
+10 # John Locke 2012-06-25 11:30
This is indeed the strategy of the Government and unfortunately they conduct themselves like this in most all high profile criminal cases! The attitude generally of the Government is win by any means, it doesn't matter if the accused is innocent!
 
 
+4 # Valleyboy 2012-06-26 03:41
Yep, Obama even stated that he's guilty!

Whatever happened to "Guilty until proven innocent"?

Obama is a trained lawyer, so no excuses for not knowing better.
 
 
+16 # tomtom 2012-06-25 10:08
I am so grateful to the government, while in the process of hiding it's deep, dark, criminal secrets, it tortures and tríes to silence dissent, resulting in the Shining of the world's spotlights on it self. The court Will be the Messenger.
 
 
+5 # John Locke 2012-06-25 11:31
When the end of our Republic finally comes about, it will have occured through the Judiciary
 
 
+4 # mdhome 2012-06-25 22:34
The SC has ben pounding nails into the coffin for some time now.
 
 
+4 # Saberoff 2012-06-25 11:27
As The People, when we abdicate our power to unknowns, and they build it into institutions to use against justice peace and democracy, we are royally fuched.

How can we fight against all the money power, except to fight (you know, with fists) against all the money power?

The author talks about a "fair battle" but we have nothing: crawl on the floor looking for rocks and nails and beg for mercy, while they have everything.

What miracle may come along, sometime?
 
 
+7 # reiverpacific 2012-06-25 11:51
This prosecution is bearing a more and more striking resemblance to Leonard Peltier's trial, in which the prosecutors were given free-rien in front of a carefull-chosen and biased judge to ensure a conviction.
 
 
+12 # Michael_K 2012-06-25 19:18
The reason they hide the results of the damage assessment studies, is that it will show that the actual damage (as opposed to just being embarrassed) caused by Bradley Manning was practically imperceptible. And even moreso when compared to the damage caused by Obama's own leaks bragging about death lists and cyberwarfare/te rrorism.
 
 
+1 # Trueblue Democrat 2012-06-26 14:08
For the 25 plus years that I served in the military, the Army's clarion call was "Take the high ground and hold it."

Apparently not so with the Army's Military Justice system.
 

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