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Galindez reports: "Coombs sought to dispute what prosecutors said a day earlier, that Manning was a traitor whose only mission was to seek fame and notoriety."

Defense Attorney David Coombs argues a motion in front of Judge Denise Lind. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN)
Defense Attorney David Coombs argues a motion in front of Judge Denise Lind. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN)

Defense: Bradley Manning Sought Reform

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

26 July 13


RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning

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efense Attorney David Coombs argued that Bradley Manning had no "evil intent" as was argued by the Army yesterday.

Coombs: "Is Pfc. Manning somebody who is a traitor, who has no loyalty to this country, or the flag, and wanted to systematically harvest and download as much information as possible for his true employer, WikiLeaks?

"Is that what the evidence shows, or is he a young, naïve, good intentioned soldier whose humanist beliefs were central to his decision, whose sole focus was 'Maybe I just can make a difference, maybe make a change?'"

Which side's version is the truth?

Coombs went on to argue that Bradley Manning is a whistleblower who wanted to bring to light the troubling things he saw in Iraq, and who is willing to pay the price for giving documents to WikiLeaks.

Coombs sought to dispute what prosecutors said a day earlier, that Manning was a traitor whose only mission was to seek fame and notoriety.

"He's not seeking attention. He is saying he's willing to accept the price" for what he has done, Coombs said.

Coombs accused the prosecution of cherry-picking Manning's chats with convicted computer hacker Adrian Lamo and blogger Lauren McNamara to make their case. He urged the judge to read all of the chats to put things in context.

For example, Coombs said, the prosecution cited a line Manning wrote to Lamo: "If you had unprecedented access to classified networks, 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for eight-plus months, what would you do?"

Coombs pointed out that Manning also wrote, "Hypothetical question: If you had free reign over classified networks over a long period of time, if you saw incredible things, awful things, things that belonged in the public domain and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington D.C., what would you do?"

Coombs showed three snippets of video from a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack that Manning leaked, showing troops firing on a small crowd of men on a Baghdad sidewalk and killing at least nine men, 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.

Actual Knowledge

The Army claims that Pfc. Manning's training gave him special knowledge that the enemy would use any information on the internet. Coombs argued that so would a truck driver.

Under the prosecution's logic, any soldier saying anything to the media that makes its way to the Internet that is read by the enemy could be charged with aiding the enemy.

Manning's verdict will have implications for future leak cases.

The Army's rebuttal of Coombs's closing argument will happen this afternoon, followed by the start of the judge's deliberations.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.

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