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Intro: "Bradley Manning, the US soldier who has been held in confinement for the past 18 months on suspicion of having leaked a huge trove of state secrets to WikiLeaks, is to go before a military panel on 16 December at the start of the most high-profile prosecution of a whistleblower in a generation."

Bradley Manning in full Army fatigues. (photo: Frontline/PBS)
Bradley Manning in full Army fatigues. (photo: Frontline/PBS)

Bradley Manning Hearing Date Is Set

By Ed Pilkington, Guardian UK

23 November 11


Manning, accused of leaking secrets to WikiLeaks, to go to pre-trial - known as Article 32 hearing - in Maryland next month.

radley Manning, the US soldier who has been held in confinement for the past 18 months on suspicion of having leaked a huge trove of state secrets to WikiLeaks, is to go before a military panel on 16 December at the start of the most high-profile prosecution of a whistleblower in a generation.

The proceedings, at Fort Meade in Maryland, are expected to last five days, and will be the first opportunity for prosecuting officers and Manning's defence team to present their cases. It is known as an Article 32 hearing and, although it is preliminary, both sides will be able to call and cross-examine witnesses.

Since he was arrested in Iraq in May 2010, Manning has become a cause celebre for anti-war and free information advocates in America and around the world. His support network will be calling a rally outside the Article 32 hearing when it opens next month.

Jeff Paterson, a Manning supporter, welcomed news that the military prosecution was finally getting under way. Since his arrest, Paterson said, Manning has been trapped in a form of legal limbo, with no recourse to any appeals.

Now there will be a publicly named investigating officer assigned to the case.

"We will be protesting against the charges levelled at Bradley Manning. If he is proven to have been the WikiLeaks source, then to us Bradley is a hero: he's the most important whistleblower in decades," Paterson said.

The news of the Article 32 was announced by Manning's lawyer, David Coombs. In a blogpost, he said that the defence would be entitled to call and cross-examine witnesses, each of whom would be placed under oath and whose testimony could be used subsequently in the trial proper.

Manning has been charged with multiple counts of obtaining and distributing state secrets to unauthorised parties – WikiLeaks, in effect. He is specifically accused of having handed more than 50 of about 150,000 secret US government cables to the whistleblowing website – offences that carry a possible sentence of up to 52 years.

He has also been charged with "aiding the enemy" – a count that technically carries the death penalty, though military prosecutors have indicated they will be pressing for a lengthy prison term rather than execution in this case.

The standard of proof in an Article 32 hearing is relatively low, military law experts say. The prosecution has merely to present sufficient evidence to prove there is "reasonable cause to believe" that Manning committed the offences.

Once the hearing has been completed, a recommendation will be made to a military general who will decide whether or not to proceed to a full trial.

Philip Cave, a retired navy judge advocate who now works on court martial cases as a civilian lawyer, said the hearing would be a "road bump on the way towards Manning's trial. Does anybody seriously imagine that Bradley Manning isn't going to trial?"

But the hearing would be significant, Cave said, because it would give the first public indication of the prosecution and defence cases.

Manning's conditions of confinement led to an outpouring of criticism and protest, including the resignation of Hillary Clinton's press spokesman PJ Crowley. He was initially held in solitary confinement within the US at Quantico marine base, where he was stripped naked every night.

The UN rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, is still investigating the treatment.

In April, Manning was moved to a lower security jail at Fort Leavenworth and his lawyer says his conditions have greatly improved.

Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower behind the Pentagon Papers, said: "The charges against Bradley Manning are an indictment of our government's obsession with secrecy. Manning is accused of revealing illegal activities by our government and its corporate partners that must be brought to the attention of the American people."

See also: Bradley Manning's Defence Plans to Call 50 Witnesses your social media marketing partner


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+19 # pernsey 2011-11-23 10:18
So if your a whistle blower you get punished if you go along with the illegal activity your a hero...the message they are sending is: If you do the right thing you will be punished if you keep our secrets and hide our wrong doing, you will be rewarded. We have managed to become the thing we are supposed to stand against.
+4 # Capn Canard 2011-11-23 12:52
pernsey, follow that advice and we can make a soldier out of you yet! That is the nature of power. Laws be damned!
+3 # giraffee2012 2011-11-23 13:38
O think the OWS and others will protest so loudly that "history will be made"

Right now people in government who "whistle blow" are punished - bc the government does not have to follow those laws. But this will (should) change that mantra

If not - we may see some real OUT-CRY
+7 # jbkenley 2011-11-23 14:08
Now that they have blown his mind with isolation, ridicule, dehumanizing treatment they are going to try him. Sham on them. It is not the military that I was pleased to be part of.
+8 # seeuingoa 2011-11-23 15:48
Bradley Manning and Assange when/if he is extradited from Sweden, should both be
high up on the "what we want"-list for the protesters in Washington DC

They have both been major actors in
making the Americans conscious about
what is going on and should be released
+13 # Phlippinout 2011-11-23 16:06
Brad Manning is a hero and the best kind of HERO. I salute you Brad!
0 # mwd870 2011-11-26 09:47
Bradley Manning is a hero. I began to understand this with every new revelation the "military-indus trial complex" appears to be gearing up to take over the world.

Our country should not be in the business of interfering with other sovereign nations because the "great military minds" think it's a good idea. It is impossible to trust the government's foreign policy decisions when they appear to be determined to keep as many secrets as possible from the American public.
+9 # jwb110 2011-11-23 16:28
The military had better be paying close attention to what it is doing. They have to realize that the Nation, in all its sectors, is at a flashpoint. Doing what is good for the Nation should come first. Doing what is good for the Military Industrial Complex is suicide.
+5 # btbees 2011-11-23 20:53
Let us support Bradley Manning! Bradley Manning and Assange should be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize!

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