Hearing for U.S. soldier in WikiLeaks centers on prison treatment

FORT MEADE, Maryland Sat Dec 1, 2012 6:49pm EST

Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (C) is escorted in handcuffs as he leaves the courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland June 6, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana

Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (C) is escorted in handcuffs as he leaves the courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland June 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jose Luis Magana

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FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - A pre-trial hearing for U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who is accused of masterminding a massive leak of classified material to the WikiLeaks website, focused on Saturday on a 2011 incident when he broke down and cried in a military brig.

The hearing is to determine whether Manning should face a court-martial on suspicion of leaking thousands of classified documents, including military reports and diplomatic cables.

Manning's lawyers have sought to have the case against him dismissed, arguing that his treatment after arriving at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia, in July 2010 was unduly harsh.

Saturday's proceedings, on the fifth day of the hearing, focused on the events of January 18, 2011, when Manning broke down and began crying after falling while guards were removing his shackles in an exercise room.

Defense attorneys allege that Manning became especially distraught that day because guards were bullying him. Manning himself testified earlier that his guards seemed angry on the morning the incident occurred, making him nervous.

One of Manning's guards at the time, former Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jonathan Cline, acknowledged in his testimony that military personnel at Quantico had been irritated by a pro-Manning protest a day before the incident in the exercise room. The protest had snarled traffic around Quantico.

"They were annoyed by it," Cline said. "It would kind of close down parts of the base and it would kind of hinder them or interrupt the way they would travel to get home or to do other things."

Manning faces up to life in prison if convicted of charges he played a role in the leaking of secrets by WikiLeaks, which stunned governments around the world by publishing intelligence documents and diplomatic cables, mostly in 2010.

Prosecutors have alleged that Manning, without authorization while on intelligence duty, disclosed hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables, military reports and video of a military helicopter attack in Iraq in which two Reuters journalists were killed.

WikiLeaks has never confirmed Manning was the source of any documents it released.

Manning's lawyers are working with the court on the language of a proposed plea involving less serious charges. A prison term of at least 16 years is under discussion, one of his attorneys said, but until a plea is formally entered and accepted, the length of any prison term is uncertain.

(Reporting By Tom Brown; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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Comments (10)
CMDibe wrote:
This man isnt the one who should be standing trial.

Dec 01, 2012 7:35pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Doc62 wrote:
I support Julian Assange. Both the US & Australia claim Freedom of Speech, but reject it when convenient. He’ll be looking over his shoulder for a long time to come.
Bradley Manning took an oath to defend the US, as all us veterans did.
That about adds up to treason. If anyone died as a result of his acts, the penalty is execution. So far, only embarressment has resulted. So 16 yrs in the brig is appropriate.

Dec 01, 2012 8:21pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Reuters1945 wrote:
Bradley Manning is the epitome of what Edmund Burke, (1729-1797), had in mind when he wrote his famous words:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.

But much less well known is the equally insightful statement by that same author:

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little”.

At a moment in time in which Bradley Manning had to make, literally a life or death decision, he followed his conscience, no doubt fully aware of all the likely and predictable consequences that were certain to follow.

I, myself, found myself in a similar situation once in my past life and also chose to do the right thing, knowing I would pay heavily- and I did.

While I was fully vindicated and perceived as a hero of sorts in the end, many years later, by colleagues and people I did not even know, I had little hope at the time I followed my conscience that I would ever prevail or come out with even the skin on my back.

But I could not imagine going to my grave knowing that in a moment when all the lofty ideals of a lifetime were on the line, I had proven myself a coward and a knave by remaining silent in the face of evil acts.

Those who believe in decency and truth know that Bradley Manning is a modern day Hero in every sense of the word and all that word implies.

Those who wish him ill are the same type of failed human beings who have existed on this Earth since the dawn of time, who have always reacted to people like Bradley Manning with the same type of knee jerk reaction that can best be defined as:

“When you do not like the message- then kill the messenger”.

Dec 01, 2012 8:39pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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