Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking classified material to website Wikileaks, is appearing in court today, beginning a two day pre-trial motion hearing in Fort Meade, near Baltimore. During this hearing, military judge Col Denise Lind will announce the date of Manning's trial.
According to Associated Press, military prosecutors are now saying that Manning aided al-Qaida through the act of leaking military documents online.
Kevin Gosztola at Firedoglake writes:
“Sunlight is always the best disinfectant,” [Manning’s defense lawyer, David Coombs] said. Acknowledging that Manning had released a lot of information that was probably classified for no good reason, it would appear that Manning’s case calls upon us to wonder about the scale of government secrecy in this country. If we decide that the government bureaucracy is such a beast and that it will relentlessly work to keep important information secret (e.g. water contamination that can cause childhood cancers at Camp Lejeune), we then must consider that breaking the law as Manning is accused of doing—violating a military code—may have some justification in the end because of the good that the release can and in some cases has produced.
Firedoglake is providing a live blog of today's events here.
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Three motions will be discussed during the first day of what is expected to be a two-day hearing: a motion to compel discovery, a motion for a bill of particulars and a motion to compel depositions. [...]
A legal matter expert for the military says Lind will probably set a calendar all the way out that details what hearings will be held in the run-up to the trial, when the trial will begin and how long that trial might be expected to last. The expert also says the prosecution, defense and judge had a “pre-trial conference” this morning. Whatever business discussed will be shared on the record.
One motion—a publicity order—was already decided. This motion, also from the defense, requested that prospective “panel members” not read or view any media related to Manning’s case. The government did not oppose. Essentially, this protects the rights of Manning so that people, who may serve on the jury for Manning’s trial, do not develop too many pre-conceived notions about the case.
Additionally, a few media here were responsible for a letter submitted to the Defense Department requesting access to records during the court-martial proceedings. There has yet to be any action on this request, which basically calls upon the Defense Department to grant the press the same access to materials on the trial that they grant to the press during military commissions proceedings for Guantanamo detainees.
And, the Bradley Manning Support Network and its supporters were expected to be at the gate holding a vigil or demonstration at 7 am this morning. Rallies in solidarity with Manning were expected to take place around the country today too.