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Whistleblower Manning Highlights 'Overcharging' in Strategic 'Guilty' Plea

Common Dreams staff

(Photo: Associated Press/Patrick Semansky)

US Army whistleblower Pfc Bradley Manning offered his first plea deal in court Wednesday, admitting to only a selection of charges against him, in a move experts say is designed to strengthen the defense's arguments that Manning has been severely "overcharged" -- or purposefully given charges that exceed what the soldier is alleged to have done.

In the plea Manning will admit to lesser charges, such as leaking US military information to the website Wikileaks, but not to charges such as "aiding the enemy" or charges of espionage, which would land him life in prison.

Manning's civilian defense attorney David Coombs stated Wednesday:

PFC Manning has offered to plead guilty to various offenses through a process known as 'pleading by exceptions and substitutions.' To clarify, PFC Manning is not pleading guilty to the specifications as charged by the Government. Rather, PFC Manning is attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses.  The Court will consider whether this is a permissible plea.

PFC Manning is not submitting a plea as part of an agreement or deal with the Government. Further, the Government does not need to agree to PFC Manning’s plea; the Court simply has to determine that the plea is legally permissible. If the Court allows PFC Manning to plead guilty by exceptions and substitutions, the Government may still elect to prove up the charged offenses. Pleading by exceptions and substitutions, in other words, does not change the offenses with which PFC Manning has been charged and for which he is scheduled to stand trial.

If the court accepts Manning's plea, however, prosecutors still have the option to proceed with the full case as charged.

Coombs also says Manning has elected to be tried by a military judge, not a jury, at his trial in February.

The first pretrial hearing of Manning's case continues Thursday at Fort Meade.

Fire Dog Lake's Kevin Gosztola hashed out the details on RT:

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