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Series of Small Victories as Manning Sentencing Phase Continues

Witnesses by defense team will begin next week, but will whistleblower himself testify?

Jon Queally, staff writer

In on small victory earlier this week, Manning's defense team successfully argued that the government had taken single acts of criminality and split them into several separate violations. (Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Reporting from the ongoing sentencing phase of the Bradley Manning trial on Wednesday explains that another key portion of the government's argument against the army whistleblower was thrown out by the judge, the latest in a series of small victories for the defense.

As the Associated Press reports, the presiding judge rejected two arguments by the prosecution about the "chilling effect" the disclosure of US diplomatic cables had on foreign governments and other international actors who might engage with the US State Department. Specifically:

[Judge Colonel Denise Lind] threw out State Department undersecretary Patrick Kennedy's testimony that leaked information published more than two years ago continues to hurt US foreign relations and policymaking.

The judge also has rejected acting assistant secretary Michael Kozak's testimony that the leaks had made some foreign citizens, including human rights activists, less willing to speak privately with US diplomats.

On Monday, a separate decision by Lind saw Manning's possible maximum sentence reduced from 136 years to 90 years, after the defense argued successfully that the government had split single criminal charges into many thereby expanding the possible sentence length.

Along with the "few press who remain committed to covering" the trial, FireDogLake's Kevin Gosztola continued his reporting from inside the proceedings. Despite Wednesday including closed portions of testimony, Gostzola reported on the open proceedings and also took time to note the ongoing harassment faced by independent journalists covering the trial. During afternoon proceedings, he writes:

Fellow reporters Alexa [O'Brien] and Nathan [Fuller] were talking just prior to the gaveling to start the session. They stopped talking as soon as the gavel hit. Then the PAO walked up to Alexa and said that she was to stop speaking 30 seconds before the gavel hits. The repression and evolvong-on-a-whim restrictions on the press continue unabated at Fort Meade.

The sentencing phase of the Manning will continue into next week, with the defense team expected to begin offering its witnesses as early as Monday. Pfc. Manning was not on the witness list released by his lawyers on Wednesday, but that does not preclude him from testifying at any point.

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