After over a year of solitary confinement under conditions reserved for some of the most violent criminals in the country, Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of nothing more than blowing the whistle on highly questionable coalition activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, is finally getting his day in court. A judge has referred his case to a general court-martial.
Manning is accused of, among other things, tampering with a military computer, distributing classified material to unauthorized persons (specifically Wikileaks) and aiding the enemy. There are 22 charges being made against him. If convicted, Manning would be facing a maximum sentence of life in prison. Previously, Army officials had made it clear that were not interested in seeking the death penalty for which Manning’s alleged crimes would certainly qualify him for.
Manning’s defense lawyer are pulling out all the stops to secure his acquittal. From Time.com
Defense lawyers say Manning was clearly a troubled young soldier whom the Army should never have deployed to Iraq or given access to classified material while he was stationed there from late 2009 to mid-2010.
Manning’s lawyers countered that others had access to Manning’s workplace computers. They say he was in emotional turmoil, partly because he was a gay soldier at a time when homosexuals were barred from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces. The defense also claims Manning’s apparent disregard for security rules during stateside training and his increasingly violent outbursts after deployment were red flags that should have prevented him from having access to classified material. Manning’s lawyers also contend that the material WikiLeaks published did little or no harm to national security.
Manning faces a steep uphill battle and his health has reportedly been compromised from the conditions of his incarceration which, if true, can only be construed as cruel and unusual punishment. No trial date has been set.
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