The attorney for accused document leaker former U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning won a pretrial motion for full discovery of exculpatory evidence in military court June 25, according to various news sources. Manning's attorney Lt. Col. David E. Coombs had also filed a motion where he “requests the Court to suspend these proceedings and order the Government to state with specificity the steps it has taken to comply with its discovery obligations,” but the presiding military judge Colonel Denise Lind denied that defense motion to suspend plans for a trial until full discovery of evidence was provided by the prosecution.
Manning is charged with leaking the Collateral Murder video to the whistleblower website Wikileaks, which shows a U.S. helicopter gunship killing Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists they had mistaken as terrorist suspects. The video later shows the gunship pilots deliberately shooting a Reuters photographer they had wounded, a war crime. Manning is also charged with leaking hundreds of thousands of documents on the Iraq war, Afghan war and U.S. State Department diplomatic cables.
Collectively, the leak is the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history, though the impact on national security is disputed. Manning could face a lifetime behind bars if convicted on all 22 charges, and possibly even the death penalty. (Prosecutors claim they are not seeking the death penalty.)
Coombs was specifically seeking information on federal government damage assessment from the leaks from various security agencies, as much of the charges related to “aiding the enemy” hinge on whether or not there were tangible benefits to the nation's enemies. Wikileaks and its supporters charge that the leaker provided a great public service, not damage to U.S. national security, though the whistleblower website would not confirm if its source is Manning.
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Photo: Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, right, is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., June 25, 2012, after a pre-trial hearing: AP Images