Trial Begins for Soldier Accused of Classified Leaks
By David Vergun
Army News Service
FORT MEADE, Md., June 4, 2013 With the prosecution accusing Army Pfc. Bradley Manning of causing immeasurable harm to national security and Manning’s attorney portraying the soldier as “young and naïve, but good-intentioned,” Manning’s court-martial in what has become known as “the WikiLeaks case” began here yesterday.
Manning, 25 is charged with committing various crimes, including aiding the enemy, by leaking classified information to the WikiLeaks website while assigned to Iraq as an intelligence analyst in 2009 and 2010. If convicted, Manning could be sentenced to life in prison.
In his opening statement, Army Capt. Joe Morrow, the prosecutor, called the leaks the "biggest ever" in U.S. history, involving hundreds of thousands of classified documents, and that they provided “potentially actionable information for targeting U.S. forces.”
David Coombs, Manning’s attorney, said in his opening statement that Manning was selective about the documents he released and “was hoping to make the world a better place” by doing so.
The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, asked Manning if he wanted to reconsider trial by a military judge alone, herself, rather than by jury, which is termed a "panel" by the military. Manning declined.
In the afternoon, the prosecutor called the first witness, Army Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Smith, who was the senior enlisted Criminal Investigative Division agent at the time. He and another case agent, Tony Graham, were the first to investigate the "scene of the crime," as Smith called the sensitive compartmented information facility where Manning worked in Iraq. Smith discussed the procedures they used to collect evidence and conduct interviews.
The prosecutor will call more witnesses and use sworn statements as evidence as its case proceeds. The defense will present its arguments in the coming days.