Prosecutor says Manning defied US trust
Thursday, December 22, 2011
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — An Army intelligence analyst defied the nation’s trust by indiscriminately pulling more than 700,000 documents from a supposedly secure computer network and giving reams of national secrets to WikiLeaks, a military prosecutor argued Thursday at the close of a hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning.
A defense attorney said the Army had failed the troubled young soldier and is now piling on charges in an attempt to strong-arm him into pleading guilty.
The summations at Fort Meade ended a preliminary hearing to determine whether Manning should be court-martialed on 22 charges, including aiding the enemy. He faces life in prison.
Prosecutors said Manning signed seven agreements to protect government secrets. They say he then made sure those secrets were published online for America’s enemies to see.
“Pfc. Manning gave enemies of the United States unfettered access to these government documents,” Capt. Ashden Fein said, pounding the podium.
The defense team says Manning was nearly paralyzed by internal struggles over his belief that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body. They say his chain of command failed to suspend his access to classified data despite clear signs of emotional distress, including his statement to a supervisor that he had multiple personalities.
Civilian defense attorney David Coombs called the intelligence division of Manning’s battalion a “lawless unit” for allowing soldiers to load personal music CDs onto their workplace computers and play music, movies and video games stored on a network meant for classified data.
He said the government needs “a reality check” for bringing such serious charges against Manning.
And he challenged the government’s original decision to classify as “secret” the material the WikiLeaks website published.
“Why are we here when all this information is out in public?” asked Coombs, who argued that the release of the material had caused no harm.
“If anything, it’s helped,” he said.
Prosecutors noted that although the material has been published, the military still considers it classified.