A court martial was ordered last week in the Bradley Manning case, wherein the Army private and onetime intelligence analyst is alleged to have turned over hundreds of thousands of secret documents to the WikiLeaks website, which constituted the most massive leak ever of classified American information. Military District of Washington commander Major General Michael Linnington decided in favor of court martial proceedings upon review of the case and the recommendations of another two officers. A military judge still to be named will schedule Manning’s arraignment, motion hearings, and trial. Manning had been charged after his 2010 arrest with 22 counts connected to providing aid to the enemy and violation of the Espionage Act. Since the prosecution is not seeking a death sentence, a penalty of life imprisonment could be imposed if he is found guilty. Additional penalties would encompass downgrade to the lowest enlisted pay rate, complete loss of pay and allowances, and dishonorable discharge.

Manning stands accused of the unlawful downloading of documents while stationed as an intelligence analyst in Iraq from late 2009 to mid-2010, and furthermore was cognizant of the fact that the information he transmitted would end up on the Internet, thereby becoming readily available to the enemy. The sheer volume of classified material he purportedly passed on to WikiLeaks is staggering and, during a preliminary hearing this past December, military prosecutors presented proof of the leaking of almost five hundred thousand confidential battlefield reports pertaining to Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of diplomatic communications, and video of a fatal 2007 helicopter strike that was posted on the website under the heading “Collateral Murder.” The prosecution produced excerpts of online chats recovered from Manning’s personal computer as well, that supposedly establish his collusion with Wikileaks chief Julian Assange. Manning’s attorneys, in turn, maintain that his emotional problems should have precluded his access to secret data, and further assert that the material disseminated by Wikileaks constituted little or no risk to national security.

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