Military Judge Will Likely Announce Bradley Manning Verdict Tuesday
By Eyder Peralta
The military judge presiding over the case of Bradley Manning will likely hand down her verdict on Tuesday.
Manning is accused of perpetrating the biggest leak of classified information in the history of the United States. Col. Denise Lind has been deliberating since Friday. The Guardian reports:
"In the course of the eight-week trial, which ended on Friday, the US government sought to create a new precedent by arguing that Manning knew he was helping al-Qaida when he released more than 700,000 documents to the anti-secrecy website.
"The verdict will be issued at 1pm ET by Lind sitting alone in the courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland, in the absence of a jury – an arrangement made at Manning's own request. The soldier's decision to put his faith in a military judge, rather than in a panel of his peers – the military equivalent of a jury – was a big legal gamble whose merits will become clear when the verdict comes in.
"In another huge legal roll of the dice, Manning decided to plead guilty to a lesser version of 10 of the 21 counts of which he is accused, carrying a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in military jail. He did so with nothing in return in the form of a plea bargain, a highly unusual step in criminal proceedings."
As we've reported, Manning has denied the most serious charge he's faced with: aiding the enemy, a charge punishable by life in prison. At issue is whether Manning knowingly provided intelligence to enemies of the U.S.
The government argued that when Manning released information to WikiLeaks — instead of traditional news outlets — it was because he wanted the data to be available in an indiscriminate manner. The defense argued that Manning was a naive whistle-blower who wanted the information he leaked to spark a national discussion about war and diplomacy.
If the verdict is guilty, don't expect this to go away anytime soon. U.S. News reports Manning's case could remain in the courts for years. It reports on what's next if a guilty verdict is announced:
"They then proceed to the sentencing phase where the judge will issue punishment. For Manning this could be life in prison.
"It is then passed to a post-trial phase, in which the convening authority reviews the case. In this instance, that's the commander of the military district of D.C.
"But Manning's attorneys have many options from there, including the Army Court of Appeals, the civilian Court of Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and possibly even the Supreme Court."