OPEN COURT

A Sneak Peek At The Defense Plan For Alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning

Alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning has his first court hearing coming up and his defense plans on calling 50 witnesses to challenge the army’s 22 charges against him.

Here’s a quick look at some of the charges, potential witnesses, defense costs and how his lawyers will handle the fact that Obama has already declared Manning guilty.

Here’s a quick overview courtesy of Wired:

The witnesses could include Daniel Ellsberg, famed Pentagon Papers leaker, who would talk about the benefit Manning’s alleged leaks provided to the public, as well as technical experts who would speak to the actual evidence on which the charges against Manning are based.

… [Bradley Manning Support Network organizer Jeff Paterson], said that the chat logs believed to be between Manning and former hacker Adrian Lamo, in which Manning allegedly confessed to leaking data to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks, are “suspect as far as evidence in a military court,” and prosecutors will therefore likely have to rely on forensic evidence…

The Army has filed 22 counts against Manning, including a capital charge of aiding the enemy, for which the government said it would not seek the death penalty. Other charges include five counts of theft of public property or records, two counts of computer fraud, eight counts of transmitting defense information in violation of the Espionage Act, and one count of wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing it would be accessible to the enemy.

If convicted of all charges, Manning faces a maximum punishment of life in prison, the Army said in a press release.

… public comments that President Obama has made earlier this year suggesting that Manning is guilty constitutes illegal command influence on the military court from the nation’s commander in chief, and therefore should be raised as an issue in the case.

Obama told an audience in April, “If I was to release stuff, information that I’m not authorized to release, I’m breaking the law.”

“I can’t imagine a juror who wants to have a future in the military … going against the statement of [guilty] made by his or her commander in chief,” said Zeese, referring to the military judge and jury who will preside over the hearing and subsequent court martial of Manning and could be swayed to convict based on Obama’s statements. “I hope that the defense is making an issue of it.”

… The Bradley Manning Support Network… says it has raised nearly $400,000 for Manning’s legal defense so far,… [and] nearly $50,000 to cover the travel expenses for Manning’s family to visit him in prison and attend the hearing, as well as to cover the costs of organizing rallies and other support.

The hearing will be open to the public and the media—except for the parts when the court discusses top secret classified information—so expect a large crowd of observers to tweet, blog and Tumblr the whole thing. It could well be the biggest trial of our century… kinda like the O.J. Simpson trial, except with more intelligence and actual consequences.

And you thought Christmas and New Year’s was just gonna be a bunch of dress socks and hangovers.

Image via astrodynamics