As reported by The Bradley Manning Support Network, military Judge Col. Denise Lind has altered some of the crucial charges against PFC Bradley Manning ahead of her verdict, which is expected tomorrow around 1pm EST.
For three of the five theft charges against Manning, the government is now alleging that he stole “portions of” databases. Up until last week, Manning had been charged with stealing entire databases. Also, the government is alleging that Manning stole the information within the records, though it had charged him with merely stealing the databases.
Now that closing arguments have been completed, Manning’s defense has no way to defend him against these new allegations, leading them to file a motion for a mistrial on the theft charges.
“Because all of these critical ‘clarifications’ are coming after eight weeks of testimony, and because these offenses carry with them 50 years of potential imprisonment, and because the Defense was actually misled by the Charge Sheet, the Defense requests that this Court declare a mistrial as to the section 641 offenses,” stated defense attorney David Coombs.
This is only the most recent and egregious of the suspicious activity that has been surrounding the Manning trial. According to journalist Kevin Gosztola, who has been covering the trial directly from Ft. Meade, Maryland for Firedoglake.com, military presence was used in the courtroom on July 25 to discourage the assigned press, with armed guards leaning over the shoulders of writers working on their laptops and others on the outside tracking messages that were sent via Twitter.
Coombs is hoping to use the military rule to bolster his chances of having a mistrial. As per the BMSN, under Rule for Courts Martial 915, a military judge may declare a mistrial when “manifestly necessary in the interest of justice because of circumstances arising during the proceedings which cast substantial doubt upon the fairness of the proceedings.”
We would say that there are VERY serious doubts about the fairness of what’s going on in that Ft. Meade courtroom.