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General News

The Trial of Bradley Manning: Day 18

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 7/16/13

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Reprinted with permission from Reader Supported News


Bradley Manning is escorted from the courthouse to a vehicle on July 15th, 2013 at Fort Meade. (photo: Scott Galindez/RSN)

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

Today was mostly procedural. The Army and the defense argued the scope of the Army's rebuttal testimony that will begin on Thursday. They also argued two of the defense motions for dismissal of charges including "Aiding the Enemy."

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Motions to dismiss

Defense Attorney David Coombs in oral argument for the first motion for a not guilty plea -- the charges related to the downloading of the State Department cables -- argued that the Army presented no evidence that Bradley Manning violated access restrictions when using the program Wget to download the cables. The Army argued that the unauthorized use of the executable program Wget was a violation of Manning's access authority.

Coombs argued that Manning did violate user restrictions on the computer, but did not access restrictions to the cables. Manning could have accessed the cables and downloaded them without use of the program.

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There was an exchange about whether programs used to play music and view movies are also unauthorized. The government argued that "music" is not an executable file. Coombs argued that the program that plays the music is an executable program that was installed on computers without authorization.

Questions asked by the judge indicated that she was looking for the government to distinguish between why adding programs to play music was okay and installing Wget was not. The significance of this is that the Army must present some evidence on all the elements necessary for a guilty verdict, during the presentation of their case. If the judge finds that they didn't, she has to enter a finding of not guilty even if evidence was presented during the defense's case.

Aiding the Enemy

The next argument the court heard was the defense motion to find Manning not guilty of the charge of aiding the enemy. Coombs argued that Bradley Manning had no knowledge that documents he gave to Wikileaks would make their way to the enemy. In fact, the charge states that the documents went to al Qaeda. Coombs argued that Manning had no knowledge that al Qaeda would go to Wikileaks and read the documents. Coombs argued that Manning had the ability to send the documents directly to al Qaeda but did not.

Coombs conceded that giving the information to Wikileaks may have violated many laws, but it did not rise to the level of aiding the enemy. He argued that the only way the Army could prove that giving evidence to the media was an indirect way to aid the enemy was to prove that Manning's motive was to use the media to get information to the enemy that he couldn't otherwise get to them.

The thrust of Coombs' argument was that Manning had to have direct knowledge that the information would be used by the enemy.

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The Army countered that Manning was told in training that information posted on Wikileaks was being used by the enemy. They also argued that Manning accessed documents that warned that Wikileaks information was being used by the enemy. They argued that the threshold is only that they presented evidence that Manning should have known the information would go to the enemy.

Coombs countered by saying that evidence was presented during the prosecution's case as to what Manning's intent was. Nowhere in chats with Julian Assange and Adrian Lambo did Manning talk about getting the information to anyone in al Qaeda. In fact, their evidence showed that that Manning's intent was to trigger a national debate on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The other two outstanding motions to dismiss were not heard today. The judge gave both sides more time to present documents pertaining to the charges.

Scope of the Government's Rebuttal

There will be rebuttal witnesses called on Thursday. They will rebut testimony as to Manning's motives. They will also counter defense testimony that executable files are allowed on the unit's computers if run from a disk.

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