Tuesday, June 26, 2012

#Manning #US Cover-Up:Manning Defence Ordered Prosecutors To Prepare A "Due Diligence Statement".

Bradley Manning
Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse at Fort Meade, Maryland, on Monday after the one-day hearing. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP
Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of being the source of the largest leak of state secrets in American history, has won his battle to force his military prosecutors to account for the steps they have taken to disclose to his lawyers evidence that could be crucial in his defence.

At a one-day hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, attended by the WikiLeaks suspect, the military judge Colonel Denise Lind sided with the defence and ordered the prosecutors to prepare a "due diligence statement". This would outline in detail all the efforts the government has taken to disclose evidence during the two years since he was arrested outside Baghdad.

Manning's leading lawyer, David Coombs, has argued in motions presented to the court that the prosecution has been actively trying to avoid meeting its legal obligations to hand over information that could help in preparation of the soldier's defence.

In Monday's hearing, Coombs crystalised his objections, accusing the prosecution lawyer army Major Ashden Fein of failing to afford Manning a fair trial. "Normally, these games are not played. You hand over discovery and let the facts speak. You don't play hide the ball, and that's what the government's been doing," Coombs said, according to a report by the Associated Press.

By ordering the prosecution to prepare a "due diligence statement", the judge is casting a light on what the prosecution has – or has not – done to disclose evidence to the defence. She gave the army until 25 July to draft the statement.

Lind also came down on the side of Manning when she ordered the military prosecutors to hand over to the court so-called "damage assessments" prepared by a range of government agencies including the CIA, FBI, state department and the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, Oncix.

These assessments were carried out shortly after the whistleblower website WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables and war logs, and sought to ascertain to what degree the leaks had been damaging to US national security around the world.

The defence hopes that the assessments will support its suspicion that the government concluded that WikiLeaks only caused limited harm to US national interests – thereby rendering several of the charges against Manning including the most serious one, "aiding the enemy", redundant.

During the one-day hearing, the prosecution insisted that it had met its legal obligations to Manning. "The defense is receiving the information they're entitled to receive," Fein told the court.

Manning's supporters said after the hearing that any information forced out of the government would in the end prove beneficial to his defence. "Ultimately any ruling in favour of the truth is going to favour Bradley Manning because the facts support his case that he didn't cause harm to national security," said Zack Pesavento of the Bradley Manning support network.

"What he did was a good thing – WikiLeaks played a key role in precipitating and promoting the Arab Spring."