Here’s the story. I haven’t read it yet. I will as soon as I post this.
A military judge on Tuesday reduced the potential sentence for an Army private accused of sending reams of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.
Col. Denise Lind made the ruling during a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade for Pfc. Bradley Manning.
Lind found that Manning suffered illegal pretrial punishment during nine months in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va. She awarded a total of 112 days off any prison sentence Manning gets if he is convicted.
Good for him, but I think he should have gotten the full potential of ten days credit for every day the Judge found that his confinement was “more rigorous than necessary.” She added that the conditions “became excessive in relation to legitimate government interests.” I also think, for whatever it’s worth, that the charge and specification of “Aiding the Enemy” is excessive. While I think he probably knew or should have known that his actions would do damage to the US and aggregate a net positive to the enemy, I do not, and never have thought that he ever planned or plotted to specifically benefit either the Taliban or the Iraqi insurgents. I would not vote to convict on that charge if I were on a panel, and I can’t imagine the Trial Counsel telling me anything that would change that, barring showing us emails between him and Mullah Omar, for example.
This is occuring in the context of a hearing, scheduled for four days (this is day one) in which the defense is arguing that they should be able to introduce evidence of Manning’s motivation, in that they claim he intentionally tried to not damage the US government.
Prosecutors want the judge to bar the defense from producing evidence at Manning’s trial regarding his motive for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of secret war logs and diplomatic cables. They say motive is irrelevant to whether he leaked intelligence, knowing it would be seen by al Qaeda
Manning allegedly told an online confidant-turned-informant that he leaked the material because “I want people to see the truth” and “information should be free.”
Personally, I don’t buy it, but I’m not the Judge so that’s irrelevant. Having said that, in the UCMJ the proper place to discuss motivation is at the Sentencing Phase, should it be necessary, as ‘matters in mitigation or extenuation.’ Motive is not an element of any crime under the UCMJ.
UPDATE: Dissenter at FireDogLake was liveblogging from the court room. Here‘s his/her take on it. 90 minutes for Judge Lind to read the whole ruling, will not be made available to the public–except, one assumes, under FOIA.