PFC Manning Plea Hearing Today

PFC Manning has a hearing today at Fort Meade, MD.  He is set to plead “guilty by exceptions and substitutions” to at least some of the 22 charges currently pending against him.  He will plead not guilty to the charge of “Aiding the Enemy” which has been charged as a non-capital offense.”  The charges and specifications to which he is supposedly going to plead guilty will carry, collectively, up to 20 years confinement eligibility.  The “Aiding the Enemy” charge carries confinement of up to life with possibility of parole.

The Military Judge in this case is COL Denise Lind.  She is the same Judge who presided over the Court-Martial of birther doctor former-LTC Terry Lakin last year.

Manning has elected a “Judge-alone” trial, so there will be no members panel seated for this.  As part of the plea process, Judge Lind will conduct a Care inquiry, which is the military’s version of a providence inquiry to determine that Manning is knowingly, voluntarily pleading to all of the elements of the charges and specifications.  At some point during this process and before sentence is passed, he will be allowed to make an unsworn statement to the court that is not subject to cross-examination by the Trial Counsel.  This is unique to military jurisprudence as far as I know, but IANAL, so there.  I don’t know if I’d be making such a statement prior to trial on the remaining charge, however, because it will be useable by the Trial Counsel.

NPR is also covering the event.

While I was composing this, I received the following update from CNN:

Fort Meade, Maryland (CNN) — Pfc. Bradley Manning pleaded guilty Thursday to half of the 22 charges against him, but not the major one, in what the government says is the largest leak of classified documents in the nation’s history.

The Army intelligence analyst is accused of stealing thousands of classified documents while serving in Iraq. The material was then published online by WikiLeaks. The group, which facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information through its website, has never confirmed that Manning was the source of its information.

Army judge Col. Denise Lind asked Manning questions to establish that he understood what he was pleading guilty to.

In addition, she reminded him that his lawyer had filed a motion to have the case dismissed on the grounds that he was denied his right to a speedy trial — a motion that Lind denied Tuesday.

By entering guilty pleas, Manning loses his right to have an appellate court consider that ruling, if he chooses to appeal.

And now you know what I know.






60 replies
  1. 1
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Nice summary.

  2. 2
    burnspbesq says:

    Seems like an outcome I could live with.

    I have one additional thought about sentencing. In the 1990s, there was an IRS agent here in SoCal who got convicted of taking bribes to fix audits. In exchange for DOJ not pushing for an upward departure from the sentencing guidelines, he agreed to do a training video, which I believe the IRS still uses to strike fear into the hearts of its new employees. I would be willing to think about a similar deal for Manning, with a video that becomes part of the training for all military personnel who have access to classified information.

  3. 3
    Ben Franklin says:

    violations are analyzed using the same Barker v. Wingo [407 US 514 (1972)] four-factor structure: (1) the length of the delay, (2) the reasons for the delay, (3) whether appellant made a demand for speedy trial, and (4) prejudice to appellant; the first factor is to some extent a triggering mechanism, and unless there is a period of delay that appears, on its face, to be unreasonable under the circumstances, there is no necessity for inquiry into the other factors that go into the balance).

    It would appear the judge denied the motion with these 4 points, in mind. Sounds like a case for reversal, within the surrounding context. The reasons for the delay constitutes with wiggle room both for prosecution and defense. Why even make the motion if pleading out makes it moot? I think there is a lot more to this.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ben Franklin: As I understand it, Manning will get a reduction in sentence based on any speedy trial violations. He may be looking for a way to appeal the length of the sentence rather than the underlying conviction.

  6. 6
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    He may be looking for a way to appeal the length of thesentence rather than the underlying conviction.

    within the ACCA or whatever the appeals process is within the UCMJ system?

    If he pleads guilty, he rescinds that appeal right, does he not?

    It’s a strange strategy.

  7. 7
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    If he pleads guilty, he rescinds that appeal right, does he not?

    Not necessarily. I don’t know the Crim Pro rules in military courts particularly well. Depending on the plea agreement, he may retain a right to challenge his sentence. There may also be a mechanism in the rules that allows it. Look at it this way: if it is pointless, why would counsel be doing it?

  8. 8
    Ben Franklin says:

    Morrow went over some of the portions in the statement that the government specifically objects to being read in court. One of them talks about “staying in contact” with Nathaniel and how Manning thought he was “developing a friendship.” They would talk about not only the publications WikiLeaks was working. He later realized he valued the friendship himself more than Nathaniel. (“Nathaniel Frank,” the name on the account the government has claimed was being used by WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, though no actual proof of him sending messages to Manning has been presented.)

    The judge asked how this would be prejudicial if he talked about it. Morrow said he couldn’t articulate why. The judge decided she would go through and look at portions. The government should look at portions and, if they find aspects that suggest conduct that would bring discredit to the military, raise it in court.

    http://dissenter.firedoglake.c.....wikileaks/

    Hmmm. It seems the Government doesn’t want to corrupt their case against Assange.

    I am forced to speculate on this cryptic process.

  9. 9
    DonT says:

    How can he “aid the enemy” if there is no declared war?

  10. 10
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Look at it this way: if it is pointless, why would counsel be doing it?

    Sooner intimated on the previous thread that a guilty plea rescinds. That’s why i asked the question.

  11. 11
    Culture of Truth says:

    I’m pretty sure he knew he was in a war.

  12. 12
    Ben Franklin says:

    I have a question.

    Is Military Court akin to Human Resources in Corp. America?

    BTIM; as HR is largely a protectorate of the Corporation while it ostensibly exists to protect employees, is MilCourt largely there to prevent bad things being said about the Military?

    Just askin….

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ben Franklin: Generally, guilty plea waives your right to raise appeal issues that would have been raised at trial. Since I said generally, it follows that there are exceptions. Based on the fact that counsel is still interested in raising the speedy trial issue, I am figuring that it, at least arguably, falls under one of the exceptions. I don’t have the time or inclination to look into in more detail at the moment.

    Tl; dr: If counsel is competent and is pursuing it, there is a reason.

  14. 14
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Thanks!

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    Is Military Court akin to Human Resources in Corp. America?

    No.

  16. 16
    Cassidy says:

    @Ben Franklin: No. Quite the opposite, actually. Generally speaking, once a case has been sent to Court Martial, the prosecution and the SM’s unit has a significant responsibility. Manning’s case has been pretty exceptional. I’ve heard of military judges knocking months and years off a sentence because the SM’s unit didn’t get him a proper uniform or make sure he got breakfast, etc. I’ve sat in one myself as an escort, and the judge gave the prosecutor a hard time and even gave the defendent an out; the Soldier was pleading guilty to desertion and the judge asked him if he knew he was deserting at the time he left. If the Soldier had said no, the judge wouldn’t have allowed the plea and the prosecution would have been forced to prove intent.

  17. 17
    Todd says:

    So am I supposed to cry tears of abject desperation for Bradley, lament the continued unjustly imposed exile of Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, or shake my fist in righteous rage at Obama for personally deciding this entire strategy?

    It is so hard for a hippie puncher like me to figure these things out lately.

  18. 18
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Cassidy:

    That is interesting that you’ve seen, firsthand, how the judges behave when a case is not so politically charged.

    Manning’s case has been pretty exceptional.

    Are the judges autonomous? IOW can a career be affected if too much latitude is given?

  19. 19
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    That’s pretty confident. How can you be so sure?

  20. 20
    Alex says:

    Soonergrunt, if you haven’t inferred this by now, the BJ community would greatly appreciate you desisting from issuing these reports on PFC Manning. If possible, they’d like to spend their waking days pretending he doesn’t exist. The cognitive dissonance is overwhelming.

  21. 21
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Ben Franklin: “Sooner intimated on the previous thread that a guilty plea rescinds”
    I don’t believe I intended such in the previous thread. If you came to believe that because of my less than artful language, I offer apologies.
    Nevertheless, there are plenty of circumstances under the UCMJ and Military Rules of Evidence and the Manual for Courts-Martial under which a guilty plea waives certain rights the Accused would otherwise have. That’s one reason that the Care Inquiry in the Court-Martial is so thorough–to ensure that the Accused makes a knowing, intentional plea to all the charges and specifications, and by so doing forecloses many, but not all appeals.
    Mr. Jeffrey Coombs, Manning’s Counsel, is a Reserve O-5, and the last I heard his job in the reserves was teaching trial tactics to junior Defense Counsel at the military’s professional development program for lawyers. I don’t know if that is still the case.

  22. 22
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Alex: Weak sauce, dude. Feel free to click on the ‘Bradley Manning’ tag in the top posting and see the discussions we’ve had around here.

  23. 23
    dr. bloor says:

    @Todd:

    So am I supposed to cry tears of abject desperation for Bradley, lament the continued unjustly imposed exile of Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, or shake my fist in righteous rage at Obama for personally deciding this entire strategy?

    If you do, it appears that you will be the only one in the thread doing so.

    How odd.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ben Franklin: I think you are looking for something that isn’t there. If you want to argue that the judge is siding with the prosecution for political reasons, you need to offer some support for that aside from the fact that you don’t like the way the case is going.

  25. 25
    Todd says:

    @Alex:

    If possible, they’d like to spend their waking days pretending he doesn’t exist.

    Untrue, dude. I spend my waking days reveling in the thoughts of his discomfort, loneliness and abject hopelessness in confinement.

  26. 26
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    If you want to argue that the judge is siding with the prosecution for political reasons, you need to offer some support for that aside from the fact that you don’t like the way the case is going.

    See Cassidy’s comment. Politics is endemic, as are concerns of job security. No evidence here, only conversational speculation.

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ben Franklin: Personal experience both as an army officer and a lawyer – not both at the same time.

  28. 28
    Linda Featheringill says:

    The entire Manning case is ugly and I’d love to see it dealt with and finished and then I could pretend it doesn’t exist. However, nobody with any real power has consulted me.

    I would like to know if he has been treated better since his transfer and how he is doing? Is he physically healthy? Is he psychologically stable?

  29. 29
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Ben Franklin: HR can’t put you in prison.
    Generally.

    Also, people do get acquitted at Court-Martial, either completely or partially, and the Courts of Criminal Appeals do overturn convictions or limit punishments.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    However, nobody with any real power has consulted me.

    This kind of thing is ever so frustrating. Imagine what we could fix if only people would have the sense to consult us. Right?

  31. 31
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Todd: I don’t think Manning should spend one day more in jail than he deserves. But by pleading guilty, it’s pretty obvious that even he sees that he deserves some jail time.
    Having said that, he was trained over and over again about his responsibilities with respect to classified information, and there’s no realistic way to believe that he was a whistle-blower in regards ALL to documents he released, and I personally don’t buy the story that he couldn’t have foreseen that the enemy would attempt to make use of the documents he dumped (because that was actually his own job to do that very thing.) And I don’t think that a sentence of several years is entirely out of line.

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    @DonT:

    How can he “aid the enemy” if there is no declared war?

    We never declared war on the Soviet Union, but I’m pretty sure that any soldier who provided information to them between (say) 1946-1990 would have been charged with “aiding the enemy.”

  33. 33
    Soonergrunt says:

    @DonT: Under UCMJ, US Federal law, and international law (specifically, the law of armed conflict) a state of war may exist between two or more hostile parties, independent of any declaration by either party.
    If that were not the case, then not only the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor would have been a war crime because it commenced before the formal declaration was delivered by the Japanese Foreign Ministry to the US State Department, but so too would any hostile acts that US Pacific forces took in self-defense prior to either party delivering a declaration have potentially been a violation.

  34. 34
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    The notion that “war” has or should follow any sense of law or legality has always struck me as being utterly insane.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ben Franklin: @Omnes Omnibus: Adding to my earlier reply, the promotion and rating structure for military judges insulates them from command pressure. I think that an a elected judge in a state court criminal trial is far more amenable to political pressure or to seeming tough on crime than a military judge. YMMV.

  36. 36
    Don says:

    But by pleading guilty, it’s pretty obvious that even he sees that he deserves some jail time

    I don’t see how any rational person could make a blanket statement like that about a person taking a plea. Do you assert that about everyone who takes a plea – which is self-evidently not true – or is there something special about Manning that leads you to this claim?

  37. 37
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @DonT:

    How can he “aid the enemy” if there is no declared war?

    We don’t need no stinkin’ declared war, you terrorist.

  38. 38
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    And I don’t think that a sentence of several years is entirely out of line.

    How many years are you pushing for Bush and Cheney to serve as a result of the trials you and your president haven’t bothered to promote, encourage or report on because, you know…look forward not back or something?

    Oh that’s right: None.

  39. 39
    DonT says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Good point

  40. 40
    General Stuck says:

    The true progressives have their martyr to opine over for years to come, truth to power and all that. Jane and Glenn and Julian will need some fresh meat though. While Bradley rots in prison, making little rocks from big rocks, his 15 minutes will run out, and to the next sacrificial lamb for the protest people needs to blossom for the cause. As they agonize over lattes at the local Bistro. The utter injustice of it all.

  41. 41
    burnspbesq says:

    @DonT:

    How can he “aid the enemy” if there is no declared war?

    Ever heard of the AUMF?

  42. 42
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Don: Are you suggesting that either he doesn’t know that he’s going to get a sentence of confinement by pleading guilty, or that he’s not comfortable with that on some level? While I don’t discount the concept that he’s pleading as a tactical decision–reduce the overhead and the inconvenience for the Convening Authority and then remind the Court and the CA of that when it comes to sentencing, for example–why the hell would he plead if he believed that he was innocent and didn’t deserve to have anything happen? If one is honestly convinced of one’s innocence (for example, by actually BEING innocent) why wouldn’t one try very hard to get an acquittal?
    I am not a lawyer, but in my own unfortunate (and thankfully brief) brush with the UCMJ, there was no way in hell I was going to plead to a lesser offense under any circumstances, because I was innocent and I believed that I would prevail at trial. Maybe I was naive, but here I sit a free man. It eventually came to pass that the charges were dismissed (or more correctly were never formally proffered.)

    @Ted & Hellen: Were Cheney or Rumsfeld or Bush indicted and I didn’t hear about it? Cause if they were, and there was evidence that would sustain a conviction, then I’d be all for throwing the whole fucking library at them. See, I’ve said this over and over and over again, but you’re painfully stupid, so I’ll say it again, and I’ll use short words: Please go talk to the nearest federal prosecutor. I cannot help you.

  43. 43
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: It always seemed to me that laws of war existed primarily to make war a more palatable (or at least less unpalatable) option for nation states to settle their differences. And to my mind, it therefore made war more likely, if it was in fact normalized as a legitimate tool of statecraft. I didn’t know how to articulate this until I started studying political science, but I always felt on some level that warfare was “legitimate,” whether right or wrong, or even whether that legitimacy itself was correct.

  44. 44
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    why the hell would he plead if he believed that he was innocent and didn’t deserve to have anything happen? If one is honestly convinced of one’s innocence (for example, by actually BEING innocent) why wouldn’t one try very hard to get an acquittal?

    It happens. There is even special category of plea, the Alford plea, available for that circumstance in civilian courts. Pleading guilty even if innocent can be a rational decision.

  45. 45
    ericblair says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    It always seemed to me that laws of war existed primarily to make war a more palatable (or at least less unpalatable) option for nation states to settle their differences. And to my mind, it therefore made war more likely, if it was in fact normalized as a legitimate tool of statecraft.

    I don’t know about that. In general, war has always been seen as a legitimate tool of statecraft, laws of war or no, and wars of conquest used to be expected and glorified. The fact that modern states need at least a pretext of self defense to start whaling on their neighbors is progress, sad to say.

    My understanding is that the global concept of war is far more realistic, less glorious, and less palatable now with the laws of war in place than it was before 1900 (or at least 1865 for us), and the development laws of war flow from that understanding. I’d like to hear from a historian about this, but I don’t think the laws of war have made war more palatable; it’s the widely held view that war is unpalatable that made the laws of war possible in the first place to try to reduce its unnecessary suffering.

  46. 46
    Ben Franklin says:

    why the hell would he plead if he believed that he was innocent and didn’t deserve to have anything happen? If one is honestly convinced of one’s innocence (for example, by actually BEING innocent) why wouldn’t one try very hard to get an acquittal?

    Wow. I missed that. Amazing gift of naivete’. “If you’re not guilty, why were you arrested” comes to mind, as well.

  47. 47
    Ben Franklin says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Ever heard of the AUMF?

    Touche…

    The enemy is whoever they say it is.

  48. 48
    Soonergrunt says:

    @ericblair: “it’s the widely held view that war is unpalatable that made the laws of war possible in the first place to try to reduce its unnecessary suffering.”
    To which I would reply that the act of making war less painful and inhumane, we have inadvertently made it easier to start and wage because now we can be righteous about it. “See how we don’t kill their civilians unnecessarily? We really don’t, because we’re on the side of the angels! Pay no attention to that family that was was just torched by WP. That was an accident!”
    I guess I just see the idea of laws for warfare as making warfare more acceptable because now we can wrap ourselves in the lawfulness and completely ignore the barbarity.

  49. 49
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I can understand that one could do such a thing. I can even kind of see, on an intellectual level, why one might consider it. I just can’t internalize it.

    @Ben Franklin: How many people do you know of who have their own support network specifically because of the crime with which they are charged and have not only never denied having committed the crimes in question but even bragged about them (the chats to the informer being what got him tagged?)

  50. 50
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Soonergrunt: And by “we” I mean society.

  51. 51
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    (the chats to the informer being what got him tagged?)

    I’m sure the informant (adrien Lamo?) gets creds from you for his snitch, but didn’t he identify himself as a Pastor?

    Anyway, your predisposition seems set in concrete, but isn’t there something in the Oath about reporting crimes, like the Video? Is there anyone, anywhere being called to the docket for failing to report?

  52. 52
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Ben Franklin: You apparently have just met me today. Because otherwise, what you just wrote there is the dumbest goddamned thing anyone has said to me in the last week. Good job!

  53. 53
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    “Any person subject to this chapter who, knowing that an offense punishable by this chapter has been committed, receives, comforts, or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial, or punishment shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

    Elements.

    (1) That an offense punishable by the code was committed by a certain person;

    (2) That the accused knew that this person had committed such offense;

    (3) That there after the accused received, comforted, or assisted the offender; and

    (4) That the accused did so for the purpose of hindering or preventing the apprehension, trial, or punishment of the offender.

    http://usmilitary.about.com/li.....m/bl78.htm

    So, you’re saying that those who knew of the collateral murder incident with Video, and didn’t report are not accessories to murder, and anyone who suggests they are, is simple and stupid?

  54. 54
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Ben Franklin: You do know, do you not, that the “collateral murder” video was highly edited? That almost half of the video was edited out by the wikileaks organization before it was released with that caption? That, in fact, AH-64 gun camera systems do not, actually label the engagements they record as “murder?”
    You do further know that in order to secure a conviction at Court Martial, the prosecution must be able to prove all of the elements of the crime?
    Do you know for certain that ALL of the other 86,000 documents in question were read by Manning and that they all were evidence of criminal activity?
    Cause if he actually were a whistle blower or actually thought of himself as one, why the hell isn’t he presenting a defense that he was acting to uncover criminality and that by so doing, was not committing a crime? Because you seem to have that figured all out. His lawyer, who has access to all of the prosecution exhibits, whether they are classified or not, doesn’t seem to agree with you that is a viable defense at the bar.

  55. 55
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Jesus H….are you fucking kidding me?

    “They shouldn’t have brought those kids to a battle, ha ha”

    The elements are there for command. “C’mon, let us shoot’

    “They’re in the van”…..”OK, shoot” Just because the Rules of this fucked up Engagement meant shooting at any imagined or illusionary threat, doesn’t ameliorate the criminality.

    I’m sorry, but you are an execrable asshole, if this is your position. Manning should serve time for his crime?

    Someone should fry for the order, or the cover-up. If this ain’t murder, the crime doesn’t exist.

  56. 56
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Ben Franklin: So you’re completely fucking wrong, and because I point that out, I’m the asshole?
    Got it.
    I find this bit from yesterday’s Care inquiry interesting:

    “Private Manning said he first called The Washington Post and spoke to an unidentified reporter for about five minutes. He decided that the reporter did not seem particularly interested because she said The Post would have to review the material before making any commitment.”

    Seems like he was less interested in getting the truth out than in hurting the institution and his unit.
    But at least he did show SOME level of understanding:

    At the same time, he was increasingly engaged in online conversations with someone from WikiLeaks who he said he assumed was a senior figure like Julian Assange, its founder, whose name he mispronounced as “as-sahn-JAY.” He said he greatly valued those talks because he felt isolated in Iraq. But, in retrospect, he said the relationship was “artificial.” He did not elaborate.
    The judge, Col. Denise Lind, pressed Private Manning to explain how he could admit that his actions were wrong if his motivation was the “greater good” of enlightening the public. Private Manning replied, “Your Honor, regardless of my opinion or my assessment of documents such as these, it’s beyond my pay grade – it’s not my authority to make these decisions” about releasing confidential files.

    It seems like he understands this shit better than you do.

  57. 57
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    What, exactly did you point out; you’re ok with this shit? All I see are assertions. You place a high premium on the LAW; morality, ethics and human decency can go fuck themselves.

    That’s the formula for authoritarianism, donchaknow?

  58. 58
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Ben Franklin: This is a legal trial, you dumb son of a bitch. Since when has morality, ethics, or anything else had to do with anything?
    But since you brought that up, I’ll point out again that Manning had the chance to raise that defense, and was even questioned by the Judge as to how he could allocute to the charged crimes if he didn’t believe that he had committed all of the elements of that crime–because you can’t plead guilty to a crime under the UCMJ without pleading guilty to every single element of that crime–and if he thought that what he was doing was the act of a whistle blower (and therefore not a crime,) then he couldn’t legally (or morally or ethically for that matter you stupid shit) plead guilty because he didn’t believe he had committed all of the elements of the charges and specifications.
    Once he told the Judge that he understood that he had, in fact, committed all of the elements as charged and specified then she accepted his guilty plea.

    It seems that your issue is rightfully with him, for pleading guilty to crimes that you don’t think he committed.

  59. 59
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    It seems that your issue is rightfully with him

    No, it’s evolved into an issue with pricks who find no resolution outside that man-made entity know as LAW; and you are Chief Prick, asswipe.

    I note your little legal kerfuffle ended well for you, so it must auger the same for all.

    Keep blowing that horn of self-righteous legal simplicity. It’s a good insturment to practice what little you understand outside your Authoritarian bubble.

  60. 60
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Ben Franklin: Neither the military justice system nor the civilian justice system are designed or equipped to produce a “resolution outside that man-made entity know(sic) as LAW.”

    And that’s actually your problem, not mine.

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