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.