Feb 27, 2013 No Comments ›› Jake Hammer
Excerpted from THE DAILY CALLER: For the first time Wednesday, the military released a sizable portion of court documents in the pre-trial proceedings for Army private turned WikiLeaks informant Bryan Manning.
Approximately 84 rulings by judge Col. Denise Lind were declassified by the Pentagon and made available online to the public. Though the media and public have been permitted to attend all the pre-trial hearings, the only other court documents released by the military have been a few heavily redacted statements by defense attorney David Coombs.
The Pentagon’s refusal to release unredacted documents has been a source of media outrage since Manning was arraigned on Feb. 23, 2012, and has prompted more than 47 news organizations — including The Washington Post, New York Times, CBS and NBC — to sign a legal petition begun by the Center for Constitutional Rights calling for more media access.
The 84 documents released Wednesday were but a small fraction of the paperwork generated by the pre-trial. In an article Wednesday, The Guardian reported that some “500 documents, stretching to 30,000 pages” remain classified and any future releases will likely be delayed.
Manning is charged with stealing public property or records, transmitting defense information and computer fraud. Additionally, prosecutors claim Manning’s illegal declassification may have helped al-Qaida operatives and have added one charge of aiding the enemy — a crime punishable by death in the U.S.
Manning was arrested in June 2010 after allegedly downloading and sending more than 500,000 Army documents to WikiLeaks — a large, online, nonprofit organization that publishes classified or otherwise restricted documents from anonymous sources around the world.
As a computer specialist for the U.S. Army stationed near Baghdad, Manning had been given sufficient security clearance to have access to the files.
Among these documents were videos of 2007 US airstrikes in Baghdad, one of which depicted American soldiers in an Apache helicopter firing at a group of men, killing eight. Among those eight dead, and in the following airstrikes, two bodies were later identified as war correspondents for Reuters: Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen, whose cameras were mistaken for weapons.