The raid on bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan netted more than the death of bin laden. SEAL teams members in the compound collected hard drives and other electronic media regarding al-Qaida activities and connections. During the analysis of that media, Intelligence analysts found that bin laden had files that were downloaded from WikiLeaks; that is, the information stolen by Pfc Bradley Manning was in the hands of al-Qaida. Apparently, Bradley Manning “knowingly gave intelligence to the enemy through indirect means”. Army prosecutors are planning to use one of the SEALs to testify at Manning’s court-martial. The evidence will show that bin Laden asked for and received WikiLeaks files.
The Prosecution will also call additional witnesses to testify how the leaked information may have resulted in “injury and death to individuals” and may have been used to influence enemy capability and activity in several countries. The amount of damage Manning has done is unknown to date.
Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, argues that Manning didn’t know the leaked secrets would be used by al-Qaida and that the use of WikiLeaks files by al-Qaida is irrelevant. Moreover, in a seemingly desperate effort to mitigate any punishment to his client, Coombs also claims the U.S. government was guilty of over-classifying secrets.
In a possible plea deal, Manning hopes to present a lengthy document explaining his reasons for leaking the secrets to WikiLeaks. He believes this may spur public debate concerning his whistleblowing activities. However, as his story is being reported mostly by overseas sources, it is likely the American public will neither know about it nor care.
To date, presiding Army Judge Col. Denise Lind hasn’t decided whether to allow evidence linking the files to bin-Laden or to permit Manning’s statement/confession to be read in court. In a recent ruling, Judge Lind denied the petition of the defense to present evidence of excessive secrecy, stating that Manning did not have the authority to determine proper guidelines for the classification of secrets.
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