- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The U.S. military on Wednesday added capital crime charges of aiding the enemy to the indictment against Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, the intelligence analyst accused of copying a quarter-million classified U.S. military and diplomatic cables and providing them to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The Army announced 22 new charges in a statement after a seven-month investigation. The statement said prosecutors had notified Pfc. Manning’s attorneys they will not seek the death penalty.

The charge sheet stated that Pfc. Manning, while posted in Iraq, from November 2009 to May 2010, “without proper authority [did] knowingly give intelligence to the enemy, through indirect means,” an offense under Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that carries a maximum penalty of a death sentence.

Because prosecutors will not seek the death penalty, Pfc. Manning faces a maximum punishment of life imprisonment if convicted of all charges, according to a statement by the Military District of Washington, which is prosecuting him.

“The new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes that Manning is accused of committing,” said Capt. John Haberland, a legal spokesman for the district. The new charges would not affect the conditions of Pfc. Manning’s confinement in the brig at the U.S. Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Va., he added.

Those conditions became controversial last year, when some supporters of Pfc. Manning stated that the suicide watch and solitary confinement regime imposed on him by authorities amounted to pretrial punishment. Officials responded that the conditions were humane and standard for a prisoner facing serious charges.

The new charges followed the probe by the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and other investigative agencies, the statement said.

They include 16 counts related to breaches of intelligence, records or computer fraud rules under Article 134 of the UCMJ.

Pfc. Manning is also newly charged with illegally installing software on a computer connected to the military’s Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNET. The SIPRNET is the system he is charged with compromising by downloading a huge database of military and diplomatic cables that earlier court documents said included as many as 250,000 pages of material.

The Military District of Washington said trial proceedings had been delayed since last July “at the request of Manning’s defense attorneys — pending the results of a defense-requested inquiry into Manning’s mental capacity and responsibility.”

Pfc. Manning’s attorney told the Associated Press that the charges he will eventually face at any trial will be determined by the result of an Article 32 hearing — the military equivalent of a grand jury — which will not convene until after the mental health inquiry is complete.

The statement did not give any date for this.

The disclosure of the intelligence and diplomatic cables created a news sensation around the world as the U.S. government’s inner workings and meetings with foreign officials and leaders became public knowledge.

U.S. officials have said the disclosure of military documents from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was damaging because some of the material revealed the identities of Iraqi, Afghan and other agents who were secretly providing information to U.S. forces, potentially putting the lives of the agents at risk.

The SIPRNET is a mini-Internet for U.S. officials and contractors with a “secret”-level security clearance. It is supposed to be tightly controlled to prevent document downloading or theft.

The huge WikiLeaks security breach prompted a series of changes to SIPRNET by the military and the State Department, and caused some to fear that the easier intelligence-sharing measures introduced since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to improve information sharing might have gone too far.

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder to whom Pfc. Manning is suspected of passing the pilfered electronic documents, recently lost an appeal of extradition to Sweden where he faces sex charges, but continues to fight it in the British courts.

WikiLeaks said in a Twitter posting Wednesday after the new charges were announced that “based on statements, WikiLeaks, a publisher, is ‘the enemy.’ Sets a very dangerous precedent for all media.”

A second posting said that “to be convicted of ‘aiding an enemy’ US must prove alleged recipient WikiLeaks, was ‘hostile body.’”



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