As noted on Reason 24/7 earlier today, a military judge has ruled that Bradley Manning's pre-trial confinement, 23 hours a day in a windowless cell room for months, was "excessive" and "more rigorous." As such, the judge ordered 112 days be credited toward any sentence handed down to Manning, who is facing 22 charges and could get life in prison, or even the death penalty, if convicted.
Manning, of course, is accused of facilitating the leak of materials, including a trove of State Department cables, to Wikileaks. Among his charges is "aiding the enemy." The decision came on the first day of a four day pre-trial hearing. More from the AP:
The hearing is partly to determine whether Manning's motivation matters. Prosecutors want the judge to bar the defense from producing evidence at trial regarding his motive for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of secret war logs and diplomatic cables. They say motive is irrelevant to whether he leaked intelligence, knowing it would be seen by al-Qaida
Manning allegedly told an online confidant-turned-informant that he leaked the material because "I want people to see the truth" and "information should be free."
Defense attorney David Coombs said Tuesday that barring such evidence would cripple the defense's ability to argue that Manning leaked only information that he believed couldn't hurt the United States or help a foreign nation.
Manning has offered to take responsibility for the leaks in a pending plea offer but he still could face trial on charges such as aiding the enemy.
Not only does Manning's defense argue the leaked information did not harm national security, the U.S. government has admitted as much. Nevertheless, the government is pushing for a life sentence, using a statute intended for spies or enemies of the state. Why? "This sends a clear message to would-be national security whistleblowers to keep silent and let the government police itself," Elizabeth Goitein of NYU's Brennan Center for Justice explained. Just s.o.p. for the "most transparent administration in history".