A publicly funded stenographer, coordinated through the Freedom of the Press Foundation, has been providing informal but complete transcripts of the Manning court-martial for those unable to gain access to the tightly secured Fort Meade facility. Fort Meade is also the location of the National Security Agency, which scoops up signals and communications worldwide.
Military prosecutors have cited circumstantial evidence to support the assertion that Manning knew he was aiding the enemy.
“It would be nice if we had a videotaped confession saying that, ‘I knew by leaking information to WikiLeaks that it would go (to al Qaida),’” Army Capt. Angel Overgaard said Monday. “We don’t have that in this case, (but) the government offered a mountain of circumstantial evidence.”
Overgaard cited Manning’s training, which he said included the facts that al Qaida “used the Internet to get (military) information” and that “the enemy was looking for this specific type of information.” Pressed by Lind, Overgaard added that it wouldn’t make any difference to prosecutors whether Manning had provided the secret documents to WikiLeaks or to a conventional news organization.
“Pfc. Manning is distinct from an infantryman or a truck driver because he had all the training,” Overgaard said. “And this was his job. He knew exactly what he was doing. He knew exactly the consequences of his actions.”
The defense had countered with testimony from some of Manning’s intelligence trainers, one of whom said he had never even heard of WikiLeaks prior to Manning’s arrest, and another who said trainees had only been warned about social networking sites like Facebook.
Under Rule 917 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a judge may grant a motion to dismiss “only in the absence of some evidence which . . . could reasonably tend to establish” the elements of the crime, with the evidence viewed “in the light most favorable to the prosecution.”
Fidell of Yale Law School said Lind’s ruling gives an “appealable issue” to the defense if Manning is convicted, potentially throwing his final sentence into doubt.
Closing arguments have yet to be made. Lind will decide the case herself, as Manning elected not to ask for a military jury.