Pentagon finally releases some pre-trial documents from Bradley Manning case

February 27, 2013

A November photo shows Bradley E. Manning being escorted from a hearing in Fort Meade, Md. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

After many Freedom of Information requests and queries from media organizations and transparency groups, the Department of Defense has released 84 pretrial documents in the case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning. Based on a preliminary review, the documents appear to be largely procedural, and many documents remain unreleased. Still, it's an important symbolic step toward long-awaited transparency in the case.

Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, including 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables and 500,000 Army reports. He's been detained now for 1,006 days.

A total of 30,000 pages of classified and unclassified motions have been produced in the case, none of which had previously been available to the public due to the secrecy surrounding the proceedings. Eight terabytes of information have be processed thus far in the case. That's almost as much data as is contained in the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress, according to the prosecutors.

More than 500 pretrial documents, including lengthy rulings issued by the military judge presiding over the case, will be posted on the Department of Defense’s Web site as they are processed, the Pentagon says.

Manning's case has been shrouded in an unusual degree of secrecy since its start. The general public has not had access to the judge's rulings. Members of the media covering the trial have only been allowed to listen to the presiding judge, Col. Denise Lind, read her rulings from the bench. On Tuesday, it took the judge two hours to read her ruling on the defense's motion to dismiss Manning's. The defense argued that Manning's right to a speedy trial has been violated.

Manning is expected to enter guilty pleas Thursday to some of the lesser included offenses. After his pleas are officially entered, the judge may question Manning about specific elements of each charge.

Manning would face 20 years in prison if he pleads guilty, as anticipated, to unauthorized possession of classified records, videos and documents and willful communication of those to an unauthorized person. After that, Manning would still face 12 other charges in the case, including aiding the enemy and violation of the espionage act

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Max Fisher · February 27, 2013