Breakdown on the Imminent Verdict | US v Pfc. Manning
- posted July 29, 2013
Pfc. Manning is charged with 22 offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He pled to 10 lesser included offenses and currently faces up to 20 years. Manning will face life plus 154 years in a military prison if convicted on the prosecution’s case.
The presiding military judge, Col. Denise Lind, will announce her findings on Manning’s guilt or innocence at 1:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, July 30. Below is a breakdown on how the judge could rule on the verdict.
Unlike a federal criminal trial, where sentencing occurs after the creation of a pre-sentencing report, if Manning is convicted of any of the charges, a sentencing case will commence immediately. During the sentencing case, both defense and the prosecution will present evidence, call witnesses, and make arguments about appropriate punishment.
The maximum sentences for the charged offenses are outlined in the Manual for Courts-Martial and Lind’s previous court rulings.
Since the court ruled that motive and actual damage (or ‘lack of damage’) evidence was not relevant at trial (except to prove circumstantially that Manning was cognizant of the fact that the enemy used the WikiLeaks website), evidence of Manning’s intent and the impact of the leaks will finally be heard by the court at sentencing.
It remains to be seen, however, how much of the sentencing phase of this trial will be open to the public, since the government is expected to elicit testimony from these 13 classified sentencing witnesses in closed sessions or in classified stipulations.
Military prosecutors charged Private First Class Manning on March 1, 2011 with violating three Articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (U.C.M.J):
- Charge I: ‘Aiding the Enemy’ under Article 104
- Charge II: 16 separate offenses under General Article 134
- Charge III: 5 offenses of Article 92 ‘Failure to obey order or regulation’
The 16 separate offenses under Charge II General Article 134 include:
- 1 specification for ‘Wanton Publication of Intelligence on the Internet’
- 8 specification of the Espionage Act– 18 U.S.C. 793(e)
- 2 specification of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act– 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(1)
- 5 specification of ‘Stealing U.S. Government Property’– 18 U.S.C. 641
The five separate offenses of Charge III Article 92 or a ‘failure to obey order or regulation’ include:
- attempting to bypass a network of information security system mechanism
- adding unauthorized software to a Secret Internet Protocol Router Network on two separate occasions
- using an information system in a manner other than its intended purpose
- wrongfully storing classified information
Guilty or Innocent
Aiding the Enemy
Manning could be found guilty or innocent of aiding the enemy.
If he is found guilty, he faces life in prison.
Manning could be found guilty or innocent of “Wanton Publication of Intelligence”.
If he is found guilty, he faces up to two years in prison.
Manning pled guilty to seven lesser included offenses of the Espionage Act for “unauthorized possession” and “willful communication” of:
- an unclassified video of a 7 July 2007 Apache air strike known as Collateral Murder
- 2 classified CIA Red Cell Memos
- more than 25 classified records from the Iraq War Logs
- more than 25 classified records from the Afghan War Diary
- more than three classified records from the GTMO Files
- 5 classified records pertaining to the Garani air strike in May 2009, and
- a United States Army Counterintelligence Center 2008 Report on WikiLeaks
Manning pled not guilty to an eighth violation of the Espionage Act for an unclassified video of a May 2009 U.S. bombing in the Farah Province of Afghanistan, known as the Garani video.
Manning could be found guilty of the greater offense for the eight Espionage Act charges. If convicted on the greater offense, the maximum punishment of 10 years each.
Manning is not likely to be found innocent for the seven offenses that he pled to a lesser included offense for. NB Despite Manning’s plea, Lind must still “find” Manning guilty for each crime.
The maximum punishment for each lesser included offense for “unauthorized possession” and “willful communication” is 2 years. So, he is already exposed to 14 years for his LIO plea for seven Espionage Act charges.
Manning pled not guilty to the eighth offense under the Espionage Act for the Garani video. So, Manning still could be found innocent, guilty of the greater offense, or guilty of the lesser included offense for the “unauthorized possession” and “willful communication” of the Garani video. See more on the Garani airstrike, here.
Manning could also be found guilty of “attempt”, which is a lesser included offense of each of the eight Espionage Act charges.
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
Manning also pled guilty to the lesser included offense of two charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for ‘knowingly accessing’ and ‘willfully communicating’ 117 U.S. Department of State Cables. He is exposed to four years on his LIO plea.
Military prosecutors accepted Manning’s plea to the lesser included offense for “knowingly accessing” and “willfully communicating” a State Department cable known as Reykjavik 13.
Military prosecutors moved forward on the greater offense, despite Manning’s plea, for “exceeding authorized access” for 116 diplomatic cables. Manning could be found guilty of the greater offense or guilty on his plea to the lesser included offense.
He will not likely be found innocent for the two charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, because of his plea to LIO.
If convicted of the greater offense for the 117 diplomatic cables, he faces up to 10 years in prison. If found guilty of his plea to the lesser included offense, he could face up to two years in prison. He can also be found guilty of the lesser included offense of attempt for the 117 diplomatic cables.
Stealing USG Property
Manning pled not guilty to “stealing, purloining, or knowingly converting” five government databases containing records for the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary, the GTMO Files, Cablegate, and the Global Email Address List from the U.S. Forces- Iraq SharePoint Exchange Server.
Manning could be found innocent or guilty of each of the five offense as charged. He would face up to ten years if convicted on the greater offense for each databases (Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary, the GTMO Files, NetCentric Diplomacy, and the Global email Address List).
Manning could also be found guilty on a lesser included offense for attempt or if military prosecutors fail to establish the value of each of the five databases at more than $1000.
NB If convicted of the lesser included offense for “stealing, purloining, or knowingly converting” the Department of State NetCentric Diplomacy database, Manning faces five years maximum punishment, because it is a non-military database.
Amended Charge Sheet
In a recent controversial legal maneuver, Lind ruled military prosecutors could change the charge sheet after both defense and the prosecution had rested their cases– nineteen months into the proceedings, on July 24.
Military prosecutors conceded after the close of evidence at trial that Manning did not steal the entire database for three charge offenses of stealing the CIDNE-Iraq (Iraq War Logs) and the CIDNE-Afghanistan (Afghan War Diary) databases and the US Forces-Iraq Microsoft Outlook Global Address List. The Court ruled the databases were equivalent to the records contained within them. Defense has moved the Court to reconsider its ruling. The judge is expected to rule on the defense motion for reconsideration prior to announcing her verdict.
Failure to Obey a Lawful General Regulation
Manning pled guilty to one of five offenses charged under Article 92 for a failure to obey a lawful general regulation” for wrongfully storing classified information. He is not likely to be found innocent on his plea to that offense, and faces up to two years.
Manning could also be found innocent or guilty of four other offenses under Article 92, and could be convicted of up to two years for each offense he is found guilty of.
The Charges, Manning’s Plea, and Maximum Punishment (Sortable)
Go here for a sortable list of the charges and Manning’s plea and their maximum punishments.