In Speedy Trial Argument, Government Argues It Hasn’t Deprived Bradley Manning of His Liberty
Speedy trial argument in the court martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning wrapped this evening. Both the government and defense presented a rather meticulous overview of activity in the case since Manning was arrested over two and a half years ago. The defense concluded the violations of Manning’s constitutional rights had been significant enough to warrant dismissal of charges with prejudice, but the government maintained it had not adopted a “waiting posture” at any point and had been working constantly on the case. Many of the delays in the process were justified.
Manning, who is being prosecuted for allegedly releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, was placed under pretrial confinement on May 27, 2010. Speedy trial clock began to tick on that day. The government had 120 days to bring Manning to trial unless the government was able to convince Special Court Martial Convening Authority Col. Carl Coffman to exclude time so that it did not count against them. In total, the government was granted a number of delay requests that resulted in 327 days being excluded.
The defense and government agree that the speedy trial clock is at 85 days. This number comes from adding the following periods:
28 May 2010 – 11 July 2010 (45 days)
16 Dec 2011 – 23 December 2011 (Article 32 hearing, 8 days)
3 Jan 2012 – 11 Jan 2012 (9 days)
15 Jan 2012 – 3 Feb 2012 (23 days)
The defense filed a motion months ago asserting Manning’s speedy trial rights had been trampled upon. Currently, Manning has been in pretrial confinement for 964 days.
Examples of when the prosecution had failed to act or acted improperly were put forward by the defense in order to convince Judge Army Col. Denise Lind that certain chunks of time should not have been excluded.
From December 13, 2010 to February 2, 2011, the defense argued this period should not have been excluded from the speedy trial clock because the government had been reactive instead of proactive. The delay came because the government was waiting for a Sanity Review Board to complete its review. However, defense attorney David Coombs noted the board had been appointed in August 2010 yet it was held up to complete a preliminary classification review.
The government claimed it had to get security clearances for everyone and that took a long time for the board to get setup. The defense did not think this was a valid argument because there was nothing stopping the military from staffing the board with individuals that all had the highest level security clearances.
This is part of the government’s justification for the board not completing its review until April 22, 2011. They believed Manning was going to be citing classified information in his testimony to the board. Yet there was only one day—April 9—when Manning talked about classified information.
The defense objected to the delays of the Article 32 hearing: