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Military Court Reduces Maximum Punishment That May Be Imposed Against Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning and Major Thomas Hurley

A military judge partially granted a defense motion to merge specifications or offenses for “unreasonable multiplication of charges” in the sentencing phase of Pfc. Bradley Manning’s trial.

The defense for Manning filed three motions on July 30 seeking to merge offenses for findings (meaning as part of the verdict) and sentence. They requested that offenses related to the stealing, purloining or knowing conversion of databases containing Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs be combined as “one transaction.” They requested he offenses related to the communication of the two databases to WikiLeaks be merged because they were “one transaction.” They then requested that several offenses be merged for sentencing.

Judge Army Col. Denise Lind did not grant any of the defense motions to merge offenses for findings. Lind did not find that Manning had stolen the information in both databases on the same day. She also did not find that the access and extraction of information was one act. Rather, she concluded, “Pfc. Manning had to access separate databases to extract” them, and “these were successive access/extractions that constitute separate and distinct” offenses.

The judge did not consider the communication of the databases to WikiLeaks because they involved “separate matters of defense information.” The “transmission of each” constituted a violation of the Espionage Act and a general article of the United State Military Code of Justice (UCMJ). And, “Charging the volume of national defense information transmitted” from both of the databases did “not misrepresent or exaggerate Pfc. Manning’s criminality or unreasonably increase his punitive exposure.”

The judge did, however, grant several of the defense’s motions to treat offenses as pairs for sentencing. She ruled that punishing the following offenses separately would “unreasonably increase Pfc. Manning’s punitive exposure”:

—adding unauthorized software (specification 2 of Charge III) with stealing of the “Gitmo Files” (specification 8 of Charge II)

—adding unauthorized software (specification 3 of Charge III) with stealing of “Cablegate” (specification 12 of Charge II)

—stealing of the Iraq War Logs (specification 4 of Charge III) with wrongfully storing classified information (specification 16 of Charge II)

—using an information system other than intended (specification 4 of Charge III) with stealing of the global address list (specification 16 of Charge II)

—stealing of the Iraq War Logs (specification 4 of Charge II) with Espionage Act offense related to Iraq War Logs being provided to WikiLeaks (specification 5 of Charge II)

—stealing of the Afghan War Logs (specification 6 of Charge II) with the Espionage Act offense related to the Afghan War Logs being provided to WikiLeaks (specification 7 of Charge II)

—stealing of the “Gitmo Files” (specification 8 of Charge II) with the Espionage Act offense related to providing “Gitmo Files” to WikiLeaks (specification 9 of Charge II)

—stealing of “Cablegate” (specification 12 of Charge II) with exceeding authorized access on a computer in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (specification 13 of Charge II)

Partially granting this motion meant the maximum punishment Manning faces was reduced from 136 years to 90 years.

The ruling by the judge can be found below:

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."