Illustration: Rob Beschizza
Earlier today, Boing Boing reported news that the U.S. has filed formal charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old Army Intelligence Specialist who is believed to have leaked damning classified data to Wikileaks. The "charge sheet" published on Boing Boing specified 8 federal criminal violations, including one identified as a violation of the Espionage Act. I spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bloom of the U.S. Army's Public Affairs Office for more. The Army won't confirm that Manning leaked anything to Wikileaks, or that he obtained and transmitted "260,000 State department cables," the specific number widely reported— but the Army charge sheet released today does say the 22-year-old engaged in "conduct being prejudicial to good order and discipline in the armed forces," which threatened to "bring discredit upon the armed forces."
Boing Boing/Xeni Jardin: What are the maximum penalties in Manning's case, based on the charges filed today? Do any of these charges carry the possibility of capital punishment?
U.S. Army/Ltc. Eric Bloom: No, I don't think we're talking about the death penalty. We have calculated the maximum possible number of years based on these charges to be 52 years.
Boing Boing: So, the organization he is said to have leaked all of this classified information to, Wikileaks—
Bloom: We have not said that he has leaked all of this material. We have not confirmed that. And that organization is not named in the charges.
Boing Boing: Okay, understood. So, the organization others have reported that Manning leaked videos and State Department cables to, Wikileaks, I'm reading that they've said they have attempted to connect Manning with a lawyer, with civilian legal representation, but that those attempts have been rebuffed. Is he represented by any civilian attorney?
Bloom: We have no knowledge of any civilian attorneys he has retained. He is free to do so at any time. I do not know of any rebuffing. I've been in the military for 26 years, and I've never heard of any party's attempt to secure legal representation being denied. We don't rebuff representation.
Boing Boing: What happens next?
Bloom: As part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the next step in proceedings would be an Article 32 Hearing, which is similiar to a grand jury. An investigating officer will be appointed, and that officer looks into all facts of the matter, does an investigation, and upon conclusion, the findings will be presented to a convening court martial authority. The division commander will consider based on what is in that, what the next steps are. Either there is enough evidence or not enough evidence to proceed to a court-martial.
Boing Boing: Where is Manning currently detained?
Bloom: He is Kuwait at Camp Arifjan.
Boing Boing: When will the next step in the proceedings take place?
Bloom: A date has not yet been set. We haven't even identified the investigating officer. We're still in the early stages of this case.
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This response to the charges against Manning appeared on the Wikileaks Twitter account today:
Private Manning charged with disclosing iraq-slaughter video. Trigger happy Apache crew remain uncharged.
"Charge sheet" for Pfc. Bradley E. Manning: Read the entire document here.
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Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.