Manning Should Be Court-Martialed, Court Official Recommends

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted from a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md. An Army officer is recommending a general court-martial for Manning, a low-ranking intelligence analyst charged in the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP


All charges against WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning should stand, according to a recommendation made by the investigating officer who presided over Manning’s pretrial hearing last month.

Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, the investigating officer who presided over Manning’s Article 32 hearing, submitted his recommendation on Thursday to Col. Carl R. Coffman, the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority, indicating that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Manning committed the offenses with which he’s charged. He recommended that the charges be referred to a general court martial.

Coffman will now review Almanza’s report to determine if the charges should be disposed of at his level or forwarded to Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, the General Court-Martial Convening Authority for disposition at his level, according to a statement from the Army.

Manning is charged with leaking hundreds of thousands of classified and sensitive U.S. government documents to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks. The charges against him include aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defense information, and fraud and related activity in connection with computers.

The most serious charge – aiding the enemy – carries a possible death penalty. But prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty. Almanza has also recommended against seeking the death penalty, according to the Army.

At the pretrial hearing last month, Manning’s defense attorney David E. Coombs had asked Almanza to drop the aiding-the-enemy charge and consolidate others so that he would be facing only 30 years in prison, instead of the life in prison he now faces if convicted on all charges.

An Army spokeswoman said in an email that a copy of Almanza’s recommendation is “not releasable during the ongoing legal proceedings and will not be eligible for FOIA until the [General Court-Martial Convening Authority] takes final action on the case.”