FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — The military judge presiding over Army Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court-martial threw out some government evidence Wednesday that the classified information Manning disclosed through WikiLeaks had a chilling effect on U.S. foreign relations.
Army Col. Denise Lind’s ruling eliminates as a sentencing factor some of the headline-grabbing testimony that State Department officials gave over the past week. The 25-year-old Crescent, Okla., native faces up to 90 years in prison for leaking more than 700,000 diplomatic cables and Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports, plus some battlefield video, while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010.
His sentencing hearing began July 31 and is scheduled through Aug. 23 at Fort Meade near Baltimore.
Two State Department officials, Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy and Acting Assistant Secretary Michael Kozak, testified that WikiLeaks’ release of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables had made some foreign citizens less willing to speak privately with U.S. diplomats for fear their conversations wouldn’t be kept confidential.
Lind ruled Wednesday that Kennedy’s testimony about a chill was admissible only if the effect came directly after the information was published on the anti-secrecy group’s website or revealed by news media. She threw out Kennedy’s testimony that leaked information published more than two years ago continues to hamper U.S. foreign relations and policymaking.
“It is speculative and inadmissible,” Lind said, ruling on a defense motion.
She refused to throw out other statements Kennedy made about a chilling effect he observed directly after the cables were published.
On Tuesday, Lind rejected for similar reasons Kozak’s opinion that Manning’s actions caused and would continue to cause some international human-rights workers to avoid seeking U.S. help.
Lind heard testimony Wednesday from a military intelligence official, civilian James McCarl, who leads a Pentagon effort to analyze information about the enemy’s use of homemade bombs, or improvised explosive devices, which McCarl said accounted for 60 to 80 percent of all casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. The more than 470,000 battlefield reports Manning leaked included five years’ worth of detailed information about roadside bomb and IED attacks.
After giving his credentials in open court, McCarl gave classified testimony in a closed session about how U.S. adversaries could use the information Manning leaked, and what changes in enemy tactics he observed afterward.
Earlier Wednesday, Manning’s lawyers released a schedule of the 20 sentencing witnesses they plan to call next Monday through Wednesday. The list includes Manning’s aunt Debra Van Alstyne, with whom he lived in Potomac, Md., before joining the Army in 2007.
Manning is not on the list, but court-martial rules allow his lawyers to call him to the stand without notice, or to offer his sworn or unsworn statement. Prosecutors would not be allowed to cross-examine him about anything in an unsworn statement.