FORT MEADE, Fla. — When an attorney involved in Pfc. Bradley Manning’s sentencing hearing made reference Wednesday to something being “normal” in the WikiLeaks case, the former general promptly cut him off.
“There was nothing about WikiLeaks that was normal,” said retired Army Brig. Gen. Robert Carr, a 31-year veteran.
The prosecution called Carr to testify about his time with the Information Review Task Force put together when WikiLeaks first started releasing the documents leaked by Manning.
The task force was charged with determining if any coalition members, intelligence sources or methods that had been put at risk by the leaks.
About 900 Afghans were identified in some way in the documents, Carr said, but he didn’t say if any of them were harmed.
Asked if Manning had made the jobs of junior intelligence analysts more difficult by damaging their superiors’ trust in them, Carr said it was “hugely important to empower these young intel analysts.”
As Manning’s sentencing phase began Wednesday, the convicted leaker has already tallied 1,274 days behind bars.
The question now is how many more of the potential 136 years he’ll serve.
The military will give Manning credit for each of his 1,162 days of pre-trial confinement, plus the judge, Col. Denise Lind, credited Manning with an additional 112 days for the harsh treatment he suffered while being held at a Marine Corps Base Quantico brig.
The defense has also filed motions to have four of the charges on which he was found guilty merged into two. Lind isn’t expected to rule on that motion before Friday.
Convictions and acquittal
Lind acquitted Manning of the most grievous charge of aiding the enemy. Had she convicted him of that one charge, he could have spent life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Manning still faces the prospect of a lengthy prisoner term. He was found guilty of 20 counts that include violations of the Espionage Act. Twelve of them carry maximum sentences of 10 years each.
Lind may decide not to slap him with the maximum for each count. She may rule that he’ll serve the sentences concurrently, rather than consecutively.
It may take several days before she reaches a decision.
Manning was convicted of stealing and disseminating about 750,000 pages of classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks. The leaks dealt with everything from U.S. military strategy in Iraq to State Department cables outlining foreign relationships. They also included a secret military video from the Iraq war.
WikiLeaks has never confirmed the soldier was the source of its information.
The military accused him of putting lives in danger, saying some of the material was found in Osama bin Laden’s compound.
Lind, in acquitting Manning of the main charge, said he didn’t know that al Qaeda would get the material and therefore did not aid the enemy.
Manning said he just wanted the public to know what the government was doing.
WikiLeaks supported his claim in a statement Tuesday blasting the convictions on the other counts as “a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism.”