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2012-11-08

Bradley Manning Offers to Plead Guilty to WikiLeaks Charges if Gov’t Drops Espionage, Enemy Case

Guests

Denver Nicks, journalist and author of the book, Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History.

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Accused U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning has offered to submit a partial guilty plea on charges of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks in return for the government agreeing to pursue lesser charges. Manning’s attorney David Coombs says he is prepared to plead guilty to some of the charges, but not the entire case as a whole. Manning is reportedly ready to admit to leaking the documents to WikiLeaks but is refusing to plead guilty to the charges of espionage or aiding the enemy. He has been held in military custody since May 2010, following his arrest while serving in Iraq. We are joined by Denver Nicks, author of the book, "Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History." [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We go now to breaking news in the case of accused Army whistleblower Bradley Manning. On Wednesday, Manning offered to submit a partial guilty plea on charges of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks in return for the government agreeing to pursue lesser charges. Manning attorney David Coombs said Manning is prepared to plead guilty to some of the counts, but not the entire case as a whole. Manning is reportedly ready to admit to leaking documents to WikiLeaks but is refusing to plead guilty to the charges of espionage or aiding the enemy. He has been held in military custody since May 2010, following his arrest while serving in Iraq.

For more, we’re joined by Denver Nicks, author of the book Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History.

What is the latest that you know, Denver?

DENVER NICKS: It appears that Brad, Brad Manning, has offered a—offered a plea on lesser charges. The essence of what he has done is offered to concede that he did provide information to WikiLeaks, so that the amount of evidence the government would have to show to prove that fact would be lessened, presumably in exchange for a lessened—lessened charges. He has certainly not pled guilty to the charges under the Espionage Act or the charge of aiding the enemy, that carry the most severe penalties here and that include—that would—that include serious, serious offenses that he’s not admitting to.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what happens next? I mean, he has been held for three years. What happens now, saying, "I’ll admit to some of this and not the rest"?

DENVER NICKS: Well, the judge in his pre-court-martial proceeding will determine whether or not to consider this plea bargain. He has not come to a plea bargain agreement with the prosecutors. His attorney has unilaterally offered this deal. And the judge will consider whether or not to take this into consideration. And if the judge does, then it is possible that Mr. Manning could be facing lessened charges. And then, of course, he’ll have a court-martial coming [inaudible]—

AMY GOODMAN: Let me read to you Bradley Manning’s attorney David Coombs, who writes, "PFC Manning is not submitting a plea as part of an agreement or deal with the Government. Further, the Government does not need to agree to PFC Manning’s plea; the Court simply has to determine that the plea is legally permissible. If the Court allows PFC Manning to plead guilty by exceptions and substitutions, the Government may still elect to prove up the charged offenses. Pleading by exceptions and substitutions, in other words, does not change the offenses with which PFC Manning has been charged and for which he is scheduled to stand trial." So says Bradley Manning’s attorney, Denver Nicks.

DENVER NICKS: Yes, David Coombs, right.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we will certainly continue to follow this case. And [Denver] Nicks, thanks so much for being with us, author of Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History, a regular contributor to The Daily Beast.

That does it for today’s broadcast. Tonight I’ll be in Chicago at Thorne Auditorium, Northwestern Law School Downtown Campus, at 375 E. Chicago Avenue, speaking at 7:00 along with Tavis Smiley of PBS and Cornel West. And tomorrow, Cornel West and Tavis Smiley will be our guests in studio in Chicago. Then I’m headed to San Francisco for the Green Fest, noon on Saturday. On Sunday with Noam Chomsky and, as well, University of Michigan’s Juan Cole at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey; that’s 1:30. Check our website at democracynow.org.

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