As Private First Class Bradley Manning prepares to make a formal plea on charges that he provided classified information to WikiLeaks, the Department of Defense has released 84 pre-trial documents from between March 2012 and early 2013. Provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the files give outsiders a look inside a trial that has been conducted under a high degree of secrecy. The Washington Post reports that the DoD is still processing documents, and that more than 500 will eventually be posted.
It's unknown what information these releases will yield. Many of those posted so far are procedural documents, including orders to provide updates on Manning's mental health. But so far, getting information about the trial at all has been difficult: there's been a lack of transcripts and other details outside what can be gleaned from hearings, and preparations have dragged on for years. With a trial expected in mid-2013, the release of these documents is a reassuring — if late — gesture.
Manning is expected to plead guilty to lesser charges while denying larger ones like 'aiding the enemy'
On Thursday, Manning is expected to plead guilty of some of the lesser charges against him but deny larger accusations like the charge that he was "aiding the enemy" with his actions. As part of his hearing, Manning will attempt to read a 35-page statement that includes an explanation of why he chose to leak documents. The prosecution has opposed him reading some parts of the statement, which they say could open him up to further charges: one section, in which he discusses corruption in Iraq with Adrian Lamo, could indicate that he erred by telling Lamo classified information.
Firedoglake's Kevin Gosztola, however, reports Manning has been given permission to read the statement. Judge Army Col. Denise Lind has said she will stop him from reading any portions that explain his motivations for actions to which he has not pled guilty, and Manning may be asked questions. A trial is currently scheduled to begin in June.