Death penalty still on table for WikiLeaks suspect

Posted: March 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


In spite of public pronouncements that the government would not seek the death penalty for Pfc. Bradley Manning, the young soldier accused of leaking the Cablegate documents to Wikileaks, it appears that it cannot be ruled out.

If indeed it happens, of one thing you can be sure: as commander in chief, Obama will have approved the death penalty, and will have done so because of his demonstrable distaste for anyone who believes in accountable, transparent government.



Death penalty still on table for WikiLeaks suspect
By DAVID DISHNEAU Associated Press
Posted: 03/03/2011 01:38:27 PM PST
Updated: 03/03/2011 01:38:28 PM PST

HAGERSTOWN, Md.—The death penalty is still possible for the Army private suspected of giving classified material to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks despite prosecutors’ promise not to recommend it, military law experts said Thursday.

Military District of Washington commander Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst could ignore the prosecutors’ recommendation and refer for trial as a capital offense the charge that Pfc. Bradley Manning aided the enemy, the experts said. In that event, a court-martial jury of at least 12 members could vote for execution if Manning were convicted.

It would be unusual but not unheard of for the commander to ignore the recommendation, said Dwight Sullivan, a Marine Corps Reserve lawyer who blogs about military justice on

Jon W. Shelburne, who teaches at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., said he hasn’t seen a commander override a prosecutor’s death-penalty recommendation in his 19 years as military judge advocate.

The charge of aiding the enemy is among 22 new counts filed Wednesday against Manning, a former intelligence analyst suspected of passing to WikiLeaks more than 250,000 confidential State Department cables, classified video of a deadly U.S. helicopter attack and a raft of Iraq and Afghanistan war logs. The video and thousands of the documents have been published on the WikiLeaks website.

Horst, acting as the court-martial convening authority, would decide which, if any, charges to refer for
trial. He would make that determination after Manning’s Article 32 investigation, the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing or grand jury proceeding, which could begin in late May or early June.


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