FORT MEADE — Military prosecutors argued Wednesday for the right to present evidence of other misconduct by an Army private charged with a massive leak of classified information to the website WikiLeaks.
Prosecutors say Pfc. Bradley Manning received “corrective training” from a platoon sergeant in 2008 after preparing a video for his family in which he talked about his daily life and used words like “top secret” and “classified.” The prosecutors believe that experience is relevant to the case because it should have shown Manning not to share classified information with people who aren’t authorized to have it. He was nonetheless arrested two years later in the biggest leak of secrets in U.S. history.
Manning, 24, is accused of sending hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, including Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and State Department cables, while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010. He faces a potential life sentence, and prosecutors and defense lawyers have been hammering out evidentiary issues in an ongoing hearing at Fort Meade. A trial is expected next year.
Prosecutors want to be able to present as evidence information about the 2008 training as well as a couple of other instances of unspecified prior misconduct. A judge is expected to rule Thursday whether and how those allegations of past misconduct can be used in the case.
In the video made for his family, officials say, Manning used words that could identify him as a person with a high-level security clearance and that could make him a target of anyone seeking to compromise him. As part of his “corrective training,” he was directed to explain to his unit why what he had done was dangerous and how sensitive information could be exploited by the enemy. He also made a PowerPoint presentation about the importance of information security.
“The evidence shows the accused has knowledge that information posted on the Internet is accessible to and sought after by the enemy,” Captain Angel Overgaard, one of the military prosecutors, said at the court hearing.
Manning is in pretrial detention at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.