The trial of WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning continues to get curiouser and curiouser. Army Pfc. Manning's trial is scheduled to begin on June 3 and last twelve weeks. During that time the government intends to prove that Manning had reason to believe that the leak of those documents put U.S. interests and allies in danger. To that end, the U.S. government plans to call as witness one of the Bin Laden raid members. Wait, huh?
Apparently, Osama Bin Laden had an intense personal interest in the WikiLeak documents. Bin Laden is said to have personally requested the documents. When the raid on the Bin Laden Abbottabad, Pakistan compound occurred one the drives that was removed contained WikiLeak documents. The individual that removed this drive will testify at Manning's trial, but only under some pretty stringent guidelines.
The person will only be identified as "John Doe". Doe will be dressed in civilian clothing and light disguise. His testimony will be given from an undisclosed location and the defense team will only be able to ask him pre-arranged questions. Likewise, the government is expected to turn over the questions and likely answers John Doe will give for the Prosecution. His testimony is expected to show how Manning's leak of documents "aided the enemy". The charge of aiding the enemy is the most serious one against Manning and carries the heaviest sentence of life in prison.
John Doe is widely thought to be a member of Seal Team 6, and he is just one of four other classified witnesses expected to testify against Manning regarding the Bin Laden material. In total there will be 20 witnesses called to testify in what is known as "closed session." Colonel Denise Lind ruled last week that the prosecution could call these witnesses as part of its intent to prove the charge of aiding the enemy. In a separate decision, she said the government will have the additional burden of proof in showing that Manning had "reason to believe" that the documents leaked would have seriously damaged U.S. interests.
Manning is facing a court martial for the release of 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks. The trial will be held in Fort Meade, Maryland. Manning has plead guilty to some of the charges but denies the most serious charge levied against him regarding aiding the enemy.