The defense team for Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking hundreds of classified documents to the web site Wikileaks, are requesting the trail date be pushed back as far as January, as they request access to classified materials themselves and find much of it redacted.
Manning’s attorney David Coombs argued that it took too long to get access to requested materials, and that so many sections were redacted that they were of little value. Judging by the nature of the pre-trial hearing, a part of the defense strategy will be to demonstrate that the documents Manning leaked were of little value and didn’t endanger lives.
Manning is charged with aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defense information, and fraud and related activity in connection with computers.
Just as the Manning case has raised questions about when security clearances should be suspended – with suggestions that Manning’s eratic behavior should have prompted a suspension months before he allegedly stole classified materials – the defense argument will likely bring to the table the issue of overclassification, and whether or not this leak caused the damage many in the intelligence community claim.
The Manning defense team isn’t the only group that’s looking into overclassification. The National Archives recently released a 2011 report drafted by the Information Security Oversight Office. It outlined classification and declassification processes. The report noted that despite efforts including the White House’s transparency and open government movements, there remains little incentive for declassification.
With life in prison on the table for Manning, his defense team has a long way to go in arguing that his release of classified materials did little to damage national security. What we can expect is that the case will increase scrutiny of both overclassification and access to classified information.
Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. Got a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.