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Manning Offers Guilty Pleas in WikiLeaks Case

By Josh Gerstein

November 08, 2012 "
Politico" - - Army Private Bradley Manning is offering to plead guilty to some charges in the court martial he is facing for allegedly providing thousands of diplomatic cables, military reports and videos to WikiLeaks.

Manning made the offer through his attorney, David Coombs, at a preliminary hearing Wednesday at Fort Meade, Md.  Manning faces a total of 34 charges, including aiding the enemy, violating the Espionage Act by providing classified information to an unauthorized party, and violating Army regulations and orders.

Coombs said in a blog post Wednesday night that Manning is willing to admit that the facts support some of the charges, including in some cases lesser offenses incorporated in more serious charges brought against the Army intelligence analyst. However, there is no plea deal or agreement with the government at this time.

Experts said Manning's move may be an attempt to reinforce the defense's arguments that the case is "overcharged," meaning the charges are more serious than befits what the soldier actually did or is alleged to have done. However, if prosecutors want to proceed with the full case as charged, there is nothing about Manning's offer that forces them not to.

"PFC Manning has offered to plead guilty to various offenses through a process known as 'pleading by exceptions and substitutions.' To clarify, PFC Manning is not pleading guilty to the specifications as charged by the Government," Coombs wrote. "Rather, PFC Manning is attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses.  The Court will consider whether this is a permissible plea."

Manning has also elected not to be tried by a panel of military officers, but by a military judge sitting alone.

On the scene reports from Wednesday's hearing are available from Kevin Gosztola at Firedoglake, Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News and blogger/ad hoc transcriptionist Alexa O'Brien.

Live updates: Bradley Manning’s Speedy Trial Motion Hearing  

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