Bradley Manning's trial officially begins today, after years of pretrial hearings and angry protests. If you haven't been keeping up, here are some things you'll want to know:
- The trial is already one of the longest in military history, a Yale military law professor tells NPR, adding, "The unanswered question is why this train has run so badly off the tracks." It's been three years since Manning's arrest, and the government has set aside three more months for the trial itself. Thanks to that delay, and what a judge ruled was illegal pretrial punishment, Manning will get 112 days lopped off any sentence.
- Twenty-four witnesses will testify in secret, including a member of SEAL Team Six; some will do so in "light disguise." The funny part? In many cases the classified data they'll testify about is now freely available to the public thanks to Manning, one activist tells the Guardian, calling it a "completely absurd reason for closing parts of a trial."
- Manning in February pleaded guilty to 10 lesser charges, a move that could have landed him up to 20 years in prison, but prosecutors rejected those pleas to pursue more serious charges, Reuters reports. Chief among them: aiding the enemy, which carries a life sentence, but which will require prosecutors to prove that Manning "knowingly gave intelligence information to al-Qaeda."
- There's no jury: This comes at Manning's request, reports the AP. Colonel Denise Lind will function as both judge and jury.
- Expect a guilty verdict "of some degree," or so recommends the Guardian, which makes such a prediction due to the fact that Manning has already pleaded guilty to those lesser charges. It notes that evidence the defense can't air during the trial ("notably Manning's motive for leaking") can be presented during the sentencing phase.
Click for much more on the run-up to the trial