Wikileaks Suspect Wins Battle Over US Documents: "Netanyahu Has Decided To Attack Iran Before The U.S. Elections In November.
By Dan De Luce (AFP) – 13 Hours Ago
FORT MEADE, Maryland — A US military judge has ordered prosecutors to show they are not withholding evidence from WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning after defense lawyers accused them of hiding documents that could potentially help their client's case.
The ruling was a victory for Manning, whose defense team has argued for months that prosecutors are dragging their feet on requests for government files that could prove crucial in the trial of the Army private.
Manning, 24, accused of handing over a massive trove of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website, smiled at his attorneys after the judge read out her decision at a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, northeast of Washington.
Judge Denise Lind ruled that prosecutors would have to turn over reports from the CIA, the FBI, the State Department and the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive that assessed the impact of the leaks.
Manning's lawyers believe the assessments will show the disclosures had no major effect on the country's national security and did not "aid the enemy" as the government alleges.
But the judge ruled against a request for documents related to WikiLeaks from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, saying it was not relevant to the case.
Under Lind's decision, the prosecution will have to give a detailed account showing it met legal obligations to share all pertinent evidence with the defense.
In a statement of "due diligence," the prosecutors would have to show when they obtained documents, why they were not shared with the defense and to what extent they had queried dozens of agencies about relevant papers, she said.
The judge imposed a deadline of July 25 on prosecutors but indicated she would be willing to give them more time if necessary.
Manning's civilian attorney, David Coombs, had asked the judge to suspend the proceedings while the prosecutors prepared their "due diligence" statement, but that request was not granted.
Lind did leave open the possibility that the defense could ask for time to review any new evidence that emerges.
Coombs had argued earlier Monday that government prosecutors had displayed a "pattern" of obstruction on document requests that "should cause alarm to the court."
The government's explanation for why some files were unavailable "defies logic" and violated the bedrock legal principle that a defendant must have access to the same evidence as his accusers, Coombs said.
"This is not the way the discovery process works," he added.
Prosecutor Major Ashden Fein denied the government was sitting on evidence that could help Manning and said "the defense is disregarding the complexity of this case," which involves hundreds of thousands of documents.
Manning supporters who attended the hearing at Fort Meade, northeast of Washington, welcomed the decision.
"It's definitely heartening that David Coombs's arguments are resonating with the judge," said Zach Pesavento, a spokesman for the Bradley Manning support network.
"It appears they (prosecutors) may have been essentially lying to the court," about the availability of some documents requested by the defense, he said.
"We believe that truth is ultimately on Bradley's side," he added.
Manning has been condemned as traitors for his alleged role in the worst ever breach of US intelligence, which embarrassed Washington and dismayed US allies.
But his supporters view him as a political prisoner and say WikiLeaks has blown the whistle on government wrongdoing and excessive secrecy.
Manning could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of aiding the Al-Qaeda terror network by leaking the documents. He has not yet entered a plea.
Among those watching the proceedings were lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who faces his own legal drama.
Assange walked into the Ecuador embassy in London last week seeking political asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning on sex crime allegations.
Assange fears that once in Sweden he could be whisked away to the United States, where he believes he will face potential charges.
Senior Israeli officials now confirm that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has, "decided to attack Iran before the U.S. elections in November."
Netanyahu's agenda is much broader than knocking out Iranian nuclear installations for his aim is to reshape the political landscape in the USA and Israel shifting everything to the far, far right in order to create a new comfort zone for religious fundamentalists.
Netanyahu's major backer, Sheldon Adelson, is now firmly behind Mitt Romney, and they are known to believe that an Israeli attack on Iran in September or October will displace Obama and many dovish Democrats in Congress and establish a hawkish regime in Washington.
Israel has agreed to restrain any attack on Iran until after the current round of five talks between Iran and the P5+1 that will come to an end in either late July or August:
"U.S., Israel continue preparations for strike on Iran nuclear facilities.
The website cites U.S. defense contracts and Israel's new military preparations, suggesting that 'all sides are getting ready for whatever may come.'
Israel and the U.S. are pushing forward with preparations to jointly strike Iran's nuclear facilities, the U.S. blog Business Insider reported on Saturday.
"U.S. defense contracts, an Iranian F-16 acquisition, and Israel's new military preparations suggest that all sides are getting ready for whatever may come," the report says.
According to the blog, the U.S navy has recently signed a $338 million contract with defense contractor Raytheon to "provide the Navy with 361 Tomahawk cruise missiles in their most recent configuration. According to the website, the U.S. is either renewing its stock of missiles or planning ahead.
"On May 9," the report added, "the U.S. House of Representatives passed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, which seeks to "reaffirm the commitment to Israel's security as a Jewish state; provide Israel with the military capabilities to defend itself by itself against any threats... [and] expand military and civilian cooperation."
A senior Israeli official recently told Reuters that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to attack Iran before the U.S. elections in November." (Haretz, June 23, 2012, emphasis added)
Military experts have long agreed that the "sweet spot" for an Israeli attack on Iran will be this coming September or October precisely because of the timing of the US presidential election cycle.
For maximum political impact and minimal diplomatic responsiveness, the time of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC - September 3-6 comes within this window of opportunity as well as the days immediately prior to the US election - say from Halloween till the 6th of November.
It may be instructive to recall that Israel's Operation Cast Lead was timed to coincide with the transition between Obama and Bush and ended abruptly immediately before the Inauguration in January 2009.
Presidential election cycles have played major roles in the design of military timetables. For only one example, recall the Tet Offensive in early 1968 that drove LBJ out of the race for the White House.